Sunday, June 20, 2010

Bard's Tale II: Waiting for It to Get Difficult

Yes, yes: legions of horrific undead. .

Okay, so I followed y'all's advice and kept my Bard's Tale I characters. To make it at least somewhat challenging, I ditched all their equipment. I changed my two spellcasters to the new "archmage" class, bought some basic swords and armor (the shop in every town is called "Garth's," just like in Skara Brae), and set out...

...and promptly got bored. The game threw all kinds of monsters at me that couldn't even begin to touch me. The critter I summoned didn't even take a hit during the three hours it took me to map the wilderness.

The "wilderness" is a 48 x 32 area with six cities, a handful of huts, and dozens of trees that serve in the basic capacity as dungeon walls, forcing you to navigate around them. The cities are all named after ancient Greek metropolises: Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi, and so on.

As usual, I mapped it in Excel.

One of the huts, incidentally, holds the "Temple of Narn." I have no idea what I'm supposed to do here--I'm sure it becomes clear later--but I hope it has something to do with G'Kar.

"What do you want?"

The game manual told me to seek out the Sage's hut and ask the Sage about the Tombs. The Sage required a bit of a bribe, but I managed to get a hint from him to visit the city of Ephesus. This led me to my first dungeon; I am currently mapping level 2 and still haven't had a decent stand-up fight.

The basic trouble with The Bard's Tale II is that it's too much like The Bard's Tale, just bigger. So far, I'm encountering copious monsters, messages scrawled on dungeon walls, teleporters, traps, zones of darkness, anti-magic zones, magic mouths, and everything that I already experienced a couple of months ago. Since I don't even have the satisfaction of character development to go along with it, this game promises to be fairly tedious.

One good thing, though: there's an archmage spell called BASP ("batch spell") that simultaneously casts all of the buffing spells (levitate, sorcerer's sight, greater revelation, shield, and magic compass) at once. That saves a little bit of annoyance.

Expect a lot of "special topic" postings as I play this one.


  1. So why didn't you start with a fresh party if you knew upfront that the game would suck if you are so overpowered

    1. The game seemed specifically designed to import the BT1 party. I tried to take a middle path by importing my BT1 party but dropping all of their equipment and making them start over with iron swords and such.

    2. I agree with our host here. BT2 was a bit confused about how to straddle new vs established players.

      New players had a grindy slog in the starter dungeon with a supposed acceleration of an XP boost reward on completion, but most players tend to find it impossible to complete the dungeon until after the boost expires (you're too high level!)

      Meanwhile players who had ground out a bit of power in BT1 (levels do help beyond hitpoints btw, saves scale with levels though the manual doesn't tell you this) and roll into BT2 with level 25 characters decked out in Diamond gear and spectre snares won't find a challenge (beyond deduction, puzzles, and mapping) until maybe the 3rd or 4th dungeon.

      It doesn't help that the game is too long for most players as well.

      Oh well!

    3. The game was balanced for new characters building up level in the starter dungeon. I don't at all agree that the starter dungeon was a grindy slog; in fact I think it was one of the best dungeons in the whole game.
      BT2 had lots of great dungeons, and if it wasn't for the insane frequency of random encounters in real time, I'd happily replay it.

    4. I'm in the starter dungeon right now!

      I mapped the entire first level in inkscape myself, having lost my maps long ago. The next level is still too dangerous, and I can't even act on the hint to use phase door. Grind time!

      As for the crazy encounter rate, it's unfortunately well know that the PC version had timing problems that causes this, so you basically have to play the Apple II or C64 to get that to work right. There's a lot of other bugs specific to the 16 bit ports as well, so if you do care to revisit it, I'd suggest you play the 8-bit.

  2. The book of G'Quan is located in the Temple of Narn.

  3. 'Garth's' must be a franchise. He's like Colonel Sanders if the Colonel sold cold, deadly steel instead of hot, indigestible chicken.


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