We'll explore the Riverlands a little later. For now, let's jump right to our next character.
Music: Clearbrook, by the Pristine Waters
Clearbrook is another small town, though a peaceful one.
And over here is our next companion.
There ain't no way I'm letting that venom beat you! You hear me, viper? I'm coming for you!
Alfyn's an apothecary, meaning he's a sort of doctor who specializes in medicinal herbs and concoctions.
He also was the character I mained in my first playthrough and ended up my favorite of the bunch.
I'm rolling with Ophilia and H'aanit for now. I'll soon enough be swapping all over the place. But for now, story.
Video: Keep Your Coin
Grandpa, be strong!
You betcha! Just sit tight!
This'll stop the coughing for now, but your lungs've seen better days. Try to give the pipe a rest, sir, hear?
How blessed we are to have an apothecary like you in our little village.
I'll be back to check in on him, okay?
So far, we've established Alfyn being pretty darn good at his job, and also how charitable he is.
Music: Enveloped in Kindness
Did you see me, Ma? I whipped up an antitussive elixir like you wouldn't believe!
Am I any closer to being the man I want to be? The man he was...
Heya, Zeph. Done for the day?
Yes, only two patients today. Having you around sure eases the burden.
The poor gal has enough trouble looking after old Alek. I can't very well take what little she has.
You know that's what I like about you. If the villagers are healthy and happy, that's more than good enough for me.
Haha, couldn'ta said it better myself.
We may be new to this, but between the two of us, this village is in good hands.
Sure is. Plagues? Epidemics? Bring your worst!
Who'd have thought that little troublemaker would turn out to be a top-notch apothecary, eh?
We can't all be born with a silver pestle in hand, Master Zeph.
Anyway... I should be getting back to Nina.
Yeah, beat it. Head on home, big brother.
We've been friends ever since we were small, right? I know you better than anyone. So be honest...
Video: A Grave Wound
These look like bite marks... Alfyn, could you take a look as well?
Hm? You got it, buddy.
She's fallen into a deep trance. This is worse than we thought.
Wish she could tell us what happened...
It's safe to assume she was bitten by something poisonous--but what? Without knowing the nature of the poison...
Yeah, the wrong medicine could make things worse, and quick.
And so we get control of Alfyn.
Music: Clearbrook, by the Pristine Waters
Inquire is the Noble version of Cyrus's Scrutinize, and like the other Noble abilities, it's a flat level check as to whether it'll work or not.
It's a nice contrast between the two. Cyrus is great at deductions but can sometimes rub people the wrong way, while Alfyn's so friendly that people will just flat-out tell him their life stories.
Anyway, this little girl looks like she has some information.
Anyway, Inquire and Scrutinize net the same results either way. I like not failing and having to pay fines though...
The bite marks on Nina's leg--you sure you don't know where they came from?
I wanna help your friend, but I'm an apothecary, not a miracle worker. If I don't know what bit her, there ain't nothing I can do.
You wanna help her too, right? So just tell me...please?
I wasn't so sure about it, but I went with her to that cave...
Music: An Ill Omen
What kind of snake? Was it black?
Don't tell me... Was it amber with blotches on its back?
Yes... H-how did you know?
I-I'm sorry... I know we're not supposed to go there. B-but Nina wanted it to be a surprise, so...so she told me to keep it secret, and...
...Thanks, Lily. You've told me all I needed.
A nasty critter if there ever was one. This ain't good...
Time is of the essence. The poison is spreading through her veins as we speak. I must prepare an antidote with all haste.
But I need to get my hands on the original venom.
Yeah, along with plenty of other nasties. ...Reckless ain't the half of it.
I know. But what choice do I have?
Alfyn, are you mad!?
Don't worry about me. Now go back to your sister's side.
Will you...hold my hand?
Music: Clearbrook, by the Pristine Waters
May we help? We can't let an innocent child suffer like this!
Yes, letten us helpen you with this beast.
Absolutely! Now that I think about it, I have been throwing myself into others' affairs an awful lot lately... But a person in need and all!
They're good folks in this village, down to the last. And Zeph's always stuck by my side...so damned if I won't stick by his! So, let's go! We're heading for the Cave of Rhiyo, just east of the village! We'd better hurry, for Nina's sake.
First off, time to gear up. Alfyn only gets one weapon to work with, but his axes are pretty solid and he gets actual skills to work with them.
Music: The Riverlands
Just a nice relaxing jaunt to the east.
With some ugly baddies, of course.
Alfyn has job skills like the rest. His inital ones are an ice attack and a single-target heal.
His Talent is Concoct, and it's arguably one of the more powerful abilities in the game. If you're familiar with Chemists from other Square Enix games, you probably already have an idea how nice it is.
The first component is either a Seed (Single Target) or Dust (Target All), with two power tiers affecting either allies (Soothing/Purifying) or enemies (Injurious/Ruinous). Then there's the second ingredient, which affects what the component will actually do. For beneficial effects, Noxroot/Sleepweed/Addlewort will heal HP and Poison/Sleep/Confusion respectively, while Grape/Plum/Pomegranate/Olive restores HP/SP/BP/KO like the regular items do.
Purifying simply restores more HP/whatever than Soothing, and Seeds will restore more than Dusts. The exception is Curious Bloom, which will have completely different effects between Soothing/Purifying Seeds/Dusts.
One nice part is once you perform a Concoction between two ingredients, the game will reveal the effect and tell you what that combination does, so no need to memorize Mix Charts or anything here!
I forgot to stock up on components, so let's do so here. These are the only ones we can buy in Chapter 1. While eventually we'll be able to buy all of the Seeds and Dusts, the only secondary ingredients we'll be able to directly purchase are the Noxroots and Essences of Grape. Everything else is either dropped/stolen from enemies or bought/stolen from town NPCs.
A Frogkin and a Salamander.
The Salamander hits hard.
The enemy-targeting concoctions are also simple.
They hit an enemy with an element with a chance of inflicting a status effect or a debuff, depending on the secondary component. The primary component determines the number of hits (Inj. Seed is 2, Dust is 1, and Ruinous adds a hit to each), with the secondary determining the element and debuff (the exception, again, being Curious Bloom, which has different effects). The damage is always single-digit and thus not useful for actual damage, but it does mean Alfyn has a reliable way to break through all six elemental weaknesses, giving him double duty as both a healer and a shield breaker.
For this case, Sleepweed deals Ice hits and has a chance of inflicting Sleep.
I pick up Leghold Trap and plan to put it to good use.
Finally, the Apothecary skills, which are a bit of a hodgepodge of random things.
First Aid (4SP) - Restore HP to a single ally.
Over double the healing of Heal Wounds, though Alfyn's stats are all average beyond his high HP and low speed, so he doesn't get the ElemDef boost Ophilia does. If you ignore Concoct, it's alright but nothing that a simple grape can't do.
Icicle (7SP) - Deal ice damage to a single foe.
Same as the other single-target spells. Alfyn's ElemAtk is average, but a surprising number of axes boost ElemAtk, so it's not bad. And considering Sleepweed is hard to come by early-game, this does have actual use in breaking ice weaknesses.
Rehabilitate (10SP) - Cure a single ally of all status ailments, and render them immune to further ailments for two turns.
The status-curing is pointless since a herb can do the same thing, but the status immunity buff is really useful for some nasty bosses. And like other buffs, each boost point spent adds two turns. A solid ability for certain foes, though it does not block debuffs.
Amputation (8SP) - Unleash an axe attack on a single foe.
Uses the same damage formula as Olberic's Cross Strike. However, it's a guaranteed crit in exchange for lower accuracy. Still very powerful if you boost up Alfyn's PhysAtk and Acc.
Empoison (6SP) - Poison a single foe for two turns.
Add two more turns per BP spent. Poison deals 1/6 Max HP for non-boss enemies, and 1/100 Max HP for bosses. It's mainly useful for fighting bosses well above your punching weight, as that extra damage does add up a lot, but it's not really that useful for chapter bosses. It's great for side-dungeon "bosses" since those aren't technically bosses despite their high HP, and thus Poison just tears through them quickly. Another situational skill that shines in the right moment.
Vivify (16SP) - Revive a single incapacitated ally.
Heals 2.5*ElemDef*(1+BP spent) HP. It's not really that much better than an Olive of Life, but those can also get expensive. Not really my favorite.
Last Stand (16SP) - Attack all foes with an axe, dealing damage inversely proportional to your current HP.
It's 1.4x the strength of a normal attack at max HP. Once you're at 1/2 Max HP, damage is multiplied by 1 + 1.5*(Max - 2*Current)/Max. This means at 1HP, you're looking at essentially 2.5x more damage. I don't like the risk myself, or the stupid-high cost, but I do like target-all attacks, and this does that, so it's still fine in my book.
Dohter's Charity (30SP) - [Divine Skill] For three turns, items used by a single chosen ally will affect all.
Another fantastic Divine Skill. One Healing Grape heals 500HP, but now to the entire party. Now imagine a Pomegranate giving the entire party 1BP. Or throwing an Olive to revive the rest of your party. Now imagine using those with high-end consumables, and you'll see how valuable this gets. Then realize this works on Concoct, where the effects become even more insanely powerful (I'm talking restoring 9999HP to the entire party powerful), and then realize that this also works the same way on enemies... Yeah, this skill is good.
Inspiration - With each successful standard attack, gain SP equal to 1% of the damage you deal.
Decent early game, especially since it rounds up, but loses its luster once you stop attacking as much in favor of spamming skills.
Hale and Hearty - Increases maximum HP by 500.
You know the deal by now. Great filler until something better comes along.
Resist Ailments - Improves resistance to poison, sleep, confusion, blindness, silence, terror, and unconsciousness.
Not sure how much it improves resistance. Not great in general, but can be nice for problematic fights involving nasty status effects.
Heightened Healing - Gain an additional 30% HP or SP when being healed or restored.
In Battle only. Kind of weak for an ultimate passive skill, it's not bad but it's not really great either. The Max HP boost may be better for all I know.
Anyway, next time we go snake-wranglin'.