I really wish I had known how flat-out funny and interesting RIFT’s Planetouched Wilds was (and I wish it hadn’t been so hard to get into it in the first place), because boy was I missing a wild ride over this past year. During the last few evenings, I’ve been laughing my way through several quest chains with Khar and Usukhel at my side.
How does one describe Khar? He’s kind of a weird mix of every character Patrick Warburton has voiced, a touch of Homer Simpson’s impulsivity, Conan the Barbarian, a frat boy, and a philosophy major all bundled into one party-happy, loquacious king that’s trying to rule over a land that was kicked out of alignment thanks to a cosmic rhino and gone through a very weird journey through the planes. Usukhel is, I think, easier to grapple: She’s a crude barbarian with occasional flashes of intellect and a constant driving lust.
Apparently with this zone, Trion Worlds was experimenting more with giving players constant companions to be a thread that drew quests together. This, I think, works very well. Context and lore is delivered via these two, not to mention an endless stream of bizarre conversations. According to the team, there’s about 30 or so of these side conversations that are meant to fill the player in on the area, the history, and these two figures in particular.
All of this is so entertaining, in fact, that the “real” purpose behind our quests keeps eluding me. I think we’re trying to find special… things to beat a big bad guy, but often this devolves into nutty detours, such as rescuing Khar’s tasty flock of sheep or (and I kid you not here) punching monkeys in the face until we had to fight a giant bacon ape.
All the while, the two are bantering back and forth, talking about which faction to join (Guardians are “church” and Defiants “cyborg,” and Khar keeps mixing this up so it becomes the “Church Cyborg Club” which frankly sounds awesome).
There’s also quite a bit of meta humor, such as Khar saying when we start a quest: “I should pay some sociopath vagrant a few silver to do this!”
Because that’s what we are, in truth. Not heroes. Sociopathic vagrants.
I really wasn’t kidding about the bacon ape. I’ve never fought a boss during which an ally spent so much time discussing how delicious said boss looked.
It kept getting weirder and weirder until I was half-sure I had fallen asleep and my dreams were taking the wheel. I had several hard blinks when the quests started sending us to find these seven children of some woman to get their blessings, only for Khar to realize that none of these children were human. From there it was a hop, skip, and a jump to talking about how a snake-boy could happen (and I learned way more about Usukhel’s sex life from that conversation), or a flood (“What, did she take a bath one day and get out of it pregnant?”).
One thing I love about Khar is that he has zero respect for the big serious figures, often interrupting them with his snarky commentary. “So tell me all about this zoophile single mother and all of her weird barnyard kids!”
The encounters with each of the seven children were, in their own way, priceless. Some were idiots, some were pretty chummy, and more than one took offense at Khar besmirching the good name of their mother.
“Now I realize that it’s going to be one of those kinds of days, filled with magical nonsense and boggarts.” he said at the start of all of this.
Fast-forward to Usukhel getting a death curse for something, and Khar’s even more manic sister Sevshee gleefully exclaiming that they were now death curse twins. She’s pretty off her rocker.
Many of these adventures are framed by Khar’s court adviser, who keeps getting more frustrated and put-upon by his liege’s impulsive decisions. The quest to mess with the monkeys (“It’s a mad house!”) did not help things, as a plague of rabies and angry apes started roaming the countryside.
But the weird thing is that while I was prepared at the start to pigeon-hole Khar as a one-dimensional type-A jerk, the more I adventure with him, the more I see that he’s kind of a good guy with bad impulses who is leading his country through one of the strangest eras ever.
I liked how his frustration bubbled over when he talked about how the Ancestors granted everyone in zone the ability for super-jump to help out while they were dealing with dinos and the effects of the cosmic rhino. Khar goes on an epic rant about how dumb this was, saying “THEY MADE OUR HOME A BOUNCY HOUSE! AT LEAST WE WERE ALL GIVEN THE ABILITY TO JUMP AROUND LIKE MAGIC RABBITS!”
God bless you, Khar. Never change.