Welcome back to Let’s Play Geneforge!
Your fyora sleeps at your feet all night, ready to defend you from rogue dreams at a snore’s notice. You awake from your fitful rest only reluctantly, afraid to discover some fresh new disaster. But all of your belongings appear to be as you left them, and Learned Pinner is just as happy to see you in the morning as she was when you went to sleep.
It’s time to head north.
I managed to miss an embarrassing number of combat screenshots while playing for this update. I blame my incredible bloodthirst and will do better in future updates.
The woods sprawl before you, barely tamed. There are only a few animal paths here. Leader Khobar and Brodus Blade weren’t joking — the Vakkiri serviles have truly been avoiding the northern woods. You can hear the unmistakable trills of rogue fyoras in the undergrowth as well as the distant sounds of heavier creatures blundering around. You only hope that they’re nothing you and your single creation can’t handle.
You head off to the northwest, keeping an eye out for any more rogue serviles. You find a sign designating these the bandit woods. The sign lists a 10 coin toll for all trespassers, payable to one Ghurk.
A rogue fyora finds you soon enough. You and your fyora dispatch it without pausing, though the rogue manages to nail you with its fire breath. You prove less resilient than your Shaper-made tunic, which doesn’t even have a scorch mark. More fyora emerge from the woods to the northwest. You plunge into a running battle, carefully managing the distance between yourself and the rogues so you don’t eat more fireballs before you can fill them with thorns. When it’s all said and done, you’ve accounted for nearly a dozen fyora and even a thahd.
Thahd are huge, humanoid creations made for heavy lifting and combat. They’re simple-minded, but these seem to be patrolling. Someone must be directing them. Perhaps they’re trying to keep the serviles away from something. You’re determined to meet the rogues’ master. Perhaps they didn’t expect another Shaper on the island, and so didn’t provide adequate instructions to avoid attacking one.
You quickly create another fyora, using the pattern the canister burned into your being. It blinks up at you, eager to obey your every command. Just as a creation should regard a Shaper.
There is a massive ruin to the west. Fortunately, the entrance hasn’t caved in. You could explore inside. However, as you watch, another rogue fyora wanders out of the tunnel. The ruins are probably infested with the creatures.
You clear out more patrolling fyoras and thahds, glad you made an extra fyora to defend you. Some of the thahds carried rings, daggers, and coins, but the thahds were by and large too stupid to use the daggers or wear the rings, and no thahd has ever been made intelligent enough to count, let alone understand currency.
Instead of heading into the ruined school, you decide to take a look at the eastern part of the woods, where many of the thahds seem to come from. Soon you find a sign along a narrow path leading into a thicket.
The sign has an arrow pointing east and these words: Beware!
These woods of Ghurk
Enter at peril!!!
You weigh your odds against armed serviles bent on banditry and decide not to chance it for now. North is another clearing with a sign. The serviles’ evident love of signs strikes you as a little odd, but it is somewhat useful.
The sign says:
To Rogue Wastes
All Serviles Beware
You’ll need more supplies before you chance a wasteland. The distant, brown hills look hazy from here. You don’t spy out a single speck of blue or green. This island is more unpleasant with each new discovery.
The eastern woods aren’t all signs and thahds, though.
There is an old, ruined Shaper building here. The front door died years ago, so you will be able to enter easily.
These doors are one of the Shapers’ most cunning creations. They are thin stone shells, intertwined with a large, custom-made plant. The plant detects motion nearby, and lifts and lowers the door accordingly.
Of course, sometimes, the plant dies and rots away. Then the door sinks into the open position permanently, like this one has.
Another rogue fyora has made its nest in the ruin. You clear it out and investigate the chests, but for now you can’t open them. It’s disappointing.
Solution still has a ways to go with her Mechanical skill and hasn’t yet learned how to magically unlock things. That means more backtracking for me later, but I’ll take care of that kind of thing offscreen.
You head south, driven by hunger. The tiny, sour pears you packed this morning have done nothing to soothe your stomach, and you need a break after exterminating so many rogues.
Three serviles guard a passage north into the woods. They must have emerged when one of the other rogues spotted you investigating. One of the serviles approaches.
This aging servile has been left bent and scarred by his years fending for himself in these woods. However, he still holds his blade with a steady hand, and he can still look you straight in the eye.
He is trying to hide his fear, but it is still clear to you. Even a long, harsh life could not erase in him the servile’s inbred terror of the Shapers. However, he is able to conquer his fear enough to speak.
“Welcome to our woods, Shaper. Though you are of your lofty race, you still must pay the toll to pass. Ten coins or you must return the way you came.”
We have several options here. We can pay, we can walk away, we can try reasoning with the servile, we can try intimidating him, or we can tell him he should move on. Some of these options rely on your leadership score.
You put on your best expression of haughty indifference. You don’t want to end up stabbed to death, and you don’t want this rogue to get any bright ideas, either. “Why do you live out here in the woods?” you ask in your most bored tones. Your fyoras shift at your side, emitting cute squeaks of bloodlust. The other two serviles watch nervously from behind the old one.
“‘It is what we choose. We find that life is easier if we live out here and take food from Vakkiri. It is less work than toiling in the fields growing it.” You decide this rogue servile must be Ghurk. He’s oddly straight-forward about his vocation. “It is a lifestyle we developed ourselves, after much thought and reading of it in old Shaper tomes. We believe it is called ‘banditry.’ We may be the first servile bandits. We are proud.”
He might be, but you’re disgusted. Servile bandits? They’re both rogue and uncivilized. You will not pay, but you’re not certain that you can simply walk away at this point, either. The notion to threaten Ghurk and his companions comes to mind. Something like, “If you make one move towards me, servile, I will dissolve your arms and legs with my Shaper powers. You will starve and die. Slowly.”
But you don’t. Maybe you can find a way to deal with the servile bandits without exterminating them for now.
“Vakkiri wants you to stop raiding them. Brodus Blade asked for my help. I don’t want to kill you. Is there any way you would leave them be?”
Ghurk thinks for a while. He looks down at his blade and his scarred arms. Finally, he speaks. “Nobody ask us that before. I think on it. I think this. Vakkiri give us one bag of food every week, and we no raid. We leave them be. You tell Brodus Blade that. We get food, they get peace.”
The strain of parleying with a Shaper inches his speech patterns back towards Clakkit’s. You wonder what he would think about the comparison. The extortionate offer isn’t very satisfying, anyway. Who does Ghurk think he is to bargain with a Shaper? You’re not going to haggle. “Vakkiri has asked me to destroy you. You had best move on.”
“Where, Shaper? North? To certain death in rogue wastes? Or west into sea? Or south, into Vakkiri, or east, to death on Pentil blades? Here we stay. We have no choice.” You can’t think of any way to convince him. The consequences of his banditry are pretty clear — and you can’t blame other serviles for not welcoming him when Shapers wouldn’t, either. You shake your head and go back the way you came.