I dunno guys. Evil fungus ate my babysitter... I've been railroaded into leading an army and assuming all the responsibilities that come along with, I have a rune that eats souls chillin' out on my right hand, and I had to murder my own father. I... I don't know if I can go on. This is some seriously heavy stuff.

...

I need a pep talk.


Wow! Thanks, Morgan! That sacchrine pap really hits the spot! I... I feel like I can continue now. I feel like I can let my own light shine. We can do it, gang! We can do it... together!

The Neclord Scenario
I've tallied the votes, and it looks like you guys want to see Giant Woman, Laundry Girl and Kamandol "The Righteous Monocle" Jabar-Jackson throw down. No problem! But first, we need to do some serious sharpening. Sarah and Kamandol's weapons have never seen a blacksmith, and Cleo hasn't been in the party since roughly the dawn of time. Even ○∆□☆ can benefit from three more levels thanks to having recently recruited Moose. And now you're about to see just how fast money goes in Suikoden.


Note: no work done yet. None.


...and this is what I look like at about the halfway point. This is having maxed out Viktor and Ronnie's weapons, and brought Sarahs' up to L13. One trip to Gaspar later...


...and I'm at max again. But even so...


...look where I am when I've got everyone topped off. If my math is right, my total investment just for weapon sharpening for just this one party is 1,435,000 bits.

That's ONE POINT FOUR MILLION.

But we're not done yet!


New equipment for everyone! ...except I don't have enough. A second trip to Gaspar is required to deck everyone out.

Now, some extreme vault micromanagement might alleviate this somewhat, but not as much as you might think. I can't sell stuff from the vault, and I can only carry as many items as there are empty spaces in my inventory, so selling all the extraneous junk I've been accumulating would take an enormous amount of time. What's more, it might add up to 10% of what I needed to spend. Even outfitting my peeps in used gear isn't a great option since visiting Warrior's Village added a whole new collection of stuff to Chapman's shop; everyone needs an upgrade, not just the newbies.

There's a couple ways you could look at this. First, you might surmise that Konami didn't know how utterly broken Gaspar was, and intended you to go through the game with constantly suboptimal gear. Another is that they added Gaspar purposely to be abused, knowing the sheer amount of money that would be required to outfit 70+ player characters. I tend to believe the latter for two reasons:

1) The former is really only possible if the player sticks to a small rotation of characters, and even those characters would always be well under the power level they could be with infinite money. I'm betting Konami wanted people to use a large amount of characters and experiment with lots of different combinations.

2) Every Suikoden game has a trick or two to pile up your money very quickly. Some are a little more esoteric than others; Suiko2 requires you to do some homework, Suiko3 requires save slot abuse and power cycles, Suiko5 requires a specific set of equipment. The answer to your money issues is never to just go out and kill monsters though. (Even in Suiko4 where the answer is to go out and kill monsters, you can go kill a specific monster with a certain set of runes and accessories to achieve the same effect.)

tl;dr Thank the good damn lord for Gaspar.


Returning to Warrior's Village, Zorak fills gives us the 4-1-1 on Neclord. Windy apparently set him up as a general (perhaps to replace Kwanda or Milich) and sent him down into the Lorimar region to keep the folks in line. However, Neclord zombified his own troops, built a castle nearby and started wrecking up the joint. Shortly after that he began demanding all the local villages start sending him a steady stream of girls to sex up/feast on. All but the Warrior's Village acquiesced, them being a proud people who... actually, I'll let Zorak tell it.


...uh, on the other hand, maybe I won't. Zorak's thing is he loves launching into long-ass stories. He actually goes on for about fifteen text boxes here, detailing the founding of the Warrior's Village and blah blah blah yackity-schmackity. It's not pertinent to the story (although it's an interesting bit of Suiko lore), so I'll spare you.


Cleo, however, snarks the poor meandering bastard. Actually, she snarks just about everyone by the time this scenario is over. She wasn't kidding when she said she was on edge and needed to BUST SUM HEDZ. Zorak offers to put us up for the night, and we know what that means...


...cue heartfelt NPC chitchat! Tengaar doesn't have time for sappy nonsense, she just lets us know how disinterested she is in the whole situation (you know, the one where a vampire wants to shag her rotten and then suck all her blood out) and runs off.


Meanwhile, Hix is seeing how far he can shove his foot into his throat before Cleo shoves the other one up his ass so they meet somewhere in the vicinity of his stomach. Actually, rather than lecture Hix on misogyny Cleo gives him a pep talk, claiming she fights because she has things to fight for. We know this is a damn lie and she's fighting because she wants to forget that her new boss just killed her old boss, but it makes Hix feel better.


"...who were turned into zombies by him, eating each other."

Hmm... splitting that up didn't really get the desired effect. Let's try this:

Originally posted by: Viktor

When I returned to my village, I saw members of my own family, who were turned into zombies by [Neclord], eating each other.

eating each other

eating each other

HOLY BALONEY McGEE. No wonder Viktor is so pissy at Neclord.

To really drive this point home: in Suiko2 we learn that Viktor had to (re)kill the undead remains of everyone he ever knew and loved and then bury them himself. Neclord tries to taunt him in that game by raising a zombie version of his childhood sweetheart, and he responds by stepping forward and hacking her head off. Viktor's kind of a big oaf, but he's an absolute motherfucker when it comes to the undead. Honestly, I'm surprised Konami hasn't slipped a Viktor reference into any of the Castlevania games. Like, have a bear-man monster that drops a unique two-handed sword 0.03% of the time.


Speak of the devil!

No, literally, Neclord is the devil.



Hix is presented as a little nancy-boy, but you gotta hand it to him; he's the first person who steps up with a potshot at Neclord. He stops just shy of actually rushing forth to attack, obviously.



That's a job for Zorak, Random NPC #812, Random NPC #894 and Random NPC #925!


They fail rather quickly, of course, which leaves him to us.


This should be no problem. Let's do it, Liberation Army!

Just to test the waters a bit, let's send everyone out to attack.







Huh. Six whiffs in a row. Either I hit a string of astronomically poor dice rolls, or something fishy is going on here...




Uh, oh crap. Crap.

(Fun fact: the screen is dark here because my screenshot finger is a lazy bitch and caught this scene as it was fading out.)



Well, the best of Warrior's Village couldn't handle him, and the best of the Liberation Army couldn't handle him... I guess that just leaves Hix.


Fortunately, even though Hix's hapless girlfriend is a spoiled brat she sets the limit of people she'll let die horribly for her sake at nine.


As Neclord makes off with his prize, Hix vows to be her white knight. He then sets to the task of dragging all the only-mostly-dead people laying around back to Zorak's house.


When ○∆□☆ finally comes to (and for some damn reason he's always the last to come to, I mean crap even Bill Nye and the laundry girl woke up before he did) Viktor points out that regular weapons are useless against Neclord. Which, uh, might have been good information to have before he went charging into battle. So, yeah, okay, Viktor has more zeal than sense. We'll forgive him. They decide to brave another of Zorak's boring stories to see if he has any ideas.


After forcing him to get to the point, Zorak gives us probably the least useful information ever. This is par for the course for a typical RPG, of course, but Suikoden ain't the typical RPG; Viktor just has to hang a lamp shade on it:


There's nothing for it though; if anyone has a clue as to how we can kill this vampire, they'll surely be hanging out at the only other blinking dot on the map. So let's head out that way.


Here's ○∆□☆'s Hell spell in action. It kills all the monsters in the battle at what I very strongly believe to be 100% effectiveness. I'll be using up all his Hell charges to bring Kamandol and Sarah, who are somewhere in their 20s, up to speed so they can survive the upcoming dungeon.



As soon as we arrive back at Qlon Temple an old bald man wearing a lei lectures us at great length about the 108 Stars of Destiny. This actually has quite a bit more importance than it might seem; not only is Fukien the only character in the series other than Leknaat to even mention the 108 Stars, he does so for a long time and in very specific detail. The reason this is interesting is because it's our only indication that mere mortals, and not just otherworldly magic women, are aware of the 108 Stars and their influence over the world.

A neat little tidbit here is that ○∆□☆'s "Star of Heavenly Guidance" (the Tenkai Star) is the star under which the other 107 gather. While this is usually a major leader of some kind, and therefore the protagonist of the game, it isn't always the case. In Suiko3, for example, the Tenkai Star is more or less the army's landlord; he serves as the focal point by providing a physical location for the rest of the characters to come together while a "lesser" star assumes the protagonist role.

Anyway, note Fukien's use of the inclusive "we" here. We know what that means...


084/108: Fukien
Fukien presumably joins the Liberation Army not because he believes in the cause or despises the Imperials, but because he understands the signifigance of the 108 Stars and his place within them. Gameplay-wise, he's the bearer of the sole Ressurection Rune, which is based around reviving dead party members. Given the abundance of healing magic I'll have here pretty soon, there's actually little or no use for such a rune. Whether or not he'd be good in the party, then, will be determined by whether or not his rune is removable, and whether or not he's got high enough spell charges and MAG to make use of a more offensive one.


Fukien does indeed have a way to take on Neclord. Before he sets off for Eureka's Castle he shows us to a cave back behind Qlon Temple. A few fights in ○∆□☆ is out of Hell charges, so it's time to Free Will. Before that, though, I'm just burning to know what Ronnie Bell's Hate Rune does...


HA-DO-KEN!

No, seriously, that is awesome. I mean, it's just a typical boring ol' attack rune, but man, yeah, pretty awesome. At least it doesn't unbalance her.


The Qlon Caves present OOLDES of cool treasure, the first of which is this Flowing Crystal. Flowing is Water++, the best healing rune in the game. This will be crucial later on, since starting with Neclord and going forward all the bosses have pretty strong attacks that can wipe an unprepared party in just a couple rounds.


Like any good cave worth its salt, we also have secret passages!


We'll need this when we get back to Warrior's Village to recruit ol' Top Hat.


More light reading for the Liberation's as-yet-nonexistant library.


Here's a shot of Kamandol whacking Rock Johnson with his wrench. This is actually pretty respectable damage, just a hair under what Ronnie is doing with a regular attack. This really doesn't surprise me; ATK really ramps up as you get into Moose-level weapons. No matter who you guys give me from here on out, the days where I lamented at screenshots of 1s and 3s are well behind me.

Sarah, of course, is doing just fine on the back row. She's essentially just a weaker version of Cleo, and really anybody with a L15 weapon on the back line is going to pull their weight with very little difficulty.


Yep, even deep in the caves we find recruitable peoples. We'll have to come back for Crowley once the castle is in its fourth and final phase, which typically happens after the end of the next scenario.


This is the scroll Hugo was looking for. I don't know how the heck he lost it way down in the caves, but there you go.


Eventually we find the hidden secret weapon: the Star Dragon Sword. As soon as we wake him up, he naturally sucks us into a time vortex.

tl;dr warning: The next few posts are super-boring plot stuff where I don't get to kill anything. I spend more time beaming about Suiko-lore minutiae than I do making cock jokes, so if you don't care about any of that, just scroll down until you see a giant red X and you'll pick it up in time to see me recruit a couple more stars.


The gang finds themselves in some strange town with no cave or talking sword in sight. Cleo wastes no time blaming the situation on Viktor.


TREASURE! Unfortunately, we can't get there from here. That must mean whatever's in that box is super-awesome.



Look, kid, it's true we used to break into people's houses/vaults and steal their stuff back when we was still small time, but we're the Liberation Army. We don't do that kind of stuff anymore. Unless you're talking about that box down by the cliff, because yeah, we're totally jacking that good shits.



He did indeed. And yeah, that kid does look familiar...


Sheesh, these people keep a tight leash on their treasure boxes.



When we catch up with Ted and his grandpa, we start to get the mystery cleared up: this village lives in constant fear of "that woman" and any and all outsiders are instantly pegged at being in her employ. As soon as we assure him that we are not in fact here at the whimsy of any "that woman" we are asked politely to leave, the implication being that we may be putting ourselves in danger simply by virtue of being here.


Alas, it seems as though Grandpa's darkest fears were right on the money: "that woman" has found him and is calling him out. Looks like it's about to hit the fan...

I admit I was crossing my fingers that Ronnie Bell would have something to say to this, like "better that woman than giant woman, lady, you don't know how good you have it" but no such luck.



Cleo's just in it to sate her gargantuan bloodlust, remember?

As it happens, this is the Village of the Hidden Rune, a tiny town with no proper name which exists to safeguard the most cursed of runes: the Soul Eater. Windy and Gramps have apparently had run-ins in the past, but he managed to turn her away and eventually hide out here.


Windy's desire to obtain the Soul Eater is so deep that not only is she hobknobbing with the vile likes of Neclord, but...


...with the infinitely worse demonic knight Yuber, as well. Unlike Neclord, though, who is a good little lackey, it's hard to keep Yuber under control and his style is more "murder everyone in sight, ask questions later maybe if we remember to do it" than Windy's more, er, diplomatic approach.


As a last ditch move, Gramps decides to unleash the full power of the Soul Eater rather than relinquish it to Windy.





We know exactly where this is headed. Gramps is cornered; he knows he probably isn't long for this world, having just opened up his cursed rune and all, and he knows Windy is determined to and capable of hunting him down like a dog. His plan: pass the Soul Eater off to his next of kin, and then give himself up to Windy before she realizes the rune is beyond her grasp.


Wow, looks a lot flashier than when ○∆□☆ inherited the rune, uh, 300 years from now.


It's customary, after passing on the Soul Eater, to apologize profusely for the horrible fate you've bestowed on a person who is tentatively the closest person to you in the world.

Incidentially, this explains how Windy managed to catch wise to ○∆□☆ having the rune so quickly; she's been duped like that before.


Gramps runs out to act as bait, and entrusts Ted's safety to us. We're going to try and escape out the back way...


...oh crap.

Okay, here's the skinny on Yuber. He is so intensely bad ass that you never even get to face him properly. He appears in the first three Suikoden games as a nebulous "evil black knight" who has an unquenchable thirst for carnage. The only reason he ever gives for joining in on the various conflicts of the Suikoverse is that he always jumps at the opportunity to kill as many people as he possibly can. The very moment it looks like whatever army he joined is going to be defeated, he loses interest and walks away. The implication is that if he ever were to fight the heroes face to face he would end them most unceremoniously. In fact, he does precisely that every time he pops up in Suiko3 until the huge climactic battle at the end of the game where he... loses interest and walks away. Suikoden Axiom #123: you simply do not kill Yuber.

That's actually the sum of our canonical knowledge of the character. The only two other pieces of information we ever get from the games is that he is being hunted by an equally mysterious dark knight (who may or may not be Yuber's equal in strength) named Pesmerga, and that the ability to summon Yuber forth is a secret closely guarded by certain members of the Silverberg line. You didn't believe me when I mentioned Leon Silverberg would do anything at all to win his wars? Well, now you have an idea.


Cleo's newfound snarkiness runs out of gas here, as she responds in the only possible way to Yuber's threat. Most likely this was her second response, the first being to load up her pants with excrement.


Fortunately Neclord of all people saves us from our gruesome fate. Exactly what control (if any) Windy has over Yuber and Neclord is never made clear; I mean, we know Yuber's along because he wants to drown the world in blood, but Neclord's agenda doesn't come into play. It's one of those little sub-stories that Suikoden never develops.


Presumably, the most horrific trio of villains ever to walk the earth got a hold of him and... well, beyond that, you don't want to know.


And thus ends Ted's origin story. From this point on, he wanders the world with a cursed rune, attempting to avoid close relations with people for fear of their souls being eaten, all the while being hunted down by a witch of unimaginable power and cruelty. It's no wonder he's such an emo sadsack when he shows up in Suiko4.

This scene really drives home that the Soul Eater is indeed a cursed rune. Look at it from ○∆□☆'s point of view: sure, he was paying attention when Ted told him this story back in Gregminster, but now he's actually seen it firsthand. Imagine the slow, creeping feeling of dread one might experience knowing that one's best friend was forced to wander the world for three hundred years in a state as close to isolation as possible and, what's more, knowing that same fate is in store for oneself? Even if ○∆□☆ beats the Imperials and topples the Empire, he's still got an eternity of anguish to look forward to. It's a wonder he doesn't give up right then and there.

In fact, Ted tries to do exactly that. In Suiko4 (which is set 150-ish years before Suiko1) the heroes meet up with an otherworldly demon of some sort who is collecting cursed runes. Captain Kidd (or whatever Suiok4's hero's name is supposed to be) has just such a rune, and is tagged by Ted, who has already relinquished his Soul Eater. Of course you-the-player refuse to give up your own, showing Ted the tenacity of humanity (or something) and he joins you in slaying the demon-thing and willingly takes back his own curse. Also Leknaat shows up and scolds him or whatever.



Why yes it was! How convenient. But first we have some awesome treasure boxes to open!


Not... not so much awesome as useless. I thought only Pahn could equip these, and he already has one so what's the point, but someone upthread pointed out Morgan can use them too. Even if that's true, I already have like three of them I got from monster drops. You can't even sell the bitches. What's more, I cannot even begin to speculate what signifigance there is to finding a Boar Crystal here, in this place, in this story sequence.


This one is slightly more useful; when equipped, it causes any battles you could Let Go to stop appearing. It's good in the endgame where you have to re-visit some long, tedious dungeons to score recruits or treasure, as you can just zip in and out without even having to waste those few precious seconds to click Let Go or Free Will.



I was going to "Hey peanut gallery!" this and end the update here, but honestly it's a "but thou must!" situation and I think I've played that fake-out card enough already in this LP. Suffice it to say that Ted can't come with you no matter what you pick.



Cleo theorizes it has something to do with destiny being unchangeable, or whatever, which contradicts what we heard earlier in the game when Leknaat told us that it's not. Maybe Cleo didn't get the memo.

If you decide not to take Ted along, Cleo simply explains that his place is here and he's better off living in solitude for 300 years. He seems to take it all in stride, but man, you just know that when he joined the McDohl household 300 years later it took a massive amount of willpower to not murder her while she slept for being such a bitch to him when he was a little kid.



The Star Dragon Sword turns out to be a sarcastic talking vampire-killer. He and Viktor get in a lot of good quality back-and-forth, as if Viktor needed another character dedicated to picking on him at every available opportunity.

X
Okay guys, the boring plot-slog is behind us now. Thanks for being patient with me.



Well, because it's smarter than you for one thing, Viktor.


Viktor picking up the Star Dragon Sword is one of the few (only?) instances in the series where a character's weapon changes outside of leveling up at the blacksmith. Of course the only way to actually see "Star Dragon Sword" on his Strength screen is to not have sharpened his weapon up past like L5, which given how often he insists on tagging along is a virtual impossiblity.


One Escape Talisman later and we're back outside in Qlon. Fukien has long since abandoned us, leaving Hugo alone to hold down the fort. As soon as we deliver this War Scroll, though, he packs up and leaves for Eureka's Castle too. That's right! The Liberation Army has systematically depopulated the entirety of Qlon Temple!


085/108: Hugo
Ol' coke-bottle-glasses here is our librarian. His job is to take care of all those Old Books we've been picking up. It's a damn shame we can't put him in the party, though, since he must be pretty freaktardedly strong if he managed to drop the War Scroll at the bottom of that long-ass cave while out for a stroll.


Hey, look! The Qlon Cave's level plateau is in the low-40s, which means we can meet the level requirements for a couple new recruits!


First we'll hop on the Viki Express back to Teien and recruit Eikei.


086/108: Eikei
He's a martial artist of some calibur, I guess, but that's not why Eikei is great. He comes with the Double-beat Rune, which gives him two attacks per round, but that's not why he's great either. The reason he's so great is we can yank that rune off and give it to whomever we like! You just know I'll be soldering that bad boy right onto Viktor's hand and let him go to town on as many enemy's as he cares to annihilate.


Next we'll drop Sarah in favor of Kirkis, who will need to be powered up a bit...


Four battles in the Qlon Caves is sufficient to boost him up to L40.


Now that he's a wisened and experienced L40 grandmaster rather than the frail L28 pissant he was exactly twelve seconds ago, Kirkis gives the same "let's all be happy and nice and rainbows" speech he gave to everyone who would listen back in the Great Forest scenario.


The difference is that this time Rubi actually listens!


087/108: Rubi
Rubi's a personal favorite, and has been a mainstay in my final party in practically every playthrough since I figured out the requirements to recruit him. Don't quote me on this, but I think he's got the highest ATK of all the L-range characters, which is useful especially in the endgame when you can (at most) bring one S-range character with you into the last dungeon.

So now we not only have what we need to take on Neclord, but have recruited a couple of really really bald dudes and learned the achingly painful truths of Ted's past, to boot. So:

Hey peanut gallery!
It's time to storm Neclord's castle. Viktor and Cleo aren't planning on dropping out any time soon, and what's more, Hix will beg me to tag along. He's S-range, so I've only got one front-line slot open. If you're not sure who's S-range and who isn't, that's okay; worst-case scenario I can just make Hix sit on the back line and Do Nothing for the duration of our quest to rescue his girlfriend.

Incidentially, right now first place in the votes is a five-way tie by my reckoning: Blackman, Valeria, Quincy, Stallion and Leonardo. Do me a favor and bust this up a little bit maybe? Or hell just everyone vote for Ronnie Bell again, and I'll take Neclord down with qcf+punch*.


You sound like a page from a self-help book. PREPARE YOURSELF!

(Master list.)

*Alternate ending to this joke: "I'll take Neclord down with shivam's avatar."

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