Update 4: Wander Around the Lush Woodlands

Ah, good morning to you too, Harper. Is there a reason you're up here when it's your turn to rest?
Pooka... Fly towards the pooka...
Ah, is that what a pooka looks like?

Well! I can't deny I understand the appeal.
Blows a funny raspberry, don't it?
...You four get the book, I will carry her back to bed.

Level: 1HP: 1STR: 10TEC: 10VIT: 10AGI: 10LUC: 10DS: 30
EXP Given: 1

Damage Vulnerabilities:
100% 100% 100%
100% 100% 100%

Disable Vulnerabilities:
100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
100% 100% 100%
100% 100% 100%
A good friend of mine is fascinated by creatures known as "pookas," curious balloon-like organisms that spontaneously manifest in the skies in the Tharsis region. I confess I don't fully understand the mechanism behind them myself, nor the method by which they generate instructional manuals when, ah, "popped." I do not believe that pookas have a sense of pain—at the very least, my good friend has been seen having a wonderful time on the hunt for them, and the pookas seem to enjoy the game as well. It's possible they have similar biology to a certain sort of jellyfish—whereby death simply means a restarting of the biological process, and thus they would be essentially immortal. Perhaps they are jellyfish of some sort?

My good friend describes them thus:

"Pookas produce phenylalanine in my brain. This has a positive effect on my emotions, dulls pain, and makes me want to squish."

She has a way with words sometimes superior to my own.

All of the pooka variants are the same, but for the book they drop after combat. Standard pookas drop vigor books, which increase a character's VIT.

You got me out of bed so I could touch this book.
Yes, sorry, I just figured it'd be better to have someone use it before we forget.
You think it'd work even if I smashed my face into it instead of touching it?
I cannot say I ever saw someone attempt—
Well, I feel sturdier. Except for my face, which feels smashed.
I, um, I don't get why you did that.
Because I'm tired. G'night.
The sun only rose a short while ago.

Skipping ahead a bit, Wiglaf asked me for a golden goose, and I managed to find one.

Our reward is a driftwood dragon, which is like the bronze icon that Kirjonen gave us, except it gives +10 TP instead of +20 HP.

I put it on Naijou. The man will perpetually have TP issues, so some extra flat TP is appreciated.

...Oi, Harp's right cattle trucked, ain't she?
If she hasn't awoken for this.
You understood that?
Based on context.
I won't say no to another pooka, especially red pookas.

So, which one of us gets to touch this thing?
I'm plenty strong already.
Ooh! Me, me, me!
With all due respect, Ray, I don't know how much use you'd get out of it.
Pfeh. Won't let a bird get some black cabs, will you. Fine, fine, I should cocoa you're right, I guess.
I could use it, but... Merula, why don't you use it?
Me? Why?
You hit things with weapons. Being stronger helps with that. Makes sense to me.
Well, yes, but... I mean...

Oh, fine, I won't argue.
One of the balancing factors of nightseekers is that they have lower STR compared to other weapon users—landsknechts, bushi, imperials, even snipers outclass nightseekers in terms of STR.

I mean, Merula won't need more STR in order to deal ridiculous damage, but hey, couldn't hurt.

You're...absolutely sure you want to give us this horn? Just for some black taurus?
I take it you don't know how rare those things are. Go on, take it.
But it's a gold made of— A horn made of horn— A gold horn—
Yup. And it's all yours.
I... Why? Couldn't you just sell this and get some black taurus?
I could. But it feels better to help other adventurers. We're in this together, and all that.
...I see. Well, we'll graciously accept this. What does it do, though?
Give it a good blast when you're ready to start adventuring for the day, and you'll bring out some really rare beasts. For example... Well, you could use it to find some more black taurus! Haha.
I see. I think. Well, thank you.

♪ No music ♪

As implied there, the golden horn will force all meat gather points on the world map to be rare ones instead. There's versions of this item for the other food type points, and they're all very useful. Make sure you're checking up on Wiglaf and Kirjonen when they spawn, and try to fulfill their requests at least twice per land.
it's a little important yeah

Now that I've explained that, let's put something else on the ship.

Oh, 'fore you guys go out today, here.
That is quite a hefty stack of papers.
Treasure maps! Sourced them from some of my old contacts out here. Happy hunting.
Oi, ain't this your lot? Not gonna help?
I would, if I wasn't still exhausted from those first few days of exploring.
That sums it up quite nicely, I think.

"How do you get treasure locations?" Well, when you start a new game, your save is assigned one of a few selected sets of treasure locations that you automatically know. After that, you have to get locations from other players' guild cards, either through manually scanning their QR codes, or by StreetPassing them.

One of these is more feasible than the other, especially now that people have stopped carrying 3DSes around. Or, well, one of them is the only feasible option if you're playing on an emulator.

Anyway, off-screen, I scanned a bunch of QR codes to get every treasure map location. Yes, that was extremely tedious, why do you ask?

...Well, that bodes well, if that's our first find.
Treasure maps sometimes point to really good stuff. If you can stomach the annoyance of scanning QR codes and then hunting down where they point to, you'll get some nice rewards.

Ah, this seems similar to the accessory that Waylon wears over his eyes.
We call them "glasses." Mine are a vision-correcting type—without them, I basically can't see anything.
These seem like they're meant to protect the eyes, though. Just looking at them, I can tell my blinding toxins wouldn't work well against someone wearing this.
But they'd still work, yeah?
If I tried hard enough, yes.
Blind Mask (+80% Blind Resist): Made from 3 Iridescent Ores (Mine: Old Forest Mine). Costs 300 en.
Neat, free disable resistance accessory. I don't think I'll ever actually use this, though. Blind is a fairly non-threatening ailment, devoting your accessory to +80% resistance against it is excessive.

Oh that's hot oh it's very hot!
Ah, please, let me hold those, before you drop them—!
Thank you thank you thank you phewwwwwww.
...How are you holding those without any problem, Naijou?
My kind lives in...I would say, very extreme conditions. We've gained—or, perhaps, were created with—an innate resistance to both extreme heat, and extreme cold.
I was wonderin' why being right next to the fireplace didn't bother you. Anyway, what's the matter with those jars?
I've seen these before. They're... To make a long story short, they're pure elemental energy, condensed into a jar. You're meant to throw them at monsters—I'd guess that would be like Xiaohu using one of her incantations.
Eeeeeheheheheeheheheee, ooo, give 'em here, that'd be killer in a performance—
Please use them responsibly, Ray.
Tcheh. Narc.
Fire jars deal 50% ranged TEC-based fire damage to one enemy, with splash damage. -9 speed modifier, 98% base accuracy. Functionally identical to Fireball Rune in terms of damage type and targeting type, though 50% damage places it between rank 4 and rank 5 of the skill. They also have -1% base accuracy compared to Fireball Rune, for...some reason. The speed modifier is identical, though.

If you've got characters with decent to good TEC, such as Ray, if they don't have anything else to do, they can do worse than lobbing a jar at an enemy. The main issue with jars is that, as with everything, you have to stock them with materials, and they also will always be inferior to their comparable runemaster skill. There also aren't any jar versions of runemaster Master skills—nothing like Inferno Rune, Blizzard Rune, or Galvanic Rune.

Oi, we got a vera lynn here?
Please don't drink it.
...Mm, well, wouldn't get you pissed anyhow. Got some dampening mist in it.
What's a "dampening mist," if you don't mind?
Crack it open on the dirt, funny little fog comes out, makes whatever kinda hurt it's good for less. Burns less, freezes less, you get it. Goes a fair way too.
Sounds great.
Eh. Works against us, too, see.
Ah, some classic "too good to be true."
Mists increase all combatants' resistance to a given damage type by 50%. This applies to both party members and enemies. Elemental mists generally aren't that harmful, since if you're increasing your resistance to a damage type an enemy is throwing out, they often resist that element, but the physical ones are a special kind of useless, especially since bosses don't necessarily rely on one physical damage type.

Well, I haven't seen this type of enhancing book before. Naijou?
Ah, these ones. Supposedly, they enhance one's favor.
...You lost me.
I don't get it, either. "Enhance one's favor?"
Correct me if I'm wrong, but that sounds like it makes you luckier.
Yes, that is one way of putting it. I was told that touching this book is similar to carrying around a "lucky trinket," only permanent.

Oi, give it here, then, lemme have a butcher's!
You know how rockers die, mate?
Accidents. Well, that and drug overdoses as I've heard it. Good to have a feather in your cap at any rate, innit? Give it here!
A good chunk of Ray's utility lies in her ability to inflict disables, which primarily relies on LUC. Giving luck books to her is not a difficult decision.

Oooo, got a lively one here.
I feel like I'm going to be saying "I don't get it" a lot during these treasure hunts.
Oh yeah! Here, here, try this on—I tell ya, Merry, could take a hundred punches 'fore I got knocked on me arse with this one!
I wouldn't push your luck, lass. Even with that belt, you'd probably be lucky to take one.
Well it's a fine job I read that book then, innit?!
Life belts increase the wearer's maximum HP by 25%. Most classes aren't that interested in boosting their HP, but fortresses absolutely are. Beyond the fact that they're just going to be taking a lot of hits, the fact that life belts provide a percentage-based increase synergizes well with fortresses having high base HP.

Oh, gods! Throw it back, throw it back!
I'm going to be ill...
No, no, please, I know it—ack—smells absolutely foul, but that's a very valuable concoction! We can use it to better preserve monsters after battle!
I'll— Oh, I'm gonna regret this, but I'll trust ya on this one, Waylon.
...Naijou, aren't you b— Oogh, bothered by this?
Bothered by what?
Never mind.
Formaldehydes are a battle item that, for one turn, guarantees that every monster killed on that turn will give every drop they have. This includes conditional drops, even if you didn't fulfill their condition. EO4 doesn't have a lot of nasty conditionals, but what it does have is important equipment locked behind drops on endgame enemies, sometimes even FOEs and bosses, which have 10% or 20% drop rates. Formaldehydes are the perfect solution to that.

We can't farm formaldehydes until we've reached the postgame, and to be honest, there's not that much use for them until then, but they're still nice to have.

Looks like one of the daggers we could just buy at the atelier to me.
Oi, oi, your eyes workin', Merry? You havin' a butcher's or just a laugh?
Ex...cuse me?
One of that Wynne bird's knives, sure, it's decent, but you knock it a few times, it's brown bread. This puppy here, it's sturdier. Got some heft.
Ex...cuse me?
It's got potential! Room for growth!
"Forge," Ray. The word is "forge".
Oh, is that what it's called?
Yes, Wynne reforges weapons to alter them.
Nice, nice. Both learning something today, ain't we, Merry?
...How did you not know that word?
Grew up with tree-huggers.
Ancient weapons are a bit of a weird part of EO4, but they also can be very powerful. See, scattered around the treasure maps are ancient versions of weapons you can buy from Berund Atelier. Normal makiri we can buy from Wynne only have three forge slots, while the ancient makiri has four. Four forge slots on a weapon we can get this early is ridiculous, and don't be surprised if you see Xiaohu and Ray trading this thing back and forth, re-forging it a lot—it'll be a long time until we can get daggers that outclass the ancient makiri for these two.
Literally did not know this was a thing.
The QR codes have neat stuff behind them in EO4, stuff that wouldn't necessarily fit well into the main game flow, but also I'm glad they only used QR codes for guild cards in future games.

Those aren't bad to have.

...Huh. This staff's an odd one.
I could tell from the snake entwining it.
No, I mean, just by holdin' it, I know that...ah, what did Eine call it? Rapid first-aid.
That's quite an incredible staff.
I have to wonder how an enchantment that provides knowledge on contact works.
The healing staff is, well, a staff. It has +15 ATK, and also gives whoever is holding it the ability to use rank 1 of Healing, that single-target healing skill that medics have. If you're not running a medic, and have someone who you're not relying on for weapon damage, this thing isn't bad to keep around early on. It'll save you some medicas.

Ooh, free blind gasses.

Oh, I could use these to protect my arms.
One has to assume that we will eventually run into monsters that will target our arms to keep us from using our weapons. Couldn't hurt to keep these around.
Arm guards increase a party member's resistance to arm binds by 80%. We have no small amount of characters who would be reduced to glorified item bots when their arms are bound, and there's a good amount of enemies in the game—some of whom are just random encounters—that can bind characters' arms. Therefore, arm guards are pretty useful!

Aye. It's got some more...forges in it.
Very good, Ray.
Yeah! Whoo!
Same deal as the ancient makiri. The ancient kopis has three forge slots, compared to a normal kopis's two.

With that, we've found every treasure we can for now!

That was some fun preamble. Let's look at the party's initial skill builds.

I opted to focus on defensive support for Marlin, leveling up Regen Waltz enough to learn Refresh Waltz, and then maxing out Refresh Waltz. Refresh Waltz is an incredibly powerful skill: for a set number of turns, at the end of the turn, all party members in Marlin's row (including himself) will be cured of ailments. This effect can reduce a good amount of enemies, including FOEs, to complete jokes—especially if they're slow, and inflict ailments after most or all of the party has taken their turn. It's also powerful in boss fights, though it doesn't reduce any of them to jokes.

Oh, right, Regen Waltz, I mentioned that. Regen Waltz restores HP to everyone in Marlin's row at the end of each turn. It's a useful effect, though nowhere near as powerful as Refresh Waltz or, later, Freedom Waltz.

I also dropped a value point in Attack Tango, which increases physical damage dealt by Marlin's row. Should note that unlike how "buff classes" work in other EO games, dancer buffs are self-target, they just then silently apply to everyone in the caster's row. While this can introduce issues with buff asymmetry (my term for when you have to balance party-target buffs with buffs that have more limited target types), it does also mean I can just freely switch what row Marlin is in, and everyone in it gets the benefits.

The dancer class skill increases the duration of dance buffs, giving Marlin more turns to help contribute damage, or use items as necessary, without having to reapply his buffs.

Naijou gets one point in Blood Surge, and one point in Endure, both very important skills. Blood Surge places Naijou into a state where the damage he deals is increased, but in exchange, he loses HP and TP with every action he takes. Until we hit Veteran, the only way to end Blood Surge is to either end the battle, or get Naijou killed.

Endure lets Naijou survive fatal damage once per battle. When Endure activates, it restores his HP, too. Endure gives a ridiculous amount of survivability, even if it can only activate once per battle.

As for attack skills, Moon Slash is not an option for Naijou right now, as it requires a katana, which we won't get until a bit into the 3rd Land. As such, I put four points into Nerve Strike (hitting its first breakpoint), and two points into Skull Crusher. Both skills deal bash damage to one enemy and attempt to inflict a disable: Nerve Strike attempts to inflict paralysis, and Skull Crusher attempts to bind the target's head.

The bushi class skill restores TP whenever the user makes a normal attack. Given that Naijou's TP pool is extremely small, this will be very helpful.

Waylon's build is sort of strange, mostly owing to the fact that while the other two unlockable classes do have some semblance of having their skills paced appropriately, Imperial does not.

Assault Drive is the big skill here. It deals massive cut damage to one enemy, but overheats Waylon's drive blade for 9 turns by default. The imperial class skill reduces overheat durations, by one point per rank. As such, Assault Drive currently overheats Waylon's drive blade for 8 turns.

Heat Sink costs a boatload of TP, but also reduces Waylon's current overheat by a flat 3 turns, reducing the overheat duration by a total of 4 turns once the actual turn finishes. Its main drawback besides the TP cost is that, well, it doesn't have any extra effects besides cutting down on overheat time.

Sharp Edge deals cut damage to one enemy, and reduces Waylon's current overheat by 1 turn. Not the most spectacular skill, but it enables the use of other Edge skills.

Impulse Edge deals cut damage to one enemy, and restores Waylon's TP. This is one of the most egregious examples of earlygame imperial not really being thought through (for obvious reasons), since the amount of TP restored by Impulse Edge is way too much for early on. At rank 1, it restores 20 TP, while only having a TP cost of 2 at all levels. Waylon will have a very hard time running out of TP during explorations, as long as I keep his TP above 10; 8 TP to use Sharp Edge, and 2 TP to use Impulse Edge.

Merula is in the odd position of being a primarily back row nightseeker, for now. While her Throw skills are ranged, she does still prefer to be in the front row usually, since her main attack skills are melee. Out of the non-Ray party members, though, she works the best in the back, so that's where she'll spend most of her time for the next bit of gameplay.

For her skill build, I opted to level up Ice Knife and Sand Throw enough to unlock Biding Slice and Nerve Throw, respectively. Ice Knife deals cut + ice damage to one enemy, giving her the ability to at least deal some damage against enemies that are resistant to cut damage. Biding Slice deals cut damage to one enemy, and deals cut damage again at the end of the turn, if Merula does not take damage between the first hit and the end of the turn. At rank 1, if the second attack activates, Merula deals a whopping 260% damage, which is really good for Novice.

Both Throw skills function similarly: ranged cut damage to one enemy that attempts to inflict an ailment. Sand Throw attempts to inflict blind, Nerve Throw attempts to inflict paralysis. These are primarily why I stuck Merula in the back; their damage is unaffected by range, and Merula's placement in the rows doesn't affect her ability to inflict disables.

The nightseeker class skill is one of the most broken abilities in EO4, and frankly, the series as a whole. It increases Merula's damage against enemies that are afflicted with ailments, and by that I mean the first rank doubles her damage against enemies with ailments. Merula starts the game with the ability to deal ridiculous damage, and will only get better as the game goes on.

Ray has two points in Circle Boon, which passively restores HP to all party members whenever a circle is in effect. Passive healing is always very strong in EO, and Circle Boon is a great example of that. If you want a reference point for how much Circle Boon heals for, a rank 1 Healing has 70% healing power, while a rank 6 Circle Boon has 25% healing power.

Ray's main thing is circle skills, of which she has a few available right now. The way circle skills work is that they attempt to inflict a disable both when initially casted, and at the end of every following turns, for a set duration. End-of-turn inflictions have lower base infliction chances than manual casts, owing to the fact that end-of-turn infliction attempts are a "free" action, so to speak. The other balancing factor here is that circle skills are quite expensive—all of the circles Ray can use right now cost 10 TP from ranks 1 to 3. You can mitigate the high TP costs with the arcanist class skill, which restores TP when circles either naturally wear off or are forcibly dismissed, in combination with Dismiss skills, but...well, Novice doesn't have any Dismiss skills, so Ray doesn't have much in the way of managing her TP right now. This is why I didn't put a point into her class skill, by the way.

Poison Circle creates a circle that attempts to inflict poison on all enemies. At rank 2, it has a 40% base chance at cast time, 30% base chance at the end of the turn, and deals 71-80 poison damage. Poison Circle will serve Ray well for a long, long time. Even once enemies stop dropping dead to just one tick of the damage, Poison Circle will eventually scale up to 301-310 damage per tick, which still works well as a way to finish off enemies that other party members damaged in the lategame.

Chain Circle creates a circle that attempts to bind the arms of all enemies. Given that most major threats throughout a lot of the game rely on the arms, especially early on, having an all-target arm bind inflictor is great. At rank 2, Chain Circle has a 27% base infliction chance at cast time, and 18% at the end of the turn.

Tame Ground reduces damage from damage tiles for a set amount of steps. We won't be using it for a while.

Bracing Walk restores the party's HP with each step taken in the labyrinth. At rank 1, it restores a whopping 3 HP per step. Bracing Walk is an incredible skill for basically all of the game. Often, it can handle after-battle healing entirely on its own, with no cost to TP.
♪ No music ♪

Here, you can see the effect of the golden horn. Look at the beast point icons on the bottom screen (the paw print)—they turned gold after I equipped the golden horn.

Well, thanks for the black taurus. Again. Looks like the horn's working well, huh?
Mhm. Thank you again.
No problem. Again, we explorers've gotta look out for each other. You guys are gonna go far, I bet. Anyway, uh, I don't have anything else I can give you right now... Is a jar alright?
If you really feel like you have to give us something.
Well, here's a jar, then. Be seeing you!
Once you've gotten Wiglaf and Kirjonen's major rewards for a given land, they'll start giving you kinda junky consumables.

Not only do these pookas not seem to die, they seem strangely drawn to the exact same spots on the plains, taking the exact same route each time. I wonder if Harper knows why.

W-Why me, again? I already had a book not that long ago...
Oh, come now, it's a book that makes someone hardier. You're going to have to be in the front sometime, best be prepared for that day, right?
I...guess, but wouldn't it be better used on—
I'm already quite sturdy and heavily-armored.
Well they won't let me, will they?
Another balancing factor of nightseekers is, despite having high evasion, their HP and especially VIT are low compared to other frontliners. Increasing Merula's VIT helps patch up that weakness.

I put as many LUC forges on the ancient kopis as I could, and one LUC forge on the ancient makiri, as that was all I could do with the materials I have in storage.

I also chose to put a smart earring on Ray. TEC may not be the primary infliction stat, but it still has an influence, and it's not like Ray has any particular need for any other accessory.

I see you've found a golden horn. I assume you've become familiar with what it does?
Mhm. A handy little thing, isn't it?
In that case... Here. In exchange for those sakura trout, I insist you accept this harvest charm.
Same deal as the horn?
Yes, but for flora, instead.
So it makes us more likely to find those poisoned carrots?
Around these plains, yes.
Well, I'm sure we can find a use for that.
Indeed. If you will excuse me...

I'm taking a lot of time on the overworld doing everything I can before progressing in the labyrinth, so I keep running into pookas.

I'll just slide the book under her door. I'm sure she'll get the idea when she wakes up.

Also, you can get duplicates of Wiglaf and Kirjonen's accessories.

We're landin' here?
Well, I wanted to see if we can observe the nomad baboons that make their home in this mine.
And fight them, perhaps?
...Now that you mention it, we should be able to hold our own, now that we've all got some experience.

Aight, well, we die, I'll be hauntin' you, Marlin.
Wait, whuh? Any reason, lass?

Nomad Baboon
Level: 10HP: 742STR: 16TEC: 13VIT: 15AGI: 12LUC: 12DS: 37
EXP Given: 1602

Damage Vulnerabilities:
100% 100% 100%
100% 100% 100%

Disable Vulnerabilities:
40% 10% 20% 40% 40% 10%
10% 10% 20%
20% 40% 20%
  • Swing: Deals heavy cut damage to one party member.
  • Swing: Deals 150% melee STR-based cut damage to one party member. Has a speed modifier of ±0, and a base accuracy of 99%.
  • Nomad Baboons start using Swing more at low HP.
  • If the Nomad Baboon's HP is below 50%:
    • 60% chance to use Swing.
    • 40% chance to attack.
  • If the above did not occur:
    • 30% chance to use Swing.
    • 70% chance to attack.
  • Baboon Skin: 100% chance. Sells for 42 en.
    • Poofy Mittens (5 DEF, +1 STR): Made from 1 Baboon Skin. Costs 110 en.
Some baboons become much larger than their compatriots, and these baboons roam as solitary individuals that mark specific regions as their territory. I'm told by a friend that this is a not-uncommon biological function in wildlife near Yggdrasil—her people have a specific term for it I don't remember at the moment.
Nomad baboons are not much more than baboons with way higher stats. Their main purpose is to paste anyone who ignores the game's warnings and attempts to fight them at level 1-3, serving as a rough lesson in how powerful FOEs can be. Once you get just a few extra levels, they become very manageable.

Wh— I was aiming right for the eyes!
I suspect that these higher-grade monsters—
Formido oppugnatura exsequens. FOE, for short. What my folks call 'em.
FOEs, yes, they possess superior resistance to toxins and the like, in addition to their superior physical attributes.
That'd explain why other monsters seem t' fear them.

Resistance only goes so far when matched against strength!
Okay, that was very lucky.

The nomad baboon might not have any skills that use the head, but binding its head will still give us some benefits. Head binds halve an entity's TEC, which provides three main benefits: makes disables easier to inflict, reduces accuracy, and heavily reduces defense against TEC-based attacks.

Merula, lass, you okay? That looked like it hurt.
I'm f-fine, just wasn't expecting that...
There's always a small chance that the targeting formula goes for a completely inexplicable target. Merula's in the back row, and does not have the highest HP in the party, her chance of being targeted was very small.

Is spinning the guitar—it's called a guitar, right—really necessary?
If ya wanna be droll about it, ay? I never did ken those invokin'-whatsits the "normal" way, so let a bird do what works for her and no complainin', ay?
Mighty kind of ya, guv!

Ahhhhh, you can take the man away from the stage, but you can't take the stage away from the man.

Is your blade supposed to make those sorts of noises, Waylon?
Yes, that's just the engine. Now, I just load this cartridge...

And strike!
My ears...
Now that's a boom!
For how explosive that attack was, the monster seems relatively unphased.
My type-0 is on its last legs, yes. I do need to get to replacing it soon.
Assault Drive at rank 2 deals 470% damage. Waylon's starting weapon is really holding him back here.

Regen Waltz and Circle Boon are healing the front row for a lot of HP.

Worth noting that you don't have to manually track overheat durations, the game just tells you when the overheated character's turn comes up.

How do you come up with these strange enchanting dances, Marlin?
A hell of a lot of on-stage experimentation. Just have t' look at how the audience is reacting, keep an eye out for when they seem a bit strange.

That's for hitting me.

It's time for me to get serious.

Hey hey! Got a better throwin' arm than I thought!
...I don't know how to feel about that being comparable to Assault Drive.

Wasted effort.

Wuzzat funny noise?
My drive blade venting some heat on the monster. Striking in that way allows for slightly better dispersion of—
Keeps it from poppin'?

Now that is a meaty hit, Merulass.
What, not fond'a puns?
I mean, I don't mind them, but that just sounds a bit crass. See, with my name, and the way you enunciate it, it—
Maybe another time's better to talk about where my pun went wrong.
Welcome to Merula, everyone. She's gonna get a second hit later, by the way.
This class is fucking broken

Not sure how I'm supposed't cause pain with something this light and blunt.

...Y-you good? That was blood. You good?
A mere side-effect.
You good?

Did that strike make your blade stop sputtering?
Correct. Unlike the rest of you, my concern in battle is not running out of physical or mental energy, but my drive blade exhausting its fuel. You see—
I don't mean to be rude, but please keep it short.
Right, combat. Basically there's special parts of this blade that can convert the kinetic energy of friction into fuel.

So that's why you were hidin' over there. Sneaky.
It's...a basic tactic, really, nothing to be impressed about.

Well, got a right leg up on the baboon's loaf, don't you? Got it twice!
It's just an animal, it's not that smart.

Well, that's our first FOE kill on the books.

Killed one'a da big baboons back in the mine, huh?
Yes. It was a very easy affair, really.
Yeah, dat happens pretty quick ta most explorers here. Terrified'a da things one day, squashin' 'em like a bug da next.
Berund Atelier has the following new items in stock:

These mittens are sort of cute...
Dey enhance ya strength, too! C'mon, buy one.
How would a pair of mittens make me stronger?

I'm still going to buy them, but I would like an answer. Some day, at least.
On my lonely road to Tharsis I hitch-hiked with some bloaks what mentioned a folk hero, cute little bird, not that old, but she put on some oven mitts, right? Started heftin this big axe and scarperin'. Now, we ain't got oven mitts round where I came from, but're you tellin' me that ain't how they work normally?
No, they're just for keeping your hands safe.
Like a titfer your hands. Huh.

Now, shall we proceed with the labyrinth that we were supposed to be exploring?

It seems the grass still has some blood on it.
That's...not a pretty sight.
Slightly nauseating, too...

Be aware of monsters attempting "stealth," everyone.

Oh, fie, giant walking mandrakes.
I am unfamiliar with these "mandrakes."
They're horrible, just awful plants. Even just pulling one from the ground is torture, since it screams at you while you do it, and to top it off, they're extremely poisonous.
Seeing one walking and able to attack is...creepy.

Level: 8HP: 117STR: 11TEC: 14VIT: 9AGI: 11LUC: 13DS: 40
EXP Given: 356

Damage Vulnerabilities:
125% 100% 100%
150% 100% 50%

Disable Vulnerabilities:
100% 100% 75% 100% 125% 100%
100% 100% 100%
150% 100% 50%
  • Binding Root: Deals medium bash damage to one party member. If the attack does not miss, attempts to bind the target's legs, with a very high chance.
  • Shrill Voice: Used upon death. Attempts to bind all party members' heads, with a high chance.
  • Binding Root: Deals 100% melee STR-based bash damage to one party member. If the attack does not miss, attempts to bind the target's legs, with a 70% base chance. Has a speed modifier of ±0, and a base accuracy of 99%.
  • Shrill Voice: Used upon death. Attempts to bind all party members' heads, with a 50% base chance.
  • Mandrakes do nothing but attack.
  • Attack.
  • Mandrake Root: 70% chance. Sells for 8 en.
    • Town Sword (35 ATK): Made from 1 Mandrake Root. Costs 480 en.
    • Short Bow (34 ATK): Made from 1 Sturdy Timber (Chop: Lush Woodlands B2F) and 1 Mandrake Root. Costs 490 en.
  • Sealed Neck: Obtained by killing the enemy while their head is bound. 100% chance. Sells for 11 en.
    • Pugio (28 ATK, 2 Slots): Made from 2 Sealed Necks. Costs 230 en.
Those of my homeland likely know that plants have a way of being dangerous. Even in the more hospital climes of Tharsis, walking, screaming mandrakes are a frustrating reality. The voices they caterwaul with upon death are piercing enough to temporarily deafen the ears, even for my good friend Wen Ray-shin, who is used to unfortunately loud noises...and myself, of course, with my drive blades.
Mandrakes are an introduction to enemies that use skills upon their death, provided the corresponding body part isn't bound. Since mandrakes are just, again, an introduction, their on-death skill is fairly mild: party-target head binds. Annoying, but not really dangerous early on, especially with the encounter formations they're placed in. Later enemies will start having nastier disables or even damage attached to their on-death skills, forcing you to either pay close attention to the order in which you kill enemies, or make disabling the body part they need for their on-death skill a priority.

Also, no, I didn't mess up the writeup. The Monstrous Codex says that mandrakes have access to Binding Root, and Binding Root is an actual skill in the game, but their AI just never calls it.

Oh, one more thing: look at the mandrake's conditional drop. This is an example of a rare design oversight by EO4: without having access to the unlockable classes early, you have no way of inflicting head binds before you reach Veteran skills. Head Snipe on snipers and Hood Circle on arcanists are both locked behind Veteran skills, and you don't get the hammers that give head bind forges, or any weapons that have head bind forges, until even later. The only way to get sealed necks when you actually first encounter mandrakes is to have a bushi, since Skull Crusher is a Novice skill, and therefore available from the start of the game.

Can't even explain that one as "you're meant to come back and get it later." That'd be weird to put on an earlygame enemy anyway, but the only thing that sealed necks unlock is a knife that's really only usable in the 1st Land. Even then, it's not great, since it only has two forge slots.

For how vile these creatures seem to be, they can't take much—

Not that screech again!
Didn't you say that they only screech when— Agh, my head!
This is quite the severe headache...!
Indeed, I can't—ngh—think straight...
Eh-hem, bein' polite here, finishing the question. "Didn't you say that they only screech when you uproot them, lass?"
Yes, but I've also never encountered hostile walking ones before.
...That's a good impression, by the way.

Out of the way.

You good, mates? Need a cuppa Rosie?
Yes, I'm alright. That headache was quite intense, but doesn't seem to last for very long.
Merula, lass, you seemed familiar with those devil plants.
Mind if I ask why?
I do mind, yes.
Fair enough, any story about why you know about them can't be a fun tale.

I hear heavy breathing from behind those trunks.
Safe bet that there's a bear there.

Credit where credit is due, I wouldn't have known there was a bear there if it weren't for Naijou hearing it.
Now that you've given it credit, we should probably get out of here!
The gimmick of this room is that you have to pay attention to where the fallen tree trunks are. If you get close to one, a cutter will destroy the branches and aggro on you. It's not hard to avoid them, even if you don't step out of the room to avoid them, but getting into a random encounter when one is close can be harrowing.

You know, if I had to guess, I'd say that the way these bears are hiding is effective on less intelligent prey.
What makes you say that?
Well, there's multiple bears copying that same strategy. They wouldn't bother if they didn't see other bears reaping some reward from lying in wait.

Many of them seem injured... Some can barely walk, even with the support of their comrades.
You explorers?
The Daffodil Guild, yes. Seven hells, what happened to you all?
We were searching for the red-furred beast...but we got careless, and a cutter ambushed us. You can guess the rest...
Right, right, all went pear-shaped.
Some of your comrades' wounds seem severe. Are you in need of assistance?
We were just about to use our threads to go back to Tharsis, but thank you. Word of advice: we couldn't find the red-furred beast, even after hours of searching. My guess?
It's hiding in the thicket.
...One step ahead, I see.
Sorry, it just seemed pretty easy to guess.
Uh-huh. We're going to be heading back now. Safe travels, Daffodil Guild.
It seems that it will not be easy to find the red-furred beast you hunt. You prepare yourselves for an extended search and resume your journey.

Obtained forest aloe x3 and small flower x1.


And with that, I don't have to worry about coming back later for this normally-impossible drop.

Ye gods!

What happened to you?!
Well, you see, I came on the Outland Count's orders to clear out monsters, but some kind of bear attacked... I'm in a state.
Did it have red fur, by any chance?
I didn't get a good look at it... Sorry.
Oh gods, in a fix, ain't you? Those bears ain't half having a lark...

We've got plenty of medicas, but I don't think they'd make this poor guy feel much better.
Eine could probably treat the worst of the wounds, but...aaaaahhhhh, it'd take to long to get him...
Aren't we carrying a spare Ariadne thread?
Per Harper's request—or orders, I'm not sure which—yes.
Right, good. Please, take this.
Thank the gods, I'm saved... Here, I'll let you in on something: if you see some fruit up ahead, don't eat the yellow ones. They're unripe. Oh, and take this...

Managed to pull it off the bear before I could run.
Okay. Now, please, go get some help.

Well, gotta have a chat with our cobber for her foresight. Phew! Much better.
...You're surprisingly sensitive.
What's 'surprising' about it? A young bird, ain't I?

I'll be obtaining one of these from actually battling a cutter before long, but hey, it's free money.

The only practical difference between any of the options to assist the soldier is that, if you have a medic and decide to have them assist the soldier, the medic will lose 6 TP from the event. I wish it was 5 TP instead, that would've matched up with ranks 1 through 4 of Healing. Oh well.

I can see the area near the stairs through this thicket.
Those shortcuts the others cleared on the first floor were helpful. Why don't we do the same?
Gonna be a bit bread digging through all this brush, though.
I believe I can solve this. Stand back.


What in the seven hells was that, Naijou?
I can answer that: a shockwave.
Ah, you have a name for it! Anyways, when presented with many obstacles all at once, oftentimes it is simply easier to knock them out of the way, than to attack them all at once.
Your swings have enough force behind them that they cause a sudden change in pressure in front of you, causing a—
It's magic, innit?! Beautiful! Right sparklin' magic! So damned cool!
Well, I wasn't done explaining—
Oi, that's rock! That's rock right there! I gotta learn that one!

Oh, that's a tall bloke.
"Tall bloke" is kind of underselling it, that thing is taller than Naijou!

Big Roller
Level: 10HP: 146STR: 17TEC: 14VIT: 14AGI: 11LUC: 12DS: 38
EXP Given: 624

Damage Vulnerabilities:
50% 50% 50%
150% 150% 150%

Disable Vulnerabilities:
75% 100% 75% 100% 125% 100%
100% 100% 100%
100% 100% 100%
  • Wheeled Attack: Deals heavy bash damage to one party member, with splash damage. Slightly inaccurate.
  • Wheeled Attack: Deals 140% melee STR-based bash damage to one party member, with splash damage. Has a speed modifier of ±0, and a base accuracy of 90%.
  • Big Rollers are slightly more likely to use normal attacks than Wheeled Attack.
  • 40% chance to use Wheeled Attack.
  • 60% chance to attack.
  • Big Shell: 80% chance. Sells for 13 en.
    • Scramasax (42 ATK): Made from 1 Big Shell. Costs 580 en.
    • Lorica Squamata (34 DEF): Made from 2 Big Shells and 1 Cyanite (Mine: Lush Woodlands B3F). Costs 500 en.
  • Elastic Skin: 50% chance. Sells for 14 en.
    • Hobblegeon (26 DEF): Made from 1 Elastic Skin. Costs 350 en.
The biological tendency to trend towards gigantism is also a regular part of the Tharsis Yggdrasil ecosystem, if these armadillo-esque creatures are any indication. My largest comment is being glad that I've never had one of these thrown at me.
Big rollers are, well, rollers, but with far higher stats. They have enough HP to survive a few turns' worth of damage, and they have 17 STR, comparable to angry baboons.

Tcheh. Everyone's a damned critic!

You'll not crush me that easily!
Naijou's stats make him very durable. That was just a normal attack. If the angry baboons didn't clue you into the fact that skimping on defense is a bad idea, big rollers will teach you the same lesson again.

Hm, okay, nice moves, having a rolley roar and all.

Now you're getting it, eh? Maybe I oughta touch up the first verse, then.

...Should I consider myself lucky that your music doesn't do that to me?

Wait, huh?

Do your songs somehow...I dunno, put poison in monsters, Ray?
It's rock, innit?
No, it's...it's not a rock.
Yeah, this one does. There's theory behind it. I don't know it.
Okay, that would explain why I got a reaction from...well, something that isn't my toxins.

I decide to have Marlin put a skill point into Counter Samba, instead of ranking up Attack Tango some more. Counter Samba places a buff on Marlin that, when anyone in his row is attacked by an enemy, gives him a chance to counterattack. Dancers don't deal that much damage, at least with individual hits, but it does mean that they're contributing some damage on top of the incredible support they already provide.

Naijou gets an extra rank in Skull Crusher. Nothing terribly exciting.

Waylon ranks up Impulse Edge, which increases the TP regained from 20 to 24, as well as giving an extra 5% damage.

Biding Slice is Merula's big source of damage early on, so I'm having her rank it up early.

Leg binds are by no means a crucial disable, but having them around could be nice. As such, I have Ray get the first rank of Snare Circle.

Now what's this thing doing on the— Deugh!
You approach it, intending to pick it up, but suddenly see it is an orange fruit swarming with black insects!
Oh, gross!
Gods' tears, how many insects can possibly fit on the surface of one fruit?
The insects aren't harmful, so let's...attempt to forget this, and just move on.

Ain't too sharp, huh?
If you mean that they're not particularly keen, or perceptive, then yes, I think doing the exact same thing as your cohorts, but in an area that less people walk through, counts as "ain't too sharp."
...Gotta work on your followups, mate.

Sure does look like a hole.
I'd guess that this is the hole that request wanted us to look into.
Because there's no other holes on this floor?
...It's just a hole. I don't see anything inside.
Perhaps we should return at night, like the requester did.

EO4 is quite generous with shortcuts, especially early on.

Ah, that one is thinking for itself.

And I think it's thinking that it wants to attack us!
Oh, hells! I ain't thinking at all!

If you get backed into a corner by that cutter, this one-way passage will give you a way out, without having to use an Ariadne thread.

Of course, it'll dump you right in front of another cutter, so you'll have to be on your toes.

Grab what you can before it catches us!
Obtained sturdy timber x3 and teak wood x1.
As a general rule, chop and mine points are more about the money you can get from their items, than the stuff they make. None of this equipment is absolutely must-have.

Ah, a fine weapon.
That's a tree, innit?
What it may lack in elegance, it makes up for in heft.

Oh wow, I didn't even realize how long we've been in here.
Ah, good, I timed that well. Let's investigate this hole, then return to the ship.

...Sounds like a whole lot of clickin' and clackin' down there.

A scorpion!

That stinger's larger than my hand!

Level: 11HP: 123STR: 14TEC: 14VIT: 13AGI: 13LUC: 18DS: 50
EXP Given: 672

Damage Vulnerabilities:
25% 25% 50%
100% 150% 100%

Disable Vulnerabilities:
100% 25% 100% 100% 100% 100%
100% 100% 100%
100% 100% 100%
  • Nerve Stab: Deals severe stab damage to one party member. If the attack does not miss, attempts to inflict paralysis on the target, with an extremely high chance. Very fast.
  • Nerve Stab: Deals 180% melee STR-based stab damage to one party member. If the attack does not miss, attempts to inflict paralysis on the target, with a 80% base chance. Has a speed modifier of +8, and a base accuracy of 99%.
  • Deathstalkers do nothing when in the back row.
  • When in the front row, Deathstalkers will spam Nerve Stab.
  • If the Deathstalker is in the front row:
    • Use Nerve Stab, targeting player characters who are not afflicted with paralysis.
  • If the above did not occur:
    • Do nothing.
  • Needle Tail: 90% chance. Sells for 10 en.
    • Pallasch (40 ATK, 1 Slot, +5% Max TP): Made from 2 Needle Tails. Costs 670 en.
The volume of venom present in most venomous creatures is something I think about when looking at these massive scorpions. Certainly they are deadly, but the fact that they have such large bodies and have such a potent venom as to cause paralysis in humans makes me wonder if perhaps the venom itself is something of a remnant of a time when the species was smaller. It's not as though they necessarily need it.
Deathstalkers are the rudest enemy you'll encounter in the 1st Land, even ruder than angry baboons while you're on B1F of the Lush Woodlands. They deal a lot of damage, inflict a nasty ailment, and also serve as a wake-up call for parties lacking in elemental damage, if rollers didn't make the point effectively enough.

They're also meant to teach the player a lesson in target prioritization, since deathstalkers are sitting ducks when in the back row, but that's a moot point for this battle, since the deathstalker is the only enemy, and therefore in the front row.

Ngh... Have a care, everyone— That stinger— Is no joke.
Evidently, it's also coated in a neurotoxin, judging by how you're seizing up.

Aw yeah, blinded by rock!
That was incredible! How did you do that?
The pow—
She modulated the sound being emitted from her guitar such that it focused the gaseous and particulate matter contained within the jar, resulting in an efficient method of infection via poisonous substance.
You what, mate?
I only over-explain when I am over-impressed.

I take it we should be terrified of that scorpion's stinger, if it can paralyze someone as sturdy as Naijou.
Very much so!

I see one of my waltzes is needed, then.

Please don't ever use that drive on a scorpion, or any similarly metal-ish monsters, ever again.
My ears are telling me the same thing.

Why, I feel as fit as the day I was born! Thank you, Marlin.
..."Fit?" Just "fit?"
Is something the matter, Ray?
I donno, but it's always got a ringer, don't it? Like, "fit as a fiddle", not just "fit".
What is a "fiddle?"
Putting that aside, you cured paralysis caused by a monster's poison by...dancing.
I said earlier that I watched my audiences, aye? This one, I knew it was something special when I saw some grog-soakeds getting less rowdy as I danced.
Right... And here I thought the world was simple.

Gods' teeth, you froze it!
Not just froze it, but flash-froze it! Soon as you touched it, the thing turned into an ice statue!
I-I didn't think it would do that, I was just expecting it to react because it's blinded and—

If I may?
Please tell me you have an explanation for why that happened.
No, sorry, I was just attempting to get you to reset. We need to move on.

Question, Waylon.
Where could that scorpion have possibly come from? I haven't seen any others around the floor.
I'm quickly becoming the guild biologist, aren't I?
Is that a bad thing?
No, I'm just making an observation. Anyway, I suspect this scorpion may have followed another monster—perhaps even the red-furred beast we're hunting—as it came up to this floor from a lower one.
Sounds reasonable to me.

These appear to be monsters whose faces are also their bodies.
Something wrong with that?
That seems uncomfortable.

Ghost Owl
Level: 9HP: 148STR: 12TEC: 16VIT: 10AGI: 12LUC: 11DS: 38
EXP Given: 502

Damage Vulnerabilities:
150% 150% 150%
100% 100% 50%

Disable Vulnerabilities:
100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
100% 50% 100%
100% 100% 100%
  • Thunder Strike: Deals heavy volt damage to one party member. Slow.
  • Thunder Strike: Deals 80% ranged TEC-based volt damage to one party member. Has a speed modifier of -5, and a base accuracy of 99%.
  • Ghost Owls prefer using Thunder Strike over regular attacks.
  • 70% chance to use Thunder Strike.
  • 30% chance to attack.
  • Soft Plume: 80% chance. Sells for 11 en.
    • Thunderbolt (47 ATK, 1 Slot, +14% Volt Imbue): Made from 2 Soft Plumes. Costs 700 en.
    • Feather Staff (34 ATK, +10% Max TP): Made from 1 Light Hardwood (Fanged Vine Drop 1) and 1 Soft Plume. Costs 540 en.
  • Shocked Talon: Obtained by killing the enemy with volt damage. 100% chance. Sells for 13 en.
    • Critical Belt (+15% Crit Chance): Made from 1 Shocked Talon. Costs 300 en.
An organ in the heads of these owls allows them to spit electric bolts from their beaks. Electrokinesis at the best of times is threatening. It makes them...difficult to observe. However, they are not very sturdy.
Ghost owls only appear at night, an introduction to the fact that monster encounters can change once the sun goes down. They're also the first monster we've run into that can throw elemental damage at us, which can really mess you up if you're not expecting it. Thankfully, they go down very easily, due to taking an extra 50% from all physical damage types.

Now that's rock. First time, every time, baby.

I do not like how smoothly my drive blade cut through that owl.
It's disconcerting. Monsters should not be that easy to slice through.

I-I've never heard of owls that can spit electricity from their beaks!
Don't worry, I'm...quite alright!
Today's just been an absolute nightmare for your nervous system, huh?


Please teach me how you so effectively decimate ailing foes.
Oh, sorry, I... It's not something that can really be taught.

Oi! Pack's full!
We have been exploring for several hours now, that was going to happen...
Throw out one of the grasseater legs, we don't need those any more.
Your inventory in EO4 can only hold a maximum of 60 items. This includes both your consumables and monster drops. Filling up your pack with restorative items will prepare you for a lot of rough battles, but it'll also either limit how many drops you can bring back to Tharsis, or cut your exploration very short.

You guyses are up late.
We got into a good rhythm, what can we say?
Ya ain't gonna hear me complainin', ya brought back lotsa junk.
Berund Atelier has the following new items in stock:

Two more LUC forges for Ray's ancient makiri.

Well, the healing wand had its uses, but I think it's time to show off some sword dances.

Here's the game pulling the same trick we saw back in Update 2—putting a fragile monster in the back row, behind several durable ones—but this time, we have an actual danger in the back row, instead of a woodfly.

Here, lass, put this on your sword.
I can answer that: I suspect that we may be able to cause a reaction in the ghost owl's talons if it's killed by—
Okay, got it.

Of course, poison skills that target all enemies kinda ruin the game's strategy.

Worth noting that in EOU, the next EO game after EO4, the standard infliction skills (curses, available through the hexer class) were nerfed to be row-target instead of all-target.

I mean, to compensate, they also have far higher base infliction chances than circles, but you also have to account for Ailment Boost...and at that point I'm getting way off-track.

One tick of Poison Circle kills the three rollers.

Ah, that must be what Waylon— Yagh!
Marlin? Are you alright?
Peachy, it's just that the claw there? It shocked me when I picked it up.
Yes, that'll happen. I'll handle it, thank you.

Oh, have a butcher's at that sparkling roller.
Come again, lass?
I think she can see those "special" monsters, like Xiaohu and Ace told us about.


Using leftover energy for special techniques... How wonderful!

Pfffthahaha, still waiting for its mate!
Seems that it wasn't prepared for Merula and Naijou to attack so quickly.
The big roller was going to do a co-op attack with the angry baboon, but... Well, its AI only runs at the start of the turn, so if you kill the angry baboon before the big roller can act, it'll just waste its turn.

Right bollocksed him there, dinnit.
Rare breeds are dangerous.

Better me than someone else.

There... Can you stand, Marlin?
Barely. Stars above, wasn't expectin' it to just slam me into a tree.


Okay, it's dead.

Need a minute, lass?
What no I'm fine. You're the one that got sent flying into a tree, do you need a minute?
The nectar picked me right back up. You're the one that's breathin' weirdly.
I'm fine, it's just stress.
Fair enough, ha!

I have Marlin put his next skill point into Attack Tango, since we're at the point where it can actually have a pretty major effect on other characters' damage.

Naijou gets rank 4 of Skull Crusher.

Merula gets another rank of her major damage skill.

Waylon maxes out Heat Sink, dropping its TP cost down to 14.

Ray gets another point of Poison Circle, since it's pretty much her most powerful skill right now.

Oiiiii! Got some full Lucy Locketts.
Neats. Whatcha guys doin' up so late?
Bird huntin'.
Wait, alla youse?
Well yeah, would be, wouldn't it?
Aww, wouldja lookit that! My little buddy's finally becomin' a man!
F-first of all, I am significantly older than you! Second... what?
Berund Atelier has the following new items in stock:

...Oh, dat kinda boid.
What other kind is there?!

Ah, you finally have another drive blade for me.
Dose things are hard ta make!
Not criticizing, just relieved. My type-0 is about ready to give up the ghost.

Evening, Kirtida. We took care of that hole request.
Wonderful. What happened, if I may ask?
We got startled by a scorpion popping out of the hole.
Hm, so there was a monster there. Sometimes it's best to just leave well enough alone, I suppose.
You'd think that, but...
I do realize the irony in saying that to professional explorers, yes. In any case, I shall let my other patrons know to be careful of strange holes on their outings.
I'd hope they wouldn't need a bartender to remind them of that...

Y'know, Waylon...
Does this have to do with the cutter in front of us?
Good guess! See, I'm thinking, now that you've got a drive blade that isn't junk—
The type-0 was not junk, thank you very much. It was just very worn from continued use.
That isn't worn out, then. Anyways, we've probably got a fightin' chance against the bears now, eh?
Hmm. Knowing that we can take down problematic cutters would be good... Anyone opposed?
Nervous, but not opposed.
I could use a good challenge.
Hell yeah I'd like to take down an FOE!

On your guard, then.

Level: 13HP: 883STR: 19TEC: 17VIT: 16AGI: 15LUC: 14DS: 45
EXP Given: 1728

Damage Vulnerabilities:
100% 100% 100%
125% 125% 125%

Disable Vulnerabilities:
50% 50% 20% 30% 30% 10%
10% 10% 20%
20% 30% 20%
  • Bear Claw: Deals severe cut damage to one party member. Slow, and inaccurate.
  • Bear Claw: Deals 170% melee STR-based cut damage to one party member. Has a speed modifier of -5, and a base accuracy of 60%.
  • Cutters prefer using normal attacks when above 50% HP, and Bear Claw when below 50% HP.
  • If the Cutter's HP is below 50%:
    • 60% chance to use Bear Claw.
    • 40% chance to attack.
  • If the above did not occur:
    • 30% chance to use Bear Claw.
    • 70% chance to attack.
  • Bear Claw: 100% chance. Sells for 51 en.
    • Dark Shot (58 ATK, 1 Slot, +6 Speed): Made from 2 Bear Claws. Costs 950 en.
    • Blinding Piercer (31 ATK, 1 Slot, 12% Blind Imbue): Made from 1 Bear Claw. Costs 290 en.
I don't like bears. Any look at the underbrush in the Lush Woodlands should be sufficient to show one that the bears present are overly muscular even by ursine standards, able to punch through the brush with startling ease. I don't like bears.
Cutters are a test of how well you can either manage incoming damage, or disable beefier enemies, while also dealing enough damage to kill the thing before it kills you. To wit, cutters have 50% vulnerability to the two ailments you're most likely to throw at them early on: blind and paralysis. They have a lower vulnerability to arm binds, at only 30%, but arm binds also lock out their one skill, and halve the damage of their normal attacks, so having a lower vulnerability makes sense there.

Ultimately, they are just sort of beefier nomad baboons, though having limited complexity is to be expected of an early FOE.

Let the sword guide you.

Right on target.

Couldn't even see it coming.

I see we've already spooked it!

Don't worry, Waylon; if it accidentally strikes anyone, it will regret it!

Perfect, I don't think it saw me...

Oi, c'mon, now, why's everyone gotta be a critic?

...Why do I suspect that it's swinging at me because of the noise from my drive blade?

No matter. Ignition!

...Agh. Okay, need to talk to Wynne about repositioning the primary heat vent away from my face.
Waylon, I do not mean to be rude, but are you not going to make any remarks about that "drive?"
Why would I?
Because that was one of the most ghastly strikes I've ever beheld! The beast let out a roar of pain!
Drives tend to cause that, yes.
You wield an unholy terror, my friend.
...I'm sorry?
No, I mean that in a good way.
Now that is what I'd expect from a Drive.

But it's also worth considering that Merula is nearly matching it.

...That's it?
That's it. We defeated the cutter.
What is this? For how carefully we were avoiding them, I was expecting a challenge...

Weird hammer.
It's got...rings? What possible purpose could these serve?
The aim hammer will let us put accuracy-enhancing forges on our weapons.

Ah, foraging for lumber is so relaxing.
Almost makes a girl forget about the noises comin' from behind that door...
Obtained sturdy timber x2 and teak wood x2.

At last, we find our quarry.
This can only be the red-furred beast rumored to be attacking soldiers and explorers! Have a care, for the beast's eyes are narrowed as it readies itself for your approach!
...So, uh...you reckon it was always red?
I'd prefer to not think about that.
It's just an overgrown red cutter. It's just an overgrown red cutter. It's just an overgrown red cutter...
The lass is right. What're the rest of you gettin' so worked up for? We just killed another bear, this one'll capsize just as easily.
What I'd give for your confidence.
Before we charge into the bear, may I point out that there is a door behind us?

...Hey, team, funny idea popped into me loaf. What say we scarper, eh? Go take a nice nap.
Why? The beast is right there, we could finish it quickly.
Ray does have a point. Overconfidence can and will get us killed... Plus, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't exhausted.
It is very late, yes.
Needing to "sleep" seems quite inconvenient for you all.
Eh, it's a good way to reset yourself after a long day, no matter how bad it is.
But you lose so many hours to it each day.
True. But, my furry friend, nothing beats the feeling of getting up to face a new day after a good rest.
Aye, aye.
I will take your word for it.
A random battle behind that door gives everyone a well-timed level.

Marlin gets rank 3 of Attack Tango, which gives a 25% increase to physical damage dealt by his row.

Skull Crusher is Naijou's best source of damage for now, so he grabs rank 5 of it.

Waylon ranking up Assault Drive is kind of a no-brainer.

As is Merula ranking up Biding Slice.

Poison Circle rank 4 increases the TP cost to 13, but in exchange, ups the infliction chance at cast time by 5%, and increases the poison damage to 140 if inflicted at cast time, and 110 if inflicted on subsequent turns.

If you're wondering "why the specificity about cast time inflictions," it's because Poison Circle rank 4 is weird, and doesn't upgrade the end-of-turn infliction chance and just...deals less damage in the skill data. Seemingly, the skill was buffed at some point, but the old end-of-turn values for rank 4 were somehow not updated with the rest.

Good find. See, dis hammer messes with the weight'a ya weapons, makes 'em easier to handle. If ya got a good grip on them already, no big deal, ya don't need it, but it can help with keepin' control'a dem, make it easier ta land hits. Also just makes it easier ta keep ya aim steady wit' bows.
I don't think any of us particularly struggle with that, but we're happy to help those that do.
The aim hammer unlocks AIM forges, which provide +3% base accuracy per forge. The vast majority of weapons in EO4 have 98% base accuracy, which means there isn't a lot of benefit to using AIM forges—usually, your base accuracy is fine, and any given forge slot is better spent on increasing the damage you deal.

Oh, Wales, here's another drive blade for ya ta try out.
Wha— Where did you get the blueprints for Dark Shot?
Ah, ya can worry about dat later. C'mon, try it!

It does seem very well-built...

Well, I hate to abandon this thunderbolt so soon, but so be it.
With that in mind, I should probably get back to the Air B'n'B. Good night, Wynne.
Big day tomorrow?
Yes, you could say that.

Now then. Is everyone prepared to challenge the beast?
Got its dukes up for us, at any rate.
Um, if it's alright, Naijou...could you please be the one to provoke it?

Bloodbear! Terror of the Lush Woodlands! I CHALLENGE YOU!

...Would you start every fight with that kind of shouting, if we let you?
I don't see why you don't, honestly. It gets the blood flowing!

Level: 15HP: 1171STR: 22TEC: 19VIT: 17AGI: 16LUC: 15DS: 49
EXP Given: 1994

Damage Vulnerabilities:
100% 100% 100%
125% 125% 125%

Disable Vulnerabilities:
70% 70% 20% 50% 30% 30%
0% 0% 20%
50% 50% 50%
  • Bear Claw: Deals heavy cut damage to one party member. Slow, and inaccurate.
  • Delay Charge: Telegraphs that the user will use Ruinous Strike in three turns. If the user suffers 250 more damage after using this skill, Ruinous Strike will be cancelled.
  • Ruinous Strike: Deals severe cut damage to one row of party members. Extremely slow.
  • Binding Voice: Deals medium almighty damage to all party members. Attempts to stun hit targets, with a moderate chance. Fast, and very accurate.
  • Bear Claw: Deals 170% melee STR-based cut damage to one party member. Has a speed modifier of -5, and a base accuracy of 60%.
  • Delay Charge: Telegraphs that the user will use Ruinous Strike in three turns. If the user suffers 250 more damage after using this skill, Ruinous Strike will be cancelled. Has a speed modifier of ±0.
  • Ruinous Strike: Deals 200% melee STR-based cut damage to one row of party members. Has a speed modifier of -90, and a base accuracy of 99%.
  • Binding Voice: Deals 50% ranged TEC-based almighty damage to all party members. Attempts to stun hit targets, with a 40% base chance. Has a speed modifier of +5, and a base accuracy of 120%.
  • Bloodbears always use Binding Voice on the first turn.
  • Bloodbears slightly prefer directly attacking to charging up Ruinous Strike.
  • When Bloodbears fall below 50% HP, they gain a very low chance to use Binding Voice.
  • If the battle is taking place on Lush Woodlands B2F, and the Bloodbear's HP is below 50%:
    • Escape.
  • If this is the first turn:
    • Use Binding Voice.
  • If the Bloodbear is charging up Ruinous Strike:
    • If the timer has run out, use Ruinous Strike.
    • Otherwise, do nothing.
  • If the Bloodbear's HP is below 50%:
    • 40% chance to use Bear Claw.
    • 20% chance to attack.
    • 10% chance to use Binding Voice.
    • 30% chance to charge up Ruinous Strike.
  • If none of the above happened:
    • 30% chance to attack.
    • 30% chance to use Bear Claw.
    • 40% chance to charge up Ruinous Strike.
  • Rending Claw: 100% chance. Sells for 103 en.
    • Arm Shooter (35 ATK, 12% Arm Bind Imbue): Made from 1 Rending Claw. Costs 530 en.
The first time I encountered a "bloodbear," I... Well, again, I don't much like bears at the best of times. However, the "bloodbear" is a type that has evolved for a form of intimidation through appearing to be covered in blood from the prey it consumes. Voracious and particularly threatening to humans (and bipedal humanoids, admittedly—my good friends Ray and Naijou did not escape), they live up to their coat. To encounter one of these without significant battle experience is a death sentence. I recommend keeping a stock of Ariadne threads at the best of times, but that goes double here.
If you didn't bother fighting nomad baboons or cutters, then this bloodbear will serve as your introduction to fights with stronger monsters. With over 1000 HP, 22 STR, and a potentially...ruinous skill, understanding the basics of your party's skillsets and synergies is key to getting past this first major obstacle.

(Yes, I hate myself for that pun.)

Thankfully, since this is the game's first major (intended, at least) obstacle, it's got some pretty glaring weaknesses designed to encourage use of strategies beyond "hit it with your strongest physical damage." For one thing, the bloodbear takes an extra 25% damage from all elemental sources, majorly benefitting both Link skills and runemasters. Secondly, its disable vulnerabilities are quite high, with 70% to blind and paralysis, the major earlygame ailments, and 50% to arm binds, which will mostly shut the bloodbear down for however long they last.
more like bruinous

Unless a fight opens with a really nasty disable or bind infliction, Marlin will often open with Attack Tango.

For various reasons, I opted to not use Blood Surge in this fight, so Naijou will just spam Skull Crusher.

I also opted to not have Waylon use Assault Drive on this first turn, in case turn order RNG worked against me and the bloodbear stunned Marlin out of using Attack Tango. Since the Drives have fairly lengthy cooldowns, making sure to use them with as many damage-increasing effects as possible is key.

Merula and Ray will both work on attempting to blind the bloodbear.

Oi, Marl, how come your dances don't work on the monsters?
...Good question, lass, and not one I have a good answer to.

Hey, look on the bright side, Merry.
What bright side?
At least we bollocksed it together.

Ggh— Curses, I lost my concentration when I flinched.
This is the first time we're seeing almighty damage, so I'll quickly explain it. Almighty is the seventh damage type, after the three physical and three elemental types. Outside of a small amount of special cases, both player characters and enemies are neither resistant to, nor weak to, almighty damage.

We're in need of some healing after Binding Voice, so I have Marlin use Regen Waltz.

Now Waylon'll get to use Assault Drive.

Arm binds would be nice right about now, but I'm primarily using Chain Circle to get Circle Boon going.

Tcheh. Everyone's a damned critic!

Are you alright?!
I can keep fighting, don't worry...
I talked about Endure earlier—here it is in action. Even if it only works once per battle, having a character be guaranteed to survive one fatal hit is extremely good.


Gck—! The kickback on this is ridiculous, I think Wynne forgot to—
"Forgot to" nothing, you see how you blew that bear out?!

Individual passive healing effects may not be much on their own, but if you stack them together... Well, the green numbers speak for themselves.

If I wanted to be optimal with Waylon here, I'd use Heat Sink immediately, and then combo into Impulse Edge, to prevent overhealing on TP, but not doing that isn't going to really hurt me.

To think that the energy needed to form semi-corporeal swords is just...around us, all the time...

Now that I've got everyone's attention, I believe now is a good time for a good sword dance!

Okay, these two are getting pretty unlucky.

Don't worry, it'll take more than that...to knock me out of step.

Phew... See? Already back on my feet.

How much longer until you can use a drive again, Waylon?
Well, the fuel cannister's in good shape, so all it'll take is just a little more heat dispersion to—

Wait, what?!
Oi, you what?!

Get back here, we're not finished with you!

...Imagine seeing that one scarper. What's the plan, team?
We can't just let that thing roam free.
Lettin' the beast lick its wounds would be a bad idea.
If I may be so bold: if we're all still capable of fighting, let's simply chase the beast.
...A plan so blindin' obvious, I shoulda thought of it first. I say we do it.
I am nowhere near exhausted, yes. I'd rather be able to go back to Tharsis and say that the beast is dead.
I'm a little nervous, but I do think Naijou's right. Let's just be careful...
Oi, no worries, Meri! You've got me, and I've hardly woken up yet!
I'm...surprised I find that reassuring.
Well, would you Adam and Eve it?

Onwards! To further adventure, mates!
I'm glad you're having fun.
Next time: we actually kill the bloodbear.

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