Revisiting the Wasteland, Part 11 – A Bloody Good Time

Despite Ace’s insistence that we get our butts up to Vegas to help out, it seems that leaving a shadowy, murderous cult unattended to in Needles would fly sharply in the face of our devotion to carrying out justice at any cost. A detective at the local police station tells us that the cultists have been grabbing people for months and draining them of their blood. He believes they have been using something called the Bloodstaff, but he doesn’t know much more about it. This story is confirmed by a bishop at the Temple of the Mushroom Cloud, who tells us that one of his priests was kidnapped and the Bloodstaff stolen from him. He promises us a great reward if we can get it back. While we Rangers are not driven by materialistic aims, we will certainly not refuse a little sweetening of the pot now and again.

Some more digging tells us that the cultists are headquartered in the northwest corner of town. Heading up to check the place out, we run into a sporadic but insidious threat in the wasteland: radiation. At various locations around the map are pockets of residual radiation lingering from days gone by. At night, these spots show up on the map as little rad symbols that are easy to spot. During the day, however, they are completely invisible, and the only warning you get is from the insistent ticking of your party Geiger counter. You party starts the game with Geiger counter in hand, so as long as you don’t drop it or sell it at any point, it will always be there as your early warning system. That being said, even with that warning, if you are speeding around the map or simply aren’t paying attention, it can be pretty easy to wander into an irradiated area.

Fortunately, in the world of Wasteland, radiation exposure is not a death sentence: a trip to the hospital can clear it up for a few hundred bucks. Still, if you are far from a hospital, or deep in hostile territory, getting irradiated can turn into a pretty major headache.

The Cult of Blood’s temple is surrounded by a field of radiated tiles, so approaching at night is the far safer option. With the radiation illuminated, we are able to pick our way safely across the grounds to enter the temple itself. We are met inside the front door by a group of security robots, which are the first mechanical opponents we’ve faced so far. Turns out they deal out some pretty heavy damage, but after a hard-fought battle, we finish them off. Bloodied and wounded, we slip back out of town to camp. After a night of R&R, we make our way back in and deal with the next wave of temple guardians. Fortunately, the cultists themselves seem pretty oblivious to our presence, so we poke around the building for a while to see what we can find. Scrawled on the back of a pew are the words “MOTEKIM,” which I’m sure will be important later, so we make a note of that. A cultist locker room holds some ammo and other useful equipment, so we reclaim that in the name of the law.

The next room in comes as a bit of a surprise. Stepping up to a computer terminal, we are offered the chance to face a challenge from the cultists. Saying yes, my Rangers are suddenly teleported onto a giant chess board. A blood cultist stands waiting for us on the far side of the board, but we quickly discover that things aren’t so simple: taking a wrong step brings down a rain of laser fire from security turrets along the walls. It seems that there is a single safe path through the room, and we’re only going to find it through guesswork. After some trial and error, we make it to the gamekeeper who asks us how many steps are on the true path (30); if we’d gotten that wrong, we’d have to start over again.

Getting it right, however, dumps us onto a small dock by a blood-filled lake. Lovely. While much of the world of Wasteland has thus far maintained some realistic internal geography, I have to admit that the spatial organization of the Temple of Blood is a little iffy.

Regardless, using our Swim skill to get across the lake, we make our way to the fortress-looking island in the center. Once we reach land, we come under attack from a series of unseen snipers. We have to combat move our way forward to eventually expose each of them, at which point we take them out. It leaves us wounded again, but it also gives us our first M1911A1 Assault Rifles, which are the strongest weapons we’ve found thus far. I give one to Daenerys, and one to Tyrion. That leaves Eddard with the Uzi 9mm, and Drogo with his crowbar. Ace gets Tyrion’s old M19 rifle, and Mayor Pedros is still thrilled to be pounding people with his fists.

Reaching the main gate, we blow it open with some TNT Drogo has been lugging around, and get set to enter the heart of the temple. Now, my memories of the battle that await me through the door are of one of the toughest fights of the early game. My characters still have relatively weak armor, and I recalled getting swarmed by Bloodbeasts – nasty dog creatures – that would tear my Rangers apart. So this time, I make sure everyone is fully healed and ready to face whatever lay ahead.

Entering the room, we detect two pressure plates directly beyond the gate. The game gives us the option to jump over them or not. Had we not detected them, we would have triggered an automated turret that would make the fight even harder. Immediately, several groups of guards and bloodbeasts appear, ready to take us down. To cut a long story short, the first attempt at breaching the temple’s defenses does not end well: complete destruction of the party.  The guards are not the problem – they are fairly inaccurate, and their shots don’t hurt much – it’s the bloodbeasts. With multiple melee attacks per round, they swarm us and kill us faster than we can deal with them.

Reloading, I once again breach the temple doors and leap the plates. It’s then that I have an epiphany that never occurred to my past self: I, as the player, can get past these pressure plates… but can the enemies? Putting my theory to the test, I trigger the battle by leaping across the threshold, and then spend the first round executing a combat move to jump back across the plates and into the shattered remains of the gate. The next few rounds have us laying down fire at the advancing bloodbeasts in the hope of taking some of them out before they reach us. Then, after a round or two more, the first group gets to the plates and is stopped dead in their tracks.  Success! Thanks to this obstacle, we can freely fire on them, but those nasty dogs can’t get close enough to melee us. Suddenly, what was a headache of a fight is a walk in the park. Sure, Drogo and the Mayor are useless as well, but our gun-toters are more than able to deal with the beasts from afar.

Once the Bloodbeasts are down, we jump back into the temple core and finish off a few stragglers. Pushing around to the inner sanctum, we confront the blood priest and his final followers.

As you might expect from his surroundings, the demon-priest is an
utterly corrupt individual. A flowing blue robe covers his diseased body..
and a foul smirk twists his face askew. He smiles and teeth blacker than
ebony glint in the half-light. Palsey’s wracked hands grasp the Bloodstaff
tightly and threaten you with it. ‘”You will not have it,” he whispers
harshly. “You cannot take my life!”

Now, that sounds like a challenge if ever I’ve heard one. Taking him up on it, we enter battle. The blood priest hits pretty hard compared to his followers, but with some liberal use of auto fire, we take down him and his cronies without too much difficulty. Searching through the piles of loot they leave behind, we are able to restock on much of the ammo we just burned, as well as pick up some very valuable power packs (which will be quite handy later). Most importantly, we find the bloodstaff and pry it from his cold, dead hands.

Justice is served.

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