Sims Medieval: the shady adventuress

, | Game diaries

With young Princess Bethany ushered back to the castle, Varrick can get back to his quest for the lost fountain. The book was a bust but perhaps the peasant locked up in the stocks will know where this mythical font lies. Firstly, however, our merchant friend needs to tend to his profession and today that means a trade mission.

After the jump, who is Drusilla and what does she want?!

Today, Varrick is setting sail for distant shores to fulfill an order a customer has made for wood. Wood is only available from the realm of Crafthole and can’t be bought, only traded for. Varric first heads to the castle to view the strategic map table there. This tells him, among other things that don’t directly affect his profession, that Crafthole will trade one wood for two mushrooms. Then it’s off to the village to stock up on some ‘shrooms.

Trade is fixed, not dynamic, in The Sims Medieval. It’s one of the many static gameplay elements, including daily tasks and the quest system, that seems to fly in the face of the otherwise delightfully emergent/dynamic spirit of the sims interactions themselves.

In a way, it’s as if the structure of Sims Medieval almost holds the simsplay at arm’s length as it only minimally impacts any goal you’re pursuing. An enemy can’t impede or plot against you. A lover or a friend will never step up to help (unless it’s scripted into a given quest). All of that plays out in the background and, at the most, has an indifferent impact on how you manage your moodlets. It’s a counter-intuitive choice but I’m given to understand a similar quest system is how they’ve handled objective based gameplay in other Sims add-on products.

The docks are another “rabbit hole” in Sims Medieval. You wander up to a ship (and in Varric’s case move the mushrooms from his inventory to the ship’s hold), it sails off, and time compression starts flying by. At times, to a non-sims gamer like myself, it seems like all the fun stuff happens off screen! Sailing the vast seas, exploring treacherous dungeon caverns, adventuring in the wilderlands. You never see any of it. Perhaps with expansion packs we’ll see a little more traditional, and exciting, RPG or strategy style gameplay plugged in here.

On this trip a text window pops up and tells a little story about how the crew had trouble raising the anchor and, eventually, found a treasure chest tangled up in the anchor’s chain. He can choose to claim it all for himself, and risk angering the sailors crowded around, or share the wealth. Wisely, Varric divides up the plunder and is also rewarded with the “generous” buff! Next we learn, also via text, that the trading mission is a success.

On the way to meeting with his wood-craving customer, Varric spots a shadowy figure who turns out to be a roguish looking lass named Shady Drusilla. As she cut a striking figure in her light armor, he was surprised he’d not noticed her previously. If you remember Dragon Age 2, you know Varric to be a bit of the rogue himself. They get to chatting, then flirting and next thing you know Drusilla is over for dinner and being regaled by Varric’s tales of adventure on the high seas.

Refreshed and hopeful, Varric sets off to see to the release of the prisoner. Even with his profits from the previous day’s trading, Varric’s unwilling to part with the cash for the pardon. Instead, he offers himself in exchange. What’s a short time in the stocks?

A dozen tomatoes and rotten eggs hurled at his head later, Varric is released by the constable. He questions the peasant. Has she seen the fountain?! No, says she, but she had an old map that would lead to the very spot. Problem is that was stolen by a thief, a thief who framed her for other crimes. That’s why she was in the stocks in the first place. The peasant peered into the distance and pointed. “There, that’s her now!” Oh, no, it was Shady Drusilla. No wonder he’d never seen her before.she’d just come to town!

Luckily our man had kept his coin and he convinced his lady friend to part with the map for a share of it and other favors besides. He’s a charming drunken dwarf, he is. Then it was off to the woods. Yes, you guessed it, the big quest into the dark and dangerous forest, the climax of the long, epic, quest is yet another time compressed session sitting in a rabbit hole and waiting for a text screen to pop up. At least it was a very nice one with inspiring music.

Well, there’s a little more to the story than this but it meanders at this point. He runs some drinking related errands, visits the fountain again, and voila – his fondness, his fatal flaw, for the devil liquor is transformed into the epic trait of patience. Now he’ll have more time to complete daily quests before being penalized.

The important ending, however, is that Shady Drusilla wasn’t just a flash in the pan. She stayed in the kingdom even after the quest is completed. The roguish pair was soon wed in Brother Sebastian’s Peterian Church and they lived happily ever after. I think. I really haven’t finished the game yet, so who knows?

And that’s it for this game diary. The quests are finite in number and scripted, so every diary I write is, by definition, a spoiler. And I’ve spoiled you enough! Now you’ll just have to play for yourself to find out more.

Click here for the previous Sims Medieval game diary.

Brian Rucker is a long time gamer and it will probably say “Roleplayer” on his tombstone. He’s known for harrying folks in various gaming forums as OddjobXL and keeps an occasional blog called “The Roleplayer