Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Kenshi - a journey through the desert

Willam Pathfinder of Phoenix Rising, last man standing, facing a horde of dust bandits charging towards him

I mentioned Kenshi, the squad-based sandbox RPG, on Wednesday. (Check out the video there if you want to know more about it.)

At the time, I said I hadn't been posting about computer games lately, and I really didn't intend to change that. However, I'm having so much fun with this game, I thought I'd describe one recent journey from one town to another.

My character is Willam - not 'William' - Pathfinder, leader of the Phoenix Rising faction (which was just him when I started the game). Since then, he's hired nine female bodyguards, so there were ten of us traversing the desert wasteland from Brink to Catun.

It wasn't far, but it's easy to get lost when there are mountains or mesas blocking off a direct route. There are canyons throughout the mesas, but no roads. So it's hard to tell which canyons dead-end in impassible terrain and which don't.

Mau, our newest medic

Anyway, we were traveling in the desert along the edge of the mesa when sand ninjas ambushed us. There were only three of them, but they're very tough. Unfortunately, we couldn't see them coming, because they were hidden by the canyon walls until they were almost upon us.

Most of our party might have been able to outrun them, but we had some new hires who weren't very fast. In particular, 'Stinks' - our engineer - was lagging behind and clearly wouldn't be able to get away. So we turned around to defend her.

It was ten of us against three of them, but they went through us like a hot knife through butter. I kept my two doctors out of the fight, so they could patch up the fallen, but this isn't like most games, where characters can drink a magic potion or otherwise be instantly restored to health.

No, medics bind your wounds, to keep you from bleeding to death. But a badly injured character usually stays unconscious for a long time. And even after he - or she - can stand up again, it's a very slow process to recover completely (and that's assuming that they haven't suffered an amputation).

But once the rest of us were lying on the ground, unconscious or dying, the sand ninjas quickly dispatched my medics, too. Then, all of a sudden, they were struck by a roving band of dust bandits.

No, they weren't friends of ours. I hadn't realized that different factions of bandits would fight each other, if they had the chance, not just us. That was really neat!

'Stinks,' our young, and rather slow, engineer

Pretty soon, sand ninja bodies joined ours on the sand, and the dust bandits were leaving. My two medics were still bleeding badly, but the leader of my faction was already conscious, just 'playing dead' until his enemies left.

Unfortunately, I needed to quit playing then, for awhile, but I made a big mistake in saving the game at that exact point. Because, when I loaded the saved game later, my character was no longer feigning death. The dust bandits, who'd already disappeared behind a bluff, immediately knew that he was awake and charged back to kill us all.

So I reloaded one of the automatic saves - the most recent one, which put me into the battle again, with only our two medics still on their feet. The sand ninjas were already chopping down one of them, but this time, I knew what to expect. I looked around and saw the dust bandits in the distance, heading our way.

So I sent 'Doc,' our remaining medic, running in that direction. She was slightly injured, but still pretty fast. And with the sand ninjas running after her, I figured that would get the attention of the dust bandits. Well, it worked! The dust bandits also ran towards her, and the two groups of bandits started fighting each other.


The result, however, was completely different from the first time that happened. Instead of the large group of dust bandits hitting the three sand ninjas en masse, most of them started chasing my medic, with only a few taking on the sand ninjas. She kept leading them around in a circle, drawing them back through the sand ninjas again and again, and each time, one or two would be tempted away by their other enemies.

But this time, when fighting only one or two dust bandits at a time, the sand ninjas had no problem. This time, the battle ended not with the sand ninjas bleeding into the sand, but with the whole party of dust bandits lying, and dying, there - at which point the sand ninjas turned their attention to my poor medic again.

They'd all been injured a bit, so they weren't as fast as they had been. 'Doc' had been injured, too, but she could still stay ahead of them, if not by much. Meanwhile, Neko had recovered enough to stand up, and she really is fast (short, but very fast, even after being injured).

So I let them lead the bandits away. Soon, I realized that I didn't need both of them as decoys. At that point, I let the sand ninjas chase Neko, while 'Doc' came back to help bandage everyone else (including Mau, her fellow medic, who was in very bad shape by then).

That was only the start of our adventures, though. Neko was faster than the bandits, but not that much faster. So she was already a long way away when she encountered a lone adventurer. Poor guy, I never got his name. He let Neko hire him for protection for six hours - which turned out to be about five and a half hours longer than he had to live.


Yeah, I suppose it was a surprise when three sand ninjas immediately came barreling over the dunes, huh? But he stood his ground and fought bravely. Neko couldn't help much, but she kept the attention of one of the bandits, while the other two fought her protector. Unfortunately, it was over very quickly, and she had three sand ninjas chasing her again.

They'd been injured a bit more, though, so she was able to gain some ground on them. Eventually, after a long run, they gave up. They turned around and started patrolling the desert again, back towards where we'd first encountered them.

That was, of course, in the direction of the rest of our party. Most of them had recovered enough to stand (and we'd taken the weapons of the dust bandits, just in case they recovered, too), so we picked up the others and started walking away.

We started towards the adventurer, to see if he was still alive, but since that was directly towards the sand ninjas, we reluctantly turned away before getting to him. Rest in peace, friend. Instead, we headed into a canyon, hoping that it would lead us to Catun after all.

Luckily, we stumbled upon a trade caravan going in that direction - a trader with a couple of pack animals and a large party of guards - so we joined them. (I tried, but couldn't trade with them.) Yes, we were moving pretty slowly, but so were they. They were heading in the direction of Catun, and they seemed to know where they were going. Plus, those guards looked like they could handle almost anything. Things were definitely looking up.


Switching back to Neko, I had her bandage herself. Then, since she was such a long way from us, on the other side of the mesa, I decided she'd just run to Catun and meet us there. Almost immediately, she ran into five huge wolves (feral dogs, actually, I think).

It was hopeless to try to fight them, but Neko was... well, not faster than they were, but fast enough. As long as she kept running, they couldn't seem to attack her. She certainly couldn't gain on them. They were too fast for that. In fact, graphically, it looked like they were leading and she was chasing them. (The game is still in alpha, remember. It's a long way from being finished.)

When I switched back to Willam and the rest of the party, I saw that the trader had gotten stuck on top of a small mesa. I don't know how, because there was no way up. But everyone else - my people and his - were stuck trying to go up the cliff after him. (Again, this game is still in alpha.)

Furthermore, there was a small party of slavers heading our way! Now, I don't suppose I want to make friends with slave traders. On the other hand, I was pleased to see that they weren't hostile. (You usually start the game with neutral reactions from the other factions - all except actual bandits, at least.) So now we had a bunch of armed men and women, all heading in the same direction.

As I say, I couldn't tell how to get through the mesa, but the game always can. And with two separate squads, I could see two separate parts of the world. So I switched to Neko and ordered her to run to my main party. Sure enough, she headed right into the rough ground of the mesa, taking a shortcut right towards us.


When I switched back to the main party, though, the trader caravan had disappeared. I suppose the game had finally figured out that they were stuck and just moved them where they were supposed to be. Unfortunately, my people were left behind. We still had four or five slave traders to party with, but there were now five huge wolves heading our way.

And Adi was still unconscious. Soo was still carrying her when Neko and the wolves arrived, and before I could order Soo to put her down, a wolf had brought them both down. I'd thought the sand ninjas were tough, but the wolves were worse.

Of course, my party was all bandaged and limping already, so we didn't even slow the wolves down. But even the slave traders didn't last long, though they dropped one wolf and badly injured another. Again, I kept my medics busy bandaging until they were the only two left, at which point the wolves nearly ripped them apart.

Still, we all survived. I could see another battle in the distance, I don't know between whom. (I couldn't see the people fighting, but only the green damage text from weapons striking home.) So as soon as the wolves finished with us, they ran towards the fighting there, and we never saw them again.


Eventually, Willam Pathfinder recovered enough to stand up. Both of our medics were dying, bleeding out into the sand, but he got them patched up in time. Eventually, we had everyone bandaged and five of our ten people conscious and mobile (if not moving very fast).

It couldn't have happened quickly enough for me, either, because that wolf lying beside us was just unconscious, not dead. It didn't even look very badly damaged - not compared to all of us, at least. So we needed to get out of there tout suite. (I couldn't figure out how to kill the wolf or skin it or anything. I could loot the body, but it wasn't carrying anything.)

The slavers had been helpful, so we bandaged them, too - after looting their bodies of medical supplies. Then our five walking wounded picked up our five comrades still unconscious and staggered away.

Through sheer good luck, we made it to Catun without further adventures. All of us needed rest and recuperation, but there weren't even enough beds we could rent for all of us. Oh, well, we put the unconscious to bed, then drew straws for the remaining one. We'd need to stay long enough for everyone to heal, anyway.

Catun, at the west edge of the desert

We'd come to Catun to buy building material, since there wasn't any in Brink. We'd purchased a cheap house in Brink, and we needed to make some improvements. I'd love to start my own town, somewhere in the wastes, but it's going to take a lot of searching to find a good location.

Meanwhile, we can leave a few people behind to do research on what we'll need. It's possible we might even be able to make some supplies - either for sale or for our own use. Catun had the supplies we needed, and there's another female medic available to recruit here, too, if we want.

As soon as we recover from our wounds, it's back again through the desert. I hope the journey is less eventful this time! :)

Note: Check here for the rest of my posts about a variety of computer games.

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