Alright you hip cats, here's the party you asked for. Don't worry, all those votes for Sansuke won't go away; I'm going to keep a running tab as I go through the LP and use however many people I can off the top of my list. My goals are: use as many characters as possible, and use the characters you guys want me to use. Hopefully you're getting a feel for how well I, personally, know the characters from my little introductions.
There are a lot of surprises in store for you in the Suikoden cast. For example, my personal favorite character, my wonderful War Goddess, is someone I found by throwing whatever "joke" characters I could think of and training them up. We won't meet her for a good long time, though.
Anyway! Antonio is safe here on the back row for now, but Sergei needs to go up front or we won't see him do anything. My reservations about these guys as that their ATT stat (which is the most important one for a player who just Free Wills through everything) are both abysmally low. ○×∆□☆'s ATT right now is at 90; Antonio's is only 58 and Sergei is stinking up the joint with 25. Yes, that's with their weapons brought up to L5. They're both underleveled though, so we'll see how they do after they get some EXP under their belts. It's not likely Sergei can survive a single hit, so my strategy is to use ○×∆□☆'s and Cleo's runes to wipe out as many monsters as I can, serving up "free" EXP for Sergei until such a time as he can actually survive a fight.
Interestingly enough, Antonio can equip shields! This is very rare in Suikoden. Generally only the strongest front-line fighters can wear shields, maybe twenty guys total in the entire game. The extra DEF is going to go to waste on the back line, of course, but hey. I learned something!
Here's Lepant's house in Kouan, guarded by this little weasely guy. Getting in to see Lepant is simply not on the menu, unless I want to camp out here for a year. Let's see what else we can learn.
Apparently Kouan has a new military commander, too. What is it with these guys shutting themselves in and placing toothpicks outside to guard their doors, I wonder?
At the inn, this completely trustworthy-looking gentleman says he's got a foolproof idea to get ○×∆□☆ and his homies an audience with Lepant. But he doesn't want to talk about it out in the open...
...okay, so he's not very smart. But I bet his idea is still good!
Krin's idea is this: we break into Lepant's house, steal his favorite sword, and he'll come looking for us. The only thing Lepant loves more than his sword his is wife Eileen, and I guess kidnapping and/or murder is just a little too criminal for the good guys. Krin also has a master plan for getting us inside the joint, so he leaves us to our own devices while he works his magic.
As usual Gremio is a nervous nancy about this whole thing. You still half-expect him to say "Young Master! If we steal Lepant's sword we can never re-join the Imperials!" Viktor follows this up with "Who's pretending? We are thieves."
Antonio and Sergei have nothing to say on the subject.
Here's Krin's marvelous master plan: a rope tied to a tree that will get us on Lepant's roof. I'm beginning to think maybe Krin isn't the expert cat burglar he presents himself as.
Shortly after climbing onto the roof we find a ladder leading down through the ceiling onto these rafters. I don't know why Lepant keeps shoulder pads in a box on a support beam in his attic. I also don't know how he keeps his house from flooding when it rains, seeing as how he has a giant hole in his roof.
SEXUAL INNUENDO TIME! LOL!
Actually Rock is talking about a vault. Apparently Lepant's vault simply isn't manly enough for him; he likes them big and bad and throbbing. Well, maybe not throbbing. I got carried away there.
Rock is a non-combatant whose job is it to hold all my junk. Given Suikoden's pretty draconian limits on inventory space, we'll be visiting him from time to time to make regular deposits and withdrawals from his ever-growing bank of medicines and used armor. I'll get more in depth with the vault when I have a chance to actually visit it next update.
Lepant's mansion is inexplicably filled with these "puzzle" rooms. The "puzzle" here is that if you step into one of a robot doll's line of sight you have to fight them. Considering the dollds neither move nor turn, it's just a matter of tracing a line that zigzags around their backs and sticking to it. I don't remember what's in that treasure box.
Here's my plan in action; ○×∆□☆ is going to wipe this bad guy out with the Soul Eater so Sergei can get some free EXP without risking death.
Presumably this is the front door of Lepant's house. Dang it, looks like Giovanni took a lunch break; we probably could have just jimmied the lock while he was gone.
Here's an example of an item we'll just stick in the vault and forget about until we need it. We won't even recruit the guy who uses paint for a long time yet, so the vault is a good way to keep tabs on it in the meantime. My first time through Suikoden, before I developed good vault habits, it was more like "Oh wow! I can use all that paint now! Uh... which four random guys in my army picked them up again? Crap."
Soon after, Sergei gets his first shot at a Free Will battle. It... doesn't go well for him.
Fortunately ressurection in Suikoden is as simple as using a Medicine on the fallen character outside of battle. Revival during combat is much rarer. Boss battles in particular are unusual alongside most other RPGs; typically RPG boss fights require you to both deal damage and heal your party. Healing in Suikoden is possible but simply gearing a team for pure damage output and decking them out with the best armor is a far more viable strategy. I'll go a little more into why this is when I get around to explaining the ins and outs of rune magic (which shouldn't be too much longer here).
This here's Juppo, the trickster who built all of Lepant's off-kilter security devices. For some reason the Suikoverse uses "Trickster" as a term meaning "mad inventor". Exactly what did he invent...?
This is the single most annoying room in this or any Suikoden game ever. The objective is to exit through the north door. When you step onto the circular platform it spins around randomly, and if it stops anywhere other than the north exit you don't get to leave.
Blue spaces are treasure! Huzzah! I bet we get something SUPER GOOD!
...crap. Here's the thing, gang: Medicine stacks in groups of six, so every time you pick one up you get six doses. The monsters you fight in here don't really deal enough damage to require a lot of healing (unless they KO Sergei of course). Result: by throwing myself repeatedly at this "puzzle" I will gain Medicine faster than I can use it. By the end I will be throwing it away just to make sure my inventory doesn't get completely full up.
Red spaces are monsters! The monsters here are robots with sorta-high DEF, so they take longer to kill than usual. They're not very dangerous though. Like I said, only Sergei is in any real danger on my team.
Here's the magic of Suikoden's EXP system at work! Sergei came into this dungeon at L4 when the rest of the team was sitting at or near L18. Surviving two or three battles, and he has jumped ten levels! His ATK is still complete butt, though.
Sweet! Works for me!
...dammit. So okay, on a long enough timeline the +/- EXP spaces tend to even out, so they might as well not even be on the board. Not that 10 EXP is anything to worry about in either direction, of course.
The sole orange space gives you a special treasure! Let's take a look:
What Suikoden is trying to say is that this item gives everyone some HP, and can be used repeatedly. It only works during combat, however, and the amount you get back doesn't scale as the game goes on. Right now I could set someone up as a dedicated incense-user to max my HP every combat round, but eventually the 50 HP it gives back ain't gonna cut it and, besides, it's always better to use someone's turn offensively rather than defensively you can help it. So, cool item, just not my style.
I'm out of rune charges now, so anytime the monster square comes up it's down to just our weapon attacks. How are Sergei and Antonio holding up?
Um... not so good. Like I said, these monsters have higher DEF than I'm used to fighting, but still, 3 damage is pathetic. Well, maybe 3 damage is okay for a frying pan and a wrench when compared to swords and axes, I don't know. Keep in mind too that camera-zoomed-in = critical hit. As in, that's more damage than Sergei normally does.
Landing on the orange "?" space after getting a Dragon Seal Incense starts earning you Fortune Rune Pieces, which increase someone's LUK score. Rather than min/maxing my army's luck (these rune pieces are far too rare to worry about things like that anyway) I just throw them all at ○×∆□☆.
By the way, the two pathway "slices" are narrower than the others on the board. You have to land on the actual path; the spots just to the side of the path don't count as anything, you get the quack-like "failure" sound effect, and it dumps you off for another round.
Getting sick of this room yet? I'm actually only showing you about 1/10 of what I went through. This bitch takes FOREVER.
Here's the incense at work. I'm pretty sure it caps at 50 HP. Sergei and Gremio weren't missing that much, so their recovery was lessened. Cleo and Antonio weren't missing anything, so they don't get anything. Also note: if you have commands queued up that don't target enemies (healing, for example), Suikoden will resolve them for you after the monsters are dead.
This is the most damage I get out of Antonio the entire dungeon. Sergei never ends up getting higher than 3. THANKS GUYS COULDN'T HAVE DONE IT WITHOUT YOU.
For the record: my team for this leg of the game generally involves Tai Ho (who is already decked out from the previous dungeon) and Kai (who I like to use through the entire next scenario).
Oh thank god thank god thank god thank god. I should have kept track of how many spins it took me to finally land here, but I'll just have to estimate instead: 49 trillion.
Laying just beyond is Lepant's sword. Now we're playing with power!
Fortunately, the evil trick room doesn't force you to spin to get back; you're just dumped off at the southern entrance. Double fortunately, Suikoden isn't a dick and doesn't stick a recruitable character in the Kirinji room for you to come back for later.
It's worth mentioning that I've never fully understood Krin's motivations here. He's a greedy asshole thief, and stands to gain absolutely nothing from helping ○×∆□☆ sneak into Lepant's house. It's not like he's getting a cut of the treasure or anything. I suppose it's possible he just wanted us to shut off all the security so he could go in later (he does mention that last time he broke in, he saw a weird doll and then ran away), but then he's got to consider that anything worth taking will already be in my pockets.
...and then he tries to pull the tea stunt on us. Maybe his idea was for us to cart out all the treasure, and then he drugs us, and gets it for himself? Something tells me Krin doesn't have the intellectual fortitude to pull a stunt like that off. And in any case, Viktor ain't falling for it.
God dammit Krin, whose side are you on anyway?
Also note: the fact that Krin managed to get word to Lepant about ○×∆□☆'s whereabouts means he knew an easier way to get word to Lepant than sneaking into his house, playing Wheel of Fortune for an hour and jacking a sword. Basically, he sent us off on some ass-backwards goosechase to meet Lepant while he went off and met Lepant. God I hate Krin.
Also also note: Lorelai looks on stoically.
Oh well, what's done is done. This is what we came here for, right? After dropping Mathiu's name Lepant rolls over like a sleepy puppy. He really does want to help us out, but feels he can't run off to play war and leave his poor wife alone. We can press the isue, but...
...it's a bog-standard "but thou must!" scenario.
Oh, if only a plot contrivance would come along and let ○×∆□☆ have his way...!
Why, hello, plot contrivance! Lepant's manservant Giovanni comes rushing in to inform us that Kouan's new head honcho took a liking to Lepant's woman and staked a claim on her. It's also worth pointing out, I guess, that not only were neither Lepant nor Eileen were at home while we were poking around their house, but there didn't seem to be anything even resembling living quarters inside. So I guess they don't even live there.
Understandably enough, Lepant rushes out to rescue Eileen, and we are hot on his heels. No fooling, he murders these two guards, and then two more inside, with a satisfying "splutch!" sound effect. That's hardcore! No wonder Mathiu wants this cat's name on our stone slab.
Once Lepant has to face more than two guys, though, he's happy to have our help. But we already have six guys on the team, so...
...sorry, Sergei. Something tells me whatever it was you were gonna do as a soldier in the Liberation Army, you've done it. Back to Eureka's Castle with you. Besides, we need that S-range slot freed up for someone better!
Lepant is a pretty important guy in the Liberation Army; he takes the position of your chief commander. This is another Suikoden staple character role, and another example of the same role being filled in all five games by a character with the same star (Ridley, Sasarai, Lino en Kuldes and Raja as the series goes on). Oddly enough, though, I don't have a lot of experience using him. We're about to see the only two fights in the game where I'm forced to use him, and I guess going into the next scenario I've always felt there were better or more interesting characters to use instead. What do you guys say? Take Lepant out for a spin?
Oh yeah, when Suikoden forces a new guy into your party, it does so from the last spot. There's no possible way to have a front-line spot open at this point, so no matter what you do Lepant is completely useless in this fight.
Here's Kouan's new military commander. You may remember him as the asshole douchebag who bossed ○×∆□☆ around back in his Imperial days! Proving that there are no depths to which he will not sink, Kraze yells at ○×∆□☆ for interrupting his date rape session with Lepant's wife. Too cowardly to fight me himself, Kraze throws some soldiers at me...
...but Cleo cooks them in one round with her L3 Fire Rune. So he resorts to the one trump card he has left up his sleeve: he takes a hostage.
See? Toldja we'd see him again! Pahn is pretty clearly conflicted here: on one hand he doesn't want to betray Master Teo or the Empire, but on the other the Empire is essentially asking him to kill his best friends to defend a rapist. After a bit of brooding, Pahn makes the right decision:
Only after Pahn punches Kraze across the room does he start getting really worried about his circumstances here. Not surprisingly, he begins begging for his life.
Hey peanut gallery!
Before chiming in with your vote on this option, I want to make two things abundantly clear: yes, the first option does in no uncertain terms mean that we execute Kraze. Seriously. Pick that and we fucking kill him. And two, unlike some of the villains we'll meet later, Kraze is not a potential Star of Destiny. So while we might spare some random asshole later out of some compulsion to get a perfect game, the only thing we get for sparing Kraze is a warm fuzzy for not sinking to his level.
Live or die. Make your choice.
Two new stars this time. Master list is here as always.
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