Saturday, April 16, 2011

Might & Magic II: Castles and Quests

This didn't end well.

My exploration of Cron has not been going so well. On every map, I kept stumbling into fights that were way beyond my ability, whether a trio of Cuisinarts, 250 cat corpses led by a "Cat from Hell," various high-level elementals, impossible-to-hit undead, or a pile of "cosmic sludge."

My characters experimented briefly with L.S.D.

Ultimately, I decided I was approaching it the wrong way. Working my way systematically through each map, in order, was poor role-playing. The thing to do, rather, was to explore the game world by terrain feature. Naturally, real characters would walk the roads and visit the various towns and castles first. Thus, after a particularly hard battle with a "Jouster" that left my party slaughtered, I shook myself off, re-started in Middlegate, and headed out the front door to fully explore the road network.

The path east from Middlegate took me to a ferryboat crossing, which I paid even though I could have used "Water Walk." It ultimately worked its way south, through maps I had not yet explored, where the path forked, with the easternmost heading towards Sandsobar (where I had been) and the southermost towards Castle Hillstone (where I had not).

My normal inclination was to explore the castle much like any dungeon, following the rightmost path and mapping in detail. But I decided to do this one in more of a role-playing spirit, and thus when I saw two doors, one which said "No entry!" and one which said "Slayer's Palace," I took the latter. I worked my way down the corridor that seemed most likely to lead to the ruler's throne room, passing a horribly unfunny jester along the way.

I actually miss Chuckles.

In no time, I was before Lord Slayer in his throne room. "Heads of monstrous beasts" adorned his walls, and he wanted me to collect more. Offering me a choice of quests at four levels (page, squire, knight, lord), I got a quest to find and destroy a Crazed Dwarf. That shouldn't be too hard. Although I don't know of any certain location for them, I remember encountering them in Middlegate's dungeon.

Of course, I couldn't leave it at this: I needed to fully explore the castle. And this is where the role-playing broke down a bit. In corridor after corridor, I encountered packs of Castle Guards and mercilessly slaughtered them--they left me no choice, attacking the moment I stepped into their squares. But it was important to explore, because at one point I found a N-19 Capitor, which I need for...something.

Oddly, this didn't seem to affect the lords' dispositions towards me.

Let me back up on quests. This was the first official quest I had received, and this is only possible because one of my characters has the "crusader" skill, which allows quests to be bestowed upon the party. One of the oddities of both this game and its predecessor is that once you have been awarded a quest, you can't accept any others until it is completed. Fortunately, if you get a quest that proves too difficult, helpful guards in each of the castles...

...sell "Uncle Spudly's New and Improved Quest Removal Elixir," which does what it suggests, allowing you to get a new quest from the same lord or a different one. This would be helpful if, for instance, I had trouble tracking down a crazed dwarf. From a story standpoint, it makes no sense, of course, and this gets back to what I was saying in my third posting about the game about it not taking itself seriously. While I welcome humor in games, I don't welcome goofiness, and Might & Magic II, while offering excellent gameplay, is simply full of goofiness like this.

I just hope he didn't mount the head on the wall.

It didn't take me long to find and kill a crazed dwarf, and when I returned to Lord Slayer, I got 4000 experience and a new quest to find a Bonehead. I know I've encountered them before, but I can't remember where, so I just continued exploring.

My travels also brought me to a different castle, Woodhaven, and it was much the same. There, the lord also offered four levels of quests, only in his case it was to retrieve specific items, not to kill monsters. In both castles, I found an imprisoned bishop, and the colored keys I'd bought in towns freed them from their chains. Although both granted me experience for freeing them, a note indicated that I'd have a lot more experience if I'd been a "triple crown winner" of the bishop's color. I expect this means I have to win three arena battles of each color. I hope the bishops are re-imprisoned when I return; otherwise, I've missed out on a lot of potential experience.

Each castle also had a dungeon that I haven't yet explored.

At one point, in Castle Hillstone, I fought my way through an entire hall of monsters and got this cryptic message. I have no idea what it means, but I think I got it, under similar circumstances, in other Might & Magic games. I'm afraid of spoilers if I try to confirm.

More goofiness.


  1. Have you really gotten no guidance in where you are supposed to go in the game? Or are you just avoiding it?

  2. If it's any consolation old CRPG games start being actually playable around the mid 90s. At the rate you're going you should be having fun within a year or so! Two tops.

  3. Bollocks. I didn't mean to post this yet. I guess I'll have to do the rest as Part 2.

    Anon, I'm not sure what you're talking about. Have you read the rest of my blog? I find CRPGs of this era VERY playable, and I've been having constant fun for the past year.

  4. Just wait until you get to Ultima V. Starting around Ultima V, the Ultima series strove to rid itself of a lot of its past silliness and concentrate on being a world to itself with consistent world rules. Of course, I am biased though.

  5. Also, Omega is coming soon? Is that the game by Origin Systems released in 1989? If so, that game is DEFINATELY not an RPG by any stretch of the term.

  6. yeah, really just roleplay the game. The world is open, explore, but also realize you will get in over your head. You can explore more freely when you are high level and have good gear, but even at the highest levels, there are unwinnable battles. Roll with it. Just realize ya don't have to win these battles to get through the game. It is a dangerous world. Choose you battles.

  7. Heh, I remember that Cat from Hell. When I played MM2 she dropped the best random weapon I found in that game - a +79 Spear, I think it was.

  8. @Dungy I would say Ultima III started to become the great series that we all know. No more spaceships, tie fighters, hovercars or killing guards to get keys.

    Ultima IV is when the philosophy that would last throughout the series came to being. It's also one of the only games that I know that didn't need some kind of foozle to kill. I wish other games would try a more philosophical approach to gaming. I don't need to kill a big bad guy in every single game I play :D

    As for M&M thanks for the update. I never played the first or second one. Don't know why since I love RPGs.

  9. "Also, Omega is coming soon? Is that the game by Origin Systems released in 1989?"

    It could be the roguelike Omega, spiritual predecessor to ADOM.

    I played it for half a year in the military - my posting had an ancient PC with it installed. I remember hundreds of hilarious instadeaths, including ones from just equipping items, and a brothel that turned money into xp. I even beat it, through enormous luck more than anything else.

  10. Geez what is it with old CRPGs and murdering castle guards for no reason.

  11. '"Heads of monstrous beats" adorned his walls...'

    So I guess Lord Slayer is a retired D.J.? Lord Slayer or D.J. Slayer have a certain style to them that would work.

    Also, is it just me, or does it look like the Bishop of Red Battle is holding up a pair of panties? Perhaps that is related to why he was imprisoned in the first place.


  12. "Also, is it just me, or does it look like the Bishop of Red Battle is holding up a pair of panties? Perhaps that is related to why he was imprisoned in the first place..."

    OMG LOL. Do not do this to me at work!

  13. Someone fill me in one what a foozle is?

  14. Foozle is a term coined by Scorpia (of Computer Gaming World) way back in the 1980s to describe the generic, somewhat interchangeable Big Bad final enemy of most RPGs. Mondain was Foozle. Minax was Foozle. Most RPGs were about "Killing the Foozle."

    At least Foozles have gotten better over the years.

  15. Skavenhorde and Rampant Coyote: While I can understand not having a foozle in Ultima 4 was pretty unique, in some ways I believe a foozle is needed. Having a GREAT foozle (case in point: Kefka Palazo of Final Fantasy 6, though Mithos Yygdrasil from Tales of Symphony sounds like one deep character as well) can humanize the antagonistic philosophies you enjoy giving the player both someone to strive against and a way to show mastery of the game's gameplay.

    On M&MII: Very funny, especially your party member's experimentation with LSD, but I am unsure as of yet if the game would be my style (note that I explained my dislike of heavy resource management and grinding a little earlier). However, having beaten just now beaten the second of the two games I was wrapped up in, I now consider myself free to choose what to play next.

    PS: Final Fantasy 3 WON! I will now do my own rating system akwardly named after my favorite drink.

    So here's the Orange Juice for Final Fantasy 3:

    Likes (most to least important):

    ! Level design was interesting with hidden passages, switches, and lots of tresure without being too maze-like.
    ! The mythology surrounding the events that happen in the game and the antagonist kept me excited to learn more about how everything led up to the current moment in time with each passing second.
    ! My characters were free to use an awesome power to be become many different heroes at will.

    Dislikes (Greatest to least):

    ? Having a limited inventory was a bit of a chore at times, as was having magic points level limits.
    ? Grinding, both necessary and induced by the random encounter rate, really made me wish the run command worked more often.

    Overall ! or ?: I would say that despite some often occuring flaws, I adored the game. Anything I didn't mention in likes and dislikes should be considered either positive or unimportant to my decision. As for multiple storylines and dialogue selections, there were none (outside of my own imagination on the part of dialogue), but I feel the experience does not fall short without such things in the case of Final Fantasy 3 (NES, 1990).

    Cheers, CRPG Addict.

  16. I've enjoyed the MM series from the start, playing each as they came out, though I put off on three for a bit as the change in box art put me off enough to think it had turned into a different kind of game.
    My biggest complaint about the series were two instances where there was a puzzle that were solved by using game mechanics that would make no sense otherwise.
    One was in MM6 I think, where there was an item on the other side of a zone line. There was no way to reach it as once you were in the new zone, you were far away from the old zone. You can get the item with a spell, but the solution makes no sense for the character, only for the player.For me, it breaks the world logic.
    The other instance is in MM2 - theres a quest item you need in a cave, but once you have it, you can't leave. This puzzle was one that had me stumped enough to buy the clue book way back then, and when I saw the answer, I was pretty unhappy. One of the two solutions makes no sense for the character, as you are using the game rules to beat the puzzle.I can't say a lot more without a spoiler, but I think its in the late game.

  17. Coincidentally, I just started re-playing this game, although I admit I remembered some experience shortcuts that made the game go MUCH faster.

    One thing that I'll ask is if you happen to figure out how to get to Dragon's Dominion coordinates 7,6, 8,6, or 9,6, please post how you did this legally! I believe I know how to get to every other spot in the game without technically cheating (though some spots exploit some bugs, or so I assume).

    But those 3 spots in the Dragon cave? I had to cheat to get there by modifying the binary ROSTER.DAT file in order to satiate my curiosity :(


  18. Wait, LSD? Did I miss something?

  19. Dave Eaton--If I recall correctly, you need to use the etherealize spell? Did you try that?

  20. Yeah-- I tried quite a few techniques, actually, but sadly with no success. Here's what I tried:

    1) Etherealize from all surrounding 8 squares (Etherealize does not seem to work anywhere in that particular dungeon)

    2) Teleport from various squares (but admittedly not from all 57 squares or all 108 combinations. After about a dozen I gave up-- teleport also seems not to work anywhere in the dungeon)

    3) "Bashing" all 8 outward-facing walls (I was getting desperate!)

    4) Casting Nature's Day on EVERY day of the year in the hopes it would get me somewhere interesting (it did provide some unexpected results, but never landed me in Dragon's Dominion)

    5) Quasi cheaty method exploiting a trick with Lloyd's Beacon and time travel (this didn't work since Lloyd's Beacon also seems to be disallowed in Dragon's Dominion)

    I guess I also tried exploring every OTHER place in the dungeon, drinking from every fountain, pulling every lever, etc, but to no avail. Everything else in that dungeon seems to have a particular function that's unrelated to those 3 mystery squares.

    Anyway, those were all the legal methods I could come up with, but no dice. Hence, I finally besmirched my honor and resorted to modifying the binary save game file to get me in.


  21. Dave Eaton--I vaguely recall what you're talking about, but man, do I not remember how to get in there. What's inside? That might help me recall, like a certain room in a certain volcano....

  22. I guess I'm not giving away any spoilers, but there's a fat lot of nothing in there! With the rest of the dungeon being a dragon treasure trove, I sort of expected some sort of amazing secret, powerful item, or... SOMETHING. Instead, it's just 3 empty squares.

    And as disappointing as it was, I suppose I felt somehow vindicated that there wasn't anything there. If there WERE some sort of hyper-awesomeness there, I'd probably assume that there WAS a legal way in, and I'd be racking my brain trying to figure out how to do it legally.

    However, it is still unsettling. As far as I know, it's the ONLY set of inaccessible squares in the entire game-- they didn't seem to have any qualms about making OTHER empty useless rooms. It's like they put it there intentionally to thwart those of us with obsessive-compulsive needs to get complete maps!


  23. I suspect Mr. Addict should never have leaked his secret to his SO. He's probably been banned from gaming, let alone blogging about it.

    Sigh. It was a nice ride while it lasted.

  24. Nah, he's probably just gotten super-busy, or is out of town. He told his SO about the gaming and blog, and she seemed accepting of it.

  25. Darn. As I started finishing up my mapping, I found that Level 2 of Slayer's Dungeon is ALSO difficult to map.

    Technically, you COULD get to every square legally. It seems that there are a number of "PING!" squares all of which bounce you to a random square on the map. So, you could (in theory) keep getting flung around the map randomly until your map was complete. But it would probably take 2-4 hours of hitting the randomizer until you completed the map.

    Otherwise, some squares are inaccessible using the standard Etherealize and Teleport spells, as well as secret doors and so forth :(


  26. I think these older games were great in that they seemed less of give-aways. There were some easter eggs in some, but no super buffs necessarily or cheat codes so that you became god-like (or titan-like) within a few hours of game play.
    My wife and I played MM3 for easily a hundred + hours and did not finish. We came close...
    Then, when MM6 came out, we played that even longer... I think real time was from April or May through to July? I mean, being summer we didn't spend as much time on it as we did during cold weather, but still. And the endgame... took us more than a few attempts to get through it all. Spectacular!

    I want Morrowind type freedom, game time. If you are 'touting' 20 hours of gameplay for your title, that is just sad.

  27. Sorry to respond so late, everyone. Briefly:

    Canageek: see my latest posting (05/13). I think I have some good guidance now.

    Dungy, I remember Ultima V well enough to know that it was a fantastic game and a great leap forward for CRPGs. I really look forward to it. The "Omega" game appears not to be the identically-named strategy game from 1989, but rather a roguelike from the year before.

    Petrus, when I finally defeated her, she only gave me a dark trident +14. I got screwed.

    The rest of you started talking about spoilers so I held my hands to my ears, shouted, "NA NA NA NA NA!," and skipped them.

  28. Suggestion: Make a new rule that all spoilers must be in ROT13. Easy for those that want them to decode and you don't have to worry about missing something good.

  29. A lot of you have been very good about using ROT13, and I appreciate it. Maybe I'll add something to my sidebar about it.

  30. So, did anyone ever find out what the "You win the Booby Prize" messages was all about?

  31. "Petrus, when I finally defeated her, she only gave me a dark trident +14. I got screwed."

    Nice weapon, but poor bonus.

    On my current replay I got a Halberd and a Hero Medal, both +24 and both of Evil alignment, and thus rather useless since my only evil character is my Archer. :-(

  32. Petrus, I think the "booby prize" bit was just a bit of a (goofy) reward for having defeated so many foes. I recall something similar cropping up in MM6 or MM7.

    I should have kept killing the Cat until I got better stuff. I'm not sure why I didn't.

  33. Unless I missed something the cuisinarts dropped the best loot in the game, they always dropped a black box. Its been almost 20 years but I remember a fountain that set you to max level (255) and I'd use that and kill cuisinarts for super loot...eventually i actually reached 255 and didnt need the fountain anymore, heh.


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