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Kalir 08-04-2017 12:17 PM

Freedom is a privilege. Yours has been revoked. Let's Play Pyre

Hey kids!

Let's play Pyre!

Supergiant Games is already awesome by virtue of their first game release, Bastion. Transistor was also a great game that I adore, but at the same time, people noticed that they were doing a lot of experimenting with the storytelling and the gameplay, and not always in ways that worked for the better. So while I imagine quite a few people were a bit surprised when they announced a game halfway between a sports sim and a visual novel, and a lot of people were disappointed, I just shrugged and said "eh, it'll be weird, but it'll be MY kind of weird."

And I was right. I've already beaten the game once, but I will be doing a stream of the game's campaign mode on Friday evenings, 6PM Mountain Time (so for the West Coast that's 5PM, for the East Coast thats 8PM). I may have to adjust this schedule for work, but expect around that time.

I'm going to dedicate this first post to explaining the Rites within Pyre. As mentioned, this is halfway between a sports sim and a visual novel, and explaining the sports sim part is easier.

Each triumvirate (team) is composed of three exiles, and both sides have a blazing pyre. I'm using the game's built-in couch versus mode to demonstrate this. It has couch versus mode, it's pretty cool. The stats and whatever you see here, I will explain in later posts.

The objective of the game is simple: take the Celestial Orb that the other triumvirate's player has just grabbed, and dunk it into the other pyre. The circles around everyone are their auras: if your aura touches an opponent, they are banished for a few seconds and drop the Celestial Orb if they have it.

(Also I desperately wanted to have Madden scribbles over these screenshots, but I decided against it because explaining the game takes priority over dumb jokes for this post.)

While holding the Celestial Orb, your aura is disabled, so you'll have to evade the enemy team's defenders. In addition to just having it passively up, you can cast it ahead of you as seen here: this removes your personal aura but lets you launch it further and faster, great for breaking past enemy defenders.

In addition to this, each player can sprint, jump, and pass the Celestial Orb to one another. You don't interact with auras while jumping, but any opponent that collides with you during a jump makes you drop the Orb, so be careful about it. Most of these actions consume stamina, as well.

Once you get to the pyre holding the orb, you can dive in to deal it some damage. The exile that does this is banished until one side or the other scores again, so it's not always in your best interest to dive right in if you're having trouble taking their team on.

One thing worth noting is that each side can only control one exile at a time. This is a weird but intentional design choice, to limit the computer having too much of an edge by being able to finetune their AI better than the player. Additionally, whoever you switch to, if you have the Celestial Orb, will be passed it by their teammates, so once you have the Orb, you can't go on the offensive like I am here. That other exile is throwing the Orb to my exile, presumably to disable her aura and reactivate his.

The advantage of throwing the Orb is that you don't lose your exile for scoring this way. The disadvantage is that you have to stay still and charge up your shot, and it's very easy to get chumped by the defenders unless you've banished all of them.

Really, that about covers it for the Rites. Reduce their Pyre to smoldering ash, and YUO WIN

So why are we playing the Rites? Well, Hedwyn here has a bit to say about it, but we'll see more about this once we actually get into the story of the game, y'know?

Kalir 08-11-2017 04:33 PM


I'll be streaming Pyre in half an hour. Right over here.

Kalir 08-11-2017 07:46 PM

And done. Had some technical troubles to start, but I will be posting clips of video here from the stream throughout the week.

Kalir 08-12-2017 02:06 PM

We begin our journey through the downside, and our discovery of the Rites.

Character Bio:

The Free Spirit

We'll get more acquainted with each of the exiles in the game as we progress, but I'll start with the first one you meet. Hedwyn is a Nomad (human), who finds you on the outskirts of the Downside, along with Rukey Greentail and Jodariel. In most other games, he would be the completely bread-and-butter male protagonist who the story revolves around for no clearly defined reason. Here, he is still a fairly central character, but that's not really a bad thing. Level-headed, idealistic, and optimistic, Hedwyn's always around to keep the team together even when things seem dour, even if he rarely takes charge himself.

Of course, he is still a criminal-in-exile, as is everyone in the Downside, but we don't know exactly what he did yet. There are a great many things one can do to end up in exile, none of them remotely equal. I'm sure we'll hear about what he's done when he's ready to tell us, and in the meantime, he'll help us out by making meals and standing in the Rites.

Every exile has four stats: Glory (how much damage they deal to the enemy Pyre), Presence (how large their Aura is), Quickness (how fast they can move), and Hope (how quickly they return from banishment). As with all other Nomads, Hedwyn has favorable, if not exceptionally strong, values in all four areas. He's the yardstick by which everyone else is measured. You probably won't use him as your flagship character, but he'll certainly do the job before him.

Additionally, each Exile can gain up to four Masteries as they accumulate Enlightenment from the Rites. There are two skill trees diamonds, each with four selections. You need the first to get either of the two after it, and one of those to get the last one. Easy, right? Listing them here for Hedwyn and the other Nomads.

Marks of the Master-General:
  • Martial Training: Hedwyn gets an extra 50% max Stamina boost, so he can jump and sprint more often. It's nice, sure, but it has stiff competition from its counterpart in the other skill tree.
  • Critical Strike: If you time a charge-up of your Aura-Cast just right, you can do a Power-Cast, which works much like the Power Shot in Bastion. Critical Strike just gives Hedwyn's Power-Casts more area, which is, of course, very handy.
  • Shoulder Smash: Ordinarily, if two opposing exiles collide in mid-air, they can force one another to drop the Celestial Orb. Shoulder Smash grants Hedwyn an extra edge, letting him banish players with mid-air collisions. This makes him a phenomenal anti-air character, arguably one of the best.
  • Burning Resolve: Simple enough: any time Hedwyn damages the enemy Pyre, his own Pyre regains 50% of the damage done this way as life. It's life leech! It works really well! You'll probably find yourself scoring with Hedwyn quite a bit anyway, so why not get some use out of it?

Bonds of the Sahrian Legion:
  • Shared Tenacity: While his other skill tree focuses on making him all-around better, this one helps out his entire team. For starters, Shared Tenacity says that as long as Hedwyn's in your Rite, your team gets double Stamina regen, which is ridiculously good.
  • Moon Formation: Going further in that, as long as anyone on Hedwyn's team has the orb, they move more quickly and pass it more quickly. This one really rewards a skilled macro player, who can swap between the three exiles quickly to maneuver the orb.
  • Sacred Bond: With this, you can return teammates from banishment just by going to where they were. This works best with teams that have inordinately low Hope scores, such as teams with Demons like Jodariel, or with extremely aggressive teams that find themselves banished more than not.
  • Divine Retribution: Again, really simple: enemies get 2 seconds more banishment out of each banishment. This lets you take the advantage in a confrontation with aggressive banishments and push it hard.

Kalir 08-13-2017 09:43 AM

We get into how traveling the Downside works, and have our first real Rite against the Accusers.

Character Bio:

Rukey Greentail
The Fast Talker

Rukey is a lot like Hedwyn in terms of personality, in that he's very optimistic. However, Rukey is way more energetic about his emotions than Hedwyn is. He's quick to anger, but also quick to forgive. There's few things that trouble him for very long. He also seems to be the most well-connected of the three Nightwings so far, with people here and there that owe him favors. Makes you wonder if anyone has one he owes them. He's not an especially multifaceted character, honestly: about the only thing that hints towards more backstory is the family portrait he keeps in the blackwagon.

Rukey has excellent Quickness and Hope, but low Glory and Presence. While he'll have trouble banishing other exiles unless they're trying to run the Orb to our Pyre, he's a very good choice for sneaking in quick goals. His high Hope means that even if he does get caught offguard during a run, he'll be back on his feet in no time. You won't get many points for scoring with Rukey, but with how easy it is to do, every little bit adds up.

Anyway, here's his Masteries, which as before, are shared among all curs like him. While Hedwyn's Masteries emphasized his all-around effectiveness, Rukey's are built towards his high Quickness.

Maneuvers of Many-Mane:
  • Cloud Jump: And right off the bat, you can get Rukey access to a double jump. While you won't be able to abuse altitude that much here, it DOES let you have a lot more midair maneuverability. Wait for the right opening and Cloud Jump in!
  • Lightning Run: Y'know, in case Rukey wasn't already fast enough. Now his sprint has better acceleration and top speed. You'll have no trouble finding a way to weave through an opposition with this Mastery.
  • Lucky Break: A 50% chance for an effective instant respawn isn't anything to sneeze at, mind you. I just don't see it being very useful for Rukey, who already has a very brief respawn time on account of his high Hope. I'd say skip it.
  • Moon Sault: What, double jump isn't enough? How about a TRIPLE JUMP, then? With this, you will absolutely be able to clear over enemies vertically, even if they're trying their best to tackle you out of the skies. Takes a while to get here, but it's worth it.

Traits of the Alpha-Chief:
  • Glory Dive: Now we're talking. Using his vanilla Glory stat, Rukey will only be able to chip at the enemy Pyre. Glory Dive says that as long as he's jumping in (not just throwing the Orb), he gets +5 damage. That adds up really quickly, and makes him an incredibly reliable scorer.
  • Keen Eye: Rukey's Aura-Cast is nothing special. Longer range, sure, but also pretty thin. With this, it gets to be pretty far-reaching, letting you handle chokepoints by launching his Aura through them, then sprint in to grab the Orb and capitalize.
  • Explosive Temper: This gets even better when you add this trait, as your Aura-Casts now cause chain reactions if they banish. On its own, it's not terrible reliable except for breaking up enemy defensive lines, but it really comes into its own with Keen Eye backing it up.
  • Guiding Light: Now you're just being silly. Rukey comes back after scoring with a Pyre dive, rather than being banished until the next score? You could easily leverage this to just have Rukey Pyre-dive constantly with your other two guys just being huge walls, no problem.

Kalir 08-14-2017 07:46 AM

We encounter and subsequently name a mysterious stowaway, and face off against the Fate, probably my favorite triumvirate.

Character Bio:

The Fallen Soldier

Drastically different from her fellows, we have Jodariel. This horned titan of a woman is very dour and serious, and slow to trust others. This isn't to call her unkind, mind you, just that she will probably be very blunt and pessimistic in her bedside manner while treating you. More to the point, she's stayed in the Downside far longer than either Hedwyn or Rukey, to the point where it has transformed her into a Demon.

Which, incidentally, gives her a slightly different moveset as well as statline from her companions. Demons like Jodariel have immense Presence and the highest base Glory stat in the game, but very poor Quickness and Hope. So she'll have trouble getting anywhere and will take a long time to recover, but will threaten a huge area at all times, and can do loads of damage to the enemy Pyre if she ever manages to get close enough to score.

Additionally, she does not have the same kind of sprint that the others do. Instead, she has a short-ranged Rush, which gives her an immediate quick burst of speed. On most characters, it'd be hardly worth noting, but Jodariel's Presence makes this a solid way of intercepting a runner. Additionally, her leap creates a massive shockwave when it lands, scattering exiles on both teams away from her.

Jodariel's Demon Masteries are as straightforward as Rukey's, emphasizing her raw power and making her even more dangerous in the Rites.

Sins of the Fallen Emperor:
  • Long Stride: I feel like the wording on this one is confusing. It says that Jodariel can basically double-Rush, which is correct, as they now consume half of her stamina instead of all of it. This is, of course, about as good as her maneuverability gets, so better to have it than not!
  • Crushing Heel: Flying stomps are cool, but they're even cooler when they make other exiles drop the Orb. Do note that this doesn't protect Jodariel should she land in an exile's Aura, so be careful against opponents who have particularly large Presence.
  • Brazen Manner: During the match, any exile can salute, which normally does nothing but make a cool pose. Jodariel is our first exile to have a Mastery for this, which grants her +10 damage to the enemy Pyre if she scores for a while after doing this. This is an extremely risky maneuver, best saved for after clearing out their team.
  • Celestial Spike: There's a theorycrafter on the Steam forums who argues that Jodariel is only saved from being bottom-tier due to this move. Which, yeah, making Orb throws into an attack in and of itself is HUGE. No defensive line can stop Jodariel from throwing in for points with this.

Boons of the First Exile:
  • Relentless Vigor: If Jodariel banishes a foe, she instantly gets all of her stamina back? This is a bit weaker than it sounds, as a single jump or rush will deplete her stamina completely (unless you took Long Stride). Still, this can let her push an offensive much further than usual, or seize the advantage after cutting off an attack.
  • Fierce Presence: Hey, just a permanent +4 Presence, nothing wrong with that. Again, demons already have the largest Presence score by far, so taking this ensures that enemies will have to work extra hard to get around her (or risk throwing the Orb past her, which takes time).
  • Enduring Flame: Another straightforward buff, this just gives your Pyre even more strength, starting you off at 135. This one works just by having Jodariel in the match at all, so if you mostly rely on her defensively and instead prefer to run with other exiles, this one's an easy choice.
  • Greater Banishment: Jodariel is at her best when banishing enemies, so keeping them away even longer is great. This goes a long way against teams that rely on high Hope to constantly wear you down, letting you make some headway rather consistently.

Kalir 08-15-2017 09:42 AM

A lot of the characters we meet in this episode have a history with the Nightwings, and in the case of the Dissidents, it's not a happy one.

Character Bio:

The Faithful Drifter

Our first "recruit" is a weird stowaway who can barely remember her name. In fact, you can name her a wide variety of things, since all she remembers is that her name rhymes with "gray". Weird that the Reader can decide what her name is, but eh. In our campaign, we named her Shae, but when I played on my own I named her Fae. Either way, she's very friendly, if something of an oddball in terms of mentality. She's also the most pious of the lot, constantly looking for the blessings of the Eight Scribes.

Shae's race is classified as "savage", but there's not really much to say that there's anything differentiating people like her (or Almer) from Nomads like Hedwyn save for how society views them. As such, her stats are pretty close to his: slightly less Presence, a touch more Quickness and Hope, but still statwise more or less interchangable.

The real differences are her movement abilities and Masteries. Her Jump and Sprint don't happen immediately when pressed like with Nomads, but instead have a slight charge-up time. As a trade-off, Shae can go a lot farther more quickly with her moves, especially if you time her Power-Jumps just right. (I have yet to figure out the timing on that at all.)

As for her Masteries, Shae's are tied to Khaylmer Rope-Caller. Which is weird, because he's not actually one of the Eight Scribes! You'll find out more as we unlock pages in the Book of Rites, but as far as Masteries go it's not a huge deal.

Tricks of the Rope-Caller:
  • Heightened Reflexes: Kind of weird that one of the first Masteries you can get is just "make her more like Hedwyn". But eh, it's not a bad idea, really. Only problem is that it makes the Power-Jump timing different, but outside of that it's still just that she can react faster, which is crucial for getting away from tough spots (or getting to them).
  • Traitor's Flight: Further jumps can come in very handy, especially with Power-Jumps. A skilled Shae can get to the Orb and launch herself from almost anywhere into the opponent's Pyre, with very little time for the enemy to react.
  • Webbed Feet: I don't know if the area of effect on this is comparable to Jodariel's Crushing Heel, but slowing enemies that are nearby as she sprints is mostly only helpful on defense. Without your own Aura to capitalize on this or protect yourself as you get close enough to slow, it's not ideal for goal-scoring.
  • False Step: Amazing Mastery for pressuring the opponent. Shae comes back if banished mid-jump? Yeah, you'll still drop the Orb if you have it, but with how far Shae can launch herself, this makes going for goals from long ranges much more effective and less risky, since hey, she'll be back right away!

The Grand Traitor's Leanings:
  • Snap Cast: Aura-Casts charge up quicker! That's always nice. It's not really anything you can build an entire strategy around, but it's nice. Just you can shoot Auras at people more quickly, that's all.
  • Quick Fling: Shae's just getting every ability that says "do this thing but quicker", isn't she? I still consider jumping to be more effective for her overall, but if you're good at finding openings to throw the Orb in, Shae can capitalize on that much more easily.
  • Sudden Grasp: Shae's saluting ability let her instajump to the Orb if it's unclaimed. I mean, that's cool and all, but how long is the enemy going to just let her sit there saluting with an unclaimed Orb on hand, right? Still, this can make for a really good setup of "salute, warp to Orb, jump right at the enemy Pyre, GOAL".
  • Dark Vigor: This one is completely insane. Infinite Stamina while holding the Orb lets Shae just bolt around the field like a complete maniac. The biggest problem with Dark Vigor is that taking it precludes you from all the best traits for amplifying her sprints and jumps! It's still a good trait, mind, just harder to capitalize on.

Kalir 08-16-2017 10:00 AM

The Withdrawn are our opponents here. And they're doom cultists. This is fine, right? Totally fine. We also encounter Sandra of the Beyonders, in her own weird way.

Character Bio:

The Little Watcher

Most drive-imps are pretty simple creatures, that want nothing more than good meals and something to do, but on rare occasions, some of them can get to the level of intellect of other people, like Ti'zo here. Ti'zo traveled with the Nightwings before we rolled along, making him perhaps the oldest of the characters currently on our triumvirate. He's always happy to help and rather fearless, willing to stand his ground in "conversation" against all manner of opponents.

Imps handle extremely strangely compared to other characters. They have some very awkward stats, chief among them low Glory and Quickness, so you might consider them a poor choice for scoring, which is technically correct. Their decent Presence and Hope lends one to consider them a defensive character like Jodariel, but without the high value you could get from scoring.

The devil is in the details, as Ti'zo has the weirdest moveset so far. Instead of a dash, he has a Zip that consumes a small chunk of Stamina to move quickly forward, which can do incredible evasive work or catch enemies approaching the goal. Instead of jumping, he can Flutter in the air for a pretty serious length of time, although this doesn't cover much ground. And finally, instead of the usual Aura-Cast, Ti'zo causes their aura to Implode, banishing opponents in a seriously wide range but also banishing himself (albeit with a reduced respawn time).

Ti'zo's Masteries are similarly bizarre, and greatly emphasize using the Implode ability aggressively to get the upper hand on your opponents. Like Hedwyn, Ti'zo might not be able to do a lot themselves, but they can greatly aid your team through their sacrifices.

Secrets of the Accursed Imp:
  • Elusive Nature: Zips and Flutters move faster. One of those "exactly what it says on the box" Masteries, which lets Ti'zo advance much more quickly into enemy lines, either to go for a score themselves or to shatter the enemy's defenses with a quick Implode.
  • Safe Return: If you are going to use Ti'zo, you really should be getting as much mileage as possible out of your Implode, so having them return more quickly after such an ability is extremely handy. This lets them serve the dual purpose of banishing a bunch of enemies and being a handy defense against whoever survives.
  • Titans' Rage: Bigger Implodes! What's not to like? This also, I believe, lets you charge it up faster, which is of great importance if enemies try to banish you pre-emptively, which can very easily happen if you get overconfident.
  • Inner Glory: +10 Pyre damage. Suddenly, Ti'zo is a better goal-runner than Rukey by a factor of "yes". Okay, that's not quite fair, Rukey will have far better mobility. But now Ti'zo will have plenty of their own agility plus a much higher score value.

Flights of the Swallow:
  • Moon Sign: The first support ability Ti'zo gets is the ability to place a Moon Sign wherever they are banished (for any reason). Placing this opens up a warp by your Pyre, which any exile (including Ti'zo on respawn) can use to jump instantly to where he was banished. Use this to set up an aggressive opening!
  • Last Laugh: This is an amazing ability for leaving Ti'zo on defense OR for just charging in with your Aura like a maniac, as it auto-Implodes him if he is banished without the Orb. You might even consider ignoring the Orb in favor of just Zipping in banishing people.
  • Wild Heart: Transforming into a Howler with a salute is a weird thing to do, but it's not a bad idea. While you lose the capability to do anything but hold the Orb and move, you have some real get up and go, and you can instantly transform back as the need arises. More mobility (that doesn't require stamina) is amazing for Ti'zo.
  • Star Sign: Improved Moon Sign! Anyone that uses it gets a speed and stamina boost, meaning that enemies basically have to camp the Moon Sign to ensure that you won't just snag the Orb and slam into their Pyre with it the second they drop their guard.

Kalir 08-17-2017 10:23 AM

By cashing in a favor Bertrude owes to Sandalwood, we gain the means to sail the Sea of Solis and face off against the Pyrehearts.

Character Bio:

Sir Gilman
The Honor Seeker

What, did you think I'd just cover the Nightwings? Nah, man. We only have so many of them, and every character we see here has a story to tell and their own reasons for returning from exile. Sir Gilman here is an exemplary wyrm-knight: bold, chivalrous, noble, wears his heart on his sleeve and always tries his hardest. He claims to be on a quest to regain his honor, although we don't really know what he means by this, yet.

Statwise, you would be forgiven for assuming that Wyrms like Sir Gilman are Luigimodes of curs, as they have high Quickness and Hope but low Glory. More Quickness, less Hope, but basically the same. However, they differ in terms of their Presence stat. The Presence stat does not determine a Wyrm's aura size, but the length of their aura trail. Their aura lingers along the path they travel, even if the area around them cannot increase in size.

Likewise, Wyrms cannot cast their auras. Instead, they can perform an Aura-Slash, instantly jumping back to the end of their aura trail and banishing any enemies close enough to the path they take. The best post I've seen on how best to utilize this feature is to use Wyrms not to score, but to set up goals for other teammates by quickly getting them into position to control a wide swath of the battlefield.

Not that you can't use a Wyrm to score, but all of their Masteries are basically built around banishing enemies or assisting their team. While a wyrm will have trouble reliably scoring as much as a cur, they'll lend a hand to the rest of their team no problem.

Depths of the Sea-Sojourner:
  • Valiant Return: Again, Wyrms have pretty decent Hope, but being able to instantly return if the team gets banished means you can press on more aggressively and still have a chance should everything go south. This obviously suits highly-aggressive teams hoping to give as good as they get.
  • Stunning Claim: Do note that this salute will immobilize all exiles, including the ones on your team and the Wyrm saluting. That's not a strictly bad thing, mind you: that still is 3 seconds where the only thing that can happen is respawn timers ticking down. If you're facing down a huge horde and only have your wyrm left, why not make a Stunning Claim?
  • Heroic Stand: For my money, though, I'd rather just have my one remaining exile get infinite stamina and a speed boost. Both of these obviously combo with Valiant Return, but coming back instantly, fighting past the enemy, and snagging a quick goal can put your team back on the board too.
  • Seized Chance: And this just makes it even better. If you're really a master of banishing with Wyrms, you'll find them even better at scoring than curs, especially with +10 Pyre damage after a banishment. But again, this REALLY requires you to know how to handle a Wyrm.

Tactics of the Underking:
  • Avenging Aid: Banishing an enemy instantly returns an ally to the field, eh? You might have noticed a theme with Wyrms here: they are all about taking impossible odds and turning them on their head. Phoenix Wright would be proud.
  • Quick Draw: This is a pretty technical move, but still a good one that effectively lets a Wyrm be in two places at once. Sometimes just detonating your Aura-Trail but staying still is better than doing it but setting yourself somewhere awkward.
  • Greater Cleave: It can be difficult for a new player to get any banishments with an Aura-Slash, especially if their Wyrm doesn't quite have the Presence to back up the move. That's what Greater Cleave is for: just helping to make the attack more reasonable (and also stupid jokes, I guess).
  • Vigorous Slash: Whether it hits or misses, now Aura-Slashes also restore your Stamina. This lets you either quickly restore the Aura-Trail for your team to capitalize on, or take the opening from a banishment and run with it!

Tomorrow, I'll be streaming again, at 6PM Mountain Time. I'd really like to have more people there (or posting here, but I'm gonna guess that most people aren't following the thread because they want to play the game unspoiled for themselves).

Kalir 08-18-2017 03:01 PM

Stream starts in two hours.

Lucas 08-18-2017 09:40 PM

I wish I had the kind of internet where I could get in on the streams because someone needs to vote for Tizo.

Kalir 08-20-2017 10:06 AM

We gather a few more exiles into our group and have our first match against the Essence.

Character Bio:

Pamitha Theyn
The Guilty Sister

So far, everyone that's joined the Nightwings has done so because they're confident they can help. Pamitha's kind of in that vein, but she also kind of feels like she's doing so out of convenience. Whatever her story, she's mostly here to deal with her sister Tamitha, leader of the Essence. I'm not gonna say no to her joining the Nightwings, but it makes you wonder.

Pamitha is a Harp, one of the Highwing Remnants that is at war with the Commonwealth (so they're okay with throwing POWs to the Downside). Statwise, Harps are nothing to write hope about. Their stats across the board are average or poor, with particularly weak Presence. In spite of this, you can make a case for Harps being the strongest characters in the game.

Part of this is their moveset. Their Dash handles much like that of a Demon, but covers more ground, consumes less Stamina, and pushes other exiles away. Instead of a normal Aura-Cast, they have a Tackle, which launches them forward along the cast path, invincible and banishing any enemies they contact. And of course, those wings aren't just for show. Harps have an incredible flight capability, the best in the game by far, even though it consumes Stamina fairly quickly.

The other part is their Masteries. Covering their weaknesses while amplifying their strengths, Harps are dangerous at any level of mastery, and looking at one just for their stats is a sure way to underestimate them.

Wings of the Matriarch:
  • Swift Flight: So what if Pamitha's Quickness is low? You can just fly where you need to go anyway, right? This can be used offensively or defensively, and being able to zip around the battlefield with only your Stamina as your limit is incredibly powerful.
  • Shrike Dash: Remember how Long Stride let Demons push an advantage much further despite it only giving a single extra Rush? Well, Shrike Dash is that but far more so. With this, you'll be as agile on the ground as in the air.
  • Sleight of Wing: A lot of the salute abilities feel gimmicky, and this one's no exception. Swapping places with your closest ally can either work really well or really badly, and I wouldn't recommend this to any player who isn't a master of positioning and timing.
  • Greater Celerity: The capstone abilities for the Harps are stat boosts. In this case, Pamitha gets a hearty helping of +8 Quickness, putting her on par with Rukey. Except for that she can fly. I dunno if you noticed, but HARPS ARE REALLY GOOD.

Ways of the Highwing:
  • Winged Fury: These traits are way more fun, though. Winged Fury gives Pamitha a speed boost after banishing someone, which makes her great for the opening when you need to seize the orb before the opponent: barrel in, banish them, and Winged Fury your way over to the Pyre!
  • Fell Swoop: What makes an Aura-Tackle even better? EXPLODING PARTWAY THROUGH IT. This move covers a seriously big radius, letting you fearlessly charge into offensives that would make almost any other attacker reconsider.
  • Relentless Pursuit: For more BERSERKER, take this Mastery to halve Pamitha's respawn time if banished during Winged Fury. She has pretty decent Hope, and you can make this even sillier with Talismans to boost that, so you are rarely left without her to press an offensive.
  • Natural Superiority: Granting +4 Quickness, Hope, and Presence puts Pamitha's stats more comparably to Shae's, making her a pretty solid all-around character. Except, again, she can fly and do invincible tackles. I don't know how many times I can say it, but Harps are good.

Kalir 08-22-2017 08:18 AM

It took a while, but we finally meet up with the mysterious Sandalwood character this episode! I bet the character bio will be chock-full of secret info!

Character Bio:

H. Manley Tinderstauf
The Silver Tongue

Hah, no. Volfred's gonna have to wait. Instead, we're covering the leader of the Chastity, Manley. There are a lot of characters you might consider antagonistic, like Lendel, or Tamitha, or even Barker. Manley is a different kind of antagonistic, and by far one of the most love-to-hate characters in the game, being a dude who was filthy rich through no means of his own. And this was eventually his own downfall, too. Yes, this is a mystical fantasy world where rich people actually answer for their crimes.

And since we're covering our first triumvirate leader, I may as well discuss the Chastity, too. Founded by Lu Sclorian the Hundred-Minds, the Chastity was originally intended to propagate the cycle of the Rites, teaching of Enlightenment if any of their exiles were to be liberated. It's also one of the most diverse triumvirates in the game. Under Manley, though, they're mostly in it for themselves, to exploit their status as liberated exiles for higher standing. They're not the most dangerous in the Rites, but they do represent the worst of the Commonwealth's upper crust.

Bitterness aside, Manley is our first encounter with Saps in the Rites. Statwise, they're effectively less extreme Demons. Still slow as hell, but they have better Hope and slightly worse Glory and Presence. Doesn't sound that great on its own, does it? Well, the stats do lend themselves to playing goalie for their team.

Like Harps, the trick to Saps is in their abilities. This is partly a downside for them, as they have NO jumping ability, instead replaced with a shield effect that consumes stamina but can instantly reflect Aura-Casts back at their attackers. Likewise, they can't cast their own Aura, but they CAN generate a Sapling that has its own Presence and auto-reflects at all times. Their dash is pretty solid for offense, being a Blink that warps them instantly through underground travel, although you're vulnerable for a bit after using it.

Likewise, Sap Masteries are all about defense. At this point, I'd like to bring up that in the couch versus mode, you can either manually assign Masteries to each of your Exiles, or take presets for each one. This is usually balanced out by their stats, as not every exile has the same stats even if they're the same race. Rukey just has better Quickness and Hope than Barker, and Dalbert has better Quickness and Hope than either. I'll cover what Masteries people have when I add the second member of any given race.

Legacies of Old Hundred-Minds:
  • Guardian Sapling: Ordinarily, Saplings vanish if their Sap is banished. With this, being banished automatically generates a Sapling by your Pyre, so you're never caught with your pants down. This is a flat-out amazing Mastery, especially for how early you get it, and lets you actually try for offense with your Sap.
  • Sturdy Sapling: The big problem preventing any Sap from attacking is that they can't actually cats their Aura, and they need a lot of prediction to set up and deal with people. Unless they can cast a larger Sapling, and much faster. It's still not EASY, but it does let you, say, drop a Sapling on the Pyre as soon as we begin.
  • Unstable Sapling: This lets you detonate your Sapling with your salute, which gives you an ACTUAL proactive method of attack. Which isn't especially powerful compared to, say, a Demon just casting their Aura, but it DOES help.
  • Numbing Gust: What, having an auto-spawning Sapling when you're down? How about basically disabling every single thing the opponents can do until people respawn? If you take this Mastery, you're just being mean. It's strong, sure, but it's not very effective if you're doing well, is my problem.

Grasp of the Philosopher:
  • Final Kindling: I don't really like this Mastery. Sure, giving you a safety net if your Pyre is extinguished is nice, but I think not getting your Pyre extinguished in the first place is a better plan. Still, it's a prerequisite for some other stuff.
  • Guardian Shield: Like this move. You can either use it like Moon Formation as a macro-intensive defense for your entire team, or to protect the rest of your guys as your Sap pushes further into enemy territory. Very handy to have, but mostly if you're good with timing and reflexes.
  • Steadfast Hope: I mean, +5 Hope is nothing to sneeze at. Saps don't have very strong Hope in the first place, so boosting that up is nice. I'd rather take Guardian Sapling and the Legacies of Old Hundred-Minds tree, though, but it's still solid.
  • Miracle Kindling: This stacks with Final Kindling, so if your Pyre gets extinguished, it's a total of 50 health for your new Pyre, which is kind of nuts. It's a nice contingency plan effect, and unlike Final Kindling, it's a huge amount of health, giving you tons of room for risk.

Kalir 08-24-2017 09:43 AM

Atop Mount Alodiel, we go into our first Liberation Rite. Either one of our own, or one of the Tempers we are facing, will go free to the Commonwealth tonight.

Character Bio:

The Reader

Since the Commonwealth has banned literacy, it's not especially wise for anyone to admit to being a Reader, lest they are cast into the Downside. The player's character is one such Reader, and you are given opportunity at a few instances, more as you approach the first Liberation Rite, to define who they are.

This lends to whoever you play as having a kind of Commander Shepard vibe, where you define who they are through past and present choices. Unlike Mass Effect, though, this is not the Reader's story: they are merely in the background weave of the entire story of Pyre, helping the rest of the Nightwings against the other triumvirates in everyone's quest to be free. In fact, one of the things you eventually learn is that you specifically cannot go free as a Reader.

The reason is simple. Since you aren't participating in the Rites directly, but instead guiding your triumvirate, you cannot gain Enlightenment. And even if it wasn't for us being the Reader of the Nightwings, our choice of backgrounds and injuries from our recent arrival to the Downside indicates that we would be in no shape to perform the Rites anyway (so we can't tag-team the role with Volfred). Still, the Nightwings need their Reader to guide them, so even if we personally cannot go free, the rest of our team can, through our assistance.

As Volfred, the only other Reader we know of, tells us, you are not limited to Reading only books. Our first shot at this was when we guessed Shae's name: we didn't just give her a name, we looked into her mind and picked out the one we thought was hers. There will be plenty more instances of being able to Read the thoughts of others: we do so with Ignarius during the Liberation Rite, and every time we do, or when Volfred telepathically contacts us, the screen will wash into blackness.

There aren't many ways we have specific gameplay effects during the Rites save for guiding everyone, although we can use our Vocations to either grant the Reader's Influence to the rest of our team, or to Mentor a companion by teaching them straight from the Book of Rites. It's a safe assumption that every other triumvirate has their own Reader to do the same, although if they do, they never factor into the story. Like us, they are in the background.

Streaming again tomorrow at 6PM Mountain Time. We'll have more freedom in choice of opponents, but we'll be down an exile. So that'll be neat.

Mogri 08-24-2017 09:46 AM

How far into the game are you at this point?

Kalir 08-24-2017 09:47 AM

The first time I played the game, I was a little worried that the first Liberation Rite would be the end, but it's not really even close. We'll have lots of shots at the Liberation Rite, and the ending of the game will telegraph itself from miles off.

Torzelbaum 08-24-2017 07:16 PM


Originally Posted by Kalir (Post 2381349)

Atop Mount Alodiel, we go into our first Liberation Rite. Either one of our own, or one of the Tempers we are facing, will go free to the Commonwealth tonight.

Kalir 08-25-2017 03:07 PM

Stream begins in two hours.

Kalir 08-25-2017 05:38 PM

Stream's having technical difficulties, should be back in about half an hour.

Kalir 08-26-2017 09:39 AM

Our first rematch is against the Fate, where Shae is happy to meet her unrequited friend Almer. We also get a valuable lesson in how the triumvirates each get a little better the more you face them.

Character Bio:

Almer Oldheart
The Fanged Firebrand

So, fakeout with Sir Gilman aside, the Fate is the only triumvirate you encounter, normally, that has two important exiles for you to handle. Almer here is the foster-son of Dalbert Oldheart, and despite hailing from a different tribe, he loves his father dearly and would do anything for him. He's also extremely protective of Dalbert and extremely unwilling to trust anyone else, even in the case of people like Shae who want to be his friend. Not a bad kid, but hard to get close to, y'know?

Speaking of Shae, Almer is also a Savage. No point in going over their Masteries again... at least, not normally. However, in the versus mode, you can play as both Almer and Shae, and they each have different capabilities. First, Shae has a single point of Quickness over him, hardly noteworthy. She also has Sudden Grasp, letting her instantly get to the Orb by saluting.

Almer, on the other hand, has Quick Fling, letting him throw the Orb without warning and with plenty of power behind it. These Masteries cannot be gained without prerequisites normally, but those are the only Masteries that Shae and Almer possess in versus mode. Apparently Quick Fling is considered exactly 1 point of Quickness better than Sudden Grasp. You CAN instead use Masteries of your own selection, in which case you set an enlightenment total for everyone during setup, and in which case there is no reason to run Almer instead of Shae.

Oh, and one last thing: Almer's interactions with Shae obviously don't happen if you freed her first, so everything between them in the video is new to me, too. This is part of why I did this LP!

I will probably have to change up my stream schedule, though. Long story short: Work is going to eat up all of my Friday evenings straight through September, so I'll have to change it up if I want to stick to a weekly schedule. I might go for Sunday evenings: let me know if that works for you.

Kalir 08-28-2017 11:03 AM

Back against the Withdrawn. I don't know if you're aware, but the other triumvirates are no joke after your first Liberation Rite!

Character Bio:

The Doom Sayer

Leading the Withdrawn, we have Udmildhe, a bog-crone with a pretty unhealthy obsession with the star-titan Yslach Astral-Born. As Tariq explained earlier, the Downside was formerly populated by all manner of Greater Titans, colossal monsters with horrible powers. Yslach was the strongest of the lot by far, to the point where the Eight Scribes couldn't actually kill them, just seal them away and use their body to create the Book of Rites. Udmildhe is a doom cultist who wants Yslach to return and devour everything! Oh good.

Let's also discuss the Withdrawn, founded by Molten Milithe, the one who sealed Yslach away in the first place. So on that count, the current Withdrawn are missing the mark entirely. However, Milithe intended for the Withdrawn to constantly pursue new knowledge, such that they and the other triumvirates can know more about the world and themselves. Ravenclaws, basically. So if you want to be super nitpicky, Udmildhe's succeeding on that one, since most people write off Yslach as mythical at best and still very very dead at worst.

The game calls people like Udmildhe bog-dwellers as a gender-neutral term, but more often they use the term Crone, which I'm okay with. As a Crone, Udmildhe functions as a more moderate Demon: good Glory and Presence, not-so-good Quickness and Hope. They're still very strong scorers if you can get them past the enemy, and as with Demons, the best way to do so is to banish people.

Crones have a VERY easy time of this with their unique Aura-Cast, which fires out in a cone rather than a line. In theory, there are spaces in the cone that render it safe, but this mostly just means that cover is more reliable: if you're caught out against a Crone, you're pretty dead. Their Pounce is a much faster version of the Demon's jump, harder to control but with just as much pushback potential. And finally, their sprint is a Slither with very little control but a lot of speed. Crones are always dangerous at any point.

Crone Masteries are pretty straightforward, which is weird for a race we have yet to add to our team, but so it goes. Basically all of them make your Crone slightly more effective in ways they are likely to see, without requiring weird adaptations to your playstyle.

Passions of the Wild Witch:
  • Hex of Defeat: +5 Pyre damage if you are losing, eh? Sure, why not. This sets the base Glory of a losing Crone to 30, which is on par with a Demon. They're pretty good at scoring, guys. While this might feel like it's a waste if you can consistently win, there's a case to be made for this being the stronger of the two Hexes.
  • Greater Blast: Wide-angle disintegration rays! More of what it says on the box: you threaten a wider area with your Aura-Blast. Against many opponents, this will force them to make a snap decision of which of their exiles they need to not have banished.
  • Sudden Blast: Y'know, in case you wanted to fire the Aura-Blast so quickly opponents don't have time to react to it. I totally understand, winning is really nice.
  • Stubborn Flame: Pyre damage resistance is incredibly rare and incredibly strong, and the fact that it only applies if your Pyre has less health than theirs isn't a huge problem. This Mastery gives you a boatload of leeway, especially against speedy low-Glory scorers like Curs and Wyrms.

Sorceries of the Southern Bogs:
  • Hex of Victory: The opposite of Hex of Defeat: you get +5 Pyre damage if you're winning. You can and likely will take both Hexes, effectively granting your Crone 30 Glory if you aren't tied. I still consider this the weaker of the two Hexes, but not by much.
  • Vital Pounce: This is slightly trickier to use than its demonic counterpart, Relentless Vigor, because pouncing on an enemy doesn't banish them, just knocks them back. Ideally, you pounce on their Exile with the Orb, slither up to them and banish them, and then speed into their Pyre.
  • Serpent Swiftness: Speedier, longer-lasting Slither. Remember how Crones have higher than average Glory but are supposed to be slow? Emphasis on "supposed to be". I'd make a case for this being their strongest Mastery: anyone who's gotten a handle on playing Rukey will be a terror with a Serpent Swiftness Crone.
  • Feral Curse: Salute to transform all of your opponents into Howlers! They lose the ability to do anything but move and hold the Orb. This is a once per match thing, but unless you are facing a Wild Heart Imp, this is pretty much a once-per-match free shot at the enemy Pyre with your biggest baddest scorer.

Yeah, moving to Sunday afternoons. We'll call it 6:30 PM my time (so 5:30PM on West Coast, 8:30 on East). Hope to see you there.

Torzelbaum 08-29-2017 09:10 PM

So I have been enjoying watching this game of fantasy basketball* but I do have a question - what happens if the reader hides his/her literacy at the start of the game? Does Volfred show up sooner or is this a case of "thou must be the Reader"?

*No, not that kind.

Kalir 08-30-2017 10:51 AM

We have a rematch with the Chastity and are reminded why we hate their jerk asses. We also see some much more ominous stars than usual.

Character Bio:

Sandra the Unseeing
The Expelled Teacher

Leading a technical tenth triumvirate, but one without any hope of freedom, we have Sandra the Unseeing. One of the Beyonders, which is to say, one of the Sisters of the Arch who attempted to assassinate the fallen Emperor Soliam Murr 837 years ago, Sandra is a thoroughly bitter and prickly person who is hard to get close to. Despite this and her crime, she's one of the fan favorites of Pyre, and rivals Jodariel for the most fanart I've seen.

Sandra and the Beyonders serve two gameplay purposes. The first is Practice Rites, letting you and your triumvirate get some time to learn how to handle new moves or Talismans. Since there's no penalty for losing a Practice Rite, be sure to make the most of this! The other is her Scribe Trials, in which one of your exiles has to take on a specific enemy team solo. Victory means you get a unique exile-exclusive Talisman! They're all pretty good.

In the story, Sandra is classified as a wraith, which, y'know, only makes sense. But she's playable as a Nomad in the versus mode. Which means we should also discuss what Hedwyn can do there, too. Hedwyn's got Martial Training, letting him jump and sprint more often with a bigger Stamina bar. Boring, but pretty reliable.

Sandra has -5 Glory compared to Hedwyn, but if you're trying to score with Sandra, you're doing it wrong, because she has literally the entire Bonds of the Sahrian Legion Mastery tree. Everyone on her team has double Stamina regen, faster move/pass speeds with the Orb, can revive teammates by getting to where they were banished, and banishes opponents for 2 seconds longer. Sandra is easily one of the strongest characters in versus mode... assuming preset masteries. If you're not using those, don't even look at her over Hedwyn.

Also I don't know what would happen if you try to hide your literacy early on. I'd assume that they'd go "well then, it won't hurt you to have a look at this Book of Rites, now, will it?"

Kalir 09-01-2017 08:35 AM

We have our most intense match yet, with a second Liberation Rite against opponents we are all right with losing to.

Character Bio:

Dalbert Oldheart
The Old Chief

The leader of the Fate is an old and honorable cur named Dalbert Oldheart. I have a lot of characters in this game that I like, but very few that can compete with Dalbert for outright favorite. There isn't a moment that goes by where he doesn't wish the best for everyone, including the other triumvirate. Gracious in defeat and humble in victory, I'm not surprised you encounter the Fate second: it really helps raise the question of whether the other triumvirates don't deserve their freedom as well early on.

The Fate as a triumvirate are founded on principles of honor, tradition, and the like, which flies in the face of Jomuer Many-Mane's roguish tales. That said, the present-day Fate are perhaps the triumvirate most closely sticking to the ideals of their founder. In fact, Dalbert only got exiled because he was celebrating an old cur holiday the Commonwealth considered heretical, and Almer was exiled for sticking by Dalbert when he was arrested.

In versus mode, as mentioned before, Dalbert has two points of Quickness and Hope each over Rukey, as well as both Lucky Break and Guiding Light, ensuring that you're basically never without Dalbert on your team. On the other hand, Rukey's got Cloud Jump, so his mobility is generally better anyway. Despite Dalbert's generally better stats and masteries, I don't think he has much of an edge over Rukey, as spamming him into the Pyre won't actually do that much, and despite his stats he will have trouble getting past most defensive teams.

Did you remember that I have moved streaming to Sunday evenings instead of Friday? Because I have. You now have that entire block of time free to do whatever you want! Be happy.

Kalir 09-03-2017 02:02 PM

Stream today in four hours.

Kalir 09-04-2017 12:39 PM

Let's try to reason with Tamitha. Surely all that stuff about being an elite tactician and soldier from a country we're at war with is no reason for us to be enemies.

Character Bio:

Big Bertrude
The Serpent Queen

One of our latest-joining members, Bertrude's helped us out for a second time this way. Back at her alchemist's store in the Flagging Hands, she fixed up our blackwagon to sail the seas, and we're not the only ones she's helped. She runs a pretty tidy business there, and the atmosphere doesn't bother her at all. Really the only reason she's sticking out her neck for us at all is to help Sandalwood.

If Shae was one of the first people you freed, like I did, Bertrude's the first real moment you might realize that maybe freedom isn't all it's cracked up to be. Sure, the Downside's kind of crummy in a lot of ways, but it's got its own charms to it, and it's not the worst place to be. Bertrude doesn't personally give a damn about freedom for her own sake, but again, if we set her free, she'll do everything in her power to see Volfred's Plan through.

Bertrude and Udmildhe are the only two Crones in versus mode. Bertrude's got Vital Pounce and Sudden Blast, suiting her much more to an ambush and aggression playstyle, while Udmildhe has Greater Blast and Feral Curse, making her great for turning the tables out of nowhere, but only every so often. Bertrude has slightly more Quickness and less Hope than Udmildhe, but the differences are small enough that either one can be used if you're running custom Masteries.

Kalir 09-06-2017 09:21 AM


Character Bio:

The Horned Champion

The first time you enter a Liberation Rite, you'll face off against Ignarius, and if you lose, he goes free. Which means you either see him once, or as an everpresent fellow basically all game. And he doesn't really make a good first impression. Brash and crude, he clumsily hits on Jodariel and tries to talk trash against the Nightwings. For what it's worth, he's a pretty solid opponent, but he gets a bum deal to represent that, since it's highly unlikely he gets a second shot at liberation.

That said, he's honestly a pretty respectable guy, and not far behind Dalbert in terms of triumvirate leaders. The Tempers, formed by Soliam Murr, were meant to embody the virtues he wishes he had held during his reign as emperor: strength, tempered by gentleness. Always strive to become stronger, but never overreach. Ignarius is much harder on himself than first glances indicate, and appears to be honest in wanting Jodariel to have a good time, at least. He still fights fiercely and mean, and will basically always talk trash, but he's still probably better than most triumvirate leaders.

Compared to Jodariel, Ignarius actually has a penalty of -5 Glory, so one might consider him to be utterly useless. However, Jodariel only has Relentless Vigor to restore Stamina after a banishment, while Ignarius has both Brazen Manner and Crushing Heel, letting him get a Glory boost after a salute and causing enemies to drop the Orb if he jumps at them. Jodariel handles like you'd expect in playing her ingame, but Ignarius is much more about finding the right opportunity and capitalizing on it.

Kalir 09-08-2017 09:30 AM

I dunno what to tell ya, chief. This just looks like an ordinary rite to me.

Character Bio:

The Shadow of the Past

Back in the day, Oralech's story was much like that of any other exile in the Downside. He was sent there for crimes against the Commonwealth, in the usual caliber. In his case, he refused to return to the Bloodborder as a combat medic, unwilling to fight their pointless war with the Highwing Remnants anymore. For such a heinous and treasonous act, they sent him to the Downside, where he joined up with the Nightwings, alongside Volfred, Brighton, and Erisa.

The problem comes shortly after this. Oralech was going to be liberated, and they even won the Rite, but a desperate Erisa tried to shove him out of the Shimmer-Pool and take his place. She died instantly, and falling from Mount Alodiel led everyone to believe Oralech was dead, too. This horrible moment was likely what incited Volfred to begin his Plan proper, although it did traumatize him enough to distance himself from the Rites entirely, refusing to wear the raiments again.

But now he's back, leading a group he calls the True Nightwings, and he's after one thing and one thing only: his freedom, which he feels was unjustly robbed from him. And to be perfectly honest, he's right. He got a horribly raw deal. He's in an awful place right now, and even though Volfred still clearly wants the best for him, from Oralech's point of view we're just another triumvirate to beat. He's hellbent on getting that last shot at liberation, and he doesn't care what he has to do to get it, even if that means undoing the Rites themselves.

Oralech is reason #1 not to just open up versus mode when you begin the game, as he's right there as playable alongside Jodariel and Ignarius. He shares the same weaker Glory score of the latter, as well as an unsurprising but still interesting Hope score of 1, but he more than makes up for this with his skyhigh Presence, at a base of 36 and further boosted by his Fierce Presence up to the soft cap of 40 (you can increase it further beyond that point, but it has diminishing returns). He also has a frankly ludicrous amount of Quickness for anyone, let alone a Demon, and he has the Celestial Spike mastery so his orb throws can banish, too. Oralech is a terrifying force of nature who HAS to be stopped for any team facing him to succeed, but once you do, you're at a huge advantage.

Mogri 09-08-2017 01:32 PM

Man, Kalir, I think you've lost a good half of the rites since the first liberation. It's getting out of hand!

Do they ever explain why you're the only "triumvirate" wandering around with ten people?

Kalir 09-09-2017 12:01 AM

Yeah I took some time before work this morning to play a couple of versus AI matches. Played using characters who I felt I was weakest with. If nothing else, I will be far better at putting Shae to good use during the Rites, and I won't be horrid with Ti'zo anymore (but I will still probably not be great).

The other triumvirates can and do go over 3 exiles like us, but they don't really make anything of it. The weird part is that some of them, like the Dissidents, let you view their reserve members no problem (in their case it's pretty much all curs anyway), while the Chastity, despite clearly switching up who they're running, never seem to have more than 3 exiles in their triumvirate at any given moment.

I just assume that nobody can stand to be in the same room as Manley for 5 minutes, let alone share a wagon and triumvirate.

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