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12-04-2012, 06:22 AM #1
The Darkness of Grimrock - an emotional live journey
The few of you who follow my Twitter have seen this, probably. :P
A slightly rewritten, mostly spoiler-free account of a band of hapless prisoners being thrown into the darkness of Mount Grimrock.
Shay Faeslayer, a human rogue specializing in Daggers and Evasion.
Szazk Splitsword, a lizard warrior wearing heavy armor and trained with shield and sword
the Silent Man, a human mage, alchemist and poisoner
Vrix, an insectoid mage specializing in the destructive arcanas of fire and ice.
Before the Descent
Shay attempted to swallow her fear. Less than three quarters of an hour until she and her equally unwilling companions would meet her doom. The rogue turned to look at them, as far as the chains binding her ankles would allow. Next to her, Szazk, a shifty looking lizard warrior.
She didn't trust him. The cold-blooded reptile had murder in his yellow eyes. But still, he was a less unwelcome companion than the insect. Vrix' cold, multi-facetted eyes regarded its co-prisoners without betraying any emotion. She felt... like prey before its sharp intellect, a deeply unsettling feeling.
And these were the companions she was to travel with. Chained to them, literally. At least, she sighed, the journey would probably be a short one. One way or the other. The lizard, the Insect and one more - a silent, hooded human who had not spoken a single word, only kept smiling mysteriously. Despite the lizard-warrior's cold-blooded fierceness or the insectoid's aura of perpetual hunger, the Silent Man was the one that worried her most. The one who actually seemed to look forward to entering the dark and deadly passages of the death-trap ahead of them.
The prisoner's airship begins its steady ascent, buffeted by the sharp winds.. No turning back now. Mount Grimrock awaits. Shay closes her eyes. What will they find?
Voices. Voices in the Dark.
Shay screamed as she and the other chained prisoners were hurled into the darkness below. She was the only one. Her companions remained silent. The fall is a short one, and they find themselves surrounded by complete darkness. A flickering torch in the distances illuminates a single barren gate. This is it. There is no going back now. Only forward. Into the dark.
Her companions making no move but the those they are forced to by the chains, Shay takes the torch from the holder. The gate, by hands of ghosts, opens. A few steps later, a chain opens another portcullis in the dark. There are cruel and barbed hooks at the wall. Shay shudders as the party supplies itself with another torch, their only weapons for now.
Who left these torches, flickering glimmer of hope and life in this darkness? What was the purpose of these hooks? What... is that sound? There is a slithering noise ahead, but it disappears. For all purposes and intent, they are alone in the darkness... and with each other.
A few ragged linen lie discarded in the corner. Szazk hisses at them in disdain, but Shay wraps herself against the dungeon's chilly breeze. The torches may be plenty, but they do not give much light. A crude cudgel lies next to the blankets. The first weapon they find, not counting the fragile torches.
There are more sounds coming from the distance. Szazk grabs the cudgel and hisses, his training with Swords useless. Something ahead is glinting in the flickering torchlight. Shay grabs a loose rock and throws it, missing whatever is hiding in the darkness ahead. A giant snail rears its head, but is quickly dispatched by a panicked Shay wildly swinging the torch in panic at it, followed up by a sharp and precise blow from Szazk' cudgel that shatters the beast's carapace, revealing some foul-smelling meat that Vrix, the insect mage, rips free from the body. Shay shudders violently and suppresses the desire to be sick at the disgusting noise, but knows that they have little choice of what kind of nourishment they would find down here.
The party makes its way deeper into the forgotten but not entirely abandoned dungeon, dispatching more snails and covered with bruises. The lizardman sits down, weary, their first rest in the darkness. Shay attempts to protest, but Vrix' reflective insect-eyes silence her. She crawls up to a wall, huddling herself in the dirty rags they found earlier, as far away from the others as their chains allow her.
Voices. Those beautiful voices in the dark. Whispers of freedom inside these claustrophobic halls. There is a way. There must be a way. A dream. Just a dream?
Into the Darkness
Szazk was taking point. Somewhere, the lizardman has found a rusty blade and a shield looted from an undead skeleton. Shay held a slim knife, the small blade not doing much to increase her confidence.
The Silent Man proved to be adept at weaving spellshields, protecting the rest of them from the poisons of the strange creatures they encounter. Walking funghi, half tree half shambling mound haunted them for a while. There was good eating on their remains, fried over their diminishing torches. Again, Shay tried not to think of the alternative.
And all the time, the Silent Man never utters a single word. Him alone, the darkness of Mount Grimrock suits well, and he wears a smile as they descended further. Aloof, distant yet competent, a magical staff in his hand he channels his energies through.
Vrix looks dispassionately at his dead comrades. The mage's mandibles skittered quietly in the rhythm of the arachnid in front of him as it retracts its poisonous fangs from Shay's lifeless body. This fleshlings were nothing but trouble. Vrix wished it was not chained to it. But at least, it thought, it would not starve, even if its companions' flesh was too soft for his taste, more suited to laying eggs than food. But they did have their uses.
An absentminded wave of the insect mage's hand turns the spider into a flaming, skittering sphere that twitches convulsively a last time before dying, filling the narrow chamber with acrid stench.
Vrix would rescue them. Drag them back to the healing stone they discovered a few rooms back. But first - and Vrix skittered excitedly - it would get its mandibles on the Silent Man's staff before resurrecting his body. And rest, first.
...to be continued...
13-04-2012, 12:25 AM #2
13-04-2012, 04:11 PM #3
Vrix looks as smugly as its insect eyes would allow. The party is alive again, and only the Silent Man glares at the mage wielding the staff that was formerly his. But still, the Silent Man does not utter a single word as they continue down the dark passages, more careful now that they know what they are up against.
The party continues exploring, dispatching spiders easily now they know how, the minions of Grimrock unable to defeat them. The Silent Man's mastery over Earth becomes increasingly more powerful as he weaves shields to block the spiders' poison. Shay and Szazk barely flinch anymore when stabbing and slashing the vile nests spawning more of the foul creatures.
A pillar, similar to one they found earlier. The shadows again move as if on their own, animated by some terrible puppeteer hiding in the flames of Vrix' torch. Shay smiles, for the very first time since their descend, as she detects the pattern. Light. The solution is so obvious, and while her companions look at her quizzically, she begins to put the torches into the appropriate holders to cast the shadows JUST so.... yes, just this way. The dancing shadows touch a section of a nearby wall, which slides open.
Shay finally discards her peasant garb and wraps herself into the tunic hidden away, not even asking herself anymore who left these items behind. The Spiders will not find her easy prey ever again, she thinks, twirling her dagger and feeling the tunic's magic enhance her movement.
Traps. Only Szazk's inhuman reflexes saved them as the lizard warrior pulled his unwilling companions away from the trapdoor about to open under them, his timing enhanced by his newly aquired skill to move at ease in heaviest armor. Shay edged closer to the pit in front of them, staring down into the darkness. The Silent Man invokes a complicated gesture, and the darkness below dissipates slightly in the cold magelight emanating from him. Shay sighed. The peasant garb would not make a good rope. But they needed to progress down there, and the note they found indicated more useful items awaiting them.
With a feral grin, Szazk takes a leap and plunges into the darkness, dragging the rest of the party cursing and hissing with him.
Catching themselves after the fall, Shay looks around and whistles softly. This place was no longer a simple dungeon. This... this was a tomb. The voices in her head. The whispers. Was this the reason for them? Ghosts of the fallen, of the lost? Did they originate from here? What WAS this place?
A tomb. Maybe their tomb. Would they join these shambling mockeries of life that are pursuing them for the better part of an hour? Vrix' mastery over fire is proving most adept at dissolving the dark magic animating the skeletal bones that are hunting for them. The Silent Man watches the insectoid mage's moves and gestures as it dispatches another pair of skeletal archers with a firey blast. His own mastery of poisons and alchemy was not proving very efficent in these battles, and he has run out of rocks to throw. He stares intently at the insect mage, as if memorizing the gestures, bending the forces of Fire to his will in addition to those of Earth and raw Magic.
Cautiously, the party continues exploring the tomb-like environments. With two spellcasters able to burn the bones of the creatures, progress has become more easy. An eerie light ahead illuminates a room full of life-like statues, casting strange flickering shadows that give the statues a sense of disturbing life, shifting the stone faces from anguish to hatred to fear. Even the stoic lizard warrior is visibly unsettled by this.
The statues appear to offer no threat, though. The party decides to use this relatively safe spot to rest. The light might keep monsters at bay - indeed, the room is quiet. Eerily so, as if the blueish persistent light swallows all sound. Shay is getting hungry, but her hunger quickly turns into disgust as she observes Vrix devouring a baked maggot with an excited skitter of its mandibles.
An uneasy sleep overcomes them, and in the unnatural silence of the tomb and under the stony glares of the statues, the voices speak up again. "We can escape. Together." Even the Silent Man shifts in his light sleep. "Together..." the voices whisper, caressing the party like remembered echoes as they rest in the stony tomb for the night.
...to be continued...
16-04-2012, 04:23 PM #4
Into the Prison
"I do not need you asleep anymore", the voice whispers in their head. The four prisoners turned adventurers look at each other. Only the Silent Man is still smiling, drinking in the darkness and oppression around him. Noone has come this far before. A while ago, they found the corpse of the adventurer leaving the helpful notes. And warnings.
Tentacles from the darkness block their retreat from the strange tentacle-faced monsters, but the prisoners are no longer the weak and naked creatures that were thrown into this death-trap. While there is still a strong tension between the Silent Man and Vrix the Insectoid, the four prisoners are much more closer to resembling a team. Shay barely even flinches anymore when accepting a potion from the poisoner's stash, and the caretakers of the prisoner are nothing but minor obstacles.
But the voices. Or rather, the one voice. While there are countless whispers in the haunted stones, only one voice makes a semblance of sense, and Shay knows it is speaking with the desperation of a failed liar. She knows, for when the King's Guard came to escort her away, she used the same urgency, desperation, pleading. Back then, she had failed. Would the voice fail them before they reached it? Or after?
They are well-equipped. The ice lizards' meat is tasty - more tasty than the baked maggots Vrix appears to prefer, and certainly more tasty than the dusty but edible bread they find in odd corners of the dungeon. The Silent Man has provided a variety of potions mixed with the rare ingredients found in the darkness. Szazk wears a shield enchanted by the elements themselves, and an armor once worn by a hero - a faint irony the lizard, imprisoned for banditry and murder, does not seem to notice. The Silent Man wields a new staff from black oak, enhancing his mastery of poisons and earth tenfold. And Vrix' skill in frost-based magic is a fearsome thing that literally chills the heart of the toughest opponent.
Shay does not dare to think about what comes after. If they manage to escape - each prisoner's equipment is worth three fortunes, and she has not forgotten the Silent Man's glares at Vrix after it took the Silent Man's magical staff from his corpse. There would be blood, she knows. And she would do everything she can to survive. As she has always done.
18-04-2012, 12:27 PM #5
Into the Light
The final explosion shakes Mount Grimrock. The voices are silent, or drowned out from the crash of stone on stone and metal on metal as the foundations of the dungeon are shaking and coming apart. None of the four prisoners, bruised and battered after their last desperate battle, has time to stop to think about what is going on. The Silent Man raises a magical shield, protecting the party from the poisonous rubble and smoke.
A wall tumbles down, and Shay narrowly dodges a massive piece of stone falling from the ceiling. Szazk the lizard-man deflects another chunk with his shield. A fresh breeze stirs the ageless stale air in the ancient prison-chambers. Shay has always known that, when the king's guards came for her, she would die in prison one day. She just didn't think it would be today, or in THIS kind of... prison, for a lack of a better word.
With inhuman reflexes and strength, the lizardman warrior Szazk hastens towards the breach in the wall, pulling the other struggling prisoners with him. After days in the darkness and traps of Grimrock, they were used to the lizardman's murderous strength and followed quickly. Vrix hisses as another large boulder misses its insectoid, chitin-covered body.
Another violent rumble from the very roots of the mountain, and everything goes dark.
And then, after an eternity, there is light.
18-04-2012, 12:29 PM #6
What an awesome game. What a strange ending. I really disliked level 12 and all associated fights/puzzles, but loved everything else.
I can't wait to see what the four guys from Almost Human do next.
Initially, I was about to reroll my party. Shay kept dying and dying and dying, but once she hit level 11 or 12, she became a veritable powerhouse and usually the last person standing when things got really bad. Her equipment definitely helped, but Evasion really paid off towards the end. Thanks to her, I was able to take on one of the wood golems head on after I got foolishly pushed into a nook - I was very impressed.
The two mages were a lot less difficult to manage than I was afraid off. They both alternated between three spells. The Silent Man did poison shield, poison bolt and Flame Burst (and very rarely poison cloud), while Vrix alternated between frost burst and frost bolt, with a flame burst thrown in for those bloody lizards. As I didn't have any archers, there was never a reason to enchant any arrows.
The triple-strike Sword from Szazk was doing most of the damage. He hit up to an average of 70 points of damage, with a 20% chance of making three strikes in a row.
For future playthroughs, I'll do one fire/air mage - the ice resistance provided by Vrix' mastery was pretty useless. Poison resistance was neat though. Air seems to be the most useful spellschool, so of course I didn't take anyone with points in it. A splash of 2 points of Fire are recommended for any mage.
I also want to do more with strafing. In the endgame, I just fought everything face to face - Shay was dodging like a goddess, and Szazk' armor meant he had to drink a potion every three to four fights.
This was Normal difficulty.