Sunday, March 27, 2011

Might & Magic II: Packed with Stuff

A "swamp dog" would be a good name for a cocktail.

Since I last wrote, all I've really done is explore the 16 x 16 dungeon beneath Middlegate, and I have so much stuff to tell you, I hardly know where to begin. Let me try to organize it as best I can.

1. The Plot

Aside from finding a few cryptic messages in the dungeons, I don't know that I did much to advance the main quest. As in Might & Magic I, I don't really have any idea what the main quest is. But I did ultimately find the wizard's golden goblet in the lair of some goblins, and when I returned it to him, he was suitably grateful: just scattered our reward money on the floor?

Nordon then sent me on to his sister, Nordonna, who had another problem to deal with:

Um...where are you?

Drog and Hyron turned out to be the "children" that the tavern tale indicated were at coordinates 0,15. I slew the kobolds and released them from their shackles.

"You're welc...hey! Come back here!"

When I returned to Nordonna, she told me that I could hire her sons at the inn. More important, she gave me another quest: to visit all the towns, donate at the temples, and return to the Feldecarb Fountain in Middlegate. I found this when I was exploring the town. The fountain asks if I want to "flick a farthing," and when I say yes, it says, "Fool! You have no farthing to flick!" Presumably donating at the temples gets me a farthing. I don't know if that is has anything to do with the main quest, but I was going to visit each of the towns in order anyway, so it squares with my existing plan.

Meanwhile, I picked up Drog (a barbarian) and Sir Hyron (a knight) at the inn, rounding out my party with eight members. The more members you have, the less experience each member gets, but this limitation is far outweighed by the value of having a couple more fighters near the front ranks. Now my archer and robber can hang back and snipe enemies with arrows while hardy fighters take the brunt of the attacks.

Disappointingly (to me), a return visit to Nordon has him ask me to retrieve the golden goblet again from the goblins in the dungeon. You can keep re-doing this quest indefinitely (but not Nordonna's). I'd rather have the sense that I was making permanent changes to the game world.

2. The Party

All my characters are about Level 8 at this point. I understand that Level 7 is the maximum level that characters imported from Might & Magic I can achieve. So the gameplay so far has basically just been to get my characters into fighting shape.

Oddly, the hirelings seem to both train and heal for free, which makes me wonder if a good strategy would be to create a single character of your own and then populate the rest of the party with hirelings (presuming there are that many). I'm not interested in doing that just to save some gold, but it's an intriguing thought.

Glendower lacks energy blast, eagle eye, Lloyd's beacon, protection from magic, acid stream, lightning bolt, and wizard eye.

My two spellcasters already have spell level 4 out of 9, which strikes me as a lot of advancement this early in the game. This is mitigated, though, by the fact that neither clerics nor sorcerers get all of the potential spells when they achieve new levels. They get some of them, and the rest they either have to achieve as quest rewards (I got "eagle eye" from Nordon) or purchase from a temple or the mage's guild. The guilds in Middlegate only had a few of them.

At first, I was astonished to see that Lloyd's Beacon, a powerful teleportation spell that I remember from Might & Magic VI, is only a second-level spell here! But then again, you have to find it. I suspect I'll need to get it from Lloyd himself, whose location was offered in a clue in the Middlegate dungeon: "Lloyd, of Lloyd's Beacon fame, was last seen in Corak's Cave at 7,11." I have no idea where Corak's Cave is, but I'm sure this spell will be a true reward when I find it.

Believe it or not, I did manage to get out of the dungeon after this. I had to resurrect 5 out of 6 characters, but I made it.

My characters have died a lot, both from tough enemies (see below), but also because my useless thief (do I ever get any other kind?) keeps setting off exploding traps. Aelfric reminded me that it was important to buy a thief's pick from the shop...

Item D.

...and I did so, but even after that, he only succeeds about half the time (which I guess makes sense given that his "thievery" skill is 50%. What is particularly annoying is that when you fail to disarm a trap, and it goes off, the trap remains active. It's not unusual for me to get hit three or four times by the same trap before I finally disarm it.

These priests and I became bosom buddies.

Still, we're making progress. I suffer full-party death in about 30% of my expeditions right now, as opposed to about 60% when I first started playing. Of course, I have yet to explore the great outdoors.

3. The Dungeon

My map of Middlegate dungeon.

For a dungeon of only 256 squares, Middlegate sure does pack a lot in it. There were two signposts, nine messages scrawled on the walls, the golden goblet, the captive NPCs, some buried treasure, 13 secret doors, and at least 29 squares with fixed encounters. There was one small zone of darkness and one 4 x 4 anti-magic zone with an encounter in each square.

An automap of the same dungeon.

I insisted on mapping it even though the cartography skill creates an automap for me. I could have relied on the automap to see where I still needed to explore, and just written down the messages. I may do this eventually, but for now it's just fun creating the maps. The automap, of course, doesn't note special encounters or messages or even secret doors.

The messages came in two types: 1) signposts, like this one...

...and 2) messages on the walls, like this one...

There were nine such wall-scrawlings, and eight of them seemed to be clues of some sort. I'm going to reproduce them below because I'm sure they're germane to the main plot:

  • "Green interleave. One letter after another, 2-1-3-4." This seems to have something to do with how I arrange mysterious messages that I'll undoubtedly find in other dungeons, just like in the first game (see item 3 in this posting).
  • "Seek Earth Encasement at 14,1 in the proper plane. Do walk about first." Earth Encasement is a Level 7 cleric spell that "encases the target in a field of earth, inflicting 40 points of damage per combat round."
  • "Win the blackest of battles, and you are halfway to an audience with Queen Lamanda." Lamanda is the current (failing) queen, and I suspect "blackest of battles" has to do with the Arena. I forgot to mention this yesterday, but the Arena is a section of Middlegate where, if you enter with a ticket, you fight some random group of monsters. The blacksmith's shop in the town sells green tickets, so I'm guessing I have to find a black ticket somewhere.

Even at Level 2, the old misers weren't much of a challenge.

  • "The moon phase of Cron lasts 60 days." Duly noted, though I'm not sure where that will come in handy.
  • "There are only 180 days per year." Ditto.
  • "Lloyd, of Lloyd's Beacon fame, was last seen in Corak's Cave at 7,11." I'm sure I'll need to find him to get the spell. I don't know where Corak's Cave is yet.
  • "Castle Pinehurst keeps a multitude of J-26 Fluxers at 7,6." No idea. Something about the time travel that the manual insists I will have to engage in?
  • "The water disc rests at 15,0 within Castle Xabran." I'm not sure why I'll need the water disc, but I'm guessing there's a disc for each element.
  • "Lord Haart's famous ancestor, the Long One, hangs out in the 8th century in E2 at 5,4." Also no idea, but I'm guessing by the time I have to time-travel, I'll know why.

I won't reprint all the dungeon messages as I play the game, but this gives a good sense of the variety. One important thing, though, for those of you thinking about playing: the messages only show up when you're facing the correct wall. There were at least two on the south side of east-west corridors--walls that you would otherwise have no reason to turn and look at. Thus, in exploring the dungeons, I have to make sure I face all four directions on each square to make sure I don't miss a clue.

My only real complaint is that the messages sort of break the role-playing immersion. First, the coordinates violate the fourth wall; do the citizens of Cron really think in terms of map squares and 16 x 16 coordinates? Second, who went around writing all of these messages on the wall in the first place, and how are they so informed about the secret locations of major treasures and people?

4. Enemies

Might & Magic II throws a large variety of creatures at you, almost all of them unique to the game. Part of the fun of the game--just like in NetHack--is learning all of their strengths, weaknesses, and special attacks; learning which creatures to heartily engage, and which to run from in numb horror.

No way am I fleeing from a cat.

I have a new hated enemy, even worse than the jugglers I mentioned yesterday: crazed dwarves. A funny thing happened when I first encountered a party of them. My blood chilled, and I immediately hit the "run" command, hoping to flee to safety. It was not to be:

Crazed dwarves have a special attack called "frenzy," which damages every single one of your party members--significantly--while simultaneously killing the dwarf. If I encounter a party of more than three of them, I might as well shut down and restart.

The mystery is how I knew, instinctively, that they were bad news. I just Googled them, and they seem only to appear in this game, not the first one or any subsequent ones. My best guess is that I did play Might & Magic II once before, probably when it was new, and while I don't remember any of the plot or gameplay, I still have a knee-jerk reaction to this enemy. If you ever read a newspaper article about a bald man running away, screaming, from an LPA convention, that's probably me.

Crazed dwarves aren't the only tough foe, though. You remember how I felt about sprites. Well, Might & Magic II has...drum roll...

Because ordinary sprites weren't enough of a pain in the ass.

Fortunately, their "curse" spell doesn't seem quite as effective as the regular sprites in I.

We should also talk about the number of enemies. In one place in the dungeon, I rounded a corner and was faced with a cave full of bats:

That's 60 creatures in one encounter. I wonder what the maximum is. I suspect I will find out.

Surprisingly, I'm already making use of CTRL-A, an auto-battle command. When you hold down this key combination, every character makes his best attack (or blocks if he or she is not in attack range). It's a way to quickly deal with low-level monsters--or even with high level monsters if you want to apply brute force tactics. I would give a lot for The Bard's Tale III to have this option.

5. Gear

In my review of the first game, I gave it a high score in the "equipment" category for the wide variety of stuff you could find, use, and wield. It just gets better in II. First, with eight characters to outfit, almost every major encounter yields an equipment upgrade.

Some of the weapons have spells attached to them. My archer is currently equipped with a "voltage bow," which not only shoots some damaging arrows but also casts the "lightning bolt" spell.

Technically, though, it should be an Amperage Bow.

There are also a lot of bits of equipment that cast a single spell. Magic herbs to increase spell points, healing herbs to restore hit points, flares to take the place of the "light" spell, rope & hooks to move you forward one square like the "jump" spell, attribute-boosting potions, sextants to stand in for "location," and so on. My only complaint is that these items don't work in anti-magic zones any more than spells do.

Unlike many games, the blacksmith's shop continues to be useful after Level 1. In addition to the generic selection of low-level gear that he sells, there's an option for "today's specials," with five items that change every day. Sometimes they're slings and short swords, but sometimes he has +4 weapons and armor. You can never tell.

It says a lot about the game that I can get this much material out of a single 256-square dungeon crawl. The Might & Magic games are just packed with stuff. Practically ever corridor has a clue, a special encounter, or a quest item. Every house in the city has a quest, or a skill to learn, or an NPC, or some other reason for the house to exist. Again, contrast this to The Bard's Tale games, which have dozens of houses, only about four of which have anything interesting in them. You never feel like you're just slogging along in Might & Magic; you're always finding interesting things.

Onward to the next city!


  1. Your last point is truly the most important thing for any game designer to realise in my opinon. There's no point in creating a large world, unless there are things to do in it.

    Sounds like this game is gonna be a good one. If I didn't have so many other games to play, I'd consider getting these from

  2. Though II is the only game with crazed dwarves, there are mad dwarves in M&M4. Maybe that's where you remember them from?

  3. I thought I HAD looked at every wall in that dungeon, but I completely missed the clue about the Long One, which is something I can use right about now.

    You mentioned large battles - I've had one where I fought 150 lepers, and got 38000 experience points for it. I was a little surprised to be rewarded so well for murdering an entire leper colony.

  4. I think 255 is the max number of enemies. Fortunately there are spells that can hit those "off screen".

    Oh, and beware of Cuisinarts. They will chop, slice and dice you.

  5. I remember that leper encounter. Wasn't there also one leprechaun (possibly spelled leperchaun) in the bunch?

  6. I just did a replay of M&M3 last week, and it's fun to see how those different concepts start to flesh out in M&M2 (skills, spells, writing on walls...).

    I also agree with what someone else said on the first post, in that most of the Might & Magic games seem like remakes of each other : it's always the same scenario, your world is a spaceship (you uncover hidden mysteries...), your party goes on doing 2354 different quests without a clear main story, map is divided in elemental areas, etc.

    This doesn't stop the games from being fun and addictive though.

    If 2 is like 3, keep all those hints handy, they are either : a) essential for critical plot puzzles solving or b) lead to optional treasure/experience/skills boosts/etc.

  7. Say, I have a question. It's for anyone really but I think Mr Addict would have a unique perspective on it. Something that annoys me trying to start CRPGs is that I have little idea how the game will use the rolled stats and skills, so do you restart a lot, or read guides, thus ruining some immersion, or just struggle through with undoubtedly weak characters?

    I examine the pre-made characters if there are any, but it doesn't help much. Even if I were to read the manual from front to back before starting I'd still not have practical knowledge.
    For example speed is probably the most important stat to start with in Daggerfall, for fast hitting. Megatraveller and Twilight 2000 have a massive amount of skills, half of which aren't even used in the game. I'd given up and later returned to Morrowind about 5 times before I understood what I needed and made a decent character.
    This might be considered power gaming by some, but I consider it playing characters as they were intended. I've occasionally even resorted to hex editing so as not to restart.

  8. FYI, too many hirelings are a bad idea, as when they gain levels, they charge more per rest. This gets expensive very fast.

  9. "My archer is currently equipped with a "voltage bow," which not only shoots some damaging arrows but also casts the "lightning bolt" spell."

    I think this should have been punctuated with an exclamation mark. I mean, come one, that is pretty darn cool! But's that's just me. And I like bows that shoot lightning bolts in addition to damaging arrows -- almost a cool as the bow from the old D&D cartoon. "Ranger!" FTW!

  10. @Qwasqaws: I have this problem often mid-CRPG when there are skill points to allocate. Often there are 'useless' skills so I don't want to waste points, leading me to a skill point paralysis where I might spend half the game hoarding skill points.

  11. So great to read this one! I'm working my way (slowly) through MM6 for the first time right now, and--as Georges noted--it's fascinating to see how elements originate and evolve in earlier iterations of the game. Wow could I use Lloyd's Beacon currently, though; tramping around the MM6 game world on foot is getting a little old ...

  12. Anybody have an experience with playing this game on the Sega Genesis? The graphics are nearly identical to the CRPG's pics. It's been a solid 10 years since I played this on that platform, and I don't think I ever beat it, but my guys were uber-high level.

    I have a spare cart (I don't want to erase my old guys who are very high level) that I may break out and start over... thanks for re-preaking my interest in this lil gem.

    I also remember getting very far in MM1 for the NES a few years back but never finishing that either. I consider myself a Senior RPG'er, but find Might & Magic games very difficult and very long.

    I have both of these complete in the box for DOS, but my Sega Genesis will fire up tonight!

  13. RJ--I played this extensively on DOS and on the Genesis. In recent years, I have played more on Genesis. It is a very faithful port, and streamlined in some ways (I don't think DOS ever showed you spell names [?]) but clunky in others (it doesn't display pluses on magical items). Still, it works very well.

  14. Wow, this game looks like one I might try. You have sparked my interest a bit. I have two games I want to beat first, and if I am still impassioned enough by then I will play MM2 (the best version I can find). The only part about it that discourages me is the "yet another pointless death" that the game's enemies seem to provide you plenty of (guess I'll just have to hope for the best).

    PS. I got the address wrong for Final Fantasy 3's (which came out 1990) rom, though the Nintendulator one should still be right. Here is the correct web address for the rom:

  15. There's an in game "cheat" in M&M6; I put cheat in quotations because you can have a TPK really fast if you're not quick. In New Sorpigal, find a scroll hidden in the outside wall of one of the houses. It's a "fly" spell. Then, use it to go to the second floor of a certain building (I don't remember which one, exactly). When you enter the second floor, it transports you to an area with about a zillion dragons. You have to move quickly through a door nearby, which leads into the "New World Computing" offices. There are ways to get lots of gold and XP there.

  16. Thanks for the tips, everyone. Qwasqaws, to answer your question, I generally just like to feel my way through it and use my best judgment, even if I ultimately end up making mistakes. It's rare to find a game so punishing that you can't find a way to win even with the weaknesses conferred by making bad skill choices.

    I remember the first time I played Morrowind, I played a knight and I found I was hardly ever leveling up because I didn't use half of the skills. So I re-started and made a custom class for which I picked the skills I was most likely to use: light armor, acrobatics, long blade, alchemy, etc. I leveled up so fast the game stopped being challenging. I'm just saying that sometimes it's more fun--and a better "role-playing" experience--to live with a weakness.

    cavalier, the odds that I'll remember that in six years are low, so feel free to remind me when I get to MM6.

    1. Ah, the innocence of youth. Six years to MM6, eh? Well, at least you're finally on to MM3.

    2. If I hadn't dropped the "DOS-only" rule, who knows?

  17. Your posts help remind me of the things I used to really love about CRPGs when I was younger. A number of these qualities have disappeared from most games these days (e.g. actual exploration, interesting equipment, the possibility of dying, etc.).

    I only ever played MM1 on the C64 ages ago but I picked up MM1-6 on GoG awhile back but haven't yet started them in any real way. Your enthusiasm for the series is making me anxious to dig into them.

  18. Morrowind still sounds better then Oblivion were you want to pick a fighter class if you really want to be a mage, so that you don't level up too quickly.

  19. True! I found that out in my recent X-Box replay. I chose skills I was least likely to use as my primary skills so that I could control when I leveled up. Takes the role-playing out of the game, really.

  20. Have to say I really enjoy reading your blog.

    On the Morrowind/Oblivion leveling system, I agree that it is easy to take the role playing out of the game by taking little used skills to control leveling, but you can just as easily choose the skills you use as your main skills for role playing. I actually view this as a strength as it gives you more options on how to play the game.

    Personally, I base my primary skill selection off what I plan to use for that character. Hell, I often choose one of the preset classes, as I enjoy the role playing aspect and can't justify having skills I don't use as my major skills.

  21. Speaking of Morrowind, I've just started replaying the game again, only this time with a bunch of mods. One of them changes the leveling system so I can pretty much just ignore leveling entirely.

    Skills increase as I use them, and as they increase, so do my attributes (with each skill affecting a number of different attributes, though to different degrees, not just one). And my level, which increases so invisibly that I don't even get a message when it goes up, only affects loot and enemies.

    I've got to say that it's kind of refreshing not to be micromanaging this. When I played it before, I had to be so careful not to level up too fast (especially since I'm so very bad at "real-time" combat). Well, I'm not too far into the game this time, so we'll see...

    P.S. I'm not saying, necessarily, that the game should have been developed this way originally. But it sure gives a fresh take on an older (and fondly remembered) game.

  22. I don't recall that "Morrowind" had a leveling problem. There are tough enemies right from the beginning, and easy ones all the way through the end. And if you don't create a custom class that uses the most common skills, you shouldn't end up leveling overly fast. What am I forgetting?

  23. Do people actually play the ready-made classes? I've NEVER played a game with a ready-made class or ready-made character when a custom option was available. It just never occurred to me.

    But in Morrowind, some skills are very easy to raise compared to others. Athletics is almost impossible not to raise. And even a low-level character can quickly get to 100 in Alchemy (while providing a nice source of income, too).

    If you choose those kinds of skills as "major skills," you might well level up without your combat skills keeping pace. Well, that's a problem for someone as inept at "real-time" combat as I am, anyway.

    Also, on my first play, I kept track of which skills I was increasing (even the minor and miscellaneous skills), because that affected the maximum stat gain at level-up. I just didn't want to get to a higher level to find that my strength or agility hadn't kept pace.

    I'm actually leveling up a lot quicker this time than I did back then, but I don't have to micromanage any of this. (Well, not much of it. I don't want to increase Alchemy to god-like levels, since raising ANY skill affects leveling, but that just keeps me from exploiting it. I still use Alchemy, as necessary.)

    Maybe it's just me, but I DID micromanage leveling when I first played the game. And I'm just having a lot of fun with the game while skipping all that this time.

  24. I read a book, Swords & Circuitry, maybe, that had a developer interview where The Long One was mentioned. I believe there is some sort of joke associated with that encounter.

  25. I know this comment is a few months old but I just discovered this super awesome amazing blog and started reading the posts. I have not read all so maybe the point of my comment has been mentioned previously but well... M&M2 was probably the first ever game I bought for my computer and it remains a favourite until today, yes I still play it sometimes. The game is huge, really huge. And sometimes way too complicated also.

    But what I wanted mostly to point out is one very important detail that (as a young gamer then) had and still has me amazed and in love with this game.... the map!
    Huh? Map ? But most other games have maps, you will say! Let me explain, when CRPGAddict wondered about Corak's Cave I thought the obvious... why doesn't he look it up on the game map ? Because it's there! But not only this! I challenge you, take a look at the picture of the map in CRPGAddict's introductory post. You will see a typical fantasy map, maybe overdrawn with a strange ship-wreckage in the sea, swords drawn on mountain ranges or in forests, some beasts in the desert and so on. You know what, it's all there!! If you see something on the map, it's in the game, simple as that. For me, as a starting cRPG gamer this was beyond my wildest imagination. This game is huge, so huge that I had to wait for many years before I had a chance to play something similar in scope and size in the series of Baldur's Gate or the Elders Scrolls.
    And that's all I wanted to say.

  26. No problem, Antonakis. I see all comments, even on old postings. I'm glad you like the blog.

    I think the map is awesome, too, but I couldn't find a version that had a high enough resolution that I could pick out specific features, like Corak's Cave. Still, I lament that games don't come with maps any more. I think the Elder Scrolls are the last ones carrying that torch.

    1. While you personally are likely aware of this, for the benefit of anyone else reading this who is not up on the Kickstarter scene these days--thanks to skipping publishers, CRPG studios are bringing back physical game maps with a vengeance these days!

  27. A bit late, but here's a larger map of CRON:

  28. I'm late to reading through M&M2, as I found your blog after you played this favorite of mine.

    I just wanted to point out with hirelings, they level up "for free", but their cost in gold per day goes up as they level up. Think of it this way -- they pay their own way for level-up and just need your time, but they also demand more pay if they are more skilled fighters. In that way, the economy seems pretty balanced.

    Also, with regard to level-ups, as you may have noticed, your hit points gained depend on the training center you train at...the more expensive training centers provide more hit points per level. I found that system pretty nifty for a game of this era as well.

    1. I knew about the hirelings--I think I mentioned that later on--but I'm not sure I ever realized that the hitpoints-per-level varied with the training location. Thanks for the note!

  29. Really late to this discussion (and the entire blog, which I'm enjoying), but in answer to your question:

    Second, who went around writing all of these messages on the wall in the first place, and how are they so informed about the secret locations of major treasures and people?

    The ending of this game and information we learn from and about Sheltem in later games does provide an answer to this question.

  30. Part 1:

    OK, spoilers for anyone who cares, and I'm working off memories from back when these games first came out. It's entirely possible that some of this was my own recalcitrant brain filling in back story into the cracks between the limited hints given within the game.

    All of the worlds in MM 1-5 (the situation for 6-8 is less clear) are artificial constructs being used as generational colony ships by an unseen race known as the Ancients. The colonists don't know that they're on a ship. JVC was apparently inspired by the Star Trek episode "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky", which is directly referenced in the first game (and has a similar plot line.) Some of these earlier games eventually put the player into the guts of the ship, where they will encounter robots and find ray guns.

    The ancients used artificial intelligences in android form to watch over both these worldships and the planets which were their destinations. The guardian of the world of Terra, the destination of at least one of the VARNs (and perhaps CRON itself) from the first two games is an android named Sheltem. However, Sheltem has malfunctioned (either spontaneously or as a result of Kreegan sabotage; it's never made clear) and his programming as the guardian of Terra (keeping it secure for its eventual colonization.)

    (Note - the Kreegan are the "demons" of the Heroes of Might & Magic series, but they're actually hostile extraterrestrials rather than classic evil otherplanar beings.)

    Sheltem comes to regard the colonists heading his way as invaders. He travels to VARN in the first game and CRON in the second with the goal of flinging the various nacelles into the local sun. However, apparently due to vestiges of his original programming, he can't do so without without providing a potential way out for the colonists. He refers to these as "tests" or "challenges" in his spoken into to the M&M 3. The messages on the walls (and elsewhere) are part of Sheltem's tests - his programming requires him to make it possible for the colonists to succeed.

    Between the player's efforts and the work of Corak (either the guardian of the original game's VARN or a troubleshooter sent out once the system realizes that Sheltem has gone rogue), the tests are passed, CRON is saved (though the original game's VARN may have been incinerated, I don't remember), and its inhabitants go on to colonize Terra. Sheltem again tries to destroy them there, which is the topic of the third game.


  31. Part 2

    Things were a little different in games 4 and 5 - the ship itself morphs into a spherical planet once it reaches its destination star. (Note that at this point, Sheltem has gone completely off its rocker - it's no longer protecting Terra; it just seems to want to ruin the Ancients' plans for the heck of it, which suggests Kreegan sabotage.) That would make it either a really big ship or a really small planet. Since Corak and Sheltem are both destroyed at the end of 4 & 5, games 6-8 appear to take place on a world that has already been colonized.

    The idea of generational ships has a long background in classic science fiction, before almost every author decided to use faster than light travel instead. The degeneration of the colonists (physical, intellectual, moral and/or social) was a frequent theme. I decided that the Ancients set up their world ships to provide constant challenges to the colonists to keep them from going soft. Magic could simply be the manipulation of technologically-provided energy fields, although there isn't really any explanation for divine magic (unless part of the Ancient's experiments involved religious engineering, in which case various programs residing in the ships' computers could take on the role of gods.)

    Well, that was a bit long-winded, wasn't it? I hope I answered your question; please let me know if I didn't. As a side note, I actually finished Wizardry 4 when it came out. Reading your posts about it, I'm shocked that I did - I have orders of magnitude less tolerance for frustration in my old age (ok, middle age) compared to what I had as a teen.

    1. I shouldn't have asked if I didn't want to know, but I can tell just from a scan that this is so full of spoilers, I don't want to read it yet!

  32. MSX 2 has the best version of this game so far. Unfortunately, it's Japanese though. But Monsters, spells, items and commands are still in English. I was able to progress a lot on this version because of that. Then I beat this game several years later after beating the PC version.
    It's worth a try!


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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.