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Cards Back on the Table: Let’s Play Arcana - Seal of Rimsala


Let the Mystery Be

Arcana is a 1992 role-playing video game for the SNES by HAL Laboratory. (Yes, the folks who brought us Kirby.) “Seal of Rimsala” is a recent hack that modernizes it a bit, including a FastROM patch, an edited translation (which removes some of the standard Nintendo censorship), and a bunch of tweaks to various systems.

I haven’t actually played this through in twenty years, since the last time I played my actual cart. So this is not going to be a full catalogue of differences or changes, and it can’t be a super in-depth exploration because I don’t know all of the tiny hidden secrets. This is a play through for the sake of playing and experiencing the hack as if it were the original game.

Which is not to say I’m playing blind. The automap in this is not great, and only accessible by diving through menus. And Nintendo Power had some excellent coverage of this back in the day, including a fold-out poster of maps. So, basically, you’re going to get to see how a Beowulf play-through of this game goes in all its realistic glory.

Without further ado, let’s boot this bad boy up:

I start a new game. The addition of a subtitle to the title screen is clearly part of the hack. The original Japanese name of the game was “Card Master: Rimsalia no Fuuin”, so the subtitle isn’t coming from nowhere. (For that matter, using “Arcana” as the title of a game about magic cards is actually pretty sensible, given that it refers https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_Arcana directly to Tarot decks and the magic cards in those.)

I don’t have a good explanation why it isn’t “Seal of Elemen” right at this moment, though.

So we’re picking up ten years after Galneon took over Lexford in a bloody coup. We’re definitely meeting some princesses on this journey and we’ll definitely end up in a battle with Galneon before the game is done.

There are five chapters to this game. That much Nintendo Power warned me about.

Rooks has a tragic backstory, getting the “doomed hometown” and “dead parents” tropes out of the way early.

That single magic card is Sylph, the wind spirit who’s also in our party.

On this particular day, Rooks is visited by Alan, an old…not quite friend. (Alan’s name is changed by the hack.)

Alan is like that guy you went to high school with who you are Facebook friends with but haven’t had a conversation with in ten years. Then he appears out of nowhere because he needs something. Also, his dad got your parents killed.

Rooks is either very duty-bound or just a sucker.

And my metaphor holds as Alan flits off to do something completely unrelated, leaving Rooks to handle this monster problem himself and also babysit this woman he's never met before.

Okay, so, we have Rooks, Teefa and the card spirit Sylph. Everybody’s level one. We start with 500 GP, no equipment and no magic

Nintendo Power gives the synopsis of what we just saw.

Around the town there’s an inn where we can heal and save, a card shop that will sell elemental cards and heal our spirits (if Rooks is the last remaining Card Master, why is a card shop still in business?), an equipment shop, and a bar.

Per their advice, I opt to jump straight to a short sword for Rooks, leaving Teefa under-equipped. Then I buy a few healing herbs before heading out.

Next time: An actual dungeon!
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Let the Mystery Be
Welcome back!

In case you weren’t paying attention, here’s the manual recapping a bunch of details we just saw.

Welcome to Balnia Temple, our first dungeon.

Combat works like you’d expect: Random encounters, turn-based battles, XP and Gold for winning.

Sylph (and the other elemental spirits we’ll find) don’t have their own XP totals; they get stronger as Rooks does. Elemental Spirits also regenerate HP as you walk around. Human characters require healing magic and inns, as usual.

Chests in this game can’t be seen from a distance, only from the square they’re in. So you need to walk all the way to the ends of corridors to check for prizes.

The enemies are all very much in the “just attack a lot” first-level stage. The two human characters massively out-damage Sylph because they have actual weapons, but even Sylph can one-shot wimpy Slimes and Dogs.

Teefa (who, to be fair, is one-shotting enemies with her whip), decides to leave to be useful and learns Heal 1.

Rooks, apparently jealous of Teefa’s newfound ability, immediately proceeds to one-up her by learning Heal 2.

Other chests on the first floor provide Herbs, which restore HP, and a Silver Flask, which restores MP.

With all of that under my belt, I head back to town and spend my 500 GP on a shield for Rooks and Hard Leather for Teefa.

The game doesn’t give you indications of whether a weapon is stronger than what you currently have when you’re looking in the shop, mind you. Instead, you need to consult the manual for the attack and defense power associated with each item.

Nintendo Power also suggested I needed a Return Ring, so I snagged one of those, just in case.

By the way, apparently one of the things this hack does is remove the “Man” attribute. Rooks has “None” as his attribute here.

Pickpockets are moderately stronger that other first floor enemies.

As are green dogs, aka Wolfs.

I find a couple more chests on this floor. The cash will be handy when I get back to town.

When we approach the stairs up, there’s a boss battle.

The only strategy here is that he’s weak to wind, so we can use Slyph’s magic to change our team’s attribute to wind. Then just attack for a couple of rounds.

The manual actually explains how the elements interact, even if the game itself doesn’t. It’s kind of the critical point of strategy. There’s some wobble, but basically Wind -> Earth -> Water -> Fire -> Wind (doing 160% damage), and also Wind -> Water and Water -> Wind; Earth -> Fire and Fire -> Earth (doing 120% damage). Elementals do only 80% damage to their own element, and 40% damage to the element that’s strong against them.

The elemental affinities of monsters will matter more later, as we have more characters and more ability to deal magical damage.

The rewards are pretty decent, but I’ve already been back to town once, so I press on.

The second floor has some new enemies, but only in the “they hit a little harder and have more HP” sense.

You need to loop to the left when you come upstairs, but all the treasures are on the east side of the floor, in this back-and-forth set of cul-de-sacs.

It’s a decent haul.

Saurians also appear on the 1st floor. They’re on the level with Wolfs. Chimeras are a little strong than that.

And I gain a few levels and learn some new magic along the way.

The second boss of the temple is a recolor of the first. Stronger, but with the same weakness and no real special attacks.

I attempted to impair his attack, but it didn’t work.

Just switch to wind and take turns punching until you win.

Here’s the full map of the temple we’ve just explored.

Hmm…how very mysterious.

In the final room, there’s a priest and a dwarf named Axs. They’re guarding some sort of magic sword.

Teefa starts a battle out of nowhere, and successfully gets Paralyze to work on two enemies in one casting, for the first and last time ever in a jrpg.

And then our favorite Facebook Friend comes back; turns out he wasn’t too busy to come along after all.

As everyone could have predicted, Alan followed in his father's footsteps and joined the side of evil. Also, now we have any idea about the Seal of Rimsala in the subtitle.

There's no way Rooks would help this jerk.

Or maybe it's because you're helping the guy who killed my parents, dumbass!

Shock! Betrayal! Happiness that I never bothered to equip Teefa with that Mage Staff we found!

Alan and Teefa will take turns attacking. The first attack wipes out Sylph. The rest each deal half of Rooks’ remaining HP, so it won’t actually kill him.

The priest manages to get free from being paralyzed and comes to our aid, driving off Alan and Teefa, though they keep the sword.

And so ends Chapter 1! We’ll pick up with Chapter 2 next time.


Let the Mystery Be

If we don’t meet at least one Reynold in this chapter, I’m going to be irritated.

We wake up in the Dwarf Town with a strange woman looking over us.

Rooks apparently got looped into some major messes by Alan’s machinations! A princess playing nursemaid to…well, the last remaining Card Master, so I suppose he ranks.

Dwarf naming culture is very straightforward.

More heroes, upon waking up from getting the snot beaten out of them, should say this.

Axs was on the right side of history from the start. Definitely more trustworthy than Alan.

No guessing who the final boss is going to be.

Upon reflection, this is one of the game’s biggest mysteries and biggest plot holes: The magic cards seem really critical to the functioning of the world, and everyone seems to have heard of the Card Masters and Zahan. Nobody else learned this skill? Nobody?

…Yeah, let’s not talk about Alan’s dad.

Perhaps bringing the crown princess on a dangerous mission when our overall success depends on her being alive to take the throne isn’t a great idea…?

Well, okay, if you really think that’s the best plan. (It’s a bad plan.)

The manual has some comments on the folks we’ve met so far.

First stop is to the card seller’s tent to revive Sylph.

I spend some time poring over the manual and the relative strength of various equipment pieces, and eventually settle on buying Rooks the best sword and shield available for him, and giving him Teefa’s Hard Leather (which she kindly stripped off before betraying us). Sarah gets that Mage Staff I found, Rooks’ old Soft Leather, and also a shield. I’ll come back for better mail for both of them when I have some more ready cash.

We head to the forest via the Dwarf Pass.

The enemies here are a mix. The Goblin is an easy encounter from the last dungeon.

Bees are more appropriate as an upgrade for this area, though with a Broad Sword, Rooks can one-shot them. The Chimera can cast the attack spell Attribute 1, which I had hoped would get renamed by this hack. (Fortunately, Attribute 1 isn’t very effective on Sylph. Still hurts the humans quite a bit.)

Let’s stop for a second and talk about spells: The single-element spells all have logical names. The multi-element spells, though, apparently just got lumped together as “Attribute” spells. Attribute 1, for example, is a Wind-Water spell and is effective against Earth and Water.

I feel like there’s a bounty of multi-element spell names they could have used here. Of course, coming up with a spell that uses wind and water, and is somehow effective against earth and water but not fire is tricky. My best idea is “Desertification”, but I’ll welcome other suggestions!

The first couple of chests have healing items.

Slyph learns an attack spell on my next level-up. Lightning doesn’t do amazing damage, but it hits all enemies.

Puddings aren’t terribly noteworthy.

This little nook has some better finds.

Speaking of attack magic, Sarah learns Attribute 3 All. Checking our chart, that’s an Earth-Water spell that is effective against Water and Fire. How about “Drowning Mud”?

Immediately after, I meet a group of five enemies, so I have her cast it. It decimates her MP, but one-shots everything in the battle.

In general, magic is expensive at this point in the game. Rooks can only manage to Heal 2 castings before his MP is exhausted. Also, having your best attacker also be your primary healer is an issue mid-battle.

We meet this mysterious elf, who’s clearly strong but also kind of a jerk. At least he warns us about a Fire giant we’re likely to run into.

This is Nintendo Power’s map of the Dwarven Pass.

In the forest proper.

The enemies get an upgrade here. I suspect I’ll be using my Return Ring soon, but I want to grab a few more treasures first.

I end up having Sylph cast Lightning a lot, because it softens these guys up and is cheap to cast.

I snag a couple of level-ups. Sarah learns another expensive attack spell, and Rooks learns another handy utility spell.

Attribute 6 is a Water-Fire spell that’s effective against Fire and Wind. I vote for calling it “Scalding Flood.”

There’s a cul-de-sac over on the east end of the first forest path with some handy treasures.

(If the details of some of those screenshots look weird, it’s because I borked a save-state and had to re-fight a bunch of battles.)

Honey gives permanent stat increases. As Nintendo Power suggested, I’m using them all on Rooks. The collection I found gives him bonuses to basically everything.

The Blood Card is a renamed item in the hack. Only Rooks can use it, and it attempts to cause instant death.

Water Cards are one of the four elemental type cards Rooks can use in lieu of attack magic. I suspect I’ll want these when we meet that fire giant.

Then, my resources thoroughly exhausted, I Return Ring back to town.

Rooks gets a suit of Chain Mail (the Breast Mail is only a minor upgrade), and Sarah gets the Hard Leather.

And that’s it for now. No doubt I’ll push further into the forest next week. Well, some doubt. 'Cause it's the forest of doubt. I'll...yeah, I'll try again next week.


Let the Mystery Be

We need to hike through the Dwarven Pass again, but that’s pretty quick. I think I ran into three battles just charging through.

Then we’re back in the Forest of Doubt, but it’s also a fairly fast run because I already checked all of the nooks and emptied the chests.

At the halfway point, there’s a Cyclops. Note that he’s fire elemental (red border), so Sylph isn’t going to be terribly helpful here.

This seems like a decent time to show off the Cards command. You can use up to three cards of an element at a time, so I’ll hit him with all three Water cards.

Cards cost 10 GP each, which means they’ll become more economical as the game goes on.

Given that his next hit smashes Sarah for 59 HP, ending this battle quickly is clearly a good plan. Sarah’s two spells are also effective against fire creatures.

After the battle, we run into Darwin the elf warrior again.

This line really needs the exasperated tone of “What do you want now?”

Well, this is definitely better than Alan sending me off to do his dirty work. You’re probably more trustworthy. Any chance your dad betrayed, I don’t know, my grandfather or something?

Rooks is a lot more eager than I think I want to be. But let’s move on.

Darwin joins at level 12, which implies my characters are a little under-leveled. On the other hand, he isn’t wearing anything and apparently broke his sword. I’m going to push a little farther, then go back and buy him some pants. (Honestly, right now he hits as hard as Sarah does even without any equipment, so I think we can manage for a bit.)

The Dryad enemies (those tree-guys) are both some of the strongest here and also provide the best rewards by far.

There’s a Return Ring off in this corner, which is nice if you don’t have an extra.

We learn a few more spells as we catch up our levels.

Nintendo Power map of the forest.

Passing through the forest takes us to the Crimson Valley, the third and last area in this chapter. The valley is oddly set up, with a series of furrows and a lot of treasure chests.

Great Lizards are Dryad-level strength, but also fire elemental. I end up needing to burn a bunch of Rooks’ MP on healing. Dryad is basically just a damage sponge here, because she regenerates but can barely scratch the enemies.

Treasure chests give us cash money, which is useful now.

Assassins are water-elemental, and cast Water 1, which hits everyone in my party for single-digit damage. And sometimes misses. They still give decent rewards. I suspect there’s something odd in the way the game calculates damage, but Darwin can barely scratch these guys specifically.

We’ve been collecting a chest from the end of each of these furrows. Cash in every one.

The northmost furrow has a chest…that’s a trap! I think the hacker added that; I don’t remember those existing in the base game.

The second furrow from the top is the way through, then there’s another set. More cash to be had here.

And those are some lovely cash totals. Gonna get Darwin some fancy pants.

This spell actually isn’t in the manual. I wonder if it’s actually a changed effect, or just a renamed spell?

When an enemy catches you off guard, you actually spin on the map screen. It can make a mess of your navigation, even ignoring the free hit the enemy gets.

There’s a Return Ring among the second chest set, which is likely a hint that we should go back to town soon.

I push through the third set, which is another full collection of honey. I’ll be using these on Rooks.

A set of nasty Great Lizard encounters saps my resources after that. I snag one more chest and use all my honey.

Then I Return Ring back to town.

Sarah gets an armor upgrade, Darwin gets a full set of gear.

I hadn’t noticed this until now, but you can actually buy honey. (I wonder if the hacker added that, too?) In theory, this means you could grind money and pump your stats. In actuality, I don’t see a reason to do that.

I also buy some more cards for Rooks. There’s another fire monster coming.

And that’s it for this week. I should be able to push through to the end of the chapter next time.


Let the Mystery Be

Once more into the breach!

We’ll zoom through the Dwarven Pass, and then through the Forest of Doubt. Sarah gains a level, but that’s pretty much the only thing of note.

The Crimson Valley is also uneventful, as we cleared out all the treasure last time.

But then there’s this guy.

Things we will NOT do: Switch to Wind. Things we will do: Smack him hard with Water Cards.

Sylph is generally useless here; and I didn’t notice any particular effect from this spell.

Did I forget to mention that Darwin has some other magic? He has Attribute 2 All, a Wind-Water spell effective against Earth and Fire. I hereby name it “Monsoon.”

It’s not terribly effective. His regular attacks are actually stronger.

Ifrit uses Flame 2 against us, which does ~30 damage to humans and 50+ to Sylph.

Beating him means he joins our party.

Apparently attacks by random elemental spirits are unusual. I feel like this is a fairly-standard “bad times are happening so monster attacks are increasing” jrpg-fare. Among other things, making the constant monster encounters a new development allows society to have developed without requiring people to go live in weird remote areas that they’d never survive walking around in.

(I’ll do a proper economic post once we’ve seen more of the game, but beside the big question of the necessity of Card Masters, we see a tiny portion of world map. We will end up needing to extrapolate a LOT.)

Darwin, his job apparently done, runs off. He does leave all the gear I bought for him.

We can use the Call command to swap with elemental spirit is in our party. Ifrit apparently forgot Flame 2 when we knocked him out.

We’re still pretty healthy, so let’s keep going.

Nintendo Power map of the Valley.

This is a new part of the Forest of Doubt, though it’s a short one.

There are new Dryad-type monsters here. They aren’t much stronger than the previous type, though they’ve got a much weirder name.

These Wolfsbane plants are also new. Only mildly stronger than the previous foes, but their Water element means that switching to Ifrit wasn’t actually such a great plan.

The game wants you to be prepared for something.

Here’s where the sage we were looking for lives.

He and Rooks have met before.

Apparent side note in this kingdom: Sarah is an uncommon name (and Princess Sarah is a dumbass for using it casually). Either that, or Reynold is both very observant and extremely bad at tact.

I think “some bad things” is under-selling it at this point. She’s working with the usurper who killed her father to revive a god-monster that will destroy and/or conquer the world, and she’s willing to cheat, steal and murder to achieve her aims.

Theory confirmed: Reynold is brilliant but tactless.

I want to start my next dinner party this way. “So, about this Evil Empress!”

“I happen to know a great deal about a lot of things.”


We can work with that. We have two of the spirits already, and know the location of one of the treasures. All we have to do is punch Alan in the face to retrieve it, and that sounds like a good time.

The dialogue is a bit unclear here, it seems like EITHER: Fanas was Rooks’ father, and he sealed Rimsala sometime in the last few decades, or (more likely, I think), the legend of Fanas was a story Rooks’ father told him about the distant past, where a Card Master named Fanas sealed Rimsala originally.

In case Rooks had any second thoughts, here.

This is an odd comment that smacks of trying to be slang. “I keep the cookies in a jar on a high shelf.” “Even the wind can’t reach them there!”

Sarah hears something and goes off to check.

Okay, gather the spirits and treasures, then say a spell. Pretty simple, right?

That’s never a good sound.

Oh look, it’s Alan again.

Kidnapping, threats of murder AND a terrible chess pun. Will your evil never cease?

“Do I look like a waiter?”

…actually, Alan does seem the type of jerk to say that.

Rooks chases him outside, but someone else is waiting.

Wait…Zero? Your name is Zero? Like, your parents named you that? Or maybe you chose it, though I can’t decide if that would be worse.

For that matter, it sounds just like Alan to declare someone his “first apprentice” and then let poor Zero here be the “second apprentice”.

This battle ends up as a damage race. Cards aren’t particularly stronger than just attacking for Rooks, because he doesn’t have an elemental weakness I can hit. Ifrit does 8 damage with a regular attack or with Flame 1, so he plinks away at Zero until he gets knocked out.

Basically, I attack and heal until I win. Duel-battles in this game don’t have a lot of strategy.

This pulls Chapter 2 to a close.

And here are some comments from the manual about additional people we’ve met.


Let the Mystery Be

We return to the Dwarf Village as we begin Chapter 3.

For that matter, why didn’t he come with me last time? He might have stopped Sarah from getting kidnapped!

Among the questions this raises: Why does the Fire Dragon live in the Ice Maze? What does it mean when a dragon is “acting up again”, if it lives deep in a frozen cave where “the wind can’t reach it”? How would Axs know about this? And for that matter, why is this Axs’ responsibility? Oh, and is it just a coincidence that he’s gone to the place we also need to go?

Rooks, expecting trouble but also indicating to the player that the store has new options, tries to be sensible.

I sell off most of the old equipment Sarah and Darwin left behind. I have a sneaking suspicion Axs went into the Ice Mine butt-naked and unarmed.

Hopefully buying a Frost Blade isn’t a totally stupid idea when I’m heading to the Ice Mine. We’ll find out!

Also revive Ifrit and save my game before heading out.

The map screen shows only the (human) characters you have as you walk from place to place.

The gimmick of the Ice Maze is that it has three levels, you’re constantly going up and down. The second level is the Icicle Dungeon.

Witches (…oddly named, given the medusa sprite) cast Water 1, which Ifrit is happy to ignore.

New spells right off the bat. Stomp All, interestingly, is “attack increase all”, not an attack that stomps on enemies, like you might think.

Skeletons are a significant upgrade enemy; Rooks can’t OHKO them, possibly because he’s using a water-aligned weapon. Gels we can easily knock out, though they can cast Sleep. It misses a lot, but could be an issue if it connects.

Axs, unsurprisingly, has gotten himself into trouble.

There’s a theory that the only reason Rooks learns Unpetrify is for this scene. (Kinda like the Light spell Selan has for all of Lufia 2.) We’ve yet to meet any enemies who could inflict petrify.

Happy to help!

There’s a disconnect here: Axs apparently spotted Alan coming to or through the mine, independently of his trip here to investigate that uppity dragon. Which implies that Alan came to get the Jewel, but didn’t need to bring Sarah with him, and didn’t say much of what he was doing to Axs.

Again: Sarah isn’t with Alan, or Axs would have seen her. She also clearly isn’t with the Jewel. Axs, your motivations are annoyingly unclear.

Also, it wasn’t just his axe—as I predicted, Axs is butt-naked. Apparently he can’t use the broad sword, but the armor is still an upgrade. We’ll poke around a bit, then go back and get him a real weapon.

I immediately hit this mixed group and get Ifrit killed. I’ll switch to Sylph for a bit.

Of these new enemies, it seems only Mages can cast Flame 1. The rest of these guys are just larger piles of hit points who hit harder.

There’s a bunch of chests around where I picked up Axs. I’m actually really glad I went straight for him—I suspect this would have been a very frustrating wander if I was trying to explore various dead-ends without a third character in my party.

I got ambushed by this mess right near the entrance as I went treasure hunting, and decided to leave. (At least the encounters here give decent gold. Last chapter, you needed the gold from chests to really afford equipment upgrades.)

Then I got hit again turning around, and Sylph died. I ended up using a Fog Card to escape that battle, because it wouldn’t let me run.

Back to town!

The manual seems to think the Flail and Battle Hammer both deal more damage than the Battle Axe. Weird. I’m getting Axs the axe regardless, because seriously, how could I not? I get him a shield upgrade, too. I can’t afford better armor yet, but both my boys will need armor upgrades before this dungeon ends.

The west side of the map is a series of dead-ends, but I head over to snag the few treasures and grind a little.

A mixed bag, really.

This seemed like an okay idea until I met this group of Manticores. They cast Attribute 2 All (which we just named Storm Surge), and it hurts. ~35 damage to everybody!

By the time I’m back by the entrance, Rooks and Axs both hit level 14, but I’m already hurting for resources. Better to head out now, rather than have to waste a return ring three battles from now.

I’m going to stop for today. This will definitely take a bunch of runs, even if I’m just trying to grab treasure and not map all the dead ends.


Let the Mystery Be

Back into the mines!

The encounters on the Icicle Dungeon floor are a mix of the same and different creatures than above. Those knights have a lot of health, taking a couple of hits from Rooks to knock out. Gels cast Sleep, and if it hits (and it hits Axs here) taking damage doesn’t wake up the victim.

I’m taking the path past where I found Axs petrified today. It leads down two flights of stairs to the third level, the Polar Labyrinth.

I get lucky navigating through that stretch and don’t hit any third-level encounters yet.

Of course, then I get back-attacked by a big group and nearly torn to pieces. I swap out Ifrit afterwards.

And then I get back-attacked a second time by this bullshit, and every single one of those Manticores casts Attribute 2 All, which knocks out Rooks.

Game Over.

This time, instead of trying to make progress through the maze, I’m going to wander near the entrance and grind for a while. There are a lot of dead ends in this dungeon, but because of the different levels you can’t easily tell if you’ll be able to get through.

Skeletons and Zombies are both earth elemental (green border), which means water elemental attacks (like Rooks’ Frost Blade) do much less damage, and they’re mildly more effective on fire. Having Sylph change our element to wind doesn’t override the Frost Blade, but it does make us all take less damage from them.

Here are a few of the Polar Dungeon monsters; mostly palette-swaps of the ones above. Warlocks cast Smash 1. Sylph’s Lightning 2 spell is actually very effective here.

Okay, apparently my “just wander around grinding” idea wasn’t made to last; I wandered along the same path as last time and this time I didn’t get ambushed, so I just kept going.

I made it out to this area (following a bunch of ups and downs) where there are some ho-hum chests.

But that puts me close to stairs that lead down to this big treasure haul.

Look at all that honey!

These Trolls are tough-looking, but not actually much stronger than Knights or other physical-types down in the Polar Dungeon.

And then we finally gain some levels!

I think this hack reduce the total inventory size. Given how few items I tend to use, this isn’t really a big issue, except when I’m loaded down with honey.

But that’s any easy problem to fix by just making Rooks drink it all.

And now, being foolhardy, I decide I’m going to ty to make it to the other treasure hoard as well.

Spoilers: I make it!

Then, not pressing my luck any farther, I Return Ring out. (I am loaded down with Return Rings at this point.)

I’m still a bit short on cash to get the best available armor, so I’ll wait on that.

A room, then time to stop for now. Hopefully Photobucket will have gotten more of their shit together by the time I finish this dungeon.


Let the Mystery Be

I’m mostly heading in to kill some things and see if I can find any treasure I missed.

Sylph knowing Lightning 2 is a big help around here. Per typical jrpg elemental conventions, we wouldn’t have expected that. Like, especially against the all-undead Earth-elemental team here. Lightning 2 can one-shot Mr. Bones, and take out 50 of the Zombie’s 60+ hit points.

I did manage to gain another level, so that’s something. And found this one additional Honey.

I believe there’s a boss past this area, so we’re going to use a Sleeping Bag and hope for the best.

This must be the fire dragon that was “acting up”.

I only have three Water Cards, and they aren’t particularly impressive. Rooks’ Frost Blade does decent damage, but Slyph’s spells barely scratch him and Axs’ attacks aren’t much better.

His Flame 3 spell messes me up bad. And…clearly I’m not strong enough for this yet.

So I rewind time, cast Home (same effect as a Return Ring) and buy Rooks the best available armor. I suspect another few levels and better armor for Axs is in my future. Also, I need to bring Ifrit into battle against the Hydra.

I ran into the Manticore mass that destroyed me in an earlier run by spamming Attribute 2 All, and opted to try using a Blood Card. It instantly killed every Manticore, which was better than I could possibly have hoped for!

Have I shown the in-battle comments before? Rather than the narration announcing critical hits or misses, your characters have comments related to them.

This is the area before the Hydra, and it has a few more useful chests.

I have Rooks drink the honey now, lest I forget about it.

Then we go wandering further. Rooks finally makes it to level 17 and learns a new spell, and Ifrit gets something useful too.

And there’s a chest with a Tent way down in this corner.

The Warlock party spams Smash 1, but it’s doing single-digit damage, so it’s not that big a worry, just annoying.

Axs also hits level 17. Leveling is rather slow-going, honestly.

These two “wings” down in the Polar Dungeon have another six chests, including some gold and two more Return Rings. I might actually want to sell a couple of them.

(This game could really have used a “return to the dungeon” item as well.)

A second go at Hydra with Ifrit starts off potentially better, but still fails. (Note that if ANY human character dies—not just Rooks--it’s game over. There’s no revival for human characters.)

The third try is a hard-fought battle that sucks up almost all of my resources and gets Ifrit killed, but I eke out a victory. Again, the fact that Rooks has the healing magic, and the elemental attack spells (as cards), and also the strongest attack makes long boss battles rather troublesome. My final strategy involved Ifrit exhausting his MP casting HP Recover on the humans, and Axs tossing a couple of healing items as well.

Axs picks a lousy time to reminisce about Rooks’ dead dad.

Wait…you had that this WHOLE TIME? I could have been casting water spells, say, on that fire dragon that just straight-up murdered us twice?

Rooks is much more polite than I am.

Of course, by “Let’s go” a smarter person would mean “Let’s teleport home, sleep all night, buy some more new armor, refill our healing items, and then come back here.” Neither Rooks nor I am a smarter person.

We’ll take a quick look at our new spirit: Marid has an unsurprising spell selection.

Then, as noted and bolstered by the good luck, I decide to push through. Quick nap in a Sleeping Bag, switch to Marid…err, to Sylph. Then it’s a short walk.

Nintendo Power maps! It’s been a while.

Two questions: How does this not melt the ice cave? Also, why wasn’t the fire dragon (who is vulnerable to ice) staying in here? Though thinking about it, if I wanted to keep a fire dragon confined, putting it in a comfy lava cave that was somehow under an ice cave sounds like a solid plan.

Okay, so apparently Axs was just really unobservant and Alan brought Sarah down here with him.

Made her sleep, and then put her into a magical forcefield that just happened to be lying around?

There’s no thwarting stage one of this plan.

Note that Axs went charging out of my party to go pull Sarah out of her forcefield.

Yes, Rooks, apparently he can!

Alan isn’t lying in the sense of “Technically, a society where everyone is dead because you summoned a death-goddess to kill them all is one that is free from conflict.”

“It’s really a shame you can’t get over this whole ‘constant betrayal’ thing. I’d totally let you be my third apprentice.”



Damnit! This must be Alan’s first apprentice!

Important strategy: The Call command in battle, which switches spirits, does NOT use Rooks’ turn. Which means swapping them around to cast different spells (or just as damage sponges, in this case) is a valid strategy.

Freddy, just attacks a single target for around 60 damage each turn. Rooks can do 50 to him; the spirits can manage in the mid-teens with Lightning 2 or Water 2. Which means this battle is boring and straightforward: Attack, heal Rooks, hope Freddy wastes his attacks wearing down the spirits.

If I’d revived Ifrit and had Stomp All active this might have gone slightly faster.

And with this, it's finally the end of Chapter 3! Join us next time as we never have to see the ice cave again!


Let the Mystery Be
Important heads-up! The Seal of Rimsala patch has been updated to v2.0, which apparently renames a few more items, rebalances a few more monsters, and redraws several of the maps. As I'm more than halfway through the game now, I'm going to continue finishing v1. We'll see what version she's hit by the time I finish!


Let the Mystery Be
All right, here we are with Post #9, and our first real update on the new forums!

And what a good place to start.

Sarah was apparently poisoned (or something) by Alan, but fortunately, the elves are here to help.

Rooks and Axs decide to solve this problem themselves.

First things first: The elves have new weapons for sale. I opt to blow all my money on a Dragon Sword for Rooks, but there are better weapons for Axs, and better armor for both of them. There’s also a slate of new equipment for Sarah here, so I suspect I’ll need to buy that, too.

We just walk straight up the mountain to the tower.

This first batch of enemies aren’t too bad. Rooks (with his new sword) can OHKO both of them, but softening then up with Lightning 2 lets Axs take them out, as well. Warlocks can cast Smash 1 for single-digit damage.

My first battle goes well! Sylph and Marid both pick up useful spells with obvious names.

Marid’s healing spell only restore 60 HP per character, though, which means it has limited usefulness in battle. I can use it out of battle and let her natural MP regeneration restore her, though.

Monsters here generally just hit for 20-30 damage. This is not an appreciable difficulty increase from the Ice Mines, but the rewards are pretty solid.

There are a couple of Tents to find on the first floor.

Axs levels up.

There’s a staircase leading up to this small corner of the second floor with a couple of healing items.

I’ll take it?

Ghouls are some of the only elementally-aligned enemies around here. Marid is useless against them. Sylph can do nice damage with Lightning 2, though.

I also realize as I’m poking around that I forgot to revive Ifrit. D’oh. The Spirit Restoration spell cost 50 MP, so Il cast it right before I leave to save the cost of reviving him at the card shop. I have the resources.

I has a nail-biting battle as Axs almost gets killed, but then Rooks gains a level when I win. I cast Home to return to town.

The Inn here in Elf Village is more expensive than elsewhere, but enemies give me more cash, too.

I spend my newly-acquired cash on a Morning Star to upgrade Axs’ attack. Then I realize I can get Rooks a Dragon Shield if I sell his old shield first. It’ll cost me 10,000 GP each to get them the best armor, so we’ll get there when we do.

We head back in and fight a bunch more battles. See what I mean about nice rewards?

Uh-oh. A miniboss!

Daram has a blue border, meaning he’s water-aligned. Earth would be best against him if we had it, but Wind will do. I don’t want Ifrit here, though. Oddly, Daram uses Lightning 2 as his primary attack.

Afterwards, without much fanfare, I get the Earth Spirit, Dao. He’s a wall of HP with the expected set of spells. He attack power is low (even for a spirit), though.

We’ll continue on a little further.

Looks like we need some royal help here.

Oh, and another level for Rooks. I like this chapter’s XP curve so far.

I’m not sure I’ll ever cast this.

Back in town, Sarah joins us. I'm not sure where Icorina gets the idea that Rooks is so good at protecting Sarah--she was kidnapped under his watch several chapters ago!

I’m going to need to buy her equipment now. I see some grinding ahead. But that's next time!


Round and round I go
Staff member
Oh hey, I didn't notice you had a new update! I'm guessing I'm not the only one. Let's signal-boost this.


Let the Mystery Be
Post #10 – Continuing Remorse Tower
Well, it’s been a month. Between the forum switch and, y’know, August, I’ve fallen behind.

To make my life easier, I took some brief time letting the Bank of Game Genie buy me my necessary equipment upgrades. Sarah is getting a Wish Wand, White Robe and Magic Shield, which seem to be the best available stuff for her. I also upgraded both Rooks and Axs to expensive Storm Mail. As you’ll see, this was less critical than you might think.

Sarah has magic when she rejoins, some of which is familiar: She retains Attribute 3 All (Drowning Mud) and Attribute 6 All (Scalding Flood). Attribute 4 is new. It’s a Wind-Fire spell effective against Earth and Wind that I’m christening “Burning Breeze.”

Then our party of three returns to the Remorse Tower.

The monsters come out swinging. Interestingly, with a full set of equipment, Sarah is doing better attack damage than Axs is, and that’s two levels lower. I have to wonder if something is bugged about Axs’ weapons or stats.

Warlocks are actually some of the nicest enemies to find in large groups, because Smash 1 only does single-digit damage at this point and all of the humans can one-shot them, unless they miss.

I think Sarah bleeds on the door, here. The implication is that she cuts herself, but it’s really rather unclear, especially for a retranslation / update hack.

Interestingly, the map includes a blank space for the door.

Up in the corner past the door is a new robe for Sarah, which is only a minor upgrade to the one I bought.

Lightning 2 remains very useful against these Earth-elemental undead.

Up to the third floor. This area is very open.

And has an impressive upgrade for Axs.

Also some money.

Axs gains a level and picks up Heal 1. Little late to the party there, Axs.

The 4th floor is a straight-line snake of a level. Halfway through, we learn a terrible truth.

Daram and Baram then attack. Daram casts Lightning 2, Baram casts Smash 2.

Attribute 3 All should be effective here, but only does mid-30s damage. Physical attacks can do twice that on a lucky hit.

I concentrate attacks on Daram and he goes down quickly, and then swap in Marid to heal the humans, but she takes double damage from Smash 2. Baram also hits like a truck with his physical attacks. I swap in Ifrit for the latter part of the fight.

The fight gives us enough XP for some levels, and then we earn Dao for real.

Vampire Bees are pretty tanky for this area. They can take a few hits before going down.

No treasure on level 4, and the stairs are actually really close, you just need to loop all the way around to get to them.


Let the Mystery Be

Level 5 brings a new color scheme and new enemies.

And a level for Axs.

Two nice upgrades for Axs on this level, and a little gold. I sure hope I get to fight a boss with him at some point.

Lilith’s are pretty solid. Dragonians are even more so. Three hits from the humans might be necessary to fell them.

Sarah picks up another level and a spell I’m unlikely to cast.

Ghosts like to spam Sleep All. They’re hardy against physical attacks, but Ifrit can do real damage to them. (Thankfully, after all the humans get put to sleep!)

Level 6 is a wide open space with nothing to find.

Level 7 brings more new enemies. Lich can cast single-target sleep, and carries the usual undead resistance to physical attacks. Summoners cast a Flame 2 that hits hard—they’re a danger in big groups.

Rooks gains a level, and adds a new spell to Sylph’s arsenal.

Rooks: Honest about his poor life choices.

Alan, at last.

Rooks: Impressively oblivious to the world around him.

Solo battle time!

I keep Ifrit there for one turn to cast Stomp All, then switch to Dao to absorb some hits and cast Wall All.

Alan actually isn’t that bad a fight. He uses physical attacks and, with the buff spells up and plenty of available healing, Rooks can handle it all pretty well.

Rooks, for whatever reason, is reluctant to kill Alan. Is he too noble? Too sentimental? Convinced that Alan will start blabbing all of Galneon’s plans?

We’ll never know. Galneon blasts Alan with Attribute 11, which we haven’t seen before: It’s All-elemental and effective against everything. I feel like I want to call it “Avatar State” or something. (I will take other votes.)

Rooks doesn’t take this well.

Galneon, not having read his Evil Overlord Handbook, opts to, for whatever reason, not blast Rooks with Attribute 11 as well.

Rooks, apparently out of his goddamn mind over the revelation, charges off and leaves his party behind. Your only option is to continue upstairs.

I use my only Fog Card and a lucky escape attempt getting here, where Darwin happens to be waiting.

Fortunately, I thought to buy equipment that will fit him before I left town. Because, as is standard around here, he’s wandering through the tower naked.

This has gotten pretty long, so I think I’ll call it here. I may or may not jump back to town, but either way, this is the party I’ll have next time. Hopefully it won't be another month!


Round and round I go
Staff member
What happened to your other two party members? They just took off after you decided to fight Alan solo?


Let the Mystery Be
What happened to your other two party members? They just took off after you decided to fight Alan solo?
Apparently Rooks rushes out past them (or something?) That "Where are you going?" line from Sarah is the only explanation that you get.


the member formerly known as Alpha Werewolf
One thing I'm really enjoying about this game is how much it gives an RPGMaker vibe, in that I could see this game being made in RPGMaker and it wouldn't feel weird. And that's a good feeling! Kind of like, connecting the professional and hobbyist parts of the genre for me.