Guys, I'm getting all 108 stars. To not do so would be just really silly.

I'm back from vacation! So here's another update. This one is long and boring and story-heavy, but we're still technically in the prologue so whatevs. I find you don't really realize how much dialogue a game has until you have to start screenshotting it.

So okay, it was kind of vague who wanted to help Ted and who didn't, but I think the "leave him die" camp won. You guys are great! Picking that option doesn't actually cause Ted to die, but it does cause Gremio to yell at ○∆□☆. Cleo sticks up for him though:

Cleo totally understands why someone would want to let a jerkhole like Ted just bleed out all over the foyer, but unfortunately she knows Teo would stick her with the cleaning bill when he gets home. So she sticks him in bed where he eventually comes to and tells us his whole sob story.

"Sure thing, horrifying villain man!"

Okay, here's the thing. Ted has been on the lam from Windy for 300 years because she wants that mad powerful rune he's lugging around. That part's all well and good, except why in the world would he choose to hide out in Gregminster, where Windy is more or less famous, and in the house of a high-profile Imperial General to boot!? And even if he were going to go that far, where would he get the idea to actually go to the palace -- where he knows Windy is -- when the asshole Imperial guy tells him too? The way the text in the game reads, Ted isn't aware that Windy is Windy, but on the other hand he recognizes her on sight as soon as he steps into the room. The only conclusion I can come up with is that in addition to being a jerk Ted is phenominally stupid.

Lending credence to the "phenominally stupid" theory, Ted unleashes the power of his cursed rune, the Soul Eater, in this tiny closet of a room. All of the wounds ○∆□☆ found him with were self-inflicted. Look, I'm just saying that if someone demanded that I give them my gun my first inclination would not be to point it at my own head.

Eventually the strain of telling us how dumb he is wears him out, and Ted falls back asleep. Pahn takes this opportunity to run off and buy some Medicine, even though we have like 60 of them sitting in our collective inventory.

"Now put my right hand in... okay, now take it out... now shake it all about..."

Too worn out from his suicide attempt, Ted decides the best thing he can do is pawn off the Soul Eater on his ol' buddy ○∆□☆.

There's a good reason ○∆□☆ is so eager to get his hand on a cursed rune. (Or, more correctly, get a cursed rune on his hand.) Like all things in life, the Soul Eater can draw parallels with this Skittles commercial. Sure, the Soul Eater means ○∆□☆ can never know love and happiness, and everything he cares about will die hideously, but it looks cool and now he can totally kill monsters in one hit. So yeah, pretty awesome!


And thus does ○∆□☆ obtain the Soul Eater. Note that if I hadn't slipped my Holy Rune over onto Gremio earlier, it would have been lost right here. (Actually that wouldn't have been too terrible since I managed to get a second one to drop on my way back from Mt. Seifu. Score!)

Pahn returns with the Medicine. And by "Medicine" I mean "a bunch of goddamn guards."

At least he has a good reason! He's a suck-up! Actually, this is a nice example of what sets Suikoden aside from, oh, every other RPG ever. In any other game Pahn would have been branded a traitor and we'd have to spend the rest of the adventure fighting him, or perhaps resolving some subplot involving mind control or a hostage situation. Not here, though; while Suikoden does have good guys and bad guys, it does a good job putting a lot of grey in between them. The villains often have positive character traits and the heroes often have to do shady or underhanded things (as we'll soon see). The story isn't a struggle of good vs. evil, but of two opposing sides of a conflict. Pahn didn't report Ted because he hates Ted (although that might have been part of it) but because he has a duty to Teo and he wants to see it upheld. When he returns to us later it won't be because he's had a change of heart or because he's rationalized his actions differently, but because... well, I'll save that part for later I guess.

tl;dr: Don't hate Pahn. He's an awesome guy.

Here's one of those weird asides I mentioned in the last update. Ted, Gremio and Cleo have a six-hour conversation here while the guards are standing less than three feet away.

And the hero from Suikoden 4 was all like =(.

○∆□☆ and his cronies escape through the kitchen window out into the rain. And now they look suspicious!

Marie the helpful inkeeper lets ○∆□☆, Gremio and Cleo hide out in her attic. Gremio warns ○∆□☆ not to go running around (since they're trying to hide, and all) but...

...of course ○∆□☆ doesn't listen. So now we have to murder these idiot Imperial guys right here in the inn!

Or not, because a hideous bear-shaped man swoops in to our rescue! He quickly points out some spurious logic that gets us off the hook, and offers to escort us from the premises out of the goodness of his heart.

And also to skip out on his check. What a guy!

Unfortunately he's the only friendly face in Gregminster right now, and since he knows how to slip out of some tight spots, maybe he can get us out of Gregminster.

Of course, he agrees, as long as there's something in it for him.

005/108: Viktor
Viktor is a very powerful front-line fighter, which is good since he's literally hot-glued to your party for almost the entire game. His usefulness wanes later in the game when his lack of rune affinity becomes more of a hinderance, but there's nothing you can do about it anyway except just slap your Holy Rune on him, grin and bear it. His flaws are more prominent in Suikoden 2 where each character can equip multiple runes. There's really nothing wrong with having a pure brute-strength character on hand, it's just why would you need one when there are plenty of strong characters who can also use runes? I feel much the same way about the pure magician characters I'll recruit later on.

Here's one of the 30,000 little things Suikoden gets wrong that Suikoden 2 fixes and gets right: after new people are assigned to your party, you have to remember to go into the menu and swap their positions around. If I didn't do this, Viktor would be sitting in the back row unable to hit anything. In Suikoden 2 the game automatically throws the formation screen at you after assigning someone new to the party.

Viktor's master plan for sneaking us out of Gregminster is to get the guard to step away from the city gates for a few minutes. Well okay! Whatever works!

A little bribery goes a long way! Here Viktor launches into a tirade about how corrupt and horrid the Empire is, and how that's a bad thing even though exploiting that corruption allowed him to escape the town. Pretty basic RPG exposition stuff, but Cleo's response to it is just priceless:

...and of course Viktor's condemnations of the Empire being full of liars and thieves is just him being a big ol' ugly hypocrite. Oh, Viktor!

A promise is a promise, so we head off to Lenankamp to meet Viktor's friend. Of course as soon as we get there he promptly abandons us. Also note: tea != BOOZE. Just sayin'.

Cleo admits to being a dirty whore.

In most RPGs where the plot requires you to stay at the inn the game comes up with some contrivance that enables you to stay there free of charge. Not Suikoden! This cutscene comes courtesy of ○∆□☆'s own nickel. The room doesn't have a shower, but it does have more Imperial guards crashing down the door as well as a complimentary breakfast.

Thankfully we just happen to be staying in the room that leads down to a secret underground base!

This is Odessa Silverberg, leader of the Liberation Army. Their schtick is tearing down the corrupt Empire and building a corrupt Republic in its place. Unfortunately the entire army is made up of these five people.

Which is where Viktor, army recruiter to the stars, comes in!

○∆□☆ and Cleo are pretty keen on the idea of dropping the Empire in the shitter, but Odessa's boyfriend Flik thinks five people is enough. Our membership is vetoed and we are politely asked to get the hell out once things blow over outside.

Man, we just can't take ten steps in any direction without falling over some random wounded guy.

Um... whoops. We had nothing to do with this! We swear!

...god dammit, ○∆□☆, keep your mouth shut.

Stomping on RPG conventions continues as Suikoden gives us a mission to go and undo the last mission we did! We're outside the box here, people.

Back at Grady's mansion, we are threatened by Generic Green Shirt Guy.

Gremio, it is a three-foot-high wooden fence. You have a hatchet. Do you want I should draw you a diagram?

Seriously guys, we could have just hopped the fence. What is wrong with you people?

Inside the mansion we have to fight about a hundred of these guys. Before the game is over we will have killed thousands of them.

Ha ha! Take that, treasure box! The day is mine!

...actually you kind of sucked, treasure box! All that build-up for nothing.

Sydonia is taking his captivity in stride.

Cleo is pretty gung-ho about this whole rebel idea. I can dig it.

After getting Varkas down, Sydonia just hops off his post and teleports behind us. Sydonia's explanation is that he couldn't escape alone. Why he couldn't have untied Varkas after freeing himself is a subject that is never adequately explored.

No boss fight; Grady is just a pissant, after all. After Varkas and Sydonia threaten all kinds of mutilation on him he runs off swearing nonspecific revenge.

"Odessa, the guy we beat up in less than two rounds after pummeling every single one of his bandits to a fine paste and who couldn't escape from some guy's backyard says you can count on him if you need his help."

Gee Vik, I dunno. I kind of feel like you should buy me dinner, first.

So that's that! Our first mission as kinda-sorta members of the Liberation Army. Cleo and ○∆□☆ are pretty much over being Kraze's lapdogs, but Gremio still holds out hope that he can get back to boot-kissing someday. What's more, we now have an evil witch after us and ○∆□☆'s best friend died horribly. On the plus side he's got a cursed rune and lives in a sewer with a pack of vagrants!

Here's the updated star list, now with 120% more Viktor.

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