The Misadventures of Three Sorceress Archmages

Maltatai

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13. Magic Monday
Heretically enough, even winter vacations come to an end. What a nightmare. Back in the bleak and dull confines of the Sorceress Academy the WWW entertain themselves in whatever ways they can. They have heard rumors about a new safe delivered to professor Tapes office, presumably containing scandalous correspondence and arcane artifacts. It would be a stimulating group activity trying to reach that safe. Unfortunately it is placed in the cellar underneath her office and the only passage is through a long, straight tunnel with no cover at all. Even for an intruder that could teleport, it is all but impossible to avoid being spotted, and Theodora Tape is bound to have sentries and watchers guarding that passage. There is simply no way to approach save through the passage once you have entered by the stairs down just in front of it. Just like a dungeon of demonic or undead lordlings, when one thinks about it.

This ingenious design can only be the work of the foremost security sorcery firm - Franzesca Jaeger. The Franzesca Jaeger safes are world famous. Only the foremost adventurers repeatedly taking up insane challenges, such as the @jiansonz band, are believed to ever pose a threat to such deposits. Indeed, the tip about the safe is more than a little bit suspect. What if...what if it is in fact leaked by professor Tape in the first place? To lure Wilma, Wanja and Wilhelmina to try to crack a true Franzesca Jaeger safe and be caught in the act, and thus expelled from the academy? It would be just like that stuffy old desert wing bat! The WWW will not tolerate such provocations and promptly decides to break into the safe, just to show her. But how? There is simply no way to approach undetected through that long passage and even with the fastest cast rate possible to potentially teleport past prying eyes they would still be stuck trying to melt or freeze the safe for ages. However...the WWW do have those old building plans. They show that the areas around the passage and safe are rock and earth, with no other rooms, which makes it safe from surprise teleporting. But it is also safe to say that the safe location of the safe makes it safe from detection if one should decide that the academy needed an extra underground room or two, or perhaps a tunnel that happened to lead to the safe from an unexpected direction...

The witches have a plan. A brilliant plan. Everything is well timed and ready, to the smallest detail. They will tunnel parallel to the main entrance but at a safe distance to keep sounds minimal. Then they turn around and tunnel to breach the safe from behind. Approaching undetected will give them time to freeze the metal and crack it apart with telekinesis. But the work required is grueling! First they have to dig a deep shaft, so that the tunnel will go steadily upwards. That way they can construct a small rail and have a tiny mining wagon rolling down to the shaft with dug out rock and earth. Digging through earth is easy with telekinesis but takes such a time. Rock and stones are another matter. They must be cracked by heating and cooling the stone until it breaks. A slog of ice and fire awaits. Will such and endless crawl ever end?


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And so Wilma, Wanja and Wilhelmina go to work, masking their insubordinate intentions as deepened studies while they go to stupefying lengths to thwart the school rules in general and professor Tape in particular. They smile mischievously and glance from one side to the other in a most suspicious and shifty manner. It's just another magic Monday for the WWW.

Wilma:

Six o'clock already
I was just in the middle of a dream
I was kissing with Haphet
While my hydras were blushing off-screen

But I can't be late
'Cause our fine plans have just been laid
These are the days
When you wish that your tunnel was made

It's just another magic Monday
I wish it was Sunday
'Cause that's my fun day
My I don't have to run day
It's just another magic Monday

Wanja:

Have to catch the mining train
Rolling down the rail just fine
And if I had a flying mount
I still couldn't make it on time

It takes the writer so long
Just to figure out what we're gonna wear
Blame it on the train
Wilhelmina is already there

It's just another magic Monday
I wish it was Tuesday
'Cause that's my ruse day
My pranks to choose day
It's just another magic Monday

Wilhelmina:

Of all of my nights
Why did the others have to pick last night to get down?
Late night, last night
Doesn't it matter that I work for the three of us
Employment's down

We try out our new arch-angels toys
I hope no one will hear all the noise
Digs isn't going fast
Mornings aren't fun

It's just another manic Monday
I wish it was Friday
'Cause that's my ride day
My kayak won't be dry day

It's just another manic Monday
All about one day
Boring I dare say
It's just another manic Monday
 
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Maltatai

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@T72on1
Nothing better than this thread to go with a cup of coffee when bored at work :).
Maltatai:
Pleased to be of service. Especially after reading your dreadful work description in the daily thread. Apart from bike distance to home that could pretty much have been the summary of my job too. Uncanny :eek:.
 

Maltatai

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14. Sky Trek: Exorcise
In the Sorceress Academy, both studies and mining operations have been put on hold for the moment. Not only is it Saturday, but an extremely important delivery by gloombat order has arrived!

"Nyyyooomm! Nyyyooomm!"

The federation sky ship Exorcise is on a super secret mission to explore the remote badlands of Tamoe. All is well on board but - oh dear! It is the mating season of the sky elves and sky elf first mate Spork is gripped by the porn fare. How will the brave captain Quirk deal with the situation?

To the delight of the lightning mastering Wilhelmina, the Exorcise comes with a set of copper wire and nails of copper and iron. They can be connected to lemons to power the lamps of the Exorcise. Wilhelmina is quick to conclude that most acidic fruits or vegetables should work too.

Wanja is not too pleased about this. Lemons should be used for lemonade or lemon sorbet or some other cool thing, which Wanja would know, being the master of cold among them.

"You are such a geek, Wilhelmina. Can't we use potatoes or something instead for the lights?"

Unfortunately the potatoes are reserved.

"No way! We're making salty chips with those! The potatoes are a hot potato."

"And you're a crazy potato, Wilma."

With the chips hotly defended by the master of fire, it seems the whole spectrum of nutritious ingredients in the WWW:s quarters are reserved for boring things such as eating. There is nothing left to do except raiding the teachers larder for yucky limey green lime things. They will practically be doing professor Tape and the rest a favor who won't have to eat such icky limey things. Wilma promises to cook hot chocolate for all once they are done.

After a brief detour towards the nether skies of eternal darkness, the Exorcise can resume its mission powered by the valuable fuel source that the crew has picked up. Although the crew seems to have grown to include both captain Jane Way the coffee addict and Seven past Nine, partly clock, partly human. They are really from the later Sky Trek editions. But...since when have the WWW really cared for such rules or conventions?

"Captain Quirk! Magical spyglasses have picked up another sky ship!"

"Very good Mister Spork, put in on crystal ball."

"There it is. The signature is not consistent with any known faction in this quadrant. It could be a scout for the clingy cling-ons, or perhaps the card-ass union!"

"Card-assians? I would have expected mules but not asses."

"That would be the Borg, sir. Their goal is to assimilate everyone to become a mule in their great collective, carrying their items like a droning NPC."

"Ha! We'll see about that. Activate the Emergency Meteorical Hologram, Mister Spork!

"Please state the nature of the magical emergency."
 
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Maltatai

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15. Current Nightmare Progress
The WWW have survived half the game without losing a single hireling and defeated nightmare Mephisto at about level 60. Not too bad for a supposedly underpowered kind of build and mercenary type. Both Wilma and Wanja happened to obtain optimal maps to hunt Mephisto as well, insanely lucky.

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I am not sure whether it is wise to take advantage of that, though. Even with the opportunity to use the moat to keep the distance to him, Mephisto is still an act boss and poses a quite real threat to the hirelings. Wilma would be best suited for the task with the range advantage from the hydras. Wilma could probably use fire wall to good effect but would need to go closer to cast it at the right place and angle. It is in any case a matter to be decided later since none of them have magic finding gear ready.

When speaking of magic finding, the most dearly missed items are Lum runes. None have found any and they need two each, one for a memory staff and one for a Smoke armor. It is possible that the hellforge will yield one, or something else useful. With only casters my normal priorities are a bit off. I consider a Lem, Pul or Um a decisive find, in the sense that once found I am sure the character can beat hell. For the WWW the needs are somewhat different. Pul would be fun to try out the Enlightenment rune word, which actually has some defensive ability as well. Um would be cool for Wilhelmina so Vanji could have Crescent Moon. As for all the combat abilities that may open up, especially since Wilma has already found a Lem rune earlier, I see the witches needing to apply Prevent Monster Heal and slowing on dangerous bosses, and preferably from a range. That limits the applicability of Lem, Um and Pul runes for weapons and weapon damage but I wouldn't rule them out completely.

Spell damage is quite adequate so far, and the witches have decent resistances, mana and skill bonuses from their current equipment. The hirelings could use more damage reduction and especially the assistance of weaken curses from the mentioned Smoke armors.

The next step will probably be to complete Act IV. I am too eager to see what the hellforge drops to do anything else, and once there I'll probably want to get the dreadful meeting with Diablo over with. Against him no damage reduction in the world will make much difference for the iron wolves so there's little point in collecting Sol runes and such before.
 
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Maltatai

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16. Recurring Nightmare Progress
They all made it! Wilma, Wanja and Wilhelmina have all defeated nightmare Diablo without losing a single mercenary! This is a personal record in keeping iron wolves alive and with a little luck and much conscientious attention to detail they may very well survive until hell.

Diablo was quite scary as his title implies. I found it best to try and hide behind the eastern corner between lord de Seis wing and the infectors wing. By staying close enough to the corner the witches would lure Diablo to keep casting scary spells but with the wall in the way they did little and the witches could run out to cast a meteor or fire wall and then jump back behind the cover before any mercenary came to harm. Wilma did of course have it even easier as hydras allowed her to stay back behind her cover and attack from afar.

Diablo dropped the Deathbit exceptional throwing knives for Wilhelmina. They have some attack rating and she also found a charm of Anthrax. Sadly not a Castle Anthrax which would have been funnier for her. That may allow her to keep resistant enemies poisoned form afar, I don't know. I stashed the knives in any case. Apart from that nothing of note rewarded the shaken witches but nobody cares since the endless plundering and experience gains of Act V now lies ahead and both Wilma and Wanja have perfect maps to reach Mephisto.

The Hellforge was a mocking disappointment! What interesting rune did Wilma get if not...a Ko rune. It means cow in Swedish and was obviously intended to be not only useless but also an insult to her character.


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Wanja, then. A Pul rune, which would be great and unlock the interesting Enlightenment rune word, were it not for the fact that Wanja is using SCALE MAIL that can only have two sockets! The taunting. She could theoretically have stood a chance of discovering an exceptional or elite suit of scales but since this is Diablo II the game knows I want to find such an armor and consequently it will not drop for Wanja ever but many times for the other characters. And of course Wanja found a Ko rune earlier from a common monster...

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Fine, to the unbearably optimsitic Wanja is halfway through to a Heart of the Oak staff which would be the ultimate and I have found a Vex rune twice before if I recall correct, but just drop those silly ideas. Actually, if she found the unique long staff Serpent Lord it would be very interesting to upgrade it and socket with an Eth rune to steal back her mana from frozen enemies.

Lastly Wilhelmina would receive...ANOTHER Ko rune, and not only that but she had got one before as well. Hephasto, you do what the overgrown mosquitos of Act III do! Screw you!


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Now on to gather some levels or runes or magical items or anything else more fun that visiting that overly hyped tourist trap. I will have those Lum runes even if I have to cube them up from Dols and Hels!
 
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Maltatai

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17. Graduation Day
The safe has been breached! But alas, not only must professor Tape have hidden her foul plans and plots elsewhere, but some of the ice from the cold spells used to weaken the safe has melted and leaked into it and smeared the ink on some of the documents. The headline and logotype of one particularly curious paper is beyond recognition.


"Dear professor Tape,

Thank You for choosing ANTS to assist with the elimination of Your magical or supernatural causes of trouble. We have received the stipulated pre-payment and our staff will be deployed in approximately one months time as per Your request. We have no doubt that we will be able to make all Your magical troubles swiftly disappear.

Natalya"



A mysterious note indeed. Why would Theodora Tape hire ants?

The WWW have little time to debate and meditate over the subject for the term is soon ending and it's nothing less than graduation day! Hurry up! It's graduation day!

WWW:
The world is open!
So’s that door!
No more studying anymore!
No one to yell "you're eighty minutes late!"

For years we’ve roamed these empty halls
What's wrong with a little fire balls?
Finally they’re opening up the gates!

There’ll be actual real world people
It’ll be totally strange
But wow! Am I so ready for this change!

’Cause for the first time in forever
There’ll be magic, there’ll be light!
For the first time in forever
We’ll be dancing through the night
We'll plunder the snacks and the beverage
They're somewhere in that zone!
’Cause for the first time in forever
Schoolwork's left alone

I can’t wait to meet everyone!
But Wilma has likely met THE ONE

Tonight, imagine her plate and all
Fetchingly draped against the wall
The picture of sophisticated grace…not
She suddenly sees us standing there
An ambushing danger, how unfair
We're gonna throw some chocolate in her face!

But then we laugh and talk all evening
And be totally bizarre
Nothing like the life I’ve led so far!

For the first time in forever
There’ll be magic, there’ll be fun!
For the first time in forever
I am noticed by someone
And I know it is totally crazy
To dream I’d find romance
But for the first time in forever
Now I have my chance!

Professor Tape:
We let them in
Why didn't we see?
Be the bad girls
You always had to be
Conceal
Don’t feel
Put on a show…
Make one wrong move
And everyone will know

But it’s only for today

WWW:
It’s only one more day!

Professor Tape:
It’s agony to wait

WWW:
It’s agony to wait!

Professor Tape:
Tell the staff to open up the gate!

WWW:
The gate!!!
For the first time in forever

Professor Tape:
Don’t let them win, don’t let them see

WWW:
I’m getting what I’m dreaming of!

Professor Tape:
Be the bad girls you always have to be

WWW:
We'll bring magic to the world

Professor Tape:
Conceal

WWW:
Our chips are heating on the stove!

Professor Tape:
Conceal, don’t feel
Don’t let them know

WWW:
I know it all ends tomorrow
The last pranks must be today!
’Cause for the first time in forever
For the first time in forever
Nothing’s in our way!!!

The Sorceress Academy laugh and cheer as the terror of the three is finally over. The teachers and janitors not the least eager to celebrate the grand occasion. The WWW have passed in all their three fields but like most students their skills and talents are not evenly distributed. Wilma and Wanja both favour cold and fire spells, and to compete against one another in the casting of those, but are mediocre when it comes to lightning. Wilhelmina is at home with lightning spells and fire spells but has much left to learn about focusing cold. It should come as no surprise that the geeky Sky Trek witch appreciates thunder storms and meteors that fall from the sky.

The Nightmare of education under professor Theodora Tape is over.

The Hell of finding work in the corrupted job market of Sanctuary begins.
 
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Maltatai

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18. Nightmare Looting Evaluation
So, let's ramble and rant about the material progress in nightmare. Did the predictions prove true and the planning prove sound?

1000 life and 500 mana is, I still think, an attainable and preferable goal. Two of the witches has about that amount of mana, thanks to Frostburn gauntlets mostly, and it feels like a sufficient amount to wage war somewhat comfortably in early Hell at least. None of them has that much life which is a little disappointing although it would have required quite a lot out of their charms.

The WWW failed to easily obtain the expected Smoke armours and Memory staves because of a combination of abysmal luck with those runes and my own slightly compulsive collection of magic finding equipment. I failed to take into account how hard it would be to collect the fairly low level equipment that was the plan and overestimated the amount of staves that would drop. Magic finding and rune word focus is in the case of the WWW mutually exclusive since you want to find non-magical base items to put the runes in.

This would have been no big issue if unique staves had been as common than I expected but in the event none found an exceptional unique staff, or Serpent Lord which would have been sort of funny. At least Wilhelmina had a strike of phenomenal and much needed luck in finding the Spirit Shroud just after I had wasted the second socketing reward.

What I should have been doing is to focus completely on runes and gambling to fill in the rest, together with picking up crafting materials and such to add nice jewellery. Hel runes are so much more common than Io runes that those should have been collected and kept to work my way up to a Lum.

Playing through nightmare on one player setting most of the time was probably right, it would have been too slow and tense otherwise and thereby risk of losing one of the iron wolves which I want to avoid as long as possible. Undefeated throughout the game so far, Haphet, Narphet and Vanji have performed impressively for being such an underestimated class of mercenaries.

Amulets with skill levels have been much rarer than expected but crafted items have on the other hand been a welcome surprise.

Currently the WWW are equipped as follows.


Wilma
Arch-Angels Cedar Staff of Lower Resistance/Hel Wilmas Buriza-Do Kyanon
Lore Crown
Lionheart Gothic Plate

Hwanins Blessing Belt
Wilmas Frostburn
Loath Spur Battle Boots
Death Heart Amulet
Blood Master Ring
Shadow Knot Ring

Extra equipment
Smoke Field Plate
Amulet of Life Everlasting

Haphet
Jeweled (44 Cold Resistance, 55 Lightning resistance) Crystal Sword
SolRalSol Large Shield
Circlet of Life Everlasting
Treachery Gothic Plate

Strengths and weaknesses
While high on mana, Wilma is behind on skill levels but going with lower resistance as main curse will make up for that loss of damage if need be. She found a burning grand charm that her hydras liked. And of course there is that overgrown piece of artillery (a ballista indeed...) that takes up half her equipment. One shot will stop regeneration and then it is only a matter of time and timely teleports to get into position to win with even the undeveloped chain lightning. Her resistances could use some improvement and her amulet is a weak point in this regard that will hopefully be replaced sometime later before spectral hit gloam lightning starts flying.

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Haphet is the least protected against physical threats with only 34 PDR but if fade triggers he gains some damage reduction that evens it out, and of course a good margin of elemental resistance. Not that Wilma will let him tank conviction bosses any century soon.


Wanja
Memory Battle Staff/Hel Wanjas Riphook

Nadir Bone helm
Enlightenment Tigulated Mail

Plague Clasp Plated Belt
Wanjas Magefist
Cruel Trample Demonhide Boots
Prismatic Amulet of Regrowth
Viper Eye Ring
Dread Grasp Ring

Extra equipment
Hailstone Crook Quarterstaff (Lower Resistance)
Ocher Amulet of Grim Ward

Narphet
Jeweled (26 Fire resistance) Ginthers Rift Dimensional Blade
SolSol Mosers Blessed Circle

Lore Bone Helm
SolSolSolSol
Full Plate

Strengths and weaknesses
Resistant and offensively highly skilled, Wanja is lower on life and mana and severely restricted by her limited magical ammunition. Nadir and one of her rings are currently necessary to wear the armour and use Riphook but with a couple of levels she can use the Lore bone helm and another ring with a bit more mana or life. Possibly Wanja will be better off replacing Riphook with the rare staff to gain access to a curse and reserve her archery for the enemy elite. Her lightning is her weak point but thunder storm from the staff adds a little more and poison from the charms allow her to stop regeneration for a while, provided she can hit.

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Narphet is probably the best equipped mercenary with 49 PDR and 11 MDR together with a good level of resistances. That will serve him well as he accompanies Wanja on close range assaults to make the most of her limited mana and costly spells. If Wanja decides to grab the Lore bone helm Narphet will need new headgear, preferably something similar.


Wilhelmina
Memory Battle Staff/Spellsteel
Ort
Hailstone Circlet Circlet
The Spirit Shroud
Wilhelminas Nightsmoke
Frostburn

Amber Light Plated Boots of Acceleration
Havoc Clasp Amulet
Bahamuts Ring of Regeneration
Grim Eye Ring

Extra equipment

Nadir Circlet
Gnarled Staff of Lower Resistance
Black Barbed Club

Vanji
Jeweled (23 Cold Resistance, 26 Lightning Resistance, 9 Fire Resistance) Crystal Sword
SolRal Chromatic Bone Shield of Amicae
SolSolSol Artisans Mask of the Fox
SolSolSol Gothic Plate

Strengths and weaknesses
Chronically underestimated by the chronicler, Wilhelmina is undeserving of that sentiment with the highest life and mana and decent resistance, especially against the most dangerous lightning. She has access to the most extra tricks and the highest skill levels, and should be able to find something useful for every situation. The problem will rather be to use all those options effectively. With more evenly distributed skill points and access to decrepify and lower resistance, no barbaric weapon-wielding will be necessary to put monsters in their place.

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Vanjis equipment is, as the attentive reader will register, scandalously crude with only three runes in the plate and insufficient fire resistance from the sword. One more fire resistance jewel for the last free spot in the sword will free up a spot in the shield for another Sol and if Wilhelmina could find a plate with four sockets and some more Sols Vanji would gain an additional 14 PDR, a not insignificant increase. Still, at 63 PDR he is already ready to stand up to many monsters long enough for a meteor to fall on their heads, not least after said monster has felt the icy flame of decrepification creep upon it.

Every witch possess regeneration, lower resistance and a mercenary with heavy defensive gear. So far so good. They are better prepared than most of my characters have been at this point in the game. Wilmas lack of cloak of shadows is not yet a cause for concern but maybe it was a mistake to not make a Nadir crown for her too. Strictly speaking she will only need it against stairtraps as hydra sniping or glacial spike freezing ought to keep mobs away so long as she has some space to work with. Another possible option is to use the Smoke armour and weaken lurking enemies as a safety measure but that won't stop her from being mobbed and interrupted.

Onwards toward the looting of a better amulet and a nadir crown for Wilma, mana rings for Wanja and improved mercenary defenses for Wilhelmina.
 
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