Saturday, December 29, 2012

Curse of the Azure Bonds: Factions

Chaos is sown in their passage.

The overriding theme of Curse of the Azure Bonds is the party's relationship with various factions at work amidst the chaos of the Dalelands. The game manual gives a very good overview of these "power groups," but it's tough to get a full handle on things until you start playing. The key groups and their points of conflict are:

  • The Fire Knives hate King Azoun of Cormyr because he kicked them out of Cormyr. They've used their bonding technology to try to assassinate him twice, first with Alias (the heroine of the Azure Bonds novel) and then with my party.
  • The Zhentarim, a mercenary group in charge of Zhentil Keep, wants to take over the Dalelands and to that end has invaded the city of Teshwave, has allied with the city of Voonlar, is threatening Dagger Falls, and is fighting with the armies of Hillsfar (called the Red Plumes) in the ruins of Yulash.
  • Yulash, meanwhile, is also inhabited by the Cult of Moander,  the god of rot and corruption. Though he was banished to another realm by elves some time ago, his fanatical cultists have tried several times to restore him to Faerûn. Alias and her party were among their (failed) pawns, and my bonds are part of yet another attempt.
  • Elminster the Sage protects Shadowdale and has numerous enemies. The Zhentarim have designs on the city, and their Voonlar allies have attacked it several times. Dracandros, a Red Wizard of Thay, seems to be jealous of Elminster, going so far as to duplicate his sigil. Elminster is affiliated with the Harpers, a group of mostly good-aligned agents that oppose evil groups like the Zhentarim.
  • There is also a schism within the Zhentarim between the regular troops and mages, and the clerics led by Fzoul, a priest of Bane.
  • The Knights of Myth Drannor patrol the ruins of the ancient, powerful elven city, stopping anyone from getting in and anything from getting out. I encountered one of them fighting the Fire Knives for an unknown reason.

It is into this boiling cauldron that my party has been thrown, bonded to four of the five evil groups listed above plus Tyranthraxus, whose particular goals are unknown but who, like many of them, has an allegiance to Bane, the god of fear, hatred, and tyranny. Each of them wants to use me for their own purposes, but their alliance otherwise seems unstable and temporary. As I travel throughout the overland area, I see the evidence of the factions at work with and against each other. My Zhentarim sigil got me ill treatment in several towns (Red Plumes from Hillsfar overturned my drinks and attacked me), and I was barred from several inns. But in others, I was treated like royalty. Armies on the road are marching from one city to another.

How hard would it have been to wrap some cloth around our arms?

Unfortunately, I can't really role-play the factions. Since the primary motivation of the game is revenge against those who have bonded me, I am by default against those five groups and in favor of whomever opposes them. That works out okay for my good-aligned party, but some stronger faction-joining options would have made a more interesting game. The only role-playing option I've encountered so far is a phalanx of soldiers heading from Voonlar to Teshwave, intending to invade. Going with "the enemy of my enemy's allies is my friend," I attacked and routed them.

This was a good role-playing choice since I had no idea how large the "army" was. (It turned out to be about 12 guys.)

As I started to note at the end of the last posting, the outdoor area consists of a dozen visitable areas with multiple routes among them. You don't actually move the party between them but rather specify a destination and a method of travel. In between any two areas, on any route, there's a chance of a fixed encounter. For instance, between Teshwave and Zhentil Keep by boat, you'll be attacked by river pirates (unless you've already fought them off once). Between Tilverton and Dagger Falls by wilderness, you encounter a group of displacer beasts who have recently eaten the mage in charge of training them.

The destinations themselves consist of three types:

  • "Menu cities" in which you can visit stores, inns, bars, training halls, and temples, but only by menu.
  • Full cities containing one or more 16 x 16 maps that you can explore, all as part of the main quest
  • Menu cities with ruins nearby that you can explore via the "Search Area" command. These ruins are largely generic areas with random encounters and not important to the main plot.

Phlan, the setting of the last game, is much reduced in this one.

I was delighted to see that I could travel as far as Phlan, but it turned out to be a menu city. The option to explore the ruins took me to a set of generic ruins and not the same maps as in the original game. Still, there was a fun set of "tavern tales" in the Phlan bar, including the city clerk's depression with no new commissions to hand out. I was also pleased to see that the buccaneer base and the Zhent outpost to the west of Phlan were still in ruins.

Since I left Tilverton, I've been keeping a spreadsheet with every combination of starting point, destination, and route. There are almost 100 total, and I intend to travel every one to make sure I don't miss something important.

In terms of progressing on the main plot, there's an area called the "Standing Stone" (a monument commemorating an elven-human peace accord) where I encounter a mysterious robed man. Apparently, he gives hints as to the best faction to tackle next. But I was late finding the Standing Stone and I made an independent decision to take on the Zhentarim after the Fire Knives. My rationale is that fighters are easier than mages (like the Red Wizard of Thay) or clerics (like the cultists of Moander). Little did I know that the Zhentarim has plenty of mages and clerics--as well as gryphons, manticores, minotaurs, a medusa, and a beholder--in its employ.

Zhentil Keep was a powder keg from the moment I entered. Citizens scurried away from me on the street, whispering about a halfling who had been spreading rumors about me. Groups of mages, clerics, and fighters attacked me openly in the street. Several times, my bonds compelled me to attack them, but as they were priests of the evil god Bane, I didn't mind. I'm still a little unclear why the priest leader of the Zhentarim was compelling me to kill his own people, but it probably had something to do with the previously-mentioned schism.

Nothing like compelling me to do something I would have done anyway.

Pressing forward, I eventually encountered the halfling, Olive Rustkettle (another of Alias's companions from the book), who led me into the base of the Fzoul, the Zhent leader, who had captured the sage Dimswart. I'm not entirely sure why she was going through the city ahead of my arrival, telling everyone about me.

When I rescued the sage, he told me a lot more about my bonds (as he did for Alias in the book), including the identity of the high priestess of Moander (Mogion) and the Red Wizard. He suggested that Fzoul had me bonded so that he could make use of a cache of good-aligned weapons (how this works if I chose evil characters is unexplained). Most important, he told me that to defeat Tyranthraxus, I would need three magical artifacts: the Amulet of Lathander, the Helm of Dragons, and the Gauntlet of Moander.

I've played too many CRPGs to trust women in hooded cloaks, but the game left me with no choice.

I found that the base was sealed shut, but a mysterious hooded woman kept showing up and offering to lead me out, and finally I had to accept. She led me to a series of caverns and to her master, a beholder named Dexam, part of a faction of priests and beholders that serve Bane. Although technically allied with Fzoul and the Zhentarim, when Fzoul showed up and demanded that the beholder release me, the beholder blasted him with a disintegration ray and my Zhent bonds disappeared.

The enemy of my enemy did not, in this case, turn out to be my friend.

Dexam left me to his minions, whom I defeated and began looking for a way out. What I was beginning to grasp in the city itself became very clear in the caverns: I was here way too soon. My exploration of the caverns was a long series of deaths and reloads, with no way to escape until after the final battle (even one level-up would have helped). Every enemy I encountered had at least one cleric or priest, and battles with them are like quick-draw gunfights in the Old West, but with "Hold Person" spells instead of guns. If they got the drop on me, I'd have two or three characters frozen instantly, with almost no way to recover at that point. Winning even the random combats was a furious process of "Hold Person" and "Fireball." Some of the battles featured Drow warriors (no idea what they were doing here) with -7 armor class and high magic resistance, and thus virtually undamageable. I'd slay their minions in a couple of minutes and then spend the next 10 desperately trying to deal any damage to them as they took down my party members one by one.

Manticores can shoot their barbs and get about 8 attacks per round. When I had finally dealt with them (with fireballs, mostly), all the while fending off "Hold Person" from the priest, I still had to deal with the Drow. This battle took me about seven tries to win.

The random encounters seemed near-endless, and for a while I worried that they were. The only thing keeping me alive was finding a corner to rest and re-memorize in after every battle or two, and these rest periods carried a high risk of another random combat. Eventually, though, they did end. The whole experience served to remind me that some of the most angst-filled moments I have in CRPGs are when I'm stuck in areas and I don't know when I'll next be able to level up, identify my equipment, and otherwise reach a "stable" position. The expedition-and-return model is so common to CRPGs that it's jarring when games break it by making it unclear when you'll be able to "return" or simply not featuring returns at all (e.g., the entire roguelike sub-genre).

One of 20-25 identical battles in the caves. I don't know where I'd be without "Fireball."

The caves culminated in a major battle against Dexam the Beholder, his hooded assistant--who turned out to be a medusa--and a pack of minotaurs. Since medusas have the ability to gaze my characters to stone, and beholders have death rays and disintegration rays, the battle was essentially a question of whether my saving throws would keep me alive long enough for my fireballs (including a necklace of fireballs that I gave to a cleric) to clear out the minotaurs so that my fighters could reach the beholder and medusa. Even with "Haste," "Bless," "Prayer," and "Protection from Evil" active, it was nearly impossible, and the video below shows how my lower-level party was really out of their league in this battle. (It also illustrates a little about combat, sound, and graphics in the game.)

Nonetheless, perseverance and luck did the trick, and I killed the enemy and got the Amulet of Lathander from the beholder's corpse.

When I emerged from the caverns, Olive took Dimswart away, and I caught yet another glimpse of Princess Nacacia eloping with Gharri of Gond.

Zhentil Keep had descended into full chaos, and I was unable to re-enter the city to finish mapping the unexplored areas. Also, I keep getting attacked by random parties of Zhentarim on the road. But I no longer have drinks spilled on me in pubs, so there's an improvement.

The Zhents weren't happy that I turned their city into 1990s Sarajevo.

A few notes:

  • I've had to get used to the idea that large experience rewards are normal and don't mean that I'm going to level up on my next visit to the training hall. Every time I see a 4,000 or 5,000 experience reward, I assume that someone must have leveled up, but no, it takes a dozen of these now.
  • The economy is as bad as in Pool of Radiance, and already I'm not bothering to loot enemies after combat. The one good thing is that the game offered a magic shop in Zhentil Keep that sold absurdly expensive gear, like wands of magic missiles for 15,000 gold or potions of speed for 2,000. They also had magic arrows and Darts of the Hornet's Nest. But then again, every random battle with mages on the street produced Bracers of AC 6 that sold for 9,000 gold. And it seems like the shop is inaccessible now anyway. Gold encumbers, so I try to keep every character with just enough to pay for his next level-up and nothing more.

This was briefly cool.

  • Hillsfar, a visitable menu town in Curse, was the subject of its own single-character game, Hillsfar, released the same year. I guess it technically came before Curse, since you can import characters from it, so I should have probably played it first.
  • I have two major complaints about the interface: the game remembers neither memorized spells nor targeted enemies. This makes re-memorizing cast spells and combat (especially ranged combat) more annoying than it needs to be. I wonder if this is ever corrected.
  • I really dislike wilderness combats, mostly because the game starts the party about 17 miles from the enemy, and you have to waste a few rounds just getting into position.
  • The game has a funny reaction if you order milk in a bar.

Octavianus has reached Level 8 as a cleric and essentially serves all my cleric-based needs now. Cesario is on the cusp of reaching Level 9--one more combat should do it. When he does, I'm going to flip him to a mage. When Octavianus hits Level 9, he'll get his fighter abilities back and will be considerably more useful. Goldeneye, the ranger, just got her first druid spells. I'll experiment with "Entangle," "Faerie Fire," and "Invisibility to Animals" eventually, but right now I'm happy to take "Detect Magic" duties off Viola's hands so Viola can memorize another "Magic Missile" instead.

None of these sound like they'd make better use of a combat round than simply having Goldeneye attack.

Next, I'm going to finish exploring the overland travel routes and then decide whether I want to take on the Red Wizard next or the Cult of Moander. The game suggests the wizard would make the most sense, but I hear he has dragons.


  1. Wow! I've never heard about anyone taking on the Zhentarim as their first target after escaping Tilverton before. For me all the reloading and having to resort to resting after each battle would not be a very satisfying experience. The Red Wizard area is already one of the hardest areas in all the Gold Box games (only some areas in Pools of Darkness is harder IMO), but it's still the second easiest of the 5 main areas in CoAB. So to do the 4th hardest area second is crazy...

    Your style is a weird mix of Iron Man on a strategic level and the opposite - using reloading until you succeed - on a tactical level.

    BTW, last time I played this game I started a thread on the RPG Codex about which order to do things. May contain spoilers:

    1. If you do them in the proper order I thought the Zhentarim was the easiest area in the game. But I still wouldn't consider doing that before the others. I just expected that he discover that he is too low level and reload an earlier save and go somewhere else.

    2. I don't really like playing that way, with lots of reloading, but once you reach the caverns, there's no way out until you win that final battle.

      Ragnar, an "earlier save" would indeed have been a good idea, but I tend to uber-confidently just use the same save slot. It gets me in trouble fairly often.

    3. I'm the opposite. I never use the same save slot unless I am forced to (quick save does not count).

    4. I tend to either use a new one each time (Something modern games make easier and easier) or rotate through a series of 10 or so (Since I discovered some games slow down when the lists gets long, also, hard drive space)

    5. I don't know what my issue is. I suppose it's that when I restart the game the next day, I don't want to have to screw around trying to remember the last save slot. Yes, it wouldn't be any more difficult than opening the folder and checking the modified date, but still...

    6. The caves of the Beholder is just one of a few places in Gold Box games where the liberal approach to saves works. The graveyard in pool has a similar vibe, but you can retreat from that one. Frankly the caves would have been just a bit easier without Drow warriors showing up too.

  2. Haha, great stuff - impressive you persevered through all that. Although I've almost come to expect it by now!

    Also, just to be a grammar nazi, I believe there were a few errors:
    "I've played two many CRPGs" - too

    "The expediation-and-return model" - expedition?

    I could've sworn I saw another misspelling earlier than those two, but I didn't note it down and couldn't find if by skimming the post again.

    Looking forward to hearing more about your adventures :)

    1. Also "tepmorary" in "...but their alliance otherwise seems unstable and tepmorary" and "Next" in "They also had magic arrows and Darts of the Hornet's Next".

    2. Ah yes, "tepmorary" was the one I saw, but forgot.

    3. Well, since we're doing this... there's also an "attcked" in paragraph 5, line 3: "Voonlar allies have attcked it several times."

    4. And Chet posts at one o'clock in the morning for the last time. Thanks, everyone. Corrected.

    5. Since everyone else is pointing them out: "Fzoul had me bonded so that he cold make use" -- cold should be could.

    6. There is an equals sign after "arms" in one of the captions.

      "Fzoul had me bonded so that he cold make use of a cache" should be "could".

      "undamagable" is missing an 'e'.

      "expedtion-and-return" is still misspelled.

    7. Chet, beware! You're on the verge of being raided by the American Copy Editors Society.

      I hear they're quite deadly with the Chicago Manual of Style.

    8. When I make only one mistake, I'd consider it pedantic to leave a comment pointing it out. When I make dozens in one posting, I deserve it.

      The annoying thing is that I often edit books and articles professionally. It's not like I didn't KNOW the items above were errors. My brain just decided to make them anyway.

    9. I only commented because I figured you'd want to fix it - I have a vague memory of some grammar exchanges in the comments to some other posting of yours.

      Nothing about "deserving" it - I hope I'll continue to avoid being pedantic :)

  3. The overworld game reminds me a bit to realms of arkania 1&2 (I'm playing the 2nd rightnow).
    Sounds like a interesting game, i started a bit to late with rpgs, so I missed this series... Maybe i try the whole pool of radiance series later

  4. Wow, these games seem like great fun. Your blog is definitely giving me a solid list of games worth playing. I just don't ever seem to have the time...

  5. I remember that in Pool of Radiance there were shops that sold gemstones and gold bars, essentially allowing you to swap gold for equally-valued items, which may get around the encumbrance issue

    1. I haven't seen those here. Although that technically "worked" in POR, the problem was that there was no need to carry all that cash. You didn't need it for anything. So if you converted 25,000 gold pieces buy purchasing a diamond necklace, you just ended up carrying around a diamond necklace for the rest of the game.

    2. Personally I preferred converting those 25,000 gold pieces into a Fine Longbow.

    3. Sure. What did you do with the next 25,000? The game gets to a point, fairly quickly, in which you've bought all the items that could possibly be of any use and you're still collecting mounds of cash.

    4. So many of the problems you have (and will) encounter are less an issue with the software games and more with AD&D trying to move away from "army rules" to "party rules".

      Costs jumped between every edition of the rules. My 2nd Edition Player's Handbook lists a Galleon as the most expensive listed item, at 50,000 gp. Full Plate armor is listed as being between 4,000 and 15,000 gp.

      By 3rd Edition the ships disappeared from the Player's Handbook and Full Plate was now 1,500 gp and a whole bunch of new weapons were listed, most unsuitable for "army rules", but fine as individual weapons.

      AD&D always struggled with justification. What do you do with the next 25,000 gold...and more importantly, why would you keep risking your life fighting monsters after you got 25,000 gold anyway?

      Characters could command castles, guilds, mage towers, etc, that would consume gold, but at a certain point you had to wonder why your 18th level Fighter, ruler of six castles in four provinces, wouldn't just send two hundred men against the Beholder instead of going out himself.

      I guess that's why I like the Birthright world. It attempts to answer that question.

    5. My point is that "what do you do wit the next 25,000 gold?" is a fine question for a Level 20 character, but it's absurd that I'm asking it about Level 6 characters. The cash rewards in POR and CotAB are way beyond what they need to be. Why are fire giants carrying 6,000 gold pieces each? If the rewards had been scaled back to 1/10 of what they were, you'd feel like gold had some value. You'd conserve it for training, and really SAVE for that "fine long bow."

    6. I remember a passage in some TSR book mentioning how much townsfolk resented adventurers for coming along and driving inflation through the roof.

      "Why are fire giants carrying 6,000 gold pieces each?"

      To buy giant hamburgers of course!

  6. As to your final question(s), the next installment does indeed remember what spells you had memorized and give you the option to either change them or just relearn your current setup on rest. I don't think it ever remembers targetting.

    Hillsfar isn't much of a game either, much more like the old EA summer/winter olympics with D&D inspired 'events' where you get to level up your athlete, and seemed mostly just for preparing new paladins and rangers to enter into Curse, as Hillsfar is technically where those two classes make theire into, not in Curse.

  7. I agree with Octavianus. Taking on the Zhentarim first was a sure act of bravery. I usually take them on 2nd after defeating the mage to the south. If you go to Yulash next, be sure to have plenty of hold monster and hold person.

    I agree about the lack of roleplaying options. I ran a neutral/evil party just to test it. And still here I am fighting all the bad guys. I don't know why they included evil alingments in the goldbox games. It never served a purpose gamewise. Otherwise the civil war between Dexam and Fzoul would be more than just wallpaper for the game. I guess the first Baldur's gate solved this by allowing you to work with Harpters or Zhents since both were opposed to the Bandits.

    1. Not so much an act of bravery as an act of guesswork. The game isn't exactly obvious about the order in which you should do things. Since I had successfully beat Zhentarim in the first game, I figured they were lower-level. None of my clues suggested they were led by a high priest and allied with a beholder and medusa!

    2. I remember when I first played the game and Dexam removed the sigils, I was hoping he would aid me against Fzoul.

    3. Well, since he KILLS Fzoul, he does, in a fashion, aid you.

  8. i recall doing dracandros first, yulash second, zhents third. zhentarim first is really hard with beholders, medusae etc.

    save the dust for one of the iron man side quests ;) tower of 50 beholders in one battle! fun fun fun!


    2. its a sidequest of no point to the main game at all, designed as a test

    3. Pointless or not, a spoiler is a spoiler.

      Naq lbh nyfb gbyq uvz jurer gb hfr gur Qhfg, naq tvira uvz gur fhttrfgrq beqre bs Obaqf.

    4. Yeah, that wasn't cool, Stu. And you gave me an anti-spoiler besides. There weren't 50 beholders; there were only 15 of them. I was expecting a difficult battle, and now I've wasted all my Dust.

    5. This was a fun puzzle, reimplementing rot13 on a box without it. I went with:

      translatemap = [i for i in range(256)]
      rot13map = range(13, 26) + range(0,13)
      for i in range(26):
      translatemap[ord('a') + i] = ord('a') + rot13map[i]
      translatemap[ord('A') + i] = ord('A') + rot13map[i]
      "Naq lbh nyfb gbyq uvz jurer gb hfr gur Qhfg, naq tvira uvz gur fhttrfgrq beqre bs Obaqf.".translate(translatemap)

      And then I found the dust of disappearance:

      import codecs
      codecs.encode(""Naq lbh nyfb gbyq uvz jurer gb hfr gur Qhfg, naq tvira uvz gur fhttrfgrq beqre bs Obaqf.", "rot_13")

  9. Seeing the Addict on COTAB inspired me to play this too. This game is hard as nails.

    My party has just been crushed in the Dracandros fight, several times. He's a complete git.

    1. I finally defeated Dracandros, but at the cost of getting half my party killed. Bit concerned the -1 CON from Raise Dead means I'm boned for future adventures, especially as I wasn't playing with max stats to begin with...

  10. This one brings back many more good memories of watching my dad play this game. He would get so pissed as I constantly questioned him about every aspect of the game as it occurred. I think I was only 7 or 8 so the "quality" of the questions and the rate at which they were thrown must have been absolutely annoying :) but I still remember it fondly. Imagine having a backseat player who didn't know what a fireball was.
    Good times, good times :)

  11. This reminds me of the major drawback of the combat in the Gold Box games in particular and D&D in general: The combat is a bit too random-dependent. This is mostly due to the hit-or-miss nature of the combat and magic. Either you hit and do a lot of damage or you miss and do nothing at all. Either you succeed with your saving throw and will not be held by "Hold Person" or you are held and thus likely be taken out of combat. It makes for vastly varying results even if everyone in the combat do the exact same actions.

    1. Initiative can also be very decisive. In the most difficult battles, gaining initiative is crucial. Which is one of the reasons why DEX is by far the most important stat, IMO.

    2. Even with high dexterity, though, initiative seems to be extremely variable in this game. Very often, one character will go last in one round and then immediately go first in the next one.

    3. Ragnar, I never really thought about it, but you have a good point. With damage spells, there seems to be an option to make a saving throw for half damage. I'm not sure why "Hold Person" couldn't be effective for half the normal length of time, or something similar.

    4. Damage spells are usually save for 1/2. Magic Missle offers no saving throw. Status effect spells are usually all or nothing.

      I don't remember dex giving that great a bonus to initiative in 2nd ed. Maybe +2 at 18?

    5. +1 at 16, +2 at 17 and +3 at 18, I believe.
      Winning the last battles in Pools of Darkness was certainly easier with all my guys having 18 Dex (using an editor) instead of 17 or less Dex.

    6. Of course, these rules work pretty much fine at the table. Chance is part of the game and there's no presumption that the party should win combats. Being afraid and avoiding fights/running away is part of the game if you play basic/1st/2nd by the books.

      But in a much more rigid computer game, especially one willing to attack you with 40 magic-resistant creatures, it doesn't work so well.

  12. In this version of AD&D, haste would age all characters, right?

    I remember playing a Gold Box game (don't remember which one) in my youth, and eventually noticing, surprised, how my party was in their late 40s.

    Yes, I was new to AD&D :)

    1. Yes. That's something that concerns me, and I'm noting it in my next posting.

    2. There are Elixirs of Youth that will reduce the age. I think you can buy them in Pools of Darkness, possibly even in CoAB.

    3. Yes, you can eventually get so old that your character simply DIES right at the start of any combat. I don't remember the exact ages anymore, but it can happen.

  13. In response to this:
    "I have two major complaints about the interface: the game remembers neither memorized spells nor targeted enemies. This makes re-memorizing cast spells and combat (especially ranged combat) more annoying than it needs to be. I wonder if this is ever corrected."

    To answer your questions, both of these issues are corrected in later games.

    You will reach a point where it will not only remember what spells you had memorized, it will automatically memorize them for you when you hit the "Fix" button, so you don't even have to go to the trouble of looking at the selection screen until you level up and learn new spells.

    As far as targeting, at some point in the series, it does start to remember what your last selected target was. Not that it helps you now. And it might not even happen until the final game for all I know...but I do know it happens.

    1. That's good to know. The other thing that would be nice is if it would stop cycling through my own party members when I cast an offensive spell and use the "Next" option to target.

    2. That's another issue that is also corrected later. In some of the later games, pressing the Next and Prev options will only target enemies and never friends.

      Clearly, these were things they got feedback on during the time the games were out, and they slowly improved them over time.

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. I love old RPG's, so glad to find this site! You can expect me to be dropping in from time to time.

  16. Dexam = maxed in reverse? Probably a coincidence, and not a subtle hint.

    As for this quote: "The whole experience served to remind me that some of the most angst-filled moments I have in CRPGs are when I'm stuck in areas and I don't know when I'll next be able to level up, identify my equipment, and otherwise reach a "stable" position." That one I'm holding on to as one of the top 10 observations of CRPGs. Mess with someone's ability to train (or worse, make them feel like they're wasting XP) and you've got them on edge. Fill their inventory with unidentified (potentially junk, potentially killer) materials at the same time, and you've got a nervous wreck.

  17. I finally got around to finishing Curse. Young me quit in the same caves that caused you trouble.

    One strange piece of pacing: That Dinswart guy tells you about the three artifacts you need to win the game, and about Dracandros and Mogion - yet if you're following the intended order of bond removal, you've already dealt with those two and picked up their artifacts (and been confused about what the heck they were).

  18. I am only just now reading through these, years later.

    Anyway, can your cleric cast "create undead"?

    If so, how do undead fare against the beholder in this game?

    1. No summon spells in curse I’m afraid.

    2. I'm not sure that there are even any undead in the game.


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3. NO ANONYMOUS COMMENTS. It makes it impossible to tell who's who in a thread. If you don't want to log in to Google to comment, either a) choose the "Name/URL" option, pick a name for yourself, and just leave the URL blank, or b) sign your anonymous comment with a preferred user name in the text of the comment itself.

4. I appreciate if you use ROT13 for explicit spoilers for the current game and upcoming games. Please at least mention "ROT13" in the comment so we don't get a lot of replies saying "what is that gibberish?"

5. Comments on my blog are not a place for slurs against any race, sex, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or mental or physical disability. I will delete these on a case-by-case basis depending on my interpretation of what constitutes a "slur."

Blogger has a way of "eating" comments, so I highly recommend that you copy your words to the clipboard before submitting, just in case.

I read all comments, no matter how old the entry. So do many of my subscribers. Reader comments on "old" games continue to supplement our understanding of them. As such, all comment threads on this blog are live and active unless I specifically turn them off. There is no such thing as "necro-posting" on this blog, and thus no need to use that term.

I will delete any comments that simply point out typos. If you want to use the commenting system to alert me to them, great, I appreciate it, but there's no reason to leave such comments preserved for posterity.

I'm sorry for any difficulty commenting. I turn moderation on and off and "word verification" on and off frequently depending on the volume of spam I'm receiving. I only use either when spam gets out of control, so I appreciate your patience with both moderation tools.