Enough dicking around with odd jobs and crime fighting. It's time to make some real money!
... But first, we're going to need to do some more odd jobs and crime fighting.
First off, it's time to look into these Buy Product jobs people keep posting.
Each city has its own specialty product. (Or its specialty is that it doesn't have a specialty, but you get what I mean.) Hui Ji, if you'll remember, was all about its fish. Other cities produce exceptional oil, silk, wheat, or what have you. These Buy Product jobs task you with finding a city that specializes in a particular product, buying some, and bringing it back.
How do you find out a city's specialty? Observe!
No, seriously, you go around and use the Observe command. Sometimes, you'll find previously undiscovered characters, sometimes you'll get generic dialogue and gameplay tips, and sometimes people will enthusiastically tell you all about how City 17 is world renown for their headcrab exports.
Our employer wants us to buy some rice.
Fortunately, I've already learned that Shou Chun produces particularly tasty rice. This will be a very easy 300 coin.
"Good morning, sir! Welcome to the National Rice Emporium!"
"Ah, thank you, my good man."
"What can I do for you, sir?"
"Well, I was sitting in the public library on Fu Xi Street just now, skimming through The Art of War by Sun Tsu, and I suddenly came over all peckish."
"I was all hungry-like."
"In a nutshell! And I thought to myself, 'a little processed swamp grain would do the trick.' So I curtailed my Sun Tsuing activities, sallied forth, and infiltrated your place of purveyance to negotiate the vending of some ricey comestibles!"
"I want to buy some rice."
"Oh! Here you go."
"... That's it?"
"Huh. I sort of expected... "
"You know, never mind. Have a pleasant day."
On our way out, though, I spot someone I had absolutely not expected to see.
It's... it's Lu Su!
Lu Su was one of Wu's great strategists. In the novels, I don't think he had all that much to do with Lu Meng, but Dynasty Warriors 8 did a good job of setting up a mentor/mentee relationship between the two. Plus, it has Su fighting huge waves of enemies with a freaking rake, and he has one of the most entertaining movesets in the game.
I mean, Huang Gai surfing people to death with a canoe is still firmly in first place, but Lu Su's not far behind.
Anyway, Su has some pretty great stats, and we are going to be besties.
Well, that's a good sign, at least. Character relationships scale from "Stranger" to "Close." Acquainted is the third step on the ladder, after Aware. It can actually be kind of annoying to raise a friendship from Aware to Acquainted, as more often than not an NPC officer will decline to waste time speaking to someone he doesn't know. The fact that we jumped all the way from Stranger to Acquainted in one, awkward conversation means that Su and Meng have compatible personalities, and raising our friendship to Close should be pretty painless.
So I stalk him around the city for a week until he accepts the inevitability of our bromance.
One of the benefits of having friends is that they can teach you skills and help train your statistics. Unfortunately, Meng is currently too dumb to learn about Intelligence from the genius strategist/psychotic gardener.
We head back to Luo Yang and take another Buy Product job, this time for pottery. I don't know the locations of the pottery-specialized cities yet, so we're going to have to ask around.
fabric is not pottery
"... Pei in Lu Bu's place. Also, the renown father and son Chen Gui and Chen Deng appear to have forsaken Liu Bei's Army in favor of Lu Bu's Army."
Messenger clone attack! Lu Bu is a huge prick, Liu Bei is kind of a pussy, grass is green, the sky is blue.
"His imperial highness has fled? What is going on here?"
"It appears that his imperial highness could no longer bear the corruptness of Master Li Jue and decided to escape with a few of his followers... "
"This is quite unfortunate... Surely the land shall be thrown into chaos once again."
Yeah, the land's been awful quiet and contented lately, what with Cao Cao seizing territory and Lu Bu being Lu Bu.
Anyway, I wasn't able to find a pottery city. This guy scolds me for my failure. You know, asshole, you could have just told me where to go for this. You're just as dumb as I am.
More scripted events!
"So now Cao Cao's Army has justice on its side. We are going to have to keep an eye on them now more than ever before."
Koei's Three Kingdoms games use the word "justice" an awful lot, but I'm not actually sure that's the word they're looking for. Hell, I'm not actually sure there's a word in English for the concept they're trying to describe.
"Master Kong Rong of Bei Hai has already abandoned his post of prefect and gone to join Master Cao Cao. Furthermore, Chang An--which was under the control of Li Jue's Army--has also agreed to surrender to Master Cao Cao."
Basically, Cao Cao just went from a minor warlord to one of the major players in China. Scripted events are nice when they're in your favor.
"Even Chang An has surrendered? I wonder what will happen to Li Jue's Army... "
"Sir, according to the reports... "
"... a rift throughout the entire force. In the midst of all this, both Liu Jue and Guo Si were betrayed and killed by their men. In addition, an officer of Li Jue's, Zhang Ji, attacked Wan in an attempt to save his lord, but was killed by a stray arrow in the ensuing battle and killed. Zhang Ji's troop was taken over by his nephew, Zhang Xiu, who stationed troops at Wan. Afterwards, Master Zhang Xiu of Wan was approached by Liu Biao and both armies agreed to form an alliance."
Whew. That was a lot of infodump for a bunch of minor characters that even people who've read the Three Kingdoms novel probably don't remember. Long story short? Dong Zhuo's followers started killing eachother and western China is now a blasted wasteland.
But wait, here comes another scripted event.
Yuan Shu, our Act I antagonist, is being a jerk.
"But it appears that Lord Lu Bu was able to arrange some sort of truce."
"Lu Bu!? Arrange for a truce!? That's pretty hard to believe."
"Unless by 'truce' you mean 'murdering everyone there and declaring it a draw,' I mean."
"Please, I wish to hear all of the details."
"Lord Lu Meng. Apparently, Lord Lu Bu agreed to serve as some sort of arbitrator. You're not going to believe this, but he demanded that if he could hit his halberd with his bow from 150 paces away, that they would call a truce. They agreed, and he actually hit it. Both armies, although surprised, kept their word and withdrew."
Have you seen the size of that friggin' halberd? The challenge would have been missing it.
"I see... They felt they had no choice but to call a truce after witnessing such godlike skill."
Well, whatever. Looks like Lu Bu came to Liu Bei's rescue, and proved that underneath the taciturn facade and constant murders and betrayals, he really is a good guy after all.
It's nice to see a happy ending.
"What...? And where is Liu Bei's Army now?"
"They joined with Cao Cao's Army and have entered Ru Nan."
That's actually not quite true; mechanically, Liu Bei is still an independent ruler, he just got to take over one of Cao's cities.
Anyway! This update was supposed to be showing you how to make tons of money with a minimum of time and effort. So far, it's just been gushing over Lu Su and getting bombarded with flavor text. Let's fast forward a bit.
We take some jobs.
Finally, with 1000 gold, we have enough cash to enact Operation: Benjamins.
First, we found a new private unit.
Then we recruit it up to full strength and train the newbies up to competency.
Then we go home and declare ourselves an independent force.
Then we invite our bestest buddy in the whole world.
Then we go to an unclaimed city, and have Lu Su convince them that we're totally cool and we'll run the city really well and things will be totally awesome with us in charge.
Democratically seized, but seized nonetheless.
Then we go to the castle.
And then we go to the vault inside the castle.
And then we withdraw every goddamn penny in the city's coffers.
Then we go to the council chamber.
Then we declare that we are, once again, a rogue force.
Then we go to another city and do the same thing.
You can keep doing this as many times as you want, at least until all of the free cities are snatched up by the various rulers. Even once they are, getting yourself appointed Prefect of a city gives you access to its vault, and it's extremely common for cities that have been under AI control for a few years to have hundreds of thousands of gold coins sitting around, collecting dust.
The only problem is that abandoning a claimed city and going rogue gives you a hit to your Fame. Fame increases the likelihood of positive events while you're working, and makes it easier to get an audience with important NPCs.
But what really kills your Fame is when you decide you've plundered enough coin and disband your rogue army.
Also, yet another scripted event. This was the ancient Chinese Red Wedding where Cao Cao lost a son and a bodyguard, and was way more broken up about the bodyguard.
And I... will always love you...
Anyway, this seems like enough money for now.
Off we go! See you in a few years, Lu Su. Don't get recruited by anyone but Sun Ce, we're going to need you there.
Finally, finally, it's time to get our learning on.
Next time, we'll skip past a whole bunch of repetitive button pressing and join up with the Sun family. And then we'll do a bunch more repetitive button pressing, but on someone else's behalf!