Despite its reputation as being a simplistic and middling RPG, Fable II remains, for me, an enjoyable experience. And part of that is due to the inclusion of some interesting…ahem…rewards, if you’re willing to go the extra mile to attain them. One of my favorites is a legendary weapon called the Maelstrom. And the trick to getting it involves the game’s alignment system, along with, well…setting aside one’s inherent good nature.
Fable II expanded upon the original Fable’s simple good/evil alignment system with the addition of four additional trait scales: pure/corrupt, rich/poor, funny/scary, and loved/hated. In the end, however, these additional instances really only affected the hero’s interactions with Albion’s citizenry in the game, and had little to do with any of the side quests. The only exception to this could be the path to obtaining the Maelstrom, which is done through a quest called Sacrificing to the Shadows.
And if you’re wondering, yes, Sacrificing to the Shadows, is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. As the hero, you’re first required to get in good with members of the Temple of Shadows, the game’s evil faction. Upon doing so, the hero is then directed to gain 2,000 loyalty points (kinda like reward points, only…evil) by bring unsuspecting villagers to the temple and sacrificing them using the dastardly Wheel of Misfortune! (evil laugh, of course) Once the hero reaches the requisite number of points, he or she must then complete the horrible, terrible, no good, very bad “Ritual of Unhallowed Wickedness.” And then, only after all of that is the hero rewarded with the Maelstrom, a malicious weapon that doles out extra evil damage to Albion’s law-abiding folks.
At first glance, the task is rather simple. Using the game’s “follow” command, get villagers to follow the hero to the temple (using fast travel at will) and spin the Wheel of Misfortune. (How bad can it be, really, when one of the options is being turned into a chicken?) But it doesn’t take too long to realize that a few mechanics are in place to impede your progress. First, if you take on the quest before you’ve gained much renown in Albion, not only will very few people follow, but if you get any who do, you’ll only be able to take them one or two at a time. And random villagers don’t give much in the way of evil loyalty points. The other is that the meaner you become, the harder it becomes to attract people generally.
One way that I initially thought might be a workaround was to sacrifice monks from the venerated and wholly-opposite-of-evil Temple of Light, which worked wonderfully the first time, as the patron of the Wheel of Misfortune heartily congratulated me on doing away with such goody-two-shoes. However, doing the same with a subsequent group, only brought a cry of “it’s going to take more than monks!” from the wheel’s spinner. Touché.
The best trick I found to completing the quest was to first spend time gaining renown and being the nicest Albionite ever. This went a long way in gaining the trust of random townspeople. And eventually, I was able to attain groups of five or six, even seven followers! As I noted, the more sacrificing I did, the more my evil meter rose, and the more difficult it became to attract people to follow. It took a little longer for me to form groups, but it wasn’t impossible. After “submitting” a series of these larger groups to the Wheel of Misfortune, it wasn’t too long before I reached that evil, evil number of 2,000 points. The Maelstrom was finally mine…! Uh, oops, no, there was still the matter of the “Ritual of Unhallowed Wickedness.”
To know Fable is to understand one concept of the idyllic life, for in the game, our unnamed protagonist can get married, have children, own a home, and be a generally productive inhabitant of Albion. Performing the “Ritual of Unhallowed Wickedness” requires the player to forgo this perfection and invite chaos in sacrificing…
Wait…what? Huh? No. NO! Not your kids. Jeez, the game isn’t that…I mean….no.
Your spouse. Yes, it’s your spouse who must be done in for the greater good! (See the irony? It’s evil. Evil irony. Mwahahaha!)
But! Once again the game throws in a monkey wrench, because the ritual can only be performed at that most evil hour of midnight. (Nicely, the game gives you the midnight hour until 1am.) If you spin the Wheel of Misfortune on your spouse during any other hour, the deed won’t be recognized, and you’ll have to dupe…err, I mean, fall in love with another
sucker soulmate all over again.
In the end, is the Maelstrom worth all this terribleness? Well, it’s a cool looking sword, even if it is surpassed by other melee weapons in the game. If you’re on track to take the game’s less-nice path, then doing all the evil stuff beforehand goes a long way in quickly aligning you that way. And since this is a Fable game, you can always opt to right your wrongs. Even with the Maelstrom in tow, I was able to make nice with most folks again. However, it’s worth noting that once Sacrificing the Shadows is complete, the hero can no longer pursue the opposite good quest, Donating to the Light.
Aside: How interesting it is that to complete the “good” quest and attain the “good” legendary weapon, the Rising Sun, all one has to done is complete a series of monetary donations to the monks of the Temple of Light. No “proselytizing,” as it were, or spreading the good word of a heavenly being. Nope. Just money. Money will get you “good.”