Saturday, April 10, 2010

Game 14: Wizardry III (1983)

Wizardry III is cheerfully indistinguishable from Wizardry or Wizardry II except for the specific dungeon. Everything else--graphics, controls, character classes and races, spells, and gameplay--are essentially the same. I say "essentially," because there do appear to be some new monsters, weapons, and armor. Instead of leather and chain mail, for instance, you have a "cuirass" and a "hauberk."

As with Wizardry II, you cannot create characters in Wizardry III; you must import them from one of the previous games. Unlike Wizardry II, when you import them, you do not keep your levels, experience and gold. Instead, the game resets you to level 1, explaining that you aren't really importing the characters so much as instilling their spirits in their descendants.

At least the game tries to come up with a plausible reason you have to restart at level 1.

The scenario is that the normally placid kingdom of Llylgamyn is suddenly experiencing volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, and storms. Your party of adventurers is tasked with climbing through the lair of the dragon L'kbreth to retrieve from her a mystical scrying orb that can reveal the source of the disasters.

In my first few hours of gameplay, I probably cycled through 50 characters. The game is much more difficult--at least on level 1--than the first Wizardry. 9 out of 10 battles killed at least one of my party members, forcing me either raise him, or (when I was broke) to go back and create a new character in the original Wizardry so I could export him. Needless to say, this made it difficult to advance any of the characters to level 2.

Nonetheless, I stuck with it, and ultimately managed to stabilize my party at character levels 2-4 while mapping the first level of the dungeon. The level has a few interesting features, including a "lake" that I cannot cross, and a castle surrounded by a "moat" (the graphics don't actually show you a moat , of course; the game just says it's there).

The moat is full of serpents called "moat monsters" that aren't too hard to kill and provide a decent bit of experience.

The castle is full of guards, but ultimately you get to a series of rooms, a couple of which have stairs upward. Before them is this cryptic message:

This sounds like you need both good and evil characters to proceed, but the game won't let you combine them in one party, so I'm not exactly sure what it means.

As I wrap things up for the night, I'm trying to decide if I'm going to continue with Wizardry III or not. On the one hand, I don't have a particularly good reason not to. On the other, since the gameplay is identical to Wizardry, I'm not sure I'll have anything much to blog about. I'll sleep on it and let you know after the weekend.

On a last note, someone has lovingly created a page devoted to the Wizardry series at:

He's uploaded character files that I could have used to give Wizardry II a second shot, but I've moved on from that. I checked out the walkthrough for Wizardry II and it doesn't sound like I missed much. I've got to stop browsing it before I accidentally spoil Wizardry III.

Later Edit: Party slaughtered on Level 2, created new party, party slaughtered again. Had enough with limited-save, permanent-death games. On to Phantasie.

Edit from 04 January 2015: Almost five years after offering this miserably short post on Wizardry III, I returned and finished the game. Continuing coverage picks up with this posting.


  1. I can't tell from the post, but you were *supposed* to be transferring in high level characters who had "accomplished" things in Wiz I/II. This boosted starting stats, and it wasn't hard to get characters with all 18s and significant boosts to starting hp (iirc; it's been awhile!). Not that I think it's worth it. There ares some interesting things going on in Wiz III but I'd rather play numerous other games in the series.

  2. The unfortunate thing is, all of my Wizardry I and Wizardry II characters had been killed, so I didn't have anybody left to transfer. I suppose I should have made backups, but that seemed like cheating--I think the game meant for death to be permanent.

  3. If you wanted to play through these monstrous creations forged of pure hate you could fire up an NES emulator. While most PC to NES ports are inferior the Wizardry series seems better. Still obnoxiously hard, but plausible to finish - unlike the old PC versions.

  4. >NES emulator

    Better idea: SNES. Wizardry 1-3 were collected for it in a package named Wizardry: Story of Llylgamyn, with prettier graphics.

  5. Yeah, after reading this I went and got the emulator versions of all of these old Wizardry games. I had Wizardry V back in the day, got pretty far but never finished it. I can see why looking at it again with an SNES emulator, the repetitiveness is... rough. The good news is they were tweaked to be POSSIBLE as opposed to "HAHAHAHA SUFFER, PLAYER FOOL!"

    The older ones were brutal and not a lot of fun to go back to imo. I've heard Wizardry VII is actually solid. I have Wizardry VIII, it's actually really good. Or should say "had", I broke one of the cds. Tragic, as they're rare now and tend to go for $40-$70. My only realistic hope is that there's some sort of reprint or Good Old Games style download available someday. I have an accident with one game cd is 10 years and of course it has to be the one game that's both great and can't be easily replaced.

    1. Funny, my copy of Wizardry VIII and my friend's copy of Wizardry VIII both had one of the CDs fail, and I have also never had that problem with any other game ... of course, that could be because there are not many other old CD games that I actually want to play again many years after putting them away for good, and therefore I would not know if other ones failed.

  6. Hmmm. I was trying to decide whether the Wizardry games were worth the pain, but I do have an SNES emulator so I will give the collection of 1-3 a try.
    I've been reading (and sometimes re-reading) your blog, CRPG Addict. I really appreciate your discussion of these games. Hopefully you will be able to continue at least through the early 90s games. Some awesome ones are coming up.

  7. My advice is not to be such a stickler for the rules as I was. If I had just backed up my character files (which I regard as "cheating" in this posting), I might have continued with Wizardry II and III to the end.

  8. Feel free to break your own rules. Nobody will judge you for it. After all they are 'your rules.'

  9. Wiz1 is doable without cheating, you can avoid death pretty easily, and you can spam level new characters on Murphy's Ghosts which are a set encounter on level 1 even though theyre level 10 monsters (albeit easy level 10 monsters).

    Wiz2 is not, you can only play with characters made in Wiz1 and they better be level 13+ or you will die. Even theen you will die often, sometimes you'll even skip straiaght from alive to lost.

    Wiz3 is like Wiz1 in that you start at level 1, but the first level dungeon is way way harder and no matter how careful and strategic you are you will die constantly gaining the first couple levels.

    Theres no way to beat 2 and 3 playing it straight unless you have winning the lottery level luck, so copy your saves!

    1. I think in this era a few things were true:

      * Playtesting for new players was almost absent
      * Designers still thought a "challenge" was very important, without much of a way to know how to temper that
      * People more or less assumed players would cancel sufficiently bad outcomes by manipulation (shutting off the cumputer, etc) -- heck the Bard's Tale manual outright tells you to do it.

    2. I feel like you could make an interesting essay about game mechanics that the developers designed with the *intention* that players would circumvent them. Animation canceling is a thing in a lot of modern games, originally accidental but now embraced by many devs. Like, reloading your rifle takes two seconds, but switching to your pistol and back takes one second and overrides the reloading animation, so the devs *expect* top tier players to reload twice as fast by hitting R and then switching weapons twice.

      Personally I find all of those obnoxious and immersion-breaking. The mechanics should be the mechanics. If the mechanics as written aren't satisfying to play, then *fix* them, don't just implement a "secret" workaround. But "pro" gamers seem to really like that stuff, as one more way to set themselves apart from the less experienced.

  10. Perhaps I had my general jazz playlist going, but I don't tend to listen to music while I play. I really only like to listen to music when I'm not doing anything but listening to music.

    Thanks for noticing, though. My parties almost always have some kind of theme, and hardly anyone ever comments.


I welcome all comments about the material in this blog, and I generally do not censor them. However, please follow these rules:

1. Do not link to any commercial entities, including Kickstarter campaigns, unless they're directly relevant to the material in the associated blog posting. (For instance, that GOG is selling the particular game I'm playing is relevant; that Steam is having a sale this week on other games is not.) This also includes user names that link to advertising.

2. Please avoid profanity and vulgar language. I don't want my blog flagged by too many filters. I will delete comments containing profanity on a case-by-case basis.

3. NO ANONYMOUS COMMENTS. It makes it impossible to tell who's who in a thread. If you don't want to log in to Google to comment, either a) choose the "Name/URL" option, pick a name for yourself, and just leave the URL blank, or b) sign your anonymous comment with a preferred user name in the text of the comment itself.

4. I appreciate if you use ROT13 for explicit spoilers for the current game and upcoming games. Please at least mention "ROT13" in the comment so we don't get a lot of replies saying "what is that gibberish?"

5. Comments on my blog are not a place for slurs against any race, sex, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or mental or physical disability. I will delete these on a case-by-case basis depending on my interpretation of what constitutes a "slur."

Blogger has a way of "eating" comments, so I highly recommend that you copy your words to the clipboard before submitting, just in case.

I read all comments, no matter how old the entry. So do many of my subscribers. Reader comments on "old" games continue to supplement our understanding of them. As such, all comment threads on this blog are live and active unless I specifically turn them off. There is no such thing as "necro-posting" on this blog, and thus no need to use that term.

I will delete any comments that simply point out typos. If you want to use the commenting system to alert me to them, great, I appreciate it, but there's no reason to leave such comments preserved for posterity.

I'm sorry for any difficulty commenting. I turn moderation on and off and "word verification" on and off frequently depending on the volume of spam I'm receiving. I only use either when spam gets out of control, so I appreciate your patience with both moderation tools.