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1 – Awakened Shaper, Veteran (the blind run) Part 1 I wanted to jump back into Geneforge on a nice, even difficulty for my experience level. You’ll quickly see how that worked out for me, but to make a long story short, before this, I used to actually think I was good at this game. I actually began my first game as a Guardian, since I remember liking the playstyle, but the Mutagen-original gate demanded I use the Firebolt Canister, I decided to restart as a Shaper because hey, the character in the opening scrawl is a Shaper, and I didn’t want to be saddled with an ability I couldn’t use (a running trend in my first playthrough is making decisions based on the original game, to interesting results). It had been three or so years since I last played Geneforge, however, and while the plot, characters, and general progression have been branded onto my gray matter over the course of 250 hours of playtime, I forgot a few small but crucial details to the fog of ages. The first roadbump is that I hate playing the Shaper class, and avoid it whenever possible, which is all the time. Quite a few (though not all) of my frustrations stemmed from me making a scuffed melee Guardian/missile Guardian/Magic Shaping Agent/support Shaper, or Generalist for short. My obviously sub-optimal build eventually had enough Leadership and Mechanics to get me through areas and gain some levels with minimal hiccups, which was good, because I was wholly incapable of fighting a fair fight outside of the tutorial. And I mean it: my modus operandi after hitting Vakkiri is to head to the ruined school first to pick up a level or two, as well as a decent belt. I quickly found that the Bandit Woods found a few problems with my plan, and those problems were, in order: Thahds Thahds leaping Thahds Dazing Thahds riposting Thahds having too much goddamned health Thahds eating half my health bar with one hit, holy-- These problems were exacerbated in the school itself, with just as many enemies per encounter in much tighter spaces. Eventually I decided to back off and do some quests around town, admonishing myself for trying to rush into the meat of things. “Take it easy,” I told myself as I read some updated lore, “soak up the old and the new. Shake the rust off and gain a level or two. Then you’ll crush this game in no time.” I did the usual stuff, finding a knife on the ground, unlocking a box, revealing a spy, taking a moment to, uh, marvel at my new ability to be just plain unpleasant to people. Learned a new word, “inutile”, that would definitely come up in future entries. Going up north to talk down some bandits and get Brodus to agree to-- ah, this is where that eventually rears its ugly head. I put most of my points into Mechanics for experience reasons, so I was a point short for the Leadership requirement, and combat-wise I was still working my way up to Rawbone, so I was stuck until I leveled up. I decided to break off from my personal route and go to Watchhill for now, to which Watchhill responded, “Did you forget what Bandit Woods just said? Here, I’ll reiterate: Thahds Thahds leaping Thahds Dazing Thahds ripost-- oh, you’re dead. Also, you don’t have enough Leadership to get Seerula to help you.” If you were there with me while I was playing, you may have said, “Man, you sure are dying a lot.” And you’d be right; I WAS dying a lot, a lot more than I did in the original Tricky. “Guess this game’s just harder than the original,” I’d reply. “Just means I need to get harder.” ‘Harder’ here means brute forcing my way through the school, saving like I had a drinky bird tapping the quick-save key, even battling the Enraged Fyora in the basin, a boss fight all on its own in this game. Finally, I had no choice: I had to fight Rawbone and the Ape Out gang in order to level up. I use my last blessing pods, my last meager advantage to close the gap between us and step forward-- oh hey, he has a dialogue option that gives him wrack status! I love that there are more Leadership options in the lead-up to fights. Being able to wrack or DOT an opponent is always great, a nice treat for those who put their points into that instead of pushing their damage output more. Really, I’d like to see options like this in pretty much all mandatory fights I can’t just ignore or bypass with Leadership or Mechanics. What was I talking about again? Oh yeah, I whooped Rawbone’s ass; only took like four tries, and now I have enough Leadership to finish some quests, and get a free point in Spellcraft from the Mind. I’m pretty sure that was Firebolt in the original; talk about an upgrade! Know what else got upgraded? The spawners. No longer do they simply puke up a creation every turn that proceeds to try and kill me. Now they still do that, but also puke up weakening mist, poison spray, and some kind of thorn to also try and kill me, and usually succeed. Last time I was here, I couldn’t even make it to Watchhill proper through the sea of like… 8 rogues, and now, with Seerula by my side, I got far enough in to not make it to the spawner. No matter what angle I approached it from, I’d just get walled by an endless conga line of creations, neither side making any ground until I inevitably missed, or nearly as inevitably get hit by two to three critical hits in a row. “Wow, you’re really missing a lot of attacks,” the hypothetical you opines from the backseat as I die again. “You ought to do something about that.” “Well, I’m still in the pretty early game,” I reply, holding back venom. “I don’t have many options, so I just have to tough it out and fish for EXP after. Then I can level up my skills.” It was about halfway into my second playthrough of the game that I learned that hit chance was tied not to any skill levels, but to Player Level, and presumably the level of whatever I was fighting, meaning enemies with levels higher than I would ever have would be a delight to face in battle. “Maybe make another creation? I hear Thahds are pretty good.” That seems like a good idea, but it turns out the game and I get our Thahds from two very different places, and mine have a side of brittle bone disease with their Creutzfeldt-Jakob. “Be more of a Shaper? Just sit back and support everyone else.” Sitting back and letting creations do the fighting, chipping in with support is all well and good for some people, but I if I knew how to back down and provide support, I wouldn’t be single right now. Regardless, I had more pressing matters at hand, like figuring out how to keep my ungrateful lizard children from eating me. Also, my Fyoras kept going rogue. I had three, and their levels either matched mine or were a level above, because any less and they died almost instantly, typically after they went rogue anyway. Skill descriptions told me that another level in Fire shaping would strengthen my control over them, so I did it as soon as I leveled up, but it also raised their level by one, so it was a wash. Eventually I got lucky and killed the spawner, and compared to that hurdle, everything up to Pentil was almost easy. I even did Spiral Burrow for the Awakened and, while hellish, it was hellish in a grinding, bit-by-bit crawl like the successful school run, and not the same grinding, bit-by-bit crawl and also I die one to six times in every conceivable way like Watchmojo. I get to Warp in like half an hour, and beat it on my second try, and only because the backup swarm of Thahds took me by surprise. The discipline wand was a godsend when I remembered I had it. I was a bit disappointed when I saw that the wand changed from a weapon that deleted rogues to a few charges of Daze. However, I overall like the idea of wands being items like crystals and the blessing rods. I also like having more of them around to find and use to maintain advantage. I would appreciate them even more, however, if they could somehow stack, and not take up multiple slots of my 25 slot inventory. Inventory management wound up being a severe sticking point for me, not necessarily by being the biggest issue I had, but by being the issue I most often had. With only 25 slots, I almost never had enough space for the things picked up and wanted to keep on me, so it went to the junk bag. For some reason, once you put something in the junk bag, you can’t take it out again unless you’re in one of the four towns. You also can’t sell individual items in the junk bag while leaving others. You have to use the sell all option to sell everything, so if you have something you don’t want sold in there, and you’re at a shop that’s out in the “wilderness”, you’ll have to go to town to take out the item(s), and depending on if the towns even have money left to buy your swag (which the later you get in the game, the more likely that’ll be the case), go back to the shop to continue selling. This exact scenario happened to me more times than it really should have, as in it happened more than once. Not helping was that I was usually on my way to a tough gauntlet or from a looting spree which was why I had so many items on me in the first place. I just don’t think the current inventory system works as well as it could. A six by six grid or a junk bag I can freely move my items from and not barring me from taking things out of it unless I’m in one of four areas in the game. Quick edit because I forgot: The change that most boiled my piss between games is how the Tombs work now, the knowledge within only being accessible if you haven't put any points in the stat. Considering my "generalist" build, the fact that I was operating under the OLD rules for the Tombs (you can't get the point if the relevant stat is too LOW), and that I needed those points to be able to get to the tombs at all, I was deeply frustrated with this change. Back to your regularly scheduled programming.