|The new party. Totally evil except for the samurai.|
If anyone's thinking about playing Pool of Radiance in the near future, here's a way to make it awesome: an all-mage party. Think about it. Fighters have basically one thing to do, but mages have a host of options. You'd get to try out all the spells that no one ever tries because "fireball" is too useful to waste a slot memorizing "slow." The opening stages would be a major challenge, sure, but imagine how rewarding it would be. What's that I hear? "What about healing spells?" Boo-hoo. Bring along a cleric NPC. Or, better yet, haul your butts back to a temple after every map. Are you worried you won't have enough gold?
I thought about doing this on my play-through, but a) I chickened out, and b) I thought that since I was publicly blogging the game, I had a responsibility to try out all the game's options. But last night, after blogging about Wizardry V, it hit me: the options in this game are pretty much the same as in the first four games. Essentially, I'm replaying the same game for the fifth time. Given that, I can go hog-wild.
Well, no I can't. The game has that stubborn restriction by which only the first three characters can fight, and they're always right up-front in combat. If you had an all-mage party, the first three characters would get slaughtered. If you had an all-fighter party, the last three would have nothing to do. And this, my friends, is one example of why the Wizardry series' lack of evolution is not representative of some kind of raw purity. You don't even have to go to iconographic (thanks, JS) games like Pool of Radiance to get some slightly better tactics. The Bard's Tale II introduced distances and missile weapons. Might & Magic assigns which characters can fight based on the shape of the combat terrain. The only virtues I find in Wizardry V's throwback system are the challenges associated with permanent death, limited saves, and limited spell restoration. But the combat mechanics are too primitive to allow me to do anything creative with character classes.
Still, after suffering a full-party death last night, I decided to do something different and adventure with an evil party. Partly, I wanted to try out a ninja, and you have to be evil for that. Unfortunately, the minimum stats for a ninja require at least 40 bonus points during character creation, and although I hit that once yesterday, today the highest I got was 28. So I settled for a high-scoring thief who hopefully I can upgrade to ninja later.
This time, while rolling new characters, I kept tally of the bonus pools, and a curious pattern emerged. These were the figures out of 125 rolls:
What do you suppose the underlying programming is here? My guess is that the game selects a random base score of 7-10 and then, about 10% of the time, adds 10 to that total and then, maybe another 10% of the time, adds an additional 10, and so on. That would partly explain why there are no scores between 11 and 16 or between 21 and 26. The variances within the groupings (e.g., 21 occurrences of 9 but 33 of 8) seems higher than you would expect by random chance, but a chi-square test tells me that the significance level associated with that is 0.42. We'd need less than 0.05 in my profession to call it statistically significant; I'm not sure what the standard for CPRGs is.
If you're wondering if I'm going on about measures of statistical significance because I wasted the entire evening creating a party again, have no fear. I eventually did get a decent group and headed out into the dungeon. This time around, I did something probably against my rules and backed up the save file. I'm not going to keep backing it up, but I also wasn't going to start over again from scratch if I lost the party it took me 2 hours to create within the first 12 minutes.
|This is my favorite foe so far. High reward, low risk.|
I didn't, in any event. Only suffering a few character deaths, requiring me to raise them, I managed to get my part up to levels 4 and 5, which is enough to explore the first dungeon level without too much fear. The problem is, I'm a bit stuck. This is the map I've created so far:
|I tried an RPG mapping application, but I didn't like it as much as Excel.|
The DUMAPIC spell helped me figure out the coordinates, and so far the dungeon is at least 25 x 30, but with---as you can see--lots of blank space. I've encountered four locked doors that seem to require keys, a temple where they say I need an orb to enter, and an area that I'm scared to enter because it says not to when "the motor is on" (the "motor room" to the north is one of the locked doors).
|You don't mess with this kind of thing in permanent death games.|
There's a transportation chamber that requires a "token" and a weird message that I can't yet interpret. Overall, I feel a bit like I'm in an adventure game where I'm lacking the one item that will open the door that will get me the succession of other items.
Any ideas on this?
I suspect the solution lies in the INSPECT command, which has the option to search for "hidden objects." So I'm going to retrace my steps and inspect every damned square. This is not a welcome addition to the game.
A few notes:
- Either the game does not have fixed encounters, or it remembers that you already defeated them. I've yet to encounter monsters in the same square repeatedly.
- Unlike Wizardry I, you don't lose attributes when leveling; you only gain.
|This is a very satisfying process.|
- The game may scale the encounters. I started encountering multiple groups when I reached level 3.
- My thief is a lot more successful at disarming traps than in previous Wizardrys.
- Like The Bard's Tale, thieves have a "hide" option that, if successful, allows them to "ambush" opponents on the next round. Unfortunately, I'm not successful that option.
|This was not a common message in the first Wizardry.|
Let's see if I can get Level 1 finished off by my next posting.