Now, this section is somewhat optional, since there's really not much incentive to explore the Estan Plains. But, who buys a game and ignore large parts of it, interesting or not? Even more importantly, who writes a guide ignoring a major geographical area? You will, however, find yourself wandering through this area many times as part of one quest or another, so if you don't care to explore, by all means, skip to the next section of the guide, "Cassardis Revisited" and get down to business.
You'll start from Gran Soren's southern gate, since it's the only main entrance to Gran Soren you have open to you right now. South-east of the gate are some grassy hills occupied by about a half-dozen Oxen, of which you should be familiar given the farming opportunity pointed out above. The nearby coastal area here is marked as 'Cape Pactforge' an uncommon escort destination. If you follow the southern wall of Gran Soren to the east, you can find a rocky ledge that wraps around to the eastern side of Gran Soren, which leads to a gate you can enter, a back-door to the sewers of Gran Soren.
South-west of Cape Pactforge lie more grassy hills, which ultimately terminate at some cliffs. To get to higher ground, just follow the road south-west, and turn south when you've reach enough elevation. Up here you'll find a campsite (Hobgoblins might lurk around here at night), some mineral deposits along the cliffs. Return to the road and continue to the south-west until you reach the path leading to the gate that separates Moonsbit Pass from the Estan Plains. On the eastern side of the gate (the Estan Plains side) are two paths to the south. Ignore the western-most one for now, as it's just a shortcut back through Moonsbit Pass, which you might make use of later... but not now. Instead, go down the eastern-most pass to reach the 'Moonshower Cliffs'.
This area, while technically not part of the Estan Plains, might as well be. Night or day, you can encounter Hobgoblins here, so you'll find their monster info below. Other than that, expect to fight Giant Spiders and Goblins here. Chests lurk around the various rock formations lying around, as do more organic treasures; Grandgrapes and Apples. Hobgoblin presence grows more dense to the south-east, where, near the cliffs, you'll find the 'Stones of Courage'. Here is a decent place to fight the Hobgoblins, despite their numbers, because stunned foes can be grabbed and thrown off the cliffs. Fun. Also here is where you'll find one of the rare bits of loot in this area, in some warrior remains near the Stones of Courage. South-west of the Stones of Courage you'll find a narrow ledge running south-west that will eventually lead back to the eastern end of Moonsbit Pass, connected directly to the northernmost reaches of Manamia Trail. While it might seem like a tempting shortcut, it is, however, a one-way trip, requiring you to drop down ledges, then run past a Cyclops to actually reach the road after which the Manamia Trail is named. Due west of the Stones of Courage you'll find an elevated area which looms over the aforementioned trail that leads to Manamia Trail. Atop this elevated area you'll find some apple trees guarded by Spiders. At the far south-western end of this area, west of some gravestones, you'll find some ledges off the edge of the cliffs to the south, on one of which lies a square chest, containing some goodies.
Monster Info: Hobgoblin
Much stronger and more resilient than their lesser cousins, Hobgoblins are a legitimate threat to low-level characters, although by the time your level reaches the 30s, they'll be more or less experience cows for you. Like Goblins, they've got pretty diverse tactics. Some prefer to stand back and fling objects at you, just like Goblins, potentially setting you one fire or blinding you, depending on what they threw. They also have horn-blowers, their slingers are prone to rolling to escape melee combat (or using leaping shoulder-tackles) and their Fighters have real swords and sturdy shields... but thankfully they do not have the stupid uber-defensive Goblins with shields for armor.
|Warrior Remains||Warrior Remains||Square Chest|
|Iron Shield||Broadsword||Ebon Neck Wrap|
Return to the road connecting the Estan Plains to Moonsbit Pass, and explore the western-most section of it by following the cliffs north. Here you'll find plenty of Goblins, a small tribe, in fact, which occupies the highest ledge north of the road, and south of the river, which marks a convenient geographical barrier by which to separate this section. If you search around up near the Goblin tribe and in the less monster-infested lower ledges to the east you can find a few Grangrapes and chests.
Ruins Outside of Gran Soren
Continue heading downhill/east along the river-long enough and you'll find some crumbled walls that must have marked Gran Soren's apogee in some earlier age. Of course, now these ruins are infested by Bandits during the day, and Undead during the night. The Undead are nothing special, but the Bandits are quite a bit stronger than the ones you encountered on Manamia Trail, so be watchful. East of the wall you'll find a campsite brazenly occupied by Bandits. By now, anybody with any insight at all should be wondering... just how weak and corrupt is Gran Soren that Bandits can camp, not just in sight of its walls, but amongst them? You can amuse yourself by scaling all over the walls in search of the odd treasure chest that only protects junk from the elements, but when you're ready to see more of the Estan Plains, turn your attention to the stream running through the Bandit camp.
First loot some Warrior Remains on the north shore of the stream, near the wall, under a tree, for a remote chance of scoring a bit of loot. Then follow the stream south-west quite a distance-it never gets terribly deep. After you've explored about three-quarters of the length of the river you'll get to meet its denizens; a Saurian hides behind a rock to the north. New foe, new monster entry. There's going to be a lot of them in this section, it seems.
Saurians are probably the strongest foes you've fought thus far; they can do pretty wretched damage with their spears (especially with their jumping attack) and spit poisonous goo. The best way to fight them at this stage in the game? Let your Pawns handle the melee if possible, and stick to shorter spells that won't tie you down (Ingle works well), and if at all possible, try to cut off their tails, which will leave them exposed for a while. Practice on this one, but be warned-many more lurk at the end of the river to the south-west. Clusters of Saurians can be deadly to low-level adventurers. Save before you test your mettle, and if victory is yours you can claim a square chest-which contains one of the few bits of loot in the Estan Plains-at the wide western end of this river.
Monster Info: Saurian
Saurians are the iconic lizard-men, armed with spears and a foul disposition, they're troublesome foes at lower levels. Good thing you were never had to worry about that, right? Their spear is the most common outlet for their aggression-they'll block, stab, lunge, and even do a damaging jumping plunge attack. They can also spit at you, and are not afraid to resorting to using their jaws. Bring them down by targeting their tails, which can be severed fairly easily. This will leave them helpless for a short while, and reduce their combat effectiveness, overall. They are not hampered by water like you are, and mobility is the key to fighting them at lower-levels. They're just not terribly fast most of the time, although they can prove quick for short bursts and while scampering away after their tails have been severed. They make up for their sluggishness with their spears, of course.
|Ebon Neck Wrap|
Head back east through the river and-when you reach the Bandit camp- turn north. On the 'Area' map there is an area enclosed on all sides by walls. To the west, south, and north, by crumbling walls, and to the east by Gran Soren's walls. Signs of an old city quarter, perhaps? Whatever its past, now it, like the southern section, houses Bandits, who congregate near a structure marked on the map as a 'Collapsed Meeting Room'. These ones vary greatly in power, but especially be wary of the sword-and-shield wielders, as their experience rewards mark them as some of the strongest Bandits you'll encounter. On the walls to the north lurk two Ranger Bandits who-while not being terribly strong, can knock down foes who try to scramble up the ruins after them. At night, expect Undead instead of Bandits, and Sorcerers along the road. Again, chests lurk atop many of the ruins, but contain little of interest. North-west of the 'Collapsed Meeting Room' you'll find the poorly boarded-up 'Catacombs Rear Passage 1'. You've got no need to explore the Catacombs yet, nor can you get too far down this path at the moment... but if you wanted to go in and try and mine some Catacombs Gold, nobody would blame you...
Monster Info: Sorcerer
Not too different from Bandit Sorcerers, these robed freaks prefer fire, ice, and healing magic as their primary means of disposing of you - the Arisen - their mortal foe. Popular, aren't you? They're not above just using bursts from their Archistaves, however. The best way to deal with them? Get up close and chop them up. They're not too sturdy, but if you let them catch you with a spell, you'll regret it.
North of this poorly-enclosed area you'll find a road that leads to a bridge, which in turn connects the Estan Plains to the Deos Hills. You've got no need to explore to the north just yet, however, and Direwolves and Snow Harpies (not to mention the odd Chimera) are probably too much for you to handle at the present... so stay decidedly south of this river. On the other hand, if you care to explore the rocky beach east of the bridge, you'll find all the Saurians you can handle. Saurians, again, can be rough, but at least here you can fight them on dry land. Water hampers you more than them... cheating lizards... Anyways, if you follow the coastline east you'll find the sorriest excuse for a port imaginable. Cassardis has better docks than this! More signs of arrested development? Crumbling walls and waycastles, crappy roads, Bandit and monster infestations, and a dilapidated 'port'?
The Rivers Edge and the Watering Hole
Head to the bridge and follow it north (not crossing it, following its lower extremities.) Find the middle support pylon of the bridge (marked on the map as 'Storage Shed') and enter it to find a rounded chest. Finally, ignoring the advice given at the beginning of the last paragraph, continue north to the northern beach. Whether this is still technically the Estan Plains or the Deos Hills is debatable, but since the foes here are still Saurians, and loot beckons, there's no harm in exploring it. Kill the lizards and travel east along the coast until you reach some rocks. Scale them to discover a rounded chest, which contains some gear.
|Rounded Chest (storage shed)||Rounded Chest (riverside rocks)|
|Battle Greaves||Magian Crutch|
|Favored Flower||Ogre Bone|
|Shoulder Cape||Scale Armguard|
Note: Very rarely you can find an 'Ambush!' quest on the western side of the small island that houses the bridge's central pylon (marked on the map as 'Storage Shed'). This ambush consists of a half-dozen Sulfur Saurians, which will be formally introduced shortly, when you can more reliably encounter them.
Return back south across the water and return to the southern end of the bridge, which you're still not crossing. Instead, explore to the south-west. Here you'll find plenty of Oxen that are somewhat more fickle than the ones outside the southern gate to Gran Soren. Chests lie around containing junk and the few bits of loot worth recording can be found by scavenging some warrior remains that lie about, the first one can be found near the cliffs-just west of a small tree flanked by two bushes.
The Oxen here will be guarded by Goblins, and at night a rather large number of Hobgoblins-rare here during the day-will be patrolling. To the south you'll find a watery depression which is often haunted by Harpies, and the odd Cyclops may-very rarely-be found lurking around. Also rare, the large number of Oxen may attract the attention of a predatory Griffin. Normally the beast will have little interest in you, focused as it is in securing food, but if attacked it'll become aroused. At this point in the game, if you spot a Griffin, you're better off avoiding it. Later, this becomes one of the best (yet still frustratingly uncommon) places to hunt Griffins. The second loot-worthy warrior remains lies north-west of the watery depression.
|Warrior Remains||Warrior Remains|
Keep an eye on your 'Area' map and explore to the west. Along the coast, you'll find little opposition, and a few Apple trees to scavenge. If you see forests marked on your map, you're entering the Wilted Forest, which will not be explored just yet. Most of the Wilted Forest isn't too rough, but large beasts do lurk within, which are well out of your means to fight just yet. Along the edge of the Cursewood you'll find a camp, the tents are occupied by Sulfur Saurians during the day, and Ogres during the night. The former are tough, but not unkillable right now, but the latter... probably more than you can handle right now, so let's ignore them for now.
Monster Info: Sulfur Saurian
Saurians and their stronger cousins introduced in one section? Travesty! Anyways, Sulfur Saurians fight just like Saurians. Spears, spit, easily severed tails. They are, however, quite a bit stronger still. Easy prey to wary mid-level characters, a stiff challenge to low-level parties. Unlike Saurians, however, they have one distinct advantage; they can camouflage, becoming nearly invisible to the unwary eye. Yeah, giant, aggressive, cloaked lizards-sounds familiar... Anyways, their Invisibility is not as good as the Invisibility the Assassin can eventually get. You can still hit them while they're invisible, although it does make it somewhat more difficult to see what they're doing, and hence predict their attacks.
Outside the Ancient Quarry
The next area that'll be discussed is bounded by the ruined walls outside of Gran Soren to the east, by the river to the north, and by an east-west running road to the south, which also turns north-south and forms most of the western border, as well. The geography trends uphill as you go west, and your main foes will be Goblins and Wolves. The former are joined by a scattering Hobgoblins, with greater numbers of their larger cousins appearing at night. Together, they lurk near the east-west running portion of the road. The wolves are situated further north, occupying the cliff-side fields, a rocky cubby enclosed by cliffs, and an unfortunate bit of road running north-south through a trench.
The area south of the east-west running road that formed a convenient boundary for the last Step is pretty tame, consisting of more Oxen, more Goblins pastoralists, and a few Hobgoblins (more than a few at night). South of the road, opposite the watery depression (or at least, its location on your map, which looks like a peanut in parentheses) you can find some warrior remains which may rarely yield some loot. Follow the east-west running road to the west, and it will, as mentioned earlier, split north-south. North leads to Wolves and the Cursewood, while near the fork to the south rest some buildings, one of which is marked as the 'Miner's Hut'. You won't find miners here anymore, though, unless you count Goblins. This area obviously used to be an active quarry, in more prosperous times. At night the area will be choked with Undead, Undead Warriors (especially in the Miner's Hut, where a half-dozen of the proficient Undead lurk) and Stout Undead.
Monster Info: Stout Undead
'Stout' in this case means 'fat'. And like almost all fat things in the world of gaming, Stout Undead are sturdy, can emit a field of noxious (poisonous) gas, and if you use fire on them, they will explode. Stout Undead are slow and ungainly, only being a little more competent in melee than their anorexic counterparts... so... don't be afraid to use fire to get them to blow, and stand clear. Just don't expect your Pawns to be smart enough to avoid the blast.
Monster Info: Undead Warrior
Like normal Undead, these stiffs are slow and hardy, emerging from the ground in order to attack those who draw near. They can attack with whatever massive weapons they wielded in life, but their attacks are awkward and uncoordinated. Other than that, they fight much like their peasant counterparts. They love to grapple, and are weak to fire and holy magic.
South of the mining quarters you'll find ever more shaped stone, and eventually, the 'Ancient Quarry North Entrance'. Outside of the quarry stands Alon, who has a quest for you. The poor guy wants to travel south through the mine, and is willing to pay you to clear the way. Accept the quest, but do not actually expect to start it any time soon. The Ancient Quarry is currently beyond your means... besides, it'll be more convenient to clear it out later, as the prelude to another quest. But don't count this Step as a waste just yet, as there's treasure to be had nearby. From the entrance to the Ancient Quarry, head north past two cube-shaped rocks to the west. Just north of them is a series of cut rocks that can be scaled, and by so scaling, you can discover a square chest. If you continue scaling rocks, you can reach the Cursewood above, and all manner of junk loot awaits in chests on and behind the shaped stone around here.
When you're done exploring the Estan Plains, return to Gran Soren and rest up (if necessary). When all your boo-boos are healed and your new junk is stored, it's time to head back to Cassardis.