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Grakor Plays! Might & Magic 4+5: World of XEEN
#1
Part One: Introduction

World of XEEN, as the title of this thread implies, is actually two games within the Might and Magic franchise. At the time, they were sold separately, but could be linked together to form a single game, that not only let you play through both adventures with the same party, but also gave you a unique quest at the end to complete once you completed the stories of both games.

The land of XEEN is relatively flat, but with two sides, both habitable. The top, the setting for M&M4: Clouds of XEEN is the side that gets the most sunlight, and the more hospitable of the two. The other side is known as the Darkside, harsher and more heavily populated by monsters, both good and ill. With both games joined together, the party can freely move from one side to another, which will be a big help in completing the overall quest.

Before we start the actual game, however, let's look at the story so far, and the characters that we will beginning our quest with, hm?

All images will be spoilered to prevent image overload. Also, italicized text will be my story narration, hope you enjoy the writing! This post will be very long since I'm introducing a lot at once, but if you don't care about the mechanics or initial story, you can skip some of these sections.

The Dreams

The human peered over his mug of ale at the pair of gnomes in front of him. "Tell us of your dream, miss...?"

"Celest. And...it is hard to explain, but I will do my best. It all began on a tower, in the middle of a deep lake...

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_007_zps2d754de2.png]

"The darkest lake I'd seen. Gave me chills, it did, and the night sky didn't help none. I saw more, though, and saw a cloaked figure within the tower's window...

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_008_zps0c71fedc.png]

"The figure was holding a scroll, and suddenly, I saw it, too. There were faces, with a man named Crodo in the center, talking to me...

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_009_zps1c52f3fb.png]

"He said something about King Burlock's realm being threatened by a skeletal figure, calling himself Lord Xeen. Crodo also said he was a prisoner within that tower. I don't know what it all means, but..." The gnome woman trailed off, her shoulder patted by her male gnomish companion.

The human seemed satisfied with that, perhaps not wanting to upset the woman any more than he had. His eyes then moved to the pair of half-orcs at the table with them. "And you...you're from the darkside, aren't you? You said you had a dream, too?"

One of the two nodded. "Grakor. And yes...though it was much different. I saw the leader of the monsters in Darkside, the Dragon Pharaoh, within the pyramid...

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_010_zps4269868d.png]

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_011_zpsbbd1a038.png]

"He was talking about a threat to the darkside, someone named Alamar. Approaching a crystal ball, he attempted to get help from many of the leaders in Darkside, but to no avail...

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_012_zps71118a49.png]

"Queen Kalindra said she was a prisoner, and bore fangs, like she had been turned into a vampire. The pharaoh's monstrous allies had betrayed him and allied with Alamar, and even the great wizard Ellinger said that he was a prisoner in his own tower. The pharaoh said he'd send out 'the orb,' whatever that means...

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_013_zpsd8a9f079.png]

"But even that was for nothing, as the creature carrying it was soon destroyed by magic.

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_014_zps20edd389.png]

"And the orb then fell. I couldn't tell where."

A silence fell over the table. Finally, the dwarven woman at the table spoke up, "Well, seems to me we've got a lot of troubles here. Makes the problems here in Vertigo seem insignificant in comparison."

The human nodded. "So, why don't we do something about it then? If this Lord Xeen and this Alamar are causing so many problems, someone has to put a stop to them."


The Party

Although a pre-generated party is available for the game, I instead made my own. So, let's see our cast of characters and see how they'll all be working together.

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_000_zpsdc08ca85.png]
"Then let's stop waiting around! My blade's ready to hack this 'Lord Xeen' to pieces!"

Thragash is a barbarian, which has the highest gain of both hit points and attacks per round (not allowing him to act more than once per 'round', but rather allowing him more opportunities to hit and do damage with a single attack attempt.) Even better, being a half-orc will grant Thragash even more hit points per level, making him a brick that will be very hard to kill. I got really lucky with Thragash's stat rolls, but no worries, as the other party members will have opportunities to catch up to his stat lead.

While he's not going to be an amazing fighter right away, he'll become a regular death machine at higher levels. The downside to being a barbarian, however, is that his armor selection is rather limited, only allowing him to use scale armor. He also has a slightly more limited weapon selection, but his raw combat abilities will more than make up for that later. Unfortunately, he starts with no special skills to speak of, beyond his raw muscle, and will never learn magic.

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_001_zps4f492303.png]
"I pledge my life to this cause. We'll set things in Xeen right, or die trying!"

As a paladin, Gunnar will be able to use the best weapons and armor in the game, and is going to be the only character in the party able to wear plate armor. He won't be as good of a fighter as Thragash even with this advantage, but his armor can make him harder to hit if we get lucky and find some plate armor in our travels. Also making up for this is his ability to use clerical magic, and his high Personality stat will ensure that he gets good spell points...at least, for a paladin. Personality is the casting stat for clerics and paladins, while intelligence is essentially worthless for him, being the casting stat for sorcerers and archers.

Even though he's not a full cleric, Gunnar will still be able to learn the best clerical spells in the game. However, it'll be more expensive for him to learn said spells, and he'll have less spell points available to use said spells. Nonetheless, he'll be an effective back-up healer, while still being able to fight quite decently. Being a paladin, he starts with the Crusader skill, which will come in handy at a certain point later in the game. Also, as a human, he naturally starts with the ability to Swim, but that won't be useful until the rest of the party learns as well.

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_002_zps0d1e4689.png]
"Let's not get ahead of ourselves. We're nowhere near ready to take on Lord Xeen yet. Best to see what we can do here, first."

Rangers are the ultimate jack-of-all-trades in the Might and Magic universe. Grakor will be roughly on par with Gunnar in fighting prowess, though he'll have a slightly worse equipment selection to pick from due to his armor being limited to splint armor and being unable to use any of the oriental weapons. As a ranger, he will learn the same magic as druids...which, in this game, allows him to use spells from both the sorcerer and the cleric spell lists! The downside? He won't be able to use the most powerful spells of either list, limiting his end-game power outside of his role as a physical fighter.

Despite this limitation, rangers are excellent early-game characters due to their versatility, and retain at least some of that power late-game. They can also carry a lot of utility spells due to their broad spell list, even if they lose the best nuking and healing powers. Because he uses both spell lists, his spell points are actually related to both intelligence AND personality. Also unfortunately, while he gains a nice boost to his hit points as a half-orc, he also gets a penalty to his spell points, and starts with only a single spell point! This will become less of a problem later as his stats and levels rise. As a ranger, he starts with the Pathfinding skill. While useless when on only one character, once another character learns the skill, we will be able to enter heavily forested areas that we can't enter otherwise. It will save us money on training costs, at least, as Pathfinding is rather expensive to learn.

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_003_zps4bcbdb0e.png]
"Oh, you're worrying over nothing. Think of the treasure that awaits us!"

Karana is a robber, which is one of only two classes that have the Thievery skill. Unlike other skills in the game, Thievery can't be taught to other characters, and Thievery is the only skill that has an actual rating that goes up when the character levels. Thievery allows Karana to open doors and chests that other characters would have problems with. While not up to Thragash's skill, robbers are also fairly effective fighters and can wear up to chain mail and use shields. While one of the less useful combat characters in the group, Karana will be invaluable in getting our party around in dungeons, as well as gaining items through less than legal means...

She's also a dwarf, which provides her with both a slight boost to her hit points and a slight boost to her thievery skill. She will need the health boost, and her high luck and endurance stats, as she will be the one opening doors and chests...and thus the one taking the brunt of the damage from any traps sprung in the process. Her high speed is also quite useful, allowing her to act earlier in a combat round. Finally, as a dwarf, she naturally has the Danger Sense skill, which will alert us to danger whenever a hostile enemy is nearby. She has no magic, but is useful enough without it.

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_004_zpsd6e79e5f.png]
"Just don't get too excited. If you get hurt, I'm the one that will have to patch you up."

Aethan is a cleric, and will be our premiere caster of clerical magic. This means he will be doing a lot of healing and buffing for our party, but clerics in World of Xeen also have a number of offensive and utility spells that will come in handy. Being a pure caster, Aethan cannot use ranged weapons, unlike the other characters covered so far, and is a rather poor melee combatant. Despite this, his ability to use up to splint mail and a shield will ensure that he can at least be decently protected if we can manage to find armor for him. Personality will be the most important stat for him, since it determines his spell points.

His rather comically low intelligence actually won't be a problem, since intelligence has no effect on anyone unless they can cast sorcery. He won't ever be a decent fighter, but early game he at least has a chance of smacking someone with a club if needed. While Grakor and Gunnar will start with only the Light spell, being hybrids, Aethan also starts with the First Aid spell, allowing him to do some minor healing, and the Awaken spell, allowing him to wake up sleeping allies. As a gnome, he can Spot Secret Doors, which will alert us to the presence of an illusory or breakable wall in front of us if we're facing it. Gnomes get a slight penalty to hit points, but a bonus to spell points, which will be quite important.

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_005_zps15fd330e.png]
"It'll be fine, Aethan. I think these dreams were a sign. We're meant to do something about them."

Celest is a sorcerer (sorceress?) and is the main nuker for our team. That said, sorcerers are more than just nukers, as they have a large number of utility and buff spells that will be useful. Intelligence is her main stat, and just as that is useless to Aethan, personality is useless for her. Sorcerers, unfortunately, are the worst combatants in the game, and have the worst equipment selection as they can wear nothing heavier than robes. She also has the slowest gain for hit points per level, and the slowest gain of attacks per round, further cementing her uselessness in melee combat. Her magic will more than make up for it, though.

Also starting with the Awaken spell, she also begins with the Magic Arrow spell, allowing her to do some damage at the cost of spell points. Being a gnome, she also has a bonus to spell points at the cost of hit points like Aethan, and can Spot Secret Doors (redundant since Aethan has it, but means that we still have that ability so long as one of them is alive...in case of the untimely demise of one or the other.) Her health might be a problem in the long run, as we'll discover in the future. Hence why I ensured she had high endurance. As a sorcerer, she also starts with the Cartography skill, allowing us to use the built-in minimap as we explore the world.

Additional Information

Beyond telling us the Might, Intelligence, Personality, Endurance, Speed, Accuracy, and Luck, the character sheets tell us a wealth of information. Following those main stats, we see the character's Age, Level, Armor Class, Hit Points, Spell Points, Resistance totals, the number of Skills known, the number of Awards gained, and more. We'll discuss what some of these things mean as we progress through the game and they become relevant.

Last for this update, I'll cover the races and classes that I didn't choose, so we know what we're missing, within the spoiler.

Spoiler:
Elves - Elves have a heavier health penalty than gnomes, but a greater spell point gain...but only for sorcerers and archers. Elves are too frail for my tastes, hence my usage of gnomes instead. Also, elves are blue in this game. Yes, really.

Knight - The alternative to the barbarian as the magicless bruiser, Knights have access to all weapons and armors, but have worse progression in health and attacks per round. Knights also start with the Armsmaster skill, giving them a slight boost to their attack accuracy. Knights are more of a short-term investment compared to the long-term investment for barbarians. The equipment difference makes a big difference early game, but starts to become less noticeable at later levels, where the equipment's modifiers hae more impact on the character's armor class than the armor itself. Since barbarians can learn Armsmaster later as well, there's very little reason to take a knight over one beyond just having more equipment options.

Archer - The "sorcerer hybrid." The name is a little misleading, as archers actually have no special benefits with bows. Instead, the should be looked at as "warrior mages," able to use the full sorcery spellbook, but with the same penalties that paladins and rangers face. They have a worse equipment selection compared to their other hybrid brothers, though, only able to wear chain and being completely unable to use shields. They're still a popular pick, though, due to their balance between being decent warriors and having access to the extremely powerful set of sorcerer spells.

Ninja - Ninjas are the other option for the thievery class compared to robbers. Ninjas gain more attacks per round, and have access to better weapons. However, they have worse health per level and have worse armor, also being unable to use shields. Finally, they have worse thievery scores at the same level. Robbers are more defensive and better reliability for thievery, while ninjas are better fighters overall. I prefer robbers, but either one will do.

Druid - Because the druid spell list loses most of the most powerful spells of both sorcerers and clerics, they tend to be a very weak class late-game. In theory, this is balanced by their power early-game, having access to nearly the full spell lists of both sorcerers and clerics for some time. However, they remain unpopular picks since you'll almost always want both a cleric and a sorcerer to access the best spells of both, and druids are also unable to wield ranged weapons or wear armor heavier than robes. They do at least get decent health gains per level compared to the other pure casters. They start with the Direction Sense skill, which always lets you know what direction you're facing...though this is fairly redundant with Cartography, since a look at the minimap will tell you what direction you're facing anyway.

Whew! That was a lot of things to introduce! Next time, we'll actually start our adventure and explore the starting village of Vertigo.
Have you hugged an orc today?
- I am not tech support. Please do not contact me regarding technical issues. -
PM
#2
Part Two: Pest Control

We begin in the village of Vertigo with just some basic starting gear and no idea of what to do first (and get used to the goofy and oddly appropriate town names, they're all like this.) At least, we WOULD have no idea what to do first, if it wasn't for something just a couple tiles ahead of us.

[Image: Gunnar_zps800c2e39.png]: "What's this? Looks kinda--AAHHHH GETITOFFGETITOFF!"

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_001_zps65bd5bc3.png]

Slimes aren't that dangerous, having a weak acidic attack and very little health. The only thing that makes them threatening is their high speed, which means that the slime always goes first in a combat round. Normally I'd simply shoot them once with our starting short bow, but I wanted to show off all of the monsters I'd be facing.

You'll also notice the gem underneath Gunnar's portrait is now yellow. These gems show us the health value our characters are at: green gems are characters at full health, yellow are wounded characters. In addition, white gems show characters over full health, red for characters critically injured, blue for unconscious characters, and black for dead characters. Hopefully we won't see too many black gems in our future!

The bat at the top of the screen is also animated. Due to us having the Danger Sense skill, the bat's eyes glow and his mouth opens and closes to indicate that there are hostile enemies nearby. Useful if we don't actually see the threatening monster right in front of us!

After our heroes swat the slime to defeat it, we look around for some explanation as to what is going on around here. Thankfully nearby is the mayor's tent:

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_002_zpsa6b06248.png]

[Image: Karana_zps702e9614.png]: "First a slime, and then we see the mayor lives in a tent. This place really has gone to the dumps!"

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_003_zpse578120f.png]
"...the problem seems to be getting worse. Perhaps you can help."

[Image: Gunnar_zps800c2e39.png]: "A quest! These people clearly need our help."
[Image: Celest_zps4b0f8377.png]: "...this is hardly a quest. We're being hired as pest control."
[Image: Karana_zps702e9614.png]: "Actually, Joe was hired as pest control. We're just seeing why he fails so hard at it."

Our first task in-hand, let's go see what we can do here in Vertigo. There's a smithy right behind the mayor, so we'll go into the building. Rather than interact with the shopkeeper, particularly with our meager funds, why don't we just liberate ourselves some equipment?

[Image: Grakor_zpsfcdb5293.png]: "What are you doing?"
[Image: Karana_zps702e9614.png]: "Shhh! Not so loud."
[Image: Grakor_zpsfcdb5293.png]: "Are...you really sure you should be doing that?"
[Image: Karana_zps702e9614.png]: "Consider it an advance payment for saving this village. Now quiet down and watch a pro at work."

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_005_zps0fa5c62a.png]

Only robbers and ninjas can steal from display cases. If anyone else tries, we'd get a years worth of jail time. I've never seen a proper thief fail at it, though. There's six of them in the blacksmith's building, so we managed to nab ourselves some decent loot, including two suits of splint mail and a suit of chainmail which greatly improved our defenses. Who says crime doesn't pay?

Also nearby is the tavern, which we were at the door of at the beginning of the game. Clicking on the tables within will let us talk to some of the patrons. Some of them just complain and want to drink in peace, but some of them have interesting things to say:

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_006_zps86084766.png]
[Image: xeen_007_zps389a0a0d.png]
[Image: xeen_008_zpsc71765a5.png]
[Image: xeen_009_zps7d038bfd.png]

Breeds them in the warehouse, hmm? Interesting.

[Image: Karana_zps702e9614.png]: "What are you doing, big guy?"
[Image: Thragash_zpsf115c235.png]: "He said money was growing on trees!"
[Image: Karana_zps702e9614.png]: "Er, that's not exactly what he said. You're not going to find any gold growing on a-"

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_010_zpsa4f5ef78.png]

[Image: Karana_zps702e9614.png]: "..."
[Image: Thragash_zpsf115c235.png]: "Woohoo!"

Xeen really trains you to search everything. For whatever reason, it's always worthwhile to search trees in every major town.

Another thing that you'll be clicking on a lot are grates. They're all over the place, and they're almost always locked, greeting you with the option of who to open it with:

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_011_zpsa7814a4b.png]

Thieves have the best chance, so Karana will be opening these. The downside? They can also be trapped. In fact, there's a fair chance Karana will get knocked unconscious a few times in here just from opening grates. One wonders if Vertigo commonly has a high death rate because it's citizens keep getting hit by their own traps. Not to mention the pests around here. Stray too far from the main square, and you'll face another enemy in the alleys:

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_012_zps2b5a6e77.png]

Doom Bugs are a bit stronger and tougher than slimes. However, they're a bit slower, so in some ways they're actually less threatening, since we have more time to swat them before they try to spit acid at us.

Before we go too far into the alleys of Vertigo, though, there are some other things to look at in the main square and the nearby park. The first is the town well:

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_013_zps214e0c70.png]

At the moment, the well is actually poisonous and will inflict some weak acid damage on the person trying to drink from it. Later, when we solve the pest problem here in Vertigo, the well will be safe to drink again and will heal whoever drinks from it. Quite handy!

While we're here, why don't we pay Joe's office a visit?

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_014_zps4fbded0d.png]

Wait, why is my danger sense going off?

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_015_zps66f4a18f.png]

Oh dear. Let's see what Joe has to say for himself!

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_016_zps093a9ffc.png]

Sure you do, Joe. Sure you do.

Oh, yeah, on the subject of people wanting money: while we're looking around, we find a few more NPCs in tents and at desks.

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_017_zps7a99f27a.png]
[Image: xeen_021_zpse8d7790c.png]
[Image: xeen_022_zps81abfb0c.png]

Celest is already a cartographer, and teaching someone else Pathfinding is a little bit pricey for us. The guild membership, however, is cheap and a good idea. It's useless for Thragash and Karana, but I'll go ahead and buy it for everyone else.

Let's go ahead and get this wrapped up, shall we? Searching around Vertigo, our intrepid heroes locate his storehouse. Wandering inside, they are greeted by a most unsettling sight:

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_023_zpseb6ec394.png]

Breeder Slimes are stronger and tougher than both of the enemy types we've encountered so far, but still not terribly dangerous for our party. There's two of them here in the warehouse, though thankfully they don't come at us at the same time. The most notable thing about them is that when they do their attack animation, some strange noise that's a cross between an organ playing and a scare cord going off. Yeah, I don't get it either.

After cleaning out the mess of critters in the warehouse, our heroes start to pen up the boxes within, hoping to find a clue as to what is going on...

[Image: Thragash_zpsf115c235.png]: "Opening boxes? Easy! ...wait, why are there bugs inside?"

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_025_zpsc1b78785.png]

Eventually, our heroes find something most incriminating in one of the crates...

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_026_zps2989cfa1.png]
[Image: xeen_027_zps3bf4ebbb.png]

[Image: Gunnar_zps800c2e39.png]: "So Joe was behind all of this all along! We must tell the mayor at once!"
[Image: Celest_zps4b0f8377.png]: "I'm more disturbed by the sudden knowledge that slimes mate. The mechanics are mind-boggling."

Returning to Gunther, we are given our reward:

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_028_zps501a5d91.png]
"...outstanding citizenship award and this treasure. Congratulations. Oh, one more thing. I have received a message from the dwarves who reside in the Red Dwarf Range. They have urgently requested help and promise great reward to whoever is brave enough to come. Apparently, their mines have been invaded by the Mad Dwarf Clan, preventing them from mining. Help them and report back."

[Image: Karana_zps702e9614.png]: "You had me at 'great reward.'"

What will our heroes do next? Next time, I'll put in a smaller update, finishing off Vertigo and showing off all the things we can do here. Until next time!
Have you hugged an orc today?
- I am not tech support. Please do not contact me regarding technical issues. -
PM
#3
Part Two and a Half: Vertigo Shops


So, here comes a short update. Not much actual play is going to happen, but we'll see what else we can do in Vertigo and get an update on our heroes after their adventures in Vertigo.

There are a few buildings that we can interact with in most towns, so let's take a look at what we can do, here.

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_033_zpsfb5b77e9.png]
"What do YOU want?"

The blacksmith is the main shop we can interact with in the game. We can buy weapons and armor, of course, as well as a few accessories. The blacksmith will, for a fee, "identify" an item to tell us exactly what it does (giving us the stats, since we always see the modifiers) and can repair broken equipment. We'll be coming back for repairs often, since some monsters later in the game love to break armor, but otherwise I don't often buy things from blacksmiths. Their equipment tends to be pricey, and most of the best stuff we get from adventuring anyway.

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_034_zps5e7b8288.png]
"Hello, travellers."

The "sign in" button lets us go to change our party and create new characters if we want, which I did before starting this Let's Play. Drinking will give our hapless hero the drunk status, but afterwards we can use Tip to get a questionably helpful tip from the tavern owner. Food will let us refill our food stores, which I'll talk about later when it's relevant. Finally, Rumors allow us to hear rumors tailored to the particular area. Here's a few interesting rumors and such here in Vertigo:

1. Orcs in the mountains have set up outposts, which may have treasure in them.
2. Witches in Toad Meadow have been kidnapping children from Vertigo and turning them into goblins. An old woman has the key to their tower.

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_035_zps09b586f5.png]
"Lookin' to train?"

Here at the training hall we can level up our heroes. Leveling up doesn't happen automatically, we have to visit these halls and pay a little gold to level up. I'll go ahead and level up as much as possible.

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_036_zpsbbaa218a.png]
"Welcome to the guild!"

Yes, that's an elf.

Remember that guild membership I got earlier? Here at the guild, anyone who is a member can buy spells, but only at this particular guild location. Thragash and Karana can't cast spells, so this is useless for them, but everyone else gets a list that they can learn. Because they're hybrids, the spells cost twice as much for Grakor and Gunnar!

I went ahead and got Cure Wounds for Aethan, so he can be a better healer, and First Aid for both Grakor and Gunnar so they can chip in with the healing. For Celest, I got Jump and Wizard Eye. Jump allows me to hop over a tile to the one after it, good for avoiding traps. Wizard Eye lets me get a completely filled in version of the mini-map, useful for finding hidden rooms.

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_037_zps37f6a7ff.png]
"Safe and secure!"

Here at the bank we can store gold and gems. We actually get interest on whatever is stored here, so it's a good idea to leave some gold to get us even more cash later, since eventually training will be very costly. We don't have enough gold to make it worth it right now, but good to keep in mind later.

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_038_zps8c2dca1f.png]
"May we help you?"

The temple allows us to heal any conditions that our party has accumulated, as well as remove any curses on our equipment (useful in the future, as we'll see.) By donating several times to the temple, we can get several buffs that will last us for roughly a day: useful, but there are alternatives.

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_039_zpsf9ce132d.png]
"Where to?"

Lastly, in every town in Clouds there is a mirror that, when used, asks you where you want to go. By simply typing the name of a location, such as a town or dungeon, we can immediately appear right outside of it. Quite useful for saving time. We won't be using this just yet, but it's good to know.

Now that we've done all of that, let's look at a quick summary of where our party members are at now:

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_040_zps4a3534b4.png]

I need to learn to better place my mouse cursor when I take screen shots!

Anyway, characters level at different rates. Karana will probably always have a level lead. Not only do Robbers gain levels quickly, but she gets extra experience every time she opens a door or chest! She's got quite a few more hit points than Gunnar and Grakor because of this.

Next time, we'll finally be leaving Vertigo!
Have you hugged an orc today?
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#4
Part Three: It's a Small World...

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_000_zpse1ef4982.png]

So here we are, finally outside of the noob village. There's a tent right here, so why don't we check it out?

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_001_zps074ef2bb.png]
"...there. I will give you five potions for each Phirna root you bring me.

The potions are really the only reward for doing this, so I never really felt much need. The roots can only be carried one at a time, too, so it can be a bit cumbersome to even get enough to cover the party with one full set of antidotes.

Also, nearby is our first enemy out in the overworld.

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_003_zps158ae913.png]

[Image: Aethan_zps30d010f4.png]: "You two are supposed to be half orc, right? I...don't see the resemblance."
[Image: Thragash_zpsf115c235.png]: "These aren't REAL orcs!"
[Image: Grakor_zpsfcdb5293.png]: "We're from Darkside. Our orcs are very different. And much, much stronger."

The most notable thing about Orcs is that they're the first enemy we've encountered with a ranged attack. When not on our tile, they will shoot an arrow at us every around as they advance. Unlike ourselves, who can only stand still while we shoot, monsters with ranged attacks will always fire and move towards the party at the same time. Otherwise, Orcs aren't very threatening, being fairly weak. Their ranged attacks are also rather inaccurate, making it still a good idea to shoot them down.

You'll also notice that all of my portraits went frowny-face. Just as I moved into the tile with the Orc, I got the notice that my "party needs to rest." Time flows in Xeen, and if the party hasn't rested in a while, they'll get tired and hit with the Weakness condition. This is supposed to encourage us to rest...but not only is it a weak debuff, but Weakness generally fades by itself over time. Apparently, sleepiness is something you can just walk off in Xeen.

And yes, the frowny-faces look goofy. All of the "condition faces" look kind of funny that way. Just wait until the Insanity condition starts getting thrown around.

I will be trying to avoid resting as much as possible in this play-through, mostly to avoid the passage of time. While no quests in the game are really time-sensitive, we are essentially on an overall timer due to our characters having ages. When characters reach certain ages, they start to take penalties to their stats, and if the penalties cause a stat to go down to 0, they're dead for good. Thankfully, age isn't really a problem unless you really go out of your way to waste a ton of time, but there are other reasons to worry about it later.

There are a few other things of note near Vertigo. The first are two fountains nearby:

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_004_zpsbd3f76d7.png]

An interesting note about these fountains: the visual of the sword within a globe wasn't random, and almost all fountains in Clouds look like this. The "sword in the globe" was actually the logo of New World Computing, the developers for this game.

Fountains are often useful sources of buffs, some major and some minor. The two fountains near Vertigo provide buffs to armor and hit points, making exploring the surroundings a bit easier, though neither buff is especially large. Nonetheless, it's something nice to pick up while you're in the neighborhood.

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_005_zpsf303cb64.png]

Another thing of note near Vertigo is this portal pyramid. Using it will take you to the world of Darkside. We won't be using it just yet, but it'll be useful for hopping between the two sides of Xeen.

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_006_zps3a2a2c4a.png]

Finally, here is the entrance to the Red Dwarf Mines. We'll be coming back here later to take care of that quest that Gunther sent us on.

Remember that rumor about orc outposts in the mountains? If you follow the mountain range far enough, you'll find one example of it, guarded by some orcs.

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_007_zpsf81fd746.png]

Destroying it will net you some experience and gold, though nothing especially major. Still, every bit helps.

We won't be heading further west just yet. There's nothing there of particular immediate importance, so we'll be going south from Vertigo, to Toad Meadow. There are a couple new enemies down here that we should be aware of:

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_008_zps4c488353.png]
[Image: xeen_009_zps84c24547.png]

Giant Toads are actually rather tough, with a large amount of hit points considering the time we face them. They aren't very damaging, though, so they're mostly just hard to take down. The one dangerous thing about them is that their attacks have a chance of putting their target to sleep, which can make the fight last even longer.

Giant Snakes, on the other hand, are rather wimpy in terms of health. They're supposed to be able to poison you on attack, though I rarely see it, but that's because they're so low health that they tend to die before they even reach my party. Not to mention with the nearby armor boost from the fountain, they can barely hit my party as-is.

Near the entrance to Toad Meadow, there's a wagon where we can get another quest:

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_010_zps07156f39.png]
"...the zombies so many I'll need help to rescue her before they turn her into one of them. Help me, please."

[Image: Gunnar_zps800c2e39.png]: "We must help this man!"
[Image: Grakor_zpsfcdb5293.png]: "Yes, but I don't think I can keep all of you on track in that forest by myself. We should come back here later."

We can't complete this side-quest yet, as we don't have the ability to enter heavily forested tiles just yet.

Toad Meadow only has a few other interesting things in it. First of all, the Phirna roots that the herbalist wants can be found on some grass and light forest tiles:

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_012_zpsbfe015d3.png]

The other thing that we notice is the large tower here. If we were paying attention to the dialogue so far, we know this to be the Witch's Tower:

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_013_zps8eb241b7.png]

Trying to enter will give us a very short little scene:

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_014_zps99e898dd.png]
"Without the proper key to this tower, you may not pass...mortals."

This guy shows up for every tower on Clouds. Don't ask why, he just does.

All is not lost, however, as the key to this tower is nearby. A hut contains another NPC with a quest for us:

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_015_zps0ba03dc3.png]
"...found a unicorn laying down beside me. Her name was Falista and she was fleeing from a band of witches who were trying to capture her. Since that day I have kept Falista safely hidden. But now she has disappeared. I fear the worst has happened and the witches have killed her for her Alacorn's magic. Here is the key to their tower. Go quickly."

[Image: Celest_zps4b0f8377.png]: "I wonder what kind of magic an Alacorn actually has..."
[Image: Grakor_zpsfcdb5293.png]: "Something powerful enough that they'd go through all this trouble for it. Don't get distracted."
[Image: Celest_zps4b0f8377.png]: "Of course, returning the Alacorn is top priority! Still, would have liked to be able to study something like that."

Another quest gained!

There's one last quest in this area, within a river near Vertigo. It's hard to get to since we can't swim yet, but you can reach the tent by using the Jump spell to vault over the water tile.

Spoiler:
[Image: xeen_018_zpsace22dcc.png]
"...lost the bone whistle needed to activate them. I think I dropped it somewhere near Pitchfork Creek. If you can find my whistle I will activate the statues."

Like finding Derek's love, this is another quest we can't do yet, as we need to be able to either go through water or heavily forested tiles. We'll be back for this.

One thing about World of Xeen is that it's a very open game. At this point, we have a lot of options open to us. We could go to the Red Dwarf Mines, or to the Witch's Tower. We also have the option of trying to head to Rivercity, since we have the mirror and that rumor from the Vertigo tavern. And of course, we could keep exploring the overworld, as there are other locations we can reach.

Of course, there's another option. How about, next time, we take a trip to Darkside?
Have you hugged an orc today?
- I am not tech support. Please do not contact me regarding technical issues. -
PM


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