The Valhaigen Graveyard is probably one of the more frustrating parts of the game thus far, and definitely, one that I probably could not have beaten had I not been using the Gold Box Companion software. It’s also one where I’m probably going to misspell the name of the area repeatedly as I make my way through the article.
The difficulty with the Graveyard is kind of twofold. The lesser issue is the fact that you cannot rest here for any duration at any time. If you do, you are immediately attacked by a group of undead (which varies based on how far into the area you get), I do mean any length of time – try to memorize spells, or scribe spells into a spellbook – expect to be interrupted by skeletons, zombies or worse.
The larger issue, on the other hand, is those undead. The area is divided into three chunks – Zombies, Skeletons, and Level Draining undead, and you face random encounters of that type in those areas. There are set encounters in each area that you can beat that will allow you to stop those random encounters, and you’ll need to find those set encounters to unlock the final boss of the area – the vampire. However, even if you’ve beaten those, for lack of a better term, “generators”, you’ll still face random encounters if you rest before you’ve beaten the vampire. And, if you leave the area and rest, then all progress is reset.
Oh, and did I mention the level draining undead? Because there’s level draining undead. Now, as I mentioned in the Cadorna Textile House city hex, level drain is an absolute nightmare in 1st edition in general and this game in particular. However, this city hex has a few more Restoration scrolls seeded in this area to help you restock.
There is still, however, the matter of the vampire. The vampire can cast a charm on members of your party, and when defeated in their lair, they head to their coffin. At which point, if you’ve been good about exploring, you can make the coffin unusable by destroying it or consecrating it, so the vampire starts round two at a disadvantage.
That said, this fight is incredibly hard, mainly because of that charm effect. If you have not buffed your party members with spells that increase their defenses and saving throw rolls (particularly Bless, Prayer, and Protection from Evil), this fight becomes basically unbeatable – your heavy hitters will get charmed and kill the crap out of the rest of your party – which happened to me repeatedly until I realized that, no, buff spells actually work in this game, so I should use them.
In its own way, this City Hex becomes both something of a meat-wall and a test of the player’s system knowledge. It’s a meat wall because if you’ve leveled up your clerics enough you can pretty much plow through the Zombies and Skeletons with your turn undead, where even if you don’t outright banish them, you can force them to retreat, saving resources. The system knowledge comes in with knowing what spells provide the buffs that will help you with the vampire fight and making sure you manage your spells enough that you’re ready to handle the bastard.
After completing this quest, we got a bunch of cash, and, more importantly, almost everyone leveled up at least once, and the people who didn’t are most of the way there. So, next time I continue with this LP, we’re shutting down the temple of Bane, and parting ways with Dirtan.
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