|Now we know where Pirates of the Caribbean got its inspiration.|
I didn't mean for that break to be so long. It took me a while to remember what I was doing in the game when I finally got back to it.
The Dark Heart of Uukrul is one of those games where hours of play don't necessarily translate to much blogging. It took me about six hours of playing time to get enough material for this bit, although those six hours included significant character development and revealed the main quest. This is in contrast to plot-heavy games like Ultima IV and Ultima V, where every new town made me want to blog about what I'd discovered.
|Over Prufrock's objections, the party searched, and found a secret door they couldn't open.|
When I blogged last time, I had just entered part of a vast area that houses altars to each of the four gods. Visiting each one, my priest was got the base level spells for Fshofth and Drutho, and the next ring of spells for Ufthu and Golthur. Based on the nature of the leveling, I suspect that the rings (as well as the mage rings, which I got later) are awarded on the basis of frequency of use of the spells and prayers in each category. In other words, if I pray for SIRDHE (heal) to Golthur frequently, he'll give me the next ring faster. Frequency of use, rather than level, also seems to affect the maximum spell and prayer points. In any event, they've been increasing even when my levels have remained static.
|It would be nice if this means he'll listen to me more often.|
The temple area was full of messages that I had to translate slowly through my mage's NGOS spell. One casting doesn't necessarily translate the entire message; sometimes you just get a letter or two. A few messages took up to 15 castings, completely depleting my psychic power.
|Halfway through translating.|
Four of the messages in the temple area reflected the gods' different perspectives on life, I guess:
- Fshofth: "When all else has failed, keep heart."
- Ufthu: "When all else has failed, use your force."
- Drutho: "When all else has failed, cheat."
- Golthur: "When all else has failed, expect defeat." (Thanks for the uplift there, Golthur.)
|I have unfortunately, followed Drutho's advice on more than one occasion.|
Through long exploration, I eventually found the sage Saragis (the "old man" that Mara had talked about trusting). He wanted me to retrieve something from some kind of pool, but he didn't say where it was, only that he'd let me know when I found it. More important, he identified my unknown equipment. I confess I had been looking forward to the moment, assuming I had all kinds of great magic stuff, but everything turned out to be rather banal.
|Yes, I paid money for this. It might have been a magic bone.|
Two things I said last time turned out not to hold true. First, combats have been coming a lot more frequently, sometimes immediately on top of the last combat, sometimes when the only move I make is to turn. There are definitely random combats after all. Many of them offer paltry experience rewards (single-digit, even) when I need thousands for the next level.
|I only need another 2000 of these combats.|
I do appreciate the gold, though, because the shop sells all kinds of things I want to buy. I'm concentrating on armor first.
|No sense buying the cheap stuff.|
The second thing was the linearity of the dungeon: it's definitely opened up. I now have six or seven stairways untaken, and I keep using the teleporters to bounce around from one map area to another, trying different unexplored areas rather than keeping a consistent heading.
Here's an odd thing: my characters haven't increased in level since last time I blogged. I reached Level 4 in what seemed like no time, and since then I've been very incrementally building the additional 4,000+ experience points I need for Level 5. Corpses that drain experience don't help.
|A long way from the next level.|
So towards the end of my playing session, I at last reached the Circle of Magicians, where my mage got a ton of new spell levels and the three Arkanas he didn't already have. I guess I was supposed to find this sooner.
|This allows me access to more powerful spells. I look forward to using them.|
The Circle also allows me to "consult the archives," passage by passage, although only up to a certain number that I guess is based on experience. But even the first five passages explained what the main quest was about:
I, Suraqis, have here created a log of the wonders and perils of this mountain city Eriosthe. In it I have left my thoughts and reflections which may be of help to you who now read this.
The lord Uukrul has cast a pall of darkness across our land. It shames me to think he was once of our calling. Now, twisted and ruined by promises of corruption, he mocks at us; but his arrogance will be his downfall.
Uukrul, fearing another attack by the Council, has hidden his black heart in a magical chalice, protected by six locks. Each may be opened only by a petrified human heart.
In the caverns hidden by a web of teleporters is a pool: a pool of tears. Within the pool lies a small black rod. If that rod is taken to the beacon, the beacon can be lit.
Uukrul's agents have hidden two hearts west of the caverns. I know not where they are, but have heard tell that one lies with the dead.
So I have to find six petrified hearts (what Mara in a vision called "frozen" hearts) and then the Dead Man's Chalice. Since I have not yet found one, it feels like I'm still very early in the game. Messages posted on the wall near the Circle of Magicians give me clues as to the locations of the hearts. At least, the first three do: my spellpower is insufficient to translate the others.
|I know where this area is, but I haven't figured out how to get past the gases and poisonous air.|
Here are the miscellaneous notes I've collected through my explorations:
- I've found four secret doors that I cannot open through the usual methods of forcing or searching for a lever. I suspect that either I need more strength or I need to get the HOYAMQ prayer from Drutho, god of the underworld. To maximize this chance, I've been translating all the messages on the walls with the UMESH prayer, even though it rarely works.
|Gliglois needs to hit the gym.|
- The paladin's "lay on hands" ability can damage enemies as well as heal party members. It only works in combat. This is an unusual adaptation.
- I forgot to mention broken weapons in my first postings. Every once in a while, when you strike an enemy, your weapon shatters, and you have to return to the smith to fix it. For that reason, I like to keep a backup weapon or two in my characters' inventories. But as Saintus warned, it's easy to miss the breaking, especially if you're using auto combat. More than once, I've found that my characters have been fighting with their hands for the last hour.
|This mace has been repaired about 16 times.|
- Another thing that happens almost as often as weapon breakage is enemies are "stunned" by a blow, paralyzing them for a round or two. This is always nice. There are also critical hits.
|These are the bastards that drain experience.|
- The priest has a couple of options in combat that I didn't cover last time: turn undead and summon elemental. The former has worked on several occasions, and like in Dungeons & Dragons games, as the priest advances, it simply kills low-level undead while forcing more equally matched undead to flee. Summon elemental has never worked once. I suspect I need to be a higher level.
- There are spinners in the dungeons, and as in Bloodwych, they are a little diabolical, usually appearing in places that look the same from all directions. I have to keep using the "Heading Check" command to verify where I'm facing.
- In autocombat, my mage can't tell when there's a wall in his way. He wastes a lot of spells trying to cast through walls.
I'm still really enjoying the game's vivid descriptions of areas...
|If the pyramid-shaped blocks were confusing, this is triply so.|
...and its occasional odd encounters, in which there's some kind of role-playing choice:
|There was a struggle between Invictia and Plenamujer. Plenamjuer won.|
These features elevate it from the standard "dungeon crawl," even if it is a bit more like Dungeon Master in its seemingly endless corridors.
I'll work on a video for next time.