Saturday, November 5, 2011

Wasteland: Breeding Lilacs out of the Dead Land

This is the death screen.
Not knowing exactly where to go next, I decided to take stock of my options and explore the outdoor map. I was surprised to find it so small: only 62 x 62 squares. Beyond them is a message that you're facing "miles and miles of endless wasteland," which is game's not-so-subtle way of not allowing you to trek all the way to Seattle.
I found only six towns, caves, and keeps that I hadn't already explored: a mine shaft, Savage Village, Needles, Las Vegas, Darwin Village, and the Guardian's Citadel. Darwin Village, on the east side of the map, is surrounded by radioactive ground. I was puzzled at first because I wasn't seeing the little "radioactive" symbols on the ground, but my Geiger Counter was going nuts. It turns out you can only see them at night.
Because the ground gives off a radioactive glow?
A river flows through the middle of the map, ending in a lake at the south-central portion. Entering the river at any point means taking loads of damage as you're carried helplessly downstream before (randomly, it seems), you finally wade into some shallows.
Oddly, it doesn't seem to affect any of our equipment.
The map isn't a terrible approximation of the American southwest. Based on the one reference point that I know--Las Vegas--the dangerous river seems to pretty much follow the path of the Colorado River, though ignoring Lake Mead (Hoover Dam was presumably destroyed). The lake corresponds with Lake Mohave on the Arizona/Nevada border. None of the cities make sense, though. Needles, Quartz, and Darwin Village all exist in places where there's absolutely nothing but desert now. And, of course, as you fall into the river in the game, it doesn't bother to mention that you've climbed down to the base of the Grand Canyon. The mountains don't quite match up, either. Oddly, the manual indicates that Ranger Central is at the "California-Arizona border," which would be off by a few hundred miles. The first new place I checked out was the mine shaft south of Quartz. There were a lot of combats there, a few dead miners, but not much else. A few places where the corridor ended and the game told me there were pick marks in the wall. This seemed to be some kind of clue, but nothing I tried--perception, the pick axe--had any effect.
Next, I checked out the Guardian's Citadel. I apparently tried that too soon. My party was wiped out by homicidal nuns and I had to reload.
How do you solve a problem like Theodosia?
By this time, some commenter with a ridiculous alphanumeric name gave me a hint about Head Crusher. I returned to him and, in the spirit of the comment, sat down across from him. Still nothing. After screwing around with different options, I finally got him to talk to me by using the visa card on myself, which makes no sense but whatever. He told me to use the Password CATERPILLAR at "Atchison's tent." Returning to the Rail Nomads' camp, I talked to the hobo again. For every bottle of liquor I gave him, he gave me a cryptic hint:
  • "Beware the man who has lived longer than the wasteland."
  • "Those who guard the past guard the secret to immortality."
  • "Trust the one born beneath the battlefield."
  • "Man before wife, save a life."
  • "A body is only a box to keep your mind in."
  • "A steel storm threatens the City of Cold."
  • "To the mother who speaks riddles comes a child of promise. Aid her and aid justice."
  • "One man's dream is another's nightmare, but a machine's dream is everyone's nightmare."
  • "Twins born by the same hands are twins no more. Wake the sleeper to cure the sick."
  • "Destroy the wombs and destroy the threat."
Then he passed out and said no more. I couldn't find any relevance to quests I've already solved, except maybe the mother/daughter one, which might refer to Ellen and Laurie. Head Crusher had told me to go to the "Atchison" tent. There are three tents in the Rail Nomads' camp, and I reasoned that the Atchison was probably the first one (the other two likely being the Topeka and the Santa Fe). I was correct. For my trouble, the headman of the clan gave me a shovel and told me to dig at a particular spot. I did and found a reasonably good cache of treasure, including 4 grenades. I really have to start using those. Then, a bunch of rail thieves jumped out and attacked me.
Based on Samtam90's comment yesterday, I returned to Quartz, searched Ugly John's hideout more thoroughly and found a trap door I had missed before. Beneath it was a dungeon with Ace, who joined my party after I dumped Dan Citrine. Ace indicated there was some kind of war going on in Las Vegas and wanted to recruit me to assist.
Ace is skilled with rifles, so finally I can get rid of some of those 7.62mm clips that have been piling up. I bought him an M19 carbine and loaded him up with ammo. I should also mention that I broke my melee-only vow so that Stetson could try out an Uzi (which uses 9mm ammo--also in plentiful supply) I admit it's been working fairly well, so I guess I'll have him hold on to it. My other two NPCs are using handguns but I think I'll keep my other three PCs with axes for now. I guess my next stop is Vegas. I might finally get to use my "gambling" skill there, though money hasn't exactly been in short supply yet. I have over $5000. As I left Quartz with Ace, he "fixed the jeep" and we rocketed to Vegas, only to have the car break down when we got there. A mechanic told me he could fix it if I got a new engine. I left the mechanic's shop and soon found that an engine for a jeep was the least of my problems.


  1. Actually, you ought to visit Needles first. Taking a trip to Vegas at low levels (which presumably is still your case) means getting your ass handed to you by those pesky robots, not to mention the Scorpitron (good luck beating that even at higher levels). Also, yes, the Citadel is and endgame area - wait till you're loaded with rockets and then start having fun blowing those damn nuns up :P

  2. Yeah, the wasteland map isn't particularly big, but some of the areas go down quite a few layers (WASTECEPTION!!!). Notice how time gets slower the further 'down' you go.

    There are also new areas that appear after a major turning point in the game.

    Hint: which map tile/direction you enter an area from determines where you enter the area, can can save a lot of time trekking around inside of an area.

  3. In regards to civilization being found in areas where there are no current towns or cities it makes sense. After an apocalyptic war cities will largely be death traps full of radiation, disease, and crime. Those seeking to survive would move away from cities and establish their own settlements.

  4. I'm really enjoying the Wasteland posts - a game I could never get into. I also like how you're using the peer hint method instead of resorting to a walkthrough or other system. Gives a nice feeling of community to get considered hints by friends of this blog.

  5. Yeeps! Vegas? Did you, um, save before that by any chance?

    At least you'll find out about what most of those hints are talking about.

  6. Helm, it's definitely one of the advantages of blogging my way through the game. You've all been very good about offering hints without outright spoilers (and in the rare case of the latter, you usually put them in ROT-13). There's nothing to stop some jackass from coming along and writing "HEY ADDICT THE PASSWORD IS INFINITY LOL," but none of you have done that yet.

    Canageek, I saw immediately what you mean. I managed to beat a retreat.

    Your reasoning is sound, Elijah, except one wouldn't expect a handful of survivors to build entire cities full of multi-level buildings. Plus, the buildings in Quartz are clearly old, dilapidated, and deserted, which you wouldn't expect to find if the city had been built AFTER the apocalypse.

  7. LoL! My name is Nyxalinth, I was the one whose name showed up as random alphabet gibberish. Gods only know why. Still, I was very glad to be of help.

    My ex-husband originally bought this game in 1988, for himself, but decided it 'wasn't realistic enough.' Long story there. So I played it, and loved it.

  8. "Not realistic enough" is an interesting comment. There is a certain measure of implausibility about the game, such that I've been toying with a special topics posting on probable impossibilities and improbable possibilities. But I'm still enjoying it a lot, and I'm glad you did, too.

  9. On the subject of realism, did you hear the US just dismantled its last giant nuke? I can't remeber what size it was, but it seems that the costs vastly outweight the usefulness given the lack of a cold war.

  10. The "not realistic enough"-ness of this game is what I referred to as some of the B movie nature I though might grate on our dear addict.

  11. Also, I thought the Addict might be reassured by this:

    The last multi-megaton bomb in the US arsenal has been disarmed.

  12. I appreciate it, but it was never the U.S. arsenal that I was particularly worried about.

  13. Lets just say I do not think that a nation as militaristic as the US would be disarming its nukes if it thought there was any chance it would need them in the near future.


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