Let's Play Monster Quest part 7

So here we are at the world ma-


-oh right this thing.

It's something of a tradition for Fire Emblem to have "gaiden" chapters, somewhat disconnected from the main story, marked as "#x". Unbroken Heart is Sacred Stones' only gaiden chapter, and it's a bit odd for one. In other games, a gaiden chapter is optional, sort of: you have to meet secret conditions necessary to unlock the chapter, but if you meet those conditions you're forced to do the mission whether you like it or not. In Sacred Stones you just sort of get thrown into this immediately after The Empire's Reach, because I guess getting a sneak peak at Ephraim was vitally important.

I honestly don't think it was a good decision, as a lot of narrative tension is lost in the way this is handled and the mission itself is just awkward by virtue of your Lord not participating at all. Among other points, it's very possible to screw yourself out of items because you don't have access to Supply, and the mission itself is unaffected by what came before and has limited impact on what comes later, unless you're weird like me and do silly things like have Ephraim literally solo the map and thus hog all the experience.

Heck, according to Serenes Forest Forde and Kyle can die here and they'll still show up when Ephraim's group meets up with Eirika's forces.

So I don't like this mission.

I'll give it that the chapter name actually makes sense without being any kind of spoiler, though.

As an aside, I've found it interesting how sometimes Monster Quest's class changes are reflected in plot sequences, and sometimes they aren't. Unbroken Heart had a particularly striking case -we started out with Ephraim talking to a couple of Cavaliers (Kyle and Forde), which were replaced by monsters once the scene changed. (Kyle and Forde again) I'm curious as to why some scenes are apparently using the actual characters and other scenes aren't. Possibly reflective of some scenes being coded before the characters were actually coded?


Here's the map, courtesy of Serenes Forest. We start in the lower-left.

Also, since I mentioned it, here's a comparison to the later mission map.


For Unbroken Heart we get to visit the area behind the Throne, but we don't get a convenient Cracked Wall tile, and everything south of our starting area is missing. Also, that eastern Chest is just out off-map for Unbroken Heart.

So, what are our new guys like?


Ephraim is his usual self, except he starts with the Solar Brace, like Eirika with her Lunar Brace. This... is kind of annoying, since it exacerbates the difficulty avoiding throwing out items. Reginleif has more uses, as is typical with this hack. I'm not surprised, given Eirika was mostly unaltered, and Ephraim is one of your two possible "you lose if this unit dies" cases, even though he's not the default one.

Unlike Eirika, Ephraim really is unaltered outright. These are his normal base stats and everything.


Orson, it comes as no surprise, is a Wight like Seth before him. Unlike Seth he's not carrying a Bow, though he has an A rank in Bows just like Seth did. I'm sure he will be a valuable- pffhaaha, he's a traitor, this is a sneak peek at a boss in a much later mission. Also, free gear if we make sure to pull it all off of him before the mission is over, which I always do. Might not be able to grab everything in this case, though. We'll see.

It's not like the game is even slightly subtle about the fact that he's the traitor and we're not going to be keeping him. It's too bad, because while the writing is horribly unsubtle, the game design helps hide it from the player -for instance, the player can check a unit's Support lists, and a lack of Orson in Ephraim's Support list would be a bit conspicuous if you could check it, but you can't check the Support lists mid-mission. If the writing was sufficiently subtle about it, it really would be a genuine surprise. Alas.

Speaking of the Support list, strictly speaking I could "cheat" and use my current units to determine what kind of monsters various people I haven't recruited yet are going to be. I'm not going to be doing that, but I could.

... as an aside, the first time I noticed that Orson's Affinity is Dark really grated on me. Of course the traitor has a Dark Affinity! Ugh.



Kyle and Forde are Bone- wait, they're Baels? Huh. That's a surprise.

... now I'm back to having no clue what later characters are going to be. I'd assumed the hack was sticking to a one-to-one class conversion process where possible, where everybody who shared a base class still shares a base class, but apparently not.

They both provide our first poisonous claws -Poison Claw and Lethal Talon. Lethal Talon is the highest tier of poisoned Claw, while Poison Claw is the lowest -there is no middle tier. I briefly consider messing around with who has what, but Kyle has the higher Constitution, and it's one less than is necessary to wield the Sharp Claw, so I leave things alone.

Stats-wise, Kyle is much-improved -among other points, he's gained six points of Resistance!- aside from losing a couple Movement because he's no longer a Cavalier, and of course losing Canto. That works for me. Forde doesn't have any similarly large jumps, but his stats are overall higher. Notably, they both have quite higher Constitution, which admittedly is mostly useful because Claws/Talons go pretty high up in Weight.

Let's get started.

I start out by checking if any enemy has non-standard gear, relative to the unmodded game, but no, they're unchanged as far as I can tell.


I have Kyle compare his Sharp Claw and his Poison Claw. The Poison Claw is lighter, slightly more accurate, but hits noticeably less hard -still hard enough to two-shot this Soldier, though.


So here's Kyle in battle. It's glorious, though I'm sort of amused they didn't make the spiderfuzz green -it seems like the logical thing to do, so that his green hair becomes green hair. I'm not actually sure where the blue-ish fuzz is even coming from, given Kyle's regular color scheme.

Anyway, Kyle kills the Soldier successfully.


I have Ephraim move up and murder the other Soldier. To my pleasant surprise, the Soldier misses him on their retaliation, too.


Then moving up occurs, with Orson placed in reach of the Archer as an excuse to see what Orson looks like in battle.

He looks pretty cool, actually. His bronze/gold blade looks especially good. Now I'm kind of sad we're not going to be keeping him.

... not that I'd actually use him until I had a bunch of other guys promoted anyway, but still.



Then I compare Forde's Rotten Claw and lethal Talon -the Lethal Talon isn't actually that much stronger, yet it's a lot less accurate... I'm pleasantly surprise that he can easily take the weight of the Lethal Talon, however. I go with the Lethal Talon in the end just because it has a chance of killing the Archer, but he misses.

Also, we get to see Franz's brother in action. I like it!

... try not to think too hard on how the giant spider is brothers with the human skeleton animated by fell magic.


Then Ephraim vaporizes this Knight and loots his Door Key.


So then I have Kyle finish o-

er

gain a single point of experience?

Ugh.


The Archer takes a shot at Ephraim, but misses, making me slightly less annoyed by Kyle botching his job.


Meanwhile, just to the west there's a Mercenary and a Fighter closing in on our position. I have Forde weaken the Mercenary -successfully, in spite of the 53 accuracy!

I also finally notice that Bael's actually have correct biology in Sacred Stones -eight legs and two pedipalps. (Warning: Wikipedia link) Huh. I'd thought they had six legs in battle, but no, they have everything they should have. Kudos, Bael combat sprite artist, whoever you are.

I mean, it's absurd that Baels stab enemies with their front four legs instead of, you know, stabbing things with their fangs, but whatever.

In fact, I've also finally noticed that even their map sprite is correct! It's not so obvious with their default map sprite, but their "in motion" sprites and their "hover animation" sprites make it fairly obvious. Wow. That's really impressive -most people struggle to fit 8 limbs onto a small graphic like that, and they even have the pedipalps! (I'd historically assumed the pedipalps were the fangs on the map sprite, but no, the fangs are also visible in some of the specific frames) I salute you, whoever made the Bael map sprites.


Then I have Kyle attempt to finish off the Mercenary, but he misses. I'm okay with this, as the Mercenary and Fighter are at least still blocked off from Ephraim, and the Mercenary is almost completely irrelevant, unable to harm Kyle and barely able to harm Forde.


Meanwhile, Ephraim finally finishes off the Archer -using his Steel Lance instead of Reginleif because Reginleif is valuable and useful- and gets a really good level out of it!


Then I have Orson take the Door Key, planning on having him open the door and everybody else pile in later.


Come the enemy's turn, the Fighter and Mercenary get themselves mauled, though they also get damage in.


Kyle proceeds to miss the Mercenary again...


... and Forde breaks out his Rotten Claw to finally land the finishing blow.


Then I have Ephraim take Orson's Silver Sword and Steel Lance so Orson is unable to steal kills.


The Fighter provokes Forde into mauling him again, getting in damage in the process. Forde's in a bit of pain at this point.


I utterly failed to screenshot Orson opening the door, whoops. The Fighter and Mage both pile onto Orson, but Orson is tough stuff.


I have Orson back off and send in Kyle to do some damage to the Fighter. Ooooh, he even has a crit chance!... not that he gets it, but oh well.


Meanwhile Forde finally finishes off the Fighter to the west and gets a level. Could be worse.



Kyle takes damage from the Fighter and Mage while dishing out none. At this point I decide I haven't handled this very well.


Regardless, Forde moves up and uses a Vulnerary, and Kyle sits there and also uses a Vulnerary.



This time Kyle actually gets in some damage, but this is not a good situation.


I have Kyle back off to in reach of another Fighter moving in and heal again.


Forde, meanwhile, runs up and gambles on his Lethal Talon killing the Fighter -the Rotten Claw is too weak- and gets the hit! Fighter down, time for the Mage.


The Figher drops a Chest Key, of course.


Ephraim slams a Steel Lance into the Mage's face and takes a hit in return.


Then I have Orson run up and trade his Silver Sword -he took it back from Ephraim at some point- for the Chest Key. I'd rather Orson be the one wasting time opening Chests.


Enemy turn comes, Kyle kills the Fighter attacking him, Ephraim takes another Fire to the face. He's fine. 3rd-degree burns aren't serious or anything, right?

I think I'm wearing too many layers of clothes for anything except my face to be seriously burned anyway.


Orson goes and opens the first Chest, netting us an Elixir. That's good, given the current lack of healers... and the fact that Eirika's forces are using healers only grudgingly... and had a lot of their Vulneraries stolen.


Forde finishes off the Mage with his Rotten Claw.


They drop the other Chest Key.


Kyle finally finishes off this Fighter, and that's the last aggressive enemy on the map dealt with. Everybody else on the map will only move if somebody is in their immediate strike zone.

Meaning I can basically only lose anyone at this point to extreme stupidity.


Ehpraim uses an Elixir to heal himself, and next turn Forde loots the Killer Lance in the Chest.


Then Ephraim trades away his Elixir for said Killer Lance... he doesn't have the Weapon Rank for it yet, but he will before this mission is up. Kyle moves north and heals himself.


General moving up happens, and I drop Kyle just barely in this Archer's reach, outside the Cavalier's reach.


The Archer takes the bait and does one whole point of damage.

This mission is honestly very easy normally, and Monster Quest has made it a joke. Kyle and Forde are insanely durable.


Anyway, I have Kyle chip the Archer, and he gains a terrible level out of it.

I'm not a big fan of Kyle normally -if I want a good Cavalier Amelia will be far superior fairly quickly, and Kyle's Supports aren't very convenient- and this is not the note to be starting off for making me want to use him in Monster Quest.


The enemy turn rolls around and the Cavalier attacks Kyle and -wait, what? The Poison Claw is super effective against cavalry? Also the Cavalier looks utterly bizarre in that first screenshot, like he's riding his horse backwards and his head is, itself, on backwards, but seriously, the Poison Claw is horse-slaying now?

I know that's not normal.


A quick check shows that his Sharp Claw is not extra-lethal against cavalry.

Interesting. I like it -"inflicts Poison" isn't really a meaningfully useful niche, as the Poison status is just... bonus damage. Admittedly, Poison ignores defenses, so I guess you could use it to kill a target too tough for you, but AI units with that level of durability are usually bosses, and usually on Thrones, which cure status conditions instantly, so... usually not. Point being: meaningful weapon variety even on Claws! That's cool.


Then I have Kyle smack the Cavalier with his Poison Claw.


On the enemy's turn the Cavalier decides to do literally nothing to Orson (Orson is too tough for them to do damage with their Iron Sword), and the Archer chips off another hit point from Kyle.


Ephraim finishes off the Cavalier with a Steel Lance.


Kyle... misses.


The Archer chips off another hit point.


Kyle misses again.


Forde comes in and cleans up his mess yet again.

I'm sure Kyle is fuming at the idea of Forde cleaning up his mistakes.


Incidentally, Forde gets a really good level out of killing the Archer.


General moving up occurs, with Orson being used to bait out the Knight.


Ephraim breaks out Reginleif to one-shot the Knight.


Then Kyle moves out to in reach of these three Soldiers (But carefully out of reach of one off-screen Cavalier, and in reach of another) and uses a Vulnerary.





Kyle proceeds to murder all three Soldiers (Getting an actually decent level in the process) and laughs off the Cavalier's attack while horribly mauling it. Only one of these four guys got any damage in at all.


Ephraim finishes off the Cavalier using a Steel Lance and gets a non-terrible level out of it.


Then I drop Kyle in reach of the other Cavalier and move Orson and Forde up, just outside the Cavalier's reach.


Still can't hurt Kyle.


Ephraim finishes off the Cavalier and general moving up happens.


More moving up, staying out of reach of the ranged attackers. The Soldier in the hallway doesn't even hit Kyle, and dies for his trouble.

Also, the Bael dodge animation looks so weird. Why do they spread their pedipalps like that, exactly?



More moving up, avoiding being in reach of the Shaman. Orson takes a pathetic hit from the Archer, while a Soldier runs up, pokes Kyle ineffectually, and survives thanks to one of Kyle's attacks missing.


Kyle corrects this on my turn and gets a really good level out of it! He might make it on the final team yet.

I mean, probably not, but it could happen.


More moving up while staying out of that Shaman's reach.

Normally I would've had Ephraim Javelin that Shaman in the lower-left corner of the map before I even moved north, let alone got to here, and then would've had Ephraim Javelin the Monk instead of taking this right corridor, but the Javelin in question is on one of my Cavaliers... who are now Baels. It's interesting the knock-off effects that crop up, that this mission is made more complicated by the fact that my Cavaliers are Baels, not because they're monsters or can't take advantage of the weapon triangle, but because I don't have the Javelin I normally plan my run through the map around.

Also, Orson is just off-screen to the south. Poor planning on screenshotting on my part.


The Fighter we saw before gives Orson a splitting headache, while the Archer gives Kyle another experience point.


Then Kyle attacks the Fighter, and dodges the (pathetic) retaliation.


Lastly, Orson moves out of the way and Forde chips the Fighter, incidentally blocking them from attacking Ephraim, who has jumped across the "could be targeted by the Shaman" stretch of corridor.


The Archer takes a potshot at Ephraim, which stings a little.


Kyle hacks off a good chunk of the Archer's life, Orson moves to bait out the Mage, and Forde moves one tile left of his current position to bait out a Fighter you can barely see. Also, Ephraim gets out of the way of the Archer.

I'm probably being a bit over-aggressive here, but on the other claw Kyle and Forde are ludicrous.


The Fighter is baited out successfully... and Forde misses, annoyingly.


The Archer actually misses Kyle for why he does no damage, and the Mage -why does it look like he's... I'm sure that's meant to be the pointer finger, but it looks like the middle finger.

The things I'm noticing because I'm taking screenshots...


Anyway, I have Ephraim break out Reginleif, partially in hopes of getting a crit and thus avoiding a retaliation, mostly because Ephraim won't double the Mage with the Steel Lance and still can't wield the Killer Lance. He gets the crit!


Forde lands his hit and takes a hit in turn, regarding the Fighter.


Lastly, Kyle kills the Archer. Finally.

They drop an Elixir, but I seem to have not screenshotted it.


The enemy turn arrives and the Fighter decides to attack Ephraim. For his troubles he dies, and the blood pleases whatever dark beings pass out levels, granting Ephraim a near-perfect level.

If Ephraim hadn't critted the Mage, this could've been problematic... though really I would've just had Orson Rescue Ephraim in that case, so whatever.



Kyle, Forde, and Ephraim all heal, with Forde positioned to bait out the Archer.


Oh no, one whole damage, however shall I survive.


The Archer promptly dies, giant spiders chewing on his corpse.

Don't be grotesque. We don't even have the right mouthparts to "chew", and we don't eat humans anyway.
Can't eat anything we can't suck up through what amounts to a straw, and venom doesn't reduce human organs to soup, unfortunately.
... and it's not appropriate to eat people slain in battle. You know that.
Well, in some cultures-
We're not one of those cultures.
Yes Monica, we'll be together soon.
... poor man.
He can have his re-death-wish, just so long as he doesn't get the Prince killed. In fact, here, let me take your healing items, sir Orson.



I don't think it's fair taking advantage of a man so obviously distraught-
Look, we both know he's the traitor. I'd rather have a disarmed traitor than one ready to put a sword in the Prince's back.
... I concede the point.


Also, I dropped Ephraim in range to bait out the Knight we've been ignoring. It's nice that he dodged their attack, saves me Vulnerary uses.


Then I have Orson bait out the Shaman, because I'm not even going to bother to heal him anymore, since it doesn't affect anything if he dies. He's my toughest unit anyway.


Ephraim takes out the Shaman. I use a Killer Lance (He picked up the ability to use it somewhere in here, and I could've sworn I screenshotted it, but I guess not) in hope of getting a crit and avoiding a retaliation that way, but it doesn't work -he doesn't get a crit on the second hit, even. Nor did he dodge.


I set up Forde and Kyle to bait out the two Soldiers, carefully out of reach of the enemy spellcasters.



Forde kills his Soldier and gets a solid level out of it, and Kyle misses yet another time in this mission, on rather low odds, letting his Soldier live for half a turn.

Hey, you try hitting someone while you're loaded like a mule.


Ephraim finishes off the Soldier with a Steel Lance and gets another really good level out of it.


I have Orson bait out the Shaman, and he dodges. Sure, why not.


I have Kyle one-shot the Shaman with his Sharp Claw. He doubles them, so I figured it made more sense than breaking out the Poison Claw.


I drop Ephraim in reach of the Monk and heal. In retrospect I'm not sure why I didn't use Orson. Habitually avoiding deaths, I guess.


Come my turn, Ephraim breaks out the Killer Lance, and this time he does get the first-attack-crit. Excellent.


Time to fight the boss.


Kyle gets a level out of his attempt, most critically making him fast enough that Zonta can no longer double him. Yes, Kyle landed a blow at 30 accuracy. Kyle has nothing but spite for the RNG, apparently.


Zonta attacks on his turn, and this time Kyle misses as one would expect.


I have Kyle heal with an Elixir. I have 3 of the things, why not.



I drop Ephraim in Zonta's reach as well. Zonta targets him and misses, Ephraim gets a regular hit. Cool.

I'm using the Killer Lance because I don't like my odds if I try to just wear him down.


I have Kyle take a shot at him. He misses, but so does Zonta.


Forde verse, same as the first.


Then it's Zonta's turn, and he hits Ephraim while Ephraim misses him.


I have Ephraim heal and do nothing else. I'm starting to think getting Forde and Kyle hurt and blowing healing on them isn't worth the trouble.



Zonta hits Ephraim again, Ephraim hits Zonta again with a regular hit.


Ephraim heals with an Elixir given to him by Kyle, end turn.


Zonta hits Ephraim again, Ephraim misses again.



Ephraim heals with a Vulnerary this time.


Zonta hits Ephraim again, and dodges again.

Also, Zonta looks really freaky in that first screenshot.


Ephraim heals again, end turn.


Mutual miss.


I decide to have Ephraim use another Vulnerary.



Finally. Ephraim gets a near-perfect level out of it, and then takes the Throne, ending the mission aside from some dialogue.

You fell for my trap!
I'm heavily hinted to be the traitor, but not quite revealed so we can have the reveal happen when Eirika meets me. It's more dramatic that way, theoretically.
My supposed military genius is "proven" by virtue of the writers putting me in a situation I shouldn't be able to get out of and than having me get out of it off-screen. You're supposed to think this is much more impressive than Eirika's on-screen military competence.
Don't think too hard about the fact that my very first on-screen action is to have a "brilliant" idea that promptly lands me in a trap and ultimately causes my sister to fall into another trap.
The writers certainly didn't.

--------------------
See you next mission.

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