Tsutomu raised his head, while the newspaper staff began handing out stacks of documents to each member of each Clan. The neatly arranged papers contained all of the materials that Tsutomu was going to explain today.
“First, an explanation of long-range skills. Please refer to page two of your handouts as we go.”
As Tsutomu prepared to go over his original copy of the documents, the participants opened up the pages of their handouts, filling the room with sounds of flipping paper. Tsutomu proceeded to grab his Status Card from the table on the stage, then he headed to where members of Ealdred Crow were sitting.
“Contrary to the initial assumptions of many, the healing skills shots I use is not a Unique Skill. Here is my Status Card — feel free to confirm what I have on the Skill section.”
After all three Clans got a look, Tsutomu took his Status Card back and went back onto the podium. Having seen the section listing Tsutomu’s skills, all were surprised to learn that his level and status ratings were relatively low. Most of the people in this room had already reached level 70, the highest that those who had reached the sixtieth later were allowed. On Tsutomu’s side, and with the exception of Camille, it had not been that long since Garm and Amy had gotten past the Shell Crab. In other words, they had prevailed over the Fire Dragon not only with teams of three, but also with an average level of lower than sixty.
All that went to show how important long-range skills and the three-role party composition were. The two Clans exploring God’s Dungeon were now eager to hear what information Tsutomu had to share.
“I think you all should understand now that the skill shots I use aren’t anything special — that any White Mage is able to perform a long-range <<Heal>>. You will still get higher restorative power from the direct contact variety, but the long-distance form of it is effective enough. That is what White Mages have to first keep in mind. Also…”
Tsutomu held up his white staff and cast <<Area Heal>>, causing a mass of green light to spread from under his feet. The area of it was about the same as the one created by Silver Beast’s Healer back when Ealdred Crow’s informant had gone to observe their strategies.
“White Mages have access to this skill, the <<Area Heal>>. It passively restores the wounds of those within the circle, but it is little known that it can be applied to a Skill Combo as well. Those who use healing skills while in this area would find that their skills’ restorative power increased, and not only that, the effectiveness of <<Heal>> shots can also be increased this way. Again, anyone can perform skill shots, and <<Area Heal>> can be used in Skill Combos. Keep those two points in mind, and you should be able to use healing skills in the same ways that I do. In fact, one of the Healers of the Silver Beast Clan has already succeeded in doing so.”
Those of Ealdred Crow had already tried to imitate the way Silver Beast’s Healer had used her skills, and despite seeing an increase in restorative power, it still was not enough for practical use in combat. The personal perception that healing skill shots could not actually heal — that was what a White Mage had to get rid of before their healing skill shots were usable.
Members of Ealdred Crow and Golden Tune were impressed by the explanation thus far, but the men of the Labyrinth Conquerors snickered in disapproval.
“So, do you have any proof to back up what you just said?”
“Proof? The common perception is that healing skills must be performed only through direct contact — the Healer of Silver Beast has proven that, by eliminating that personal bias, you would be able to achieve higher restorative power. I could personally show you how it works in the Dungeon, if you would like me to.”
“That’s not what I meant. I’ve never even seen you use your long-range skills in the first place.”
“Oh, that’s right. Then after this conference is over, I will be providing guidance to the Clans that need it, teaching them until they are able to use healing skills and the three-role composition effectively — that was the original plan, in fact. I will be demonstrating my skill shots at that time.”
“…Just do it here and now. Hey,” the man called over another man behind him, crouched down, and stuck his arm out to the side.
The other man grabbed the outstretched arm, flipped it up, then stomped on it with all his might, breaking it.
Tsutomu grimaced in confusion at the loud crack and stared at the man as the latter stood up with his arms dangling loosely. Those of the other Clans also looked on, bewildered, while the Clan Leader of Labyrinth Conquerors let out a subtle sigh. The man grunted a little at the pain of his broken bones and then proceeded to say,
“Unlike you all, we explore Dungeons outside of this town. Proving that your long-range skills are usable in the game Dungeon won’t count as real proof for us. Try healing me right here. If you can’t do that, then you’re worthless to us Labyrinth Conquerors.”
“…You might have a point there.”
As the man had implied, there were indeed skills that were usable only within God’s Dungeon. For instance, <<Raise>>, which one could use to restore a dead target to life within three minutes of their death — it would have no effect whatsoever in the other Dungeons. Tsutomu, knowing that the man’s statement made perfect sense, actually was thankful for the opportunity for him to prove the worth of his skill as soon as possible.
“Then put his bone back in the original position and keep it supported. And please do it properly — it’d be a hassle if it gets broken again.”
As instructed by Tsutomu, the man re-aligned his broken arm as correctly as he could and supported it with his other arm; Tsutomu set up an <<Area Heal>> under himself just to be safe, then cast his spell,
Tsutomu waved his staff to shoot a <<High Heal>>, hitting the man’s arm and instantly healing his broken bones. The man proceeded to move his arm around, confirming that it no longer hurt and that nothing was wrong with it, then bowed his head down, albeit looking somewhat bored.
“Now it is clear that your information will be beneficial to us Labyrinth Conquerors. Apologies for the trouble.”
“It’s all right.”
The other Clans were surprised again by the fact that Tsutomu’s <<High Heal>> had actually, completely fixed the broken arm. As Tsutomu, albeit feeling somewhat anticlimatic, responded to the man’s surprisingly quick pull-back, the Labyrinth Conquerors’ Clan Leader raised her hand. Tsutomu nervously gave a go-ahead hand signal to the lady with beautiful silver hair. She stood up and immediately bowed.
“Members of my Clan were too eager to test you — I ought to apologize on their behalf.”
“Oh, I don’t mind at all — directly showing them how it works does make things go faster. I should be thankful for that, if anything.”
“Your tolerance is much appreciated,” the Clan Leader said and sat back down; Tsutomu shook his head.
Right as the Labyrinth Conquerors’ Clan Leader offered her apologies, the man behind her started giving Tsutomu a death stare as if the latter was his enemy. Tsutomu, keeping his guard up, smiled and moved on to the next topic of discussion.
“Next, the three-role composition. Please refer to page four of your handouts.”
The conference participants flipped over to the page that contained charts and illustrations with brief descriptions of the roles of Tanks, Attackers, and Healers. The illustrations had been made by an employee of the newspaper publishers; the same illustrator had been drawing for articles everyday, so their work made the data easy to understand.
“As most perceive at the present, there are only two main roles within a party — the Attacker, tasked with dealing damage to the enemy, and Healer, which heal allies. The support role of Buffer would occasionally come into play as well, but for simplicity’s sake, let us disregard that part for now.”
Jobs fit for the primary role of Buffer included Minstrel and Enchanter, but since Tsutomu had not yet seen an Enchanter here, and Minstrels were reasonably in demand, he had decided to omit the role from the discussion.
“But in the addition of those two, I have introduced a Tank to my party — the role involves attracting the enemies’ attention and defending against their attacks. This way, Attackers are safe to attack and achieve optimal damage output. Healers’ jobs are also made easier by narrowing down the number of targets they need to regularly heal, and most importantly, they don’t have to take on a disposable role like they used to. Please take a look at page five of your handouts.”
On the next page, the concept of monster aggro was explained in detail; also written down were the mechanisms of aggro-generating skills, and also aggro garnered by performing healing and support skills.
“Monsters will target Tanks that have gained Aggro, enabling Healers to keep healing allies in the middle of combat. Moreover, if a party has two Tanks, in the case that one died, the Healer could also use <<Raise>> safely.”
Several White Mages in the room looked up in response to the explanation. Using <<Raise>> meant that one would be targeted by monsters in exchange for reviving one’s ally, which in most cases effectively translated to the Healer becoming a sacrifice — that was a common perception among White Mages.
They’d had no problem with that outcome as long as their teams could update their layer progress and defeat Layber Bosses. In fact, even dead party members would get their progress updated when the others reached a new layer, so there was virtually no loss on their part if their equipment were retrieved.
For the past few years, however, White Mage had started to feel unsatisfied with having to witness their parties reaching new layers and defeating boss monsters through Monitors. Although they received praise from their allies upon their return through the Black Gate, resentment would naturally build up as the same thing happened again and again. And although they had gotten used to being killed by monsters, there were some who had been traumatized from repeatedly going through the experience.
Moreover, the one bringing their ally back to life would end up being the first to die out of the run, in turn getting less screen time on the Monitors, resulting in them not making a lasting impression on the spectators. Equipment manufacturers would not get good advertisement from those who died first, and not to mention them not using any tools nor potions — needless to say, they could not expect to get a sponsor. In fact, when the Scarlet Devil Squad had defeated the Fire Dragon, the Attackers’ had gotten their faces remembered by the crowd, while the Healer lady had been remembered by the Dungeon Maniacs and had not gotten any sponsorship deals.
But it could not be denied how useful the role of sacrificing oneself to revive a party member was for progressing through layers and getting past bosses. As such, White Mages could not simply quit, and had to settle for muddling through with their prestige-less jobs.
From the podium’s point of view, most of the White Mages in the room were listening intently to Tsutomu, who continued to speak with a voice full of emotion,
“And that is why I don’t think White Mages are currently getting the best they deserve in ways of strategic utility. The Job is not just for reviving allies.”
The last statement prompted many of the White Mages to either look down or remain silent. But among them, one voiced a different opinion.
“…So you’re saying that we’ve been doing things the wrong way?” Golden Tune’s White Mage, a young woman with yellow-furred fox ears, spoke in an oddly high-pitched voice and stood up from her seat to stare straight at Tsutomu.
That did not necessarily mean she was satisfied with the current situation — when they had been tossed around by the waves of Potion Fish on the fortieth layer, they’d had to desperately search for a way to survive. That had resulted in the Healer having to resort to the specialized support-and-revive role. Having felt denied of that achievement by the statement, she could not help but speak up.
Moreover, she herself had performed her role with pride. She had no qualms whatsoever about sacrificing herself to bring back her Clan Leader, and even if she would have to keep doing it, she was fine with it as long as she got to stay in the Clan’s main party.
“I wouldn’t say that, so. I haven’t been around back when White Mages were almost rendered obsolete by Potions, you see, so I am not fully aware of all the efforts you have been making. As such, I’m not qualified to find fault in the ways you’ve been doing things. You are free to perform your roles as you have always done, of course, as long as you understand what they actually entail.”
“…The way you say it sounds like you think we don’t understand.”
“What? Well, do you?”
Tsutomu, eyes wide open, looked on with genuine surprise at Golden Tune’s White Mage. The latter let her eyes wander for a brief moment before talking back to Tsutomu,
“Huh? For real…? By the way, what about the others? What do you all think? Oh, sorry for going off-topic. But it’s something that needs clarification, so please stay with me here,” Tsutomu apologized in advance and questioned the opinions of the other White Mages.
In response, Ealdred Crow’s White Mages stood up in quick succession.
“No way in hell she does! She’s just able to put up with it because she’s devoted to her Leader, I say! Well, it ain’t the same for me!”
“That’s right! I don’t even get to go through a Black Gate these days! That’s no joke, you know!”
“Even the armor stores don’t want to sell us stuff anymore, spewing bull like ‘because we die right away’! And they’ve got money from fans and sponsors! But not us — we don’t get any of that! Not even a fair share of rewards, for God’s sake!”
“Oh, so you do have complaints. Good.”
Tsutomu was relieved to see the other White Mages, mainly of Ealdred Crows, begin to vent the anger they had harbored; he gave them some time to make the statement they needed. The others’ words seemed to have struck a chord, the two White Mages of Golden Tune kept silent, while the Attackers were clearly uncomfortable.
The Attackers were aware at least in some way that Healers’ earnings were lower than their own, but they couldn’t bring themselves to say it out loud. That had been worrying for their White Mage allies and listening to their complaints, but all that had only resulted in the true issue being glossed over; after all, everyone naturally did things in the best interest of their own selves.
“And with the introduction of the Tank role, Knight-type Jobs now have an alternative to trying to dish out firepower that they may or may not have. Please do consider giving it a try.”
“…What the hell? Now you’re talking like we’re the bad guys. We’ve been the ones getting things done, you know.”
Ealdred Crow’s Attacker crossed his arms, showing dissatisfaction toward Tsutomu’s manner of speaking. This particular individual was the Clan’s ace Attacker, who had distinguished himself as the leader of his party from layers forty to fifty-nine.
“Look, I can understand Healers — Wasteland, Beach, Valley, they’re useful everywhere. But Tanks? With their low STR? Those Knights aren’t even fit to be Explorers in the first place.”
“…Why don’t you just fight the Fire Dragon with the same party as before, then? Should go without a hitch, right? Not that I know what your Clan Leader thinks about this, though.”
“Now, Sova, please do shut up for a moment,” the child-like Clan Leader promptly reprimanded his Attacker upon seeing how Tsutomu was narrowing his eyes.
In response, the Attacker reluctantly stopped his rant.
“But I suppose the way I spoke did make it come off as me criticizing Attackers unfairly. That was not my intention at all. Attackers, Healers, Buffers, Tanks — I think they are all essential parts of a party, and all I wanted was to get the information across. In fact, I do think that if done properly, everyone here would be able to defeat the Fire Dragon with relative ease. Once again, I hope that you would consider giving the three-role composition a try.”
It was a fact that Tsutomu had led a party of three with average levels of lower than sixty to defeat the Fire Dragon not only once, but twice; the Attacker could not argue against that.
“Next up is information regarding the Fire Dragon, I believe. First things first–“
Tsutomu proceeded to share the information he had regarding the Fire Dragon — parts of which had been converted from his knowledge of the Live Dungeon game — after which the information session came to an end.