(This is part of my journey playing through Arcanum. You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lanes page.)
You know what I hate in some of these older CRPGs? When vendors are oh-so-picky about what goods they’ll buy from you. Seriously, people, I have bags bulging out with salvaged stuff, but I have to waste minutes hopping between vendors to see who will buy which types of stuff. Immersion or annoyance? That’s our topic of discussion today.
Anyway, yes, Arcanum is just like that. There’s nothing frustrating that finding a vendor, such as one on the road in the Shrouded Hills, who refuses to buy anything from you. What good are you for, then?
The worst part is that with every vendor, you have to hover your cursor over each item in your inventory to see if it’s something they’ll buy. A local gnome vendor snaps up a few of my items, but I’m still bloated and overloaded.
Virgil and I part from the inn (and a scene of a crime, apparently) as the bartender talks to our back about how the local mine is haunted by a ghost. Gee, lots of ghosts going around these days.
Next on my town tour is the bank, which is quite boring unless I was to murder everyone’s face or be a thief, which I’m not. So I pop over to an enchantments store, where the owner is moaning about a “vast conspiracy” that is actually “the steam engine in that temple is messing up my magick juju.”
This is a core concept of Arcanum, that magic and technology are at odds and profoundly effect each other. It’s why your character tends to go one or the other, because trying to appease both and keep a balance is hard. So the further I dive down into the tech part of the meter, the less that magic is going to affect me (and that includes, I think, Virgil’s healing and perhaps potions. It’s been a while since I last played this, so I’m dredging up vague memories on this). Anyway, enchanter wants me to break the steam engine. No can do, dude. I’m 100% pro-tech and voted for a pro-tech king in the last election.
Next door, a blacksmith sends me on a quest to retrieve some ore from the haunted mine. Ooo! Spooky times ahead!
Then I stumble upon good fortune and a developer’s blessing. Ristezze, a rare goods importer, seems to know a few things about the ring I got from the dead gnome. He tells me it’s silver and was manufactured by a company in Tarant. That information only cost me a camera that I wasn’t able to sell anyway. And speaking of selling, Ristezze purchases about half of my inventory, leaving me much richer than before.
Just north of Ristezze is Doc whatshisname, who wants me to cover his back as he fights off some bank robbers. I didn’t quite catch why the local doctor was in charge of bank security, but hey, quest accepted! The fight went quite well, with even odds (me, Vigil, Doc, and a local guard) making it an easy go. Plus, I’ve been investing into my firearms skill, so now I can use my pistol to actually hit things.
Afterward, I loot the corpses (precious bullets) and Doc gives me a really nice revolver. Aw, I think I’ll name it “Shooty.”
Nearby the mine, a nervous Percival is sweating the fact that he sold the mine to a guy who’s now very grumpy that it’s haunted by his mother. I volunteer to take care of the issue, because I am a complete sap. As we descend into the darkness, Virgil has to wonder if he’s hitched his horse to a suicidal wagon.
It doesn’t take long to find the ghost, who isn’t aggressive toward me but isn’t much in the mood to talk, either. She just keeps going on about “Sarah,” so I leave the room and explore the rest of the mine to see if there are any more clues. Fortunately, my newfound skill with firearms is making combat a cinch, although I am burning through bullets quite quickly.
A room with a few spiders gives me some trouble, especially when I’m poisoned and start taking some serious damage. I hang on, however, and we find a few items (including dy-no-MITE) as rewards. A wolf in another room is pretty tough, but we take him down and loot a few gems. All in all, I come out of the mine richer than before, especially after I sell and restock (yay bullets!).
The ghost is another issue altogether. Percival reacts poorly to the name Sarah, saying that it’s his good-for-nothing sister and she’s gone and just shut up about her anyway. He won’t say where she went or where the new mine owner is in Tarant, so I’m at a bit of an impasse. Kind of interesting that I can’t wrap this quest up right now, but that’s fine. Something to chew on for the future.
Time to blow this one-stoplight town and head for other venues, I reckon.