Monday, 3 March 2014

Shinjuku and the Ashura-Kai (Shin Megami Tensei IV)

Running around Shinjuku

We've been making good progress, continuing to help the people of Tokyo since last post. In that one, I talked about the efforts that Flynn and his friends were making in both Ueno and Kasumigaseki. Now that those places were sorted out, or at least as sorted as is reasonably possible in a city overrun by demons, it was time to move on. The first place we hit up was Shinjuku.

Getting there was a bit of an arduous journey. We had to cross another river, but this one didn't have friendly demons willing to help out. Instead, there was a greedy jerk that offered us passage for 500 Macca. Our wallets slightly lighter, we soon found ourselves on the other side of the river. If it wasn't bad enough we'd just been fleeced in order to get there, the first thing we saw when we arrived were two massive poisonous clouds that we'd need to pass through if we wanted to continue.

Thankfully I had a demon in my reserves that could cast Posmundi, making travel a lot easier, and eventually we came to areas of the city where there wasn't any poison to worry about. This part of town was quite large, and it took a fair bit of time to explore. Eventually we came to Shinjuku, and it appeared to be an Ashura-kai stronghold, as the place was teaming with their ranks.

Hikari
I don't really trust Hikari.
Before descending into the underground city, a high school-looking girl came up to us. Apparently, Flynn and his friends were making waves in Tokyo, and people were starting to talk about them. She seemed rather interested in the group, and suggested they look for a bookstore in Ikebukuro that may be able to help them in hunting the Black Samurai. Then, as quickly as she showed up, she was gone. It was some helpful information, and Walter seemed slightly smitten with her, but what was a happy-go-lucky high school kid doing just wandering around post apocalyptic Tokyo, and why did she know so much about the Black Samurai?

We were able to glean a lot of information here on the state of the city and what the Ashura-kai were up to. The group was indeed largely ex-yakuza types and they could be surprisingly good negotiators with the demons. This Tayama chap that we'd heard a bit about appears to be their leader, but we've yet to meet him. He seems to be pushing for as much peaceful coexistence between humans and demons as possible through wheeling and dealing. It's not ideal, given the thuggish manner in which he gets things done, but given the alternative it's as good as things may well get.

To help this along, his group has developed something called a Red Pill that they've distributed to the demons. As far as the demons are concerned, the things taste great and many of them have opted to eat them instead of going after humans. One major problem with the pills is that if a human takes one, they actually turn into a demon. So, it has its pros and cons. Give the drawbacks, there are several who are none too pleased with the technology, but other humans are glad the demons are taking those pills instead of chowing down on people.

Despite this, the Ashura-kai still have problems in Shinjuku, one in particular being that there was a specific breed of demon roaming above that they couldn't seem to get rid of, so they put out a quest in hopes that someone may be able to put the things down. It's not as if Flynn and company had a choice. Half of Shinjuku was shut down until these demons were dealt with, so if we wanted to get further access to the place we were going to have to do the quest.

It was straightforward enough, requiring us to explore some fairly large neighborhoods. Once we'd figured out what the demons were weak against, it didn't take long to track them down and kill them. It was more of a challenge wading through the legions of regular enemies that kept spawning along the way. There were tons of them, but at least the XP was great. When we finished cleaning them up we met a distraught man who wasn't keen on the Ashura-kai or Tayama. Apparently this guy was handing out Red Pills to placate the demons, but didn't like Tayama's more controlling form of leadership. Suddenly, he took a pill and became a demon himself. Defeating him was easy, but everyone was surprised that someone would actually willingly become a demon.

Tainted hunter
Everyone was shocked when a human turned himself into
a demon.
Nonetheless, the quest was done, and it was time to talk to the guy guarding the gated passage and see if he'd actually let us by. It wasn't so simple as just being granted permission to go through. As it turned out, there were still more problems in the area. The central government building in Shinjuku had been turned into a demon domain with a particularly powerful demon dwelling there. The Ashura-kai had sent people to talk with it, and the man guarding the gate would only let me through if I promised to help them. There was even the promise of receiving a talisman if I did. I knew I needed this thing to open a magically sealed area in Ikebukuro, having wandered around there early, so I accepted the quest and headed deeper into Shinjuku.

We had to run through a few smaller neighborhoods before finally coming to the area in question, a massive structure stretching high above. Getting to the door took some doing as the architects of the place went for a fairly fancy front grounds to the place that could only be accessed by running around and taking several flights of stairs to a small courtyard below. It looked nice, and would probably be a great place to go for a jog, but when your in a hurry to deal with some demons it's not exactly what you want.

Kuebiko
Kuebiko wasn't too difficult to fight.
Just use Agi a lot with some Rakukaja
on the side.
Finally we made it to the entrance of the building. When we entered, there was an Ashura-kai member there with a couple of hired hunters, both of whom looked terrified to actually be facing a demon. The Ashura-kai member was trying to negotiate a truce with the demon, whose name was Kuebiko by the way, offering Red Pills to get the demon to stop eating humans. Kuebiko was quite proud, though, and would have none of that. He felt that eating humans was the natural order of things, and he readied to attack. At that point, the hunters fled, so it was up to Flynn and friends to fight the demon.

As usual, the first fight was a test run to figure out what his weaknesses were. Turns out, he's rather flammable. I didn't have enough Agi casters in my group to really take advantage of this in the on the first try, but the second go around we stacked the deck and things went a lot better. He was still tough, though, as many of his attacks hit quite hard, especially Axel Claw and Wind Breath. Those two abilities caused quite a bit of trouble. In the end, Kuebiko went down, and we had won the day. To reward us for our troubles, the Ashura-kai member gave us a nice stack of Macca, and we got that talisman we needed to bring down the barrier in Ikebukuro.

Before heading that way, we stopped by the underground city in Shinjuku once more, as there was a teleportation terminal there that I wanted to link up to for easy travel. Again, there was that guy in there with a mini domain in place, and again he summoned a demon to protect it. This one, Ose, was pretty tough, as it doesn't have weaknesses to any attacks. After much trial and error I discovered that the best way to deal with him was to inflict status effects. He's fairly weak to them and will waste one of his moves each turn dispelling the ailments. Meanwhile, I'd have my own guys enhancing their defenses a bit. Still, the demon was no pushover. He hits hard and can cast Blight, a spell that I really hate. It just wrecks havoc with my party. Luckily, we did finally beat the demon and gain control of the terminal.

Fallen Ose
Ose was a pain in the ass. Hit
him with status ailments and
watch out for Blight.
As I left Shinjuku, there was a park nearby, so I decided to pop by and take a look around. It was a large, ringed zone, and there was a barrier in place keeping me from traveling too deep. However, there was one small area we could visit and talk to people. Here we learned that the park was being used as a farm by the Ashura-kai to make some food. It wasn't very good, what with the lack of sunlight, but better than nothing. The most interesting bit of news we were able to glean was that just before the stone dome encompassed Tokyo, a cocoon was made in the park. Children were put into it and eventually the thing flew away, taken by the angels. After this, the dome appeared and no one really knew what happened with the cocoon or the children. Interesting. This has gotten me thinking that they were probably sent to what would eventually become Mikado, so some angel faction decided to save some of humanity from the demons. Hopefully we'll be able to learn more about this soon.

Intriguing revelations out of the way, it was time to head off to Ikebukuro to bring down that barrier, and possibly learn more about the Ring of Gaea, as they seemed to have a fairly strong presence over there. How would they differ from the Ashura-kai, I wonder?  I guess we'll find out soon enough.