Labyrinth of the Dead (2) – How to Kill Adventurers Via Negative Status

Sorry that this is horribly belated; I played through Labyrinth of the Dead a few days after my last post, but once again I’ve taken a long time to get this written out. Labyrinth of the Dead doesn’t have all that much for me to talk about, and I’ve gotten used to being verbose from the last few areas. All in all, it’s just very difficult for me to finish writing up.

So, here I am again at the Labyrinth of the Dead, on the tenth underlevel. I can't go outside this room right now, but I'm here already.

So, here I am again at the Labyrinth of the Dead, on the tenth underlevel. I can't go outside this room right now, but I'm here already.

Fooling around aside, it’s an easy matter to get down to the fifth underlevel; I spent a few minutes longer than usual on the holy water purification floor, as I had determined to get through without using the map. I ‘died’ about three times consecutively on one jump, being completely unable to see both the ledge I was jumping from and the ledge I was aiming for, but otherwise the total ‘deaths’ numbered less than I expected.

Did you know one casting of Earth Javelin (with Extend Spell in effect) is all you need to take out Dullahan and his minions?

Did you know one casting of Earth Javelin (with Extend Spell in effect) is all you need to take out Dullahan?

As expected by this point, the first part was no challenge whatsoever. The second part is where things begin to get interesting. The first thing anyone’ll notice is that the Labyrinth becomes distinctly Egyptian-themed in its second part; coffins disgorging the undead are still a fixture, but here they’re replaced by sarcophagi mounted on the walls, which open to release mummies, rather predictably. Some of the maps are even painfully complicated; the rest are rather straightforward, but sometimes it’s relieving to be able to get lost even with the map.

Half of the areas here aren't even conventionally-accessible. You MUST fall through traps to get to them.

Half of the areas here aren't even conventionally-accessible. You MUST fall through traps to get to them.

There are no less than three different varieties of mummy; ordinary white-bandaged mummies, red-bandaged mummies that may be a little stronger, and a single gold-bandaged mummy guarding some rather nice treasure… but more about that later. There are also things that look like zombies but move as quickly as the evil undead monkeys – apparently ghouls – from the first section, large knight-like enemies with red crosses on their shields, and two-dimensional shadows that throw off spells. Oh, and the purple ghosts from the holy water area return with… very little vengeance, as they’re horribly weak compared to everything else the area throws at you.

I remember everything in this area as being somewhat tougher when I came here as an Elf, but…
Well. Okay. I’m playing a Sorceress. Our schtick is supposed to be casting spells. We’re supposed to be good at resisting magic, great at casting magic, and mediocre at best at doing anything else. Even with a legendary weapon, I should not be one-hitting all but one enemy in the area, without the buff. Level 190 is probably overlevelled for this place but aside from going through the Old Palace twice and the Ancient Ruins a couple of times, I haven’t been doing much extra exploration with the Sorceress. The only reason this area remains a challenge to explore at all are the status effects most things can throw at you – I counted poison, drain, silence and paralysis this time around – and the traps.

Oh, yes. The traps.

Oh, yes. The traps.


Labyrinth of the Dead actually has effective traps. You don’t notice them coming of you don’t expect them – and it’s been years since I played so I’d long forgotten them – and they usually dump you in the middle of a pit full of enemies with a not-totally-obvious exit. If the enemies here were actually challenging, I’d have a problem, but as it is the traps are still very inconvenient, necessitating climbing back up. Again, in the cases where you fail a jump or forget to jump or have no other way out. After a while you’ll probably start to get paranoid about everything in the area.
This? Trapped.

This? Trapped.


It’s unfortunate that most of the later traps were designed by whoever put together the traps in the Old Palace and the Palace of the Immortals, but this level is pretty entertaining.
There is, however, one big mystery, here. Among the Souls.

This is somewhere around the... 7th or 8th Underlevel, maybe the 9th. I don't remember exactly.

This is somewhere around the... 7th or 8th Underlevel, maybe the 9th. I don't remember exactly.


Does anyone have any idea where this small passageway is supposed to lead to? The name is reminiscent of the boss area in Old Palace, ‘Among the Summoned’, and slgihtly further in it had ground similar to the sections of floor that lowered when you push a block onto a switch, but I couldn’t find out how to lower this section to get through. It’s not necessary to solve the area, as I completed it after skipping whatever this is, but there’s probably treasure there and I hate missing things out like that.

The boss! The Lord of the Dead, who has dominion over the souls of the dead, or… something. The guy responsible for the infestation of the undead in the crypts here.

'Honour your ancestors or else we'll eat you'? That's probably not the right reason to respect them.

'Honour your ancestors or else we'll eat you'? That's probably not the right reason to respect them.


Remember that underlevel in the first part, where you had to let the undead IN to progress? I’m figuring that’s his work – the zombies trying to get at the altar crucifix were probably his, also, but once he realised they couldn’t actually touch the thing, he probably just had a minion or two lock the way onwards and deeper unless the grave robbers or adventurers, or whoever disturbed the rest of those lucky enough to be interred on that specific underlevel, shifted the thing for him. The deactivation of the holy water purification plant was probably his doing, too; if the souls of the dead become monsters he can control when left impure for a long-enough period of time, then disabling the holy water production would ensure him a lot of minions and/or guardians, given patience.
And he’s a lich. He has a lot of time to fill. Taking out the holy water plant was probably the start of the infestation, as that would likely be responsible for keeping all floors purified, not just the single underlevel. Also probably the only entity in the Labyrinth that can write, so he may be responsible for the signs dotted around the place, too.

So. Bleh. The boss. As interested as I am outside of a fight with him, the battle is just… sheer pain. It took three attempts, and I was never able to hang around for long enough to learn all of the attacks he could do; he’s the deadliest yet. Whilst the other second-part bosses tended to defeat me through slowly-whittling my character down or never giving me a break to recover HP and MP, the Lord of the Dead fight is all about praying you don’t get hit with status effects. He took three attempts to beat, and I was rather close to death at the end of the third, anyway.
He comes accompanied by two purple ghosts, two zombie/ghoul halflings, and two or three Dullahans, responsible for some of the status effects thrown about during the fight, so it’s a pretty good idea to deal with them quickly.

Status ailments you can ‘acquire’ in the course of the fight:
Poison. I think this was a Dullahan’s fault. It was also the first ailment I got struck with, and had me cursing ditching the Cure Potions in order to take a Sol Crown earlier on. Then I died, started over, and got hit by the following bunch in subsequent attempts, which made me feel better about that.
Confusion… maybe from a chest trap, but nasty all the same. Today, I learned that you can’t cast spells whilst confused. I somehow managed to outlast this status with only 50 HP left, and then he threw Chaos Flare on me rendering all my effort for naught.
Silence, the doing of one of the purple ghosts. I knew they could throw this about from earlier in the region, but considering how long any status takes to wear off naturally, in here it was a threat.
Slow. The Lord of the Dead has the Fairy spell, yes. This is probably the best thing you could get afflicted with, as it doesn’t slow you as much as Paralysis does, and doesn’t directly do anything nasty to your stats or health. The spells everything throws about in the fight are the ones normally hard to dodge, anyway.
Drain from the Lord of the Dead, and this is probably the only situation where you can’t just laugh it off and keep hitting things. At least Poison only gradually reduces your health; this will completely destroy your offensive capabilities, no matter what class you are. The purple ghosts can probably do this to you, too.
Berserk, probably the Lord of the Dead again, and his eyelasers. This is probably bad for a spellcaster, but as I was confused at the same time, I didn’t get a chance to see what it’d do to my spells.

I’ve got Curse in my head, now, but that list up there is from the attempt at writing this report post-boss, and I don’t think I’d have left it out of the list if it had happened in that fight. Hmm. Maybe I got hit by Curse elsewhere in the area?
Well, Curse is just nasty to contract for a Sorceress. We’re MP-fuelled and usually turn pathetic without our spells.

The Lord of the Dead acts like an Archmage from the Old Palace; he floats, making himself difficult to hit in melee, and he casts spells fairly frequently. Unlike the other Sorcerer-type boss in the game, the Lord of the Dead is actually pretty resistant to physical attacks; I was only able to do around 50 damage to him unbuffed, rising to around 100 buffed. He may have been resistant to Holy; sensible, but odd considering nothing else in the area has that resistance, and he’s presumably undead himself.
On the other hand, with Extend Magic, Blaze does around 300 damage a cast to him, or more if he dodges back into the path of the flames after invincibility wears off. The best tactic for any character is probably to go entirely on the offensive; the longer you hang around in the fight, the more chance you’ll get hit by one or more negative status effects. The minions are a huge threat in this one; the Dullahans can Poison, the ghosts can Silence, and the zombies that act like ghouls can… I don’t know, but they can probably do something to you. The ghosts can also cast Dark Wave, and multiple Dark Waves in effect make it very difficult to dodge anything else.

Special Bonus Content!
…because I don’t particularly want to make this any longer, and I’ll go over loot in a later post.

So, throughout the various screenshots that actually made it into this post, you may notice my character went through several colour-changes; this wasn’t just idle screwing-around. As you may know, the save-icon for any game in Blaze & Blade is a tiny icon of your character’s face, and it naturally differs depending on your character’s class and gender. It also changes slightly depending on your selected colour.
So, whilst running around with the Sorceress, I hit all the savepoints in the area whilst switching colours, and used MemcardRex to export the save icons.

1

1


2

2


3

3


4

4

After going to all that effort… I think the first and second alternate colourschemes are pretty nasty – the blue-haired one doesn’t have enough variation in the colours of her clothing, and the brown- or yellow-haired Sorceress is just a rather nasty set of shades. The basic colouration and the third alternate are my favourites, despite my usual dislike of pink in favour of blue.

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Labyrinth of the Dead (1) – It Went Better Than Expected

In which the Sorceress takes on the Labyrinth of the Dead, condemns a formerly-untouched area to the predations of the living dead, saves a ton of lost souls to make up for the karma loss, and deals with something that has haunted her nightmares for a long time.

So I'm not sure why these screens deliberately avoid the better party members to use in most areas.

So I'm not sure why these screens deliberately avoid the better party members to use in most areas.

So this is a post I’ve been procrastinating about since… last summer or so. Back when I started writing these posts, part-way through the game; I think I’d just started picking up Blaze and the rest of that set of spells. I’d tried taking on the first part of this area just so I could write about it, and ran into a couple of serious problems.
This attempt went better.

– The Labyrinth of the Dead –
The underground crypt where the dead of Foresia are put to rest.
The dead which have been touched by unholy sorcery wander freely in the crypt…

So, undead. Zombies, evil undead (?) monkeys that move really quickly, assorted swordsmen of the undead, demonic and evil human (?) variety, ghosts that act as a cross between the Palace of the Immortals ghosts and any given wisp, and the odd Slime or two. This is the place that Turn Undead was made for… but I’m not playing a Priest.
I’m playing a Sorceress with a Holy-element weapon that hits for around 220~ damage unbuffed. Fun.

Not so much a puzzle as an opportunity to really annoy the other player.

Not so much a puzzle as an opportunity to really annoy the other player.


This isn’t really the multiplayer puzzle/skill-test of the area, unless holding down a button whilst someone else picks up treasure is a skill. There’s no way for the person inside to open the door if it closes, just like one of those really poorly-designed walk-in freezers that Nickelodeon’s live-action shows loved using as a plot device. Oh, and the player holding the lever can’t fight anything whilst they’re doing that… but, honestly, not a problem as having the door close on the person inside doesn’t actually kill them.
Unless the person at the lever dies; that’s essentially a delayed game-over in a situation like this. Good thing this is one of the first rooms in the area, and that most people who turn up here won’t have gotten very far at all.
Incidentally, I’m not sure whether that’s a locked chest or a green chest. This whole area, annoyingly, has very low illumination for anything that isn’t an enemy or a player. Whilst it’s not overly apparent at this point, later on it gets troublesome for me, as the monitors I use won’t display the area brightly enough to compensate, unlike the TV I used to use.

Approximately half the coffins on the first level will throw zombies at you, save that one that throws a skeleton, instead.

Approximately half the coffins on the first level will throw zombies at you, save that one that throws a skeleton, instead.


Atmospherically… I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, or tried to in that long-lost procrastinated-out-of-existence post, but I remember this area as being slightly better than it is here; that music was omitted in a certain area before a certain event happened. Even without that, this area does better than the rest for cultivating a given atmosphere; better than Palace of the Immortals, anyway. It’s by no means great at horror, but it made a spirited attempt.
Though, once again, I’m annoyed by the highlighting of quest objects. It’s visible through a container, which takes the fun out of the first underlevel.

Iunno about paranoia, but she's talking to herself.

Iunno about paranoia, but she's talking to herself.


The second underlevel is another of my favourite areas in the game, though I do swear I remember there being no music until you activated something.

Who put this sign there? Who set up this sadistic puzzle?

Who put this sign there? Who set up this sadistic puzzle?


It is also, on reflection, one of the more… uh… hm. It’s one of the more mean puzzles in the game. I don’t mean to the player; you get an unlimited amount of time wandering around the open areas sans harrassment from the living dead until you solve it, and there are no environmental hazards lurking in the area. You can’t die on this floor if you haven’t started on the puzzle, unless you happen to be poisoned and unable to heal yourself in time. I mean, it’s mean on the part of the players. This is a pristine level of the Labyrinth of the Dead, almost entirely untouched by the horrors and abominations that stalk the rest of the complex, and to move onwards a party of adventurers has to deliberately break what protection the place possesses.
I have my theories about why this puzzle is here, but I’m keeping mum about them until I deal with the second part of this area. For now, it’s worth nothing that the only enemies you encounter on this floor – pre-completion of the puzzle – are four zombies in a fixed spawn, hovering around an object you need to take. Kleptomania FTW?

Nice job breaking it, hero.

Nice job breaking it, hero.


So, with this floor defiled, one of the doors blocking the way onwards will open up. Not the obvious one, though, but one of the side doors. I don’t know whether you can ever open up the first locked door on this floor.

The third underlevel… ugh. Okay, the point of this floor and one attached mini-area is to repair the catastrophic loss of karma from the second underlevel and ensure you don’t get a meteorite dropped on your head as soon as you step outside. On this floor, you get to save a bunch of lost souls by repairing the holy water purification plant. I’m not sure why they can’t pump that water throughout the entire place and purify all of the undead hopping around, but I guess that wasn’t in the original specifications of the place.
Bad design, not accounting for the possibility that an ancient unliving horror might take up residence in your mausoleum.

Probably the darkest room in the region. Not as irritating as the not-quite-as-dark area about to come.

Probably the darkest room in the region. Not as irritating as the not-quite-as-dark area about to come.


Now, I never used to hate this area until I started playing on a computer monitor rather than a TV; it’s the puzzle in this portion of the Labyrinth that requires the most walking about to complete, and hence the most time even if you know what you’re doing, but it’s nowhere near as bad as the Palace of the Immortals. The bulk of the process is finding and fixing the problem in the holy water purification area, which involves boiling out the contamination in the water. Apparently the place was made so that the process of making the water holy and hence forbidding the infestation of the place with the living dead can be… uh… switched off.
Another bad design decision.

Some of the 'ground' here is really a bottomless pit where you will certainly drown. Can you see it? I can't.

Some of the 'ground' here is really a bottomless pit from which you will never escape, as you will drown there. Can you see it? I can't.


The reason I hate this area is… I can never see the safe areas in the water, here, until the area’s puzzle is completed. On the TV I could crank the brightness up far enough to be able to distinguish ‘safe’ from ‘unsafe’, but the brightness is already at maximum here, and I still keep needing to check the map every few steps to avoid surprise drowning. It doesn’t help that the holes all have steep slippery edges, either. It’s only the usual amount of falling/hazardous-ground damage, but getting around is time-consuming whether you attempt to avoid it or not.

Easily-spottable if you use the map frequently, but it'll catch you by surprise a few times before you start doing that.

Easily-spottable if you use the map frequently, but it'll catch you by surprise a few times before you start doing that.


The water in each of the purification rooms brightens considerably once you start boiling the impurities away, but the main area’s water doesn’t actually clear until you’ve visited and activated all of the purification columns. Until then, it’s either exploiting the lamps in the ceiling, which show you the floor or lack-thereof beneath the water when you look through their small aura of light, or constant checking of the map.

I still spent far too long doing this, though.

I still spent far too long doing this, though.


Clearing this floor makes most of the ghosts on the third underlevel disappear, having being freed of their mortal bounds or something like that. Going back to the priest-ghost will open up the way onwards.

There isn’t much of anything on the fourth underlevel for a single player; there’s an unlocked treasure chest, and Dulahan/Durahan/Dullahan, the boss with more alternate spellings over multiple games than Griffin/Gryphon, and that managed to kick my butt ages back when I was armed with Blaze and a blessed robe rather than… well… a blunt stick and a hand-me-down from an ordinary sage.
Neckless Dulahan isn’t much of a challenge… unless you’re wearing anything with Holy element on it. Then he becomes a living nightmare capable of killing you in short order. That’s what happened last time.
This time he was wimpier due to the aforementioned all-powerful holy blunt stick I’ve been using recently.

Seriously, though, Durahan is a dull boss; he’s essentially a larger version of the evil skeletons that throw directional shockwaves at you. He has greater range than them, has more HP, will dodge and attack faster than they do, and has the standard boss AOE debuffs to attack and defence.
That’s all. He doesn’t do absurd damage unless you wear armour with Holy element on it, or get caught out by one of his flurries of quick attacks that he does occasionally. The fight is more of a headache due to him turning up accompanied by four of the aforementioned skeletal mini-hims, which make dodging things slightly more difficult due to their directional-shockwave attacks being thrown into the mix.

Him beaten, the last things on the floor are an entire area accessible only to two people working in concert, and the ways back to the surface and further down if you have the Sagestone and enough jewels. The whole area took much less time than I expected, and it shouldn’t be troublesome at all for me to reach the entrance to the second part if I leave here, so…

Loot

[Weapon] Flame Rod
Flame Rod [Weapon]
[At.34, Fire.12]
[Fai]
1 of the 4 given to the elven king by a dead king.

[Weapon] Poison Rapier
Poison Rapier [Weapon]
[At.26, Poison?]
[Elf]
A rapier which poisons anyone it wounds.

[Object] Holy Orb
Holy Orb [Object]
[All]
Orb of holy power.
(Activates Barrier)

[Accessory] Cross
Cross [Accessory]
[Holy.10]
[All]
A holy cross which protects against all spells.

Flame Rod is, like the Earth Tiara and the seasonal cloaks, an item that tells the player about the existence of a set of items with similar traits; in this case, a bunch of weapons with elemental properties. For a Fairy, I suppose this particular one means they’d no longer need to cast their fire-element buff on themselves if they need this kind of damage, but it’s not something to take to the volcano.
The Poison Rapier… well, I’m guessing it’ll cause poison status on your enemies. That’s a good thing, if you want to use hit-and-run tactics, but I’m not sure whether bosses would be immune or not. Either way, I can’t use it.
It’d be nice if the Holy Orb had a Holy-element attack spell in it, but you can’t have everything, I suppose. Barrier is a Priest spell that I don’t yet have with the Priest I’m using for multiplayer with Llama; it apparently creates a barrier to ‘protect against spirits’, but I don’t know whether that stops them from approaching or attacking you, or reduces damage from them, or… what. I’ll test it out when I go back to the Labyrinth, though, as that’s there it’s most likely to be useful.
Finally, the Cross. I know what the description says, but it doesn’t actually improve your Magic Defence. As it’s available for 12 Fate Coins from the Knight, it probably has some non-obvious reduction to spell damage, like the Tiaras do for their respective set of elements. Note the Holy element – whilst I picked this up in the Labyrinth of the Dead, it’d be a very bad thing to equip there, as most of the enemies have Evil-element attacks, and I’ll take more damage for the holiness on this thing. According to the Item FAQ – awesome thing, pity it’s no longer updated – the Cross just protects from Curse. That’s nasty on a magic-user, as your MP constantly reduces under its effect… but I didn’t cast any spells save Teleport during this trip, so it’s a little pointless.

Item of the Day

[Object] Cure Potion
Cure Potion [Object]
[All]
Restores the body.
(Slowly restores status)

Okay. This is important.
This is a Cure Potion. It drops off most poisonous enemies, and very frequently from the evil undead pink monkey things in the Labyrinth.
This is how you cure poison status, and other bad statuses by extension, but this is really the worst unless you’re a Sorcerer, Priest or Fairy and get hit with Mute in a boss fight. When facing a boss that can cause the Poison status – both the Labyrinth of the Dead and the Palace of the Immortals have bosses like that – this is a life-saver. Granted, carting these around mean one less slot for loot, but you don’t get to take anything back if you die.
Anyway, I didn’t need these today, but it was about time I posted another item like this. I’ll probably be needing them whenever I go back.

Spell of the Day

[Spell] Earth Javelin
Earth Javelin
[Sor, Elf]
MP: 45
Command: X ∆ □ O X O
Power stone pellets rain down on the enemy.

So I was looking through my spell-list when I went to the Labyrinth and was wondering what spells I hadn’t touched since getting them. Most of the second- and fourth-level spells, for example. It’s understandable that I never used this one much before, though, as it’s the upgraded form of Poison Cloud, one of the least-damaging spells available. Okay, so it and the other maintainable spells are probably more efficient on MP than the spells that simply cause all their damage instantly, but the longer an enemy is alive, the longer it can hurt you, and if you stand around waiting for a cloud of poisonous gas to take them out, they’re going to have a lot of chances to hit you. However, this spell is awesome for one- no, two reasons.
First, it’s the only fifth-level elemental attack spell that doesn’t require hitting two keys simultaneously. Even with a gamepad, getting that to register as ‘simultaneous’ is a little hit-and-miss, and half the time the spell never takes effect. The game is picky, and the casters are punished.
Second, this spell has one of the most inaccurate description of all spells in the game. It doesn’t fire anything at the enemy, and nothing gets dropped on anything. Rather, this is that spell that caused all the spikes to pop up from the ground around Behemoth; it’s a caster-centered AOE that persists for long enough to hit things multiple times, and it hits a reasonable area around the Sorcerer, not the tiny little area that Smash hits.
So it’s easier to cast than the other spells of its level, costs about the same as all but Freeze Beast, and aimed properly will hit everything on the screen. Except maybe flying enemies. I don’t know whether it respects that. The key thing is that I won’t have to attempt casting it three times in a row before I finally get the game to recognise the command.

The Wood of Ruins – Two’s Company

No Hunter? They're missing out on a lot of treasure...

No Hunter? They're missing out on a lot of treasure...

So, yesterday I got off my butt and worked on getting the CyberPad plugin for ePSXe working.
To everyone’s surprise, it did. Eventually. Turns out I needed a different video plugin that supports openGL or it just kept crashing instead of running, and an older version of ePSXe or it just wouldn’t detect the game correctly.
I’m not sure I have the plugin properly set up, as you can tell from the slightly uneven font in these pictures, but overall it looks better than the default.

Whilst this could be handy elsewhere, the Wood of Ruins doesn't have any undead to turn.

Whilst this could be handy elsewhere, the Wood of Ruins doesn't have any undead to turn.


So, how did it go? Well, since Llama started as Player 1 and the character he used was a level 25 Hunter, whilst I started a new Priestess, we began with me slightly out of my depth, in the Woodcutter’s Cabin. Llama killed a few random bears so I’d gain a level or two and get access to Healing, then I started helping out by being the first person to encounter monsters and playing heal-tank whilst Llama shot at the things now not chasing him. Hunters aren’t great at short range against anything that can fly, as it seems they need distance to be able to hit anything above the ground.
With a few levels under my belt and a new weapon, I became a bit less useless.

The multiplayer 'puzzle'. This happened a lot.

The multiplayer 'puzzle'. This happened a lot.


So, finally with someone else to help, we went back to the multiplayer ‘puzzle’. The one in the Wood of Ruins is more luck-based than any of the others; it’s Pop Up Pirate, Foresia-edition. Happily the damage from guessing wrong isn’t anywhere near crippling, even to a low-level character.
Of course, landing properly so you can pick up the key is difficult in itself, as you don’t know when you’re going to be launched up, and you can’t simply hold the right direction as that makes you overshoot. Eventually Llama had a turn or two in the barrel and got it on his second jump. I’m not sure what the reward is, though, as Llama opened the chest and it turned out to be equippable only by him, anyway. Should probably try it again sometime, and see if it’s always something equippable by the first person to open it.

There are more secret paths in the Wood of Ruins than I expected. The treasure is actually very good.

There are more secret paths in the Wood of Ruins than I expected. The treasure is actually very good.


As Llama was playing a Hunter, we spent a while hunting for secret paths. There are four pieces of treasure available on the boss map itself, from the area with the shortcut back to the beginning of the area, and they’re all usually pieces of equipment you’d normally find several areas later on in the game; Llama got a crossbow. Nothing for me, naturally.
Oh, and we got an Ambrosia. Now that multiplayer works, that kind of item is actually useful. At least until I pick up Resurrection, anyway.
Strangely scenic.

Strangely scenic.


There are also a pair of treasureless areas that look… okay. Somewhat scenic, but they’re nowhere near as good as some of the later regions. They’re also somewhat out of place, as woods don’t normally end in cliff faces above ominous yellow mist. The hidden paths are horrible to try to navigate, though, as the trees are placed very close to the walkable area and tend to obscure it, no matter where you have the camera.

If only the Priest could cast Explosion...

If only the Priest could cast Explosion...


The boss was reasonably easy; Llama had his shiny new high-damage crossbow equipped, and I could… poke it with my mace. I’m going to be more useful in later areas, as I now have both of my basic defensive buffs, and the game never stops throwing magic-using enemies at you, but Llama’s still many levels higher than I am. I know Priests aren’t supposed to output high damage, but I did find myself missing my Sorceress.

Anyway, that and Monster Hunter Freedom Unite have been where I’ve been for the past few days. Regular nuking of regions shall resume when I’ve gone home for summer and tweaked the new plugin to display at the right resolution.

…oh, yeah. CyberPad. We were using the Kaillera version, rather than the original one that just has you connect to a person via IP. The Kaillera CyberPad plugin works with ePSXe 1.6.0, will detect the game and version of said game to warn people if they’ve got a different version, and is generally fairly user-friendly. You do have to make sure you’re using the right video plugin – anything that supports OpenGL is good, apparently – and that you have the same settings, but it’s not really troublesome to get it working, in the end.

The Palace of the Immortals (1) – wherein I get really confused over the place’s name

So I finally worked out which place to visit… with the help of a friend who’d never played the game, whom I just confronted with the choice ‘Mausoleum or Mansion?’
He picked ‘Mansion’, so here we are, at the Palace of the Immortals. Or the Palace of the Immortal. Once again, we have an area named different things on the map and on its description.

Hmm. This looks familiar...

Hmm. This looks familiar...


Oh, yeah... this place. Well, there aren't any harpies, but it looks similar.

Oh, yeah... this place. Well, there aren't any harpies, but it looks similar.


I’m not quite sure what most of the classes are, here. From the dress, the woman in the centre should be a Priestess, but she looks more like a Sorceress with long hair and a staff, or maybe a Priest gone crossdressing. The woman in the back looks like a Priestess, though. There’s the male Thief at the front, the only one I can definitely identify, and then a female Warrior or Hunter to the right.
And harpies. Lots of harpies. The loading screen got that right.

So, the Palace of the Immortals. I always thought it was more of a mansion than a palace or castle, name aside, but now that I look at it again, it does seem to be laid out like a medieval castle; lots of guest bedrooms, a very sizeable kitchen area, large dining hall for the peons… but whatever it is, it would happily fit into almost any horror-themed adventure game from the 90s. I swear every single one of them involved a mansion at some point; House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark, Resident Evil…
I’m halfway certain this is a parody, with the amount of fetching quest items you need to do to get through this area. I must remember to screenshot the quest item screen at the end of the area, just to show off how many items you end up with. Well, first I must remember where on earth I’m supposed to start; I remember the rough chain, but I can’t remember the beginning of it.
So much for this place being quicker. Well, it is… if you know where to go, and I know where to go, except for the first item. It’s been slightly under a decade here, so it’s not surprising I’ve forgotten bits and pieces of it.

Well, I know I need a flask here to collect water...

Well, I know I need a flask here to collect water...


I’ve never been able to remember the start of the sequence, though. I need a flask for water here, to put out a fire in one of the fireplaces in a dining hall, to collect… a key? An emblem?
Then there’s a book that I need to slot into a bookcase in the library, to open a nearby door or passage with another item at the end. And there are the rooms that need keys, and the thing that combines two different gems into a purple gem.
But I always end up wandering around randomly, having forgotten the place where the first item can be found.

Would any sane person drink out of a fountain decorated with a skull? No.

Would any sane person drink out of a fountain decorated with a skull? No.


So, how about I go on about the general area instead, whilst I search? The Palace of the Immortal is, as mentioned earlier, a mansion; convoluted nonsense puzzles aside, it’s probably the most sensible area in the game. It’s instantly recogniseable as a house, albeit very large and with far too many bedrooms.
Like the mines, this place has a lot of dead ends and mostly-pointless areas where the only thing you’ll find is monsters, in the form of a lot of the rooms you end up searching.
Like this room, here; you'd think there has to be something important, and yet... it's totally irrelevant.

Like this room, here; you'd think there has to be something important, and yet... it's totally irrelevant.


Unlike the Mines, dead end rooms in the Palace of the Immortal tend to just have monsters there as soon as you enter. It’s a good place for levelling or grinding for loot, as if they’re close to the entrance of a room, you don’t have to spend much time between encounters, but otherwise they’re a timesink. Some of the spawns even change depending on whether you’ve been in the room previously; at least two of the rooms full of red warrior-type evil-element enemies change into rooms full of plain zombies when you return. At least, if you ignore the warriors and just go straight through. Maybe you can get something good from the warriors and the game doesn’t want to let you farm them? Who knows.
A further room doesn’t do that… but if you kill the red warrior-types, you always seem to get to fight a few extra zombies in the next room. Kind of minor interesting, but interesting nethertheless.
I think every single room being a part of the puzzle would be worse; as contrived as the puzzles are, it’d be moreso if every single room were ‘significant’ in some way. The Palace of the Immortal makes some sense as a house, and every room looks like it should be part of a house. That’s enough.

Booooook...

Booooook...


I should probably have searched this one first as it's closest, but... eh. I keep thinking they're both locked.

I should probably have searched this one first as it's closest, but... eh. I keep thinking they're both locked.


Yay, finally. Okay. Basically, all you need to do in the first floor of the Palace of the Immortal is look everywhere and watch out for a glint like this. However, the interval between glints is pretty long, and it’s entirely possible to enter a room, take a cursory look, and leave thinking there’s nothing there. The Palace of the Immortal is one of the only areas in the game to rely on visual clues and items; not everything you need to do is highlighted by a glint. For example, this book; you know I’m going to take it to the library, as I mentioned that earlier, but…
If you look carefully, you'll notice the gap. And the colour.

If you look carefully, you'll notice the gap. And the colour.


There’s no glint where you’re supposed to take it. The Palace of the Immortal is one of the few areas you’ll see a glint being used to highlight an event object, as in most other areas they’re being kept in chests or bags, or are large environmental things like the river or the cave of glowmoss in the Mines. I’m not really sure why they’re used here, either; the Gate Crystals in the Old Palace/Ancient Tower weren’t glinting, and some the objects here that aren’t keys ARE visible.
So I like the Palace of the Immortal for not simply handing us everything and solving its own puzzles, but sometimes it just treats the player as an idiot and assumes it needs to highlight a book.
Aren't portals normally red?

Aren't portals normally red?


This is the shortcut you can take to and from the end of the first half of the level. You know, like the lift you can take back to the first underlevel of the Mines after beating the Baby Dragon, or the portal initially blocked by the stone totem head in the Wood of Ruins. Nothing comes to mind for the Old Palace except going through that horrible, horrible level for the portal back up, or just climbing down normally, though.
In some cases it’d be handy to be able to access these when you’re capable of taking on the second half of each area, but they’re all unavailable unless you’ve reached that far, and reset if you leave the level. They’re rather pointless for me now that I have Teleport, but for any other class, or if you forget to bring a Rope of Return, these… save you the humiliation of being killed by a bee on the way back, or something.
More skull-themed decorations. They're probably Ogre skulls from the size, but they're still creepy. Also pictured: zombies. I'm not kidding about the RE-ness.

More skull-themed decorations. They're probably Ogre skulls from the size, but they're still creepy. Also pictured: zombies. I'm not kidding about the RE-ness.

Moving swiftly on, the second floor is really more along the lines of the first; quest-item collection to open up further areas. Boring. How about another tangent? Skip down to the next picture if you don’t want to read it.
According to GameFAQs, Resident Evil predated Blaze & Blade by approximately half a year, but Resident Evil wasn’t the first game I encountered that had you wandering aimlessly around a mansion. Alone in the Dark came first, via a demo CD on a computer magazine at some point.
Resident Evil was just the one that made no sense to me. Alone in the Dark – the original one, from 1992, not the new one that dropped the numbers since the makers decided no one would have played the original trilogy any more – was a vaguely- to moderately-Lovecraftian horror adventure with horrible controls and a penchant for killing players less than a minute after starting, if you don’t know how to push stuff. It being Lovecraftian, and dependent on a ‘humans are insignificant and will be driven insane by the true nature of things’ atmosphere, contrived puzzles such as firing an arrow at a painting on the wall to ‘kill’ it before it kills you sort-of made sense, as ‘magic’ exists in such a setting and strange things like that may work. Taking the direct approach to killing stuff usually just got you killed.
Resident Evil, however, is a setting based in science; a virus, rather than magic, creates most if not all the enemies you end up fighting in the course of any but the most recent games, which took the phrase ‘virus creates zombies’ and replaced ‘virus’ with ‘parasite’ since everything science!zombie-related started copying them after they got successful.
So if it’s based in science and rational thought, why does a sentence like ‘use this jewel on the tiger statue in the white hall, and it will move around to the side revealing the wind crest’ need to appear in a walkthrough of the game? Rational people don’t build mansions like that. (Most) rational people don’t want to have to solve three puzzles before they get to eat breakfast. At least in something based on Lovecraft’s works, you can rationalise that the architect was driven insane thanks to the influence of very inhuman creatures. Or, in the case of the standard Haunted Mansion area in Shining the Holy Ark, the owner and possible architect IS an inhuman creature. It’s much easier to forgive strange architecture and puzzle where magic of some kind may be involved, I guess.
Additionally, to my eyes, very few of the human enemies in Resident Evil had good motivation for what they did. ‘They’re insane’ isn’t great by itself; it doesn’t tell us why they’re insane, or why they think releasing a potent virus into the city’s water supply (or something; it’s all as forgettable as a Metal Gear Solid plot to me) is a great idea, or even how they’re insane beyond the plan that will kill us all, doom all life on Earth, et cetera…
Thankfully, storywriters since seem to have realised the error of writing antagonists like this, and tend to give them motivation and ‘reason’ to do what they do and oppose the main characters, but I still never got why Resident Evil was so popular.

Anyway, back to the game.

Here's a not-so-secret entrance to a not-so-deadly area.

Here's a not-so-secret entrance to a not-so-deadly area.


This place? It’s not really hidden because it hides a key that’s necessary to continue. However, it doesn’t appear on the map at all, just like those rooms in the Ancient Ruins, and possibly the hidden area in Amongst the Summoned… though I never checked the map there, as I just teleport out after reaching that point.
Still, there aren’t many true secrets in the game; probably only the Old Palace area with the spell applies. Oh, and that Wood of Ruins (2) area where the Fairies learn their Forbidden Spells. The rest are either very obvious, as here, or hinted at by text in the area, like the rooms in the Ancient Ruin.

The second floor has some stupid traps that must have been designed by the architect who built the Old Palace, but for the most part it still looks like a mansion or castle; more like a castle, as this point, as it has at least two courtyards, one with a built-in waterfall. For some reason the pool in that area is bottomless, but otherwise it sort of makes sense.

Unlike the fountains on the lowest floor, these are usable. One or both are poisonous, naturally, but what did you expect? Also pictured: I'm about to be draaaained again.

Unlike the fountains on the lowest floor, these are usable. One or both are poisonous, naturally, but what did you expect? Also pictured: I'm about to be draaaained again.


Something else odd about this area; the Ghosts can reliably hit a level 184 Sorceress with Drain status. This doesn’t really impair my ability to tear things to pieces here, but it’s odd when every single other spell tends to get resisted. You can ‘outrun’ the drain spell if you keep moving away from the projectiles; they only move at approximately the same speed as any character save a Rogue, and if you reach a door before you get hit with Drain status, the red sparkles just whirl upwards angrily whilst you go to another location. The sparkles fade to invisibility as they chase you, but that’s really just to get you to drop your guard; I’ve never managed to run around long enough that they time out and disappear properly. That said, running long enough seems to lower and/or negate the chance that you’ll get hit with Drain status. Maybe it relates to the distance from the Ghosts?

I'm rich, I'm fabulously wealthy, I'm comfortably well off! ...hey, wait a moment, no one takes GOLD as payment in this game. Hmph.

I'm rich, I'm fabulously wealthy, I'm comfortably well off! ...hey, wait a moment, no one takes GOLD as payment in this game. Hmph.


I always used to think this was a room of straw or hay, honestly. Maybe the old TV screen couldn’t handle the small sparkles? Maybe I just didn’t notice?
Either way, we have a roomful of gold and it’s not actually VALUABLE in this setting. Everyone uses Gels for currency, which are something like disks of demon bone or crystals or glass or SOMETHING that isn’t gold. Maybe the Sagestones could mass-produce the stuff, and therefore devalued the element?
Not pictured: stupid tiny jumping section with collapsing platforms or the door that locks behind you in the previous room, making you go back through the waterfall courtyard again. I swear, most of the place makes sense as a mansion rather than an adventure location.

That entrance I'm pointing at? Needs a Rogue. This is probably the largest 'locked' room in the game.

That entrance I'm pointing at? Needs a Rogue. This is probably the largest 'locked' room in the game.


Whilst most areas have some use for either the Rogue or Elf, this place is skewed heavily towards the Rogue for unlocking doors; conversely, an Elf is more useful than a Rogue at the Old Palace. Just so you know.
Of course, I’m neither, which is a bit annoying.

Looks rather empty...

Looks rather empty...


Here’s the multiplayer bonus puzzle for this area. It’s similar to the Abandoned Mines puzzle in that both players need to be reasonably skilled, or at least work well together; the pressure plates on the right cause floating platforms to appear, and if you’ve only got two players, that means one player needs to jump just slightly behind the other. Naturally, this one’s much easier if you have the full four players in-game, but it’s still doable with just the two.
Strangely, you don’t get treasure for completing it; you just get a shortcut through the rest of the area, though by this point you nearly have all the items to get through, anyway. It just saves you from needing to backtrack all the way around again. It’s perfectly usable from the other side, too, as there’s a plate that makes all the platforms permanently appear, to let the other person or people across.

I kinda want to own this place now. It has its own cinema. Well, technically a theatre, but it looks more like a cinema than a stage...

I kinda want to own this place now. It has its own cinema. Well, technically a theatre, but it looks more like a cinema than a stage...

It's a pity I can't remember what speech option I picked. This makes more sense than any of the others I've read.

It's a pity I can't remember what speech option I picked. This makes more sense than any of the others I've read.


Well, I’ve already typed more than enough for today, so I’ll just skip through the rest. The third floor, like the first two floors, is another series of puzzles to progress, this time involving summoning unholy forces through four ready-made magical circles and a ready-brewed ‘elexier’ to animate… gargoyles standing in front of doors, so you can transform them into itty-bitty stone fragments and proceed to the upper portion of the floor. The fountains are once more not-drinkable, and on the upper section you can unlock several rooms on the lower section, one or two of which may be useful, depending on your class.
Happily, there's a shortcut.

Happily, there's a shortcut.


Unfortunately, to get the Elexier, you need to go back down to the first floor and use a few keys you’ve picked up. The Palace of the Immortal is one of the few areas I’ve seen that has a first-part mid-point shortcut, in addition to a shortcut at the end of the whole first section. This one takes you to one of the rooms you’re liable to think is ‘useless’ up until you know this is here, and then you’ll bless its existence, as it shows the designers do care after all. Then later you’ll curse them again for putting in a mid-mid-boss to waste the time you saved using the mid-mid-point.
I suppose it makes up for them giving up on putting items outside chests and signifying them with glints sometime part way through the second floor, hm?
Anyway, this is the bit – aside from the whole ‘mansion with zombies’ thing – that makes me almost certain the whole area is a parody of Resident Evil and other ‘you’re stuck in a haunted (?) mansion’ games, involving combining a red and blue gem to make a purple gem to break the seal on a door. Or did the designers slowly run out of colours for the keys?

Anyway, third floor over, you hit the Clocktower. There’s really very little to say about this area; you climb upwards, you throw a lever, and you climb further, the lever having… lowered a section of platform, or something.
Oh, and don’t forget the blasted oil. Mmph. The lever you need it for is an infinite source of the red warrior-types, by the by, if you need to train or something. They dropped a creepy/nice looking sword whilst I was there, must remember to keep that for IDing.

Soon afterwards, the name of the area changes to ‘The Fantastic Palace’.
Why can’t you be consistent with area names, Blaze & Blade? I started out uncertain whether to call the place ‘Palace of the Immortals’ or ‘Palace of the Immortal’, and now you’re calling it ‘The Fantastic Palace’?
I also swear I remember the gears moved after you turned the lever, or something. Maybe I’m getting it mixed up with Mario 64, or something. Or maybe the version Europe got was better.
Oh, and don’t trust the fountain.

The area had one last 'screw you' for me, though...

The area had one last 'screw you' for me, though...


I’m just not sure how to get through here. I can’t remember how. Maybe it’s part of the short way back from the second portion of the whole area? I don’t know. I’ve forgotten far too much about this area, though memory says the second part is less of a slog through one giant puzzle and more just somewhere to get terribly lost.
The way onwards is actually through the library, so I’ll need to remember where the Iron Book is for once, anyway. Though it seems that I NEED the Jewel from the Labyrinth of the Dead to go onwards, since it’s not opening right now.
Maybe that is also the way onwards after the boss? I’ll check when I return, whenever that will be. I think I’ll try taking on the Fire Dragon again for a break from horribly-long areas, before going to the Labyrinth of the Dead. I need a break from listening to the same piece of not-that-likeable music for five hours straight.

Loot

[Weapon] Blood Dagger
Blood Dagger
[At.42, Evil.10]
[Rog]
A dagger stained red by the blood of its victims.

[Accessory] Feather Gloves
Feather Gloves
[Df.4]
[All]
Gloves made from feathers.

[Weapon] Bloodsword
Bloodsword
[At.20]
[War]
Red from the blood of those it has killed.

[Accessory] Silver Anklet
Silver Anklet
[Df.4, MDf.4, Int.8, Wil.8]
[All]
A beautifully decorated silver anklet.

Blood Dagger drops off the Weretiger, and if memory serves is a nice weapon for a Rogue, as it has a life-stealing effect. Has pretty good attack if the Bloodsword is anything to go by, too. Any item that can keep your health up without taking up a slot normally used for loot is great, if you don’t have a Priest around to let you completely dispense with the things in favour of anything better. Not that it’s easy to find anything better than equipment that heals you.
Bloodsword is the nice/creepy weapon the red warrior-type evil-element enemy dropped near the lever. I just like the look of the thing. Apparently it also drops from Durahan/Dullahan, and drains life like the above dagger, if you couldn’t guess from the name.
Using either is a bad idea against the undead, though.
The Feather Gloves apparently do nothing but those four points of defence, and are rather pointless as a result. The Silver Anklet boosts your normal and magic defence by four points, and on top of that adds eight Willpower and Intelligence, making it a better pick both in general and for a mage.

Item(s) of the Day

[Object] Red Ash [Object] Gray Ash
[Red/Gray] Ash
[All]
Supposedly from a Saint’s hand.
(Increase
[s STR/AGL])

Ah, stat-raising items. Ashes are a lot less common than Fate Coins and Blood Extracts, but they work on your base stats rather than something derived, and as a result they can raise more than one thing, indirectly. They also don’t have the chance of lowering the relevant stat, as Fate Coins can. I’m not sure why the description leaves off the ‘s’ for Gray Ash, though; lack of proof-reading? In this case, I picked up the Strength and Agility Ashes. Handy for anyone who needs to melee… less handy for someone who can fry stuff on command.
The Palace of the Immortals is probably the best place for stat-raising items; wolves, as always, drop Blood Extracts, but Zombies will happily drop at least one or two types of ash. I’m not sure whether one was dropped by the red warrior-types, though. I didn’t pay attention to what I was killing.
Is there an item for raising MP? I’ve never seen it.

Old Palace (2.5) – Looting and Pillaging

It’s interesting how a Sorcerer can very happily function as a melee unit in the Old Palace. I just completed a run through with no spells save Striking, and there were only two places I had problems with.
There was the red crystal room with the darker skeletal centaurs; those are reasonably-tough, defensively, and come close to matching the resistance of the green slimes but with more HP. I think you only need to fight this variety in this set of rooms, though, and if they spawn anywhere else you can just exit the room to avoid them.
Then there was that icy room, with the two transparent blue-green enemies that are effectively the Dark Elf with less HP and a few more annoying spells. Unlike that entire level in the Abandoned Mines, the ice here does result in less friction underfoot, and you go sliding around whenever anything hits you. Like, say… ranged spells, such as Lightningbolt or Magic Missile. If you don’t kill the two enemies in here from afar, you’re liable to take a few hits of falling damage as they keep knocking you off the platform.

Other than that, though? Depressingly easy.

Loot

[Accessory] Symbol of Darkness
Symbol of Darkness [Accessory]
[Dark.8, Pow.32]
[All]
Talisman that amplifies dark powers.

[Accessory] Dominion Feather
Dominion Feather [Accessory]
[Holy.30]
[All]
Beautiful feather with hidden holy power.

[Accessory] Rune Amulet
Rune Amulet [Accessory]
[Pow.6, MAt.12]
[All]
Engraved with runes that enhance magic.

[Accessory] Renugeton
Renugeton [Accessories]
[Int.20, MAt.16]
[Sor]
Magical book containing knowledge about demons.

The Symbol of Darkness provides a fair boost to Power, in addition to the small boost to Darkness, and it looks like someone picked out Sauron’s eye to make it.

The Dominion Feather’s ‘hidden holy power’ isn’t quite so hidden, as it gives a respectable boost of 30 points to Holy. This fell from the Dark Wizard, and might explain why she’s a bit pathetic. According to the Item List, it’ll fully resurrect you on death with 50% breakage, similar to the Fool’s Puppet, which must be how the Dark Wizard survives her spontaneous post-battle combustion every single time.

Finally, a rune-engraved item that I can equip. I was beginning to wonder whether there was anything other than the wand. The obvious bonuses it provides are a little lackluster, but according to holypriest’s list, it adds +50% to Magical Attack? That’s on-cast, rather than actually shown, but it improves 50~ damage to 80~ damage. A very nice accessory.

Renugeton… there aren’t all that many accessories linked to one class and one alone; most accessories are equippable by everyone, and some are equippable by three or so classes, like the Element Cloak. Renugeton is good for Sorcerers only, so… I’m glad I got this one and not an accessory for a different class, huh. Renugeton is one of the items you can get from the Roadside Inn’s locked room, so… once again, I get an accessory well ahead of the conventional ‘easy’ route.
Unfortunately, Merlin’s Ring provides a better boost to my stats, and Rune Amulet provides a much better bonus to damage above that. I don’t know if Renugeton does something special like increase my damage against demons, but for the moment I don’t feel like testing anything more.

Item of the Day

[Weapon] Wand of Apollo
Wand of Apollo
[At.121, Df.-20, MAt.82, MDf.-10, Holy.25]
[Sor]
A wand that can destroy 100,000 things at once.

My base defence is 67. Wand of Apollo has NEGATIVE 20 DEFENCE?!

My base defence is 67. Wand of Apollo has NEGATIVE 20 DEFENCE?!

Ahem. Yep, negative defence. Equipping this wand penalises your defence, both of them. Holypriest’s Item List never mentioned that, and neither is it mentioned by the weapon; you’ll only see it if comparing your stats unequipped to equipped, so you’ll only ever find out if you’re a Sorcerer. No wonder the lists don’t mention it.
Penalty aside, the Wand of Apollo is worlds better than my Wand of Runes, even with it now at 75 attack. 20 defence isn’t a big difference even for a Sorcerer; my Robe of Spirits is now at 118 defence, so even with the Wand of Apollo equipped I’m ahead of the basic defence the Robe gives me. The Holy element isn’t a problem, either, as Holy element demons turn up once in a blue moon.
I finally have a new weapon. At least this doesn’t look identical to my last one, as happened in WoW.

Ancient Ruins (3) – abusing Teleport for fun and profit

I always thought the female Fairy hair looked stupid, but I still can't tell if that Elf is male or female.

I always thought the female Fairy hair looked stupid, but I still can't tell if that Elf is male or female.

I need a break. Old Palace lasted longer than expected and I wrote more than I thought I would.

Not that easy to spot unless you like having the camera almost horizontal.

Not that easy to spot unless you like having the camera almost horizontal.


So, those siderooms in the Ancient Ruins. There’s some nice loot in there, but at the point you technically have access to it, the large number of enemies in a confined space that guard each treasure will probably either make you run, crying, or kill you because you stepped too far away from the door and got stuck in there.
Now that I’m several tens of levels more powerful, I figure I can deal much more easily with the metal wisps performing guard duty. Specifically, ‘Extend Magic and Explosion’ ease, which kills them in a single cast if you catch them with both hits, or sometimes just a single hit if they don’t resist. You can get to them without needing to go through the boss first, if you know where to drop down, and MP expenditure doesn’t matter so long as I can clear two rooms of that in short order, then hit Teleport afterwards. If I keep Teleport on the autospell, I can even practice casting Explosion by command.
The metallic slimes are a bit tougher, but still go down to one or two Explosion casts, usually, and if not can be taken out by a few physical attacks afterwards. That’s MP-intensive, and I fail the command for Explosion half the time; a much more effective way is for me to just to put Striking on and throw Water Bullets at them if they try to jump on me.

Loot

[Accessory] Dropneal
Dropneal [Accessory] x3
[All]
Treasure said to bring the bearer great wealth.

Whoo! Dropneal the first time around! This handy little trinket increases the amount of experience you get, and apparently the chance of looting Fate Coins, to boot. It also increases the money you pick up, but that’s kind of worthless. I’ll probably take this along the next time I go to the Old Palace.
The metallic slime-things will also drop these.

[Armour] Mirror Armor
Mirror Armor [Armour]
[Df.52]
[War, Dwf]
Silver armor with a fine reflective exterior.

Can’t remember if I covered this previously, before I started putting in the images. Well, here it is again, complete with icon. This dropped from one of the metallic wisp types.

[Shield] Guardian Shield
Guardian Shield [Shield]
[Df.31]
[War, Dwf]
Made by warriors, increases magical power.

So, once again we have a non-Sorcerer, non-Priest, non-Fairy item that works on magic. It’s probably more related to magic defence, but that kind of description looks silly on any class that deals in melee and melee alone, unless they make heavy use of magical objects.

[Armour] Guardian Robe
Guardian Robe [Armour] x2
[Df.92, MDf.90, Str.24, Con.24, ]
[Pri, Sor, Fai]
Powerfully protective. Made by hell’s guardians.

Yaay, Guardian Robe. But this is a little bit of a disappointment. Whilst it’s better than the Robe of Spirits by Strength, Constitution and Magic Defence bonuses, it’s worse in terms of Intelligence, Will and Power. And, well, basic Defence, but that’s because my Robe of Spirits has at least twenty Material Magics on it.
Worth keeping around for hitting the Fire Dragon, I suppose, as I’ll need a lot of Magic Defence in addition to regular defence. Based on its bonuses, it’s built for someone who’ll melee more often than use magic for attacking – at this point, a Priest, or a Fairy without or unable to use its Forbidden Spells. Or, admittedly, a Sorcerer in the Old Palace.
Oh, yeah. Note the red jewel that appears on both the Guardian Robe and Guardian Shield. Seems to be a common trait of Guardian gear thus far.

[Weapon] Guardian Sword
Guardian Sword [Weapon]
[At.75, Df.20]
[War]
Sword of the arcanes, strengthens magical power.

Another melee piece that ‘strengthens magical power’? I’ve ranted enough about those. Like the Guardian Armour that I apparently found some time back, the Guardian Sword helps both Attack and Defence – put together, the pair give a very nice 91 Attack and 115 Defence, and probably a host of stat bonuses on top of that.
It’s also the first Guardian piece I’ve seen not to have a red jewel on it somewhere.

[Armour] Silver Shield
Silver Shield [Armour]
[Df.48]
[Rog, Hun, Elf]
It has fine protective sigils to turn back demons.

This is another random drop from the metallic-wisp-things. For something with little but a metallic body and eyes, they carry a lot of armour with them. Including things they shouldn’t be able to touch, if the ‘fine protective sigils’ here really worked.

Also:
[Object] Material Magic
Material Magic x4
One of these from a chest – disappointing – and one from a Gargoyle. The third from a metallic slime, and the fourth from a Chimera. This place isn’t quite as good as the Crystal Maze, but it’s a nice bonus if you’re hunting other things. Fifth from another metallic slime.
Incidentally, watch out for the Chimera. They know Thunderbolt, in addition to the much less dangerous third-level spells.

[Object] Ice Jewel
Ice Jewel x1
Dropped by one of the metal wisps.

[Object] Blood Extract
Blood Extract x1
Brown wolves drop these. Actually, a lot of beastly enemies drop this – the undead bears in the Abandoned Mines, for example. More HP is always a good thing for survival.
Have I mentioned these before? I swear I have…

Of course, watch out for poison. Apparently if you finish casting Teleport whilst poisoned, and drop to 0 HP as you fade out to go to the map, you still get game over. Happily, I didn’t actually lose anything.
Aside from four Material Magics and three levels. Blast. Well, I’m done here, anyway; I’m going to run through Old Palace again and hope I don’t get Bolt of Larie this time.

The Old Palace (1) – Tedious Trap City

Today’s theme shall be… crystals. Too many crystals. The whole area is lit by crystals, and most of the area’s puzzles involve one of more of the blasted things in some fashion or another; whoever built this place definitely had a thing for crystals. They also don’t like sunlight, for some reason. I could make a joke about goths, but…

So that's a female rogue, female dwarf, an elf of indeterminate gender, and a female hunter.

So that's a female rogue, female dwarf, an elf of indeterminate gender, and a female hunter.

Well, anyway. The first floor is a reasonable-simple, though slightly-tedious puzzle involving windows, natural light and crystals, and I tend to just run straight through it nowadays.
I forgot to take pictures. You’re not missing much. You can, technically, solve this puzzle before even activating it, if you’ve memorised where the beams of light fall after opening the windows, but I’m always slightly off with at least one crystal. I don’t think you get anything from doing that, anyway, aside from possible bragging rights.
The second floor is likewise mostly boring – flipping four switches to activate a tiny bridge. Again, I forgot to take pictures because this puzzle is dull and I try to get past it as quickly as possible. It also possesses the earliest save point I’ve seen in any level, probably because this floor will do something very nasty to you if you don’t watch out. More on that later.

[Old Palace] Multiplayer Puzzle
So, there are two interesting things on this level. First is the area’s obligatory multiplayer-bonus. This one, unlike the one in the Mines, requires good timing and little else. I also swear it’s possible to complete alone, with a Rogue, and a lot of attempts. It’s ‘solved’ by deactivating all four purple-sparkle generators by standing on them; they reactivate after a short period of time, and walking normally you’re going to have at most two deactivated at once. As I said, somehow I managed to complete this at one point, and I’m reasonably certain it was using a Rogue character, thanks to their dash. Your milage may vary.

The other thing…
[Old Palace] Bridge over Nowhere
If you fell down here, you’d expect to suffer approximately 8 points of damage, right?
Well, you’re practically guaranteed to fall off the bridge in this room. The Old Palace is probably the most intentionally trap-filled area in the game, featuring quite a few ‘kill all enemies’ rooms in addition to pendulum traps, spiked ceilings, and fire-breathing wall fixtures, but this particular trap has to be one of the more irritating ones lying around.
First, the bridge starts collapsing after you, once you’re more than a few ’tiles’ in; if you continue walking, you won’t be caught out by this, and it happens slowly enough that you can keep ahead of it. As you may have noticed, there’s a spiked gate at the door you entered by, and there’s a corresponding one at the far exit. So there’s an enemy to kill, in the room. That enemy is the real problem of the room; it’s a floating armour, it’s resistant to most attacks and spells you can throw at it – I was only doing 50~ damage with a third-level spell – and it has several times more HP than you’re expecting on enemies at this point in the game. Worse, all its attacks are knock-back attacks; if it catches you before you’re between it and a wall or the door, it can very easily toss you off the bridge. It probably does nasty damage at the time you first reach this point, to boot.
So the first few times you come here, you’ll probably be falling off the bridge. Rather than a negligable amount of damage, doing so dumps you two floors below ground; you have to work your way back up to even be able to exit the place. Successfully getting out of the room by the door lets you skip all of that.

[Old Palace] Falling...
Of course, I’m dropping down anyway just to show you the area. Note that I’m heading in the ‘wrong’ direction here; leaving the floor and then returning causes the bridge to reappear, and it collapses from whatever side you entered by, just to make things trickier for you.

Welcome to the second underlevel. I always thought the area you fell in was vaguely reminiscent of Dullahan’s boss arena; it’s a roughly-circular area of moderate size with exits at the cardinal directions, and chains hanging around. Much brighter, though, and of course it lacks the headless boss.

[Old Palace] Second Underlevel North
The floor can pretty much be split into four separate areas; north has a suspicious-looking open area up there, so let’s start with north. What looks like the direct entrance to the area is on a raised area that we can’t reach, but there still seems to be two side entrances, so let’s try those.

Magical forcefield windows?

Magical forcefield windows?


Another general theme of this area would be ‘taunting the player with stuff they can’t reach yet’. The guy in black posing with his minions down there is the boss of the first half of the Old Palace, but we can’t get to him yet.
Well, technically, we can, as I went ahead a little and opened the route to him before deciding to go through this bit anyway, but there are more interesting things to see and do down here that you miss if you ace the bridge the first time. Going around the other side is the same; another magical green forcefield-window thingy blocks your way.

Back to the centre, that leaves us with three options; let’s go… west.
[Old Palace] Second Underlevel West
There’s another suspiciously round-ish area there, and since this isn’t the Mines, there’s liable to be something interesting there. Most of the ‘built’ areas have something interesting in each room, whilst ‘natural’ areas like the Abandoned Mines or the Wood of Ruins tend to have useless places and dead ends. Nice touch; why build something if you’re never going to do anything with it?

Totally not significant...

Totally not significant...


This one’s particularly interesting as it gives us backstory. Few areas in the game give us history lessons; the Ancient Ruins are one of the areas, as is the Old Palace. There’s a third area, but I probably won’t be seeing it for a while, and then there’s the Jester guy in the Roadside Inn, who sometimes mentions interesting things.
The ‘correct’ order to read these things is from north to south; it doesn’t solve any puzzles, but it’s nice to get the story straight.

Something is written on the monolith…
Foresia, a land plagued by demons. Saturated with magic like no other land.
For those of us who control the power of sorcery it is the true paradise.

We, who are called sorcerers, could create flames and wind from nothingness through the art of magic.

The sorcerers were given power through the Sagestones…
Arcane artefacts created by the Twelve sages, the Sagestones strengthen the sorcerers and help them to master the art of magic.
To this day there is still nothing comparable, with which one can attain such mastery of sorcery with such ease…
With such power we could perform miracles, we would be like gods.

The Twelve Sages established a great kingdom with abundant magic through the use of the Sagestones.
But in mortal hands this power became too much, and this overabundance of power became a danger to us.

Many sorcerers dabbled foolishly with infernal magic…
And they begat demons of terrible and maddening power.
It may only be a matter of time before the demons destroy us.

Well, straight-ish. I’m guessing that this was written during or shortly after the fall of the ancient civilisation mentioned in the introduction sequence, as whoever wrote it still remembered the Twelve Sages and their relationship with the Sagestone…s. Plural. It’s also biased towards what the Sagestone meant for Sorcerers. I’m feeling right at home, here.
Pity there’s just the one left, huh? And it isn’t really doing anything for the rate at which I learn magic, though that could be because it’s incomplete, and because I’ve already learned all the spells I’m going to learn naturally.

That’s all there is here, so now… east, I think.
[Old Palace] Second Underlevel East
…except we can’t go there as the door’s sealed right now. Pity. We can’t get there from the south, either, because it’s another raised area you can’t jump to. We’ll be back here later.

South takes you into one of the more annoying kill-all-enemies rooms, depending on where you entered from. All of the enemies are the flying goblinoids-that-aren’t-gargoyles-because-those-are-made-of-rock. They move quickly, are annoying to hit in melee, and troublesome to cast spells at as they tend to throw the Fairy Sleep spell at you frequently. Falling off here, if you came around from the eastern section of the level, means a fair bit of backtracking.

Taking the teleport beyond brings you to the first underlevel, an area more tedious than anything else. The point of this area is to open two doors that will allow you to get back to the first level of the area; the teleporter on the northern side of that level leads here, but the door’s locked until it’s opened from this side. It’s full of kill-all-enemies rooms, right from the beginning, and even has a short timed section that happens to be the main source of tediousness if you’re just a bit too slow.

There are, of course, yet more traps here.

There are, of course, yet more traps here.


The good thing about this area is that a fair portion of the enemies can drop Fate Coins. The Old Palace in general is a good spot for hunting those, especially later on when you’ve opened up the second part, but the Blue Lizardmen here seem to be the most generous of all the early enemies.
If you forgot to pick up the keys near the entrance, you have a bit of backtracking to do.

If you forgot to pick up the keys near the entrance, you have a bit of backtracking to do.


The two doors you’ll want to open – to progress or to go back to the Inn after this ordeal – are coloured blue or red. The southern door is blue, and the northern red. The locked doors here contain a symbol on the wall matching the doors to the teleporters, and a crystal, which is somehow keeping both doors shut.
Or... maybe this was the blue exit, instead...

Or... maybe this was the blue exit, instead...


It’s still not much of a puzzle, but this is why I try to avoid falling off the bridge in the first place, especially if I’m playing a melee class; you have to make it around the circular-ish area to the corresponding room on the other side, and there’s always one kill-all-enemies room in your way, populated with four slimes and a couple of other enemies. Slimes are notoriously-resistant to physical damage, so if you’re not playing a Sorcerer or Elf, you may want to go clear out both rooms beforehand.

Successfully activating the second crystal whilst the first is still activated opens both doors. I hate these floors; there’s no loot before you beat the boss, unless you’re a Rogue – there’s a locked door on one of them and there may be treasure behind that – and it seems like they’re just there to waste time, with the exception of the history monoliths.

Bringing us happily back to immediately after the bridge room. Whoo.

Bringing us happily back to immediately after the bridge room. Whoo.


Okay. South teleport takes you onwards – back to the second floor – whilst the north teleport takes you back to the first floor. Perhaps I won’t forget it, this time.

Right. Third level. Which I already completed, before deciding to go down to the underlevels. This floor’s puzzle involves more light, crystals and running long distances, and I’m just going to skip giving you the solution, as I’m lazy, there’s little to see, and this isn’t a proper walkthrough. Just don’t forget to collapse the floor in the room east from the red lizardman room, as backtracking is a headache here.

Getting through that floor brings you back to the… Second Underlevel. This time you’re on the raised section that leads to the proper entrance to the boss area, and there’s a little pillar-thing you can push down so you can get back here after jumping down to find the save point.
Never forget to do that, hm? It’s a crushing feeling when you forget.

Okay, NOW is the time for goth jokes.

Okay, NOW is the time for goth jokes...


So, the boss. Meet the Dark Elf; here, he’s about to throw a hissy-fit because you avoided all his traps and killed all his ‘friends’ who set out to attack you. Seriously, though, the Dark Elf is one of the more annoying mandatory bosses, as he’s almost as small as you are, and moves relatively quickly, making him difficult to target or pin-down by any character; he also cheats, like the goblinoid magic-users, and has spells from both the Fairy and Sorcerer lists.
Apparently you can talk him out of fighting if you’re an Elf, and already have the Sagestone jewel from the encounter, but I suppose he might have loot.

Attacks:

[Spell] Slow
Slow (Fairy)
This is really annoying, as you don’t get any chance to dodge it, and at the time you first encounter the Dark Elf, you have little chance of resisting it. Slow, as you can expect, slows you down for a period of time; as much of this battle involves dodging the Dark Elf’s high-level spells, getting hit by this can be painful. I didn’t see him use Slow in this fight, but memory tells me he can use it. It also makes sense that he’d have it, as he has the rest of the first-level Fairy spells available to him.

[Spell] Sleep
Sleep (Fairy)
Fairly annoying, but this one only means a single guaranteed hit, unless you’re somehow lucky enough not to be hit for the duration of the status. Sleep as a status lasts a very long time, so don’t count on it, but the projectile the spell releases moves very slowly, and is easy to outrun.

[Spell] Haste
Haste (Fairy)
Makes him move faster; his physical attacks suddenly become a lot more difficult to avoid with this active, but it thankfully doesn’t affect his casting speed.

[Spell] Lightningbolt
Lightningbolt (Sorcerer)
Much like the Sorcerer version, this one is unpredictable and rarely fires in a straight line. Just keep moving on the other side of the arena from the Dark Elf and pray it doesn’t hit you. This is actually one of the nicer spells the Dark Elf can use; it doesn’t have a chance of hitting you multiple times, and it doesn’t cause any bad statuses if it does hit.

[Spell] Blaze
Blaze (Sorcerer)
Same as the Sorcerer spell. Not too tricky to dodge, but it will hit multiple times if you hang around in the affected area.

[Spell] Blizzard
Blizzard (Sorcerer)
I swear this one has a slightly larger range than a player’s Blizzard spells do, but otherwise it’s exactly the same as the Sorcerer spell. Like Blaze, this one can hit you multiple times, which will probably kill you the first time you visit. Even if you’re not in the direct path of the spell, watch out, as the blue-tint to the screen whilst the spell is active makes it difficult to spot the Dark Elf.

Finally, his normal attacks – he seems to do karate or some other kind of martial art – do dark-element damage. Wearing something with light-element protection is a bad idea; probably the best protection would be Wind, as I stuck around for ages and didn’t see him try to use Poison Cloud.

For such a small opponent, it seems like the arena is pretty large, but you can’t forget that he tends to use spells that have a long range, or can hit multiple targets; he also starts with three minions that can throw off a selection of offensive spells themselves, so you may need the space for dodging.

Sensible, really - always keep Teleport memorised for dangerous situations...

Sensible, really - always keep Teleport memorised for dangerous situations...


All that said, however, he’s a Sorcerer and is gracious enough to not have much in the way of health. Just dodge his spells and keep hitting him, and he’ll retreat fairly quickly.
I was also lucky enough to get loot. Not-usable loot, but loot all the same.

Well, I’ll be heading back for now. I’ve a fair amount of new loot that needs IDing, and it’s really not difficult to get to the second part. Unlike the Wood of Ruins or the Abandoned Mines, the Old Palace doesn’t require much running around if you already know what you’re doing. You may even be able to skip the whole Dark Elf encounter, but I don’t know whether a certain door will open if you do that. I’ll check next time.

Oh, yeah. Now that the Dark Elf has been beaten, we ought to be able to check out that sealed area. There’s a Rogue-only door, two chests that only contained HP and MP potions, some more defeat-everything areas, including a very small room with no less than four floating mages, leading to… a Wand of Runes, that I’m already using, and a room with two chests for a Miracle Powder and a lamp of some description.
Kinda disappointing.

Loot

[Weapon] Elven Bow
Elven Bow [Weapon]
[At.65]
[Hun]
A magical bow, made for the king of the elves.

[Weapon] Trueheart
Trueheart [Weapon]
[At.15]
[Hun]
A first class bow of great workmanship.

[Weapon] Battle Axe
Battle Axe [Weapon]
[At.20]
[Dwf]
A heavy battle axe, the favored weapon of barbarians.

[Weapon] Long Sword
Long Sword [Weapon]
[At.18]
[War]
Longer than a normal sword.

[Object] Fairy Powder
Fairy Powder [Object]
[All]
Made from fairy wings.
Activates Anti-Circle.

For somewhere that’s supposedly good for Sorcerers, this place has a lot of non-Sorcerer loot lying around. One of the chests on the third level is a guaranteed piece of Warior/Dwarf/Elf armour, if memory serves, and a lot of the enemies tend towards dropping Bows or Axes.
The Elven Bow probably pales in comparison to weapons you can attain later on, but for the point of the game at which it appears, it’s insanely-powerful; Trueheart and the Composite Bow are two bows you tend to pick up more frequently from the enemies here, and are examples of how strong Hunter weapons tend to be at this point. If you’re a Hunter and are lucky enough to get the Elven Bow from the Dark Elf, you’re set weapon-wise for quite a while.
Finally, Fairy Powder. I think I have a new favourite item; I don’t care what it does, that’s just an amusing description when your party may include Fairies. Anti-Circle is one of the highest-level non-Forbidden Fairy spells, and apparently protects the party from magic and bad statuses. Having never used it, I can’t say, but it’s an exceptional drop for the first part of anywhere, given how high-level and costly that spell really is.

Item of the Day

[Object] Fate Coin
Fate Coin [Object]
[All]
It shows the Goddess of Luck.
(Changes Luck)

I’ve mentioned Fate Coins a couple of times previously; they’re the closest thing the game has to a proper currency, as one of the NPCs in the Inn will trade items in exchange for these, and they’re the easiest way of changing your Luck stat.
There are a couple of catches, though; using one of these may or may not raise your luck – it could lower your luck, too. Best to save at the Roadside Inn or somewhere else before using these, if you want higher luck. Second, the Knight sells many items in exchange for these, but some of the more expensive items depend on your class, and the expensive items are… expensive. Good, but expensive. The Old Palace is a great place for accumulating these, but the Labyrinth of the Dead isn’t that bad, either.

Hi-ho, Hi-ho…

Why do they have a Rogue? There aren't any doors to unlock...

Why do they have a Rogue? There aren't any doors to unlock...


I mean, the Fairy kind of makes sense, as there are a number of damaging-floor areas, and the Dwarf makes sense as this is the only area I’ve seen which uses the special ability to break rocks, much like the Hunter and tracking in the Wood of Ruins. The Warrior works everywhere as almost everything can be melee’d to death, but the Rogue? There are no pickable locks!

Guaranteed weapon?

Guaranteed weapon?


I’m not sure how I managed to miss this every single time I visited the area previously, as it’s mentioned on the map and all, but the chest here is a guaranteed weapon; later on, there’s a chest with a guaranteed piece of armour for whoever opens it, too. They’re both similar to those two chests in the Volcano, but they contain pathetic stuff.

The area's puzzle for the bonus multiplayer treasure

The area's puzzle for the bonus multiplayer treasure


The multiplayer puzzle for this area is interesting; it’s the only one I found that actually depends on some semblance of skill. If you take the glinting item at the end of the pier, it collapses, leaving whoever took it floating across the lake towards a waterfall. The other player has to hop across the rocks in the water so the first player doesn’t get pulled off the raft with the camera, and make it to a switch that lowers a bridge in time for the first player – with the key – to jump to that. Falling in the water loses the key.
I’m not sure what’s in the chest. Unlike the one in the Old Palace, there’s no chance of a single player somehow managing to complete this, as there’s nowhere safe to leap without the bridge, and you can’t reach the rocky outcroppings if you’re on the raft.

This makes less sense than the rest of the floor.

This makes less sense than the rest of the floor.


You’ve heard me rant about this floor before; the one with the bottomless pits. This thing, whilst a nice-looking method of transportation over an inexplicably-deep small body of water, makes no sense as something that would be built in a mine. Where the threat of demons or cave-ins is great enough that they don’t need the risk of drowning on top of it.

Looks like its not just available from the Volcano, after all...

Looks like its not just available from the Volcano, after all...

Incidentally: hey, looks like I hadn’t necessarily visited the Volcano before, anyway.
Not that I got anything from finding it there.

So the baby dragon is still a baby...

So the baby dragon is still a baby...


Odd death animation, though. I can’t remember if any other bosses do the same. I know the Troll erupts in a fountain of blood, and that no other boss does that, to my recollection.
Hum. I wonder if all bosses have unique death animations? I suppose I’ll have to go check, now.

Loot

Water Necklace
Water Necklace [Accessory]
[Int.14, Water.24]
[All]
Wearer is protected by the powers of water.

Minotaur Horn
Minotaur Horn [Accessory]
[Str.32]
[All]
Said to give the bearer great strength.

Resist Cloak
Resist Cloak [Accessory]
[Def.12, MDf.24]
[All]
Cloak that protects against magical attacks.

Pandora's Box
Pandora’s Box [Object]
Brings both hope and despair.
(? ? ?)

Misty Pendant
Misty Pendant [Accessory]
[All]
Mysterious locket with misty swirling surface.

Who knows what the Misty Pendant does; no stats, no defense, no elemental affinity… its description fits, at least. It’s probably one of the ‘protects against [status]’ accessories that never mention what they do. Likewise Pandora’s Box; the description is not illuminating and I don’t really want to open it.
The other items I picked up today were, happily, much more obvious in their usage. Mostly. The Water Necklace naturally boosts your defence against water-element attacks, but also has an unmarked boost to Intelligence, making it a fair pick for magic-users when not going to the Volcano, though you should have better things by this point. The Minotaur Horn provides a hefty boost to Strength, and would be great for anyone planning on melee, whilst the Resist Cloak gives a small boost to Defence, and a larger boost to Magic Defence.

Item of the Day

Earth Tiara
Earth Tiara [Accessory]
[All]
One of a pair of tiaras created long ago.

I said I’d get it.
And it only took… how many reloads? Ten? Twenty? At least four passed-up Robes of the Elder, at any rate. I’m very lucky there’s that savepoint sitting nearby. Almost as if they expected people would want at least one item from that chest.
The Earth Tiara is, like the Misty Pendant and the Pandora’s Box, another of those ‘what on earth does this do?’ items. It has no stats, not even any points towards defence. I stumbled over the use of the thing by accident; it, and presumably the other tiara, the one I never found, provide defence against certain elements. Rather than do this conventionally, through elemental affinities, it just… nullifies a sizeable portion of the damage from certain elements. Get both Tiaras and wear them, and… I don’t know. Might make you invincible to any form of elemental damage. Might clash and do nothing. Who knows.
I consider this one to be the more useful of the pair, as it works on a certain optional boss and it’s the only one I ever tracked down, anyway.

Volcanos and Tiaras

Notice anything odd here?

Notice anything odd here?

That’s right. The Volcano of the Fire Dragon finally unlocked itself.
I’m never sure of exactly when it’ll unlock. It always seems to happen after you’ve got the first half of the Sagestone jewels, but not immediately; this certainly wasn’t unlocked before I went into the Labyrinth of the Dead or the Old Palace, whichever I was doing last, as I make a habit of checking between each visit anywhere. It might be level-based, I suppose. Yesterday’s jaunt into the mines brought the Sorceress up to 145. That’s still probably too low for the Volcano, but there are a few reasons to head there early.

Volcano Loading Screen

Of all the mini-areas in the game, this one has to be one of my favourites. The music is very nice to listen to, there’s little in the way of suggestion that this place was left unfinished by the developers, and it doesn’t take long at all to get to the boss. Getting out afterwards takes longer, but…

Interestingly enough, this volcano ISN'T active until you unlock it...

Interestingly enough, this volcano ISN'T active until you unlock it...

Well, today we’re not going to the boss. We’re going to take a quick jaunt almost all of the way there, peer at a couple of chests, and then retreat.

Here's the 'shortcut'

Here's the short route


See, this area offers an almost-free equipment upgrade if you manage to get to this area whilst under-equipped; right before the boss, there are two chests guaranteed to hold a weapon and a piece of armour for the class of the character who first opens them.

The southern chest always contains armour, and the northwest chest a weapon

The southern chest always contains armour, and the northwest chest a weapon


It doesn’t take much work to reach them, either; as I said, the bulk of the work is in getting out of the place after you’ve beaten the boss. Well, it’s actually in beating the boss, but you don’t need to beat it to get out that way. There’s little point to going past the point of no return in this place unless you do want to fight the boss, honestly. You can easily get out via the floating platform shortcuts as long as you don’t drop down.
I don’t plan on fighting the boss today; I don’t have that item I wanted from the Mines, and I had trouble enough with an Elf ages back. Unfortunately, both chests here contained things I had or have surpassed already; a Robe of Spirits, and a Skystone Wand. No improvement there.

So, out again, sans any loot whatsoever. On the positive side, I did get to test the Dark Orb from yesterday – as long as you have X held down, the effect is maintained at the cost of MP – and I did get to test a method of taking screenshots easily.
I’ll return later when I’m not liable to be burnt to a crisp.

Item of the Day

Robe of Spirits
Robe of Spirits [Armour]
[Def.72, Wil.22, Int.5, Pow.4, MAt.40, MDf.22]
[Pri, Sor, Fai]
Amplifies its wearer’s magical power.

I may have been here before, as according to the Item FAQ, this is only obtainable from the armour chest in the Volcano. That’d explain why I also had the Skystone Wand, but… well, I don’t remember visiting here any time in the past year.
As with any item that boosts both basic stats and the attack/defence stats, it’s difficult to tell what’s a direct boost by the item, and what results from the basic stats it improved; the boost in MDf likely results from the boost to Wil, but the MAt.40 is probably mostly the Robe. Either way, this is very nice gear for a caster. Better than the Skystone Wand, anyway.

Of Trolls and Dragons, again…

So, to test out my new gamepad, I decided to run through an easier area. How about the Abandoned Mines? See, I know there is more loot to pick up than I found the last time, including a certain Accessory…
I didn’t find it this trip, but I still got practice in with the controller, and, most importantly, got used to casting spells again.
The Troll fell just as easily as it did the first time I beat him; three Thunderbolts with Extend Spell active did for him, and… naturally, he failed to give out any loot.

Loot

Lucky Earrings
Lucky Earrings [Accessory]
[Lck.24]
[All]
Beautiful earrings which bring luck.

Ambrosia
Ambrosia [Object]
Nectar of the “Changing Flower”.
(Resurrection)

Dark Orb
Dark Orb [Object]
Enchanted with dark magic.
(Activates Dark Breath)

Mysterious Clock
Mysterious Clock [Object]
Glowing Sandglass.
(Heavy slow! 33% dest.)

The Lucky Earrings here give 24 Luck when equipped, but if you’ll cast your mind back, remember the Luck Talisman that tends to turn up in Underlevels 1 to 5? That gives you 32 Luck. To make matters worse for the Earrings, it turned up twice before I reached them. The Earrings have the advantage of not looking like they were pulled from Dragonball, but there’s still no real reason to use them over the Talisman; I’m bemused as to why they turn up in the lower areas, really, given a better Luck item is available earlier on. The only reason to use the Earrings is if you don’t have a second Talisman and want yet more luck.

Of the consumables, Ambrosia is a good way of reviving your friends. Unlike the Miracle Powder, it’s a one-shot item, but also unlike the Miracle Powder, it’ll fully heal your friend on resurrection, as opposed to only slightly healing them and doing nothing as they get one-shot by the boss that killed them initially. Kind of pointless if you’re adventuring alone, like I do.
Dark Orb is another spell-replication item, this time copying Dark Breath from the Sorcerer list, so it’s not really useful for me. It’s one-shot, unlike some of the other spell-copy items out there, but Dark Breath is a maintainable spell. This kind of item is probably why Warriors and other pure-melee characters get any MP in the first place, as there don’t seem to be any enemies that drain MP to knock people out temporarily, but I’ve never really tested them.
Finally, Mysterious Clock. Self-destructing on a third of all uses is a fairly high rate of breakage, but in this case the effect is pretty useful, as it will greatly slow an enemy down. Which gives you more time to dodge and fire spells, or hit it with clubs, or whatever you want to do whilst it walks as if wallowing in mud. I probably only find the Fairy spell items more useful as I habitually play Sorcerers or Elves, but… elemental damage can be replicated pretty easily and more conveniently for melee classes through weapons and Materials; you don’t have to watch your already-low MP, or stay prone whilst using an item, if it’s just on the weapon you use normally anyway. Methods of replicating Fairy spells – which mostly cause status effects – are much more rare, limited to a few odd weapons and these kind of items. There’s no item to add ‘Sleep’ status to your weapon.

In addition to this lot, I also saw some Material Evil, but as I wasn’t too interested in corrupting either my weapon or my armour right now, and had much more interesting things already in my inventory, I went on without it.
Another Princess Locket, too. That’s a shame; I swear that area is where I managed to get the Earth Tiara in my original game, but it’s just the locket – which you’ve seen before – and the Mysterious Clock that turned up this time. I was probably insanely-lucky to pick it up the first and only time I went down there, but I was still rather lost as to what to do with it… until I realised it lowered most of a certain boss’ damage to pitiful levels.

Item of the Day

“Holy… that’s a high quality prize. That Healing Amulet, that’s a really useful object, and it’s valuable too. Don’t you feel a little unworthy to carry that?”
“I worked for this. I got bitten by snakes and giant millipedes and undead bears and why are there undead bears in the mines? I’m worthy.

Healing Amulet
Healing Amulet [Accessory]
[All]
An ancient amulet that heals the body.

The Healing Amulet is something else. Unlike the other Accessory I picked up today, this thing’s actually very useful. The Amulet is available from the Knight who loves his Fate Coins, for the cost of 20, which is fairly steep if you’re aiming for anything else, but it’s for good reason. I’m pretty lucky to find it, then; much like the Healing Robe, this nice little Accessory bestows a permanent healing effect for as long as it’s equipped, and without being locked into using the same piece of armour. So I can wear a better robe without innate Holy element that causes me to be torn to shreds by Dullahan or anything else using Evil, and still have the healing effect.

Spell of the Day

Extend Spell
Extend Spell
[Sor, Elf]
MP: 32
Command: ∆ O X O
Increases the strength of a magical attack.

When you want to kill things quicker but don’t have any more powerful spells? This is the spell to go for. Extend Spell doubles your Magic Attack, hence doubling the output damage, for a short length of time; enough to cast at least three or four third-level spells through X, anyway. Not just one spell as the description suggests, unless you try one of the fifth-level spells through X. I’m not even sure it’ll last through the entire casting time in that case, though.
Works best with the elemental third- and fifth-level spells, in my opinion; the third-level spells are quick enough to work through X or the code, if you’re good, whilst the fifth-level spells really need to be cast via code to make the best use of Extend Spell. It does boost your output greatly, especially if you’re targetting a weakness.

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