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.

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The Old Palace (2) – always two there are, a master and an apprentice

There's a fundamental flaw with these kinds of traps...

There's a fundamental flaw with these kinds of traps...


So, back to the Old Palace. I’ll spare you the rush to the Dark Elf, you’ve seen it before. I did manage to fall off the bridge on the first few attempts to get across, but thankfully there’s that savepoint on that floor. If that weren’t there, I’d probably just abuse Teleport and memorise exactly where the windows illuminate. Nothing interesting happened, anyway.

It turns out that you don’t need to beat the Dark Elf more than just the once to get into the second part of the Old Palace, unlike the bosses of other areas; the Dark Elf doesn’t sit on a route you need to take further down, so you can ignore him on all further visits if you want.
Naturally, I didn’t. I amused myself for a minute or two defeating him with Striking and Enhance Weapon, instead.

The upper portions of the tower are pretty similar to the lower.Lots of magically-themed enemies, puzzles that don’t require traipsing over the entire level, yet more ‘kill everything’ rooms, and yet more inefficient traps.

Stupid Trap A

Stupid Trap A


This one… well, remember the spinning dragon-headed things that spat out water? And remember the wall-mounted dragon-headed things that threw fireballs? This is a spinning dragon-headed thing that throws fireballs. Imaginative, eh?

Stupid Trap B

Stupid Trap B


Then there’s this thing; a slowly-rising crystal-fuelled lift that rises through the paths of yet more fireball-spitting things. I’d be scared of this thing… if, you know, it just incinerated whatever was on the lift, rather than doing 20 damage per hit in an easily-avoidable pattern.

Semi-Effective Trap A

Semi-Effective Trap A


This one, however, is a more effective version of the corridor of bladed pendulums; the knights swivel as they swing the swords. The spot in which I’m standing is still a safe spot, but it’s a bit more difficult to tell, in this case, than the pendulums.

I always thought the area immediately before the boss was similar to the second floor of the Palace of the Immortals; it has an upper and lower area, a central bit that you can’t do anything with the first time you visit, a magical circle (or four, in the mansion’s case), four places to use items to open up the central bit…
Needless to say, we need to make a little detour to get the items we need to use. Trying to activate the stands at the moment tells us we need Gate Crystals, which we don’t have. How do we know we need them? The magic-emitting pedestals probably speak to us like the monoliths in the Ancient Ruins, or something along those lines. A teleporter on the fifth floor will bring us up to the sixth floor, and a suspiciously-familiar bridge.
From the loading screen. Not that one that forces us to spend half an hour climbing back up.

Okay, so I took this long after the battle. I admit I forgot earlier on.

Okay, so I took this long after the battle. I admit I forgot earlier on.


I feel sorry for the Dark Elf, now. He’s little tougher the second time you fight him, and he still does a pathetic 30~ points of damage with his Blaze compared to mine doing 150~… Extend Spell enhanced, admittedly, but it’s still somewhat rubbish in comparison. The real problem in the fight is his pet Black Wyvern, which will happily keep you poisoned for the entirety of the fight, but it automatically dies if you beat the Dark Elf.
That’s not really why I feel sorry for him, though. His master drops a meteorite on him after he gives up, and it’s not possible to avoid this fight. I need to learn to hit the button I’ve linked to the screenshot utility quicker, as I keep missing stuff like this.

Aaaand here we are, the point at which I gave up after finding myself here instead of comfortably before Dullahan in the Labyrinth of the Dead. I don’t like this floor; it’s as tedious as the floors you get dropped down to if you fall off that bridge, and this time the enemies are reasonably strong normally, but made worse by a particular effect on this floor.
To move onwards, we need to destroy a set of eight red crystals. These red crystals are actually a fairly good security measure, as they do several things to the room they’re in; first, all of your enemies in a room with an intact crystal are invincible. Destroying the crystal fixes that, but in the mean time they’re interrupting your spells and dealing damage. Second, the crystals are ‘poison’ crystals, and slowly deal damage to you over time. You can’t leave the rooms until all enemies are dead, either.
So the whole floor will slowly wear your HP and MP bars down, as the corridors between the crystal rooms aren’t entirely safe, either. Last time I was here, I was about ten levels lower and less well-equipped, and kept getting torn to pieces by the skeletal centaur-like golems. This time I’m holding my own, with Extend Spell hanging around. One good thing shared with the original hated floor is that enemies have a tendency to drop a useful object; this time, Material Magic.

Another good thing is it connects to an area with some of the best music in the game.

Another good thing is it connects to an area with some of the best music in the game.

[Old Palace] Crystal Maze
I really do love the music in this area. Back when I could still remember where the memory card with my characters was, I used to simply spend all the effort to get to this area, then leave it sitting paused for hours simply to listen to it. This area’s theme, like the boss theme for the area later on, is a variation on the main area’s theme; both sound far better than the original, in my opinion, though that may be far less in the way of repetition, as far as the boss theme is concerned.
I wish the Blaze & Blade soundtrack weren’t so stupidly rare.

Anyway, music aside, this area has a few other interesting qualities to it. The floor – presumably made of crystal – periodically changes from purple to black and back again. Since the area’s backdrop is also black, this makes it easier than most places for you to accidentally fall off. The game doesn’t pull the same trick it did at the bridge, and it’s still negligable damage, but it still adds up, and is annoying to boot.

Another thing: there's also absolutely no map for the area.

There's also absolutely no map for the area.


So, for once, it’s a legitimate maze; unlike everywhere else, you can’t simply pull up the pause screen to work out where to go next. Finally, only one kind of enemy spawns here; crystal gargoyles. They’re tougher than most of the other enemies in the Old Palace against magic, but slightly less tough against physical attacks than the rest of the enemies that turn up in the second part. They also only ever drop Material Magic, if they drop anything; this is a great place to take legendary weapons and armour for strengthening, just like part one of the Old Palace is great for Fate Coins.

Cue taking ten pictures in a row just to find one good shot...

Cue taking ten pictures in a row just to find one good shot...


All in all, it’s not a great challenge; as the only enemy that shows up is not so hot against physical damage, and drops weapon-strengthening items, Striking is the perfect spell to use, for once, and Enchant Weapon on top of it will improve your damage further. The only troublesome thing about them is they rarely inflict Silence, but by the time one of them actually DID that, I had about fifteen Material Magics on my weapon already, and was doing around 60~ damage unbuffed. They give out nice amounts of experience, too.

So, about twelve levels later, I decided to get on with my job.

So, about twelve levels later, I decided to get on with my job.


There are only a few situations in which a Sorcerer is better off using melee attacks than magic; this is one of them. Material Magic is for the most part only useful for a Sorcerer’s armour, as it’s impossible to raise a weapon’s stat bonuses, and those – affecting magic – are far more important than how much damage you can do in melee. All the same, I’ll be holding on to this stick, as I’ll probably want to return here at some later point.

The aim of the area is to grab the Gate Crystals we found we needed earlier, and to get to the top alive, as there’s no other way out that will let us keep the crystals; Teleport or a Rope of Return are escapes, but they seem to induce bag ‘o spilling when quest items are involved. The general structures of the separate floors we’ve seen before; the first floor involves walking halfway around a circle, the second is reminiscent of the floating platforms from the Abandoned Mines, the third floor isn’t even a maze but has two treasure chests you shouldn’t miss, and the Highest Point has the Gate Crystals and the way out. Falling off drops you to a lower level, if you land on anything – it’s all technically the same map, so there’s no transition.

Happily, the red crystals don’t respawn whilst you’re in the maze, so you can just take whichever side you took when getting to the maze’s entrance on that floor. Also happily, a teleporter that bypasses Stupid Trap B activated after you make it up the first time.

Can never remember where to get the key for these, though.

Can never remember where to get the key for these, though.


There isn’t much else to do here save beat the boss. I’m not sure if you need to be a specific class to open those doors at the bridge, though something makes me think I may need to be an Elf.
Radical species-changing surgery aside, I’m not getting them open. To the boss!
After I heal, anyway.

Must remember to check the magical circles in the Palace of the Immortals...

Must remember to check the magical circles in the Palace of the Immortals...

Some people say the Dark Wizard is female, but I can't see it here. Maybe it's another speech setting.

Some people say the Dark Wizard is female, but I can't see it here. Maybe it's another speech setting.


I think the Old Palace is the only place with properly-chatty bosses. The others don’t listen, won’t understand you, or just don’t give you a choice.

Naturally, the Dark Wizard has a bunch of spells up his or her sleeves. Starting with…

[Forbidden Spell] Meteor Smash
Meteor Smash
This is the spell that did insane (200+) damage to me when I made a very-failed attempt at the Fire Dragon. So long as you’re not within a certain area in front of… hm. I’ll stick with ‘her’, it’s reasonably easy to dodge, and it has a long cast-time, so you’ve plenty of time to get out of the way, but if you’re within the target area, the meteors strike randomly, so it’s difficult to tell where it’ll hit next.
This is probably the spell she used on the Dark Elf. That or a minor variant thereof. Sorcerers don’t have any other meteor-calling spells hanging around. I don’t have this yet, but one of the Forbidden spells is in the Old Palace, and I’m not leaving until I get it.

Fusion
This is the other Forbidden spell the Dark Wizard has access to; it looks like she’s throwing a ‘tiny’ universe at you, and hurts about as much. Like Meteor Smash, this has a large casting time, and also hits a large area in front of her; it moves forward until the spot she cast it at is on the edge of the effect, then stays in that spot for a while, spitting out arcs of magical lightning at the edges and probably killing anything caught inside. She turns as she’s incanting it, but you don’t really have any excuse to be hit with this if you can see her.
The main threat from this spell is that it obscures a large area, and she doesn’t take damage from standing within the area of effect; you can’t tell what she’s doing in there, and she may be winding up for another Fusion or Meteor Smash.

[Spell] Shining
Shining
This is a worrying spell if there’s anything else is attacking you; it’s a maintained spell that automatically and constantly hits the target, so even if you’re resisting every blow, it will still do a fair amount of damage, and slow you greatly for the duration, with nothing you, personally, can do about it.
If nothing else is hanging around in the arena, though, this is simply a matter of surviving the damage. Try not to have your HP fall too low in case she uses this one.

[Spell] Smash
Smash
Maybe dangerous if you’re meleeing her; it’s a second-level spell with a short cast time, so it’s both more difficult to avoid if you’re already in range and you expect one of her longer-cast spells. It probably doesn’t do comparable damage to anything else she has, though, and like Shining should be easier to resist. The range is pitiful and really will only catch you if you’re in meleeing distance. Given the other spells she can throw at you, it’s probably best to put some distance between you whenever she casts, as odds are it’s not this spell.

Her minions – the two bulky demons – can spit out ice breath, or attack physically. They’re not particularly tough, or resistant to magic, and will probably just be taken out whilst you’re aiming for the Wizard.
As befits any Sorcerer, the Wizard is very tough against magic; with Extend Spell applied so I’m at 310 MAt, she still takes only 25 damage a cast of Blaze if she doesn’t resist. She might possibly be fire-resistant, though. Also as befits any Sorcerer, though, she’s pathetic when confronted with an angry adventurer wielding a blunt stick and Striking.
Gee. Good thing for us she owns and made us go through that crystalline maze full of creatures that only drop Material Magic, huh?

I have absolutely no clue how I discovered this the first time. Maybe I was trying to dodge Fusion?

I have absolutely no clue how I discovered this the first time. Maybe I was trying to dodge Fusion?


So, don’t forget the secret northern passage with boss loot. See, this is why I wonder some bosses don’t seem to have loot chests. Am I missing a secret passage somewhere? Did I miss something earlier?
Anyway, aside from a random piece of treasure that is usually something useful for a Hunter – we’re in a Sorcerer’s tower, why can’t a Sorcerer’s item be more common? – that room has ‘Meteor Strike‘… AKA, Meteor Smash, and one of the Priest’s Forbidden spells. Looks like the Dark Wizard – or her ancestors – lived here for a very long time…

I mean, the Bolt of Larie is all well and good, and the Expert is probably right to be shocked by a legendary weapon that, like many, seems to have a demon sealed within it… but it’s one of the most common items in that chest owned by a Sorcerer.

“Bolt of Larie! My word, where did you find this?!”
“Huh? Oh, the master of that tower in the southeast has a chest full of them. Do you want more?”

Loot

[Accessory] Berserker Bones
Berserker Bones [Accessory]
[At.12]
[All]
Skullbone of a fallen battle-mad warrior.

[Accessory] Evil Necklace
Necklace of Evil [Accessory]
[Evil.24, Lck.14]
[All]
Engraved devil’s prayer gives unholy power.

[Weapon] Wand of Evil
Wand of Evil [Weapon]
[At.43, Evil.8, Pow.12, MAt.21]
[Sor]
A wand with the power to curse.

[Weapon] Falconbolt
Falconbolt [Weapon]
[At.50]
[Hun]
A special bow which can shoot two arrows at once.

Berserker Bones really only do boost your attack, stat-wise. They do boost your critical rate in general, and put you into berserk status for stronger attacks when in ‘critical condition’ – somewhere below half maximum HP – according to holypriest’s Item List, though. Nice for a Warrior, I suppose.
There’s a necklace for every element; this is the third I’ve picked up, with Holy Necklace and Water Necklace found elsewhere already. Unlike the Water Necklace, this one boosts my Luck, rather than Intelligence; a nice boost, but less than what dedicated Luck accessories do. Evil is a fair element to have for defence, as outside of magic, not many creatures seem to do Holy element damage.
Evil Necklace, Wand of Evil, floating swords that deal Evil damage, skeletal centaurs, gargoyles, floating armour… hmm. Yeah, the Old Palace is pretty Evil. So is this wand; I hate things that come with already-applied elements, and whilst Evil is okay on a defensive piece, on an offensive piece it tends to suck as a lot of things that deal Evil damage are resistant to Evil damage. That said, it doesn’t apply to the wand unless I’m manually thwacking stuff. Happily for me, Wand of Runes tops the Wand of Evil in all areas save MAt, where it loses out by all of 6 points. I’m sticking with the buffed Wand of Runes, but thanks all the same, Old Palace.
Falconbolt is somewhat obsoleted by the discovery of the Bolt of Larie. To make matters worse for the hapless Hunter who finds this and then the Bolt of Larie, it’s the weapon offered by the Knight in exchange for Fate Coins from a Hunter; for some reason, Hunter rares are stupidly common. I wonder if there’s a typo somewhere? I mean, beyond it being called a bow when obviously it’s a crossbow. It probably has an increased rate of fire, but I can’t check, not being a Hunter.

Item of the Day

[Weapon] Bolt of Larie
Bolt of Larie [Weapon]
[At.92]
[Hun]
A cursed arrow made by the demon Larie.

Because… well… I already covered Material Magic, and this is the first properly legendary item I tend to pick up in any game. Blasted chest. I’d be happy if I could play Hunter, but the aiming on that class is so finicky I tend to leave it to AI, and I rarely drag AI characters around with me because, as I don’t level them, they tend to be as bad as wet paper.
Anyway. Bolt of Larie. The first legendary that ANYONE gets, and curse the people who get better.
This is also one of the sillier descriptions in the game, worse than Falconbolt. As ‘just’ an arrow, unless it strikes and returns like Mjollnir, it’s the worst artefact ever. Between this, the Elven Bow, and Falconbolt, I have to wonder where the right place is to find decent Sorcerer gear. Labyrinth of the Dead? Palace of the Immortals?

Spell of the Day

[Spell] Striking
Striking
MP: 10
Command: X O
Amplifies inner strength and increases attack (AT)

A Sorcerer’s answer to a Sorcerer, this is an expensive spell at the time you receive it, but it balances the cost by potentially being able to take down many more enemies than a single Water Bullet; as many as you can kill off whilst it is in effect, anyway. Striking, like Extend Spell, doubles an Attack stat; this doubles Attack, and Extend Spell, its upgraded form, works on Magic Attack.
As you can tell from today, it’s still useful long after you pick it up, as it still just doubles your attack. With this in effect, a Sorcerer probably still won’t be the equal of a Warrior or Dwarf, but might rival a Rogue or Elf for damage. Perfect for enemies with high magic defence and low physical defence.

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.

Returning to Blaze & Blade…

…I am surprised to find my main character – Rebecca, the level 136 Sorceress – in the second portion of the Old Palace, rather than sitting at the savepoint before Dullahan, as I remembered, sulking about how her current robe, with the wrong resistances, keeps getting her killed by something she could easily beat earlier on.

She’s there with a full inventory of loot, to boot. Score. That said, after a little screwing around and trying to fight in the room I found myself in, and gaining a level, I realise that…

I really need practice using my new gamepad, and retreat back to the inn for now.

Loot

“Holy… that’s a high-quality prize…”
“Don’t you feel a little unworthy to carry that?”
“…well, no. I’m feeling more annoyed than unworthy; it’s a Runic Shield and I can’t wear it. It’s made for people with muscles.”
“That’s too bad. Are any of the other adventurers at the inn interested in them?”
“Nope. They’re happy with what they’ve got, even if I say I’ll give these away for a song.”

Technique Book
Technique Book [Accessory]
[At.15, Def.0]
[War, Rog, Elf]
Book containing the secrets of swordsmanship.

Runic Shield
Runic Shield [Armour]
[At.0, Def.60]
[Rog, Hun, Elf]
It is engraved with runes to enhance magical power.

Wand of Runes
Wand of Runes [Weapon]
[At.29, Def.0]
[Sor]
Has magical powers through the runes engraved on it.

If anything is ‘engraved with runes to enhance magical power’, it ought to be something a spellcaster can equip. Elves aren’t good enough; mages want armour too. That wand looks shiny, but… well, it’s weaker than my current one. It looks nicer, but looks aren’t everything.
Not much in the way of good loot today, right? That’s really only to be expected as I think most of this would have come from lower down the tower, in the portions that any character can access early on. Pity. I had such hopes for the book, too.

But hold on a moment…

Item of the day

Skystone Wand
Skystone Wand [Weapon]
[At.40, Def.0, MAt.8]
[Sor]
A magical wand created from a meteor.

I’ve no idea where I found it, but it’s what I was using when I loaded up the save. Might even be included in the loot lists from previous explorations.
It’s an object lesson in why you shouldn’t rely purely on only the stats Blaze & Blade ever deigns to show you.
The Wand of Runes listed in the loot up there is… deceptive; my current weapon, up until working this out – the Skystone Wand here – has a higher attack value, but only provides 8 to magic attack. The Wand of Runes, whilst being less suited for attacking, adds 15 points to magic attack. This makes a bit of sense, as what’s good for your magic may not be good for hitting people over the head, but it’s annoying that any stat changes aside from attack and defence need to be checked manually; unequip weapon, check base stats, equip weapon, compare stats with base stats…

It looks nicer, but looks aren’t everything, hm?

Spell of the Day

Teleport
Teleport
[Sorcerer]
MP: 80
Command: ∆ X O X∆O ∆XO
Allies are teleported to a safe place.

We bring you a break from our scheduled programming today in order to showcase the spell that saved Lioleus’ butt when she expected to find herself in a relatively-safe underground area on loading the game, and instead found herself high up a tower; Teleport.
This is a spell for lazy people, though it’s also a spell for people who didn’t bring a Rope of Return in the hopes of one more good item in the loot. This replicates the effect of a Rope of Return, but it costs MP and takes much longer to kick in… or has a code that I keep stumbling over. That said, it does save you a spot in your inventory, and as you have only ten slots open and shared with your equipment, you can see why this spell is handy to have around.
If you can pull off the code, it’s combat-usable. With X, however, it’s horrendous, and if any enemy can throw you around and interrupt your casting, you’re liable never to get the spell off successfully.

The Troll (Beaten)

Well, that was surprising. When you do 200 damage a hit, the Troll goes down surprisingly quickly.
I don’t have much else to add, though. I’ve already run through the Abandoned Mine before, and there’s nothing different this time, aside from being about 25 levels higher and finally beating the Troll.
Oh, yeah. Once you beat the Troll, the standard exit-portal appears in the middle of the room, in the convenient portal-sized non-dip.

Loot

Silent Box [Object]
Odd music box.
(Casts Silence 10% dest.)

Magical Stone [Object]
Soothes the spirit.
(MP to max. 25% Dest.)

Blessed Ring [Accessory]
[At.8, Df.8, Mat.8, Mdf.8, Holy.4]
[All]
Blessed and engraved with holy symbols.

Queen’s Circlet [Accessory]
[Int.8, Df.4, Mdf.4]
[All]
Beautiful circlet from ancient times.

Magical Stone and Silent Box are destructable items, and very good ones at that. Silence – a Fairy spell – shuts down enemy casters. In places like the Old Palace, where casters are quite numerous, this can be lifesaving. Like Sheep Lute, there’s only a 10% chance this item will be destroyed with each use, so barring bad luck it’ll last a while.
Magical Stone, on the other hand, is half a portable, reusable Elixir. Though MP restores itself so long as you’re not casting, it can be very frustrating and perilous running out of MP in the middle of a boss battle. Magical Stone refills your MP entirely, but destroys itself 25% of the time, so you’re not likely to hold on to this one as long as the Silent Box.

I’m seeing a theme in that last chest before the Troll… Queen’s Circlet is an okay accessory, but there are better things out there… unless it also does something unrelated to stats.
Better things, like the Blessed Ring, perhaps. 8 points to all defence and attack stats, and a slight increase in your Holy attribute, make this a decent accessory for general use, if you know you’re not going to head to a place where being Holy is a weakness.

Item of the Day

Elixir [Object]
Legendary medicine.
(Completely restores MP and HP)

Well, Elixir is certainly well-known, since Final Fantasy use it for the exact same purpose. Sometimes they even wake (or kill) the dead, to boot. You all know this one.
One of these days, I’m going to make a game and put Elixir as the status cure-all, rather than the cure-absolutely-everything-including-wounds. Or have it just restore a middling amount of MP. Other games have done it.

I suspect the Elixir is the reason the ‘Elexier’ in the Palace of the Immortals is how it is. But it’s just as confusing; I never found an Elixir the first time I played through this game, so I always assumed ‘Elexier’ was a typo.

Spell of the Day

Thunderbolt
MP: 45
Command: ∆ O ∆ ∆ O (∆O)
Blasts of lightning attack the foes.

Another of the fifth-level 45MP elemental attack spells, Thunderbolt is the upgraded form of Lightningbolt. As such, it deals much more damage than Lightningbolt, and produces three bolts instead of just the one – two at 40~ degrees, and one straight ahead.
Roughly. Again, Thunderbolt is a spell that’s difficult to predict precisely, though you know generally where the bolts will go. Compared to Lightningbolt, the damage it deals is vaguely sickening; I only cast it four or five times against Troll before it died, and its minions fell apart on the second cast.
As with Explosion, this spell should be cast from the commands, rather than assigned to the casting button; it’s a little more awkward to cast that way than Explosion, but the game sometimes reads the command for Lightningbolt if I mess up Thunderbolt, so… it’s not always a total loss, hm?

The Ancient Ruins (2)

– The Ancient Ruins –
Sunken remains of the Arcane culture. The main ruins stand at the bottom of a great pit.

As mentioned before, there really isn’t anything to say about the Ancient Ruins. Brown wolves lurking on the surface levels can drop Blood Extracts, and are the weakest enemies in the area, meaning hanging around on the top level can be a good way to increase your maximum HP… but, depending on your luck and level, not necessarily as efficient as going into the ruins and killing chimera, instead. The gargoyles can drop small red-orange mana potions, but will rarely drop Material Magic instead.

The strongest enemies in the area are the silver-coloured wisps; unlike other enemies with the same structure, these are opaque, and have many reddish eyes on their front. They look pretty scary, ARE pretty scary when you realise there are eight of them that will mob you, and protect the hidden rooms in the Ancient Ruins. I can’t believe I missed those all these years. I even noticed the wall section was taller there, like a door, but didn’t think to try jumping in. I found the room in the Old Palace without help, so I don’t really have an excuse for missing those entrances. Thanks, Blaze.
Explosion, at least, is powerful enough to kill those things before they kill me. Finally, I’ll have something to show for visiting this area.

Down in the ruins proper, the metallic slimes and chimera are great sources of experience. I find the chimera easier to beat, as they aren’t as resistant to damage as the slimes, but the slimes can drop Material Magic. The chimera possess various third-level Sorcerer spells, and the slimes just love to digest you.

The security system of the Ancient Ruins must be beaten in order to leave the area, if you jump down from the surface; even if you jump to the lower area, still on the same map, you’ll have to beat the security system to activate the portal, as there’s no other way to go back up.
You know, unless you bring someone with Teleport or a Rope of Return.

1. The security system will generate Doppelgangers of party members at the beginning of the fight; these are identical to the party members at the beginning of the fight, current HP aside (I think). If you get confused, changing the colour of a character does not change the colour of the respective Doppelganger after they’ve been created.

2. Doppelgangers will attack physically, for however much damage the copied character would do with you as a target.

3. Doppelgangers will not use spells. They might not use other special abilities, but I haven’t tested that.

…and that’s it. They don’t even have the boss-standard attack and defense debuffs. Pretty simple, hm?
Not so simple if you have three AI characters tagging along, or if you’re playing with other people, though. The clones are reasonably aggressive, but are very erratic and might not necessarily move towards you, or may start attacking before you’re in range.
If you’re having problems telling apart party member from clone, changing the colour of your character even before you enter the room does not change the colour of the clone; it will always be the basic colours for your class. Alternatively, you could just switch on the player indicator, or even show directional arrows. It’s all somewhat cheating, but this fight isn’t difficult even at high levels, as the bosses are created explicitly to be equal to you. With four people, it’d just be an incredibly chaotic fight, and a nice excuse to beat up something that looks like your friend’s character.

Loot

First Trip:

“Hmmm, there are markings on that thing which seem to indicate demonic work.”
“Holy… that’s a high-quality prize…”
“Don’t you feel a little unworthy to carry that?”
“…yeah.”

Guardian Armor [Armour]
[At.16, Df.95]
[War, Dwf]
Armor forged by the warlords of hell.

Material Magic [Object]
Crystal of solid magic.
(Strengthens weapon)

Second Trip:

“Holy… that’s a high-quality prize…”
“Don’t you feel a little unworthy to carry that?”
“Not this time.”

Merlin’s Ring [Accessory]
[Int.24, Pow.16, (Mat.24? Mdf.20?)]
[All]
Favourite ring of the great sorcerer Merlin.

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

Another eight Material Magics…

Third Trip:

Reflector Ring [Accessory]
[Chance to guard against spells to take no damage?]
[All]
A ring that protects the wearer from magic.

One more Material Magic…

Once again more exceedingly shiny things that I can’t use… but the Material Magics are a start. Maybe if I got fifty of the Materials… but one alone isn’t enough to improve the Healing Robe as much as I want.
I’ve discussed Materials before, but Material Magic is a special case; instead of increasing (or decreasing) elements on a weapon or armour, Material Magic increases its At. or Df. stats; therefore increasing the raw damage you do with a weapon, or the damage reduced by a piece of armour. Because Material Magic will never actually decrease the damage you deal, or increase the damage you take, it is by far the most useful and valuable of the Materials that you can find or buy from the Retired Knight. As Material Magic can be picked up from the chests, from gargoyles, from the slimes and from the metallic wisps, the Ancient Ruins are a very good place for collecting them… once you’re strong enough to kill off the wisps.

Finally! Something good I can use! Merlin’s Ring is rather awe-inspiring, especially since I haven’t gotten anything truly useful for a caster since the first trip to Labyrinth of the Dead (…which was the Talisman, zombies drop loads – incidentally, their effect stacks). This is another of the items you can get from the two hidden chests on the surface’s underlevel. Regarding the uncertainty with the last two effects, I’m not sure whether increasing Intelligence and Power affects Magic Attack and Magic Defense. It’s pathetic to say, but I don’t have anything else I can test with.

The Mirror Armor didn’t come from one of the chests; one of the metallic wisps dropped it. They seem to drop Material Magic much more often, though, so keep that in mind if you want it. It’s not brilliant compared to Guardian Armor, all I know about it is from what the game tells me; I don’t know whether it boosts stats, or has a chance of reflecting spells, or anything else like that, as I can’t equip it to check.
Likewise the Guardian Armor, of course.
Oh, and once again, I forget to take a picture of something before discarding it. Bah.

The Reflector Ring is an odd accessory; doing absolutely nothing for any of your stats, it instead gives you the random chance to Guard against a spell and take no damage. Whether your stats alter the chance of that happening or not, I’m not sure.
It’s not better than a Dragon Scale and it’s certainly not better than Merlin’s Ring, so I’m not using it. I like how it looks, though; seems reminiscent of Eternal Ring.

Item(s) of the Day

Power Symbol [Accessory]
[Fire.8, Str.32, Con.15]
[All]
Talisman that draws out one’s hidden strengths.

So I went to the Old Palace after finding myself unable to clear the Abandoned Mine… again. It so happened that, whilst practicing a certain spell, this dropped from one of the two black swordsmen guaranteed to spawn in the room between the Sagestone-locked door, and the room with the healing circle.
Strength is good if you’re hitting stuff, obviously, so on that note this item is better for any melee-type than a caster. However, Constitution is very good in general, for all classes, and 15 points is brilliant, compared to the accessories available in the first parts of any area. Just watch out for the 8 points the item gives towards fire; don’t try to use it against the Kraken.

Spell(s) of the Day

Explosion
MP: 45
Command: O ∆ O O ∆ (∆O) O
Creates balls of fire which explode on impact.

Explosion produces a small-sized orb in front of the caster; this can damage enemies, for the same amount as the spell’s main effect, but its range is comparable to the Sorcerer’s wand. After a few moments, the orb explodes, dealing damage to all enemies in medium range. As a fifth-level spell, Explosion has a very long natural casting time, but it deals exceptional damage; 80 points if something resists, to around 150 points normally.
Here we start with the really good spells. Explosion is the first spell learned from the fifth level of spells, and is part of a set of spells that should be considered upgraded versions of certain third-level spells. Explosion, as the spellcode suggests, is the upgraded form of Blaze. Where the original was a moving AoE, Explosion produces a lot of damage in one (or two) hits, making it much more similar in form to Lightningbolt.
The best way to use Explosion alone is, like any other spell its level, through its spellcode. I recommend keeping one of the third-level spells on the main casting button, for emergencies and not-tough enemies, and practicing hitting the keys for Explosion somewhere near a healing circle, so you can practice until you’re sure you’ve got it. In a party of friends, you might be able to survive casting it from the casting button, but you’ll almost always be casting slower than using the sequence of commands for the spell, so unless you’re running low on MP, you’d be better off learning the spellcode anyway.

Come to think of it, the third-level spells were upgrades of the first-level spells, weren’t they? And the fourth-level spells upgrades of the second level. The problem with the second- and fourth-level spells is… well… they’re not all that useful. There are many more enemies weaker to the normal elements (Fire, Water, Earth, Wind) than to Light and Darkness, and the first-, third- and fifth-level spells are, for the most part, much easier to use. The non-elemental spells (Magic Missile, Smash, Enchant Weapon, Dispell Magic and Petrifaction) are far more situational, or of limited use due to their cost; just look at Dispell Magic. When you get that, generally you’re still facing things that can barely manage the first level of Fairy spells.

The Ruins in the Lake (2)

– The Lake Ruins –

A lake where a great city is said to have existed in ancient times. Ruins tower up out of the water’s surface…

I touched upon this place earlier; the Ruins in the Lake is another of my favourite regions in Blaze & Blade. It has great music, it looked spectacular at the time the game was released, and it has a fun boss fight at the end. It also doesn’t take three to six hours to reach the boss, so if you realise you’re not going to be able to beat something, you won’t feel like the last five hours of your life have been spent in vain.
Not that I’m bitter, but I really do hate the Troll.
I probably wouldn’t like the game as much if all the regions were as short as the Valley of White Silver, the Ancient Ruins and the Ruins in the Lake, though, even if there were many more regions in total than the game currently has.
Long regions require thought, if not careful planning; rationing of items, puzzles, sub-bosses, bosses. They take a long time to work through even if you know where everything is, as they can be absolutely huge. But it’s fun just wandering around a large region and seeing the sights, and fighting the monsters. The payoff is usually more treasure than you alone can carry.
On the other hand, short regions are more immediate tests of raw power; the only major challenge in a small region is its boss, and in both the Ancient Ruins and the Ruins in the Lake, you have to defeat the boss to get out with your loot. Well, unless you’re sneaky and bring a Rope of Return to the Ancient Ruins. The Valley of White Silver, meanwhile, has only a single guaranteed chest – that I know about – but it’s the simplest of the optional areas. They’re good breaks between long adventures in, say, the Abandoned Mine.

Looking at the layout of the region, it’s my theory that either the lake formed around the city, or the city sank into the lake. Why?
Well, we have a path to walk on, but in the entire accessible area we can only find three buildings; the two towers on the north and south ends of the two paths, and the building with the Kraken. Not, to my eyes, the makings of a city.
Unless we’re walking on the top of a wall, or raised pathway. The main buldings of the city are submerged and unreachable, and we’re walking on the upper floors of two towers and the… well, the northernmost building was probably a shrine, especially since it contains the tablet describing the Reincarnation spell.
There isn’t anything contradicting that theory, but there’s nothing actually supporting it within the game, either, aside from the pit the Kraken resides in. The science-geek within me comments that the room you fight Kraken in should be at least half-full of water, as the floor is below the local water level.

…speaking of which, the Kraken. Of all the optional bosses made available immediately after collecting four jewels, Kraken is probably the toughest; It’s made up of eleven separate parts, only ten of which can take damage, and a lot of those component parts aren’t always attackable in melee. However, even for casters this battle can be difficult, as Kraken has a number of abilities that are worse for characters standing still.

Attacks:

1. Kraken’s head can cast a very large-area Blizzard spell. You can’t really fail to see this one coming, as the spellcircles that spring up around Kraken’s head are absolutely huge, and it doesn’t cast anything else. The entire room also goes blue whilst the animation’s running. Make sure you’re moving away as the spell goes off.
Kraken’s head will also attack you, but for about the same damage at the feet. It looks like it’s charging you, but I’ve never seen it do that for real.
There’s only one head, obviously, and it’s immune to damage.

2. Kraken’s ‘arms’ – tentacles ending in a spade-like section – can send waves of water at you, similar to the 2nd Level spell Dark Wave. This isn’t a spell, however, and though the arm does have an animation for the attack, usually the only warning you’ll have is the beginning of the attack’s animation, and the sound effect. This attack doesn’t push you back, but otherwise acts like numerous Water Bullets, you’ll continue to take damage until the wave is completely through your body. It’s difficult to dodge, as the wave affects such a large area, but it does spread out in the direction the beginning of the animation points in, which can help.
Arms can also attack you normally, with a chance of being stunned. Naturally, this is bad. Thankfully, they don’t normally get in melee range of you unless most of the plain tentacles are dead.
Kraken has two arms.

3. Plain tentacles – tentacle legs? – just continually attack you for low water-element damage. They range to just under half the distance between the pit and the walls, so they are easy to avoid by just hugging a wall, but if you go within melee range of Kraken’s pit, you’ll be constantly attacked by all the tentacles that can reach you. Like any attack, you’ll be held still for a short moment; if you’re trying to dodge either of Kraken’s other attacks, don’t run around the east side of the room, as unless you jump onto the raised area, you’ll be in range of these attacks.
Plain tentacles can also send a smaller, single wave of water at you; looks like a thin version of Water Bullet, and pierces, but doesn’t hit multiple times like the real thing, or the arm tentacles’ waves. They don’t seem to do this attack often, even when you’re out of range of their physical attack, but it doesn’t do much damage.
There are eight plain tentacles.

All of Kraken’s attacks are water-element, so equipment or accessories that defend against water are a very good choice. All of Kraken’s body pieces get to act at the same time; you’ll be simultaneously facing waves of water, Blizzard spells, and attacks from the remaining plain tentacles throughout the fight. ‘Killing’ Kraken – or forcing it to retreat – is a matter of destroying all its limbs, as the head won’t take damage.

With water resistance (from the Aqua Shawl), Kraken’s most dangerous attack is the large waves its arms can generate; they’ll hit at least three or four times before the wave passes through you entirely, and the damage isn’t reduced like that of Blizzard.

Blaze is a good spell for the start of this fight; though all of Kraken’s parts are located in a pit, most of Kraken’s parts cluster around the edge of the pit closest to you, allowing Blaze to hit most if not all of the normal tentacles. Lightning Bolt is also good, as it’s likely to hit any body parts hanging around the other side of the pit; well-aimed, it can hit more than half of Kraken’s limbs, thanks to its habit of jumping from one enemy to the next.
Eventually you’ll have to switch to something other than Blaze, as it tends to fall into the pit rather than hit anything, once enough parts are killed. Killing all of Kraken’s tentacles might kill the creature, or it might be dealing damage to the head. I’m not sure, as it’s difficult to tell what the final spell strikes.
Be prepared to jump into the pit and take damage if you want any of the loot directly from this fight; that IS a bottomless pit, and any chests that drop will be forever lost if they fall to the bottom without you landing on them first.

Beating Kraken causes the time in the area to shift from early evening to twilight. I’ve always thought that to be a brilliant touch, but it also always caused me to have problems getting out of the northern building, as the windows are no longer lit.
More relevantly, chest will appear in each of the four corners of the paths around the area, with your reward for the fight; consolation for all the chests players usually see falling in the pit. No more enemies will spawn after the Kraken fight; even the black lizardmen in the ruined towers vanish.
Priests shouldn’t forget the tablet on the east side of the room; check the back of it for Resurrection. I don’t think this is readable in the middle of the fight against Kraken, however, so even Priests have to beat the demon.

Loot (now with icons!)

You may notice I’ve more than four separate items here. That’s because I went through four runs, for a well-needed break after the Abandoned Mine fiasco.
Ice Sword, by the by, has no icon because I discarded it before thinking about it, and my latest runs didn’t produce one.

Aqua Shawl [Accessory]
[Int.8, Water.20]
[All]
Magical shawl worn by the spirit of water.
“Now that’s quite a little treasure you’ve found there.”

Material Water [Object]
Magic crystal water.
(Water attr. to weapon)
“Well, it’s pretty unusual, but it might still come in handy in a fight.”

Ice Sword [Weapon]
[At.34, Water.12]
[War]
Sword of black ice, supposedly forged by ice fairies.
“Hmmm, there are markings on that thing which seem to indicate demonic work.”
“Now that’s quite a little treasure you’ve found there.”

Ice Jewel
Gem of ice.
(Activates Blizzard; 25% Destruction)
“Well, it’s pretty unusual, but it might still come in handy in a fight.”

Element Cloak [Accessory]
[Df.17]
[Elf, Dwf, Fai]
Cloak enchanted with the strength of spirits.
“Holy… that’s a high-quality prize…”
“Don’t you feel a little unworthy to carry that?”

Ice Shield [Shield]
[Df.18, Water.8]
[War, Dwf]
Shield made of ice inhabited by water spirits.
“Now that’s quite a little treasure you’ve found there.”

Items like Aqua Shawl, with extra defence against water, are pretty good if you intend to go on extra runs against Kraken. The unmarked eight points of Intelligence help any caster, to boot; on the other hand, the Aqua Shawl also affects the element of your weapon, so this isn’t a nice piece of gear for people who can’t use spells or spell-like items.
Aqua Shawl reduces water damage from spells to 1 point a hit, and this may be independent of the accessory’s listed water-element points; Earth Tiara acts similarly for multiple elements, and yet has no elemental points to it. I’ll have to check it if I find that item again. It’s almost a prerequisite for beating a later boss alone.

So, Materials also boost your armour’s elements, in addition to the elemental values of your weapon. This is why it’s fairly important to unequip armour or weapons if you don’t want the element on them; sometimes you’ll want an element on your armour that directly conflicts with elements already on your weapon – such as, Evil-element already on your armour when you want to put Holy-element points on your weapon. Using a Holy Material in that situation would reduce the Evil-element on your armour, if memory serves. In this case, were I actually likely to use my current weapon (a Pure Wand – I never get lucky with weapon chests, it’s always something for another class) in combat against Kraken, using these Water Materials would be a bad idea, as Kraken probably has a very high resistance to that element. Water Materials are fairly common from the post-Kraken chests; I got one or two each run. Save them, if you have space, as you’ll probably want them later.

Unlike armour and accessories, water-element weapons aren’t great for this area; you’ll love them later on, but it’s a bad idea to use Ice Sword at the Ruins in the Lake, for obvious reasons. I got this on two separate runs, so it might be more common than other equipment. (So saying, now that I need it for its icon, it refuses to appear.)
On the subject of unequippable stuff… Element Cloak, my first ‘holy’ item on this character, and I can’t equip it. Bah. It probably provides resistance to elements, or a boost to stats, but I can’t tell.
Whoo, an Ice Shield. This place doesn’t like Sorcerers.

“Don’t you feel a little unworthy to carry that?”
“…yes.”

Item of the Day

Talisman [Accessory]
[Recover slightly more MP from natural regeneration, when equipped.]
[All]
Accelerates the recovery of magical energy.

…because running out of MP, as a caster, is a really bad thing. The Talisman doesn’t provide constant regeneration like the Healing Robe does, but instead increases the amount of MP gained each ‘tick’ of natural regeneration; for me, I get 7MP without it, but with it, 9MP.
Okay, 2MP extra per tick isn’t much, but in a boss fight, when you’re down to the point of being unable to cast spells, and you have no MP items, you’re stuck relying on your natural regeneration of MP. Anything that raises the amount you regenerate helps you in all situations where your MP gauge is more than a single tick away from being full.

Spell of the Day

Blaze
MP: 16
Command: O ∆ O □ O
The ground beneath the opponents bursts into flame.

A medium-range piercing AoE fire-element spell. Doesn’t take too long to cast, and moves at a reasonable pace. Can hit enemies more than once, but only if they’re moving in the same direction as the spell, or if they’re large enough to still be sitting on the spell after invincibility wears off. Strikes flying enemies without trouble, but is subject to gravity.
The first learned spell of the trio of 3rd Level 16MP attack spells, and my favourite, naturally this is the one I get around to covering last. Between Blizzard and Lightningbolt in almost all aspects; it has the same general shape as Blizzard, affecting a roughly-circular area whilst moving in the direction cast towards, but covers a smaller area and moves quicker. Both Blizzard and Blaze can strike enemies directly behind you, too. Does more damage than Blizzard per hit, but less than Lightningbolt; if it hits an enemy three times, it deals more than Lightningbolt, but that usually only happens with large enemies.
Blaze is the only spell of the three that is subject to gravity; it falls into pits which Lightningbolt and Blizzard would both happily float over, so keep that in mind.

Aftermath

Ergh…
So, as my current tactics for the Troll boil down to exploiting its tendency to keep walking into the edge of the platform rather than rounding the corner every single time, I’m thinking I’ll come back later. Ten or twenty more levels and I’ll probably stand a chance of success.
Good thing I brought a Rope of Return this time.

Loot

Silver Medal [Accessory]
Increases the wearer’s defense during attacks.
[Prevents extra damage when being attacked whilst attacking, or casting?]
[All]
“Now that’s quite a little treasure you’ve found there.”

Crystal Earrings [Accessory]
Said to strengthen mind and spirit.
[Wil.20]
[All]
“Now that’s quite a little treasure you’ve found there.”

Princess Locket [Accessory]
Beautiful locket of an ancient princess.
[Immune to Sleep]
[All]
“Now that’s quite a little treasure you’ve found there.”

The medals – Bronze, Silver and Gold – are an odd set of accessories. They don’t increase your stats, they don’t provide immunity to anything, and they all have the same description. ‘Increases the wearer’s defense during attacks.‘ Occasionally, I think I’m taking more damage when casting or attacking; maybe critical hits, maybe not. It IS a shock seeing myself take 87 points of wind damage in a single hit from Griffon, anyway. These medals might do something about it.
You’re guaranteed a Medal of some description pretty early on in the Abandoned Mine, and you’re not likely to have two other Accessories by that point, so it’s worth wearing whatever you get and seeing if it makes a difference.

Twenty points of Willpower isn’t something to sneer at, if you’re having trouble and taking a lot of damage from spells. Probably slightly more useful to a non-spellcasting class, but I’m not sure whether Willpower increases more for a Sorcerer, Priest or Fairy anyway. Generally useful, but it doesn’t boost any attacks.

Princess Locket was the item from just outside the Troll’s room. According to the previously-mentioned Item List by holypriest, Princess Locket bestows immunity to sleep. In the first half of the game, or for any character with low resistance to magic, Sleep is a very nasty spell; the enemy variant both deals damage – the Fairy version doesn’t do that, but I remember the enemies in Old Palace dealing damage with it, for some reason – and has a high chance of sending you to sleep. If you’re somehow standing where enemies can’t hit you, it takes a long time for the status to wear off, and if they can hit you, you’ll probably take extra damage from the attack.

Also, another Feather Pen. I don’t think the effect of the Feather Pen is that noticeable. They may have helped a little, but as MP regenerates in large chunks rather than in one or two points every second like HP does, it’s still a long wait between spells. I should have brought the Perfume instead.
Might have been another translation error, and the Feather Pen instead helps magically recover HP. Or maybe it does something else entirely. I don’t know.

Item of the Day

Life Potion [Object]
Potion of the essence of life.
(Restores HP)

Pretty simple, huh? Life Potions usually restore somewhere between 200 and 300 HP each use. Whilst a Healing Pin (10~ to 20~ HP/use, 25% chance of breaking) can match the output of a Healing Potion (50~ to 70~ HP/use) with a little luck, it takes time to use a Healing Pin that much.
Being able to match a Life Potion with Healing Pins means you’re probably not in combat, and you’re far too lucky for your own good, wasting it on something like that. As with any healing item, Life Potions can be life-saving. The only problem is getting ahold of them in the first place.

Spell of the Day

Magic Ray (Sorcerer/Elf)
MP: 24 + 6/sec
Command: ∆ O X X O ∆ O
Cutting beams of light form arrows to shoot enemy.
(Just like casting Magic Missile times Fire Bullet. The cost works out like that, too.)

For as long as it is maintained, Magic Ray creates a light-coloured orb above your head that fires small Magic Missile-like projectiles at all enemies within at least medium range.
Magic Ray is the first listed fourth-level Sorcerer spell. Like Poison Cloud, this is a spell that needs to be maintained; the casting button has to be held down. Actually, casting this by spellcode is fairly tricky, as though you hold Select to tap in the code, and release that to start the spell itself, X needs to be held down before the effect starts to appear. Failing that nets you a single double-strength Magic Missile.
You really need to start using the codes for fourth-level spells and upwards, at least as a Sorcerer; casting by single-button takes four seconds to even begin, which seems an eternity in the middle of a fight. This spell is also fairly situational; you get the best value for your MP if you cast it in the middle of a mob, exactly the wrong situation to be spending four seconds not dealing damage in. All of the fourth-level spells take eight or more keypresses to complete, and two of the spells require keys pressed  simultaneously; they’re that much more powerful than lesser spells.

The Abandoned Mine (2) – The Ruins Within the Earth

So, what ARE these things supposed to be?


I think that might be a beard…

Heavily-armoured antisocial sword-waving dwarves?

At any rate, back on Underlevel 5…

I never get tired of killing that thing.

So, foolery aside, this is the gate to the further underlevels of the Abandoned Mine. Though the real ‘part two’ of the Abandoned Mine doesn’t really begin until you go down to the next level, as soon as you pass through the gate, you’ll be facing stronger enemies than demonic centipedes, or whatever it is about to jump me in that picture.

Underlevel 6 is more or less a repeat of the action back on Underlevel 4; travelling between disconnected floating rocky paths via magic hovering platforms. There are at least three chests distributed around the area, too, including another chance at a Luck Talisman.
There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of random monsters here; most of the enemies I encountered were guaranteed, already-there ‘spawns’, so they’re going to be there, whether you like it or not. The upshot is that it’s safe for you to wait between fights, if you’re having problems.

So, whilst the 6th underlevel has water and floating rock paths, and crabs, the 7th has a raised path of ice above a floating path of rock.
And bears. Falling off the ice path – which isn’t slippery, happily – can be troublesome here, as sometimes instead of falling into the abyss, dropping off the ice path will instead deposit you on the lower, rock path, necessitating a walk back to the beginning of the icy route. Icy boulders block portions of the lower route, so you have to switch between the icy and rocky paths to get through. Also, the random spawn is back, so you have to contend with more monsters if you hang around too long.
Pushing a couple of iceblocks around will let you at a chest, if you have the patience for it, but as you also need to do that to access the way to the next area, it’s difficult to miss unless you don’t check past the exit.

I like the second part of the Abandoned Mine, but I really can’t tell what the miners managed to dig into, here. The water is a stretch to accept in the first place, but the ice goes a bit beyond that. The swinging baskets don’t make that much sense, either, though they are a reasonably safe spot to rest on.

If there’s any (non-boss) enemy I hate here, it’s the red ogres; they’re almost entirely immune to Fire, and take low damage from anything else besides. They can deal a lot of (Evil) damage with each attack, and can soak a lot of damage before they go down. Facing these are usually more trouble than they’re worth, and they have a habit of spawning at dead ends from the 8th underlevel onwards.
The other enemies in the area aren’t as bad; blue slimes can do an appreciable amount of damage if four are trying to digest you at the same time, and green wisps can only a little less health than the red ogres, but the bears can’t knock you onto a lower ledge you’ll have to backtrack from, so they’re now just a negligible threat.

Underlevel 9’s path is mostly linear; you do have to switch between different levels of platform, via the somewhat-fun giant springs, but the path you should take to proceed is pretty obvious. All the branches are either very short dead-ends, or lead to treasure and are dead-ends.
You also need to dodge falling icicles at times. They’re smaller than the boulders way back at underlevel 1, so they’re much easier to avoid even if the game doesn’t make it clear where they’re actually falling.

There’s a portal on underlevel 9 that takes you down to the boss zone, ‘The Ruins Within the Earth’. It’s a fair walk to the arena for the boss fight, from where the portal places you, and enemies will spawn on the way there; common spawns include red ogres, green wisps, and the new… green ogres, which have larger axes and a weakness to wind element stuff, but more HP than the red ogres.
Nicely, there’s a chest on the way to the boss. Don’t miss it, as it’s a long walk back. Also, if you turn left, rather than right, on entering the central area, you’ll find a savepoint. I recommend using it.

Fun fact:
This was the boss that lead me to discover the, uh, ‘trick’ under my name (Rebecca) in holypriest’s brilliant Item List at GameFAQs.
You know, the one that blatantly abuses Blaze & Blade’s tendency to let spells, other projectiles, statuses and, most importantly, NATURAL HEALING, continue when a controller removed – or set to Dual Shock mode, too modern for Blaze & Blade to detect – whilst everything else freezes in place.

Yeah, The Troll was one of the worst bosses I fought as an Elf. I got very lucky with a later boss that should have been much worse, somehow managing to pick up the one accessory that nullified most of its attacks.
Enough about that one. For now.

The Troll begins with two green ogres as minions. It has a fairly small arena, fitting in a single screen when the camera is fully zoomed out, and is surrounded by deep water. This is a very hectic fight, as you need to keep an eye on (…and kill) the two green ogre minions, but you really don’t want to get hit by some of the Troll’s attacks, either.

Attacks:

1. Normal attacks from the Troll can deal a lot of damage; he can deal up to 60 points a hit.

2. The Troll can leap forward to attack you, which can stun you for a moderate length of time; usually enough for it or something else to hurt you again. This attack will also knock you back a short distance, and deal a small amount of damage, but both of those are negligible compared to the chance of being stunned.
You can see this one coming, but it’s difficult to get out of range since the Troll moves pretty quickly during it, like most ‘charge’ attacks. Don’t get stunned.

3. The Troll can uppercut you, too; this attack will deal low damage, and throw you back, but I don’t know whether it has the same chance of stunning you as the charge does, as well.

4. The Troll has the usual boss Def./Att. debuff skills, with approximately the same range as the Baby Dragon. These are impossible for me to tell apart, and the effect might just be random anyway, but… getting your defence lowered is very bad, naturally, as it tends to result in hits of 70+ damage.

Many deaths, maaany deaths.
Many-many-one deaths, to be precise. I suspect Troll may be easier for a melee class with better armour, but for a caster it’s pretty bad, and any character should probably bring along a few healing items, just to see you through the minions.
Due to the small size of the arena, and the sheer aggressiveness of the Troll, 90% of the time it’s just not possible to stay out of range and cast from a distance. Any spell that requires you to stay still – anything that takes maintenance, but also anything with a long casting time – is a bad idea. Lightningbolt or anything with wind-element on it would be a good idea, as the green ogres are weak to it, and the Troll isn’t resistant. Spark Bullet isn’t a good idea because even at that short a time spent casting, the Troll is likely to catch up with you, and 15 or so damage isn’t worth it compared to 50 on the Troll and 70 on his minions.
Surprisingly, if you can get the Troll to back off for ten seconds, Magic Ray is good for wiping out the green ogres. With the minions gone, if you need HP or MP, you can run in circles directly away from the Troll; that seems to be just about fast enough to avoid everything the troll does. It’s also usually better to drop off the platform rather than get hit by any of his attacks, as both will give you short-lived invincibility, but falling causes less damage. Just be careful, as it is possible to get stunned whilst jumping off, and stunning persists once you arrive back on the platform.
It’s a little cheap, but once the minions are down, probably the best thing to do as a caster is hang around on the bridge from the entrance and keep the big dumb Troll walking against the edge of the main platform, to the side, and to jump off and away if he works out how to approach you, hopefully geting him caught against the edge of the bridge instead. He tends to beeline straight for your character, so it can give you a much-needed chance to rest.

AUGH. Nine deaths and I still can’t beat it. I’m taking a break for the day.

Item of the Day

Healing Robe
[Df.36, Holy.20]
[Pri,Sor,Fai]
A life-saving robe which heals its wearer.

The description really isn’t kidding; this robe does heal its wearer, and as a result it is life-saving. More times than I can count, it has kept me going in boss fights with only a pair of Healing Pins to go on.
Up to the Troll, anyway. Wearing the Healing Robe restores 1 point of HP each second, approximately, regardless of what you’re doing at the time. Provided you can stay outside your enemy’s reach for long enough, you can survive anything (that doesn’t kill you outright).
Incidentally, Materials do affect armour; the Healing Robe only naturally has 20 points of Holy element to it, yet mine has 3 points of Light and 2 of Earth to it… matching the effect of Materials on my weapon. As soon as I get enough Fate Coins, I’m buying Material Magic for this thing.

Spell of the Day

Blizzard
MP: 16
Command: X ∆ X X
Innumerable ice crystals hail down upon the foes.

A medium range water-element spell that affects a very wide area, but moves slowly, and takes slightly longer to cast than other spells of the same level. Technically piercing. Notable enemies possessing this spell include Dark Elf on your first encounter in Old Palace, and Kraken at the Ruins in the Lake; Kraken’s variant is larger than the one you and the Dark Elf can cast, so watch out for it.
Blizzard is another of the three third-level 16MP elemental attack spells, along with Blaze and Lightning Bolt. I have to say Blizzard is my least favourite of the three; it’s the slowest to cast and start once the animation begins, and seems to be the weakest, dealing the least damage unless used against something with a weakness. However, as it is the slowest-moving spell of the three, it has the highest chance of hitting enemies multiple times with a single casting, and can be especially devastating to water-weak enemies.

The Abandoned Mine (1) – Underlevels 1 to 5

I never posted about this place the first time I visited. That’s probably because I visited before I got into the habit of writing about each region, but it’s also because this place is so utterly hellish for casters, with many sleep-loving magic goblins, other monsters with powerful physical attacks, poisonous snakes and scorpions, and not much room to dodge or run from stuff, that I eventually gave up and went to Old Palace to level there, instead.
…well, I ended up returning here after failing to beat Dark Elf a couple of times. Lightning Bolt is a nasty spell to face. So I eventually beat this place before Old Palace, but only by a little.
THIS time I’m going here first, as I might as well write about the first part of this area sometime.

The Abandoned Mine is the remains of an old mine.
Way to state the obvious, whoo.
From the old man’s comments in the inn, I think it was abandoned relatively recently; that is, not centuries ago, like some of the ruins in Foresia, but within a generation or two. I’m not sure what they were mining FOR; maybe magic crystals, maybe iron, maybe coal.
Being a mine with what are probably gas… braziers, rather than an ancient ruin with magitech lighting, it’s pretty dark in there. Up until solving a certain puzzle that provides a little more illumination, which doesn’t last long, it’s next to impossible to tell when you’re walking up to a ledge and are about to drop off out of sight. With a TV you can just fiddle with the settings; with an old computer monitor, like the one I have here, it’s habitually set bright as possible by default, so I have no salvation there. I don’t even have this problem with the Ancient Ruins, so you can see part of why I dislike this place.

This area, like most others, has favoured classes; I haven’t mentioned it before, but certain areas are just built around the abilities of a certain class or two. They help access extra areas, or solve puzzles. This area likes Fairies, for extra loot at no damage, and Dwarves, for a quicker solution to a puzzle. The Abandoned Mines just brings it to mind as, early on, there’s a chest you can only access by either taking damage, or having the Levitation effect… automatic on a Fairy, bestowed by a Fairy spell, or bestowed by an item that, annoyingly, can be picked up from this chest.
I don’t know how Fairies do on conveyor belts, but there’s definitely more damaging floor later on in.
Other areas… off the top of my head, Valley of White Silver doesn’t really have a class in mind, structure-wise, that I noticed. The Wood of Ruins loves Hunters, and it’s the only place they get any love. I’ll be returning to everywhere else at some point, so I’ll address good classes for the other areas there.

This being a mine, there are the obligatory falling-rock hazards; when you first come here, getting hit by one of these can be a one-hit kill. It was for me, and they still deal more than creatures in the Valley of White Silver or the Wood of Ruins ‘Holy Land’ do. The rocks fall regularly and always in the same spots, marked by shadows, but with the trouble I have seeing in the area, it’s easy to miss those if you haven’t played in a decade or so.
You wouldn’t really expect there to be general falling hazards, but there are more chasms to avoid than boulders. Chasms make more sense than eternal rockfalls, but… why are there either? Tight passages would be even more annoying, and the game has a problem with certain walls and blocking view of the ground.
This being a abandoned mine, you also have to contend with random junk left lying about, such as wheelbarrows, barrels, crates and carts. You can push them about and jump on them, but there isn’t a point where you need to do that, I think. Other than the interactive junk, you can also spot discarded shovels and pickaxes on the ground. Nice touch.

Oh, yeah. I hate bats. When I first arrived at the Abandoned Mines, I didn’t yet have Magic Missile. The one weakness of the Water Bullet spell is that it can’t hit flying enemies. Bats are a more annoying version of the Beetle from Wood of Ruins, as they tend to spawn more in groups, rather than singularly with other enemies. Bats are the reason I gave up and went to Old Palace, instead. Beetles can spawn in groups of four or six, too, but that’s relatively rare. Bats always seem to turn up in large numbers, whenever they appear.
Of course, this time I can tap out the code for Magic Missile and fry the blasted things. Hee, this is fun.

There’s a two-players-or-more puzzle on the third underlevel, in the area with the waterfall and pier. See the sparkle on the pier? That’s a key, but if anyone tries to take it, the pier will collapse, leaving whoever went to get it on a piece of wood floating towards the waterfall. Falling into the water makes you drop the key, even though you reappear miraculously mostly-unharmed by the ordeal a few seconds later.
Whilst you’re (un)happily floating towards watery oblivion, the other player has to get to a switch that lowers a bridge for you to jump onto. There are stone platforms in the water; it might be that the other player has to go across those to stand a chance of getting to the switch in time, or to stay on screen and not pull you off the raft. I don’t usually play multiplayer, but I think that’s how it goes.
Most other main areas also have mulitplayer puzzles. The Wood of Ruins has a barrel-and-knives game. Remember Pop-Up Pirate?
Yeah, that. ‘cept you’re the pirate. Or your unlucky friend. All these puzzles give a decent amount of loot, though I think the Palace of the Immortals puzzle also opens a shortcut.

Another minor touch:

Grand Miner Recruitment!
The Opportunity – wouldn’t you like to become a miner?
A bright workplace, a fulfilling occupation and amazingly high wages – enough reason for you to change your vocation.
Details in personal interview.
We’re waiting for you!

A recruitment poster for miners. In a mine. I don’t know whether that’s supposed to be an old and
redundant poster, or a modern ‘hey, adventurers, you’re down here! You
like mines, don’t you?’ kind of thing. Either way, it’s amusing.
Rebecca says: Nobody’s buying it…

Announcement of lost and found.
The following objects have been found.
Would the owner please report.
Suntan lotion, fishing pole, flower pot for sunflowers, sundial, paintings from the south…

Someone wasn’t cut out to be a miner, hm?
Rebecca says:

Then there’s the area with the huge chasm, floating platforms and quicksand pit on the fourth underlevel. That’s the one area that really doesn’t make sense in a mine. It’s also the one main obstacle to my theory that the actual mine is recent, rather than ancient.
There’s a healing circle over the quicksand pit, if you can negotiate the platforms.

In that area, though, there’s an raised platform over a hole. There are several pieces of pushable mines-junk sitting on the raised area. Pushing each item off, one-by-one, nets you a message, and a guaranteed enemy spawn. One enemy for each item… until the last one, that really pisses off the person below, netting you five enemies to avoid.
Semi-secret… unless you’re like me and love messing around like that. This is a decent source of experience, as snakes, scorpions and spiders give a lot for this point in the game, and otherwise they tend to spawn in an awkward area, normally. They ARE powerful enough to kill in a few hits as a Sorceress, however, so it’s always worth being careful.
Plus, I always like annoying the thing below. Or the mostly-absent narrator. Whatever it is.

The area’s first boss is a Baby Dragon, one of the smaller mid-bosses; larger than Dark Elf and Dullahan, but smaller than the Owlbear and Behemoth. About the same size as the Weretiger and Werewolf bosses from Palace of the Immortals. A mid-size mid-boss?
Anyway, like any self-respecting dragon, it loves using its fire breath on you. It has the standard mid-boss attack and defence debuffs at short range – perhaps one length of its own body. Other than that, it charges at you, and attacks normally.
Unlike Behemoth, this boss is pretty challenging; the Baby Dragon is aggressive about staying in range to attack you, and moves pretty quickly; you tend to get charged and clawed a lot, in this fight, and don’t get much of a chance to rest up, so you’re dependent on whatever healing items you still have hanging around. All of its attacks are fire element, but it’s not likely you have anything that adds resistance against that, right now.
Fighting the thing was always a matter of trying in vain to avoid it, and praying my Healing Pins held out once my potions ran dry. NOW it’s easy, but…
Well, there’s something interesting about this boss, but I’ll go into that later.

Beating the Baby opens the way to an elevator out of the mines, but it doesn’t stay on subsequent visits. I have a lot of new loot, so I’ll take that back to the surface, and take a break for the moment.

Loot

Luck Talisman
Amulet that brings the wearer good luck.
[Lck.32]
[All]
“Now that’s quite a little treasure you’ve found there.”

Fine Axe
A very fine axe forged by great smiths.
[At.29]
[Dwf]
“Now that’s quite a little treasure you’ve found there.”

Silver Gauntlets [Accessory?]
Beautiful gauntlets crafted from silver.
[At.10, Df.10]
[War, Dwf]
“Now that’s quite a little treasure you’ve found there.”

Dragon Scales
Supposedly wards off bad luck and misfortune.
[Df.12, Lck.16]
[All]
“Now that’s quite a little treasure you’ve found there.”

Resist Ring
Protects the wearer with mysterious powers.
[Mdf.16]
[All]
“Now that’s quite a little treasure you’ve found there.”

And that’s not counting the discarded or ignored stuff, like the silver medal, boots, shield, and what I think may be a guaranteed piece of armour. The chest containing a medal – Bronze, Silver or Gold – is the one inside the fence that you have to jump to reach, on the way to the water for the flask. The possibly-guaranteed piece of armour can be found by going straight from the first chest on the fifth underlevel, rather than heading left and up to the boss.
All in all, the mines are pretty generous for chests.

Is it just me, or does the Luck Talisman look like a Dragonball Radar?
The medals. I’ve always gotten them in the same order – Bronze first, then Gold if I ever went to the chest again. And now Silver. I somehow didn’t pick it up the first time, but I’ll take it with me when I visit for the deeper trip.
Oh, and… yeah, Earth Jewels, from yesterday, aren’t useful. Using one eats up MP like the spell itself, needs you to hold a button for the effect to continue, and doesn’t do much damage anyway. Even if you weren’t a spell-using class, you wouldn’t want to use it for long, for risk of running out of MP and being stunned.

Item of the Day

Protect Ring
Protects with strange, mysterious powers.
[Df.16]
[All]

Counterpart to the Resist Ring listed above, I picked this up the first time I ran through the mines. 16 points in defence is nothing to laugh at, especially combined with a shiny new robe found nearby. I’ve been using this since the mines the first time, but it’s now being traded for the Dragon Scale, as I have all of 1 point in Luck at the moment, and it’s only a drop of 4 points defence.

Spell of the Day

Water Bullet (Sorcerer/Elf)
MP: 3
Command: X ∆ X
Waves form on the ground and attack the opponent.

A medium-range water-element spell, with both piercing and knock-back effects. I should probably explain what I mean by those; piercing means that the projectile doesn’t die out as soon as it hits a single enemy. That it will go through all enemies until it reaches the limits of its range, or hits a wall. Knock-back means that it will knock an enemy it hits backwards.
Having both of these on a single spell makes that spell very powerful,
as the wave of water first hits something and causes damage, then knocks the enemy
back… then hitting the enemy again, as it’s still in range of the damaging wave. I’ve seen this spell hit a single enemy five or six time in a single casting, causing damage far above what any first- or second-level spell can do. Get lucky and it’ll match Blaze.
The first spell learned by a Sorcerer, costing a whole 1 MP more than
Fire Bullet, Water Bullet will happily serve as primary offensive spell
until you start picking up the third-level spells. Design-wise, this probably wasn’t intended, but as a physically-weak Sorceress, at level 92 it can still make an excellent replacement for the pitiful range of a wand.

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