I mentioned the other day that I'd taken the Ragnarok sword instead of the magicite. This took ultima off the table unless I managed to put together the paladin shield. The way to get a paladin shield is to get a cursed shield and win 256 fights while wearing it. This doesn't sound so bad, except the cursed shield is truly a cursed shield. We're talking Beyond the Beyond levels of cursed here. Can't move... CURSED!
Ok, maybe not quite that bad. What it does is lowers all your stats by 7, has no defensive stats at all, and permanently inflicts you with the statuses berserked, muddled, muted, condemned, and seizured. It also makes you vulnerable to all elemental attacks. In order for the fight to count towards your 256 you need to have the character wearing it live through the fight which can be rough with all those negatives running around.
I've never uncursed the cursed shield before. 256 seems like a big number, those negatives were pretty harsh, and for the most part I didn't even know how to uncurse it. The game is pretty easy without a paladin shield anyway so I never really felt the need to dig into how one would uncurse the cursed shield. Even worse, there's a cursed ring in the game that you can't uncurse in any way. So even if I was into trial and error on figuring this stuff out as a kid (and I was, don't get me wrong) there'd have been a decent chance I'd have tried the ring first and failed.
At any rate, most people suggest going to the starting island of the ruined world and fighting the things that instantly die for 256 fights. But that sounds boring. I'd rather just use the shield while I play the game! It turns out I can pretty easily work around all the negatives because of how awesome Setzer is! You see, his main attack (fixed dice) isn't based off of any stat at all. The damage is just based on his level and what you roll on the dice. So taking a big stat penalty for wearing the cursed shield doesn't phase him. Slow him down a little I guess, and makes his heals worse if somehow he's the one casting heals instead of chucking dice at people. Now, because I've been playing the whole game knowing how awesome dice are I've also been shirking skill-ups with Setzer's espers. Instead he's been getting stuff like more max health. And he's been using the exp egg so he's a pretty high level. Taking extra damage from spells doesn't really hurt him so much when he has like 80% more health than Terra does.
Oh, and all those negative status conditions? Setzer is wearing a pretty ribbon! The only thing he's hit with is condemned, and if I can't win a fight in 60 seconds I'll just have to use a life spell on him.
I've been giving it a go for a couple days now without really any troubles. I only have one concern, really... 256 is a really big number! I've just cleared out the magi tower and there's very little left to do beyond the final dungeon. I guess I could go futz around in Narshe some more and hope to figure out where Mog is. I also don't have Relm, Strago, or Gogo either. Part of me wants to just go smash Kefka's crazy little face in though. But I do want a paladin shield at some point...