Typically, the early part of a character’s career in Mount and Blade is spent building up. Since you start with little more than the clothes on your back, a weapon, a horse and a small amount of gold, it’s important to start earning money, gaining renown and honor, getting better equipment, building a small army and currying the favor of the lords of the realm. Exploration is encouraged so that one can see the various realms they can potentially join later in the game, and to gradually learn the locations of important cities and potential battlegrounds.
However, I already know exactly who I want to work for, and he just showed up right outside the capital.
After the jump: just another one of the guys
We ride out to meet the king and properly introduce ourselves. Offering my band’s “expertise” to the king elicits an interesting response. He acknowledges that I am a woman, but he will have no problem delegating responsibility to me should I prove to be capable. I find myself wondering if this is going to be the cop-out style dialogue that every character will have once I meet them to keep the same conversational flow that a game would have if I were playing as a man. I set this concern aside for the moment and ask King Graveth if he has any tasks for me.
It happens that someone needs killing in the Kingdom of Rhodoks. A criminal known as Auguryn of Tihr has taken up residence in the town of Ibdeles, which is a short ride from Jelkala (the city I started in). If I kill Auguryn, the king will pay me 300 denars, which isn’t substantial but also isn’t terrible by any measure.
The real benefit of this quest is that I will gain reputation with the king. Reputation defines how the game world reacts to you. Every named character in the entire world has a relationship value with you that will be based around positive and negative numbers. All values start at zero when neutral, although your honor rating will cause some lords to be rubbed the wrong way by your presence, either because you are honorable or because you are not. It depends on their personality. If you do enough to help a lord, they can become your friend and will then be more likely to help you out in return at later points in your career. Rivals work in the same way except with negative relationships.
I get an opportunity to have my relation drop with a lord, as I run into Lord Matheas at Ibdeles Castle (on my way to kill Auguryn). Greeting Lord Matheas and introducing myself, he states that a woman such as me ought not to be on the battlefield and should get married to live a peaceful life. He even offered to find one of his soldiers who would be glad to do so. I respond by telling him that I could find a better husband than a dog raised in his kennel, for which he apologizes for his previous comment but is also offended. Our relationship drops into the negative, and now I’ll need to be cognizant of the fact that Matheas isn’t my biggest fan as I move forward. It was still totally worth it.
Auguryn of Tihr is hiding behind a shack in Ibdeles when I find him. He feigns innocence for a short time until I accuse him of being a murderer. Getting upset at that, he draws his sword and attacks me, but I’d had the foresight to pull out my axe in advance. Blocking his attack is simple, and I take him down with a blow to the head. While the people of Ibdeles did not appreciate my disruption of their peace (-2 to my reputation within the town), I reported back to King Graveth that my task was complete. He was glad to hear that this thorn in his side is now gone, and offered my 300 denar reward. I could have refused it in a show of honor, but Alice never was big on the whole honor thing. The money finds its way into my pocket, and I now have a positive reputation with my soon-to-be liege.
Such is life in Calradia. Blood and money lead to reputation, reputation leads to influence, and influence leads to power.
There is so much blood yet to be spilled.
Tomorrow: an immutable force.
(Click here for the previous Mount and Blade entry.)
Otagan, known to some as Jared, hails from the frozen wastelands of North Dakota. He is temporarily based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he works for a major banking institution that shall remain nameless to protect the innocent.