In the last 24 hours, I've done two things that I hate it when I do:
1. Played so much of a game that I'm thoroughly sick of it.
2. Didn't keep careful notes while playing and now have to compose a long blog posting using memory fragments and random screenshots.
It's possible to overdose on even the best games. Phantasie III is one of those games without good stopping points. The action is fairly fast, and the puzzles are light. You almost always know exactly where you're going to go next, and there doesn't seem to be any reason not to do it now. Hours go by as you maneuver from one dungeon to the next. Suddenly it's dark--where did the day go? Suddenly it's midnight--where did the evening go? You head off to bed vaguely disgusted with yourself for not accomplishing anything else during the day.
And I'm prolonging it with blathering. All right, let me cover the story: when I last write, I was about to head off to the Dwarven Burial Grounds for Lord Kilmor's funeral. Oddly, when I got there, I was attacked at various places by dwarves and priests. I felt rather bad about slaughtering them all. The same thing happened in the Gnome Caverns a few hours later. I had a cordial talk with the Gnome King and he gave me a really nice bow, but I massacred hundreds of his followers in the corridors. A little suspension of roleplaying disbelief was necessary.
The funeral featured dignitaries from the previous Phantasie games, including Lord Wood of Gelnor, who I thought had died in the original game, but maybe that was his uncle. In any event, he's dead now. Nikademus showed up during the funeral, started tossing fireballs, and turned everyone (except me, oddly) to char.
I returned to the sage Filmon and received a mission to go to the Chamber of Chronis, keeper of time and dimensions, so he could send me on to the Castle of Light. But before I did that, I explored the Gnome Caverns, an apparently stand-alone dungeon unrelated to the main quest.
There I solved a couple of puzzles to obtain some nice bows. Bows, I find, do less damage than melee weapons, but in the hands of a character with a lot of skill, they greatly increase the chances of an immediate fatal wound. The random monsters in the Gnome Caverns were quite tough, and my characters all advanced to Levels 11-12. Oh, and in one of the rooms, a wizard took all my gold and experience for a powerful spell of summoning that he swore would help me later.
Also before visiting Chronis, I battled my way to the end of the long windy corridor in the Pendragon Town Archives, fighting progressively more difficult monsters. At the end was something called the Wand of Nikademus, which the game told me was cursed. Not the treasure I was hoping for. A scroll explained a little more about it:
This scroll becomes a lot more fun if you imagine Mickey Mouse's dog taking the wand from Nikademus.
Chronis turned out to be an absent-minded, narcoleptic sage who fell asleep while I was talking to him. In his chambers, though, I found the codes necessary to activate his device and transport myself to the Plane of Light, and the key I needed to admit myself to the castle.
I also came across a scroll that gave me a handy map of the planes. The Dungeons & Dragons influence is obvious.
On the Plane of Light, I found the Castle of Light and used the key to gain admittance. Here I made a possibly-fatal mistake. There were several statues of beings (a dwarf, an elf, and so on) in various rooms. My only options to deal with them were to leave them alone or to smash them, and since leaving them alone didn't sound like much of any adventure, I smashed them. It was only later, writing this blog and looking at my screen shots, that I realized Filmon had warned me that destroying anything in the Castle of Light was "terribly evil." He actually reminded me twice. Between the Gnome Caverns and finishing the Pendragon Town Archives, I forgot. Bollocks. It didn't seem to affect anything in the castle, but I don't know what I set myself up for later.
A fairy in the castle told me to go ahead and move on to the Castle of Dark, which I could access by doing the "opposite" of what I did to get on the Plane of Light. Getting to the Plane of Light required entering a code (C2+) in Chronis's machine. Since there's no "opposite" of C or 2, I figured it was just a matter of entering C2-, and I was right. But I forgot to stop by the Hall of Giants again and get the Key of Dark (it was in a room I couldn't access on my first visit), so I have to head back there.
Right now, all my characters are Levels 12-13 out of a possible 20, but boy has the leveling slowed down. None of them have leveled in the last 2 hours of playing. Meanwhile, the mystics that you find in every town tell me that my score is 43 and my characters are "average." I suspect this means I'm about halfway through.
Other miscellaneous notes:
- I owe the game an apology. Last night, I suggested that your ability to reset dungeons broke the role-playing immersion by allowing you to experienced fixed encounters over and over again. It turns out this isn't true (although it was in the first Phantasie). When I reset the Hall of Giants and returned to where I found Lord Kilmor's body, the game told me there was just a bloodstain there. Similarly, resetting the Dwarven Burial Grounds does not cause the funeral to occur again; I just found charred bodies.
- Money stopped being a problem 'round about the Gnome Caverns. I have hundreds of thousands of gold now. You know how I feel about that.
- The resurrection spell means I don't really "lose" characters any more, but I have a couple of them who are facing very low constitution because of repeated resurrections.
- I realized belatedly that there's a "change rank" option in combat that lets you assign party members to the front, middle, or rear. Those in the rear can still be hit by melee weapons of enemies, but apparently they have a lower risk. I have the resurrection spell now, but using it costs a point of constitution, so I'd rather stop having to raise my wizard. I put him in the rear rank.
- I've accessed some fairly powerful magic spells. Three of my characters have Fireflash IV, the real workhorse from the original game. There aren't a lot of area effect spells, but i just got Mind Blast IV, which works fairly well. Other entire-party spells like confusion, weakness, binding, protection, and quickness I haven't used much. You don't really see their effects, so I'm not sure how well they work.
- On the spells, my characters have what seems to me really low spell points. They're all around 15-18. That means I can cast four level 4 spells before I have to return to the inn to rest or use a magic potion (which, admittedly, are rather plentiful). That doesn't last very long in these dungeons.
- Some of the areas of the game I have to access by swimming across bodies of water. There's a swimming skill that reduces or eliminates damage.
Doing this in armor takes a lot of skill. Remind me to do a "special topics" posting on this when I get to Oblivion.
I have to focus on some work tomorrow, so I might play a little NetHack since it seems to lend itself better to short gaming sessions. Or, at least, it tends to force short gaming sessions upon you.