|I decided to go with a "good" party this time.|
Wizardry V is fresher in my mind than either Sentinel Worlds or Star Command was when I "rebooted" them, but it's still been over three months, and I really couldn't remember what was going on in the game when I last left. I'll keep my maps, but I'm going to start over with a new party.
This new party, incidentally, is my permanent party. I'm done with this swapping-out characters nonsense. It takes too long. From now on, if any of my characters dies and the resurrection turns him to ash, I'm re-loading. I'm also re-loading if I suffer a full-party death. Even typing that, I cringe. Somewhere, I can hear Andrew Greenberg laughing at me. "You may win the game," he's saying, "But you won't have truly beaten me! Bwu-hah-hah-hah!" Screw you, Greenberg. 1980 called; they're looking for their graphics.
My party comprises three fighters, a thief, a priest, and a mage. I spent a lot of time rolling and re-rolling until everyone started with a bonus score of at least 20. That wasn't enough to make the first two characters a lord and a samurai, which is what I wanted, but their stats were just on the cusp of what they need for those two classes, and I planned to switch them after a few level-ups increased their stats.
|Jack basically needs one more of everything to be a samurai.|
If you don't remember the plot, it takes place beneath the Kingdom of Llylgamyn. A rogue sorceress named The Sorn has created an "unnatural, magical vortex" deep within the dungeon called Maelstrom, and she has imprisoned the Gatekeeper, a demi-god who is our only hope of stopping her. I have to make my way down to her level and find some way to free him.
|Advice from a priest whose god is named "La-La."|
Unlike the first few games, which were fairly straightforward dungeon crawls with the occasional inventory puzzle, Wizardry V relishes multi-level puzzles involving goofy characters. For instance, I had to buy a rubber duck from some giant called the "Mad Stomper" on Level 3 so I could return it to a character named the Duck of Sparks on Level 2 in exchange for a wand that I need...somewhere, I guess.
|Sigh. Could you at least pretend you're an entry in a seminal CRPG series?|
The puzzles chain together. In a long day of playing yesterday, I:
- Visited a tavern on Level 2 and got a clue that I needed to search a room for a hacksaw; found the hacksaw.
- Got a recipe for a "Spirit-Be-Gone" potion from the Duck of Sparks.
- Used the hacksaw to cut the chains off a door leading to a lab.
- Mixed the potion in the lab.
- Used the potion to scare away a ghost guarding a chest.
- Found a jeweled scepter in the chest.
- Used the scepter to enter a temple on Level 3.
- Fought and killed the temple's guardian, winning a blue candle as my prize.
- Used the blue candle in front of a dead-end wall to find a secret door leading to a set of stairs.
- Descended the stairs to find myself at a place called the "Jigsaw Bank & Trust," where I now have to manipulate some disks to...do something open the vault, maybe.
|My current puzzle.|
I don't yet have any clues about the right disk order, but I'm sure I'll find something in some unexplored part of the dungeon.
Unlike the linear progression through the levels of the first Wizardry, this focus on puzzles requires you to frequently backtrack, often finding new sections of previously-explored levels. As I indicated in my December postings on the game, the levels are quite large. Level 1 alone took up 30 x 39 coordinates, although the game doesn't use every space. At least, I don't think it does. Some of the secret doors have taken multiple searches, and I don't have time to search every blank wall multiple times.
|I think I'm done with Level 1, but you never know when a new staircase or portal is going to make use of some of this filled-in space.|
Blackadder and Jack Burton eventually got their lord and samurai class changes, although I didn't realize the game resets all your attributes to 8 when you change classes. That seems a little unfair. But the two prestige classes get spells (priest and mage, respectively), which makes it worth it.
|Changing from a fighter to a lord.|
I elected not to adventure with a bishop (a combined priest/mage) this time. The major advantage to this class, other than the spells, is the ability to identify unknown gear. Identifying items costs as much as their sale value, which gets into the tens of thousands of gold pieces for some magic items. Fortunately, reader Jonesy, who commented on my original Wizardry postings a few months ago during his own replay, gave me an idea: create the bishop, but have him just sit in the tavern. Swap him in when I need to identify something, and then boot him out when I'm done.
|"Identifier" prepares to get to work on a load of unknown items.|
This has worked out fairly well, but items have a chance of instilling fear in the bishop trying to identify them, a condition that prevents any further identification until cured. In some ways, his services have been more of a hassle than they're worth.
At this point, my characters are a couple levels below the last party I played in my December-February bout, but I've explored more of the map and solved more of the puzzles. I'll pick up from here with more detailed descriptions of the gameplay.
As I prepare to finish exploring Level 4, I have one mystery: On Levels 3 and 4, I encountered several pools of water that gave me the option to swim in them, and at multiple levels each.
In a comment in December, Delmoko tried to explain these pools to me, but I'm not getting anywhere with them. My characters keep drowning in the pools, which is a huge pain in the neck, because I have to haul them up to the temple for healing. Delmoko suggested that there were stats increases in some of the pools, but all I've managed to find are damage, poison, stat reductions, and encounters with monsters. Do these pools really serve any useful purpose? Can I just ignore them?
Finally, I think we might have a new entry in the "Most Annoying CRPG Enemies" list. Their name says all you need to know about them:
|Nothing like watching a $6,000 platemail +1 disappear in one bite.|
Despite my barely-disguised disdain for the silly NPCs and plot elements, I had a reasonably good time building up my characters and re-exploring the first four levels of the dungeon. Things go a lot faster when you're not continually rolling and building new characters, nor dealing with full-party deaths. I want to try to bang this out in a week. I have big plans for NetHack.