The Dragon's Den Scenario
Before I decided to open my heart to you guys about my precious Viki, we were in the middle of setting off to set up an alliance with the knights of the Dragon's Den. Naturally we have some preparations to take care of first.
Here's the team! Flik and Humphrey are forced on me here (not that I'm complaining), and I'm bringing Liukan because if I don't I'll just have to come back for him later. He's required by the plot just after the next dungeon.
Not a lot of magic-usin' in this team, so I'll replace Flik's Lightning Rune with a Rage Rune. This will give me a little more firepower against the boss; this late in the game the Lightning Rune is only good for its highest spell, so even though the Rage Rune's is slightly weaker having more useful shots of magic is beneficial.
Next a visit to the bank to finance my armor and blacksmith bill...
Characters like Leonardo are great in the early and mid game since their damage output is decent and there aren't any big bosses anyway. Later on though powerful Runes beat powerful magic. L1 and L2 Rune slots are essentially worthless except for using the healing properties of the Water and Flowing Runes, so anyone who can't utilize them is going to get a Killer Rune to help them deal more damage.
Interestingly enough Liukan can use shields. Who knew!? Of course he'll only be with me for one dungeon and he'll spend the entire time on the back line, impervious to damage, and even if he dies it's no big loss since he won't be contributing anyway... but by the time my brain had processed all that information I'd already pressed the button a few times and bought it for him. Oh well. 32k down the toilet.
This is as far as I got at the blacksmith before I ran out of money. Sorry, everyone who voted for Leonardo because of his cool weapon name! It only stays cool until I sharpen it a few levels, then it changes to this generic nonsense. (Obviously I won't be sharpening Liukan's weapon at all.)
I decided to give my Double-beat Rune to Clive rather than Humphrey (who will be rocking the Holy Rune for this adventure). Clive's two core stats are ATK and SKL, both of which are astronomical. He's easily as good as any top-tier front-line attacker, but here's the thing: SKL is the stat that governs critical hits. Super high attack + high critical hit chance + Double-beat Rune = 1000-damage rounds. Very, very few things in this game can top 1000 damage outside of the highest single-target Rune magic and the uber-powerful Rune combos.
Leonardo doesn't have a lot going for him other than his pretty okay ATK stat, but he can sit on the back line which is always good. He's kind of like a more powerful Gremio in that regard.
HAHAHAHA Stick HAHAHAHAHA.
I was tempted to sharpen that up just to see what the higher levels are called, but thankfully I don't need to! Gensopedia to the rescue:
Thanks, Due Fiumi!
Arriving at the Dragon's Den, we find our way blocked by a single guard. His orders are so strict that even if the Emperor himself showed up (presumably with an army at his back), McGuardsman would turn him away. You know, before he was captured then drawn and quartered for his insolence. Fortunately for him we aren't Imperial douchebags, so after Flik argues with him a bit we decide to head to Antei for no clearly defined reason. Wait... wasn't Antei...
Yep! Back to skanksville! I'm sure we won't run into anyone nearly that repugnant this visit, though.
|Originally posted by: me, back in the Milich scenario|
...GROAN. Why the heck are we being made to sit through this nonsense?
Ah, okay. That's why. In any case Vincent goes on for a bit, insisting that ○×∆□☆ is his "dear friend," before running off. Personally, I think it'll be pretty funny to watch ol' McGuardsman pummel him senseless, so I'm going to follow him back over there (after making some popcorn). As I turn to leave, though...
Vincent's meal costs roughly 0.02% what Fu Su Lu's set me back. Somehow I still think I'll live. I'm not entirely sure what happens if you don't have the scratch. Either you're forced to wash dishes or your PlayStation erases your save and melts your disc. Maybe both.
Vincent plies his trade on the guard, but it seems guys in funny hats are no more susceptible to his "charms" than are restaurant owners. In other words, I'm hoping the dragon knight guard isn't expecting a tip.
Once it becomes clear that we're not getting in the front door, Vincent takes ○×∆□☆ aside to flirt with him and/or reveal the hidden passage behind this giant totally-not-at-all-conspicuous rock with a dragon carved into it. He doesn't actually do anything, and the rock doesn't move out of the way, I guess we're just supposed to believe that we all manage to squeeze our body mass beyond it or somesuch.
Inside is a short-ish dungeon, but it's at least got a couple goodies for us. Which reminds me...
Hey peanut gallery!
No, seriously, what do you want me to do with these books? I'll have them all before long. Do you even want to read them?
Flik gets two new "Other" pieces of armor in this dungeon. It's so bad!!
Man didn't these cats see that episode of Tiny Toons? If you don't look down, you can't fall. That's how airplanes work.
Fortunately the fall is only about eleven feet, and all the nearby dragons are asleep. We're chastised a bit by Milia the dragon knight, but before long...
...good ol' Futch appears to vouch for us! (Ted is long since dead so this time he has no reason to get pissy with us.)
Flik assumes the role Viktor and Gremio filled on previous missions: asking stump dumb questions to help further the plot. Humphrey would do it, but he's got that reputation of "stoic observer" to keep up, you know?
Milia and Futch lead us over to the Dragon Knight's Fortress, but before meeting with them we have some recruitin' to do!
Dude you... you're just leaning against a wall, man. I came back here to take a leak. You're not a ninja, you're a vagrant.
Perhaps just a palette swap of Kage? Perhaps. But he is our third ninja, and will therefore be very helpful as we go on to the last few major battles of the game.
HISTORY LESSON TIME! Some years ago Barbarosa's uncle (I believe he was) Geil Rugner sat the throne of the Scarlet Moon Empire, and for whatever reason Barbarosa and his elite generals waged war on him. Kreutz here was one of the generals who remained loyal to Geil, which explains his exile to the Dragon Knight's Domain. Since the Dragon Knights are neutral and not officially part of the Empire, it was a safe place to hide out.
Humphrey, in those days, led a force called the Hundred Man Battalion, and faced Kreutz in battle. This battalion would eventually go on to be used by Leon in the Kalekka incident, which caused Humphrey to become wary of his liege and turn heel. Unlike Kreutz, however, Humphrey became involved with an underground resistance movement, which is where we met him.
There's an interesting piece of artwork in the instruction manual depicting the Imperial generals active in this conflict (called the Succession War). We see Kwanda, Milich and Teo of course, plus Kasim Hazil (whom we have yet to meet). The last two are a lady Gensopedia identifies as Kilawher Shulen and an eyepatched man named Georg Prime. This is actually an amazing bit of continuity, seeing as how Georg doesn't even get a name until his appearance in Suiko2, and his backstory stays consistant all the way up through his starring role in Suiko5. Neither he nor Kilawher are around by the time the events in Suiko1 take place; Georg has since retired as a general, and Kilawher died and was replaced by her daughter Sonya.
In any case, Kreutz ends up coming out on top, and finds a certain poetic irony in Humphrey switching sides so suddenly. Welcome aboard Kreutz!
Kreutz was one of Emperor Geil's generals, so there's a good chance he's comparable to the Imperial generals we already have. He's only joining us for a shot at killing Barbarosa, though... will he get that chance!?
Upstairs we're introduced to Joshua, leader of the Dragon Knights. Of course, ○×∆□☆ wastes absolutely no time getting directly to the important matter at hand.
At this point, if I hadn't brought Liukan with me, I'd have to go all the way back to Eureka's Castle to get him. Which only takes a few seconds thanks to the Viki Express, but hey, I'd rather not waste a few seconds if I can at all help it.
Since I'm psychic, I knew I'd need Liukan here and enlisted his help. We've had him in anger management classes since he's been part of the Liberation, so his old "fuck the world" mannerisms have been replaced by "I would love to help some sick dragons" ones.
It only takes Liukan a few moments to diagnose the problem (from a few feet away and without touching a single dragon or using any tools or instruments at all): poison. Apparently someone considered the dragons to be a threat, sneaked into the area and poisoned all the dragons. We need three ingredients to whip up an antidote: black dragon orchid, moonlight weed, and a super-secret third ingredient Liukan decides to withhold from us until it is plot-relevant.
Naturally these three ingredients are all ultra-rare items found exclusively in only one place in the world. First up: the moonlight weed in Seek Valley. Milia and Futch are the only Dragon Knights whose dragons are still up and running, and walking to Seek Valley is impossible, so Milia offers us a ride. She hops into the party in the spot Liukan just evacuated.
Like Leonardo, Milia is a run-of-the-mill M-range fighter. She's alright, but far outclassed by people I already have, and certainly not worth putting a high-end Rune on.
A quick hop back to Eureka's Castle to bring Milia's weapon up to speed and drop a Killer Rune on her, and we're ready to go.
Seek Valley, as you can see, sits in an enclosed area on the world map unreachable on foot. The valley northeast of me contains the Dragon Knight's Fortress, the double dot beyond that is the Dragon's Den caves, and we can see Antei, Scarleticia and Lorimar on the other side of the mountains.
PET PEEVE: Why land here and hoof it through the mountains? Why not just circle the cliffs until we see what we need, then land there?
Obvious answer: because then we wouldn't have any excuse to have to fight lots and lots of monsters. Note that this Queen Ant is the same type of creature that Ted needed to bust out the Soul Eater to deal with way, WAY back during the Rockland scenario back when we were all still Imperial monkeys. Now, of course, I'll be Hell-ing everything left and right. Don't worry, there's a rough boss ahead that will make all this wussing out worthwhile.
Strangely enough, there's a blacksmith shop here in Seek Valley. Which means...
This is Mace, a world-class blacksmith. The only way to get top-level weapons is to recruit him and have him hammer 'em out at your castle. He's at least nice enough to very clearly spell out his requirements for you, but he only does this if your castle is in phase four; if you make it this far without 90 recruits (a definite possibility) he just appears as another "can't recruit him for some reason" joker.
Seek Valley is a pretty short dungeon; here's the boss already! I love how the save point is on the other side of the boss. Super useful!
Clive opens up with a weak attack. Keep in mind though that he's going to shoot twice thanks to his Rune. I believe the rate at which a character will double-strike is linked to SKL as well; Clive always seems to do it, even with only one enemy left, while others will only do it if there are two separate targets.
Blurry shot of Leonardo's typical attack. Yep, this is about the extent of his ability. I guess maybe it's too late to point out that the only horses you fight in the game are in Neclord's castle, huh?
Eventually we knock all the protective crystal coating away, revealing the gooey chocolate center.
And from here on out, it spams this attack every single round. This is where you really have to kick the damage up a notch, because even with a dedicated healer you've got, at best, two or three rounds of healing before you're tapped. Nobody in my team has a Water/Flowing Rune, so it's Mega Medicines for me. Fortunately, what I lack in magic I make up for in sheer muscle.
Flik sees fit to deal the thing a right proper killing blow.
Isn't it nice of them to give me the save point AFTER the boss? Oh wait, I already complained about that. In other news: Huzzah! Cyclone Rune. I generally don't use this one, but it's nice to have. Two more advanced runes and I'll have the whole set.
Naturally, just as we close in on the moonlight weed we get visitors. This time Windy has someting particularly diabolical up her sleeve...
Okay, this is just whack. Ted has been kept alive in captivity on god-only-knows what kind of damnable rune-powered life support just so he could be used as a bargaining chip. It probably goes without saying, but Windy's controlling his body here; he hasn't actually turned on us or anything.
"Ted" asks for the Soul Eater back; of course ○×∆□☆ refuses, and unleashes it instead. Hey, it worked well enough for Grandpa back in the past, why not now?
Just then, time stops, giving ○×∆□☆ and Ted a chance to catch up. The Soul Eater retains a link to its previous host, allowing us to communicate. Ted explains he's being controlled by Windy's Conquerer Rune, gives a sappy speech about how ○×∆□☆ is the only true friend he's ever had, and then apologizes profusely about what he's about to do...
Of course, as soon as we snap back to reality "Ted" is back in "Windy's little puppet" mode, demanding we return the Soul Eater so he can, you know, live.
When that doesn't work Windy tries to guilt trip him. Windy is such a bitch.
If this is accurate, this isn't the first war Ted has been the epicenter of. I'm also curious to know how much power "countless souls" granted him, exactly. Ted only participates in one other Suikoden game (part 4), which is 150 years after he receives the Soul Eater, and he's already got his L4 magic by that time.
: "Tellah, and Yang, and even Cid! We lost them ALL!!"
The most messed up thing here isn't that Ted essentially commits suicide and feeds his soul to the rune, but that the game plays a victorious little fanfare when the Soul Eater levels up.
Ted's heartfelt last words.
And there you have it. Four gutwrenching deaths, four people close to ○×∆□☆ dying in his arms, four attack spells on the Soul Eater. Ted doesn't leave a corpse, which leads me to believe that 300 years of aging catches up with him all at once, causing him to rot into dust instantly. Any movie about mummies will confirm that this is exactly how it works.
Milia spoils the moment by reminding everyone that HEY, HEY GUYS WE ARE HERE FOR A REASON. Like Neclord's Castle, Escape Talismans don't function in Seek Valley. Unlike Neclord's Castle, there's a good reason: no overworld to warp us back to. Also unlike Neclord's Castle the walk back is pretty short, so I don't have to spend all day here.
Back at the Dragon Knight's Fortress (which I've seen referred to as Goya on some of the fansites, leading me to believe that they feed prominently on refried beans) ○×∆□☆ picks up another collectible before reporting his findings to Joshua and Liukan.
Flik is 100% gung-ho about this dragon enema or whatever Liukan is cooking up. "Yeah buddy! I don't care how many close personal friends of ○×∆□☆ I have to watch die horribly, let's GIT R DONE!"
Fortunately it looks like there's no need; Futch is taking care of this one for us. Since black dragon orchid doesn't grow anywhere in the wild, the only place to get it is in the gardens of Gregminster Palace itself. Which is good news, because if Emperor Barbarosa didn't see fit to keep extinct plants onhand his girlfriend's plan to screw up all the dragons forever just might have worked!
Note that when Futch flies somewhere on Black we get this cool dragon flight transition. When we fly to Seek Valley on Thrash, however, it's a sloooow crawly sprite-thing on the actual overworld.
This is the only time in the game you control someone other than ○×∆□☆. Don't get too excited; it's only for two screens. Oddly Futch can dash around even though he doesn't have a Holy Rune equipped. I mean, I can't check the menu or anything, so I'm just assuming he doesn't have one. But I'm pretty sure he doesn't.
Just as soon as Futch finds the black dragon orchid, Barbarosa finds Futch. Turns out Barbarosa isn't such a bad guy (remember: Suikoden has only a few evil characters), and in fact didn't even know what Windy was up to. Since he's got more important things to worry about than Windy's shenanigans (like "man this uppity McDohl kid is such a pain in my ass") he lets Futch take the orchid and leave.
Rather than fly off into the night, Futch pauses to have a one-sided with his dragon who, I will remind you, can only communicate with an elephant-like braying noise.
Enter Windy, presumably just now back from her little field trip to Seek Valley. Now that she doesn't have Ted strapped to a bed in a dungeon with a needle in his arm anymore, she decides to take out her aggressions on Futch...
...and blasts him out of the sky. (Yes, he makes an elephant noise on the way down.)
: I'd forgotten just how beautiful Leene's bell could sound!
...okay, I'll knock that off. Sorry.
"We had to cut it off at the wrist. Not to worry, though; Joshua's going to use it as a pencil holder."
(Eagle-eyed readers will note that the treasure box Milia is standing in front of, previous opened, is now closed. This is because my computer crashed somewhere after having opened it and I ended up having to replay the previous few scenes. I just forgot to grab the box the second time around.)
So we have two of the ingredients. Like Flik, Futch is eager to get to work finding the third one. Alas, no more adventure for us; Liukan has already whipped up the antidote and claims the dragons will be waking up in short order. Which just leaves one little mystery to clear up...
Suikoden does NOT. PULL. PUNCHES. Not only did poor, innocent Black get fried by Windy's lightning, but we had to hack him apart in order to put his vital organs to use. The story doesn't even have a romantic ending, either; we didn't get to use Black's heart, or his pyrogland (a body part I just made up that allows dragons to breathe fire)... but his liver. I mean, it makes sense; Wikipedia reminds us the liver aids in detoxification, but... man. Black didn't love Futch unconditionally with all his liver you know? And that's not even the worst of it...
Ted's soul got eaten and Black got cooked and mutilated, and we still haven't necessarily accomplished what we set out to do. All's I gots to say is that if Joshua doesn't agree to an alliance at this point, I'm going to electrocute him, hack out his liver and then let a certain cursed hungry rune go to town on his delicious soul.
Fortunately it doesn't come to that. Joshua knows what the score is, and throws in with the Liberation.
Interestingly, Joshua won't be joining us at Eureka's Castle. In fact, I'm not really clear on why he's a Star and, say, the Dwarf Chief and Zorak aren't. Either they only had 107 Stars and had to dredge someone else up at the last minute, or they needed to give us Joshua in order to pad out the Dragon unit in mass combat.
Futch isn't so lucky. You're reading this right: Joshua is kicking him out. (I left out the scene where he sodomizes Futch over Black's rotting corpse while telling him he's adopted.)
To Futch's credit, he takes it all in stride. Joshua points out he can come back if he gets another dragon, which becomes a plot point in Suikoden 2... but that's someone else's LP.
Humphrey is chosen to be Futch's babysitter for the duration of the war. I like to think that Joshua is basically saying here "Hey Humphrey, since it's your fault I have to kick Futch out, he's your problem now. We square?"
Futch is the MAN in Suiko2, mainly because you can recruit him about 15 hours before you're supposed to thanks to a game glitch. He's even better in Suiko3 where he's a total hunk and comes equipped with Humphrey's sword. I can't say I've ever tried him out in Suiko1; if he's anything like Milia (and I have no reason to believe he's not) he's just another middle-of-the-road M-range fighter who joins up way, way after I've outplayed my use of middle-of-the-road M-range fighters (MOTRMRFs).
Milia offers to let us hitch a ride back, as though that's faster than the Blinking Mirror. No thanks, I've got one last thing to take care of here anyway...
More collectibles! The Old Book collection is almost done; just need two more entries.
All ○×∆□☆ wants to do at this point is lay down and kick back after such a horrible, horrible adventure, but noooo, he's got to deal with some goddamn Liberation Army drama. By the way, if you were thinking "There is no possible way Krin and Kasumi would ever have a scene together, that just doesn't make any sense at all!", congratulations! You have something in common with every single other Suikoden player in history!
They babble on about spies or somesuch, until ○×∆□☆ and Flik yell at them.
Kasumi seems to remember his manners...
Note that Krin puts quite a bit of distance between himself and Kasumi before saying this.
See? I told you guys Kasumi was a boy. He gets all upset if anyone implies otherwise.
Since the Wonder Twins weren't being very helpful, we get the skinny from Mathiu upstairs. Apparently some nerd was sneaking around and got caught, and for some reason they brought him up into the heart of HQ rather than locking him in the damn dungeon.
Taggart launches into his long sob story here: his master Warren is a big man up north, a rich aristocrat and rebel sympathizer. Since the rebels have been giving the Imperials so much trouble in that region lately Kasim Hazil (sent north to take over for Teo after ○×∆□☆ beat him to death) decided to cut out the nonsense and take Warren's mansion by force. We care about this for two reasons:
1) Rescuing Warren would help us in our goal of uniting all of the land's various rebel factions, and
2) Viktor just so happened to drop in on Warren on his way back from Northwind village. How convenient!
I'm not sure if Taggart's name goes up on the slab now, or if it doesn't happen until later. But I'll count him now because I'm sure I'll forget if I put it off. Don't get all excited; he's a non-combatant.
As you'll recall there's a military checkpoint between the lands we've already liberated and the lands to the north. In order to get the army up to Warren's mansion we'll have to storm that checkpoint. Mathiu doesn't want us running up there with torches and pitchforks though, and insists the men need some real military training first. Surprised to learn that they hadn't actually had any yet, despite having already bested three of the five Imperial generals in open combat, ○×∆□☆ agrees.
Mathiu tells ○×∆□☆ to go to bed, but ○×∆□☆ has one last errand he'd like to run...
Fortunately, Thrash is happy to carry us back to Seek Valley (by way of the Viki Express) even if his master's not around. Unfortunately, you don't actually talk to him to triger the trip; just walking within a few squares of him is enough. This means a typical player will end up flying back and forth to Seek Vally four or five times when all he really wants to do is walk the fuck away from the Dragon Knight's Fortress.
Here's the all-blacksmith party you guys won't shut up about! Happy!? This is actually one of the VERY few times in the game where you can assign whomever you like to the party.
Screenshotting unite attacks is tricky business, but here's a decent(?) shot of the 4-man Blacksmith Attack. It's nothing special, each blacksmith just rushes forwards and hammers the target in succession, and it takes damage. Certainly not worth filling up four party slots with not-great characters.
Random drop: the best piece of armor worn by martial artists. I'll keep this handy in case you guys let me use someone cool like Pahn or Morgan or Kai. I'm pretty sure GIANT WOMAN can equip it too, but I haven't checked.
Having fulfilled Mace's odd request, he decides to come along with the Liberation Army.
I mentioned three Stars of Destiny that have a nasty habit of screwing players out of perfect games. Mace is the second. The window to recruit him is, like Leon's, ridiculously small. You have to have opened up the path to Seek Valley, and you have to have four empty party slots to fill up with blacksmiths. This means I either have to get him now (and I mean RIGHT now, one more story sequence and I'd have been out of luck) or during (not after) the last scenario. If you wait to long and go on into the endgame, you aren't only screwed out of the 108 Stars bonus, you're screwed out of Mace entirely, since you only have three empty slots going into the endgame that you can never, ever remove after a certain point.
As for Mace in the party? He's okay I guess. His biggest drawback is that since you can't visit him with him in the party, he can't sharpen his own weapon up to the max of L16. He can provide this service to everyone else, though, and he looks kind of like Santa Claus, so we'll forgive him his shortcomings and welcome him aboard.
Hey peanut gallery!
The next scenario involves yet another long, boring dungeon which 1) I need to visit twice, 2) contains an advanced elemental rune and 3) won't let me use Escape Talismans. ARE WE SENSING A PATTERN HERE YET? I have three open slots, so go nuts.
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