Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ultima V: Things I Discovered While Replaying

You can't even kill Blackthorn in bed.

As I noted in an edit to my last posting, I was able to find a backup of the saved game that I had made on September 1. This meant that I hadn't killed the Shadowlords, visited the dungeons, or explored the Underworld yet, but with the notes I had, these things ended up not taking as long as I thought--especially since I hex-edited my saved game so that my characters would have the same experience as when the file got corrupted. (Thus, the only thing I didn't have to re-do was the long "grinding" process.) I took the opportunity, while running around Britannia to solve the game again, to learn a few things I hadn't figured out in my initial play. Most of these involved reloading.

Q: What happens if you give Blackthorn the Mantra to the Shrine of Honesty?

A: He kills your companion anyway. I feel better about Shamino.

Then, when you visit the Shrine of Honesty, you find it destroyed. I'm not sure if there's a way to restore it.

Q: What happens if you get caught in Blackthorn's castle, but you don't have a companion for him to execute?

A: He just tosses you in his dungeon. The moral: the Avatar should work alone.

Q: How does Blackthorn treat you if you show up with the "black badge" of the Oppression?

A: Supposedly, he treats you nicely and the guards don't seize you. I didn't experience that--I got caught and thrown in jail just like before. Maybe it was because I had already killed the Shadowlords and stolen the crown.

[Later edit: As Claus notes below, you have to actually be wearing the badge. Then the guards let you pass (if you give the Oppression password) and Blackthorn is nice to you.]

Q: Can you kill Blackthorn, even with the glass sword, magic axes, invisibility rings, and the crown in effect so he can't summon daemons or cast spells?

A: Doesn't look like it. However, if you don the invisibility ring, Blackthorn flees from battle and the game tells you that you have achieved "VICTORY!" Blackthorn doesn't appear in his castle anymore, even if you leave and return. I don't know if this is permanent.

Q: What happens if you attack the Shadowlords?

A: I don't know why I didn't try this before. If you engage a Shadowlord in combat, first, he takes back the scepter. Then, you enter combat with your party members divided by magic fields (which you would need the scepter to dispel).

He's a little tougher than a daemon, but you can defeat him without too much trouble. The only problem is that when he gets "critical," he retreats to the center of the screen, where you can't hit him unless you have a pole-arm. I did, and was able to kill him (I used the glass sword just for the heck of it), but the game only tells you that he "vanishes." Later, he'll reappear in towns, or Stonegate, just as if you had never fought him.

Q: What if you're not on the magic carpet, and you fall down the trap doors in Stonegate?

A: You take a long fall to the center of the world, and everyone dies.

Q: What happens if you commit a crime (theft, murder, refuse to give guards their tribute) and "go quietly"?

A: You end up in jail in Yew, in a cell next to Jerone. You have all your equipment but no keys. However, you can cast an "unlock" spell or wait for Jerone's brother to show up at noon and ask him for keys.

I missed another opportunity to use the Avatar's trademark "SOD OFF."

Q: Are there any reasons to visit the shrines after you do the shrine quests?

A: You can meditate, and the shrines ask you to donate gold. If you choose to donate, the game says "ALAKAZAM!" and your karma, if it's less than 99, increases.

So basically I can just buy my way out of my crimes.

Q: What if you ruin your karma through theft and murder?

A: Lord British shows up at night and tells you to get your act together. But he still heals everyone first.

I don't want to tell you what I did to get this message. All the gold in the world donated to shrines shouldn't get me out of it.

Q: Can you ever get to the point where you can kill guards?

A: Aside from Lord Blackthorn, who is un-killable, guards have to be the toughest foes in the game. The have a devastating missile attack. IN VAS POR YLEM ("tremor") does virtually nothing against them, they're very hard to hit, and they attack in waves of 8. I was able to take them out with multiple "negate time" spells and invisibility rings, but only with significant losses. They hardly leave any treasure, and at 25 experience, they're not worth the time. Also, you lose 5 karma for attacking them.

I fought the law and the law won.

Q: What happens if you go to the Dungeon Doom before killing the Shadowlords?

A: You get lost in the darkness surrounding the dungeon. You don't move anywhere, and the only possible exit, as far as I can tell, is either to reload or, if you were unfortunate enough to save in the darkness, keep holing up and camping until your food runs out and you die. [Later edit: Okay, this might be a consequence of going without the Amulet. Now I'm not sure what happens if the Shadowlords are alive.]

The "locate" spell shows me at the same location even though I moved two spaces to the east.

At the end of a long day and a half of gameplay, my party was where it was before my game got corrupted: in the first room of the Dungeon Doom--with, apparently, no way back to the surface. I hope in my rush to get here, I didn't forget anything.

The scepter would be very helpful right now.


  1. I find it impressive that you actually started over from the beginning. I don't think I'd have been able to do that. I can't wait to see what happens when you finally find Lord British.

  2. I just realized that some people might not have read my addendum to the "Grinding" posting, so I changed the introduction to this one. Long story short: I found a saved game from September 1, so I didn't have to start over from the beginning.

  3. Very glad you were able to resume a previous save! I'm really enjoying the writeups for this game; I just wish it was considerably longer so there'd be more to write about.

  4. If the shrine is busted because you caved to Blackthorn, it is possible to restore it using the appropriate word of power. And yes, Shamino died in vain.

  5. It's the amulet that gets you through the darkness, not beating the shadowlords. But if any are still alive, they'll jump you when you try to enter Doom (one at a time). This means you lose the scepter just before the point where you need it, and if memory serves the game dumps you into Doom anyway right after the battle instead of aborting the command to enter.

  6. I never personally beat the game. I got to the point where I had done most of the overworld exploration but lost interest during the grind part to beef up my characters and explore the underworld. I remember this game is so much fun. I had played Ultima 6 and 7 when I was younger and then it took me a long time to finally get a copy of this and I played it with the MIDI patch and man it was just as fun as I remembered U6 and U7.

    The whole concept of exploring an open and extensive world, meeting tons of characters with relatively interesting dialogue, piecing together clues and solving quests, discovering tons of stuff, etc. is just so much fun.

    I mentioned it before but it's the focus on exploration and discovery that really sets the Ultima games apart. I wonder why there aren't any modern games that have this kind of formula (the Might and Magic games had a similar formula, minus the interesting dialogue and characters though).

  7. Woot! On with the wholesale righteous carnage and mayhem!

  8. Steve, I agree. Like Ultima IV before it, this game is fairly non-linear. There are a lot of places to explore, people to talk to, and interesting dungeon rooms. Until the final moments, it has some of the Elder Scrolls series' open-endedness.

    DGM, thanks for clearing that up. Before I realized my mistake, I had killed the Shadowlords and couldn't go back and check it out.

    Dungy, I think the point is that Shamino DIDN'T die in vain. His death meant that I kept my honor and the shrine remained intact.

  9. It's actually not hard to "fall far from the Path of the Avatar" in Ultima 5... I rarely do anything worse than picking crops and running from maybe 1/10th of my battles, yet have gotten that warning a lot of times.

    Another way that you can't kill Blackthorn (having tried it) is to murder him in his bed... It's the one time the game responds to that action with "missed!"

    Good luck in Doom -- and don't tell Lord British you forgot the sandalwood box or you'll get the "bad" ending.

  10. On either of your playthroughs did you find and follow the plot thread for the Oppression? If you side with Blackthorn (undercover, maybe, I'm not judging you) you get a Black Badge you can wear to roam his castle without getting hassled.

  11. Judge, funny you mention that. I finished the game earlier today (posting coming tomorrow) and when I looked at some walkthroughs afterwards, I found out about the Oppression. I wasn't even aware of it as I played, although I did wonder why so many characters were surly and seemed to favor Blackthorn's rule. More during my "Final Rating."

  12. I remember the Oppression from the first time I played U5 (my first CRPG experience, in fact); I may not have been the model Avatar back then. I had to look it up in a walkthrough to remember how the thread started since I didn't hook up with them in my current playthrough -- and the horrible deed required for membership. That's gotta be a heck of a karma hit.

  13. Huh. I got both the passwords for the resistance and the oppression and was still able to get my karma back up okay. I guess I felt like a heel for doing the oppression's bidding, but I looked at it as being undercover, having to give a little to get something important back, and when I went go to check if anything happened because of my "betrayal" it didn't appear to have any effect on the game world, so that made me feel better :)

  14. Did you have to do anything unusual to play this, or is it just plain-jane U5 in DOSbox? (I seem to recall there being some u5 remakes or somesuch out there...)


  15. Can you dismiss and then re-recruit your party members? If so, can you avoid the Blackthorn execution that way?

  16. Drop them at an Inn.

  17. That's actually a great question: what happens if you get caught in Blackthorn's castle and you only have one character? I just loaded a saved game and the answer is: he just throws you in the dungeon. Post updated above.

  18. Does the presence of the stereotypical troll with bad English mean you have made it on the internet? Is this something to celebrate that you have reached the level of popularity that brings out such an emotional response from the imbalanced?

  19. You have to wear the black badge actually not just possess it. An icon will appear just like for the crown, however its just a plob of "colour".

  20. Brilliant, Claus. Thanks! Post updated above with a screenshot showing Blackthorn regaling in his new ally.

  21. UbAh, I just deleted the two postings around yours. I generally don't censor comments on my blog, but his had obscenities and links to suspicious sites. Thanks for your defense, though.

  22. From post: "when you visit the Shrine of Honesty, you find it destroyed. I'm not sure if there's a way to restore it."

    Glinkie (an adventurer located in Paws) revealed that the Words of Power can be used to restore destroyed shrines. One has to yell the relevant Word at the destroyed shrine, & then meditate for 3 cycles with the appropriate mantra. (Background: Glinkie had been searching unsuccessfully for the Shrine of Spirituality, & was afraid that it had been destroyed.)

    I have yet to test the above-mentioned method, since all of the shrines are fine during my gameplay. As I was wearing the Black Badge when venturing inside Blackthorn's Castle, navigating around the fortress was a relative breeze -- no interrogation or interference whatsoever from Blackthorn.

    Although there was a threatening commotion at Level 3 of the castle immediately after I "stole" back Lord British's crown at Level 4, hilariously enough the incident was forgotten as soon as I exited to Level 2. Blackthorn & his demon-guards behaved like nothing unusual had happened, even after I returned to Level 3 where they are located. Also, no harm befell me even when I released the political prisoners from their manacles in Blackthorn's presence ! (Likewise, much to my surprise, I suffered no loss in karma, even though I was fraternizing undercover with the Oppression in order to obtain the password & Black Badge.)

    Since I'm at the "grinding" stage of the gameplay, I'm planning to visit Blackthorn's Castle again -- this time wearing both the Black Badge & Lord British's crown, if this is logistically possible -- & getting a go at the supposedly-impossible task of killing Blackthorn.

    1. Thanks for solving the shrine mystery. I had meant to look that up. It was bugging me a bit.

      I didn't join the Oppression in my real game because I wasn't sure if you were really "joining" or just going undercover. I worried about not being able to win for some reason.

    2. The shrine can be restored using the word of power of dungeon which is opposite in principle to the shrine. e.g.:
      Honesty - Deceit - FALLAX
      Compassion - Despise - VILIS
      Justice - Wrong - MALUM
      Sacrifice - Covetous - AVIDUS


  23. I take it you didn't find the secret area in Chuckles room then? ; )

  24. Killing Guards is actually how I leveled up from 7 to 8. You lose no Karma if you beat them in self-defense by refusing to pay tribute.

    First use In Zu (L5 spell, blasts the area ahead with sleeping gas)
    Then Use In Quas Corp (?) (L7 'Fear' spell, terrifies enemies making them killable in 1 hit)

    1. It's weird that "Fear" works that way. I suspect it has to do with programming limitations. Enemies always go from barely wounded to lightly, heavily, and critically wounded. After this, when they can take only one more hit, they start to flee. To save time, the programmers must have just had "fear" go directly to "fleeing" and thus with only one hit left.

      The same thing happens if you have a single character invisible, I think. Since the enemies think there's no one on the battlefield, they start to "flee" from it, again putting them in the one-hit-to-kill category.

  25. NES version again:

    There's no karma.

    I have no idea what Stonegate is.

    Shadowlords are completely immune to all attacks.

    There are no guards to fight.

    1. Your comments on the differences in the platforms have been interesting. For the most part, they sound simply like reduced gameplay. But the lack of a karma meter really cuts out the heart of the whole series.

    2. I agree. Stranger still that the previous title had it for each virtue, and this was Origin that put this game together.

  26. I'm surprised you didn't take the opportunity to go and loot Lord British's treasure room while you were doing the save and reload thing. It's game breaking - you can loot the chests for an amazing haul, leave and return as many times as you have skull keys. After a while you'll have no karma, a broken economy and very little challenge.

    1. Even in a morally enlightened monarchy, nothing is more immoral than stealing treasure directly from the king, even if you're on a quest to save his life.

    2. I agree. When I discovered the treasure room as a kid I abused it, but even then it felt like a very pyrrhic gain, both in how it clashed ethically and in how it made the game less satisfying to play without the lure of better gear as a reward for battle and exploration.

    3. Not that it applies here, but stealing from a despot who has taxed everyone half to death might be seen as morally justifiable (see: Robin Hood). Then again, most RPG players would probably decide not to share the spoils with the unwashed masses if given the opportunity.

    4. Actually, another perspective on the U5 scenario is: "Help! I'm trapped in the underworld and a twisted tyrant is oppressing my people! Once you've availed yourself of the most prized artefacts in my tower, nip down to the vault and grab whatever might be of assistance!"

    5. I meant that comment sarcastically!


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