The Demon's Souls Troll That Made Me Rage Quit

The Demon's Souls Troll That Made Me Rage Quit

It's been a long time since I've done this, but I have my limits! While playing Demon's Souls over the weekend, a player forced me to turn off my PlayStation 3. Screw off, Potato Marshal!

"Screw off" is the polite way of putting it. "F**k you" is what I actually want to say.

In preparation for Bloodborne, I've been sprinting through Demon's Souls as fast as possible. Dark Souls was my entry way into the series, and I'd been kicking around the idea of going backwards. It's the only Souls game I haven't played all the way through, and before Bloodborne enters my PlayStation 4, I'd like to have a holistic understanding of the series that preceded it.

Here's the thing. Since I streamed my Dark Souls playthrough and people dug it, I wanted to do the same thing with Demon's Souls. Streaming, however, opens you up to stream sniping.

Stream sniping is when people keep track of what you're doing via the stream and try to mess with you. In Souls, it's possible to "invade" another person's game while they're human. You become human after defeating a boss or using an item. The advantage of being human is that you have way more health, but crucially, it opens you up to player invasions. There's nothing wrong with this — it's part of the way Souls games are designed, and I knew it could happen.

What I didn't account for, however, was the persistence of a player named Potato Marshal.

My first encounter with Potato Marshall happened a few weeks ago. I'd heard rumblings about this player from a former colleague of mine at Giant Bomb, but brushed aside his warnings. How bad could it be? Worst case scenario, I'd get killed and have to play through a few areas again. If you're playing a Souls game, this is nothing new. Dying and repetition is part of life.

It turns out Potato Marshall had a few tricks up his sleeve.

There's a weapon in Demon's Souls called the scraping spear, and it's described this way:

A long spear with countless thorns on the tip.

It was forged from the Soul of the Demon "Phalanx."

It scrapes away at an opponent's equipment and lowers its durability.

The last bit is really important. This is not a weapon someone uses to defeat the towering monstrosities at the heart of Demon's Souls, this is a weapon equipped for the explicit purpose of trolling other players. You might not kill them, but you'll break all their equipment.

When Potato Marshall hopped into my game, I quickly learned what the scraping spear does.

The Demon's Souls Troll That Made Me Rage Quit

Everything on my character was now busted, and it was going to cost precious souls to repair. But since I died not far from a checkpoint and recently accumulated a bunch of 'em, it wasn't that big of a deal. A few minutes later, I was back at it, making my way deeper into the game.

Like clockwork, whenever I'd return to human form, Potato Marshal wasn't far behind. While he refused to pipe up in the Twitch chat room, he'd send me messages after our encounters. All of this, he told me, was because I decided to play the game as a royal. Remember when I wrote about how I was apparently playing Demon's Souls the "wrong way?" as a magic user?

Once I'd picked up on this, I purposely started killing myself whenever he invaded. Poof! Though fighting other users is part of playing Souls, you also don't have to put up with it. Throwing yourself off the nearest cliff is an easy way to remove anyone from your game.

That said, I refused to play the game offline because I wanted to encounter other players, and several times throughout my playthrough, I've had great one-one-one battles with people. I've yet to win a single battle against an invader, but it's thrilling to go back and forth with a human in a game otherwise designed to have you butting up against extremely powerful AI enemies.

The end of Demon's Souls third world features a queen at the top of the horrific Tower of Latria. Old and frail, she's unable to fight for herself, so the queen summons a defender. Rather than a regular boss encounter, however, she beckons another player from the world. It's an incredibly cool moment, as the game takes advantage of its passive multiplayer to provide a wholly unique boss. The possibilities are endless! If you die, a new player will be summoned, meaning none of your old techniques will apply to the fight again. It's so great.

As the summoning cut scene played out, it dawned upon me that Potato Marshal might appear. Sure enough, the game played the invasion message. Potato Marshall was waiting.

In a previous fight, Potato Marshall conceded his scraping spear was a dick move, and we battled on reasonable terms. I figured this would carry over, but I was wrong. Not only was he prepared to drag out the spear, he'd brought a brand-new toy with him: the soulsucker spell.

The Demon's Souls Troll That Made Me Rage Quit

What does soulsucker do to another player? It de-levels you, one suck at a time. Gaining a level in Demon's Souls doesn't happen all that often, especially once you're deep into the game. Losing a level is a terrifying prospect. In this case, I'd lost several levels before realising what was really happening. Potato Marshal was knocking me to the ground, forcing my character into a lengthy animation, knocking me down another level, and starting the process over again.

Worse still, Potato Marshal refused to kill me. He wanted me to suffer. Each one of his attacks would take off a bit of my health, but not enough to end the fight. If I stuck around much longer, it's possible I'd be losing significant amounts of levelling progress to this one fight.

Everything that's happening is possible because the developers allowed it to happen. Nothing Potato Marshal was doing constitutes cheating. Exploitative? Definitely. Against the spirit of the rules? Maybe. It certainly wasn't fun, and I feel zero regret over pulling the plug, but it's also a testament to the way From Software designed the Souls games. Players have power.

There's no option to quit, either. You stick around and fight, risking equipment and levels in the process, or turn off the PS3 and hope your save file isn't corrupted. I decided to turn it off.

The Demon's Souls Troll That Made Me Rage Quit

I disconnected my PS3 from the Internet, and fought the boss again. Rather than an exciting duel against another player, it was a boring NPC. But I slayed the demon, and moved to the next world. Potato Marshall couldn't stop me this time, but like Jason Voorhees, he'll be back.


    Potato Marshal needs to get a life. What a dick.

      I think the problem has been exacerbated by (1) the fact that there are *way* less people playing Demon's Souls nowadays, and you are more likely to run into this guy, and (2) back when the game just came out, fewer people realised or had the equipment for this kind of troll strategy. It sucks for the player, but I think it is largely due to the effluxion of time.

    I love pvp, and I enjoy full loot/equipment loss. it gives weight to death. on that note I do not like trolls. If we are playing a game, and you kill me and take my stuff, no biggie. corpse camping and going out of your way for the very purpose of ruining some ones day is just a dick move.

    I've thrown the controller numerous time in Dark Souls because of trolls invading. A fair fight in the game is amazing, but trolls are the only reason I choose to walk around hollow the majority of the time.

    Or you can just stay hollowed and then you won't get invaded.

      This is how I played by default. Been ages since I platinumed Demons Souls but I recall being hollowed meant you had less presence and could sneak better which is why I think I went with it.

      As for the whole not playing the game the right way? The souls games are cheap as hell with how it kills you. Any marginal advantage you can give yourself in order to win means you are playing the game at it's own game. If that means I stand at the top step and cast plague on the false king because he doesn't register my presence due to the game's coding then so be it. I'll stand at the portal and shoot the damn maneater with a bow to kill the first incarnation because fuck you, you can single hit me off the ledge, ill beat you in an equally cheap way.

      I'll be a magic user, and I'll carry a moonlightstone weapon too to ensure anything I need to melee will be hit with the full force of my magic stat.

      tl;dr. Cheap game requires cheap tactics. Play to win.

      Last edited 17/03/15 2:37 pm

        I see those 'exploits' as intentional. In a game like this they would almost have to be 'made' that way. As you say, you're playing by the same rules they are: cheap deaths.

      But you don't have full health in Demon's Souls and DS 2 when hollow, so it's a trade off that's hard for some to make.

        I also seem to recall that being in human or spirit form could affect tendency (now that was a difficult system to comprehend).

          Switching forms affected world tendency. Dying as human pushed the tendency towards black while using a stone of ephemeral eyes to turn back into human turns the world whiter.

          Probably. That system was so goddamned obtuse.

            Technically dying while in human form pushed the world towards black tendency but:
            You actually need to defeat a boss to push it towards White.
            So a world starts at 0.
            If you die as a human, it becomes -30.
            If defeat a boss it goes up by 30 back to 0. In order to get to Pure White World Tendency (PWWT) you need to defeat 4+ bosses from 0 without dying as a human. In order to get PBWT you need to die 4 times as a human from 0. If you are at PWWT and want to get to PBWT you need to die 7 times as a human. Which is why Stone of Ephemeral Eyes are so important.

            The problem with people understanding this system is that if you played online the game had a glitch where World Tendency didn't sync so it would reset fairly regularly and you would lose your WT.

            In order to plat i had to play the entire game offline so my WT wasn't destroyed each time i played.

        Once you get that ring that I forget the name of its pretty bearable!

    Thing is, the way the game is designed, you can just go do another area if someone trolls you a bit. Easy enough to separate.
    Being trolled while streaming is the big problem here, since quite literally broadcasting your every move does make you a bigger target. I'd hardly call that a major design issue though - the simple solution is to *not* stream...

    I play them all in offline mode, always have. On one level I can understand the appeal, on the other I enjoy the series too much to risk people ruining it for me.

      Yup. That's not a bad option. Only time I make an effort to stay on-line and human is when trying to co-op with a friend. Trying being the operative word.

      When the trolling gets rough I normally make a mad dash for the area boss. Other than being hollow it's the only sure fire way to lock out phantoms. (in Dark Souls, idk about Demon's)

      You missed out on the awesome hints people leave though. :(

        Good point. Mind you, after the number of play-throughs and the wiki they are probably superfluous at this point.

        I actually started playing one morning and forgot I was online - someone jumped out at me unexpectedly and I nearly had a bloody coronary!

    Or you could write an article about the troll. That will show them, they'll totally be upset that they got so much attention, because if there's one things trolls can't stand, it's attention from upset people.

      Also Patrick is confusing terms here. The player isn't a troll, he's a griefer.

      Terminology Bitches!

    It's a dick move but its part of the game, its like campers/spawn campers in my view. frowned upon but it is legit.

    It's nice to know he's sticking to his grief game after fucking with Brad Shoemaker repeatedly.

    Wow, what an ass. Just because someone doesn't play how "you're supposed to play" doesn't mean you go in and ruin their fun. You have no right to enforce how someone ought to play just because its good or even mathematically proven 'optimal' way to play. No one cares that you have a worthless life in which you must waste all your time being the best at a video game. Shove that epeen up your own asses elitists. Games are for fun, at least for people who live in something called Real Life.

    Last edited 17/03/15 9:00 pm

      You might as well just blame the developers. A spear that does durability dmg and a spell that delevels an opponent player? Guy played within the rules, you might not like it but it's pretty clear the developers intended that sort of gameplay from the design of those weapons and spell. Developers also gave a way out with offline mode so your not forced to play online.

    I like playing souls wrong I try to get invaded by griefers then smash them (or get smashed) with magic . Oh the hatemail I would get .

    Don't let the troll ruin it for you! He was probably just jealous because you're handsome :)

    All you have to do is go to your XMB and go to the list of people you've encountered, find potato marshal, block him and BAM no more potato head invasions!

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