Wow. Sit down for this one. I just won Wizardry. Trust me, I'm as surprised as you are. I thought it would take all night. My characters were only Level 11--I didn't even have the top level of spells yet.
The first thing you have to understand about how this happened is that for all the mapping you do, it's frightfully simple to get to the end game. Once you have something called a blue ribbon, which which lets you use the elevators, you can go all the way down to Level 9 in about 15 moves. And once one party has the ability to get the blue ribbon, it can get multiple copies of it, holding some in reserve with dummy characters for new parties. Fortunately, that's what I did.
After you get to Level 9, it's exactly five moves and one battle to get to the chute that dumps you down to Level 10. From there, in theory, you make your way through the level to the evil wizard Werdna.
How did I win the game so fast? It was all thanks to my useless, stupid thief. You see, the monsters on Level 9 aren't all that hard, and some of them are giants, which give absurd amounts of experience points for little effort. After I achieved level 11 with my characters (which took almost all day), I figured I'd just hang out on Level 9 slaying giants until I reached level 15.
Well, I accidentally wandered onto the invisible chute to Level 10. I was going to head for the nearest teleporter (Level 10 is full of them) to return myself to the town, but I was attacked immediately by a party consisting of one priest. I dealt with him with no problem.
The priest left a chest, and my idiotic thief identified the trap on the chest as a poison needle, so I tried to disarm it. As usual, my thief was wrong--the trap on the chest was a teleporter. Teleporter traps, as you might expect, teleport you to a random place on the same level. In my case, it teleported me directly into the lair of Werdna!
Werdna came at me with a vampire lord and three vampires. I started attacking him with everything I had. By the time I realized I might win, and thought to record it, I was halfway through the battle, but the video below shows the rest.
At 00:25, I kill the remaining vampires with some high-level spells, leaving only Werdna. I assailed him with fighters and powerful area effect spells. There are a lot of pauses in here as I try to figure out the best spells to use. Werdna whacks me with a MADALTO at 01:30, killing two of my characters, but at that time he's pretty weak, and my bishop kills him with a very weak MOLITO. I get the Amulet of Werdna.
At 02:25, you see me try to raise one of my dead characters--it never feels right to win the game when some of your characters are dead--but as usual it goes wrong and he turns to ash. Then I spend about a minute trying to figure out how to get off the level before I realize that I have to use the Amulet of Werdna to teleport myself. I haven't used teleport yet--it's one of the last spells you get, and I never got it--so it took me some time to figure it out. But ultimately I return to the castle and get the coveted "you won" screen at 03:50.
For reasons I don't understand, only two of my characters are around at this point, and I spent a few seconds trying to heal the others before saying screw it, I won the game. And I never had to map Level 10. As much as I'd like to do that and get those last spell levels--I really wanted to have the experience of clearing out multiple groups of monsters at one time with a TILTOWAIT spell--I know that upon my first death, I'd get frustrated and move on--so I think I'll do that preemptively.
It helps that there's only one dungeon in Wizardry and the dungeon is relatively simple to navigate. If Wizardry had been the size of, say, Might and Magic VII or Neverwinter Nights and insisted on permanent death with no reloading, I wouldn't have lasted very long.
As I said in my introductory post, I like games that are a little difficult. And when they aren't difficult enough, I make them more difficult by forcing myself to save only once per screen/level or something like that. But Wizardry goes a bit too far. I'm glad that its attitudes towards death and saving did not propagate to later CRPGs.
But let's give Wizardry the credit that it deserves. It is, as far as I can tell, the first CRPG to feature:
- Multiple characters in a party
- Experience points and levels the way we think of them in CRPGs today
- Multiple foes at the same time
- A complex magic system (on both the sending and the receiving ends!)
- Separate spells for mages and priests
- Tactical combat
- Multiple types of items--weapons, armor, helms, accessories--that you can find and wield.
- Items that must be identified
- Cursed items
- A full list of D&D-style races and classes
- Classes restricted based on ability scores
- Alignments (I could be wrong about this)
- The ability to change classes (which I didn't do)
Many of these features, of course, are derived from the pen-and-paper role-playing games (primarily Dungeons & Dragons) that existed in the era, but that's the point: Wizardry proved that complex D&D style role-playing could be adapted to a computer environment.
As a landmark in the history of CRPGs, it was fun and interesting to play. I'm not sorry I did. But neither am I sorry I played it only once.
On to Telengard.
One Last Edit
I was closing out my map file, and I suddenly realized why the architecture of Level 9 struck me as so weird: the creator of the game put his initials in the map: RJW. I think I remember something like this in Might and Magic I.