Massive Chalice: the fabulous Gaffney girls

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Ainfean Gaffney, a hunter in Massive Chalice, has never been in a battle. She would have been good at it. Being nimble, she has a dexterity bonus that’s extremely valuable to hunters. But when it comes time to found a noble house of hunters, I choose her as its regent, hoping she will pass down to her children the nimble trait. I marry her to Daniel Flink from my house of alchemists because Daniel is bountiful. Bountiful is a trait that increases the likelihood of having kids. They will provide me with a line of trickshots, which is the hunter subclass that results from marrying a hunter to an alchemist.

After the jump, Daniel’s trickshots hit their target, if you know what I mean.

Ainfean and Daniel have nine girls and five boys. I send away three of the boys to become sagewrights. Nicholas because he’s slow. Mathias because he’s a drunk. Albin just because I’ve got a surfeit of Gaffneys. The fourth boy, Levik, is clumsy, which negates any dexterity bonus he might have gotten. I’ll send him to the Sagewright’s Guild as soon as it has another opening. Zumoki, the youngest boy, is only three, so I can’t really tell anything about him yet.

For several decades, the Gaffney girls are a prominent part of my battles. Being a hunter subclass, they can wear the veil armor I’ve researched, which lets them stealth move to any point on the battlefield. Normally, a character can only stealth move to a tall object, which makes scouting certain areas problematic. There aren’t many tall objects in the Pale Sea, for example. But with veil armor, a trickshot can move anywhere invisibly. Like so many of the upgrades in Massive Chalice, veil armor might seem overpowered. It’s all part of the power curve. Wait until you see what a trickshot can do with a perilous core.

But the most important fact about the Gaffney girls is that there are just so darn many of them, thanks to their father Daniel’s, uh, trickshots. Thanks, bountiful trait! So while I tend to bring at least one caberjack and alchemist into a battle, I’ll regularly round out the ranks with the consistently available Gaffney girls.

Unfortunately, many of the Gaffney girls like to party. Reveler is a common trait they’ve inherited from their mother. A reveler might be hungover or, even worse, actually drunk in any given battle, decreasing important stats. “Drunk,” flashes the little message over a Gaffney’s head. I mentally provide the “hic”. But I’ll take three drunk Gaffneys over a single sober Grimaldi, Wayne, or Flink.

Most of the Gaffneys have also inherited the fainthearted trait, which both their parents have. A fainthearted hero suffers a stat penalty when another hero is killed. The solution to this is to not get heroes killed. Coincidentally, that was my plan all along. Many of the Gaffneys are also nervous because they trained under Miyabi Yama, who I appointed Standard for the experience point bonus she gives all trainees in my kingdom. A nervous hero suffers an accuracy penalty. When my Gaffney girls miss, I can never be sure if it’s because they’re drunk or because they learned bad habits from Miss Yama.


The oldest Gaffney is Else. Many years ago she and Katrina Grimaldi, from my house of boomstrikers at Ashenhold, asked me to settle an ongoing feud. From the menu of possible solutions, I chose to send them on a tour of the kingdom together. I had just fought a battle, and the tour would be for twelve years so they would miss, at most, one battle (battles happen every eight to twelve years). I like to think their trip was like a buddy road trip movie starring two women, like Thelma and Louise, with Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis. Or maybe a buddy cop movie starring two women, like The Heat, with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. Or maybe whatever that recent thing was with Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara called whatever it was called. I didn’t see it.

When Else and Katrina return, not only are they the best of friends, but they have each acquired the trait patriotic. As far as I know, this is a trait you can only get from a special event like being in a buddy road trip movie or buddy cop movie situation. It doesn’t occur naturally. A patriotic hero gets extra movement, extra accuracy, and extra evasion. For a few battles, Else and Katrina tear up the battlefield, noticeably more effective than their unpatriotic cohorts. I would have loved for one of these women to serve as my Standard, helping to train the younger generations and passing along the patriotism bonus. But you can only appoint a Standard when the current one dies. My current Standard isn’t even fifty yet. Hurry up and die, lady! I hope she didn’t hear me say that.

However, Else’s sister Sarah is impressionable. This trait means a hero might pick up a personality trait from another hero during battle. Because the Gaffney sisters have been fighting together, Sarah is now patriotic as well! I need to keep Sarah ready to take over the job of Standard as soon as it’s available.


Else dies of natural causes at the age of 58. She leaves behind Honor, a powerful crossbow that will be passed down through the Gaffney family for the rest of the game. Honor is a relic. When an experienced hero dies, she has a chance to leave behind a relic. Like characters, relics level up, increasing the amount of damage they do. But unlike characters, you’ll never lose a relic. As long as a house still has heirs, its relic will find its way into someone’s hands. Relics are also notable for being the only weapons that can inflict critical hits. “Critical hit” says the little label over the character’s head after it attacks something that is probably now dead.

I’m inclined to bequeath Honor to Else’s patriotic sister, Sarah, so it can immediately find its way into battle. But since I intend to send Sarah and her patriotism to be the new Standard when the old one dies, that would take Honor out of circulation. So I instead give Honor to a promising eight year old Gaffney named Sol Valeria. She’s a nimble child who will be able to fight battles soon enough. I can only imagine how jealous her older siblings must be that she gets such a fantastic toy at such an early age.


Meanwhile, the youngest fighting age Gaffney, seventeen year old Maya, has just asked to join The Lash. This is a treacherous twelve year trial just as likely to kill a hero as harden her. As mercenary as it sounds, since I have Gaffney girls to spare, I send Maya into The Lash with my blessings. An icon sits below the timeline, reminding me how long until she comes back. I anxiously watch the years count down. And then a message arrives on the seventh year reading, “Maya Gaffney. 7th Lash. Giant press.” Whatever that means, Maya Gaffney is dead at 23, having never seen battle. A year later, her younger sister Sol Valeria will be ready to bring Honor onto the field when House Grimaldi’s keep is attacked. It’s fitting that Else’s weapon, Honor, is being brought to bear to defend the house of her erstwhile companion Katrina. This is the stuff of family drama.


I could go on in this vein. You can play Massive Chalice as a game about a cavalcade of indistinguishable heroes who just come and go, especially at normal difficulty, when the game doesn’t become too challenging until the final hundred years. But once you’re really playing the strategic level, you’re playing a game about laying longterm groundwork for generations of powerful heroes who will pave the way through the centuries to the final battle. If you pay attention, you can’t help but discover stories like the ongoing saga of the Gaffney girls.

Up next: Let’s do some math. Wait, don’t go!
Click here for the previous Massive Chalice game diary entry.