All posts by mazemaster

The Wonderful Wizard of Varetta

Lone Wolf 6, The Kingdoms of Terror. In search of a magical Lorestone to legitimize LW’s dream of building new Kai Kollege ™, our hero is riding to Varetta in the company of a street magician who knows a guy who knows about the Lorestone. But in typical fashion, this sidekick lasts fewer than a dozen pages before he is killed. In this case, he was killed by the same local lord who was originally going to kill him just for fun. But, the wizard did manage to cough out an address first: Brass Street in Varetta.

The ride to Varetta is a full day, and I stop in the night at some crummy inn where mice eat all of the food from my backpack. This is where I wonder at the game’s inability for me to buy food at nearly any populated place. Surely the inn could make those hot wings to-go?

Once I’m Varetta, I am shocked that this book affords me an unprecedented opportunity: to stop and ask for directions. It’s just good luck, but my first stop is a place that sells maps. Brass Street is on the far side of town, so I hole up at another inn and in the morning, I find the wizard Gwynian in the predictable place: the observatory.

He’s not very helpful, though. He explains that some folks fear the Lorestone and would rather kill anyone seeking it, than risk it being discovered and abused. To illustrate this point, a mob begins beating down the door. Gwynian shuttles me away in a secret passage with a horse and food and some spare weapons, which is kind of nice but he forgets to tell me where the Lorestone is beyond “it’s in a cathedral”, Nice. Thanks a lot.

I take off in the night on my horse, and have two cities to choose from. Neither is more likely than the other because the wizard forgot to tell me anything, so I randomly pick the town of Amory to the south.

Bad choice.

Really bad choice.

That lord I’ve been antagonizing since 3 pages in, Lord Roark… is Lord Roark of Amory.

I’m immediately arrested and summarily executed as a no-good blackguard. My adventure ends here.

 

In Search of the Lorestone

Finally, I’ve finished the first five Lone Wolf books and am ready to start #6 — The Kingdoms of Terror. It’s been three years since our ambassadorial mission to Vassagonia, in which Lone Wolf found the fabled Book of the Magnakai which has the really good super powers of the Kai. Now LW is distracted by an entry in the Book which says that the magical Lorestone holds the really super secret awesomeness of the Kai, and I have to find it if I’m to be a legit Magnakai and to start up the order of the Kai again.

So hold on for a sec. I was attending Kai Kollege about 4 years ago, when the monastery was destroyed. Turns out that my teachers didn’t have the magic stone, nor did they have the awesome Book — so they were kind of faking it all along? They didn’t have a real grandmaster, and didn’t really know the good stuff? That does kind of explain why our elite force of psychic ninja ranger border patrol guards was wiped out in one afternoon by a surprise attack. Food for thought.

So, let’s start KoT. I have the following:

  • The Sommerswerd, silver helmet, and shield. I have wesaponskill in swords, and also mindblast.  Thus my 17 CS  is effectively 32.
  • I also picked Curing as my third skill. Like the original Healing skill, it’s 1 point per page which is really a lot.
  • A whole bunch of miscellaneous Special Items, such as Banedon’s star pendant, a keycard from the Caverns of Kalte, a Jeweled Mace from Vassagonia, and so on. It does seem daft to cart around an antique shop’s worth of random loot, but you know how these books are.
  • A backpack full of laumspur potions and food.
  • A bow and 6 arrows. Seriously? Who would go on a long road trip expecting extensive combat, and bring six arrows?

KoT opens with our hero arriving at the city of Quarlen, and paying way too much for gate fees, dinner, and a room. As I’m eating dinner, I take offense when a local lord (Roark is his name) starts harassing a peasant and wants to kill him for sport. So annoyed am I by this, that I whip out my sword and beat him down handily. He swears revenge, and I am introduced to a street magician who says that he knows a guy who knows about the Lorestone.

Sounds like BS to me. It’s been missing since times immemorial, but this guy knows where it is? Whatever. At least the peasant can be a tour guide and besides, the book doesn’t give me an option not to take him on so yeah, we take off in the morning.

It’s not a very eventful ride, until we come to some ruins where there’s a spring of healing water. Again, really goofy demographic here in Magnamund. If there were a spring of healing water, you’d think some corporation would park a bottling plant on top of it and make a fortune. But no, it’s abandoned except for some lizard monster. I make a mental note for the location of a future bottling plant…

I come back and find that my wizard friend has been kidnapped, then track him down and rescue him, and find that the perpetrator was Roark again. I guess he was really serious about that revenge thing and about killing this peasant! Roark summons a legion of the undead, and with my +8 Sommerswerd that does 2X damage against undead, it’s barely even a fight. Roark’s cronies are torn apart by the surviving undead, Roark flees screaming into the night, … and my wizard friend is able to give me directions before he dies. And only… three hundred years… from… cough… retirement. Ugh.

And now a moment of silence for Whassisface, the peasant guy who was with me long enough to promote the storyline.

 

 

 

Journey of the Kai Marathon, Day Seventeen

Journey of the Kai: a power-playthrough of the first five Lone Wolf books, in preparation for book 6. We’re playing book 5, Shadow on the Sand.

Our peace envoy to Vassagonia was a trap, a ploy to take Lone Wolf prisoner and sell me/him to the Darklords. But the up-side is that I hear that the really good secrets of the Kai superpowers, are in a book here in Vassagonia. I made a daring and bloody escape on the back of a bird, and was rescued by Banedon the wizard from way back in book 1. He knows a guy who knows where the book is hidden, so let’s go find him.

We get into Ikaresh without much incident besides meeting a friendly goat herder for lunch. We head into the market and schmooze with the merchants and buy an ugly jacket in exchange for directions right to Tipasa’s front door! But he’s not there — his deeply distraught wife tells us that he was taken away in the night by Drakkarim. How awful! Not only i that a horrible human tragedy, but it also means that the Darklords are ahead of us. The good news though, is that they didn’t take Tipasa’s book where he wrote down his maps and instructions, so we have a way to catch up to them,

We journey overnight to the site of the tomb. And yeah, the Darklords are already there, as is a legion of giak slaves digging out the whole valley trying to find the book.

Fortunately, they are all overworked and exhausted so it just gives me a pass. There’s only one guard, and he falls for that Jedi trick of rattling something off to the side so he leaves his post to investigate. The door is locked with a blue triangle keycard, the same one I used back in Caverns of Kalte! What the heck? I guess they used the same contractor for both key-entry systems?

And… page 289, there he is: Darklord Haaken.

Enter turn-based combat mode.

He opens with “welcome to your doom, we’re not so different, you and I, would you like a tour of my evil plan before you die?” sort of deal, and a blue fireball to my head. The Sommerswerd soaks the fireball, but is knocked out of my hand!

I dive for it, doing unnecessary somersaults and making that whaaaaooooaa! sound that no ninja ever would. He hits me with a concussive blast and a psychic attack, but my Mindshield skill protects me from most of that.

Back to my feet, en garde! And what the fffuuuu,,,,, Haaken spits out a tentacle-smoke-monster thing that crawls down his arm, and comes at me. Holy hell! It turns out to be a tough battle, and I get knocked from 26 endurance to 17… my hardest combat in the series so far!

And for the coup de grace, I raise the Sommerswerd to do that lightning blast thing it did before, nuking the Darklord in one shot… and… uhm… aw crud, it doesn’t work underground? So we have to  fight this one out, He has a 28 CS to my 33, so it’s only a +5 balance… In a phenomenal stroke of luck (I swear I did not cheat) I take him down in 4 combat round, and only take 2 points of damage myself.

Turn to 400.

The Darklords are defeated and humiliated again. I have the Book of the Magnakai, so I’m gonna learn the real Kai superpowers that the other teachers didn’t know. Maybe I can even open a new monastery, start up the order of the Kai again…

 

Journey of the Kai Marathon, Day Sixteen

Another day in the power-playthrough of the first 5 Lone Wolf books. It’s… Journey of the Kai. This is book 5: Shadow on the Sand.

The king is in cahoots with the Darklords. The Darklords and I are racing towards a tomb where I can learn about the really good Kai superpowers. And now my only hope to escape is to steal one of the giant birds that these soldiers use for aerial mounts.

Using some superpowers to distract the guard, I run for the platform and leap heroically onto the bird. I don’t have animal kinship but I did roll a lucky 9, and the bird didn’t choose to rip me to shreds. More guards storm in, just as I make a majestic escape into the sky. It’s kind of like when the Millennium Falcon takes off from Mos Eisley. Awesome.

But no surprisingly, it only takes them a few minutes to get into the sky as well. One of the soldiers lands a crossbow hit on my bird; I kill him in one lucky shot, but my steed is starting to bleed out and pretty soon we’re going to make a very forced landing.

But wait, we’re going all steampunk here! It’s that wizard Banedon from book 1, in a flying ship! As my bird finally gives up and dies, they throw out some webbing and drag me up onto their ship. The Drakkar soldiers who were pursuing me, leap onto the ship as well, and battle ensues. An O.P. magic sword and some lucky rolls, and a little help from Dwarven handguns and Kai healing, and the battle is won. We engage in some hard partying and gossip, and off to sleep I go. Tomorrow we should arrive at Ikaresh, where a wandering dude named Tipasa says he has visited that lost tomb before, so he may know where it is…

It’s a picturesque journey, too. The size of the Grand Canyon, but with jagged rocks and sulphur springs, and high into the sky instead of deep beneath ground level. Sounds gorgeous.

We land outside the town of Ikaresh, and Banedon joins me for the trip into town. By a stroke of luck, we come across a friendly goat herder who gives us lunch and does know where Tipasa hangs out. The hike is long and hot and annoying, but we get to the town, and there’s a sign pointing right to where that fella said. Could it be this easy?

Not likely…

 

Journey of the Kai Marathon, Day Fifteen

We continue with Lone Wolf 5 – Shadow On The Sand. Our peace envoy has gone sour. I made a rather savage jailbreak, leaving a trail of dead bodies behind me, and come across the king selling me to a Darklord. The Darklord aims to put an end to the Kai menace (hey, that’s me!) forever, by destroying the last Kai and the Book of the Magnakai so there can’t be any more Kai.

I doubt it, dude. When I first got the Sommerswerd at the end of book 2, all I had to do was raise the Sommewrswerd and it nuked the Darklord from afar in a rather smashing explosion. So that’s what I do here: raise that sword and… What, I can’t? Why not? Okay, no, the book has other plans.  Whatever.

My name is Obiwan Kenobi. You stole my line. Prepare to die.

Okay, so the Darklord goes into exposition mode and tells us about the fabled Book of the Magnakai. Apparently the Kai monatsery where I went, wasn’t very good at their job, because all the good superpowers are in this ancient and long-lost book. With the book, I could become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.

But hey, those are Drakkarim soldiers and a hunting dog, coming down the hall at me! I take the brave and yet sensible course of action: I run. i run and I run, and thanks some some lucky rolls and Mind Over Matter, eventually I lose them. I take a breather and look down from a rooftop, to see the aviary and landing platform where the Vassagonian soldiers handle their giant birds (flying birds in war? awesome!).

Time for some G.T.A. — Grand Theft Avian. Awww yeah!

Journey of the Kai Marathon, Day Fourteen

The power playthrough of the first 5 Lone Wolf books continues. Lone Wolf has become so overpowered that Chasm of Doom was a cake walk, with only minimal combat and never dropping below 20 endurance points. And now, time for Shadow On The Sand.

Lone Wolf has a base CS of 17. Add the Sommerswerd +8, a shield and helmet for +2 and +2, weaponskill with swords for +2, and mindblast for +2 more most times… and that’s 33. Compared to most bandits and monsters having 20 or so, most battles are done in 2 or 3 hits.

The Healing skill is pretty overpowered as well, and I have a backpack full of enough laumspur to come back from the edge of death.

So, let’s start.

In Chasm of Doom, a warlord named Baraka came across the sea from Vassagonia. He besieged, enslaved, and killed most of the barony of Ruanon, then tried to perform a ritual to raise a legion of undead Darklords so he could take over the world.

In book 5, the king is sending me overseas to Vassagonia. We’re gonna kick ass, wipe them off the planet and rid the world of the menace forev…  no? Really? Oh, that’s cool — the king of Vassagonia apologized profusely, and condemned this unsanctioned rogue action. I’m being sent overseas to sign the formal peace treaty. Isn’t that nice of everybody?

Problem is, that king died while we were en route.

As I step off the boat, we are attacked by the security team of the new king. My escorts are instantly killed, and I kill one guard before I’m slapped with a sleep-dart, and I wake up in jail. Damn.

Fortunately my jailers have never watched TV, and they fall for the oldest trick in the book: I hide in a corner, they walk in to investigate, I jump both of them. I get ripped up a bit in the scuffle, but come out of it with two dead guards, a sword, and some keys.

I make my way down a hall and brutally kill another guard. I’m the freakin’ angel of death! This room is the armory, and I find a door combination and some weapons… but not my stuff. Further down the hall, I find a chest with a snake living in it (of course! but how does that happen?) but again not my stuff. The third door… has my stuff. And now I’m the insanely OP Lone Wolf who will wreak a bloody vengeance upon this land.

I kake my way into the nicer parts of the royal palace, out of the jails and basements and into the arboretum, and into… the throne room. Where I find the king in a heather discussion with a Darklord.

Oh hell.

 

Journey of the Kai Marathon, Day Thirteen

Lone Wolf, The Chasm of Doom — Finale

The trip from Ruanon to Maaken was easy, just a couple of page-turns and one band of bandits who didn’t see me. Now that I’m at the Maakengorge, I have to find the temple and stop Baraka from a human sacrifice.

I see a guarded door, and an unguarded set of stairs. I use my Camouflage skill and hang out by the door, until I overhear a guard say the password out loud. That password gets me through their security, and the book doesn’t even ask if I remember it. Thanks, guy!

I walk down some stairs and find myself overlooking the temple. Just like that, no dungeon crawl or anything! And there he is, the big bad himself. I shout my battle cry “Get your hands off her, you damn dirty ape!” and move in for the attack.

I’ve mentioned before that the Sommerswerd is hugely O.P. right? Yeah, I take 4 points of damage and kill Barraka in 3 hits. And that’s it: turn to 350.

Vashna remains imprisoned, I have the dagger that can free him, the princess is  saved, roll credits.

 

Journey of the Kai Marathon, Day Twelve

We’re continuing Lone Wolf, book 4 – The Chasm of Doom.

I was sent in search of a missing platoon of soldiers and a missing wagon full of gold. I found the city of Ruanon in ruins, under siege by a warlord who intends to make a human sacrifice to raise an army of undead Darklords.

But the first order of business, is that the city is under attack!

It’s a blur of battle. Flaming balls from catapults and from wizards. Archers and foot soldiers. A couple of fights for me, but with an effective CS of 33 I rip through them faster than I can read the narrative. And victory is ours!

Now, to make my way 50 miles to the Maakengorge, a canyon where the Darklords were defeated a zillion years ago, and the site of the intended sacrifice. Fortunately, this is a quick and easy trip since the enemy was routed and scattered in the battle. I run into a single ragtag group of “bandits” who don’t even see me as they go by, and am in the gorge the next day.

 

 

Journey of the Kai Marathon, Day Eleven

We continue The Chasm of Doom, in which I’m looking for the bandits who stole a royal shipment of gold. I had 50 rangers at my command yesterday, but 40 are walking home, 2 are dead, and 8 turned tail and fled when we were attacked by a legion of unusually well-armed and well-trained bandits.

Now I’m back in my native Fighting Fantasy environment: a solo adventurer, crawling through mines.

But I should point out, that I have the mines mapped out and know the shortest route. Only three pages later, I can see the exit from the mines, and with a little help from one of the slaves I’m off into the woods two pages later. And down below, I see the city of Ruanon. The local lord is there, and soldiers, and maybe answers.

Or, maybe the city has been burned down, and the remaining center of the city is under siege by a mix of bandits and armed, trained soldiers dressed as bandits.

There’s no combat, though: just running, and some random rolls. In a glorious cutscene, I’m terrorized by hunting dogs and a sniper, and am saved by Captain D’Val who isn’t dead after all!

It’s a sad scene here in Ruanon. Most of the population is dead or enslaved, the rest have been besieged for over a month. The bandits are indeed not bandits at all, but soldiers of a warlord named Barraka. The local baron has completely snapped under the strain and horror of seeing his land and people destroyed and his family killed. And it gets weirder: Barraka kidnapped the baron’s daughter as a human sacrifice to raise a legion of undead Darklords according to a prophecy.

Well, crud. The mission has changed.

 

Journey of the Kai Marathon, Day Ten

My power-playthrough continues, as I do the first five Lone Wolf books in one sitting (well, a few evenings). It’s… The Journey of the Kai.

Today we open The Chasm of Doom, book 4. The story arc of the previous war as petered out, and now I’m being sent to investigate a missing wagon full of gold. The king already sent a troop of 100 men, and they went missing. So, it’s my turn.

But, unlike the usual adventures, this time I’m accompanied by 50 rangers. I wonder whether they’ll really do anything, or just be a plot device…

We’re heading south through the wide open farmlands, the great plains of wheat and other food crops. Not a lot to see, until we meet up with a troupe of entertainers. They seem like a friendly lot… and then I notice that one of them is carrying a genuine Sommlending cavalry sword. Upon investigation, it turns out to be Captain D’Val’s sword… the leader of that troop that went missing!

Fortunately, we forgive and forget, sleep well, eat a hearty breakfast, and take off.

At dusk we find ourselves at a inn, where everyone is really edgy. They almost didn’t let us in, because they thought we were the bandits who have been attacking them every night.  They’re a determined bunch of bandits, too: despite the band of soldiers here, they attack anyway. I make a swashbuckling leap through the roof of the stable, shake off a mild concussion, and kick some ass. But it was a hollow victory: only 11 horses remain so 40 of my men take off back home on foot, a legion of Sirs Not Appearing In This Film.

But, they’re better off than the troop that came before us. The next day as we’re riding, we see a flock of carrion-eating birds… and the bodies of 40 of the previous troop. They were apparently set upon by an unusually large host of bandits… that’s weird.

We continue onward to the village of Eshnar. That one entertainer who had Captain D’Val’s sword, said he bought it here at the inn. We get into town and my Spider Sense  tingles like crazy… but not in time to save us. The whole village is bandits, and they’re hucking sawblades at us! Two of my men are killed, and the other 8 take off running home, as I run into the woods.

That answers that question of my platoon of soldiers. They were really just narrative text, and not something effective. Darn.

As I flee through the woods, I come to the entrance to the mines. I figure I haven’t had a good ol’ dungeon crawl in some time, so I head into the darkness.