Hadean Lands: Yang Oil

The breakthrough mentioned in my last post led to a flurry of progress. At this point, I’m stuck again, but I’ve visited all of the Dragons, and have only a few uncompleted rituals left — including one that, as before, has an obvious application if only I can figure out how to alter it. Discovering the final secret of Elemental Fire was of course a major and long-anticipated part of this, opening most of the rituals on my list to completion. The interesting thing about this is that the breakthrough didn’t lead to Elemental Fire directly. Recall that my problem with the elemental fire ritual was in igniting blackwood. Well, the breakthrough I made led to discovering a different ritual, for synthesizing Yang Oil, which had a different but related problem involving burning splints: it required reed pith to be kept burning while you performed other steps. This was difficult because reed pith is so flammable that any attempt at setting it alight tends to just consume it immediately. This is basically just the opposite of the blackwood problem, but I found it much easier to think of the solution when it was approached from this direction, and once I had done that, the earlier problem was basically solved.

The game’s design is open enough that a different mind than mine could have done things in the other order. For a good long time, there was nothing preventing me from making Elemental Fire but my lack of understanding. What’s more, the game all but forces you to discover the Elemental Fire ritual before the Yang Oil ritual: when you gain access to the midgame, the paper teaching the former is sitting around loose while the latter is several difficult puzzles away. I can see two not-really-contradictory ways of interpreting the author’s intent in this. The first is that the author really wants and expects me to have made Elemental Fire before Yang Oil. The second is that the Yang Oil formula is a deliberate assistance in the Elemental Fire formula, a way of giving you a extra hint in the event that you haven’t figured it out yet that late in the game.

Whatever the intent, coupling the solutions for Elemental Fire and Yang Oil in this way is surely deliberate, because they’re closely related in use. I mentioned early on that some rituals consume components, and speculated that the game would use this to force the player to reset the physical state. Well, by the point I’m at, this happens a lot. There are quite a few unique items with multiple consuming applications. Resetting to use them again has simply become normal. I remember trying to avoid resets when I first started the game, so as not to lose my inventory, but now I do it willy-nilly, even when I don’t need to, because it’s usually easier to just reset than to figure out whether you need to or not. In particular, as I said, you need Elemental Fire for several different rituals, and it turns out each one of them uses it up. Yang Oil, now: that’s used in the ritual to phlogisticate Electrum Regium, making it something that can support more Elemental Fire. With that, it would be possible to overcome the limitations of uniqueness for the first time in the game, using Elemental Fire twice without a reset.

The ironic part: Electrum Regium is an alloy, which you have to make yourself, out of platinum and moon metal. The ritual to phlogisticate it can only be performed in a catalytic environment, and the only way I know to prepare a catalytic environment is to slot some plantinum wire into an adjustable ritual bound. I have just enough platinum to to one of these things, not both. So at this point, barring new discoveries, it seems that in order to get two uses out of Elemental Fire in a single reset, I first have to somehow get two uses out of platinum in a single ritual.

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