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Old 04-16-2018, 11:58 AM
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Default Hot Springs Episode: Sansara Naga


Saṃsāra - "The Wheel of Existence, literally, the "Perpetual Wandering"-is the name by which is designated the sea of life ever restlessly heaving up and down, the symbol of this continuous process of ever again and again being born, growing old, suffering, and dying. (It) is constantly changing from moment to moment, (as lives) follow continuously one upon the other through inconceivable periods of time. Of this Samsara, a single lifetime constitutes only a vanishingly tiny fraction."
~ Gautama Buddha

Nāga - A deity or magical entity taking the form of a great snake, specifically a cobra. Depending on the tradition is sometimes depicted with multiple heads, with beaks, or with the torso of a human.

Sansara Naga - A 1990 Famicom RPG developed by Advance Communication Company and distributed by Victor Interactive Software. Those names don't inspire confidence, but in a sea of me-too FC DragonQlones this plucky communication corp created something unique and ambitious.


Dragon Quest barely has any dragons in it. They should have called it Slimes Quest. Sansara Naga takes the bold stance that a Dragon Quest clone should have a Quest involving Dragons. A Dragon Quest, if you will.

I'm sorry this is all very silly. Have a story:



So we're a kid on a quest for dragon, unlike Dragon Quest where we're a man(?) on a quest for princess. They should have called it Royalty Quest. Enough of this gag, so who's this Advanced Communication Company anyway?



Yes, that Mamoru Oshii. Didn't know he directed a game? Neither did I! I thought for sure it was just a coincidence but I asked a Japanese speaking friend to look it up, and yes indeed Mr. Ghost inna Shell also made a DraQue.

Also of note is music by Kawai Kenji, who scored all of Oshii's films, and graphic lead and character designer Sakura Tamakichi, who you may know from a certain comic.



Alright. Let's crack open the cart and get a-questin'.



I think this is a fancy Sanskrit font what says the game's title but I don't know. Sansara Naga is unique as it has a light Vedic/Buddhist/Hindu theming. I'm not super familiar with this stuff, but I'll try my best. Also, I make no claims on the game's ability to depict a foreign culture with anything resembling veracity or respect. I imagine it's fairly bad! This is a Famicom game after all.



I'm not going to give you yokels an opportunity to suggest PNTS again. Friend Dracula already landed on the perfect name, and so we'll use it again here.



The instruction manual says we're a boy, but boys drool. Also, the boy sprite is lame. There's nothing in the rulebook that says girls can't also raise dragons.





The game doesn't give us a whole song and dance about Dragoons and Ambition. We're just a thief in the night.



But oh no! What a mistake. Ostriches aint dragons I think!



And with backstory thoroughly out of the way we're thrust into the action. There's our gal Funko standing on the town of Orissa. South across the river is the ostrich, newly hatched and fully grown.



This being a DQ clone, everything is done through a classy minimalistic window. Along with the usual Talk, Search, Items we're all familiar with there are some unusual commands. Fight will let us get aggressive with (and most likely lose to) almost every NPC. We don't know what Trophies are yet, but presumably they'll net us precious precious Gamerpoints.



Our stats. We only got three: HP, Strength, and Defense. I think there's also a hidden speed stat because sometimes we attack first and sometimes the enemy does. That's it tho!



We could explore the town, but that ostrich looks mighty tasty. We give chase, but it retreats as fast as we run. They should have called this game Ostrich Quest!

Of greater interest is that the world just kinda... falls away into an inky void filled with gigantic statues. I asked Shivam once if he knew of any Indian myth that talked about statuary beyond the edge of the world and he said it didn't sound like anything he knew, but that it was hard to say without context. I think it's an invention of Communiocom. It's certainly striking!



The statues resemble a character in the manual named Ala Singh, who gives tips n' tricks. He describes himself as a legendary Dragoon, so maybe if you good at dragons they build tributes to you in the void?

*HISTOROFACT* Ala Singh was the first maharaja of Patiala, a prince state of the British Raj.



The ostrich leads us further to the southwest and into the mountains. Before long, we encounter our first group of enemies.





Sansara Naga doesn't do anything fancy with the typical DQ battle screen. Everything works as you expect, with the addition of the Bribe command. We can offer up some cash to escape the fight, but it also has a chance of failure. It might seem like its a worse version of "Escape," but there's some consequences associated with it that we'll talk about later.

Daphina are more commonly known as water fleas. They're about a millimeter long and look like gross bugs.

*WARNING: GROSS BUG*


They're Sansara Naga's slime enemy. I prefer the game's happy molecule design to the real thing. I love the idea of Funko running around beating up tiny crustaceans. Encounter chaff doesn't get any chaffier.



We won't be fighting them however, nor any enemies for a bit. Right now they're just slowing us down on our ostrich hunt.



Eventually the ostrich ducks into a secluded mountain town.
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Old 04-16-2018, 11:59 AM
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Well less a town and more a hermitage. Also, where'd it go?



Instead, we meet an old coot who gets right to the point. Oh yeah, we did want a dragon egg. Silly us, getting all distracted by a bird.

"Let's make a deal. There's an old Dragon's nest at the top of the peninsula west of here... Bring me some Dragon Dung from it. Then you'll have your egg."

Uh. Yeah, sure old man. Could you give us any more info?



Okay, okay!! They should have called this game Dung Que- alright I'm done now for real.



Before we head to the nest, we're going to head back to Orissa real quick. As you can see, we're taking the direct route right through the river. The world map doesn't work like any other DragonQlone. Hills, mountains, rivers: all are passable. The only place we can't walk is off the edge of the world. But we'll stick to the grassy fields for now. Instead of baring your way, terrain types have different encounter tables and anything except grass-monsters will wipe the floor with us.



Towns are caverns in this game. You get used to it.



Heading into the room to the right we come across a mother and baby. But as soon as we try to talk...



We're buffeted with a long string of insults. Apparently stealing the town's beloved treasure got us labeled as some sort of pariah!



The townfolks toss us out and leave us with 1 HP.



They also stole our clothes! Of course, in the one tile we need to move to get back into town we're ambushed by some Daphina and killed.



Some mysterious benefactor rescues and resuscitates and reclothes us. Yeah, I guess we should apologize...





Our savior is our dear ol' Gran. She's the only person in town we can interact with safely. She'll restore our HP and save our game.



She'll also give us a Box Lunch after each visit. It heals about 50 HP. They're very useful in the early game and the fact she gives them to us for free makes her the best gran.

After we get our egg she'll start taking half our rupees per resurrection, but for now we can die with impunity.



We find a treasure chest in the northern room. It's not like the town could hate us more than they already do. Yoink!



What the heck? This isn't gold.



And it doesn't show up in our item menu. Instead its listed under Trophies where it's been designated as a relic. Also apparently there were 33 of them. Just a bunch of fish skin sitting in a treasure chest. Gross?!



Alright, off to a dragon nest! We head west from the old man's hut and have to navigate around some chasms. The instruction booklet came with some maps. Let's get our bearings.



This is the Southwestern quadrant of the world. The question mark south of Orissa is the old man's house. The one on the westernmost tip is our destination. The green line heading to the northeast at right angles is the river.

The grasslands end before too long and we're forced to tread on inhospitable sand.



I'm not sure what "paibilica" refers to but I bet it's some sort of gross bug!



Mandrakes are of course the legendary plants that look like a person. SN's mandrakes can release a sweet smell which will put us to sleep. If they do its basically GG because attacks won't wake us up. Luckily, they usually don't use their smell attack before we can run.



Finally, on a peninsula stretching way out into space, we find the nest.



It's a big fuck-all tree!
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Old 04-16-2018, 12:00 PM
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We can crawl through its crannies to its various openings. There's no puzzle or anything to this. The direction we push is the the opening we'll automatically move to.





A thorough exporation nets us our first equipment: some rusty junk!



And at the top of the tree, the precious precious dung.



On the way back to the old man we encounter a new grassland enemy. These toadstools are depicted as Daitengu Noh masks.



Daitengu are powerful wind and mountain goblins in the Japanese mythological tradition, and tengus also are considered enemies of Buddhism. You might recall that Tengu Man had a big nose too!



Back at the hut, the old man reveals why dragon dung is so precious. Its good for what ails you!

"Okay, take any egg you like."



I don't think it matters which you pick. I went the sixth from the left.

"Are you sure you really want this one? This is an important decision, y'know... Are you THAT sure?"

We have to answer in the affirmative three times before the old man will hand over the egg.

"Here, take some of this dung. Any Chemist in the Capital City will pay good money for it. One more thing... If you happen to follow the river upstream, drop by the shop there."



And so, Dragon Egg in hand, the title appears as a triumphal theme plays. It's a real Final Fantasy moment. Truly, our Dragon Quest has begun.



Now that we've got an egg we've got to change how we approach the game. We've been running from all enemies. But the egg and baby embryo inside is going to look toward us for how to behave in this wide wild world. If we run all the time the dragon will be too timid to ever hatch. Likewise, how we fight, if we bribe enemies, if we attack NPCs, and so forth will all influence the dragon and what kind we will hatch.



Our new rusty equipment will allow battles to be slightly more survivable. And now comes the time for Sansara Naga to really be a DragonQlone: time to grind time!



Hanging around Orissa and using Granny for free heals will let us take down sand-class monsters, but we'll want to focus on Daphnia for a while.



Instead of disappearing, defeated enemies turn grey (the other ran away, that's why it's gone). After the battle we are awarded 0 EXP and 0 gold.



Instead, we claim the Daphnia corpse and shove it in our Trophies pocket. These are trophies in the original sense: literally bits and pieces of the animals we've hunted and killed. We'll want a fair amount of these. So while grinding won't help us in the traditional sense, it's still super important.



In the river we encounter some Pirarucu. These aren't piranhas, but arapaimas, large freshwater fish that live in the amazon. *NATURALSCIEFACTOID* They breath air not water. Doesn't that make them... not fish?

These "fish" almost get us and we're forced to run away at low HP. Uh... we'll see what happens!





We also run into some Daphina variations. While the Lord is just a slightly stronger flea (the She Slime to the He Slime, if you will), it's the Poison Daphina that's special. It doesn't poison us (at least I don't think it does), but rather it is made of poison. This is important.



We grind near Orissa a while then decide to head up-river towards that shop the old egg man mentioned. When suddenly!!!







Alright everyone, what should we name this sweet dumb baby? We only have 4 characters and also it can't be anything pants related I swear to god.
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Old 04-16-2018, 12:34 PM
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Mink. Obviously.
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Old 04-16-2018, 12:40 PM
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I mean, POP seems like the obvious one.

I'll also place on the altar for consideration:

GENO
GARF
WADE
GRAN
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Old 04-16-2018, 12:51 PM
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He looks like a real winner, name him OCTO.

Or DORF, for the famed golfer.
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Old 04-16-2018, 02:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loki View Post
I adore this sprite. Amazing.

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Originally Posted by Loki View Post


I don't think it matters which you pick. I went the sixth from the left.

"Are you sure you really want this one? This is an important decision, y'know... Are you THAT sure?"
Should have gone with Squirtle.

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Alright everyone, what should we name this sweet dumb baby? We only have 4 characters and also it can't be anything pants related I swear to god.
Look, we both know what you're going to have to do when you're starving in the desert with this thing. Let's call it "SNAK".
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Old 04-16-2018, 02:50 PM
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The dragon's name must be DARG.

This game, and the ways in which it differentiates itself from Dragon Quest, are super interesting so far! I'll be keeping a close eye on this LP.
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Old 04-16-2018, 04:00 PM
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He looks like a real winner, name him OCTO.
The game very clearly calls her a girl.

Anyway my vote is for LOTO.
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Old 04-16-2018, 04:21 PM
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The game very clearly calls her a girl.

Anyway my vote is for LOTO.
Well my usual GIRL CHARACTER name of "Sharko" plainly won't fit.
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Old 04-16-2018, 04:25 PM
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Srko

Shro

Shko

Yeah none of these do the job
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Old 04-16-2018, 04:40 PM
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Both exactly four letters too!
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Old 04-16-2018, 05:23 PM
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Lina

for reasons...
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Old 04-16-2018, 06:12 PM
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I very much approve of this sudden cornucopia of screenshot LPs of interesting RPGs.

The dragon’s name is clearly FIDO.
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Old 04-16-2018, 07:00 PM
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I like this LP. I've never heard of this game but it's got a surprising development team and looks interesting.

I don't know what to name baby dragon. Maybe CHED
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Old 04-17-2018, 04:50 AM
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This seems to have some neat twists for a DQlone indeed.
Love those random statues at the end of the world...

To me it looks like this is framed as this Ala Singh guy telling the story and the statues kinda represent him saying "Nothing to see here, go back to the story" or sth like that.

Will we hatch more dragons, I understand?
If so call 'er FRST, of many to come.

Otherwise the titular NAGA seems appropriate?
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Old 04-17-2018, 07:12 AM
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BIRB or EGGO
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Old 04-17-2018, 08:20 AM
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OSTC, after the ostrich egg. Or EMU, close enough.

This game looks pretty cool, looking forward to the rest of the LP.
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Old 04-17-2018, 10:34 AM
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Old 04-17-2018, 12:37 PM
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Mink. Obviously.
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Old 04-17-2018, 01:05 PM
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While we're all busily admitting that we enjoyed Dragon Half on VHS in 2001, here are some other suggestions

GOJI
TROG(dor)
TANK
QEST
DUCK
GORT
GON
...
...


MINK
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Old 04-17-2018, 01:05 PM
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Old 04-17-2018, 01:29 PM
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Old 04-19-2018, 12:11 AM
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Name the dragon FOOL. Then go use the Fight command on every last villager you see in that starter town.

Except Grandma. Grandma is cool.
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Old 04-19-2018, 11:49 AM
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Lots of very good name suggestions, but I couldn't resist honoring the very first dragon.





And with that we got a little draggo in our inventory. Baby-D is just a little pupper right now and so can't fight. She's always watching and learning though so we've got to be implacable in our words and deeds.





Further upstream we come to a lil hut.



A Haratama Hut in fact. This is the shop the egg man referred us to. I'm told that "Hara" can mean "belly" and "tama" pile of noodles, but beyond that I got nothing.



Here we can order all sorts of delicious udon, which will heal some HP and comes with a tip to where to go next. We can't even afford the kake udon sadly. We'll just have to explore on our own.



Same.



Off to the left we find the toilet. And here you thought FF6 was the first game to have that level of fidelity.



Yup, this is one of those kind of games. The kind where you warp through a toilet. Humor.



Toilet warps aren't free tho. As true today as it was then.



Behind the counter is a little storage room with a guy and some supplies probably.



Hey the guy is that one guy! The statue guy. Ala Singh!

"After a long journey, when you've overcome many hardships together... Its wings will grow and it will turn into a genuine Holy Dragon! All adventures have to start somewhere! Kahaha! I hope we meet again someday!"

With those words of encouragement, Ala Singh disappears. Now we really have no direction where to go or what to do.



We do pick up a cool three hundo in plastic cup lids and extra napkins.



We could have spent that money on some udon but the tip would just be to head to the big city and we were going to go there anyhow. We were following the river and all rivers lead to the same place. Let's look at the map!



The center of the map is literally a hub. It's dominated by a lake (with a svastika in the center) where the game's big city is. The four Haratama Huts roughly sit at the entrances to the map's four quadrants. It also makes the toilet warps pretty useful as we can use them to jump around without having to walk through the center section.

We just left Haratama #4 and we're heading northwest towards Hoverpool...



Which lies in the center of a circular mountain range. This is the only pass in, but remember, we can walk over any terrain type so this isn't the only entrance or anything.





At the lake, the tines of the svastika lead to different parts of the city. They don't go to the same place, so if we want to visit a different part we have to take the long way around. We could take a shortcut through the deep water, but as soon as we do... *drops savestate*



Now there's a bunch of cuties. Wait a minute... cat's hate water! There's something wrong about this. Very wrong.



Oof! And we get kicked all the way back to Granmama who hapily takes half our cash. Good thing we knew this was going to happen! *Loads savestate*



Let's head into the southern quadrant of the city.





That was fruitful! Next, we'll kick around to the east and hit up the left quadrant.



The various sections of Hoverpool are huge and you've got no direction. There's not even a "welcome to town!" npc. Just a huge room full of little rooms. Plus, the section we've wandered into, Lower Town, is mean. This is the point on a first play where say "oh, this is an Open World RPG."

Last edited by Loki; 04-22-2018 at 07:04 AM.
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Old 04-19-2018, 11:51 AM
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I'm not sure the best way to cover these areas, so we'll just start talking to NPCs and hopefully it's not too confusing.



In Lower Town there's dogs about. I want to take a moment to appreciate in a game full of very good NPC portraits, this extremely good dog.


Bow-wow-wow!



To the right of the entrance is your standard inn. But in the back...



"You can stay here for half the normal price! Both of you!"

Just some guy offering us his bed at a discount. If we take him up on his offer we'll find ourselves stripped of all our money, items, and trophies.

Lower Town is mean.



Would you like to have this authentic Dragoon Flute for 500 Rupees?

Most of the NPCs here are offering deals. 500r seems like a good price! Too bad we don't even have that much.



Saving in Sansara Naga happens automatically any time you stay at an Inn. The paper tent lets you fully heal and save your game. AND it works 4 times per item. Preeeeety swanky.



"Would you like a set for 28000 Rupees?"



"Only 8800 Rupees! I'm sure you're gonna raise a strong Dragon!"

A lot of these deals are way out of the realm of feasibility and we have no idea what the items actually do.



I do like this reaction when we turn the guy down.



"It's worth a fortune, but I'll let you have it for the low price of 3980 Rupees!"

This one at least seems like a clear joke.



This guy doesn't offer to sell us anything. ~Mysterious~



"Today only I'm selling it for a mere 3980 Rupees! It's a one-time offer!"

Once DUCK is older this might be a good investment.



"of 59800 Rupees!"

This fellow doesn't say what the offer is included with. It's just 59 grand for a keychain.




The upper righthand corner has a food marketplace of sorts. Unfortunate portrait on that last one.
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Old 04-19-2018, 11:52 AM
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In the lower lefthand corner is a bar. Paying for this guy's drink doesn't do us any harm: an abnormality in this place.

"Taking pity on an old man... What a kind heart you have! I shall tell you a secret in return. The Cursed Beads can be used against your foes. But they have another use as well!"



"There are tons of crooked merchants here, and they're meaner than spit! Stay as far away from them as possible!"

Good advice! Maybe you're supposed to go into the bar first. Except, if you talk to the bartender...



We're fucked. If we buy a glass we'll pass out and have all our items, trophies, and money stolen. But if we say no...



He gets insulted and attacks us. There's a couple other random goons in Lower Town that will attack when approached as well. They hit hard, take a lot of damage, and are basically impossible for us to tangle with right now.



And when we lose, you guessed it, we're kicked out of town without any money, items, or trophies.

This includes DUCK, by the way.

I was curious as to what you could even do here. There's a lot of traps in this section, but Sansara Naga has the DQ design philosophy of not putting you in a dead-end situation. Instead of reloading, I decided to walk back to Orissa and see what we could do.



Egg Man's no help. We can't pick up a new dragon from scratch.



Visiting Granny before got us our clothes back. When we do it again it repopulates our items and trophies. PHEW! No money tho. I still opt to reload.



I don't know what this accomplishes and I'm kind of afraid to find out.



A building on the left part of Town is blocked by a goon. That seems like a quest hook to me!



"With this 'Rogaine,' you can kiss your 'hair troubles' goodbye! It's only 4900 Rupees!"

Is hard nails a well know side effect of Rogaine? Is this a joke???



"But you can't enter unless you have something of value to offer."

Another mysterious goon. We're not given the option of offering anything. I guess he doesn't want our dead water fleas.









More deals to wrap up our tour in Lower Town.



Okay let's go somewhere more ~classy~.
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Old 04-19-2018, 11:53 AM
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Ahhh, much better. You can just feel the refinement emanating from the walls.



The Business District isn't as large (though its still big) as Lower Town or as populated, but it's much more immediately useful to us.





It's got such amenities as a doctor!



Not that we can afford him too.





A dragon toy shop, with lots of good stuff for our darling sweetums.

Wait a minute...

Quote:
Cordyceps is a genus of ascomycete fungi (sac fungi) that includes about 400 species. Most Cordyceps species are endoparasitoids, parasitic mainly on insects and other arthropods.
Gross bugs! Wherever I go!

WHY IS THIS IN A TOY STORE???



Further in is this intriguing little shop.





"The rates are 3% a day. Would you like to do business with us?



If we don't mind taking on some debt we can get some fast cash. However, that 3% adds up fast. And if we don't pay back after a certain number of days (I'm not sure exactly how much) an unbeatable enforcer will track us down and take all our money.

I like the loan officer's reaction when we refuse.







North of the loan shop is a pharmacy.



Localization is bad.



I'm... I'm not sure that's how it works...



The chemist sells a bunch of herbal remedies.



But more importantly, he'll buy any bugs or animal bits we have.



We want to keep the Daphina and Daphina Lord for reasons, but we sell off the poison Daphina and Toadstools for about 150r.

This is how we make money in Sansara Naga. Instead of enemies dropping gold, we harvest their corpses to sell later. This allows us to keep a sort of "liquid asset" that won't be impacted if we wipe-out. It's a lot like Earthbound's ATMs in a way.
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Old 04-19-2018, 11:53 AM
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The chemist's daughter lets slip an interesting factoid...



A boy near a well informs that yes, cows are holy as you'd expect, and that's why there's so many of them about (The Business District is just lousy with cattle).





Let's follow this lead. First, a *savestate*. then we pick a fight.



Cows are pushovers. They're about as strong as a regular ol' Daphina.



And before long we've got ourselves a fresh liver.



Bit of a translation error here, I think. I imagine its supposed to be along the lines of "did anyone see this?" implying this is a shady under-the-table transaction.



Shady, but lucrative! We could clean out the Business District and make enough rupees to afford some of those high ticket items in Lower Town, but DUCKy is watching and doing so would teach her bad morals. Alas, we *load state*.







A couple quest hooks, then we head to the armor shop.





This stuff looks reasonable! Once we have a bit of cash we'll get the full set.



Th- thanks for the tip, old man.



Nearby is a weapon shop that sells an upgrade from our Rusty Sword.





But more importantly, we can forge our own equipment here.



Those fish scales we got in a chest waaaaaaaaaaay back in Orissa can be fused into a shield for only 6980. We'll find other "relic" type trophies that we'll be able to use as well.





The Business District is home for a swanky restaurant that we're not allowed into. I'm sure all they serve is gross grapes!



We can go round back to the kitchen though, which I mention because I love this guy's sprite.





One last place of interest before the big one is the Inn. Prices are higher than in Lower Town, but we don't have to worry about being robbed and they throw in a free Box Lunch with each stay.
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Old 04-19-2018, 11:54 AM
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Eventually we stumble upon what we've been looking for: a baby draggo nursery!



"Our services will cost you 800 Rupees."

Presumably the charge when we pick up, because they'll take DUCK no problem even though we don't have that much cash.

"Let's get down to business, then. Now you can rest easy about your little one! The Matron inside can tell you a lot about how to raise a baby Dragon!"

And so our little DUCK gets her own bed and her own little sprite.

Computer: enhance!



She's beautiful.



Outside DUCK's room is the matron.

"Say, I see that you hunted some Daphinas on your way here... They can be used to prevent distemper from occurring in your dragon... I can handle it this time. Shall I? It will cost you 300 Rupees!"

This is why we didn't sell our Daphina trophies. We have to give DUCK at least ten to move on to the next "stage." Its a lot cheaper to feed these yourself instead of shelling out 300r.





You can't choose how many trophies to feed or sell. DUCK woofs down all 46 that we'd collected.



"Ah yes, there's a way to immunize your Dragon against distemper. It will cost you 300 Rupees."

We'll have to do some fishing to get the tadpoles DUCK craves. We also need to scrounge up cash for the distemper shot (always vaccinate your kids!). We also want to start investing in better weapons and armor so we can hunt more lucrative monsters.

Or we could take out some loans or poach some cattle! It's a Western Open-World WRPG after all!



One last thing before we wrap-up. Now that DUCK is safe and sound in the nursery we start getting progress reports every time we rest/save.



Ain't she a darling?
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