I find it both bizarre and amusing that Suikoden gives the player two extremely similar recruit requirements at nearly the exact time in the plot, and both ask that a specific creature be killed in hopes that it drops a certain item. Nothing too out of the ordinary in a JRPG. However, from what I can gather, the drop rates for both of these monsters range dramatically from one player to another, and some people find the item after the first battle and others, like me, end up grinding for two hours just to see its name pop up. As the Brits say, that’s a bunch of bollocks.
Okay, details. The first side recruit involves killing Nightmares, which are floating casino-card like enemies, in the Soniere Prison; one will eventually leave behind an opal, which you can then give to Esmeralda to get her to sign up with the Liberation Army. The second recruit quest has you murdering Holly Fairies for a nameless urn, which will most likely stump even Jabba, a wizened appraiser from Rikon. The objective couldn’t be clearer: kill X until X drops Y. The problem is, there is no way to tell when you’ll see that item. Might be within minutes, hours, or–the horror!–days.
In fact, I had almost left Soniere Prison entirely and started that really tough Gremio scene, but I purposefully back-tracked for a bit to get into a few more fights starring Nightmares. I would wager it only took four or five more rounds until an opal hit my inventory, so that was nice and had me thinking optimistic thoughts about future grinding quests even though I knew what story beat was coming, but hey, at least I didn’t have to grind for two hours first.
So after gathering up a few more recruits for Castle Castle, I double-checked my list to see who I could still get on the non-Imperial side before serving Milich his just desserts, and I noticed that Jabba the appraiser was still calling Rikon home. So off I went, to grind outside on the world map for a bit, searching for that nameless urn. I skipped all battles not involving Holly Fairies and, given how well the opal hunt went, figured I’d maybe spend fifteen minutes at most doing this before getting the urn and moving on with the game. Nope. I grinded Holly Fairy fight after Holly Fairy fight for at least an hour and a half, having to even mute the game’s sound and listen to a podcast so that I didn’t lose my mind. Eventually, I gave up for the night. Upon returning to Suikoden in the morning, it took another thirty minutes or so of fighting the same fights before those magical words appeared on screen: Obtained Nameless urn. My heart swelled, I shoved it right under Jabba’s whiskery nose, and saved my game twice because I was so ecstatic and distracted that I immediately forgot if I had saved or not after just choosing to save. Oh man.
I don’t remember if there are any further “grind for item” quests in Suikoden, but I certainly hope not. Two hours is much too long to devote to such a mundane and trivial quest. My logged playtime is now in the twelve-hour range, and I think this is one of those early JRPGs that you can probably complete in under twenty hours. We’ll see. I am a bit obsessive about getting all 108 Stars of Destiny, no matter what it takes. If any good came out of this, it’s that Pauly McDohl got mega-rich and sharpened all his friends’ weapons, and it wasn’t even any of their birthdays. What a nice, army-raising boy he is…