The Wood of Ruins – Two’s Company

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

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

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

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

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


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

The multiplayer 'puzzle'. This happened a lot.

The multiplayer 'puzzle'. This happened a lot.


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

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

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


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

Strangely scenic.


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

If only the Priest could cast Explosion...

If only the Priest could cast Explosion...


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

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

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

The Wood of Ruins (2) – the Ruins, the Canyon and the Holy Land

Being the first full-fledged area that you visit in Blaze & Blade, the Wood of Ruins is a pretty easy introduction to the game. Sure, there are monsters that can cause some trouble – namely, Beetles and Goblin Mages, for being tough to attack and for being able to cause a lot of damage, respectively – but the game never gets easier, and here the enemies are reasonably easy to run around and escape.
Though players can return to the Wood of Ruins at any point, the only way they can make progress after a certain point is by possessing the Sagestone and four jewels; the Boathouse Key allows adventurers to finally take a boat out to the ruins, but an important door won’t open until the Sagestone is four-ninths full.

Boating is… fun. If the boat were any smaller or flying enemies more plentiful, it’d be fun in the Dwarf Fortress sense, but as it is, it’s pretty well done. The eponymous Ruins of the Wood of Ruins are in and around a lake, so, naturally, in order to reach necessary portions of the ruins, you need to use the boat. Thankfully, you get instructions as soon as you enter the area. Directly ahead of where the player starts is a pier, and the door that won’t open until the Sagestone and jewels are brought to it. Nothing can be triggered in this area until that door is opened, at the very least, so curious low-level adventurers usually stop here, if they didn’t die to the wisps and treant already.
And a treant, and three wisps. The enemies in this area aren’t that bad; wisps are the only variety that fly, and they’re like griffons in that they can’t do much damage. Mercifully, they don’t have the griffons’ poke ‘o doom attack, either. Treants are tough casters that love to throw out Poison Cloud and Petrify; you don’t want to get hit by Petrify, but thankfully it’s short-range. Then there are light-blue lizardmen that last appeared in the Wood of Ruin’s swamps, and die in a single hit. More worrying are the new black lizardmen, much tougher than their younger blue siblings, dealing darkness damage with each hit. Lastly in this area there are rafflesia flower monsters that don’t do much or take much damage at all; they love to drop herbs, though.
A lot of the enemies in the area are weak to wind, so Lightning Bolt is a reasonable choice for attacking. Blaze is still a good choice, too, as it doesn’t do much less damage than Lightning Bolt.

Activating the ruins’ portal takes you to the Canyon, and the bane of my existence. Blaze & Blade does something very cruel here; the bridge? The short way to the other side? Attempting to cross it causes a pillar to collapse on it, without fail. You have to take the long way around.
The long way around is loooooooong. The enemies are the same as in the previous area, with perhaps the omission of the weaker blue lizardmen. There’s no treasure here, that I can see; the whole area’s just walking a long way in one direction, skirting around the edge of the canyon, and then walking back the whole way on the other side. Close to the end, there’s a bunch of wisps that I love trying to kill in one Lightning Bolt, but that’s about all the fun to be had here.

Past the Canyon is… the Holy Land, as an earlier sign mentioned. I assume they mean this place, rather than the Canyon; they were probably the ones who put that old bridge (…and pillar) up in the first place.
It’s been years since anyone visited, though. The ‘Holy Land’ is a desert, now, with quicksand pits and monsters; Basilisks and Wyverns predominantly, but also Giants who look a little like the Savage Fighter from the inn.
Wyverns are your standard flying annoyance, though they stop moving to attack you. Basilisks are lizards, though different from the lizardmen; as the name suggests, they can petrify you. Petrification is a very dangerous status alone, as it both freezes you in place until it wears off naturally, and saps your health like poison does. It doesn’t let you use spells, or items. So don’t get petrified, you’ll probably die.
Giants… or Giantesses? They look female to me… well, they’re tougher than treants, and do a lot of damage with their physical attacks.

There’s a glowing pool to the northeast of the savepoint-area in the desert, and I’m not sure why it’s there. Maybe it heals, as I wasn’t damaged when I got there. Or perhaps it’s just meant to look significant, like an oasis in a desert should be.
It’s probably holy. Natural that I find a source of holy water and have no undead to test it on, hm?

For pre-boss puzzles, the Wood of Ruins’ Holy Land/Desert is probably one of my favourites. Singing stones in the desert is a nice mental image.
If I recall correctly, the final level of Fairy spells is hidden here, too. I’m using the wrong class for those, though, and the last time I played a Fairy, I went mostly-melee. Not quite sure how I managed to get this far in the game doing that, really.

Okay, the boss. In a nice piece of attention-to-detail, this is the creature the Warrior, Rogue, Priestess and Sorceress were fighting in the animated intro. The boss is recogniseable only by process of elimination – I.E. it’s not Griffon, it’s not the Dark Elf, it’s not… you get the idea, but the area itself is recogniseable, down to the ‘pillars’ of falling sand from the desert above.

Behemoth’s attacks:

1. It can jump forward to pounce on you for a physical attack. This is similar to other large bosses and their ‘pushing’ attacks – like Griffon’s charge or the Owlbear running at you. Behemoth doesn’t home in on you with this attack, so it’s fairly easy to dodge so long as you aren’t meleeing. He only seems to do this if you’re within the range of one or two of these.
2. Behemoth can also jump up on the spot, and cause a minor earthquake when it lands. The range on this extends just over half a screen from Behemoth, depending on how you have the camera oriented, and you have only a small chance to get out of range from the moment Behemoth lands, before the animation kicks in and you start taking damage. Causes earth damage. The best defence against this one is just to start running when Behemoth jumps.
3. Behemoth loves casting Poison Cloud. Though it’s more powerful than the treants’ version, it’s not something to worry about if you’re fighting at range; if Behemoth is offscreen or mostly-offscreen, you’re too far away for the spell to start tracking, and it’ll just hover above Behemoth’s head. Poison Cloud is Behemoth’s largest-range attack, and it ranges about one full screen. Easy to avoid if you’re prepared and far away from Behemoth, and if it does start tracking you, there’s plenty of space available to keep running to avoid it.
4. Like certain other enemies, Behemoth can also cast Petrify. Again, this is another example of a spell that’s worse for melee characters than ranged, as Petrify is pretty short-range. Not that it’s the most problematic of spells, as it’s a thin straight line that can be sidestepped.
5. Lastly, Behemoth can toss out Earth Javelin; it’s pretty easy to tell when he’s about to cast this one, as it has a much longer casting time than the other spells. This is essentially a remote version of his earthquake attack, as the projectile the spell produces stops, eventually, and causes spikes of earth to shoot up from the ground. Possibly the nastiest of all his attacks, but I never got hit by it; just stay away from the projectile and you’ll be fine.

Behemoth isn’t the most aggressive of bosses out there; it doesn’t seem to have a love for rushing into melee range, and it has no truly long-range attacks that can hit you from anywhere like some bosses possess.
And, blast, it’s a choice between Abandoned Mines and THERE next. Joy. I’ll have to fight him twice, too… hmm. Choices, choices.
Anyway, Behemoth is one of those bosses that’ll be hellish for anyone who needs to melee it to death; it has a lot of health, and many attacks that can really screw up a person’s day and are tough, if not impossible to avoid at short range and warning.
However, playing a Sorceress or other class with magic makes it much easier; the arena is absolutely huge, at least two or three screens across in each direction, and it’s possible to just exhaust your MP with your favourite long-range spell (I recommend Lightning Bolt) with Behemoth offscreen, and then run around the edges of the arena staying safely out of sight until you can cast the spell again. It’ll take a long time without MP-restoring items, as Behemoth still has a lot of health, but as battles go, this is pretty safe.

Winning nets you a jewel; in a nice touch, it’s the same jewel from the introduction, too. I thought those guys already got it, though…?
Hm. Maybe there’s a vending machine, somewhere.

The exit-teleport is back near the desert savepoint…
…uh, assuming you remembered to push the statue out of the circle back at the meadow. I never do. Makes me wish I’d remembered yesterday’s Item of the Day, too, but even without any treasure chests for me in the region, I still managed to pick up more than an inventory of loot.

Loot

Basilisk Scales [Accessory]
Protect against being turned to stone.
“Now that’s quite a little treasure you’ve found there.”

Earth Jewel [Object]
Earth Gem.
(Activates Poison Cloud; 25% Dest.)
“Well, it’s pretty unusual, but it might still come in handy in a fight.”

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

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

Recovery Perfume [Object]
Mildly scented perfume
(Slowly restores MP)
“Well, it’s pretty unusual, but it might still come in handy in a fight.”

Healing Perfume [Object]
Rousing fragrance
(Slowly restores HP)

“Well, it’s pretty unusual, but it might still come in handy in a fight.”

So, the Wood of Ruins is as cruel to non-Hunters as ever. Despite coming across no treasure chests in the Ruins, Canyon and Holy Land areas, I still managed to get lucky with enemy drops, including something (disappointing) from Behemoth.
Basilisk Scale – handily dropped by Basilisks – either makes you immune to petrification, or just resistant. I’ve never had to use it; getting petrified earlier is the only time I’ve ever been petrified. If I had to go for a status-resistant accessory, I’d choose to prevent something more common, instead.
I could have used those two Recovery Perfumes during the boss fight; they boost magic recovery when used, but I only got them from treants on my way out. Healing Perfume is the equivalent for HP, I’d assume.
Material Light, from a wisp, and Material Earth, from Behemoth – see,
disappointing – let you boost or reduce elements on your weapon. Good for increasing, or reducing, the damage you do
damage, though using opposed-element Materials on the same weapon – Wind in the case of Earth,
and Darkness in the case of Light – will reduce the Earth/Light element
before increasing the Wind/Darkness element. Not really worth messing around with until you have a lot of them, or if you’re having a lot of trouble with a boss, and not that useful for magic-users.
Lastly, the Earth Jewel. It could be useful to another class, I suppose, but I could just cast the spell itself. There are jewels for each element, with a corresponding spell inside, but the only one I find outside of chests following Kraken battles is always the Earth Jewel, containing That Spell I Never Use. They’re just redundant, like elemental Materials, in my case.

Item of the Day

Healing Pin [Object]
Acupuncture needle.
(Restores HP 25% dest.)

Cheap reusable healing. Even as late in the game as the return to the Wood of Ruins, Healing Pins can still be handy despite only healing between 10 and 20 HP a use; thanks to only being consumed 25% of the time, you can get much more than that out of each. Though not good in the face of any other healing item, and really not suited for use in the middle of combat past the first few areas, they’re great to have around if you have nothing else. They’re mostly good for supplementing your natural regeneration.
Since the innkeeper can always supply you with up to two, free of charge, it’s worth taking advantage of the offer. You CAN have more than two at once, as there’s at least one enemy in the game that drops them (Wood of Ruins? Old Palace?), but it’s not common, and not worth grinding for.

Spell of the Day

Lightning Bolt (Sorcerer/Elf)
MP: 16
Command: ∆ O ∆
Opponents are attacked by lightning.

A very long-range wind-element spell, though erratic; it sometimes veers to the side and refuses to hit enemies at the edge of its range. Lightning Bolt can easily hit enemies standing offscreen, as you probably learned from the Dark Elf boss fight. It pierces through enemies, and sometimes inflicts paralysis in addition to damage.
Lightning Bolt is a member of the trio of third-level 16MP elemental attack spells, alongside Blaze and Blizzard. Of the three, it’s the most damaging in a single hit, but there’s no chance this spell will hit a single enemy multiple times. Even with all of the fourth-level spells unlocked, I still use spells from this group as it casts in a reasonable length of time.