Part 1: Arkford
I had been looking forward to this one for a long time. The sequel to perhaps the best single-mission release ever, Ominous Bequest. And a two-mission sequel to boot! If they were anywhere near the quality of the orginial, I was in for a treat.
I was in Arkford to steal a museum item called ‘the Sleeper’. Even if ugly, it was gonna bring me some dough. Looks don’t matter they say, it’s what’s inside that counts. Apparently the museum’s security system was tougher than usual, so I had a replica made to exchange for the original. In short, I needed to pick up whatever keys from Sheila Jennings, swap the sculpture and head back home. An additional objective was to “...reactivate the security measures around the sculpture exactly as [I] found them”. Supreme rule #8 says: “No turning off of watchers, or other security systems.” Does this objective imply turning off the security system? Here is my breakdown: First, even though it didn’t say so directly, it seemed explicitly necessary following the wording. How can you reactivate something without deactivating it first? Second, Supreme rule #8 is mainly there to prevent systems that observe you, the way a human AI does, from being incapacitated, much the same way a knockout blow would. Normally this means security cameras, or watchers. Third, I had a feeling the security system was an integral part of the mission’s story; it would be a shame to bust simply by following the author’s intended and inevitable route, especially given my first two arguments.
Two optional objectives were also given up front: steal the museum inspector’s security report, and avoid triggering any alarms. Recently discussed at Eidos’ Thief Forum, optional objectives provided in the loadout screen are not required for plain Ghost, only for Supreme. Contrastly, hidden bonus objectives discovered throughout the mission are not required for either mode. With all that in mind, I was ready to take on the world...ahem... Arkford.
After some initial visions (left image above), things went back to normalcy. Having already done a blackjack run, I was familiar with loot locations and other necessary pickups. I had a pretty good idea of what route to take through the city. The northwest region was scattered with smaller establishments. Most of the street guards had long patrols and the shadows were plentiful. Civilians didn’t alert, but they still made me jump on occasion. A hidden purse was located inside an open window in the far west (right image above). Why anybody would want to leave windows open on a night like this is beyond me. I couldn’t enter the building, but the loot was snaggable from outside. A convenient set of icy ledges enabled me to reach it fairly easy.
A couple of tricky secrets were found furter east. One behind a pillar in a mechanist office (left image below); the other on the statue of St. Bernard close to Sheila’s house (right image below). Both revealed nearby loot. The latter required a high rope arrow, but it was retrievable without taking damage. Miss Jennings was decapitated, but I found the museum backdoor key under her desk.
Next door to Sheila was the entrance to the museum courtyard. It was blocked by a stationary archer though (left image below), so I had to circle the museum and approach from the east. This gave me an excuse to roam the northeastern parts of the city. I had some more items to pick up before heading for the museum anyway.
Found a single coin on a ledge across the canal at Mill Square. Had to mantle by way of the water wheel to reach it. This was near Stone Avenue, a tight set of alleys with a single patrolling guard. A control room here granted access to the sewer maintenance room, where I found the precious manhole key. It stuck to my inventory, so no way to return it later.
Several establishments in this area were unaccessible until getting Yarwick’s skeleton key. A single apartment northwest of Verain Plaza was available though. The owner inside had a simple route between the living room and his office, stopping for about 30 seconds at each location. I needed objects from both rooms. The hallway was marbled, with a runner down the middle. The office was carpeted as well. If it hadn’t been for a small dark patch near the coat rack (right image above), this house might have been unghostable. I waited for him to enter the living room, then rushed out to pick the lock on the office safe. I got it halfway, but then had to return to my hiding spot before the owner returned. To save time, I leaped from one rug to the next through the doorway. During the second round I had time to finish picking the lock and steal all the office loot. I also stole the bellows from next to the fireplace while the gentleman was away.
Getting Down to Business
Next up was the Bathing Burrick Inn. My target was the security inspector upstairs, whose room was well-guarded. The only way to enter his den was by cranking up the radiator, making the guard leave for the bar. The steam valve was in the cellar, which meant I needed the key from the innkeeper. Neither him nor the guests reacted to my presence, but all civilians alert when getting their pockets picked, if they have spotted you first. Coming from the basement would circumvent this. The basement entrance was heavily guarded by an archer and several patrolling swordsmen (left image below), but nothing that’d keep a taffer like me away. After turning the valve I returned the key and entered the second floor by way of the open window on the north side. It was accessible from the wall separating the museum’s eastern and western side. A total of five enemies were located in the near vicinity, but traversing the wall kept me dark for the majority of the stretch. The inspector’s guard left his post as I ascended the staircase and I could concentrate on my real target.
The inspector did a double-loop before stopping by the bed staring in the direction of the desk (right image below). He stayed there for about 10 seconds, then resumed his patrol. More often than not he didn’t alert to the door opening. There were two items of interest: the security report and a vase on the side dresser. The only time to enter his room without spawning a grumble was when he turned around and headed back towards the bed. For about 3-4 seconds the room was “available”. Both items were attainable by taking two steps into the doorway and leaning towards the dresser and the desk, respectively. The report was the hardest to retrieve, as it was a little further away and the inspector occasionally heard me stepping on the wooden floor. I closed the door and left, entirely alert-free.
Nothing further to report until reaching Hewitt & Sons Transports. It was located in a blocked off alley accessible by way of the sewers. I needed a key from the upper office to operate the wood chipper machine. It was placed on a bookshelf on the back wall. The traditional means of entry involved knocking out the guard by smacking him in the back of the head with a window, obviously against Ghosting rules. The alternate way in was through a metal ventilation shaft behind one of the larger crates (left image below). I could inch up the shaft and steal the key through the grate. I was real worried about being able to replace it for Supreme though, as the guard was only a few feet away. I tried a variety of angled leaning techniques, before finally stumbling upon what seemed to make the key float in mid-air (right image below). Somehow the book stack’s physical space seemed to extend above its apparent height. This was the closest and most logical place to put it, and the only spot where the guard didn’t alert. It was impossible under any circumstance to put the key back to its exact location. Another tough challenge passed with flying colors!
I had to pass a couple of smaller tests to continue through the sewers. Propped a grate open with a boulder at one point; returned the boulder afterwards. Would later have to return to put the grates to their original configuration. The part where I had to fill the compartment with water to reach the upper passage couldn’t be undone, and the lower access door was permanently shut.
Found a nifty secret among the catacomb sarcophagi. One of the light fixtures was frobbable, revealing the Tomb of the Nameless Riddler (left image below). It contained various puzzles, rewarding me with the Staff of Far Reach, probably my favorite addition of this campaign. It could flip any switch from a distance. The shot had a straight trajectory as well, which was nice. Unfortunately, the shot would alert anyone in the near vicinity to hunt mode. Back through the catacombs I emerged in the museum cemetery.
The Museum, First Time Around
I headed straight for Sheila’s office. Knew I’d have to come back later with the skeleton key, so I’d loot everything else then. As a part of signaling Ned, I needed to switch off the electric light (right image above). Strictly speaking, this is a Supreme bust. Rule #6 says: “Turning off electric lights, snuffing candles, or removing any light source including mushrooms is [...] not allowed.” However, the rule is obviously meant to disallow the removal of light sources that prevent movement through enemy territory. In this case, it was done as a part of a puzzle. No consumables were used, the lights were put back to their original state, no enemies were around at any point during the event, and no traces were left of any kind. Rules aren’t made for the rules’ sake, they all create a purposeful limitation, and I don’t feel this situation breaks anything the rules were meant to prevent. But I don’t want to make it seem like I’m excusing my way out of a bust. I am an honest player and want to report my thoughts on it; hopefully it can spawn some replies from other players.
I could now make my way through the city watch station. The tricky spot was getting down the end hallway to the cells. I had Ned plus two other guards to deal with (left image below); a pivoting stationary guard by the fireplace and a patroller covering the entire stretch from the break room to the end of the cells. There was a small spot behind the pillar where I could get ready. I had to wait for the patroller to come around, then follow him down the tunnel. I hid in one of the cells as he returned. The secret exit was easy to find, based on Ned’s description in his readable.
Only one problem in the catacombs, in a room with a randomly patrolling green spider. The exit was controlled by a big lever in the corner past the spider. The room was more or less dark, except for shiny windows on either side. I found I could reach the lever without ever passing the window, simply leaning in from close to the wall and frob it like that (right image above). It depended on the spider staying away from that side of the room long enough for me to do my deed. Not too big of a deal in the end.
The Elusive Skeleton Key
Cleaned Yarwick’s and Alarius’ with ease. There was a nifty switch on the back of the counter at the jeweler’s. Not the one that opened the glass cover, but a smaller switch in a tiny alcove very close by (left image below). It opened a hidden cellar with loot. I actually made my way back through the catacombs and the city watch station afterwards. That way I could close all the gates, panels and doors for Supreme.
On my way back to the museum I also put the sewer grates back to the original configuration. One section got filled with water earlier and there was no way to empty it. Nothing to report from Boleston’s tower either. I knew the code for the punch card machine, so I now had access to all parts of the museum.
The most difficult area in the museum was the main lobby by far. Two patrolling guards and a roaming civilian made sneaking tough. In addition, one piece of loot was located inside a locked safe in the reception. Luckily, I found a dark spot outside the counter, within reach of my lockpicks (right image above). The patrolling woman went by unbothered most of the time. It didn’t seem like there was much shade, but it kept me completely dark for the duration of my picking. When leaning I sometimes shifted position into the light, and the dark spot was hard to regain. It was a grueling couple of minutes, but I got away with Supreme intact.
The rest of the museum compound was fairly straightforward. The main gallery was only occupied by a single female patroller covering both floors. No problem to steal the objects while she was elsewhere. She had a small pitstop by the downstairs control room, enough for me to blow the horn with the bellows and grab the Solar Core without anybody noticing. A good example of Eshaktaar’s consideration for the Ghost mode. I fiddled some with the order of reactivating the red and blue security measures, but got there in the end. There was a single coin on the carpet in the upper west wing. It was under one of the couches, so kinda hard to spot. Nothing else to report really.
The Tables are Turning
Headed for my apartment and got news from Keeper Lennard on this Nyarsal demon. Received information on the nightshade juice and left for the cathedral. Picked up the chalice there and headed back for the catacombs. On my way I dropped off the Horn of Quintus, which actually was a fake, in a hidden workshop across the canal. A frobbable tile opened a panel accessing an underground stock of horns. Triggering the mechanism on the altar left me with only the real horn (left image above), which spawned a new bonus objective.
I put together the potion in the catacombs and drank it in the cathedral. Realized I was played by Lennard and that Nyarsal now was free to roam wherever. In the visions you actually foreshadow the location of Tempest Isle, the target for mission two (right image above). Don’t know how many picked up on that.
I ended up in the crematorium, with further instructions by Keeper Aleph. I had a real hard time with the ash spirits, not because they were tough to Ghost, but because I couldn’t distinguish between first alert gasps and idle noises. To be honest I don’t even know if they had first alerts. I did several tests to check their response level, but was unable to find any consistent alert sounds. Does a falling tree make a sound if nobody is around to hear it? I don’t know, it all depends on how you define ‘sound’ I guess. In the end I decided to play it safe. If I was even the slightest in doubt of being detected, I reloaded.
The first ash spirit spawned from an urn in the middle of the first chamber. It took around 10 seconds before he materialized, so I had some time to pick the lock on the next door before he’d start to patrol. He heard the lockpics unless he was close to the opposite end, so I kept my tools still for a few moments before resuming.
The next tricky spot came further down the hallway. The third spirit was the only stationary one, by the foot of a ramp close to a gurney lift (left image above). I could stay dark most of the way but rounding that corner exposed me too much. If I went slow he’d start hunting; if I rushed into the corner by the lift he gave a clear gasp every time. I figured this as a clear alert, so I needed to think of something else. Supreme was only holding up like a house of cards from before, so this was no good. My only chance was to reach the upper walkway by means of mantling. I had noticed earlier the door in the southwest guard station was possible to mantle. I used it to reach the loot on the upper ledges. Once I realized the crematorium doors were no different, I saw my opportunity. I could mantle the metal door by the first ash spirit as shown in the right image above. Leaping for the walkway I had to jump and shut the door simultaneously (required for Supreme). Looking down, running forward, frobbing the door and jumping at the same time, ensuring no enemies were around to hear the door slam, and finally mantling the edge. I gotta say this was one of the toughest set of moves I’ve ever had to put together. But it also felt greatly rewarding once I got out of it clean. Every rose has its thorn I guess.
Sweeping the Remains
The city streets were deader than a doornail, Nyarsal had made sure of that. This meant a lot of the tough spots from before would have been a walk in part had I waited. Ah well, you live and learn. Anyway, I was free to pick up some remaining pieces of loot and return some of the stuff I didn’t need anymore for Supreme: the bellows, the museum backdoor key and the skeleton key. The hammer quarters key left by Keeper Aleph also needed to be returned to the crematorium. I could drop it from the walkway above when the spirits were absent. When dropping objects from higher ground, it seems you need to look down to lower the impact. If I looked straight, the key would make an extra clunk when landing and alert the stationary spirit nearby. If leaning and looking down the key made a single, light clunk and the spirit was left unbothered. Returned to the surface afterwards. The last object to replace was the white cathedral key.
I was pleasantly surprised to see a fair portion of the casino loot was actually obtainable for Supreme. Initially I had thought about skipping the entire building for that mode, but luckily I gave it a shot. I descended by attaching a rope to the wooden beam close to the circling ledge in the northeast corner (left image above). The reception lady was my main concern for reaching the floor. She gave me no trouble as I swung close to the dark eastern wall (where the doors were). From here I could get the stack of dollars from the reception table and the coin pile from the closest slot machine. To traverse the room as shown in the red path above, the girl had to be facing east. She shifted randomly between east and north angles, and the length of time she spent in each direction varied. I could crouch-walk through the entire move and with a little luck she wouldn’t turn north until I was safe. The gamblers were too far away to alert. The other slot machine and the coin behind the craps table were now reachable. The single coin could be taken from the south side in the corner. That was it for Supreme, so I left with what I had, 1850 in total.
Believe me, when playing Supreme, switching to plain Ghost many times becomes nothing of a challenge. I am not trying to slap those devoted to regular ghosting. Plenty of times I have had to revert to that mode and gotten my ass kicked, but as for the casino, the rest of the loot was fairly simple. I could basically sneak wherever there were some amounts of shade and steal the remaining four piece of loot.
The ring in Mrs. Wigglesworth’s apartment south of Boleston’s tower was my final target. Opening the door made her grumble, so I had to say no to this loot for Supreme. I got more comments when entering the room, so I didn’t think twice about skipping it. Made my way to the museum afterwards and entered the portal.
Fantastic mission Eshaktaar! J
Loot: 2010 out of 2010 (Supreme: 1850)
Pickpockets: 3 out of 4
Secrets: 7 out of 8
Locks Picked: 25
Damage Dealt: 0 Damage Taken: 0
Bodies Discovered by Enemies: 2
Perfect Thief: Success!
Supreme Ghost: Debatable, but I say success!
Perfect Supreme Ghost: Failed!
- I had to switch off the electric lights in Sheila Jenning’s office in the museum in order to signal Ned and gain access to the city watch station. Techinnically this is against Supreme rules, but I doubt this is a situation rule #6 was meant for. I switched the lights back on before any guards came around and left no possible traces behind. This situation is up for debate, but my vote is ‘no bust’.
- Turning off the museum’s security system is allowed in my mind for two reasons. 1) Its requirement is heavily implied in the objective that directs you to “reactivate the security measures”. 2) Supreme rule #8 was made with watchers, or other systems that alert and behave similar to live enemies, in mind. Discussion on this topic is encouraged.
- Had to skip four pieces of loot in the casino for Supreme: the coins in the safe (100), the purse on the female gambler (25), and the two single coins on the gambling table (10).
- Also had to skip the ring (25) in Mrs. Wigglesworth’s apartment south of Boleston’s tower for Supreme. She alerted with a comment when opening her door.