Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hero's Quest: Free the Man from in the Beast

Half the prophecy is fulfilled!

Day 4

I woke up determined to acquire this dispel potion. I needed green fur, "flying water," and fairy dust, with no idea how I was going to get any of them. But by the end of the day, I had them all.

The green fur came from an odd creature called a "meep" living under a rock in the western part of the valley. There was a whole colony of them. At first, I didn't know what to do with them, but I tried just talking to them and one of them happily offered me his fur. I wish I could have learned more about them, but they're skittish little creatures (1).

"Flying water" was a bit of a puzzle, though not a very difficult one: I collected it from a waterfall near 'Enry the 'Hermit's cave.

That left fairy dust. I hadn't found any fairies during my explorations of Spielburg Valley, but the healer helped me to understand that Spielburg Valley at night is a very different place than Spielburg Valley during the day. I needed to re-explore all the areas I'd previously explored after the sun went down to see what had changed.

I had previously found the mushroom ring and I brought some of the mushrooms to the healer for silver. More notably, I ate one, and...well, let's not talk about it.

That Italian plumber was a liar.

At night, the mushroom patch came alive with fairies--annoying fairies. They buzzed around my head and chattered incessantly, demanding that I dance for them. Well, I can't dance. All right? I said it. I've tried. But when the music starts, I just can't find a beat and my legs won't cooperate with anything I tell them to do. The fairies weren't having any of that, though. So I lurched around a bit, and it seemed to please them. They gave me the dust (2).

The fairy ring wasn't the only place different at night. Nearby, I found the graveyard alive (ha!) with ghosts and specters. But after a mental "flash-forward" in which I pictured them sucking the life out of my body, I "restored" my mind to the present and ran away fast.

The unspeakable thoughts of torture were actually coming up.

I bedded down in Erana's Peace for a good night's sleep.

Days 5-6

In the morning, I popped into the healer's and got my dispel potion.

That last bit turned out to be important.

Now to figure out where to use it. There were three places in the valley I hadn't explored: the bandit camp, Baba Yaga's hut, and a cave guarded by an ogre. The ogre looked fairly tough, and I didn't trust my ability to sneak around him. I decided I needed to take him in melee combat. But I needed to bulk up first (3).

For two days, I exercised and practiced. I climbed trees and fences, picked locks on barred doors, ran through the forest, threw daggers on the archery range, played Dag-Nab-It with the guildmaster, worked at the castle stables, and fought battle after battle with lesser foes (4).

Mantrays were tough opponents who had no treasure, but they certainly helped increase my skills.

I capped off Day 6 with a long night's sleep in the inn and headed off to the cave the next morning.

Day 7

After all that work, the ogre fell distressingly quickly to my dagger. He was all bulk and no skill.

Inside the cave, I found a bear chained to the floor. With the part of the prophecy about freeing the man from the beast in mind, I figured that it was Baronet Barnard ensorcelled. But the dispel potion clearly wasn't meant for him.

A bear, there was. A bear! A bear! All black and brown and covered with hair!

It turned out he was being held in place (and in form) by a magic manacle, and as the healer said, the potion doesn't work if the source of the enchantment is an object. So I made friends with the bear by giving him a ration and moved past him into the cave beyond (5).

Note: do not try this in the wild.

The next cave housed the bear's captor, a kobold wizard, wearing the key to the manacle around his neck. I could have sneaked up to him and stolen it right from him--I'm that good--but I decided it would be heroic not to leave an evil kobold wizard loose in the valley (6). At least, not unless I could team up with him, and he didn't seem amenable to that. I sneaked up to him and stabbed him until he was dead.

Exploring the kobold's cave later, I rammed my shin into some object on the floor. But there was nothing there! Feeling around, I discovered an invisible treasure chest, and I was able to pick its lock by feel alone (I'm that good). The treasure was amazing (7).

That's enough for a chainmail and a dozen healing potions.

I was still counting the coins and tossing them to myself when I suddenly remembered the real reason I came to the cave. I returned to the outer cave and unlocked the bear's manacle. That could have been a really bad idea, but instead it did what I'd hoped and turned him back into a man.

"Belle?" he said hopefully, after resuming his human form.

He was a total jackass:

But at least he was honest. When I went back to the castle, Baron Stefan von Spielburg not only invited me in for dinner and a night in the royal chambers (I could get used to both), he gave me a bunch of gold.

Rescuing your son isn't enough?

With my new chainmail, it's time to save the girl! Because the bandit leader seems to have some affection for the townsfolk, I had thought it might be Barnard, but clearly I was wrong about that. Now I'm thinking it's Elsa and her faithful jester, the missing Yorick, is the "warlock" Erasmus disparaged for not having any real magic (8).

Unfortunately, I can't imagine storming the front gates of the stronghold, so I need to find another way in. While I'm pondering it, I think a visit to Baba Yaga is in order first.

Notes and Comments

1. Meeps. I couldn't resist trying "kill meeps." The game has a little animation in which you play whack-a-mole with their rocks, to no effect. But I reloaded just in case it caused them to get meep revenge later on.

It doesn't even increase your strength.

2. Fairies. There are also special endings if you attempt violence on the fairies or eat the mushrooms more than once. I think I'm going to create a video montage of all the funny ways to die.

3. Bulking Up. I've talked before about how skills increase with use. Training works very well in this game. In about an hour (a couple of days in game time), I went from not being able to hold my own against a bandit to absolutely dominating a troll. If the game were larger, it would actually be a bit too easy for this reason, but an hour or so of "grinding" seems reasonable for a game of this size.

The red scores indicate abilities that have changed since the last time I looked.

There are a lot of ways to train skills in Hero's Quest, including simply fighting monster after monster, sparring with the weapon master, cleaning the stables every day, climbing (trees, rocks, the town gate), running everywhere, sneaking everywhere (although I had bad luck with this one), picking locks on doors that are barred on the other side, playing Dag-Nab-It with the thieves' guildmaster, and throwing daggers or rocks at the target board south of town. I haven't played as a mage, but I suspect the "Mage's Maze" mini-game trains you, too. I'm sure I missed a few. Not only do these sessions increase the associated skills, they also increase related attributes like strength, agility, and vitality, plus your maximum stamina, hit points, and magic points.

I created a quick video montage of Hero's Quest training. It's embedded below, and here if you want to go directly to YouTube. [Edit: Alas, I had copyrighted music in the video and it made it unavailable in most countries. I had to remove it.]

4. Combats. In the last posting, I mentioned that I didn't really like the combat system, but I didn't really talk about how they occur. Except for a few fixed combats, most of them occur randomly as you wander through the forest. Certain very difficult creatures--cheetaurs, mantrays, and trolls--only come out at night at the beginning of the game, but you're more likely to see them in the day as the game drags on. For the most part, it's not tough to avoid them, if you really want to, by sneaking or running.

It's not tough to find monsters by just wandering around, but if you really want to find guaranteed combats, I've found one area that spawns endless bandits, and another screen where a group of goblins lurks behind bushes and rocks, occasionally coming out to fight.

Goblins everywhere. I feel like there must be more to do on this screen, but I couldn't find it.

5. Cave. My unreliable narrator glossed over it, but it took me a long time to figure out what to do in the cave. The big problem is that it looks like the cave continues at the top of the screen, when instead the entrance to the next cave is on the right side, past the bear, where it barely looks like you can walk. In fact, the first time I tried to walk right, I got stuck on some obstacle and couldn't move, and I figured there was nowhere to go there.

Oh, by the way: What happens if you kill the bear? Bad stuff.

6. Sneaking up on the kobold. Some oddness here. When I tried to go into sneak mode in the kobold cave, the game told me that the echoes in the cave were too strong to sneak. When I tried to just walk up on the kobold, he killed me with magic. But when I started sneaking in the previous cave, it let me continue sneaking in the kobold cave with no problems.

The combat in this cave is also a little messed up. Instead of going to the regular combat screen, you end up fighting on the main screen (but using the same commands). At first, I didn't realize what was going on and kept typing "FIGHT KOBOLD" while the kobold calmly killed me.

7. The invisible chest. This and the solution to the healer's lost ring were the only two things I clearly remembered from my play of Quest for Glory 14 years ago. Otherwise, I probably wouldn't have wandered around the cave long enough to find it.

8. Elsa, Yorick, and the Brigands. You'd think I would have remembered this from my previous playing, but I didn't. Until close to the end, I thought Elsa was being held by the brigands, not the leader of the brigands. It wasn't until I realized that I still had a dispel potion to use on someone that I remembered that Elsa has magical amnesia. I guess I just spoiled the next posting.


  1. I feel a WON posting coming up. :)

    1. Well, considering the naming of these posts there should be at least 2 more then the GIMLET.

  2. Regarding the bandits, there's a location near Spielburg you still haven't visited (or, if you have, you may want to visit it again)... have you met the guy selling informations near the city gate?

    1. I think there was a screenshot about that on the last post.

    2. I did, but once he told me to drink the Dragon's Breath at the bar, I stopped listening to what he had to say.

    3. The guy that occasionally stands by the town gate is called Bruno. You might meet him elsewhere too, but he's not a friendly chap.

    4. @crpgaddict

      I mentioned him because he's involved in an event in that location I mentioned earlier... you may have been there if you've ever felt the need to improve your throwing skills.

    5. Yea. Unfortunately, this encounter has to be triggered by finding the note in the bar, which my first character did not.

  3. You already dessim emos lleeps.

  4. Since you've got the potion and freed the Baronet, here's a couple of animations I made to celebrate:

    Meep's Peep: http://i.imgur.com/f2rE0.gif

    Free The Man From In The Beast: http://i.imgur.com/aqIMK.gif

    1. I should do more with GIFs as a medium between static images and full video.

    2. You're welcome to use mine, I expect I'll be doing a few more over this series (but perhaps only a couple more for HQ1).

      No doubt they'd be especially good for when people are reading your blog on their phones (as I do sometimes).

    3. We need to get people to start using APNG. Why are we still using a format from the 80s? *Grumble*

  5. LOL. That training montage was fantastic.

    1. Thanks. It was my first attempt to use Movie Maker to add an external soundtrack.

    2. Blocked in Germany due to the music :(

    3. I'm sorry to hear that. I figured if YouTube scanned the music at all, they'd block it for everyone, since it uses a copyrighted song.

    4. Laws are different. From my understanding, they actively scan for some countries while it takes an actual complaint by the copyright holder in the US.

    5. Oh, be lucky you couldn't hear the music. It was horrid. I was going to mute it, but I couldn't believe just how bad it was and had to listen. It just kept getting worse, it was awesome.

    6. I love the video! I've left several comments there, ha ha!

    7. I'm glad you liked it. I'm wishing I used "Eye of the Tiger" instead, though.

    8. I'm afraid someone beat you to that, over four years ago:


    9. There are no original ideas in the world. He used stills, though. How lame is that?

    10. Pretty lame. Then again, it was 2008. I don't know what video capture programs were available, and if DOSBox had recording functionality yet. Yours is much better in any case, and I prefer the song in your video. Eye of the Tiger has been overplayed since Rocky was released.

  6. Hey, Giauz, here! The post before this one is where I left off chronologically (I guess it has been almost three years now). Anyway, I think I will try to catch up to the present day, now that I am feeling more like reading your blog again. I just wanted to add that, incedentally, I just read that 'The Bear and the Maiden' song the caption referenced yesterday (so awesome!).

    Lastly, I wanted to ask if you think you will ever get the Disqus commenting system (it would help integrate my experience with other blogs better, and I wouldn't have to check email for a reply).

    1. This was the first time I'd heard of Disqus. I looked into it, but that doesn't sound like a good solution for my blog. While I don't like anonymous comments, I prefer that users don't have to have and use an account with an existing service to comment on the blog.

      Good to see you again, though. I think you last commented on Ultima VI back in March 2014.

    2. I use Disqus through the Google account I am using now (Facebook, Twitter, and a few other commenting services also allow one to readily use Disqus). Anonymous comments are still possible.

      Also, I have been lurking on and off skiming what interests me. I missed the waiting for "new" game reviews and reading them in order. Thanks to my almost 3-year old bookmark I kept on my Google account, I don't think I'll be leaving your blog again any time soon :P

  7. I tried watching your Training Montage™ at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dnxn697k_Gs. Looks like Universal finally got around to slapping a takedown notice onto it:

    «This video contains content from UMG, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds. (Sorry about that.)»

    Might I suggest maybe replacing the music with another suitably montage-y soundtrack?

    1. That's funny. They still allow it in the U.S., and in fact an ad tries to sell the song while you're watching it. They probably don't have a mechanism for selling the song in your country, so they won't allow you to listen to it, either.

      Honestly, Holten, that was a time when I was experimenting with video editing (and not doing very well at it). I no longer have the software, and the result wasn't very good anyway. I don't think you're missing out on any significant part of my material by not being able to watch the video.

    2. Nope, I can't see it either (and I'm in the U.S.). You probably can watch it, because it's your video, CRPG-A. Maybe you could upload it to Vimeo or Facebook...? :)

    3. You ARE alive. I think I'll just take them down entirely. They're very amateur efforts.

    4. Yes, still alive. Sorry, I've been extremely busy with my channel. I did read your Eye of the Beholder posts and enjoyed them thoroughly. I was on mobile, though, and it wouldn't let me comment. :/

    5. Yeh, I can't comment from my iPad, it's a PITA.

  8. Although the last activity on this post was nearly four years ago making a reply a dicey proposition at best, I have to ask...was the music on your training montage that is no longer available anywhere Vince DiCola's training montage music from Rocky IV? Not sure why I care but, alas, it seems I do.

    1. It was "I'll Make a Man out of You" from Mulan.


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