Saturday, 27 December 2014

The Aielund Saga: Act Three - Part VI


Southeast of Trinity

We're heading southeastward now, towards Socahreb and the great sandstorm.

My God, can you hear it? Even miles away that sandstorm is scaring the life out of me. - Criosa.

As if the sweltering heat of the desert wasn't enough, some airborne entity starts scorching us with columns of fire from above.


It is Scar, an unforeshadowed red dragon encounter. Knockdown immunity and major fire resistance is recommended for this battle.


At Near Death and just as darkness falls, the outmatched Scar finally decides to fly off (+2000 EXP).

Curse you! I will have my revenge someday! - Scar. 



Sandstorm


The sandstorm of Socahreb inflicts about 10 physical damage per round. Criosa has no solid regen items or DR to offset that, so for her sake we dare not dally.

We unsheathe our weapons in readiness for any foes who may call this most inhospitable place home.

 
Five Elder Air Elementals (+425 EXP ea) are slain en route to our destination...


... the destination being a remote and ancient Desert Fortress in the far southeast, obscured by sand and the darkness of the night. The entrypoint is a lone tower which we now enter to escape the deafening wind. 


Desert Fortress


 

We descend into an elegantly-carved entrance chamber where we lick our wounds and rest up.


Then we head downstairs again and come out to a chasm.

Have I mentioned I'm afraid of heights? Now seems like a good time... - Criosa.



Desert Fortress: Level One



This place is creeping me out. Let's get this over with. - Criosa.

There are torture chambers to the west installed with rack and iron maiden. Encaged skeletons dangle from the ceiling, but there is nothing to do here except morbidly ponder the drawn-out deaths of the victims.

 

We head eastward.

Spectral Minions! Something terrible must have happened here for these warriors to continue fighting after death. - Nellise.

Seven Mohrgs (+10 EXP ea) suddenly jump out at us, accompanied by two Spectral Warriors (+476 EXP ea).


Before a Wall of Light await seven more Mohrgs, two more Spectral Warriors and a Spectral Warrior Captain (+1156 EXP, Spectral Shield [+5 AC shield, Searing Light 5/day]). Amusingly, their voiced warcry is a Shakespeare quote. I've noticed other references to Hamlet, so it seems the author is a fan. Then again, who isn't?


Level Up to 22!

(Epic Characters)

Lilura: Champion of Torm (5) / Paladin (12)/ Fighter (4), Third-tier pally spells 
Criosa: Rogue (13) / Wizard (9), Sneak Attack (+7d6), Spell Focus: Divination
Nellise: Cleric (20) / Paladin (2)

I try to walk through the Wall of Light, but it just knocks me back and I fall to my knees.


A study branches from this room wherein we find a crystal ball with a notch into which a sword's pommel may be inserted. It accepts none of our pommels, though. Stored on a bookshelf are three arcane scrolls: Wail of the Banshee, Mordenkainen's Sword and Bestow Curse.

I bash a boulder to bits that was blocking access to a strong metal gate which I also bash down, behind which a corridor leads to another chamber - the door to which is trapped and locked (DC-40/40).

Inside the chamber is an Elder Radiance Elemental (+1428 EXP) hovering over the corpse of a what looks to be an Aieludian priest. On his badly decomposed body we find a Spectral Talisman, Heavy Crossbow +4, Bolt +5 and journal. According to the journal, the heroic priest and his warriors stormed this place and killed off the dragon cultists, but were subsequently all but wiped out by the dragon in the temple below. In a last ditch effort the priest managed to seal the dragon in the temple by means of the elemental, before he succumbed to his wounds. That elemental was the one we just killed.

A nearby chest contains Darth Maul's lightsaber the Anarchy +4 two-bladed sword (on-hit DC-18 Confusion, Chaotic only).


I use the Spectral Talisman's unique power to disperse the Wall of Light.

 
A triple-gated passageway leads further downward.



Desert Fortress: Level Two - The Temple of the Dragon Cult


We enter a massive chamber adorned with leering dragon statues. It's obvious from this and the Priest's journal that we're in for the fight of our lives, so I now have Nellise and Criosa buff me to the heavens, after which I self-buff with the long-term Eagle's Splendor, Magical Circle Against Evil, True Sight (Gem of Seeing) followed by the short-term Divine Might, Divine Shield and Divine Wrath clicky feats.

Lilura's stats (buffed):

Attack: 40/35/30/25
Damage: 1-8 +12, +5 slashing, +7/+3 divine, +1d6 divine vs. evil, +2d6 elect (crit 15-20 [x2])
Saves: 38/28/24
AC: 50
HPs: 375

Yep, I like this build. People exaggerate the time it takes to buff. Lrn2 perma-Haste.


We creep deeper into the chamber now, past an altar and across a mosaic towards the dragon's treasure, at which point the Spectral Dragon roars in and circles overhead...


... then plunges down onto the central mosaic with a thunderous boom, shaking the very foundations of the ancient temple and the earth itself...


My holy warrior wails hard upon the incorporeal beast, inflicting damage never before seen as negative energy breath permeates the temple.


The Spectral Dragon projects an ear-piercing scream as it detonates, filling the temple with blinding white light (+1632 EXP).


On the northern temple end Criosa detraps and unlocks a black stone chest (DC-35/40), finding inside the offerings to the dragon from his cult-following, including the Base of the Scepter of the Ages (Negative Energy Burst [5] Unlimited/day), Stormbringer +4 longsword (Elect resist 20/-), Helm of the Red Dragon (Imm: Knockdown, True Seeing), Ring of Immortals (Immortality [1 charge], Regen 1, SR 22), Robes of the Eternal Movement (perma-Haste, Time Stop [17] 1/day).

8000 GP glows upon the floor.

Back upstairs, I now upgrade Stormbringer using the crystal ball, but all it does is add 1d6 electrical. 

Disappointed, we begin backtracking out of the fortress.


Round 2 against the Spectral Dragon takes place over the chasm (+1632 EXP). I can't be sure, but I would assume it is now utterly vanquished.


Having backtracked to the village of Trinity with a second scepter piece, we're now heading westward to Tusone without delay.


West of Trinity


In the moonlit Hocarim desert we take on three separate bands of desert raiders made up of Desert Raider, Desert Raider Rogue (Shortbow +4, Arrow +4), Gypsy Sorceress (+10 EXP ea) and Desert Raider Elite (+340 EXP, Scimitar +4).

The elites have weapon master levels, dual-wield scimitars for extra crit range and don't hesitate to use their Ki clicky, meaning they can inflict some serious hurt on soft targets like our Princess. 

Bandits are the same everywhere, only the locations change. - Nellise.

(The music here fits the theme perfectly.) 


Camped in the far southeast is a beefed up desert band led by a Gypsy Elder (+340 EXP, Elder Dress) with a Death Slaad fetish.


A cave leads east to another chasm...

Chasm


Creepy crawlies in the form of four Scorpions and a Small Desert Viper (+10 EXP ea) scurry and slither along the ground towards us, and are squished.

Ew, bugs. I hate bugs. - Criosa.

But not snakes as per Indiana Jones? K.

It seems this is as far west as we can go. - Nellise.

Well, unless you like abseiling...

Nellise is reaching Maggie-level of Captain Obvious now... this is one criticism I sort of have with Henchman comments: they're at times inane. So much flavor could have been added, but then it isn't like the author had infinite time and resources on his hands, so I digress.


We enter the dragon's lair in the southeast, but there is no dragon. Apparently, this is where Azurefang would be encountered if you didn't kill her on the road south to Culdeny. However, for those who did kill her, there is no indication of this if Robert Black's also not in your party. So just so you know.

Gleaming piles of gold amounting to about 2500 GP rest here along with a Belt of Fire Giant Strength (STR +5) and Hardcleave +4 dwarven waraxe (on-hit DC-14 vorpal) inside a trapped and locked chest (DC-30/40).

We exit the lair and spot on the edge of the chasm stairs leading down into an ancient cave.
 


Ancient Cave


A few Medium Desert Vipers are squished (+10 EXP ea).

*Screams* Look at the size of those things! - Criosa.

Here we stomp on four Dire Spiders (+10 EXP ea. Yes, indeed. The author just lurves those Dires..) and two wicked-looking Giant Black Scorpions (+884 EXP ea).

 

At the end of this cave is a platform with a metal panel near to us and a strange metal orb in the far-side corner.


Clicking on the orb shows there's a Lore check, so I cast Legend Lore from Sir Godfrey's old Heraldic Shield and put on the Ring of Scholars to buff from +0 to +20 Lore. Now not so poorly read, the orb is revealed to be an energy conduit that requires a bolt of lightning to recharge it. I use the Lightning Bolt unique power of the Head of the Scepter of the Ages on the orb, after which it hums, elevates and begins to rotate in mid-air (+1000 EXP).

There are four buttons on the metal panel which must be pressed in the order of 2-4-3-1 for a portal to beam into operation upon the central platform. We step into the portal in search of the third and last piece of the Scepter.



Hall of the Ancients


We find ourselves in the portal room on Level One of the Halls, but the portal is now disabled. There is a locked door here with an inoperable door control.


Arcane scrolls are looted from a small nearby library: Greater Spell Mantle, Isaac's Greater Missile Storm, Premonition, Summon Creature VIII.

So much knowledge must have been lost when this place was abandoned. What might we have learned from this? - Nellise.


In a key chamber we fight off a Monstrous Spider (+1020 ea) and two Electrical Spiders (+340 EXP ea - not the most imaginative names, are they?). The former is a "Bebilith" in appearance with the unique on-hit ruin armor ability of the same, which Criosa actually fell victim to during this scrap. It doesn't actually ruin the armor, though: it just un-equips it and places it into the victim's inventory, leaving her vulnerable to follow up attacks (since armor can't be put on or taken off during battle).

I've only been here but a few minutes and I already hate this place. - Criosa.

Armor of the Warrior-Poet - and a flavor note in which the Ancients are referred to as "Saqaarin" - is found on a corpse here.
 

There's some dormant power cells in this room along with a second already-rotating orb and a control panel.


The code 2-3-1-4 is fed into the panel at which point the power generator fires up which in turn  reactivates the door control in the portal room and the portal itself.


It seems the initialization process has attracted some monstrous vermin to the portal room, consisting of a second "Bebilith" and three more electrical spiders.


Three Blade Spiders (+340 EXP ea) and two more electrical ones are wasted en route to a golem-works installed with an arcane foundry for which we have no metal.

These golems appear to be only partially completed. - PC.

Chest: Thunderstrike +5 longbow (Mass crits 2d12, Mighty +5, Unlimited arrow: 1d6 lightning, Great Thunderclap [13] 1/day).
 

Four more golems are cocooned on the opposite side of the passageway.


With nothing left to see down here, we head back to the portal room and activate the door control leading to a fancy teleport device which gives us access to Level Two of the Halls (access to Level Three is currently denied).



Hall of the Ancients: Level Two


Eight scrumptious Giant Red Scorpions (+476 EXP ea) lurk in four different rooms.


We enter a central door, it's lintel etched with runes.


Two Huge Black Scorpions (+1496 EXP ea) are hacked up in a circular chamber connecting the two sides of the second level.


Level Up to 23!

(Epic Characters)

Lilura: Champion of Torm (6) / Paladin (12)/ Fighter (4), Spent my 20 saved-up skillpoints on Tumble (10) for +2 AC (I could have had +4 AC if I didn't pump Spellcraft).
Criosa: Rogue (14) / Wizard (9), *sigh*
Nellise: Cleric (21) / Paladin (2), Epic Cleric (won't receive Epic cleric feats until Cleric [23]).


A lone Huge Black (+1156 EXP ea) is smacked down in an end-chamber.

Nellise's castings of Firestorm followed by Storm of Vengeance make short work of four Mithril Shield Guardians (+340 EXP ea) defending the armory.


I then undress an armor stand (+500 EXP, Mithil Full Plate [Imm: crits], Mithril Tower Shield [DR 10/+5], Mithril Visored Helm [CHA +3, Disc +4, AC def +5]), triggering a trap.

Three scorpions (two Huge Blacks [+612 EXP ea] and a Huge Slimy Scorpion [+1428 EXP]) now scurry to our location from adjoining rooms but are softened up by Nellise's still-raging Storm of Vengeance.


A passageway now leads to an alternate entry point to the third level of the Halls.


Hall of the Ancients: Level Three


Standing in the water on this flooded level inflicts positive energy damage.

Off the passageway here is an otherwise unremarkable room with a chest containing +2301 GP and the Eye of Time ring (5 charges of Time Stop [17]).

The passageway now opens up into a long, flooded central chamber wherein the water slithers with nine Huge Water Vipers (+476 EXP ea). To our dismay, two Mithril Shield Golems wander in from an open door and join the fray.


Six more water vipers are poised for strike in the southwestern side chamber. Excellent treasures are found here, too:

Dresser: Staff of the Archmagi (perma-Haste, various charge spells), Robes of the Dragon (CHA +6, Conc +8, perma-Haste, Bonus spell slot: sorc level 9, sorc only)

Criosa detraps/unlocks a safe in here (DC-40/40) for the Harp of Nightmares (Weird [17] 5 charges) and Ring of Elemental Earth (Greater Stoneskin, Earthquake 1/day).

Greater Stoneskin for my pally? Yes, please!

In the southernmost chamber stands on alert an Iron Legionnaire (+612 EXP).

There are the same things my father is fighting! He must be in grave peril! - Criosa. 


From it's hulking shell I loot the Golem Parts (weight = 100.5) and a shiny Emerald.

The "Golem Parts" are actually the chest section of the golem which has something rattling around inside. We'll need to use the arcane foundry on Level One to find out what it is.

We hurry to the teleporter room down a short passageway in the east.

I appear to have found the cause of the energy... - PC. (ie, the energy damage we've been incurring  from the water flooding the floors. This small room has sprung a leak, water lightly cascading down the walls. The teleport control is in the water...)

I prime the teleporter and step into a red pentagram that now glows on the floor. Sparks fly from a conductor and a bolt of lightning strikes me in the chest; then the room crackles with energy and fills with a blinding ball of light.



Halls of the Ancients: Level One Revisited


We find ourselves back on Level One of the Halls.

Yearg! Please God let us never do that again. - Criosa.

That REALLY hurt. - PC.

I was zapped for 500 damage, but somehow managed to "stabilize" (no doubt due to my heroic nature).

Excited to see what's in the chest section, we head back to the golem-works to melt it down by means of the arcane foundry. I place the parts inside the foundry, wait for them to melt, then remove from the molten metal the object that was rattling around inside: the Centerpiece of the Scepter of the Ages (Fireball [5] Unlimited/day).


Awh, yeah! The third and final piece of the Scepter of the Ages has been located!

*High-fives all round*

Now we must travel back to Trinity, hopefully to have the Scepter assembled by Sahir.

22 comments:

  1. "Back upstairs, I now upgrade Stormbringer using the crystal ball, but all it does is add 1d6 electrical."

    I think it also adds some casts per day to the sword of lightning spells, but yes, it's not exactly astounding.

    "The elites have weapon master levels, dual-wield scimitars for extra crit range and don't hesitate to use their Ki clicky, meaning they can inflict some serious hurt on soft targets like our Princess."

    Ki Damage is actually pretty bad, and on crits apparently does less than the average damage. Sort of a funny thing.

    "Nellise is reaching Maggie-level of Captain Obvious now... this is one criticism I sort of have with Henchman comments: they're at times inane."

    They have high Wisdom, not high Intelligence! Give them a break.

    "I was zapped for 500 damage, but somehow managed to "stabilize" (no doubt due to my heroic nature)."

    It's designed to leave you at 1 HP, but the fact that the water is still ticking for damage means you can technically wind up going below 1 HP if the timing is bad -- something to fix.

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    1. Yeah, upgrading Stormbringer also adds Chain Lightning (15) 1/day and Call Lightning (10) 5/day - pretty worthless by this stage of the Saga...

      I wasn't aware of the Ki damage quirk, but regardless, I say beware of weapon masters wielding scims.

      Nellise's comments suited her perfectly in Act One, but Dante's - DANTE'S were the best, they were brilliant.

      Glad you're fixing the potential for death with the teleporter, it can be annoying and possibly confuse new players. I only know of it because I reloaded a few times trying to get a decent screenshot.

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    2. Some people like to use it to "soften up" packs of enemies, though it's largely irrelevant and charging in is almost always better.

      Oh yes, WMs are always dangerous.

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    3. yep, I'd say things like that are only useful for people who just like to derp around, or gimped builds and/or bad players. As a filthy power-gamer, I always look for weapon mods that buff me or debuff enemy. Unlike HotU - in which many weapons/items can confer buffs (swap in, buff, swap out) - so far most Aielund items are direct dmg spells.

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    4. You would not believe how many people I've met who insist on shooting stuff with a bow to start as a strength meleer -- like, you need 5 bow shots to equal one melee swing and your AB is terrible. Maybe you can avoid taking a tiny bit of damage but you're wasting a ton of time.

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    5. Actually, I would. I've rolled my eyes at these people all my gaming life. They not only waste their time, but mine too lol. I avoid gaming with these types like the plague!

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    6. Hah. Would be interesting to play a campaign with you sometime, rare for me to find someone else who is both a "filthy power-gamer" and heavily invested in the story as well. Usually the power-gamers don't bother to read the text outside of what they need to do and the people interested in the story do the most atrocious things mechanically.

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    7. I'd be interested in that, especially if we could recruit one or two other players. I know of one guy who expressed interest the other day, but I'm not sure what campaign he had in mind. I've never MP'd in NWN before, what's the party size limit for most modules? And overall, what's your experience of it? It sounds like it could be a blast if you get the right players and campaign!

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    8. Be warned: someone's posting spoilers like an idiot in the NWN forum thread, might want to avoid it until you get to the beginning of Act 4 Part 3. Will let you know if he removes the offending comments.

      ----------------------------

      I don't know of any modules with a hard limit (if they allow MP). Some are meant for 2-3 people, some are meant for 5ish people. But those aren't set in stone per se. I've duoed Aielund a lot with different friends to show them NWN.

      I've found it to be a lot of fun, especially when you're on voice chat and talking about stuff as well. There's a reason I I've gone through Aielund half a dozen times in MP and am happy to do it again.

      Also played MP on some PWs, though I've found every world I've visited to be lacking in at least one major game-breaking way. Maybe my standards are just too high (which is why I've been working on developing a PW):

      http://forum.bioware.com/topic/469946-looking-for-a-server/

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    9. Ok, I'll read through that topic soon and get back to you once I inform myself a bit about PWs.

      Delete
    10. They're basically MMOs, just with a playerbase of a dozens of people rather than hundreds of thousands.

      But, to be fair, you usually only really interact with a few dozen people anyway in an MMO...

      ...in the spirit of full disclosure, I lead a raiding guild in WoW that's in the top 0.5% or so of guilds while only playing together twice per week (most guilds do 3-4 nights). And as a person in game design I can potentially be rather critical of decisions I think are ridiculous.

      Also note that, like that thread says, I've been playing those PWs with a good friend who also reached the same conclusions I did. Not just my sole opinion.

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    11. I've never been into MMOs, most of my online play over several years has been on Battle.net Diablo 2 and Median XL: Ultimative - Sin War. I'm no pro, but I'm no slouch either with regard to builds and low level dueling PvP and Pking. I love Diablo 2, which can be played in many ways even off-line in singe-player mode.

      You might have read my MXL:U review:
      http://lilura1.blogspot.com.au/p/d2.html

      I got into Dark Souls (PC) for awhile, but due to the amount of cheating in that awful, AWFUL community, I felt compelled to hack my character to contend with them. Sad, but true. I have left that game for now, but intend to do speedruns sometime in the future.

      Not long ago I checked out your blog so I'm aware of your expertise in WoW. I can fully understand your constructive-critical stance on things, I'm the same way in all things...

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    12. I hadn't read that Diablo 2 review as it wasn't in your post list and didn't notice the "Reviews" thing.

      Sorry to hear that about Dark Souls.

      I figured as much regarding you being the same way!

      Delete
  2. Yes, I did meet Azurefang in the desert! You can have a very amusing conversation with her in the lair.

    On entering the lair, my party member, dragon Spartan, remarks that Azurefang will get angry on seeing him, which indeed happens - the insults of the dragons are followed by Azurefang's attack. By the way traveling with Spartan is really enjoyable - e.g. commoners of the desert notice him and show signs of respect and wonder.

    Anyway, when I left Spartan aside, I had a short but amusing conversation - Azurefang first asks if she can eat you, then you can ask about the surrounding area. At the end you can even make the dragon participate in the final fight for mere 300 000 gold pieces. In case you do not have the money you say goodbye to the dragon, adding some disillusioned words about her big ego in passing. Unfortunately this is enough to make Azurefang angry and you must kill her :) By the way do you think that collecting 300k gold for hiring the dragon is worth it? I currently have only 150k...

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    1. I really need to do a playthrough using Spartan full time. Which reminds me of another thing I meant to do -- work on Spartan a little to make him more generally useful and scale with levels.

      Regarding the 300k, I forget the general pricing at that point in the campaign, but I think items could be sold in Trinity for 15k max maybe? So if you have the gold and don't have anything pressing to buy, go for it. She isn't required (and I've never had her survive the road so not sure how useful she is), but you don't need to worry about saving up for Act IV -- you'll get gold as necessary to make sure you can buy what you need.

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  3. A technical problem with Spartan is that he cannot level more than 18. And you cannot permahaste him unless you go against the "good vampire" under Higmarch (who drops an amulet). But still, he is a great companion.

    Anyway, I hired Azurefang with 300k (it is doable if you don't go for every possible elven enchantment on every possible weapon ;)). She did not join me as henchman. Instead, she arrived in front of Highmarch, scaring soldiers and managed to help a bit with tanking the golems and Ironlord himself (this dragon has a very amusing personality: "I came as requested, valued employer. Never let it be said I don't do what I say I will"). She does not help too much, but as long as you seem to lose money in Act 4 anyway, having her is nice for role-playing purposes.

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    1. You cannot permahaste people people in your party either, no? Not without spells or potions.

      And good to know about Azurefang. Maybe I'll have to let her live one of these days in the pass.

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  4. Want to start out saying that I love the blog. The story-telling is great and a much needed walkthrough for Aielund Saga for those of us playing it for the first time. Of course, different characters change the game a bit (NOTE TO RANGERS: level up animal empathy!)

    A note on this part of the campaign. I went to the Hall of Ancients first, so not sure if you find any hints somewhere else or not, but it seems that it is nothing but random button mashing to access the original portal as well as the control room to turn on the power generators. Not a big deal at the access portal BUT you can blow up the generators by inputting wrong numbers. The first time, I blew up the generator that powered the teleporter, thus preventing me from accessing the 2nd level (without a restart).

    Save early, save often and have multiple saves should go without saying to veterans of RPG games, but some people don't. Seems like this over-sight would be a game ender for those without a recent save

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    1. Blowing up one of the four things on the top level doesn't stop you from going to the second level.

      Delete
    2. "Want to start out saying that I love the blog. The story-telling is great and a much needed walkthrough for Aielund Saga for those of us playing it for the first time."

      Thanks for the compliment Roger, poor lil' me had to write this walk-through on my first play! I just wanted the Saga to end by the third part of Act 4 (Hall of Worlds), and maybe that shows. So exhausting! If I had just been free to play, I may have enjoyed Aielund's pacing more.

      If you need to find a section of the walk-through, I've updated the contents page, found here: http://lilura1.blogspot.com/p/index-of-content.html
      You can also do a search for something specific in the top-right of the blog, though it won't show by default on smartphones (click "view web version").

      Delete
  5. If the only way to get to the 2nd level is via the teleporter, then yes, it does (or can). When I tried accessing the teleporter, it said "this is not working, must be a way to power it" Since only one power cell was blown, I'm assuming that was the issue. On a replay, all cells functioned and did not have that issue.

    On a side note, Balkoth, is there any clues to the input numbers or is it really a guessing game with them?

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    1. Guessing game as far as I recall. But one of the power cells can/will explode without interfering with the ability to activate the portal. If the teleporter wasn't working then you still hadn't hit the correct sequence (exploded cell or not).

      Delete

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