Journey of the Kai Marathon, Day Nine

When we last saw Lone Wolf, he was dead in the Caverns of Kalte. He took 1 point of damage from a kalkoth, and its venom is Your Adventure Ends Here material. So, I reloaded from a save and played through the book again.

Fast forward: off course, over land, a baknar and some Eskimo, our brave hero being very not brave and very un-heroic, falling into a cave, jumping over some ice. This time, I attack those old men to steal their dinner… and get a blue triangle keycard. Hey, I know what this is for!

I scare off a snow snake on a cliff, then pick a different tunnel and sneak past a sleeping baknar… and find myself back in the room with the door. I rummage through the skeletons and fight the snake again, coming out of it with a silver key and a giant diamond, but also lightly injured because I didn’t roll so lucky this time. But, I do have a blue keycard from the old men in the cave, so I’m spared a fight with a venomous lion.

And, I’m in the fortress proper!

The entryway is a trash heap, where I find a coil of rope that takes up 2 backpack spaces. But when climbing mountains and exploring caves, that’s gotta be useful at some point! A bit further along, I find a room with a bunch of potions which I don’t take with me since my backpack is already full, then I find a second room with a magical +2 helmet. I toss out my old helmet (+2 endurance) for this one. Nice!

Moving on, I find my way to a landing which has an obvious secret panel. Behind it is a swirly gateway to the realm of demons, the same which are trapped in those overhead lights. Sounds like a great place to visit, so I step inside!

I find myself in a temple. A statue comes to life and starts lumbering toward me. I know that books like this, such a creature usually has the magic gem that I need, but then again maybe not! I run. I find myself in a jail cell block, which is guarded by a barbarian who fortunately was not paying attention. I wander the cells, and one of the prisoners is a wizard of the same order as my old friend Banedon from book 1.

The fella tells me that his Vonotar kidnapped him so as to get teleported here to Kalte, and is apparently off the Darklords’ Christmas since their invasion tanked. That’s good; it means he probably isn’t protected by anything tougher than barbarians. Vonotar does have this wiard’s magic staff of teleportation too. So, kill Vonotar and get teleported back to the ship. Sounds like a plan.

Good god, what is that?

We creep down a hallway and encounter the kitchen. I one-shot-kill the barbarian there, and the wizard starts rummaging the cabinets… for herbs.  Well that’s nifty: he crafts me a healing potion, makes up a sleep-gas bomb with some other herbs, and packs his pockets with magical reagents.

We creep our way down another hallway, and find… Vonotar in a big ol’ throne room.

The wizard distracts him by engaging in psychic battle, while Vonotar distracts me with this horrible tentacle monster thing. Fortunately, the Sommerswerd is absurdly O.P. and the thing goes down in two hits. Vonotar comes at me with a bolt of magical energy, forgetting that the Sommerswerd also consumes magic; and the wizard puts Vonotar down in one hit with a fistful of herbs that turn into an entanglement spell. I like this guy!

And that’s it; turn to 350. The wizard was great, the boss fight was easy, the Sommerwerd is O.P., and now that bastard is in prison. I’m assured that the orison is 100% totally inescapable, so we’ll never be hearing from  Vonotar again. Nope!

 

 

Journey of the Kai Marathon, Day Eight

In our last episode, our brave hero Lone Wolf, bravely watched his party of three redshirts wiped out by Eskimo with arrows, then heroically took a child hostage at knifepoint. He then expertly fell down a crevasse and found himself in the Caverns of Kalte.

Good job, Lone Wolf. You’re a credit to the Kai name.

The caverns are clearly illuminated, as caves always are in movies or books. In this case, it’s because of magical lighting bowls built into the ceiling by The Ancients. So I guess Magnamund was formerly home to aliens or something? The illumination is very useful as I jump over an icy river, and find my way.

I smell meat cooking, and go to investigate. I see two old men, and when I try to say hi they scream and run. Undaunted, I devour their food and steal their portable fire. Our hero, ladies and gentlemen.

Moving on, I am bedazzled by the beauty of the ice caves, which are decorated with crystals and brightly it by the magic lamps. It’s really evocative writing here, really gets my imagination going. I have a brief run-in with a snow snake, but otherwise am not impeded at all until I get to the room with The Big Door, the door into the ice fortress.

The door takes a blue triangle keycard, which I don’t have. But it does have a giant crystal snake which attacks me! Fortunately the Sommerswerd +8 is so insanely overpowered that I kill it in one shot. The noise attracts a kalkoth, which is basically a vicious, giant lion with a barbed tongue.

It’s also a poisonous tongue. Although I killed it in two hits, the poison is to poisonous that my adventure ends here.

Damn.

 

 

Journey of the Kai Marathon, Day Seven

In preparation for playing Lone Wolf Book 6, the Kingdoms of Terror, I’m playing through books 1 through 5 again in a couple of power sessions.

Take off! To the Great White North! Take off! It’s such a beauty way to go!

Last session, I finished book 2, in which the invading army was destroyed by an energy blast from the Sommerswerd. As a result, the war is basically over… but then we get news that the magician who sold out Sommerlund and let the enemy get such a surprise attack on the whole kingdom, is still alive in the Great White North. And the king is all like “hey, you go get that hoser, eh?  Take off already!”

  • CS of 17 +8 for the Sommerswerd and +2 for weaponskill, +2 for a shield, +2 mindblast when applicable That’s a whopping 31!
  • 26 endurance +2 for a helmet.
  • A backpack full of food and laumspur healing potions, because every book gives me more and I also have healing power. And also because this book didn’t offer me anything useful for arctic adventuring such as ropes and blankets.
  • Kai disciplines of weaponskill, mindshield and mindblast, tracking and camouflage, sixth sense, healing, and mind-over-matter.

Our expedition starts off badly, when a winter storm blows us some 30 miles off course. Rather than waste a day sailing back to our intended landing zone, I and three redshirts elect to spend several days crossing overland in sledges. Hm, interesting choice…

The overland crossing is cold and awful, as expected. We’re attacked by wild animals once, but no harm is done. And then we encounter the natives, a fantasy parody of Eskimos: they ride on skis, and a carry a child in a backpack who has a bow to provide fire support. The three redshirts are killed in a cutscene, and I kill one of the Eskimo myself. In a desperate act of heroism and bravery, I take a child hostage and bravely threaten to cut his throat, as I make my heroic and noble escape on one of the sledges.

Our hero, ladies and gentlemen. Our hero.

Riding off into the snowy wastes, the rest of my journey is uneventful. It gets dark and I hole up in a cave, where I fall down a hole and find myself inside the Caverns of Kalte.

 

Journey of the Kai Marathon, Day Six

Journey of the Kai: a power session to play through the first five Lone Wolf books. We’re in Fire On The Water, and it’s been a long and hard journey so far. Lone Wolf and Rhygar (a warrior, and Sommerlund ambassador to Durenor) are headed to the capital of Durenor, Hammerdal, to fetch the Sommerswerd. Halfway there, they were attacked by Helghasts and had to run for their lives.

We are at the entrance to the Tarnalin, a forty-mile-long tunnel under the mountains and into the capital city. I am given the opportunity to give away my magic Helghast-killing spear to Rhygar so he can defend the entrance, but my sixth sense tells me that I’ll encounter another of those things and need this. Sorry, Rhygar.

My intuition proves right. I am attacked by one, and I get to kill it without a fight.

I’ll reiterate that the reason I’m doing this Journey of the Kai thing and power-playing the first 5 books, is because I want to play Kingdoms of Terror and the combat is calibrated towards having this magnificent +8 beast.

Next thing I know, I come to a barricade by the king’s soldiers. I show my credentials, and get a ride into town. One page later, I’m meeting King Alin of Durenor… and picking up the Sommerswerd.

It bombards my mind with magic and visions. The visions tell me that the sword is +8 and does double damage to undead. Oh hell yes. I feel like Muad Dib doing that “Emperor, we come for you!” thing. But also kind of like He-Man. Is that wrong?

The next few pages are a montage: fourteen days waiting for the navy to mobilize, while Sommlending people die in the meantime. And then when we get underway, most of the soldiers get seasick, … and then we’re attacked.

Out of a mysterious fog, the ship arrives. Crewed by the living dead, and still draped in the rot and seaweed from whence it came, the hulk rams into our flagship and destroys it in one hit. I jump onto the death ship, and start re-slaughtering zombies left and right. A Helghast comes into the hold at one point, but I get a really lucky roll of the die and kill it in one shot.

Back on deck, I’m looking for my next target. There! Fireballs are coming from the tower, killing Durenese soldiers. That seems like a mega-weapon worth destroying! But it’s not a mega-weapon… it’s Vonator the Traitor. The wizard Banedon mentioned this guy, said that he sold out the other wizards. Looks like he was right. Unfortunately for Vonator, the Sommerswerd is really crazy O.P. and it absorbs his magical attack. So he screams, hucks a smoke bomb, and takes off in a boat.

I try to go after him, but it’s no good. There’s too much fire and smoke, and a brief run-in with a kraan, and eventually I decide to take a breather on one of the Durenese battleships.

Finally, we pull into the coast at Holmgard. In an awesome cut-scene, I whip out the Sommerswerd, and it does this crazy Ark of the Covenant thing, blasting the undead demon army in one shot. Victory!

 

Journey of the Kai Marathon, Day Five

Journey of the Kai, in which I play the first five Lone Wolf books in one or two power sessions. We’re halfway through Fire On The Water (book 2) and the mission just turned a bit sour.

And I’m wanted (waa-aaah-n-ted) dead or aliiiiive.

Someone has been trying to torpedo my mission from the start: killing the first mate of the ship I was to take, setting up a coach accident, then poisoning my food. I killed the bastard, and took off into the night on a stolen horse to escape the town guard.

I’m 50 miles from Port Bax, and I ride all night and into the next day. I come to a village of szalls (like giaks, but mostly harmless), several of whom are dancing or playing around a dying man, who is impaled on a spear. How awful! I remove the spear to help… and find that he’s a Helgast Darklord demon thing in disguise! I have to fight him with the magical spear that nearly ended him, and he tears me up pretty badly (down to 11) because I’m not proficient with a spear. But eventually I finish him off. It was rough, but I have a feeling that a demon-killing spear will come in handy.

Some hours later,  I arrive at the border of Durenor. I flash my credentials, get some directions, and just over an hour later arrive at Port Bax city hall. I spend a little time in Terry GIlliam’s movie Brazil being issued passes and finding the naval authority, which is there the consulate is located. But eventually, I get in and meet our ambassador for dinner, healing potions, and a good night’s sleep.

The next day, we set off for Hammerdal, the capital of Durenor, where the Sommerswerd is kept — myself, the ambassador Rhygar, and three soldiers. About halfway there, we’re attacked at camp by several Helghasts. Our escorts don’t have magical weapons, but they were able to provide a distraction, and they gave their lives buying time for Rhygar and me to escape. And escape we did, running all night without sleep. We don’t stop until we reach the Tarnalin, the forty-mile-long tunnels through the mountains into Hammerdal.

 

Journey of the Kai Marathon, Day Four

Journey of the Kai continues, as I play through the first five Lone Wolf books in one or two sittings. We’re in Fire On The Water (book 2) and our hero has stretched out his legs and started to doze off, aboard a coach from Ragadorn to Port Bax. My mission is to get to Port Bax and talk to King Alin, hopefully enlisting the aid of the kingdom of Durenor in the new war that has started back home, and most importantly to acquire the magical sword that can kill the Darklords who are invading.

Travel by coach is cushy, but expensive. I started off with a full pouch of 50 gold. The ticket was 20, then 4 more for tolls and inns along the way. Still, it beats walking and being killed in my sleep.

Or it did anyway… until the wagon was sabotaged and someone tried to kill me while I helped to fix it. Then that same night, “a friend” bought me dinner which was poisoned. Not only have they been onto me from the beginning, they’re right here in the coach!

I gear up and head downstairs to knock some heads. My enemy isn’t very bright, though: he has the serpent tattoo on his wrist, same as the bastards who attacked me back on page 1. It’s a short battle: I hit him, he hits the floor, I ransack his pockets for evidence and gold.

Maybe that last part wasn’t such a hot idea. Everyone else saw me kill some guy and rummage through his pockets, the innkeeper is screaming bloody murder (yes, literally), and the town guards burst in like the Spanish Inquisition.

Time for me to leave.

I race out the back door and steal a horse, and disappear into the night.

 

Journey of the Kai Marathon, Day Three

The Journey of the Kai continues, playing the first five Lone Wolf books in one or two sittings. It’s Choose Your Own Adventure as an endurance sport. 🙂

In our last episode, Lone Wolf had gotten to Holmgard to warn the king that the forces of Helgedad were invading (which they already knew, because of the army killing people outside) and that the Kai would not be coming to help (because they were the first to die). The king was impressed by Lone Wolf’s braveryand so forth, so gave him a new task: go pick up the magical sword which is the only thing that can kill the Darklords who are invading.

I barely stop myself from asking, why in the world they gave away the sword to neighbors who aren’t being menaced by Darklords…

We start my mission by giving me a fistful of gold (now my pouch is full of 50 gold crowns), a chainmail waistcoat (+4 endurance) and a shield (+2 CS). Not bad! I get to add one more Kai discipline to my list, too. So my starting lineup is:

  • 17 combat skill (CS) + 2 because I have a sword and weaponskill, +2 more for a shield, and usually +2 for mindblast. That’s 23, not bad!
  • 26 endurance +6 more for helmet and armor.
  • Mindshield and Mindblast, Healing, Sixth Sense, and Tracking.
  • A full pouch of 50 gold crowns.
  • A couple handfuls of laumspur, and a meal.

Let’s go!

My ride drops me off at the docks, where I am supposed to meet the first mate of my ship. Instead, I am attacked by a band of thugs and find the first mate already murdered. Not a good start! They tore me up a bit too: knocked off 12 of my endurance, so I’m down to 20. Kai healing powers, activate!

I find my way to the ship and break the bad news. The captain agrees that this is a bad start to the journey.

Over the next few days, it’s life on a boat. I rest and heal completely. We ignore a suspicious-looking crew of men in a boat who ask to come board. Someone sets a fire that destroys all of our food and fresh water. Then a storm comes and wrecks the ship completely…

I make my way to shore, wash up exhausted and bereft  of all weapons and my armor, but not my shield nor money for some reason. Fortunately, there is food here on the shore and I have already recovered from the mild injury I sustained during the shipwreck, and better I’m not bothered as I make my way further inland hoping to find a road.

After a reasonably good night’s sleep in a tree, I find that I’m on the highway to Ragadorn. That’s fortunate! I flag down a passing wagon and make my way into town without incident, and even find a store where I can buy a new sword. The town is ugly and miserable and everyone seems depressed, but I’m getting on just fine!

I arrive at the local coach station, and buy my ticket. It’s rather steep at 20 gold crowns. But if it gets me cross country safely, it would be worth it. So I stretch out my legs and settle in, for the journey to Port Bax will be seven days.

 

 

Journey of the Kai Marathon, Day Two

My replay of the first five Lone Wolf books in one sitting continues. As the sole surviving Kai, I bravely avoided patrols, hid from giaks, and evaded pursuit, on my mission to get to the capital city (Holmgard) to tell them that the Kai will most assuredly not be coming to help.

It’s late morning, and I’ve arrived at an overlook. The valley stretches out before me, with Holmgard only an hour’s ride away. The valley is also filled with that invading army, that I was coming to warn them about. Good job, Lone Wolf…

I figure I have three options: a suicide run directly through the battlefield, where I’d be visible and uncovered to archers and other baddies; the forbidden crypts where the restless undead devour those who disturb their rest; or the river where I could probably hide and get into the city. Not really a tough choice here, for someone who wants to stay alive. I opt for the river.

It’s a mostly uneventful float down the river. Some riders and pursuers go by, and eventually I wash up at a floating barricade made of barges. I find the nearest soldiers and am well met, though they are quite disappointed to find out that I am the only Kai who’s coming.

They then escort me to the king, who gives me my next mission: to fetch the Sommerswerd in the next book, Fire On The Water.

Well, that was surprisingly easy. Let’s shower up, get some food, and see about that Swerd.

 

 

Journey of the Kai Marathon, Day One

I’ve played the first five books of the Lone Wolf series, but I didn’t do it all as one character, nor did I keep my character sheet. This means that book 6, The Kingdoms of Terror, is basically impossible. Clearly, I have only one option: A marathon playthrough of the first five books!OK

So here we go: Flight From The Dark.

  • I have a 17 CS and 26 endurance. Not bad.
  • An axe from cutting wood, but Weaponskill with a sword.
  • Mindshield and Mindblast, Healing and Sixth Sense.
  • A helmet for +2 endurance, a meal, and 13 gold.

Only one page in, I remember how much I liked this book when I first played it. It really does give the feeling of being, not a doughty adventurer and brave sword-for-hire, but prey. A refugee on the run.

I head northeast and hide from a giak-and-kraan air patrol. Then I come across a wizard fending off a horde of giaks, and help him out by hucking a rock at one of his attackers. These usually determined critters see their friend go down with a broken head. and decide they’ll come back some other time. The wizard, whose name is Banedon, thanks me for my help.

I take off on my own way, and immediately run into an ambush. Fortunately, giaks aren’t forest critters and I easily lose them in the woods. Unfortunately, I scratch myself on some sleeptooth bush, become drowsy, and fall off a cliff. I have broken my axe and am now weaponless.

But there’s good news. I find my way without incident to a log cabin, and find a short sword and some torches. I’m not proficient with it, but it’s something. I continue bushwacking for some time, and eventually admit that I am lost.

I wander a while and find a tunnel or burrow of some sort. I’m not usually one to dive into unknown critter burrows, but the alternative here is a long stretch of climbing a hill with no cover at all, where I could easily be picked off by an air patrol. I take my chances with the tunnel… and am not at all surprised that there’s a hideous carrion-eating worm monster thing living in it.

The worm thing goes down  in 2 hits, though, leaving me only a little banged up. I’ll have this healed up in a few pages. Making my way out of the burrow, I find my way to a highway. Along this highway, a band of refugees fleeing the war-torn western regions… just like me. I fall in with them, but not long later our troupe is attacked by giaks and kraan.

I sense that my mission is more important than saving the other refugees, and flee to a nearby farmhouse where I lie low. I find some food and wait until the screaming stops, then creep out to continue on my way. A troop of the king’s soldiers arrive (thanks guys! great timing!) and offer to escort me to the prince. Yes! Finally, someone in charge!

The prince is too busy to talk, though, as he’s being killed by a giant lizard thing called a gourgaz. For goodness sake, can’t anyone handle themselves around here? Fortunately, he is armed with a proper sword, which I can use reasonably well. I kill the gourgaz and take some moderate damage in the process. Hooray for the overpowered Healing skill.

The rest of the day passes uneventfully: dodge another patrol of giaks, hide in the woods, and eventually … sleep with one eye open.

And thus ends the first day of the Journey of the Kai Marathon.

 

The Kingdoms of Getting My Butt Kicked

Our topic again is The Kingdoms of Terror, book 6 of the Lone Wolf series. Book 6 is a reboot of sorts, as Joe has reworked the Kai disciplines a bit to become more powerful. But, at the same time I’m confused as to the feasibility of combat here, because so far our brave hero has not survived a single combat.

  • Decided to fight Roark hand to hand. He has a CS of 24. I have a CS base of 11 + 1 for both fire disciplines + 2 mindblast + 3 weaponskill = 17. That’s a -7 ratio and a fairly quick death.
  • Alton at the archery contest has a CS of 30 (apparently 28 in later printings). Assuming a 19 CS + 2 cheating with mindblast during a contest + 3 weaponskill = 24 for a -6 balance. Again, astronomically remote.
  • Undead are a paltry 18, so a mediocre 15 + 2 + 3 = 20, would at least put you on the positive side. But the extra 2 points per turn can sap half of your initial Endurance in 6 turns, not counting actual combat damage.

I decided to Google about for a bit to find out if I misread the instructions somehow.

Everybody else  who plays this, plays as a carryover character from the earlier books meaning that they have the +8 Sommerswerd. I expect that would make a huge difference, especially the double damage vs undead.

For the archery contest, those who claim to win it do so with a potion of Alether and a Silver Helm, both of which would have been premium loot from earlier books, to at least get up to a fighting chance of 0 combat ratio.

So at least it’s not just me noticing that the combat is terribly imbalanced. The book seems predicated on being played exclusively by a carryover character from the first 5 books, Sommerswerd and all.

Does this mean that I need to spend my weeknights replaying the first 5 books over again? Hm, maybe…

 

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