Well, Dungeon Master had the oddest and most unsatisfying ending of any CRPG I've ever encountered. After I found the Firestaff--the relic on which my entire quest was based--I painstakingly made my way back up to the first level and to the dungeon doors. There, I encountered Lord Librasius, who took the Firestaff from me, declared he no longer had any need for me, and slaughtered all of my characters. That's it. End of game.
Well, let's do a quick GIMLET rating and call it a day.
I forgot to mention in yesterday's posting on combat that your characters can take injuries as well as hit point damage. Note how Nabi has bandages on his head, chest, and hand.
No! Just kidding! Part of me was tempted to end the posting here and see what you did in the comments section. I'm actually glad I did traipse all the way back up to Level 1 to get the alternate ending above, but of course that wasn't the "real" ending. I did win, though.
Level 12 turned out to be the last large, regular level. Getting through it was a struggle. It featured some of the toughest monsters found so far in the game, including armored knights, weird floaty creatures that I couldn't hit with normal weapons, and giant four-legged spider things. Except now that I've won the game, I can check a walkthrough and refer to them by their proper names as animated armour, materializers, and oitus. I have no idea where the author of the walkthrough got these names, but you don't make up something like "oitu" on your own.
The oitus weren't too hard, but the animated armour could take a hell of a beating and keep coming, and the only thing I had that could damage the materializers was the DES EW ("weaken nonmaterial beings") spell. Let that be a lesson, kids: don't drop the vorpal blades just because something more interesting comes along.
Fortunately, I was saved by what I can only imagine was a game bug: while being chased by the creatures on the level, I found a particular part of the hallway that they wouldn't pass. This allowed me to pound on them but step back when my health got too low, rest and heal, and resume my assault. I used the opportunity to strip my characters of weapons and build up their ninja levels.
At the end of the level, I had three RA keys, so I returned to Level 7 and used them to open the door to the Tomb of the Firestaff. The level was guarded by stone golems, but I was able to use the door trick to defeat them, though it took a long time. Ultimately, I made my way to the chamber of the Firestaff and picked it up.
Scrolls on the level gave me a basic sense of how to win the game. Together, they read:
The power gem is sealed in the mountain by a strange magical force. ZO KATH RA might create a plasma that could burn through the amalgam encasing the gem. Balance is the ultimate good. The Firestaff can restore balance or destroy it. Neither Chaos nor Order is truly balanced. The Firestaff can contain a being of pure alignment with its fluxcage. Once fluxcaged, a being can be transmuted by the staff, which should always be used for balance.
These scrolls confirmed my belief, stated in the first posting, that there is something amiss with Lord Librasius (Order). This was confirmed by my side-trip to the surface. After reloading from this trip, I used a hidden staircase at the back of Level 7 to head all the way down to Level 13.
Unlike the walkthrough I consulted (after I had won), I refuse to call the wingless fire-breathing lizard a "dragon."
On Level 13, I encountered a host of demons, black flame creatures (these were the things I closed my last posting with; they turned out to be easy: they can't move and die with a few DES EWs), and Lord Chaos himself. But after screwing around the level for a while and dying about six times, I couldn't figure out how to do anything with Lord Chaos, so I proceeded down to Level 14. There, I found a fire-breathing giant lizard. I defeated him in a long, long battle that involved a lot of ducking behind pillars to avoid his fire attacks. His death provided me with a bunch of "dragon steaks," which really hit the spot.
The lizard's lair was strewn with coins that I dutifully picked up, only to find that they (along with a number of other coins I'd been carrying since Level 3) had no value. Thanks, Dungeon Master!
At the back of the level, I found the Gem of Power encased in its magic sheathing. By touching it with the Firestaff, I fused the two objects and found that the staff now had a "fluxcage" option. Time to take on Lord Chaos!
I videoed my first attempt, which ended in quick death. I had no idea what I was doing, randomly firing fluxcages at him and trying to "fuse" him. The video below starts with me getting the Gem of Power and finishes with my last character feebly throwing things at Lord Chaos before dying in terrific pain.
This was the closest I got to defeating Lord Chaos for a while. When I returned to Level 13 after reloading, I couldn't get past the demons for what seemed like forever. They're very tough. I was only able to defeat any of them by hiding behind a door in the corner, opening it, firing off fireballs, and closing the door before they could retaliate.
Finally, I was able to get close to Chaos again, and I pretty much did the same thing I did the first time, only this time it actually worked. I turned on the video capture as soon as I realized something was happening, so here's that feed:
If you don't feel like watching it, the game ends with a cutscene showing Chaos and Order (where did he come from?) fused back together into the Grey Lord. The Grey Lord then destroys the Firestaff in the lava of the mountain, and somehow the resulting magic restores the buildings and foliage in the nearby town of Viborg, where members of the citizenry celebrate by doing back flips.
Left a mystery is exactly what happens to Theron and the heroes inside the dungeon. I guess we find out in the sequel, about 60 games from now.
Consulting a couple of walkthroughs, I see there were a few things I missed:
- My characters were mostly "expert" level in each class when the game ended, and I see that there were five more levels they could have progressed. I can't imagine how long it would have taken to do that, but as Georges noted in yesterday's posting, higher levels mean more options with weapons.
- I missed an "invisibility" spell that might have helped with the demons and Lord Chaos.
- There were a bunch of invisible pits on Level 12--I forgot to mention that. I could have made things a lot easier by luring the animated armours into them.
- If I had saved one of the magic freezing boxes for the end, I could have held Lord Chaos in place, surrounded him with flux cages, and defeated him quite easily. I used my last one on the dragon, unfortunately.
Let's GIMLET this game and move on to Faery Tale Adventure!