Obligatory stupid joke out the way, it’s time to recount my adventures.
Having set my goal all that was left was to come up with some characterisation, it’s not needed but I am a dedicated RP’er (Roleplayer) and I like to come up with a motivation for my characters before (or while) I play them. When you start a new character in Mount & Blade you are asked a series of questions. You could look up the stat changes so that you get a balanced player, but I tried considering them the parts that make my character who he is. Speaking (typing?) of he, the first question is gender. There is a good argument for heterosexual males to select a female avatar, but I’m not really worried, I opt for a male character. The first actual question revolves around your heritage, our parents have a big effect on who we grow up to be whether you have good or bad parents, my characters father was a travelling merchant. Next is how your early life was spent, at this point I was thinking about my characters motivation for aiming for a position as high up as Marshal, I decided that the travelling merchant father was to be killed while my character was very young, so his early life was spent as a street urchin. The next question has your life change in a large way, thinking more along the lines of the military and honour aspects compared to his lowly beginnings, my character was ‘discovered’ and ended up becoming a squire no less. The last question asks what started the change to adventurer, I couldn’t come up with a good reason so in the end I decided on ‘The loss of a loved one’, specifically his mother. Poor guy, what have I done.
Next up you are given the chance to further customise your character by spending a few points on the stats page. Just before that it gives you the choice of allowing quitting without saving, I like the fact that they added this. For a more realistic game you shouldn’t be allowed to quit without saving, that way there is no going back, but they still left the option there for those who don’t like this style of play. I assign some points to balance out to the kind of character I like to play. At the top of the page you also enter the name, I always struggle with this, I come up with Feldorn.
Lastly in the character creation process comes your characters looks. You can’t change the stature\build of your character but you can change a lot about your characters face. The three main options are skin, hair and beard. The skin type also defines the range of hair colour, some only allow going as dark as a light brown, others can go all the way to black. Two slider bars for Age (going to the maximum forces white hair) and hair colour. There is a randomise button should you be struggling what to pick. Down the left is a huge selection of sliders that affect minute changes in the face structure. Above is the final choice I made for my character, isn’t he a handsome fellow.
Yesterday I mentioned that I was only going to be using the Battle Size changer and GE2.5 mods, unfortunately I discovered that I hadn’t kept a backup of the old terrain, and since I didn’t have time to wait for it to download again, I just stuck with Punkts Hi-Res maps.
Every game starts out in the middle of one of the factions, in this case on the border of Swadia, Rhodok and Khergit. It’s perfectly possible to play a game without assigning your loyalties to anyone, however that wouldn’t work with my goal. I played as a Khergit back when I did my original piece on Mount & Blade, so I didn’t want to play them again, if you love horses they are the faction to go for, but I was looking for a more balanced party. I decided to Alt-Tab out (which it handled well, unlike some modern games…) and check the levelling trees on the Mount & Blade wiki. I wanted ranged and infantry troops, I wasn’t too fussed about cavalry (they’re difficult to manage effectively), then I saw the knight on the Swadian tree and decided that was what I wanted to go for.
To build up a party you have to recruit followers (you could just make a band of special characters), to do this you visit the various villages scattered around the map. You never know if you are going to find potential recruits, or how many. Once you arrive at the village you ask if anyone wishes to follow you, then you may recruit them at a price of 10 denars each. Recruits are one of the lowest level followers in the game, so it’s important to train them up before taking them into a major skirmish. A party of looters nearby seems a good place to start.
I do really like these rolling hills. First thing I do is work out the position of the looters, then I set my men up in a line on a nearby hill. At the moment there are too many looters for it to be safe for my small party to engage them, so I ride off to thin out their numbers. I always like to circle around a few times first, using up my ranged ammo, in this case crossbow bolts. Rather than having a complicated system of supplies, Mount & Blade just has a single entry in your inventory for ammo, once this amount is used up you can no longer fire in battle, but the next time you fight the levels will be reset. After reducing the enemy to a couple of looters I ride back to my party and let them gain experience. It turns out they were contributing anyway, by throwing stones. They quickly mop up and then the battle is over. After every fight (that you win) you get to pickup various objects from the battlefield, sadly this randomly generated, so if you defeat ten soldiers, you won’t get ten weapons, ten sets of armour etc. I find nothing much of use, except for a club (more about that tomorrow). Having not played Mount & Blade for a while I had forgotten how to transfer inventory from the battlefield to me (unfortunately no ‘Take All’ button), I was dragging them across and it was taking quite a while. Then I remembered, holding Ctrl and clicking will transfer it over immediately, much quicker.
I decide to head for the nearby city of Praven, one so I can sell my loot, and two so I can have a look for special characters. These are NPCs, but unlike troops, they have a character sheet like your own character’s, plus you can change their inventory. They all have a story to tell, and you may have to deal with party politics, do you side with the thief or the noble? I find two at Praven, Jeremus and Baheshtur. The latter is the leader of a tribe of Khergit, and he’s a bit snooty about it so I decide to pass on him. Jeremus however is very useful, he’s a skilled surgeon. When your troops are killed in battle, the surgery skill (which you can have as well) creates a chance they were just wounded, meaning you won’t lose them. First Aid and Wound Treatment helps your party recover health more quickly. So as you can guess I sign him up straight away, as a bonus he doesn’t ask for any money (which some special characters will do).
I continue travelling, recruiting as many followers as I can, taking on small parties of looters and building up my parties experience. After a while some of them are ready to be upgraded. Instead of a complicated RPG system for each individual follower, troops level up according to a levelling tree, sometimes this is just a straight upgrade, but at some point you will get a chance to choose, normally between infantry or ranged. After one battle we find several hats, they’re simple but do offer some head protection, here is Jeremus sporting a snazzy green number:
More travelling, I meet another special character, Rolf, but he wants more money than I currently have. At another city later on, I decide to visit the tavern (where special characters and various interesting people can be found) and meet a Farmer. You don’t often meet them in taverns (too busy farming I guess) and when you do you know something is up, in this case (and every other) bandits have taken over his village and he has bravely come looking for adventurers to fight his cause (why does that sound familiar?). So we set off, we teach the villagers how to defend themselves, and set traps so that when Calvera comes to steal food from these villagers we will be ready. Oh that’s it, The Magnificent Seven. Sadly we don’t do anything like that, but we do fight the bandits in the village, the buildings create a funnel effect that can turn things into a bit of a meat-grinder. I tell everyone to wait and ride off to harass the bandits, they have lots of archers though and I soon have to retreat. I did manage to take out some of the bandits so the villagers and my party easily defeat them. The villagers offer me money, but I turn it down, being the nice guy that I am.
Trouble occurs though, we run into a fairly large party of Mountain bandits, again I order my troops to stay put while I go off to deal with them. There are quite a few on horse-back so it would be especially dangerous for my people to engage them. I stretch myself to much though and am knocked unconcious, this puts an immediate end to the battle. Your troops can fight without you, they don’t fare quite as well on their own but at least they can fight. It’s a close run thing, when you order you troops to attack it happens in rounds, sometimes they can win in one (if they have a large number\skill advantage) but this fight went on and on. Every round one or two from each side would be killed off, at one point however the tide changes and my party manage to kill one bandit per round without sustaining any losses. This probably meant they had finished off all the mounted bandits, meaning things were a lot easier. Eventually we won. There was a huge amount of loot at the end, two horses, some good armour and shields, this will bring in a lot of money when I sell it at one of the cities.
Some of my troops are now ready to be upgraded again. The Swadian tree goes from Recruits to Militia, then you are given a choice between Skirmisher or Footman, I stick with skirmishers. My party is really growing now. We set off again, seeing this looted village along the way:
My retinue of special characters has grown by this point, I recruited Rolf from earlier:
While I’m in Suno, I find there is a tournament being held. These are held in various cities, and more happen every few weeks. All the contestants are randomly grouped together and fight over several rounds. I place a bet on myself and join the fun. My first round is a large one of four teams with five players on each team, equipment is randomly selected and everyone fights in the arena. I am on horseback and wielding a one handed axe and shield, everyone is dressed in colourful armour. My team win easily. The next round is four teams with two on each team, I don’t get a horse this time, and I get a sword instead of an axe. The fight starts and I’m soon attacking two horsemen who have become blocked together at the arena wall. I take this opportunity and rain down (up?) blows, eventually knocking one of them unconcious, that’s when I grab his horse. Again this round finishes pretty quickly. In the third round the numbers are back up again, three fighters on four teams, this time I get a two-handed sword on horseback. I’ve created a character in a previous game whose life was spent fighting in tournaments, you need to have a wide range of skills to win. Having a high skill in one-handed weapons may win you some rounds, but if you get a different weapon at a bad time things do go well. The fourth round is a one-on-one match, unluckily I am sent on foot against a fighter on horseback with a lance. It’s not easy and I have to carefully judge the turning circles, but I manage to defeat him. I don’t win the fifth round, without noticing I had entered the tournament with only half my health, this meant that every new round I started at half health. This round was a two on two teams match and even though we were on horseback and they weren’t, I was not paying enough attention and a lucky hit finished me. Maybe next time.
By now my party has grown to quite a large size, I now have thirty-six members including myself. I decide it’s time to do some real training, so I scan the horizon for a Training Field and head for it. It’s in Vaegir territory but I’m not looking to recruit any more so it’s not a problem. On the way though I get this message:
Oh dear, I’ve run out of food. I don’t pay enough attention to my food stocks, and since my group has grown so much we now consume a lot more food. Rather than head back for a city I decide to pop into one of the villages, they have some food stocks available for purchase. I buy some apples, honey, dried meat and cheese. Having food available gives your party a morale bonus, the more elegant the food, the bigger the bonus, and having more types increases this further.
We ride on to the training field and now we can get in some practice. Gaining experience through battles is dangerous, there is a strong chance someone in your party will be killed, the training field allows you to increase your troops experience without risk. There are a variety of options, ranged combat and horseback combat are available, but they only increase the experience of those types of troop. For more general experience sparring is available. This is where you get to show your men how it’s done, you select one, two, three or four opponents and then pick from your party. I decide to go easy for the first one and just spar with Bunduk, I manage to defeat him and then it shows the experience screen. Behind you all your men are watching, so everyone gains a bit of experience whether they take part or not. Like tournaments, equipment is randomly selected. I spend quite a while doing this, several soldiers gaining enough experience to level up, as a bonus you gain experience in the various weapons yourself. I would like to say I won every time, but that wouldn’t be true. I won more than half, but fighting against a four soldiers, especially when they’re experienced, was too much. My character was moving to slowly to effectively back-pedal, the only real option when fighting multiple people, I would need to add althletics points next time I levelled up.
I’ll have to bring today’s entry to a close here, as with the first day of Evil Genius Week, too much happened to effectivly write about it all, and at 2500 words and counting I’m sure you, the reader, would like a rest.
Tomorrow, Nobles, bandits and battles, oh my.