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Ramblings Of The Mad God, Day 3: Patience

Slow & steady

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Continuing a diary of attempts to best free indie MMO Realm of the Mad God

Day two? No, you must be mistaken. There was never any day two, and thus no need to write about it. And if you ever hear that there was a day two, or anything about how many heroes tragically met their end within mere minutes as a result of a reckless player trying to rush their way to the top as quickly as possible, you’ve heard wrong.

(Please don’t tell anyone what I did.)

Day two? No, no. This is day three, sunshine. A day of glittering achievement and untold adventure. This day, surely, will be a good day.

Today, I will not be weedy archer or a cowardly rogue or frail magician: I shall be a warrior. Strong and robust, built for survival. This is his song.

It starts as it always starts: in the Nexus, crawling around the floor picking up other people’s cast-offs. I’m lucky this time, and only have to behave like a despicable trash-scavenger for a couple of minutes. In short order, I’m equipped with these items:

Glass Sword
Bronze Helm
Mithril chainmail.
Ring of defence

With the sword, I may stab hard. With the helm, I may conjure a burst of speed that allows me to stab hard before I’m fried by monsters’ arcane bolts of poison, fire, ice or, uh, purple. With the chainmail, I can stab harder for longer. With the ring of defence, I’m… well, I’m probably mildly less easy to kill. The important thing is I’m wearing a ring.

And out, to the world, to the Realm. Today, I have a mantra: slow and steady wins the race. No reckless pursuit of more dramatic foes or blind hunger that leads to jog unthinkingly to a shiny trinket lying in the middle of a hail of magic missiles. No deciding I can singlehandedly save the damned world all of a sudden, just because I’ve got a slightly better sword.

Slow and steady. Slooooooow and steady. That means snakes and pirates. That means clinging to shoreline and chopping up whatever harmless small fry wanders by until I’m experienced enough to head a little inland in pursuit of an enemy that’s more challenging than something a five year-old could headbutt to death.

Slow. Steady. God, it’s boring. Then, my first test appears. From the blood of a slain pirate opens a portal. Just a little brown doorway, really. It looks so harmless. It’s probably fine. It’ll be good for me, even. I really shouldn’t, but…

So much for mantras. I’m whisked to what’s called a Pirate Cave, but Pirate Open-Plan Office would be more apt. It’s a huge space, stuffed to the rafters with pirates ripe for the murdering. Lots of ‘em probably means trouble – and death. Slow. Steady.

It’s rapidly obvious that I’m being that guy who drives down the middle lane of a motorway at 50MPH. He thinks he’s being sensible, but really it just means his journey’s twice as long for no reason and everyone behind him gets annoyed. A couple of other adventurers, presumably having stumbled across the portal, pop into existence and raise an eyebrow at my inch-by-inch progress, fearfully poking my razor-sharp Glass Sword at anything that stumbles by.

Given everything I hit pops like a blood balloon at the slightest touch, maybe I’m just being a massive wimp about this. For some reason, the idea that there’s anything in between ‘absurd caution’ and ‘suicidal charging’ doesn’t occur to me. Suicidal charging it is..

Fortunately, I appear to be a dark and brutal god of war. Pirates? I laugh at your pirates. A pirate boss? Not any more – just a bag of loot I don’t even need.

SLOW AND STEADY. The blood frenzy is upon me. I’m raging to jump to a bigger fight. SLOW AND STEADY. Deep breath.

I stick to my patient guns. Elven Wizards, Goblin Warriors and similarly menial creature-commanders fall by my blade, and I block out the occasional cries of ‘TRAIN!’ which beckon me to join a horde of adventurers in flashmobbed pursuit of honour. Oh, it’s tempting. A cavalcade of blades, bows and crazy magic, like a street party but with more necromancy. Not this time. Not today.

Oho! Another Pirate Cave opens. Easy experience, safe experience. Pretty boring, come the third time, but it keeps me alive while I hulk up in readiness for greater challenges. It really is far too boring to tell you anything else about the next hour or so. So let’s jump ahead – ahead to the world of goo.

Past a certain point, murdering common-or-garden creatures in their dozens is just a waste of time. Deeper into this realm are hardier, stranger foes. The best of these are the green, nipple-shaped goo beasts. Stab one and it’ll stickily splinter into four little ones. For an adventurer in pursuit of combat experience and trophy kills, there’s hardly a finer beast in the land. Four things to kill for the price of one. Plus, they’re easy.

Until you find yourself in the middle of four of them. Because that swiftly becomes sixteen of them. Six of ‘em? Start necking health potions like they’re the last beers in the universe.

Slow and steady. Slow and steady means being weak is a necessity. I end up back in the safety net that is the Nexus, emitting the embarrassing red glow which denotes near-death, more times than I can count. In my mind, everyone was watching and tutting. In reality, of course, they didn’t even notice because they were too busy scouring the floor for free swords. No-one cares. Easy enough to slink away.

Monsters come, monsters go and grim determination and extreme cowardice somehow keeps me alive. But I’m doing so well! Level 11 marks my longest adventure yet. Soon enough come 12, 13, 14, 15… I fight (and flee from) elemental yeti things, floating blue-flamed skull horrors, gooey cubes of every hue. A moment of reckless sees me zoom to the front lines, where giant things that chill my blood lurk. For the first time, something addresses me directly. Something that calls itself an Oasis Giant.

“Minions! We shall have Ento for dinner.”

Oh God. Oh God no. I don’t even wait to see what it was, though admittedly that’s because it starts raining laserbeams from my left.

RunawayRunawayRunawayRunawayRunawayRunawayRunawayRunawayRunawayRunaway.

And continue. Carefully.

Then came the Snake Cave. Level 16 had been reached, a new sword had been found, and I felt ready. The multiplying goo things were no longer much trouble, so a cave full of snakes? I eat snakes for breakfast. (Actually I eat Alpen for breakfast, but nobody respects that).

This wasn’t the snake cave I was expecting. Snakes, in this realm, are tiny green things I can kill with a stern look. This is full of GIGANTIC UGLY THINGS FIVE TIMES THE SIZE OF ME. They’re white, they’re red, they’re pink and occasionally they’re green, but whatever colour they are they’re very clearly going to kill me and dance on my pathetic grave. I’m about to put my tail between my legs again when a wizard appears. We don’t speak, not one word, but we move close together and slowly carve our way through the writhing horde. This is a-okay. This is what I need. I’m growing stronger, the snakes are drying and whoever silent magical Bob here is, he seems determined to stick by my side as we battle our way to the snake queen.

Then everything goes wrong. A storm of serpents swarms over at once, leaves me clinging onto life by a thread and forces me to drink all my potions. Slow and steady. I should run, replenish, tackle something a little less taxing. Something no-one will ever compliment me for doing, but I won’t care because I’ll be alive. Slow and steady.

Fuck slow and steady. Look how well I’m doing! Only just staying on the right side of dead, we make our way to the queen’s chamber. She’s a Medusian horror, spraying orbs of death, summoning a constant rain of baby snakes and orbited by – oh for god’s sakes! – winged serpents which rip off about 60% of my health every time they hit me. Yet… we’re doing ok. We’re still alive. We hit and run, hit and run, hit and run, dodging everything, whittling away the scaly foe.

Then I notice I’m flashing red. Had taken my eye off myself while I was busying giving a winged serpent what for. One more hit and I’m dead. No health potions left. Yet… if I can kill maybe two more of these things, I’ll be promoted to Level 17, and have all my health restored as I do. Level 17! Surely, surely I’m almost ready for Oryx by that point. I should run. I must run. And yet… The queen releases another white orb of ultimate doom, right at me, at speed. It spells certain death, unless I act fast. My finger hovers over F5, the button that would whisk me back to the stark safety of the Nexus in a heartbeat… And yet… I hesitate, just for a moment.

TO BE CONTINUED?

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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