Mathiu wants us to go out in the middle of Lake Toran and commandeer the abandoned castle there. We're not going to swim out there of course, we're going to take a boat. South of Seika is this village, Kaku, which lies right on the water. We shouldn't have any problems finding someone to row us to a giant haunted castle, right?

Well, good of you to man up and admit you're completely gutless, mate. Fortunately ○∆□☆ likes reckless men, so this Tai Ho fella should be right up his alley. Also there was nothing sexual at all about that sentence.

Searching this... uh... opium den for "Reckless Tai Ho" we instead run into "Camille the She-Devil", who promptly accosts "Pants-Previously-Not-Filled-With-Crap Gremio" and demands money. Hey, wait a minute...

Originally posted by: a few updates ago

Hmm... looks like Gremio has run up a tab at this shop. I'm sure we'll never actually have to deal with it, though!

Cue trombone sounds!

Fortunately, we're still lah-ho-ded down with cash from the Marco ATM, so this shouldn't be a problem. Viktor steps up to settle the bill...

Viktor that is a damn lie and you know it. Unless Gremio is more than 88k in the hole. Geez, just what kind of banquet did he throw, anyway? For that kind of dosh he better have had a stripper jump out of a cake and then bake a replacement cake out of which jumps another stripper.

In any case, Viktor is sure we're going to find a giant stack of treasure once we get out to the abandoned castle on the lake, and convinces Camille to tag along so she can collect. Rather than refuse and break Gremio's legs (which, let's face it, is what any of us would have done) she agrees.

007/108: Camille
Now, I've never actually used Camille outside of this one mission where she's forced into your group. My guess is she's pretty similar to Cleo, except with an M-range weapon and less runic ability. Also judging by the way she unhinges her jaw, I'm pretty sure she eats like a snake. Gremio is right to fear her.

This shot is included for no reason other than to show you who Yam Koo is. So, uh... this is Yam Koo.

"My life is a chip in your pile. Ante up!" ...or something.

Tai Ho is willing to boat us out to the castle if we bet every single bit we are carrying on a single dice game. There's a minimum bet of 1000 bits. So...

...what say you let me run and save first, k?

Here's Chinchirorin, Suikoden's dice minigame. Eventually this is how we're going to solve all our money problems, but for right now we just need to win one game.

The Rules of Chinchirorin
Scoring works like this: you throw three dice. If two of the dice match, the third die is your score. So if you throw 3/3/4, you have four points. If you throw 6/6/1 you have one point. If you throw 5/3/2 you have no points. You throw the dice until you either have a score, have made three throws, or got a special throw.

There are a couple special throws. If you throw 1/2/3 your turn ends, you lose the hand and you pay double your bet. If you throw 1/1/1 you lose the hand and pay triple your bet. Throw 4/5/6 to win the hand and gain double your bet. Throw any other set of triples to win and gain triple your bet. That last one is called a STORM.

You lose if: your opponent throws a STORM or a 4/5/6 on his turn, you throw a 1/1/1 or 1/2/3 on your turn, one of your dice lands outside the cup (this isn't called anything in Suikoden 1, but it's a "piss" in Suikoden 2 and a "dead roll" in one of the later ones), or both players finish three rolls and your opponent has the higher score.

You win if: you throw a STORM or a 4/5/6 on your turn, your opponent throws a 1/1/1 or 1/2/3 on his, one of your opponent's dice land outside the cup, or you have the larger score after both players have thrown.

Why Chinchirorin is rigged in your favor: The way the game is structured TOTALLY benefits the player rather than the computer because your opponent always makes all three rolls first, and then you get yours. Winning by score almost NEVER happens; you're FAR more likely to see a special roll come up. And of the special rolls, 1/1/1 and 1/2/3 seem to be the most common. In other words, your opponent will often throw a losing roll before you even touch the dice, letting you win the round.

Okay. So Tai Ho wants me to put my entire purse (88k bits!) up against his 1000 bits, but if I win he'll take me to the castle. Good? Good.

Crap, that's a good hand. A tie counts for nothing, but I still have six winning hands: any STORM, or 4/5/6.

Hooray! Of course, if I had lost I would have just reloaded so I didn't have to wave good-bye to my fat wad. Later on I'll get a dude in my castle who sits right next door to a save point to play Chinchirorin with and who offers to double my bet every single time I win. First though I need to get that castle. So:

And make it snappy!

Everyone hops in Tai Ho's adorable little boat and we sail off to this giant rock outcropping with a hideous gaping hole in the side of it. Uh... home sweet home, I guess?

Alternate caption for this image:

o/~ Tai Ho! Tai Ho! It's off to the lake we go! *whistle whistle whistle whistle* Tai Ho! Tai Ho, Tai Ho, Tai Ho! o/~

After a brief discussion about whether or not we will actually find treasure here, Tai Ho chirps up that he wants to come with us mainly because he wants to see ghosts.

008/108: Tai Ho
Tai Ho is a decent enough M-range fighter, but he has a curious inability to wear decent armor. Before delving into the castle I'm going to head back to town and outfit everyone, bringing my average defense score up to 80 or 90. Tai Ho's will still only be about 60. This isn't a big deal now because he can sit in the back row and still deal damage, but later on when my front line filles up with S-range powerhouses and ○∆□☆ moves to the back I won't have space for him anymore. Unless you guys fall in love with him or something.

Here's our first full-up party! Camille and Tai Ho, though, need their weapons sharpened and some new armor, so first I'll have Yam Koo take me back to shore. There are a few more towns in the Seika/Kaku region with some decent upgrades, totalling about 35,000 bits (!!). When I come back everyone will be decked out with awesome gear, have L5 weapons, a small stock of Medicine, and Cleo will have attached that Fire Rune she got from Leknaat way back in the day.

I didn't get any screenshots of the shopping spree (because, really, talk about Yawnsville) but I did snap this great pic of ○∆□☆ wearing a bucket on his head:

We enter the castle through a cave network underneath it. This is a one-shot dungeon; after the boss is dead you can never come back here, so it's important you grab all the treasures. There's nothing terribly notable except for these Toe Shoes. These give ○∆□☆ a decent armor upgrade and are absolutely crucial to recruiting one of the Stars of Destiny later on. I don't recall if you ever find another pair, but if you can't, passing up this chest means screwing yourself out of a perfect game. Even worse would be getting them, replacing them with something better, and then selling them off before the time comes when you need them.

Here we see ○∆□☆ using his Soul Eater against an annoying enemy. These suits of armor break into a bunch of different pieces and can hit like four of my guys at once, and they have a lot more HP than other monsters in the area. Fortunately ○∆□☆ has a few charges of Deadly Fingertips, the L1 Soul Eater magic, which instantly kills a foe. Unlike most RPGs were death attacks don't often stick, I have never seen the Soul Eater kill spells miss except against bosses. Since you can only have one rune equipped, this basically means ○∆□☆ has a few "freebie" kills in each dungeon. Soul Eater starts out awesome and only get better as more of ○∆□☆'s friends die horrible agonizing deaths!

Many Suikoden dungeons have these little "secret" rooms you have to walk through walls to reach. This is an attack rune of some kind, but I don't know exactly what it does. Probably damage, I imagine.

Eventually we exit the caves and enter the castle proper, which is full of gigantic, empty, featureless rooms. Soon we will fill them all with the hustle and bustle of rebel life!

I promised you guys a for-real boss fight, so here you go!

Cleo is the hero of the fight with her Fire Rune. I'll explain in more detail how magic runes work probably in the next post, but for now all you have to know is that she's dealing 250-350 damage per turn when everyone else is struggling to top 60. Most Suikoden bosses have an enormous amount of HPs, especially later when the game all but assumes you have access to every high level rune. Still, with people slinging Medicine around the Zombie Dragon eventually goes down, and Camille totally zings it:

Hey, great idea!

Um... you guys all suck. Wait, who do we know that is good at coming up with names...? Oh! I've got it!

Hey peanut gallery!
Here is our amazing, glorious new castle:

It looks lonely and pathetic now, but we're going to jam pack this bastard with Stars of Destiny until it's full to bursting. Home is where the heart is, and ain't nobody gots more heart than ○∆□☆ and his crew! If you guys can't come up with a really good one (seriously, none of this random symbol nonsense) I'm quitting this LP, getting the topic locked and will probably be banned from the Talking Time. I have just the thing to do it, too:

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