|It was not, in fact, the beginning of another saga.|
After my last posting, I essentially did nothing except play Knights of Legend for 24 hours straight. When I finally went to bed, combat tactics and movements invaded my dreams and kept me from anything restful. It'll probably screw me up for the entire week, but at least I won the damned game. Consulting my notes, I see that this game took me an epic 96 hours to win, the longest so far in my chronology. I got some good postings out of it, but from a gameplay perspective, I can't say it was worth it.
Only in the last quest did the game finally produce any kind of tie-in with the plot outlined in the manual, and it became clear that the history of Pildar, Seggallion, and Duke Fuquan was supposed to serve as a backdrop for multiple expansions, and not just this primary game. Leading up to this final quest was a series of...I started to say "increasingly difficult missions," but that's not quite right. There was a series of missions of extremely variable difficulty, including some very difficult ones. But the last two were oddly easy.
|Towards the end game, each solved quest got me a keyword or clue to the next one.|
After the last posting, when my skills were already at the max level allowed by the game in each weapon, I didn't bother to get any more training or leveling; it was just one quest after another. Because I no longer needed to pay for anything but saving (I even found a free way to get healing after battle by finding some roaming monks), I just went from quest to quest. I didn't follow PetrusOctavianus's advice about buying spells, either; I mostly relied on weapons alone in the final battles.
More of these endgame quests tended to reward my characters with tangible objects rather than just adventure points and good will. These included:
- A magic halberd called the "Death Blade" that turned my Ghor Tigress, Hela, into my best combat character. That makes two magic halberds in this game, and one magic greatsword, but nothing special in any of the other weapons. Another example of this game's weird imbalance.
|Hela proudly wields her quest reward|
- "Speed Boots" that enabled a character to run four steps instead of just two each round. I gave them to my leader, Coll, who also had the Courage Cloak. He was able to run swiftly around the battlefields towards the end of the game.
- A "Shade Ring," which seemed to make it difficult for monsters to see my character. They'd bumble around even when he was right up next to them. I also gave it to Coll; I figured it was better to have one uber-powerful fighter than a selection of moderately-powerful ones. Coll ended up cleaning up some of the latter maps almost solo.
- A magic ingot that created a battle axe. But I got this as a reward for the very last quest, so it didn't help me at all, which was fine because none of my characters had battle axe skills.
The final sequence of quests--six or seven of them--were all interlocked and proceeded in a specific order. Like all the quests in the game, they followed the "Questing by Numbers" template: agree to retrieve an object, get someone else to tell you where the enemies actually are, travel there overland, slay the monsters, grab the item, and return. Many of the enemies were capable of causing fear, but the effects of this capability seemed to paralyze my characters less often than in the mid-game.
|Aedd seizes up while trying to fight a cliff troll. This map split my party into two groups, but both were at the ends of good ambush points.|
It would be tedious for me, and unrewarding for you, to recount every one of them, but here are a few highlights:
1. Aurin the Stalwart outside the city of Shellernoon wanted me to retrieve an unnamed item stolen from him by unnamed creatures.
The creatures turned out to be djinns, fairly tough, but the map was even more interesting, consisting of a long, narrow bridge with a small village on the other end. At least I didn't have to go hunting the creatures.
|There's Coll, way out in front of his companions.|
Aurin's missing item? See for yourself:
|This game is way too long to be screwing with me with this kind of thing.|
2. By far, the most annoying combat map in the game was that of the Sledges, where Lord Shellernoon asked me to retrieve some kind of "ward."
The Sledges themselves weren't that difficult despite being fear-causing. Rather, the difficulty was the map. Unlike all the other maps in the game, which were in keeps or fields or other reasonably open areas, this one took place in a huge maze--a maze with only one path to the exit (where the quest item was), and in which all my characters started in a different position.
|Yder, my lightly-armored archer, tried his best, but he didn't last long when he started in a dead-end facing a huge Sledge.|
I won the quest on the first try, but it took nearly four hours. After the first hour, with my characters bumbling feebly about, I realized I would have to map it. This was difficult since they weren't all together, but I ended up starting with five separate maps (one character was knocked unconscious right away) and piecing them together when the characters found each other. This is the result:
The *s are where my characters started, and the $ is the treasure at the exit. The yellow path is the one that my furthest-afield character (Coll) had to take to get to the exit. By the time I finally found the egress, I would have gladly just taken the quest item and run, but it turned out the last foe was waiting there anyway. If this whole thing doesn't seem so bad, keep in mind how long it takes simply to plan and execute a command to move one square in a specific direction. Fortunately, the Sledges themselves weren't very hard, and my strong melee characters were able to defeat them individually (which is good, since there's almost no place to set up a multi-character assault in the maze).
|1/12 of the way closer to my goal.|
I had thankfully taken copious notes about NPCs, and I knew where Dundle was to be found, but he had absolutely nothing to say to me, no matter what I asked.
It turned out the game was sticking it to me one final time. An anonymous saint of a commenter informed me that there's a bug in the game, and while Dundle does indeed point the way to the final quest, Lord Norgan really meant to tell me to see Denswurth, in nearby Olanthen. Denswurth's quest, to wipe out some trolls, was pretty lame and easy, and I suspect that the developers originally intended for the player to go right to Dundle but decided to shoehorn an extra quest into things to make it an even 24 or something.
I got through the troll quest pretty quickly, despite their ability to take massive damage without falling...
...and the fact that three of them were hiding out on a rampart that only my flying characters could reach:
|If I hadn't chosen a Kelder, I guess I just would have had to take the quest item and run.|
5. Thanks to the same commenter, I knew to go to Dundle for the final quest, which he gave me when I spoke SEGGALLION to him. It turns out that he knew where Seggallion was (not in the inaccessible Tower of Pildar, thankfully) and bade me rescue him from the clutches of the cyclopes (yes, that is the correct plural) holding him prisoner.
I knew I wanted to video the final battle, so I spent some time just messing about and learning the map before re-loading my characters and engaging the cyclopes for "real." They were reasonably hard but not too hard. About half of them were in a big field near the beginning of the map:
And the other half were entrenched in a very long corridor winding through the mountains. It was a lot of luck when I could line up a scenario like this, with multiple characters able to engage the enemy at once:
When I finally defeated the last cyclops, I was treated to a multi-screen endgame narrative in which I opened the stone door to Seggallion's prison and freed him from his chains. He warned me about the threat that Pildar posed and suggested that my next quest--had the game resulted in any expansions--would be to find the missing Duke Fuquan to warn him.After that, the game let me continue playing. I returned to Dundle and got a magic ingot (which I forged into a battle axe) as a reward.
|Little does he know that he'll soon be lost in Britannia.|
|What other realms would those be?|
I tell you what: I'm thoroughly exhausted with this game. I took more than an hour of video of the final battle, intending to narrate it later, but I can't seem to muster the energy to edit and comment on the video. I'll see how I feel tomorrow when I start writing the GIMLET. It ought to be interesting.