Ruts vs. Battlespire CH31: Count Schlockula

By Rutskarn Posted Wednesday Oct 19, 2016

Filed under: Lets Play 24 comments

After the Siege of Rube Goldberg, I find myself standing in a courtyard so massive I can’t hold more than a quarter of it in my view distance. My first order of business is to establish a precise and accurate survey of the area’s operative features, which is as follows:

  • To the north is a gate I can’t open.
  • To the west is a gate I can’t open.
  • To the east is a gate I can’t open.
  • Near the north gate are three drums. Hitting one of the drums triggers a fuzzy drumbeat, but besides that has no obvious effect. (“Congratulations! You found the easter egg! We corrupted all your save data!”)
  • In the middle of the room is an elevator that leads up to two buttons, which make encouraging grindy noises when I press them. Like the drumbeat, this may have updated my doors situation. It’s not like I can see them to look.
  • The remaining six million square feet of of the room are filled by unstoppable, deranged misanthropes. Actually, everything in this game is, but I’m currently referring to the daedra.

This picture doesn't look like much, but I swear I'm kiting like four or five of them.
This picture doesn't look like much, but I swear I'm kiting like four or five of them.

The good news is that the lizards can be apprised of the situation RE: I’ve killed a big bad hunt man with my rad sick spell spear, and will in consequence devote their resources to killing the other eighteen thousand enemies in the room. An epic battle ensues, two factions flailing and roaring like starving lions; if only they could free themselves from the level geometry, I imagine we’d see some real bloodshed.

For thirty posts I’ve implied that Battlespire isn’t a good game because it’s riddled with bugs and awkward engine design and questionable mechanical conceits. I’d like to take all that back. Battlespire sucks because I can’t use this goddamn tank.

I don't care that I'd get it stuck immediately. It would be my PRIVILEGE to get this thing stuck in something.
I don't care that I'd get it stuck immediately. It would be my PRIVILEGE to get this thing stuck in something.

Some combination of drums, buttons, and heads I’ve pounded has granted me access to the north courtyard. Standing before the gate is a Daedra Lord.

He calls out to me issue a respectful challenge, lamenting as he does that our causes forbid a peaceful resolution. We are both of us slaves to destinies larger than ourselves. I have no choice but to face him, and he has no choice, no choice at all, but to unleash six energy blasts at point-blank range and accidentally fry himself.

I don't get a chance to move. And yet, I am MOVED.
I don't get a chance to move. And yet, I am MOVED.

So what the hell is going on with this firing-spells-at-point-blank-range craze that’s sweeping the Spire, anyway? I’d say the vast majority of the time an enemy targets me with a spell it just lands at his feet, harmless even if I wasn’t immune to spell effects. I’d have to guess this comes back to the patented non-Euclidean Bethesda jankometry that defines this dimension; either that, or they, too, are eager to be finished with Battlespire.

Once he’s dead, I’m through those double doors to the keep structure. Inside I find what looks like a massive elevator room tucked into the corner of the level. It’s not just a lift, mind; it’s an actual four-walls-and-a-ceiling elevator. I’m guessing this was trickier to pull off, but it lends a nice touch of variety and class to what turns out to be the stronghold of a very influential figure. A neat little detail.

Also, if you accidentally send it up or down while you’re not on it it’ll never come back and you can’t finish the game.

Just like a real elevator!

Assuming you successfully embark and disembark, you’ll be greeted by one of the most complex characters in the game. He’s a thirty-eight-year old human mortal named Greg Stamos, hailing from the fantastic dimension of Cary, North Carolina. From 1992 to 1996 he ran a game store called the Ork Tooth Tavern, which was for some reason referred to as the Orc Tooth Tavern on the tax forms and licensing, obliging him to order (and never install) new signage when the fire department complained. The spot was notorious for its full-bodied must and temperamental electricals, including air conditioning that sputtered when temperatures cruised over 85 during the summer and speakers that strained to share the best of the 70s through walkie-talkie-grade speakers. Most days he could be found holding court behind his paint-stained counter, lean-but-sweaty arms folded, one eye on his television, sharing with his most trusted customers his imported anime picks, celebrity crush/obsessions, and distant, muttered, apparently halfhearted yet fiercely treasured racism. Greg ran old-school D&D from behind his counter, TV still on, customers still filtering in and out and wondering if they should interrupt proceedings to try to buy their pack of Wonder Woman playing cards. The players were generally the ones most absorbed; Greg’s trademark DMing style broke down to a loop of “You guys [see/hear/are getting attacked by] [a really big monster/a hot gnome girl/another door].” His players were rarely challenged, mechanically or emotionally, but showed up twice a week anyway and didn’t seek out any other campaigns. When Greg’s car broke down on his trip back from the coastal plains, it was one of his players who showed up to give him a lift. After Hurricane Fran damaged Greg’s premises, it came out he didn’t have General Liability insurance to cover his merchandise–about six thousand dollars worth of convention-grade board games and sixty cents worth of backdated comic books. His last-ditch “play Magic and eat Little Caesars” fundraiser failed to raise enough to cover the Little Caesars. He’s since gotten into technical support full-time. For unknown reasons, he is referred to by the game as “Imago Storm” and incorrectly identified as a daedric mastermind.

Nice costume, though.
Nice costume, though.

We’ll get to what Greg wants next week. But first, just in case you really wanted to know what the political state of the Battlespire is, here’s a helpful synopsis.

Yeah, I didn't think so.
Yeah, I didn't think so.


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24 thoughts on “Ruts vs. Battlespire CH31: Count Schlockula

  1. That daedra is a classic picture of Why You Shouldn’t Skip Leg Day. I feel for those poor shriveled gams straining to hold up his massive armored torso without an ACL blowout. They are clearly the most oppressed characters in this game.

  2. Chad Kreutzer says:

    If this isn’t a backdoor pilot for a new weekly Rutskarn feature, “The Adventures of Greg,” I will be very disappointed.

  3. MrGuy says:

    So…I’m assuming this is the part where we get the exposition dump that boils down to “Only you, chosen one, can determine which of these three boring, one-dimensional factions shall rule, and you shall do so by single-handedly wiping out the other two.”

    Bethesda gotta Bethes.

  4. Leslee says:

    Wow. My mother-in-law used to live and work near Cary, NC. We have a tube amplifier that she built at Cary Audio.

    I wonder why she’s never mentioned Greg?

  5. Grudgeal says:

    Why does that last conversation lack a “…guhhhh?” option? I demand to be able to roleplay properly here, darnit.

  6. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

    Just to be clear -because at this point, frankly, I’ll believe anything -the “Greg” bit is a put-on, right? They didn’t actually drop Lord Hamster into the game?

    Also, I find the idea of an evil Daedric Lord meeting the champion who defeated the Lord of the Hunt and all his hounds, deciding that he must face this champion, and yet is unworthy to do so -and then killing himself with Daedric Fire as a way of getting out of this quandry to be quite touching.

    Possibly moreso if every other Daedric Lord to this point, and preceding the hunt, hadn’t had pretty much the same response. It’s the difference between a James Bond villain accepting gracious defeat, and Dr. Evil dropping a vial of liquid nitrogen on his feet.

    1. IFS says:

      Possibly worth noting that as Daedra are immortal that daedra who blew himself up is in the long run really no worse for wear for doing so. So yeah would be a decent enough way to get out of such a moral quandry, or just troll/confuse some mortal for the fun of it. Or you know, the game is a buggy mess and his AI freaked out.

      1. MrGuy says:

        Depends on how you canonically define “immortal.” Does it mean truly incapable of death, or merely incapable of death by natural causes (e.g. Elves in Tolkein)?

        Bonus question. Does “blew myself up with my own magic” count as “natural causes?” Does it matter whether the question is asked in the context of a world where the Pauli Exvlusion Principle doesn’t appear to prevent people and walls from occupying the same space at the same time in perpituity?

        1. Destrustor says:

          I think canonically, daedra are immortal in the sense that they basically respawn when they die.
          Like, literally.
          Their souls return to the formless void of oblivion, where their bodies reform anew and they come back to one of the daedric realms.

    2. Rutskarn says:

      Yes, there is no Greg Stamos.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Awwwwwwww :(

      2. Geebs says:

        I think there’s a little Greg Stamos in all of us.

        *stares ruggedly into the sunset and waits for gust of wind to whip dramatically through hair*


  7. Sean says:

    I’m starting to wonder if your crazy spell resistance is actually reflecting spells back.

    1. MrGuy says:

      I’m wondering how different this game would be if they’d disabled friendly fire?

      1. KarmaTheAlligator says:

        I’d imagine every enemy would end up in a wall from some clever kiting. Or, just standing still, whichever comes first.

    2. Ciennas says:

      I can hear the engine now:

      “Look I don’t care who or how, but SOMEBODY is taking this magical energy and exploding! Because otherwise I’ll stack overflow right into a puddle!”

      It’s crazy. It’d do it, to.

  8. Garrett Carroll says:

    *Talks about quest journey, abruptly switches to extensive paragraph about Greg Stamos, goes into great detail about this man’s personal life (almost like a stalker) including his tax returns, gaming shop, car, etc.*

    1. Rutskarn says:

      In case it’s not clear, Greg Stamos isn’t real. My joke is that “Imago Storm” looks more like the archetypal gaming store employee than a daedra.

      1. Greg Stamos says:

        In case it's not clear, Greg Stamos isn't real.

        That hurts, man.

        1. Dave B. says:

          Well, if you’re not real, then your pain is just an illluuuusionnn…..

        2. evileeyore says:

          I gotta say, I admire your bravery Greg.

          Green shorts with red highlighted silver armor? Pure audacity my man.

  9. Philadelphus says:

    Seducers are Masterless Daedra, cast adrift by the failed fortunes of their lord[…]

    So…the seducers are basically daedra ronin, then?

  10. Zak McKracken says:

    Can I just say that I admire those golden hair-like things on your helmet? Really classy-looking.

    And also, every roleplaying-game maker ever should hire Rutskarn to write the backstories of NPCs. Of all the NPCs. Actually, Rutskarn should team up with Shamus and make a procedural NPC backstory generator. I’d read all of the backstories.

    1. Philadelphus says:

      Good Robot 2: Do Gooder comes with an option that every time you kill a robot a multi-paragraph backstory pops up, detailing all the hopes, dreams, and ideals that you have just cut abruptly, painfully, short.

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