Let's Play Monster Quest part 3
You know, I've never had any idea why this chapter is named this.
Here's a picture of the map, if you care to see what it looks like in its entirety, with thanks to Serenes Forest.
I actually re-did this mission, as in my first attempt I got Vanessa killed. As such, I was a bit less diligent in my screenshotting than I should've been, because I just wanted to be done with this.
I was a little disappointed to discover this fellow, as I'd skipped past all the cutscenes outright. Now I'm wondering if the Soldier here ran in and burned the village to the ground, or if he was still a bandit in the cutscene, or what.
Regardless, we can see our new units and units-to-be!
It may come as little surprise that the friendly Gargoyle is Vanessa, as Gargoyle is the obvious monster equivalent to Pegasus Knight. Her Constitution is noticeably higher than in the unmodded game -she only has 5 normally. Skill, Speed, and Movement are actually lower, but not by much, and the gains in Strength and Defense are overall more useful. She's also carrying a Bright Lance (Lance equivalent to Fiendcleaver, everything I said about it applies) instead of a Slim Lance, and her newly high Constitution means she can wield it without penalty!
It's somewhat unfortunate that Vanessa is still vulnerable to Bows while picking up a weakness to monster-slaying weaponry, but overall Vanessa is much-improved, and she's always been a staple unit in my games. Nice.
(Specific stat modifications: +2 Strength, -2 Skill, -1 Speed, +3 Defense, -2 Resist, -1 Move, +4 Constitution)
For some reason I don't have a screenshot of Moulder's gear, but I do remember it -a Flux Tome, a Heal Staff, and a Vulnerary. (As is usual with this hack, Flux and Heal have more uses than in the unmodded game) Moulder can use both of them, making him -er, her, since Moulder's a Gorgon now?- less vulnerable. The access to Dark magic is a big change compared to the unmodded game, where Dark magic is only available to Ewan and Knoll out of player characters.
Base stats are all higher, except for Luck, which is unchanged from the unmodded game, but that's misleading: the Gorgon is considered to be a promoted class, and I confirmed in the botched run that Moulder is gaining experience like a promoted unit. These are awful stats, in actuality, as 16 levels of gains are missing.
Consulting Serenes Forest's page on Moulder's average gains, at level 20 un-promoted Moulder would on average expect to have roughly 32 HP, 11 Magic, 14/15 Skill, 16 Speed, 4 Luck, 6 Defense, and 9 Resistance. Gorgon Moulder is on track for Magic and Defense, but everything else is worse, especially HP. In all likelihood Moulder is going to be dragged along until either I promote better replacements or find better replacements, and then be dropped for good.
His base stats are boosted, but not by enough to make up for the lost levels: +1 HP, +6 Magic, +2 Skill, +2 Speed, +4 Defense, +4 Resist is just obviously terrible when contrasted with 17 missing levels. +1 Move, and +5 Constitution is nice, but compared to promoted Moulder that's actually only +3 Constitution. I'm curious as to what the Constitution boost is about, really.
One of the Tarvos is Garcia, and he's replaced his usual Iron Axe with Fiendcleaver (This is a flat upgrade, as Fiendcleaver's statline is identical to an Iron Axe except for a random 5 crit chance added), while his Hand Axe has doubled its uses. His only stats that aren't at least slightly higher than Fighter Garcia's stats are Resist (Unchanged) and Constitution (1 point lower), and as Tarvos are considered to be cavalry Garcia's utility has gone way up. His Rescue capacity is slightly lower, though, as the mounted Aid formula is different from the unmounted one -an unmounted unit can simply Rescue anyone whose Constitution is lower than their own, while mounted units instead have a total amount of Constitution they can tolerate, including their own. (25 for male units, 20 for female units for some reason)
I'm not normally a fan of Garcia outside of his utility as a Support partner for Ross, but he seems likely to be incredibly useful here. Becoming vulnerable to horse-slaying and monster-slaying is a bit painful, though.
Also, calling it now: Neimi will come with a Beacon Bow. (The anti-monster Bow)
(Specific stat modifications: +1 HP, +1 Strength, +1 Speed, +5 Defense, +2 Move, -1 Constitution)
Ross starts the mission injured as usual, and is carrying his usual Hatchet. This is a bit silly since he's no longer any kind of Trainee class -I'd wondered if the hack was going to invent monster trainees, maybe use Revenants since they're directly inferior to Baels, but I guess not- and instead is starting the game fulfilling his lifelong dream of being an identical clone of his father, so he doesn't need a special light Axe to match his normally poor initial Constitution.
His stats are a bit lower than Garcia's, but he's also still got three levels of catch-up to do, so that's fine, aside from the 3 less Constitution. More significantly, he's not going to require the level of babying that Journeyman Ross requires, with much better base stats, including more than twice as much Defense! He's actually missing 3 Luck... low Luck seems to be a trend with the hack. Not a fan of that particular trend.
Compared to Journeyman Ross's expected growths as a level 1 Pirate, Tarvos Ross is actually a bit behind overall, but not by anywhere near as much as Moulder. Ross remains a serviceable unit, though it is unfortunate that he lacks one of my favorite features of Ross in the normal game -no exploitable weaknesses.
(Specific stat modifications: +2 Strength, +1 Skill, +3 Speed, -3 Luck, +5 Defense, +1 Resist, +4 Move, +2 Constitution. The Constitution is just making up for not being a trainee -Fighter promotion gives +3, Pirate +2. Similarly, the Strength is just what he'd get for promoting. The Defense and Move are the only boosts that aren't probably canceled out by missing 9 levels)
Anyway, back to the mission. Let's do the usual thing and have Vanessa Rescue Ross-
... where's the Rescue command?
Vanessa's not considered to be mounted, and her Constitution is lower than Ross's. She can't Rescue him. I'd... just sort of assumed she'd still have the mounted Aid formula since she was a flier. Guess not.
So instead I have her target the Soldier so he can't possibly do anything to Ross... nor, more importantly, can he get himself killed by Ross and Garcia before I've recruited them, wasting experience. She's fast enough to double him, as evidenced by her missing hit point.
Not sure how I feel that the hack basically decided that Vanessa's hair color would be the foundation for Gargoyle-Vanessa's pallete. She looks good, but no better than "good". On the other hand, this is the first time I've noticed Gargoyles have barbed tails -on the regular Gargoyle/Deathgoyle sprites the barb just looks like the tail curving, rather than a distinct piece.
Oh, and I had Moulder visit a town and get an Elixir before all that happened.
Then a bunch of movement happens and it's time to end turn.
The only thing of interest that happens during the enemy/ally turns is that Ross runs north and heals himself with his Vulnerary.
I check the Archer's range and move Vanessa to just outside of it so she can attack the Archer next turn. I don't want Garcia wasting its experience by killing it! (He did that on the failed run, and wasted a Hand Axe use in the process, too, instead of using his Fiendcleaver)
Moulder wanders off to grab the Red Gem from Village Subtle Foreshadowing -Selena shows up here and is, in fact, the person handing over the Red Gem, and if you use Eirika Selena seems to recognize her and do it anyway. Knowing support from our enemy! Too bad Selena gets no narrative payoff -it's always struck me as weird and a bit arbitrary that she dies rather than betray Vigarde, even knowing that it's not really Vigarde anymore.
Wait, did she just give us one of her earrings? Ew.
More moving on up to meet the enemy Brigands. I'm hoping the Brigand targets Eirika, but I'd also be okay with him flailing ineffectually against Gilliam's carapace.
He targets Eirika! And misses, at which point she stabs him twice. Would've been nice to get a crit, but this is okay too.
The Archer moves up, and Ross heals himself again.
Then Garcia smacks the Archer with his Fiendcleaver. I'm okay with this -it ensures Vanessa will land the kill, wastes no weapon uses, and 10-ish experience wasted isn't a big deal at all. It also means Garcia will be slightly more convenient to recruit down the line.
It's not really surprising that Garcia is green. I think the effect looks fairly good, actually. His back looks weird, though, and I'm not sure why that is.
I was originally going to ignore the shop -I always ignore this shop- but with the hack making more changes than the minimum necessary to monster-fy the cast, it occurs to me this shop might have something worth buying. It doesn't, but I have Moulder sell off the Red Gem while he's here, since I have nothing better for him to do this turn anyway.
Checking Serenes Forest, I do notice that the Slim Sword and Slim Lance haven't had their uses increased, unlike pretty much everything else I've bothered to check. That's understandable -I personally never use Slim Swords in the unmodded game, and only grudgingly use Slim Lances on Vanessa, Tana, and Amelia, and Vanessa's Constitution is much increased. Tana's presumably will be as well... and I have no idea what to expect for Amelia. Current likely possibilities are Bonewalker and Bael, but maybe the hack will do something completely different.
Anyway, point is that changing those weapons would have little effect unless the change was to make them have a niche beyond "early game crutch for low-Constitution characters". The Slim Sword, in particular, has always been held back by the fact that Eirika is one of your main low-Constitution Sword-wielders, and she starts with the far more useful Rapier.
Anyway, I have Vanessa kill the Archer, and she goes completely overkill and gets a crit. The second screenshot is in the middle of the Gargoyle's laughter... at least, I think it's supposed to be laughter? Anyway, when a Gargoyle gets a crit it hovers in the air grunting a few times culminating in its arms vibrating before it actually attacks. It's one of the more bizarre-looking crit animations, and I far prefer their ranged attacking one, where they laugh evilly and then throw their weapon, if for no other reason than because it doesn't involve hanging in the air without apparent use of their wings.
I have Eirika attack one Brigand and Gilliam finishes off the one Eirika weakened, leaving Moulder in a position preventing Eirika's Brigand from attacking Moulder, and you can see off to the west that I moved Franz into position to be attacked by reinforcement Brigands. He's sitting on a forest, too.
Eirika's Brigand attackers her, and she gets another overkill crit and a merely decent level. Still no Strength, and I'm starting to get worried.
Franz's first Brigand attacks him, and here's your before-and-after screenshots. Well, 1 free point of experience, I guess.
Franz attacks his Brigand futilely, while Eirika moves to recruit Ross and Gilliam moves to block the boss Brigand from destroying the southwest village. I forget if Ross and Garcia auto-recruit after the mission if you fail to get them mid-mission, but I don't feel like finding out the hard way.
The Brigand next to the boss Brigand attacks Eirika, which I was hoping for, and pretty much exactly what you'd expect to happen happens -he misses, she puts her rapier through his chest twice.
Meanwhile, the boss attacks Gilliam, and freaks out at facing a jungle spider big enough to ride on.
An understandable reaction.
Franz is attacked by both Brigands, and completely avoids damage while getting in damage on one of them.
Meanwhile Ross runs up and takes a shot at Eirika's Brigand, now that he's no longer injured and therefore no longer feels the need to heal himself. I seem to have lost the screenshot of his battle sprite, unfortunately... he weakens, but does not kill the Brigand, thankfully.
Back on my turn, I have Vanessa fly over and attack Eirika's Brigand -she needs the experience more than anyone else right now, and her iffy odds are made up for by the fact that she'll double the fellow. Indeed, she misses on her first attempt -hence the Brigand getting an opportunity to land a hit on her- but her second attempt finishes him off and nets her a solid level.
Meanwhile, I maneuver Gilliam to block the boss Brigand off from being able to destroy the village -I love having a unit that can walk through Peaks so early in the game- and you can see in the northeast that I had Eirika recruit Ross and Ross recruit Garcia and then Canto partway back.
I don't even bother to screenshot Franz's flailing at one of the Brigands, and I move Garcia up and then end the turn looking like this.
Bone decides he wants to live enough to attack Gilliam from the relative safety of a Peak, but not so much that he'd rather not attack the giant spider at all.
Disappointingly, Gilliam misses. Oh well.
More Franz dodging Brigands and slowly wearing them down.
I have Gilliam visit the village so Bone definitely can't destroy it, getting a Pure Water out of it. Not very useful, but maybe it'll be more relevant in the hack. I also move Eirika down in hopes that Bone will kill himself on her. I'm still hoping for a Strength gain.
This is how things look at the end of the turn, with Seth helping block in Bone. I'm not too worried about Bone killing himself on Seth, and anyway a boss at least provides a flat 40 experience in addition to the normal formula, so it wouldn't be a horrible waste of experience for Seth to kill the guy.
Thankfully, he targets Eirika. He hits her, but whatever, she's not going to be seeing any more combat after this, and she kills him. Not enough experience to level, though.
I've always found Bone's sprite weird. It's technically different from the regular Brigand sprite, but it's almost impossible to see what the difference is. On my first run or three of the game I thought he didn't have a unique sprite at all!
Meanwhile, Franz decides to crit one of the Brigands attacking him -this isn't a good frame to illustrate it as it's used in the regular attack animation (Or at least is very similar to a regular attack frame), but Franz is currently in the middle of clacking his skeleton teeth in a bony laugh, which is part of the crit animation.
He gets an excellent level as a result. Nice.
Then I just don't screenshot anything until the other Franz Bandit dies, having at some point landed a hit on Franz, because this is just clean-up/feeding Franz experience.
Then a bunch of talking ensues.
I'm ROSS, and this is my AWESOME DAD, Garcia! I hope to grow up to be an identical clone of him someday!
Son, I'm glad you look up to me and all-
Can we join your Army of Darkness, Dark Princess Eirika?!
Hey, listen to me when I'm talk-
Oh yes, that sounds wonderful.
My lady, Garcia was once one of our more famous generals.
You hear that, dad?! We're soldiers now! Just like you when you were my age!
And back at the world map. Now we have access to an Armory on the overworld. I find it unlikely I'll care, just because of all these infinite use weapons, but hey, that's cool.
See you next mission.