Kill or Be Guild, CH2: Way to Waylay
I knew nothing about the The Guild II before I began this series. Fortunately—despite the tendency of old strategy games to be complicated and inscrutable—I’m finding it pretty straightforward to determine when I’ve been given a cake by a neighbor. Based on how often that’s been happening, I’m forced to assume it’s a major gameplay mechanic. Perhaps the major mechanic. Your guess is as good as mine how I can parlay that into a criminal empire, but if my dynasty it tanks, it won’t be due to low blood sugar.
Speaking of low things and health problems: let’s get acquainted with my starter henchman. His job description is apparently “tramp.” It took me a while to realize this was not merely his first name, but a title of sorts; in the meantime I’m afraid it stuck. In my heart and my LP, Tramp he shall remain.
Grunt hello, Tramp.
Credit to the art team, because this does look like the sort of person who comes free with a criminal hideout. When I saw him I thought to myself: there’s a dude who just did a 15-year-bid for sleeve tampering and impersonation of an Elvis. He flunked out of med school for testing reflexes with a crowbar. He’s already filling out the “employment” section of his parole form with “burgulur gild.” Let’s see take him around town and see if he’s got any tricks up his, well.
As I’m coming to grips with my menu of larcenous enterprises, the game gives a helpful crime time tip:
A classic village racket! You sidle up to Bogdan the Weaver and say, “Hey, I saw you in your parlor last night, robbing a bank. Cough up some money or I’ll tell the bailiffs.” And he’ll say, “How could you prove that?” And you’ll say, “I can’t, sorry for wasting your time.”
Let’s try something else. Among my icons is one that says “ransack building.” Doing that in the middle of the day seems like a good way to get Tramp killed. I tell him to go ransack the town’s tavern.
He walks to about thirty yards away from the door, then stops with his arms hanging at his sides and peacefully regards it. There he remains gawping for a period which quickly seems indefinite. It’s not clear if he’s refusing, doesn’t understand, lacks mission-critical ransacking materiel, started thinking about asses while drooling faintly, or if he’s coming to grips with his life choices and wondering which teachers to apologize to first. I’m about to investigate when I’m distracted by a rhythmic clunk-clunk, which turns out to be three guards beating the fucking shit out of a peasant.
Yeah! I’ve honestly got nothing. If the interface is hoarding any details on why these helmeted dudes all started whaling on a goodwyfe, or why she’s standing there with a bored look on her face, then I can’t find it. You could tell me this sort of scenario was two-thirds of the tutorial and I’d believe you.
They’re hacking her to ribbons on the street corner and people are strolling by like it’s the weekly tree-trimming. What could this wimpled, apron-ass lady have possibly done to earn an armed response like this? Fail to tithe 10% of her cross-stitching? Fart at the liege-lord?
Yeah, I think she’s dead. Jesus.
That was rough.
So, yeah. Let’s stroll just past there. Post up on that intersection. Aaand hit the Waylay Passersby option. Dibs on your turf, Maid Marian.
I’m not sure what I expected to happen when the action kicked in? I guess something between “nothing, lol” and “Tramp crouches behind a wall and peeks out like he’s in a romantic comedy manga.” Not so much “he morphs into a flowering shrub.”
Immediately I figure this is step one of a Looney Tunes process whereby he springs out at pedestrians, but nope. As traveler after traveler brushes past, it becomes increasingly clear that this is just how his day’s gonna go. This is what he’s doing this afternoon. There’s nothing but “pick bees out of codpiece” on his schedule until clock-out.
After a minute or so of nothing happening, a guard wanders over and basically yells for him to knock it off. As if I’d let the coppers tell my organization what to do. I’m the boss around here, and, Christ, knock it off, Tramp. I swear to God if I see any arborists on his next expense sheet I’m sending it back.
So waylaying’s a bust. How about…extortion? Worth a shot.
Yes, heh heh, heh
Hey, results at last! Apparently someone finds Tramp as unplaceably eerie as I do. 311 gold doesn’t seem like a lot of money, but it’s enough to bring me from 700 gold to…
Right. My fiscal total hasn’t changed. Checking Tramp’s inventory, he seems as broke as ever.
So…I got the extortion money, but don’t know where it is. Or the game glitched. Or this transaction ate up exactly 311 gold in expenses. Or—it’s just possible—the public house, sensing a little first-day unsteadiness in the Rhodisland LaCroix Syndicate, just pulled off an extremely shrewd bluff.
TRAMP: Ey, mates, you better hand over your cash. Or me and my boss are gonna get…narsty.
PROPRIETOR: (without blinking) Sure. I’ve given you 311 gold now.
TRAMP: (eyes dart to the side, grin shrinks a little, slowly starts nodding) Smart…move, mate. So I just…
PROPRIETOR: Yes, it’s in the standard place.
I spend some time combing my character screen. I don’t find any sign of the money, though I do find at least one cake. I also find the game’s upgrade and perk system, which—thank goodness. I really ought to start sketching out my build tree right away. You’ve got to allocate your points properly from Day 1 if you want to maximize your Strong Hair Growth build.
Hey, good news! My relationship with the Taran dynasty has changed from “Non-aggression pact” to “neutral.”
Or, shit. That’s probably not great news. Once I figure out who the hell they are, I should look into whether they’ve got at least two guys working for them.
That’s it. If you want something wrong done right, you’ve just got to go out in the rainy evening and break into someone’s peasant shack personally. Tramp, take notes, because this is how a man builds a dynasty.
Moments later I am fistfighting a yeoman in the mud.
I have to assume I failed at my burglary check. There’s not a lot of prelude to that effect, honestly: it just sort of transitions from me approaching to the two of us duking it out in the middle of traffic. Big, robust, lipstick-red blood splatters burst from the backs of our heads as a single-file conga line of stray animals files into us.
Now, I wouldn’t say I’m worried. I am a martial arts expert, after all. But this does seem like the sort of thing a doctor would rather wasn’t happening to me:
As casually as possible, I dispatch Tramp to yank his finger out of his nose and come help out. He sets out a-strolling as the Doublet Dragon streetfight continues.
As soon as he arrives, he jerks out his sword and slashes the dude a good one. My nameless mark hits the street like a sack of potatoes. For a couple seconds, I just stare at the screen in bafflement.
Then a scroll appears:
Well, I gotta tell you, that is outstanding news. Truly!
I’m gonna go do the fucking tutorial.
NEXT WEEK: BABY’S FIRST MOB