Monday, December 17, 2012

Drakkhen: Lots of Tears

My party fights and kills the Drakkhen who I think is the Prince of Water.

When we last left our intrepid team, they had reached the castle of the Prince of Water, but were unsure how to enter, since the drawbridge kept slamming shut and crushing anyone who tried to cross. I had received a clue that some kind of spell was necessary to keep it shut, so I returned. A very brief experiment determined that the key spell was UNLOCK, which I'm charitably going to assume is translated from a term with a broader meaning in French.

Incidentally, this is only the second-weirdest creature that I've faced in the game. The weirdest looks like a robot and shoots laser beams from his chest. He never sticks around long enough for me to get a screen shot.

The enemies in the castle were far too difficult for my party, so after I died, I reloaded and began the process of character development.

"Grinding" in this game would be boring except that it essentially requires no effort at all. You just have to stand around and wait for enemies to appear, at which point (assuming you have autocombat enabled), your characters pounce on them. Every once in a while, you peek in on the game to make sure that nobody is dead, toss the junk equipment they've picked up from their kills, and save the game. If the characters get low on hit points, you just go stand in front of a castle or shop for a while, where enemies never attack and hit points and spell points slowly regenerate. When the inevitable impossible creature comes along (my particular nemesis is this giant floating worm), you just reload. I left it going all day like this, graded a bunch of papers, wrapped some presents, and got some NetHack playing in. When I was done, everyone had risen two levels, and I had some neat new gear, including several swords and shields +1, and some rings that increased my attributes.

The party waits around for danger to appear.

There's still a major experience disparity. I tried to solve this by having the high-level characters stand aside and let the mage and priest engage in most of the combat, but that just got everyone killed. I just decided to live with it. My fighter and scout are about double the levels of my priest and mage.

I also boosted my equipment by wandering the island until I found the equipment shop. The shopkeeper had some better helmets and robes than I already had. I also bought his single bow, but no one I give it to can hit the broadside of a barn with it. Given that I'm also having trouble hitting enemies with spells and hitting my own characters with healing spells, I suspect there's something broken with "ranged" things in this game, or at least when running under this emulator.

Browsing the equipment shop.

The levels and equipment helped me in the castle, but not by much. The Castle of Water was atmospherically dripping with mold and slime and it had a number of elemental and Drakkhen foes.

Someone needs to get some bleach in here.

It was a much larger fortress than the Prince of Earth's, with several rooms that spawned monsters continuously--a fact that I only realized after my fourth or fifth attempt to clear the never-ending fire elementals. There were some decent pieces of armor and weaponry, and I might go back for a second plundering (items respawn once you leave the castle).

Teleported to a room of never-ending water elementals (which made it hard to pick up that armor in the back).

Unlike the Prince of Earth's, no one in the Prince of Water's was friendly. I ended up killing a Drakkhen who I think was the Prince of Earth--he kept hitting me with paralysis spells--with no options for dialogue. Towards the end of the level, there was a pool of water that teleported my scout when I looked into it, splitting my party. The destination room was filled with water elementals that kept respawning, so it was tough to bring my other characters through (more on this in a bit). I ultimately found myself in a dungeon where a prisoner gave me some hints as to the next stage of the quest.

He also told me something that I figured out in the first 15 minutes of gameplay.

By the time I left the prisoner, only my fighter and scout were alive, and my scout soon found himself eaten by a doorway--seriously, there was this doorway that just chomped down on him when he walked into it. My fighter left the building dragging three dead party members. Fortunately, even though they died in different parts of the dungeon, he still had them and all their gear.

For a while, I weighed reloading, but I didn't want to face the same troubles again and again, so I sucked it up and headed to a nearby temple in the middle of the swamp.

Lots of poetry to say "give me money and I'll resurrect your party members."

Here, I encountered one of the dumbest game interface issues of any game I've ever played. To heal or resurrect a character, that character has to be holding the requisite gold. But there's no way to transfer gold from one character to another--at least, not any that I can find--in the regular game interface. The only place to do it is at the equipment shop. So after some infuriating messages, I trudged to the equipment shop, sold my excess stuff, transferred the gold to the characters that needed resurrecting, and trudged back to the temple. Unfortunately, I only had enough to raise my priest and mage. I had to trudge back to the weapons shop, where I set up camp nearby, grinding against wandering monsters for gold and experience and selling their loot when my inventory got loaded. The only good part about this was that my dead scout had the highest experience and thus needed the grinding the least.

I just thought this was a neat image of the sun rising next to the weapon shop.

In the midst of it, I tried to piece together what I'd learned from the old man that keeps appearing on the roads, the denizens of various houses across the land, and the books I'd been picking up from the castles (they are mysteriously labeled "spellbooks" even though they seem to contain messages rather than spells; these messages are only translatable with the "Languages" spell).

I covered the game's overall back story in my first posting on the game. Briefly, my party consists of four humans from a mainland empire who have come to the recently-discovered isle of Drakkhen (dragon-blooded beings) to deal with the threat of the island and it's people expanding and wiping out the human world. At first, I thought the game had essentially abandoned this premise once play started, because it didn't seem to refer to it at all, but I'm getting more tie-ins to the manual backstory as I progress.

The Drakkhen seem to have plenty of problems of their own, with wars going on between factions. There is some suggestion--though not strong--that perhaps these wars are the result of philosophical differences caused by the first contact with humans (my party is trying to find the priest from that expedition).

There are four factions of Drakkhen--Air, Earth, Fire, and Water--each with a Prince and a Princess, who in each case seem to be siblings and have similar names. The Prince of Fire (whose name I have not yet come across) seems to have allied with the Prince of Water (Haaggkhen) against Earth (Prince Hordtkhen and Princess Hordtkha). Air seems to be split; the prisoner in Haaggkhen's castle told me that the Princess of Air (Naathkha) helped the Prince of Fire kidnap the Prince of Air (Naathkhen) and destroy his castle. 


As the game was starting, the Prince of Fire had marched on the Earth region and destroyed Princess Hordtkha's castle, and when I was in Haaggkhen's castle, there was a note from him to Princess Naathkha (Air) that he'd imprisoned Hordtkha in his dungeon. If this is the case, I did not encounter her there, so I'm wondering if I missed something.

There was also a note that Prince Haaggkhen (Water) destroyed a village called Haggor because it was sheltering a human escapee. The mysterious old man who keeps showing up on the road claims to be the last survivor of that village. I had thought he was human, but unless he's saying that he was the escaped prisoner, I guess not.

That appearing/disappearing ability you have must have come in handy when the village was sacked.
 
Meanwhile, based on another note that Haaggkhen wrote to Naathkha, the Fire/Water conspiracy thinks that my party is working for Hordtkhen (Earth).

Apparently since the Prince of Earth's castle was the first one I wandered into, I am now "acting in his interests."

There is something called the "Coalition of the Nine Tears" that believes Drakkhen and humans can co-exist. The healer in the Temple of Anak claims to be a member. It didn't lead him to give me a discount on resurrection or anything. But there's a whole thing going on with the "tears" that the game hasn't clarified. Something about the Father (the ur-dragon all Drakkhen seem to worship) shedding eight tears for the Drakkhen but also a ninth tear for humanity, indicating that they could also be saved.

So, anyway, thanks to a few lucky encounters with high-value foes, I made enough money to go back to the temple and resurrect my scout. At this point, I have to decide whether to grind some more in the Water area or head to my next objective, which I think is one of the castles of Air.

Before I wrap up, a couple things on logistics and interface. The inventory screen is split between things that you wear or wield (left side) and things that you use (right side), with a maximum number of objects for both. With all the things that you can wear--shirts, jackets, armor, helmets, shields, greaves--it's easy to completely fill the left side and have no room to pick up slain enemies' items, so I had to sacrifice a few points of armor class to keep a slot or two free.

Berowne and his inventory, just before his resurrection.

The items that you can use include rings, scepters, keys, torches, and potions, and you can only have one active at a time. I've had a tough time determining what ring or scepter to keep equipped. Some of them convey increases to attributes (e.g., a ring of +2 strength) and some convey an "ability," which seems like a permanently-active spell, like invisibility. In general, I've favored the attribute bonuses since the "abilities" all seem to have analogous spells. I'm not completely sure about this, however, and the manual doesn't say anything about abilities.

The most frustrating part about the gameplay is getting the characters to move where I want them to go. The pathfinding is awful, and if they sense the slightest obstacle, they'll just dither around in place or go wandering in some random direction. It's especially bad when they get split between rooms, and especially especially bad when one of those rooms has a creature I should be fighting but the other doesn't. You can't have the autocombat going for only one part of your party: it's all or nothing. This caused problems in the Castle of Water when, for instance, some of my party members were stuck in a room with a fire elemental that they needed to flee, and the rest were in the next room with a Drakkhen that they needed to kill. If I concentrated on hustling the fleeing party members out the door (with autocombat off), the other party members got beat on mercilessly by the foe in the next room. But if I turned on autocombat to deal with him, the party members that were supposed to be fleeing would instead hang out and try to fruitlessly kill the fire elemental. I suffered lots of deaths this way. Aside from the lethality of it, simply moving around a room and searching objects is far more difficult than it needs to be.

I'll be honest: I really don't want to play this game much longer. The amount of time I've invested since the last posting seems absurd given my actual in-game progress. Could one of my readers who has played the game to completion give me a frank assessment of what percentage I've completed and how much time I likely have left?


111 comments:

  1. I don't really know the game, but I just extremely quickly looked at a walkthrough which suggested being level 12-13 when tackling the last part of the game.

    That might give some indication about how far along you are.

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    1. Thanks! Either about half-way or about 1/4 way depending on whether I go by my fighter or my mage.

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    2. 8 castles, 8 tears, pretty clear about how far along you are. I'd guess a little under half-way, but the last part of the game can go rather quickly.

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  2. Chet, if you aren't enthused about continuing, just stop. You must have put at least six hours into it by now, and I see you have 2 good sequels coming up soon - Curse of the Azure Bonds and Dungeon Master: Chaos Strikes Back, as well as several interesting-looking minor titles.

    I vote for stopping.

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    1. My problem with Chaos Strike Back (CSB) is that it's just Dungeon master (DM) all over again. DM was kind of innovative at the time so it deserve some praise. But CSB is nothing new, and the flaws we came to accepts in DM become kind of unbearable here. I'd better see Chet explore a less known game that re-explore an unimaginative sequel of a well known game IMHO.

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    2. I understand what you mean, but I'd skip a lot of games if I demanded interface originality in every game. (Among other things, the first Wizardry would be the only one I've played so far.) Sometimes it's fun to learn an entirely new engine, and sometimes it's fun to see what subtle changes the developers made in a familiar engine, or how they used a familiar engine to tell a new story.

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    3. chet, the gameplay and interface are the same as DM but the non-linearity makes it original. chaos strikes back is an extremely difficult non-linear game. ive got a feeling its going to take you a long time to finish it, what with all the mapping youre going to HAVE to do. if youre not liking drakkhen very much then id think about skipping it, you do have a great game coming up in Curse, and CSB is gonna take a while. My $0.02. oh and if you want some non-spoiler tips for CSB you can message me, I played this game a LOT when i was younger.

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    4. CSB is like a high density, unlinear version of DM on steroids. Definitely not just DM all over again. Consider DM instead as the tutorial for the real thing.

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    5. I agree you can't skip a game because of it's unoriginal engine/interface. If he did that he would be skipping practically all the other gold box rpgs after pools of radiance (including curse of the azure bonds) ;)

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    6. I loved CSB, but then I'd already obsessively completed DM several times. I thought I was pretty damn good at the whole game already, so it was a learning experience to get beaten up so decisively by the first few days of CSB. It's much, much more testing, and finally understanding how the whole thing fits together was very satisfying.

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    7. CSB is definitely not "just DM all over again" and you'll learn it the hard way when you play it. The difficulty level starts in CSB where it ended in DM, and it's at the same time devilishly mean-spirited and jam-packed full of stuff. The starting room has more secrets than some entire levels in DM. I regard it as one of the four badass DM clones that one must beat to prove himself a Man (the other three are Black Crypt, Knightmare and The Legacy).

      Re: Drakkhen - I must say I absolutely love the pseudo-point-and-click adventure game art style in this game. Just based on the screenshots it looks like the prettiest game you have covered so far. I've always been kind of fascinated by it, but couldn't deal with the polygon-based outdoors when I briefly tried out the SNES port.

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    8. I didnt want to start a war about CSB. The point is I never get past the first level. Probably that's the reason why I'm bitter about the game.
      Worst than that, despite hours spent on the game, I could not finish DM to begin with. So I probably lack the dedication for this king of game... But seriously running back and forth while hysterically cliquing, whatever your level and gear, isnt the stuff I like in my crpg combat system.

      For what you all said (non linearity, difficulty, etc), I would finally really enjoy seeing the Addict suffering through the game. Please CBS old players accept my sincere apologies.

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    9. Don’t know about anyone else Nathan but I certainly don’t take offense when people don’t enjoy the same games as me, so criticise away as far as I'm concerned! Tried to replay DM on an emulator recently and found it had lost some of its lustre - the amount of clicking is definitely excessive. I'm spoiled by the TES games these days...

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    10. I played CSB last year and loved every minute of it. I still rank it as one of the all time greats. The dungeon is perhaps the most complex one to map in any CRPG, but since I love a good mapping challenge that is a good thing in my book.

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    11. IIRC, CSB has a couple of minor interface differences - you could drink directly from fountains by clicking them with the pointer (character delineated as party leader gets the hydration), and you could test for illusionary walls by clicking on them - if the wall was fake, the pointer would disappear for a second.

      I remember glitching the Amiga version of CSB by testing for a fake wall like this but moving while the pointer was still invisible, and it never came back!

      Been reading here for a while, but this is my first post - this is an epic undertaking, CRPG Addict, good luck!

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    12. BWP, the fountain-drinking and wall-clicking improvements were first made in an updated version of Dungeon Master. I've witnessed the changes in v3.6 on the Amiga, but I think the changes were made in 2.0. :)

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    13. @Amy K - I see! I must have had an early build of DM then I suppose... It only seems fair to have the wall check in there at least, since running into them damages your party.

      Although I finished DM, like a few of the commenters above, CSB kicked my arse. I still remember some of the nastier puzzles I ran across, but I don't think I ever made it very far in (though I do remember wasting quite a bit of time messing with the portrait editor).

      I too am hoping you manage to get further than I did CRPG Addict, I'd quite like to see some of the later fiendishness...

      Fortitude! Fireballs! ...Ful Bro Neta!

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  3. I am increasingly coming to the conclusion that deleting Drakkhen from my own chronological play list was a wise choice...

    Incidentally Drakkhen is also the oldest game in my physical games collection that I never played. I wonder why I bought it in the first place? Probably some "buy two decent games at full price and got one crap game for free" scheme.

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    1. Maybe it just sounded cool. It combines "dragon" with the 1980s/early 1990s tendency to try to make things sound cool by adding "en" to the end.

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    2. Drakkhen sounds like a cross between the German "Drachen" and the Swedish "Draken", both of which mean dragon.

      Before anyone gets impressed, I only know a bit of German and the only reason I know about Draken is because it's the name of a Swedish fighter jet. Military aircraft are a bit of a passion of mine.

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  4. I don't mind if you give it up, really. Just do some wandering in the desert first. You'll find things much wierder than Wire Frame Guy and Black Laser Dude, trust me. AFAIC, you gave it a very good go. Drakken is very love it or hate it.

    Nyxalinth

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    1. Yes! There is one creature I know that some of us want you to encounter before quitting ; )

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    2. Okay. That piques my curiosity.

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    3. Not sure about the PC versions, but the SNES version locks areas depending on how far you are in the plot. You get a message saying you're not strong enough for this area, and are turned back (180 reversed and moved back). So, you'll have to play through part of Air I believe.

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    4. I've been to each area at least once, if only briefly, and I've never gotten that message, so I'm guessing SNES only.

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    5. I'm pretty sure I'm thinking of the same creature you all are. I've been waiting for it to get mentioned in a blog entry but it hasn't come up yet so I'm assuming Chet hasn't seen it. There's just no way he WOULDN'T mention it.

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    6. Let me know if the one at the top of my next posting is the one.

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    7. That's the one! I agree with your assessment, weirdest monster I've ever seen in any CRPG. Please tell me you had the sound on when you ran into it the first time.

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  5. Brave soul named magmawk has made 17-part Let's Play Walktrough for Drakkhen (SNES version) in case you want to have a look would it have been worth time and trouble.

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  6. I suppose you're not too far from getting your first tear. After that a bunch others come pretty fast. It can be rewarding.
    The few last tears are the worst to get. But hey! I never finished the game either, nor wanted to.

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    1. See, that was a bit of a spoiler. I didn't realize tears were objects that you obtain.

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    2. Isn't there a status screen with an 8 point star? There is in the SNES version. I actually see it on your last screen in this post. Sorry for the spoiler. I thought collecting the tears was known in this story... it is in the SNES version. I guess more stuff is explained there.

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    3. Actually, more like a circle instead of a star here. It would have been clear once you received your first one.

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    4. Damnit! I'm really sorry for the spoiler.
      But there's nothing you can do to get them earlier or latter. It's kind of how the story progress, didnt think it was a big deal. Sorry again.

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    5. That's all right. I came across the in-game reference literally minutes later.

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  7. First of all, it's been a long time but I am extremely doubtful that the drakkhen in your first picture here is the prince of anything. I think that's just a priestly type.

    You're not in the endgame by any means but you're progressing a lot more quickly than I did back in the day. I'd say you're perhaps a third of the way through. It's a game I feel a lot of fondness for, but I can't wholeheartedly tell you that things are going to get that much better or criticize your inclination to give it up. The interface will remain frustrating and the combat confusing, though it'll get easier as you find the higher-grade weaponry.

    I think in retrospect Drakkhen really changed my idea of how immersive a computer game could be with its open environment, beautifully realized day/night cycle, atmospheric sound etc. But the interface is poor and the difficulty curve all over the shop.

    The enemies are probably the game's most exceptional feature, and my anonymous colleague is right that the laser chap and the wireframe swordsman aren't the half of it. There's one thing in the desert that expresses certain strong emotions toward the player that's among the oddest things I've encountered in a computer game.

    If you do decide to carry on for a bit, the problems you've been having with the autocombat and whole-party navigation are mostly allayed if you explore with a single character. The magician with regular shield spells is a good bet as he can wear down pretty much anything.

    The castles contain a fair few secrets, good and bad. (Like the character-eating doors, or like vital-to-the-plot areas.) There are subtle visual clues to these, but as you've discovered not all of these are designed with colour-blind people in mind.

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    1. I guess that was a big assumption. In the other castle, I encountered the Prince in his bedchamber, so when I encountered the guy up top in the bedchamber, I didn't otherwise encounter the Prince, and he was unique (I never saw another one like that in the dungeon, I assumed.

      You've intrigued me enough to continue as far as the desert, at least.

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  8. Incidentally, isn't it odd how ubiquitous the elemental system of earth/air/fire/water is as a structuring principle in computer games and fantasy-themed stuff more generally, considering it hasn't enjoyed much popularity as an actual scientific theory of the world for several hundred years at least?

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    1. I was thinking that the other day, too. Attention CRPG developers: abandon this tired trope. We want to see Helium Dragons and Sodium Elementals!

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    2. That would be something I would like to see actually. Encountering a plutonium elemental or hydrogen breathing dragon sounds lethal! And almost believable in a quasi-science kind of way.

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    3. Distasteful. The Four Elements are classics for a reason.

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    4. elementals and dragons based on modern elements is a great idea!

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    5. "Distasteful. The Four Elements are classics for a reason."

      The reason being that human beings are foolish and refuse to let bad ideas drop when they should?

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    6. Well, occasionally other element creatures pop up, generally in humor.

      http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0423.html

      And the Quest For Glory 2 fan-remake included an extra bonus elemental attack (keeping in the element system expoused in the later games).

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    7. Don't forget http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0825.html

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    8. Well... There's neutronium golems. Does that count?

      http://1d4chan.org/images/4/43/Neutronium_golem_page.png

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    9. "You smash the neon elemental with your hammer. It doesn't react."

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    10. Now you know where all those rusty iron swords and those rusty bucklers come from: some oxygen elemental played with them for a few years.

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    11. Along the lines of the addict's old post about what games have taught us, I occasionally wonder about games that would really teach something useful. I mean, my head is crammed with a vast amount of basically useless information about the magic and combat systems of a wide range of RPGs and CRPGs. If there was a CRPG whose magic system worked around the periodic table, say, I might have picked up some chemical knowledge from this hobby that'd actually have some application in the real world, rather than just that fireballs do 1d6 damage per caster level and that kind of thing.

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    12. Doesn't Shadowrun or Mage have something like this? I have a very strong and yet incredibly vague recollection of elemental enemies made from actual physical elements.

      I was recently reading a book that touched on the early history of chemistry in the middle ages, and apparently at one point alchemists had added a couple new elements to the classical four. The new elements were sulfur (which apparently combusts rather than burns) and salt (which is neither combustible nor flammable).

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    13. Nate: Combustion and burning are both synonyms for a particular type of visible oxidation as far as I know.

      Tomsk: Interesting idea.

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    14. Canageek if you have the inclination and game design chops this sounds right up your alley.

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    15. Magic systems are hard, since they are a pain in the rear to balance. I think I'd want to work with a game designer on that.

      It would be fun though, bringing in some old theories and alchemy and such. I'd be a bit guilty for propagating myths though, at least with the 4 element system no one actually believes it, while a lot of people are deluded by psudoscience.

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    16. Depends on how you set up the world. If you have an event which slightly alters physics, like the Shadowrun universe, and explicitly state that some crazy theories that didn't work before now work you have put on your disclaimer.

      Actually it would fit with a world I have been toying with for running games. One where x-files/fringe/coast-to-coast strange conspiracy theories are occurring.

      If you didn't live out in the frigid white wastelands of Canadiatown I'd work on it with you.

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    17. Heh, yeah. A CRPG is also a lot easier to design then a tabletop RPG, since spells can only do what you code them to do, not the million and six things players will think up to do with a minor telekinesis spell.

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    18. Though in tabletop you have the GM who can arbitrarily state how it works or does not. Also the odd ways of using spells are part of what makes table top fun, so I encourage (usually with extra XP) my players to think of non-standard ways to solve problems like that.

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    19. True, however it also brings in over powered things you have to watch out for (Create water is a 0 level spell that creates 2 gallons of water/level of caster at any point within X distance. There is a note that you can't use it to create water inside living creatures, evidently due to people using it to create water inside of monsters lungs, making a 0-level spell super powerful)

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    20. As a GM I would just say that you have to be able to see where you want the water to go. So no casting it into lungs because you cant see inside the lungs. Really these kinds of problems only come up with rules lawyers who like to argue the syntax of things, and as long as you consistently represent how you the GM interpret the rules you can easily say "Ask me, not the book".

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    21. UbAh: That is infact a rule in 3rd edition, one that I hate as it means if I go blind I can't randomly lob Fireballs around. >.>

      THe problem with the 'Rulings not Rules' is that it makes the game very inconstant from table to table, and even week to week at the same table, so I'm never sure of EXACTLY what I can do, leading to making creative plans much more difficult.

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    22. Well I guess it depends on the style of game you are running. If you are running a very tactical, hack and slash, or lootfest game you want to have some hard definitions that help with tactical planning. If you run a more acting (playing the role) based game then rulings help more.

      I usually have a gimme redo if someones plans hinge on some physics they thought exist but their character should reasonably know does not exist. I also encourage players to run such plans by me so that I can let them know if things can possibly work the way they are thinking before they base an entire plan on it.

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    23. Actually I find that in combat pretty much any standard use has been outlined. It is puzzle solving situations where I want to know what is going on exactly. For example, in one Living Greyhawk scenario there is a monk tied to a chair, on a platform over a water pit. The platform is freely rotating, and connected to the wall with a pole. Now, if you can get her free somehow, she is high enough level that she can either dive into the water or balance along the greased pole back to the catwalk. Alternativly you could levitate her back, or like we did, accidentally knock her into the water, dive into it pirate-style and cut her loose just in time (low level party, very limited magic resources). However, if I had my higher level cleric around, I want to know the exact limitations of Stone Shape to see if I could lock the pipe in place, how much weight can I life with telekinesis, can mage hand apply enough force when lifting a dagger to cut the ropes, etc. Since this adventure is being run by a lot of DMs the more clear the rules are, the more consitant experience each party will have, and thus the more fun it is to share stories after the game.

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    24. Canageek, I think I am in the opposite camp on this issue. You want your players to be able to think creatively and come up with their own way of doing things, not just what has been documented. That creativity is a big part of the fun that goes into playing a tabletop game. Now if the writer of a module wants to put specific limitations on things for his particular scenario that's fine and can be welcomed as a harder puzzle to figure out.

      Non standard ways to use things are what makes it fun to play a rogue or non battle spellcaster, it even makes it fun to play characters who have dismal stats as you have to try and survive without just brute forcing your way through.

      Even if we disagree here talking to you about gaming and reading posts on yoru blog make me think it would be fun to have you at my table or be at yours.

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    25. See, I want to see standard tools used in creative ways. If you don't have any definition then you can write in whatever you wants, and that takes the challenge out of it.

      For example: The entire above scenario becomes pointless if the party has telekinesis and is high enough level to lift her; They can do exactly what they want, so there is no problem solving.

      The interesting point is when you have tools, but not the perfect tool. You've got a bunch of lumber, some nails and a hammer, but you want a screwdriver, so you have to figure out how to get that screw out of the wall with what you have.

      So I want nice, defined magic effects (tools) that you can use like a physical item; It does the same thing every time, therefore you can rely on it to work when you want to use it outside of combat. Ideally I want more out of combat spells that do stuff like glue things together, apply force to things, levitate things.

      4e went too far, in that every power was very defined, but only withing combat, so you had to resort to slow, unreliable rituals outside of combat that cost gold. Therefore it was a better choice NOT to use them. Pathfinder and 3e are pretty good, but I think they are combat focused, though there are plenty of spells you can use creatively.

      Example of an ideal spell: Enlarge Person. First level, makes a medium sized creature large (10 feet tall or so). You have no idea how many times you can substitute a 10 foot tall dwarf with lots of strength and constitution for the solution to a puzzle.

      Basically: Roadblocks breed creativity. If you give the party what they want, they don't have to be creative. Leaving too much wiggle room in spells lets them get exactly what they want, so you want to define them pretty well, thus allowed them to use them as tools.

      Delete
    26. I think we agree for the most part. The main difference being that I strive for consistency at my table, without spending thought about how other tables do it. I define the tools well for my players and encourage them to ask "would this work this way", and if their PC would know the answer I supply it.

      I like to define how the world works more than letting the book define it, and I give credit to players who keep their creativity in the confines of what their PC would know how to do. I would even go so far as to punish the guy who casts create water into someones lungs if we were in a world where people don't understand biology enough to know that would cause drowning.

      So, yes well defined tools, encourage creative thinking, and most importantly encourage good acting the role you picked. The difference is I prefer to define the rules and may even change some in the book to fit my setting or the table.

      Delete
    27. I wrote up a blog post based on our discussion: https://canageek.wordpress.com/2013/02/01/obstacles-breed-creativity/ though I diverged from my original idea.

      I've done a lot of convention play, where you swap DMs every 4 hours. It lets you experiance a lot of DMing styles, meet a lot of new gamers, etc. However, it also exposes flaws in the rules, where things are better defined on some spells then others, and what you can do changes from table to table, despite the fact that nominally everything should be as close to the core rules as possible.

      Delete
    28. Not sure if people are growing tired of our discussion here so I posted on your blog.

      Delete
  9. If you're not having fun, then move on. Simple as that.

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  10. I'm guessing that the desire to win as many games as possible factors into the decision also, and I admire that. I applaud the Addict's decision to modify his quest and no longer grind out painfully awful games to their interminable denouement, but I also think it's good that he's not just arbitrarily quitting games in a fit of pique. (Despite my distaste for the French, they have added some very good words to our language.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's that, and I want to play enough to ensure that I give a fair GIMLET. If I've missed a huge part of the story, it never feels fair.

      Delete
  11. I imagine you'll want to quit 'Dragons of Flame' quickly as well. While I hope you stick out with Drakkhen, I understand cutting it short since I'm tempted to do the same to the SNES version... and that seems much easier compared to this one. For one, there's no language spell, you just get the hints. Less enemies on the screen, and puzzles seem much more forgiving. Overall, the PC version seems to leave the player to fend for themselves much more than the console version.

    On a side note, I've finished playing through 4/6 characters of Star Saga, and should get to the second game early next year. Hopefully that will cut another game from your list.

    Another note, I had a holiday party with work folks and greatly enjoyed 3 vodka gimlets in addition to other drinks (open bars are fun). Thanks for the heads up, and I've introduced the drink to others who said they enjoyed it as well.

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    Replies
    1. I couldn't get Heroes of the Lance,DOF's predecessor, to work no matter what I did, and I'm wondering if I'll have the same problem with DOF.

      Delete
    2. Oh, and I'm glad you enjoyed the gimlets. Be careful with them. The lime juice masks how much vodka you're really consuming.

      Delete
    3. Regarding Heroes of the Lance, what do you mean you couldn't get it to work? Did you have trouble getting it to run in DOSBox or did it run, but you couldn't actually play it?

      I've managed to get it to run in EGA mode, at 1000 cycles, using DBGL for Dosbox that Thomas Gellhaus (Duskfire) recommended the other day. The only problem is I can't for the life of me figure out what the control scheme; I can't figure out how to attack enemies, to be exact. This game seems to have been made with gamepads in mind.

      Delete
    4. Couldn't get it run in DOSBox. The opening screen was garbled beyond recognition. When I tried to Google a solution, I just found a bunch of message boards of people having the same problem. I didn't know about DGBL at the time. Anyway, I saw on a lot of message boards that people were saying it was an action game instead of a CRPG (indeed, MobyGames no longer lists it as a CRPG), so I figured I'd skip it. I forgot I'd be running into a sequel.

      Delete
    5. I don't think you missed much. On the surface, at least, it does seem more like a side-scrolling action game than a CRPG. However the characters do have stats (intelligence, dexterity etc.) and there seems to be some sort of basic inventory system. Can't say anything about the combat because, as I said, I couldn't figure out how to actually attack.

      Delete
    6. I managed to play Heroes of the Lance only once or twice successfully I think- never got it to work right under DOS, and some experimenting under Win95's DOS mode got it to mostly work.

      There was a version released for the NES as well- that should probably say something about the complicatedness of the control scheme.

      Of course, the screen was terribly messed up- what should have been the top (play area) was near the bottom, and the bottom was above.

      Dragon's of Flame is the bigger game, with better graphics. I only got about 2/3 of the way through it, never finding the exit door in the sole main dungeon. There are a few bugs that practically break the difficulty of the game that I won't spoil.

      Delete
    7. Well it appears to work well on DOSBox, at least on my version; and I've figured out the keyboard controls. It's even easier on a gamepad. So...

      (1) It has character stats, though I have no idea if/how they can be raised. I've only played it for a little bit.
      (2) It has a simple inventory system, and
      (3) I'm not sure if the combat is based on stats or rolls, because feedback on the damage you dish out seems to be nonexistent.

      I'm probably not gonna bother playing it much longer; I was just curious if it would work or not.

      Delete
    8. Personally I don't think you'll be missing much if you skip it - I remember playing the Amiga version a few times and thinking it was crap, despite being into the books at the time and generally being pretty forgiving of games with anything approaching an RPG theme.

      That said I don't remember many useful specifics of why that was the case, other than dying frustratingly often.

      Delete
    9. Heroes of the Lance, oh man I remember that game, and not fondly. I bought (or stole I was a delinquent) it in the bargain bin at egghead because I liked the gold box games. It ran ok on the 386/486 I had at the time but it was a horrible action game with a crappy control scheme. I remember getting so upset and thinking that they were just trying to use the popularity of real rpg's to sell a garbage tittle that no one put any real effort into.

      From my memory it is definitely not an RPG. I know I am a month behind on your posting but I hope you dont waste a bunch of time trying to get it to work.

      Delete
    10. I gave up on HotL a long time ago. But I did want to get DoF to work since a lot of sites indicate it has more RPG elements. I just can't get the controls to work right. Nothing seems to switch me from scrolling view to top-down view.

      Delete
    11. If you rejected Shadow Sorcerer because of "No character leveling" in your master list, you can safely reject both Heroes of the Lance and Dragons of Flame because of the same reason.

      Delete
    12. Good to know. I was thinking about giving them a new try when they came back around.

      Delete
  12. That giant stick figure guy actually looks pretty good, but then again I've always been nostalgic for 3D wireframe graphics

    ReplyDelete
  13. The gadfly votes for hitting up the desert area, then abandoning the game like an unruly child at a busy truck stop.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. William, your similes never fail to amuse and disturbe.

      Delete
  14. Well, I'm glad to see I wasn't completely wrong back in the day. I played Drakkhen as a kid and don't remember a whole lot except that I thought it was lame and quit fairly quickly. Some people's nostalgia about the game made me wonder if I sold it short and should revisit it at some point.

    Your blog both reminds me of (or introducing me to) great games while simultaneously saving me the time of tracking down and playing through something I'd just end up wanting to uninstall anyway. Thanks for the great service.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I tried drakkhen a couple years ago and think it wasn't long before I went meh and deleted it (and this from someone with the patience to play dwarf fortress :D ). I'd have a go at peeking in the desert then moving on. I find if characters move stupidly it can ruin things for me, would prefer old fashioned tile movement to something that doesn't work. If you are more annoyed at your own characters trying to walk than the combats there's a problem. Neverwinter nights 2 had a similar thing with it's camera, I spent more time trying to sort that out than playing the game :S

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It kind of feels like parts of the available technology allowed them to transcend tile-based game design, but they needed better technology in other areas to make real-time truly BETTER than tile-based.

      Delete
    2. Yes, very much so. I think their vision was way beyond what they could realistically achieve with the technology of the time.

      Delete
  16. Has anyone pointed out that equipped items show up as red in your inventory and unequipped ones as green?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think Chet himself did so in his first post of the game - he read it in the manual and mentioned that he wouldn't be able to tell them apart.

      Delete
    2. I can't tell them APART, but I can tell that they're different. Meaning that if you point to them and ask, "which is red, and which is green," I don't know. But I can detect the difference in shading. So to know which items are equipped, I just need to compare the shading to something i know is equipped (e.g., my sword). It's not too bad.

      Delete
  17. Some discussion of feedburner shutting down, and alternatives; https://plus.google.com/u/0/118246412183062133215/posts/TQB2P4YtPNh

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't even know how I ended up using FeedBurner as my syndicator. I assume it must have been the default in Blogger.

      I still have to research all of this. Do I even need a syndicator? How is FeedBurner different from people subscribing to my posts with the link at the bottom?

      Delete
  18. The wireframe swordsman reminds me of a sculpture at the opera in my hometown:
    http://www.schwarzaufweiss.de/oesterreich/graz-reisefuehrer/images/graz215.jpg

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! It does look something like that. It reminded me of those silly metal Mexican statues that some people collect. Chalupas or Chupacabras or whatever.

      Delete
    2. Never heard about it ^^
      It is, or better, it was really huge, near as the fighter in the game...
      http://de.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Datei:Graz_Oper_Lichtschwert.jpg&filetimestamp=20081018130303

      Delete
    3. Kokopelli is what I was going for. They're very popular in the U.S. and, I think, quite cliched. But the figure doesn't really look like them.

      Delete
    4. Really laughing here. Chalupas, good to eat. Chupacapra, legendary goatsucking beast. But then again, you were probably kidding.

      Delete
  19. BTW, did you play Lords of midnight and Doomdark's Revenge?

    Seems like this game is partially inspired on them (especially the landscapes).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alas, no. Neither had a PC release, so I skipped them.

      Delete
    2. They do have pc releases:

      http://www.icemark.com/downloads/index.html

      (Midwinter 1 is also very nice and original, and practically invented the 'open world' game).

      Delete
    3. See this article to read about Midwinter:

      http://www.edge-online.com/features/time-extend-midwinter/

      Delete
    4. I'm not seeing the connection between a game titled Lords of Midnight and one titled Midwinter.

      Delete
    5. They were both made by a guy called Mike Singleton, but I don't know if there's any connection beyond that.

      Delete
    6. Midwinter was pretty great for its time. The Edge article is interesting - thanks. Don't think you could call it an RPG though.

      Delete
  20. The problem with Midwinter was that it was _too_ open.
    I remember winning easily by just moving a character with explosives to the enemy HQ and blowing it up...
    It was a wildly ambitious game, like most of Mike Singleton's (RIP) early games, with its mix of strategy, FPS and management of up to 32 characters in real time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I only played midwinter 2 myself. Odd but interesting. The vehicle simulation part seemed to be pretty fail. I found it easier to destroy enemy squadrons by commandeering all their vehicles than to shoot anything. Some of the special equipment was rather overpowered I seem to recall. Think I had most fun in it just trying to find all the contacts/npcs.
      Lords of Midnight and Doomdarks Revenge had pc ports included with the release of LoM3:The citadel, a game from which this name was taken :) (a shame that game was so bugridden and not reaching its ambitions)

      Delete
  21. I must say I absolutely adore "Impalpability" as a status effect. Even Firefox's spell checker things that word is a typo.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As far as I can tell, the only benefit is that you can walk through locked doors. Why this doesn't translate to enemies' attacks swishing right through you, I don't know.

      Delete

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