Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Savage Empire: Shufflin' Around

I don't feel like I really accomplished much in this particular session (corroborated by the fact there's fewer screenshots from this session than normal), but hey, it's been a while since I last posted anything and I'm still finding myself with Things to Say, so hey, why not. Further up and further in!

My first order of business was, once again, to remind myself what the heck I was doing in the game - I really need to stop going so long between sessions. Thankfully, the notes I keep are sufficiently detailed enough to make for a decent refresher course, so between them and Jimmy's records in his notebook, I was able to make something of a coherent plan for my next few steps. I'd been meaning to find what remained of Rafkin's lab for what felt like forever, so that would be my first step. The good doctor had been waiting so patiently for me to meander my way over there, and I figured that he deserved some satisfaction. Not to mention that I was fairly sure there would be some useful equipment waiting for me there as well, best to get my hands on it as soon as possible. I'd need to be well prepared if I was to rescue Aiela, after all. That was my first priority, and making sure I had everything I might need for the attempt was just a stepping stone toward that goal.

Done in by a professor's boomerang.
Of course, it took me some wandering about to get my bearings properly. I don't know Eodon anywhere near as well as I do Britannia, so it was very easy to get myself lost while trying to figure out what part of the valley I was in, and more to the point, how to get where I needed to go. I did, however, stumble across some interesting sights in the process, including a fight with a gorilla (surprisingly easier than I expected it to be), a rather elaborate fountain tucked away in a secluded part of the jungles, a placid triceratops plodding by, and yet another Myrmidex ambush. After dealing with that last, in which Jimmy proved his mettle rather well, I finally stumbled my way back to the Kurak village and familiar territory. Intanya did his shamanistic healer thing, and the five of us geared up to do some bushwhacking in search of Rafkin's lab - it was supposed to be somewhere to the southeast of the village.

I was a little nervous as to my prospects for getting lost yet again, but then I remembered that I had plenty of "reagents" for Savage Empire's equivalent of a View spell. I - or rather, Triolo - made use of it every now and again to help get my bearings, and though it wasn't quite as much of a help as I'd hoped it would be, it did at least serve to make sure I at least had a more solid idea of where on the map I was. I was somewhat surprised that it took me this long to remember that I had that option, when I used magic so profusely in Ultima VI, but then again, it's less prevalent to begin with here in Savage Empire. I had a whole spellbook's worth of possibilities in Ultima VI, and the fact I kept making use of certain spells meant that I was constantly reminded of the presence and possible use of the others as well. Here in Savage Empire, there's only nine, and their use is limited to one character and one character only - which isn't even the main character. Consequently, I find myself not even remembering its presence, more often than not. I suppose that's not really a problem, as it's not meant to be as large a part of the setting as it is in Ultima VI, but still, I think I'd like to see it used just a little bit more.

Seems logical to me.
Anyway, we blundered around in the wilderness for a while, leaving the placid wildlife alone and fighting for our survival against the less placid sorts - the strangest encounter being a particularly vicious allosaurus that RAFKIN of all people managed to fell, which I found both shocking and utterly hilarious all at the same time - until I caught sight of something unusual via Triolo's View spells and headed toward it. Said something was the floor of the lab contrasting starkly with the grass around it, and I proceeded to rummage around the place, while Rafkin and I chatted about some of his ideas and what might prove useful. He talked about making makeshift grenades and rifles out of clay pots and bamboo, and the components of gunpowder and where I might be able to find them. All three components were right there in the lab, so I took advantage of what was close at hand and mixed myself up some gunpowder, sure to be useful later. Modern conveniences in general were sure to be a boon in the valley, so I took everything that might possibly prove handy - an axe, a fire extinguisher, a pair of scissors, a rifle and ammunition. I also picked up a screen that Rafkin said would be useful when it came to finding more sulfur for gunpowder, and a bucket to collect the tar I would need to make a 'fuse' for my makeshift grenades from the tar pits I remembered passing on the way to the lab.

The bear, of course. Kinda NEED strength.
And it was here that I did most of the 'shuffling' of the session - shuffling things around in my inventory. Weight issues were rearing their heads something awful this time around, and I think they're contributing to why I don't find myself enjoying the game quite as much as Ultima VI. While certainly a factor I had to keep in mind in the latter, it felt balanced enough that it wasn't an annoyance. Sure, I had to shuffle things around every now and again, but between my entire party I had a decent enough carrying capacity, and the cumulative weight of everything I figured I might need (not necessarily DID need, mind) felt manageable as a result. Here in Savage Empire, my party size is considerably more limited, not many party members have the sizeable strength to serve as decent 'pack mules,' and it's nowhere near as simple a matter to boost strength - Jimmy was the first of my party to gain a level, and it took until this session for it to happen. And even then, I was only able to boost his strength by one point, which didn't increase his carrying capacity very much. All those factors combine to mean that I have considerably less wiggle room when it comes to carting things around, and things in Savage Empire can get very heavy very quickly (although that may just be a perception thing). The atl-atl doesn't feel like a very viable weapon for my ranged characters, because spears, their necessary ammunition, get very bulky very quickly, and that's weight I need for other things. I remember the immense relief I felt when I found a boomerang for Rafkin to use, because I could barely keep two or three throwing axes on him and I certainly wasn't going to send him onto the FRONT lines to fight. It's crossing the line a bit from annoyance to frustration, and I suspect my next session is going to involve a re-evaluation of what all in my inventory that I strictly need. (I'm going to have to get over inventory problems eventually, after all. They're present in some form or another from here on out in the series.)

Suuuure you don't...
That minor ordeal settled, I headed back to the Kurak village, stopping by the tar pits on the way, to get back to the main roads and from there head toward the Barrab tribe, so I could take steps toward reuniting Topuru's mind with Topuru himself and hopefully convince him to tell me where I could find the Urali that had taken Aiela captive. It was a rather uneventful trip to the southwest portion of the valley, where the Barrab called home, and upon arrival I started chatting with the locals to see what I could find out. I learned that this tribe, too, had a long-standing rivalry with one of the other tribes in the valley, this time with the Sakkhra, a lizardlike race that lived in the caves to the west of the Barrab village. I met a man named Nawl, who was not allowed within the village himself, likely due to his full-of-himself attitude getting him into trouble. (I was not particularly sorry to say goodbye to him.) It was Chief Balakai who gave me the most relevant information, though, telling me that his trick with Topuru was just that - a trick. The long and short of it was that with some help, he had simply convinced Topuru that his mind was in a blue stone, and that giving him any old blue stone he would likewise be convinced his mind had been returned. He suggested taking a hammer to a large blue stone within the Sakkhra caves, and I made a note of it. The chief also talked of his sick son, Nakai, and that he would join the forming alliance of tribes if a cure could be found. He suspected a giant flower with pale petals would cure Nakai, last seen on a great mesa to the northwest of the village. The only problem would be getting there - there used to be a natural span to the south of the mesa, but it had crumbled. I made a note of this, too.

And there was where I called it for the day, with yet another task for the tribes of Eodon and one step closer to finding out where Aiela might be. I think it's time to make nice with the lizard people and see what they have to say, now.