Sunday, November 10, 2013

Game 122: Legend of Faerghail (1990)


As my longtime readers know, I'm a big proponent of the idea that great games transcend technology--that today's players can still enjoy the great titles of the early era, no matter how primitive their graphics and sound seem in 2013. Heck, if I didn't believe that, I wouldn't have just added dozens of titles to my backlist.

But at the same time, that doesn't mean I always want to feel like I'm playing an "old" game. I'm ready for 1990s developers to kick it up a notch, to show me that they're making use of SVGA, soundblaster, and better storage capacity. Hell, computers were already shipping with CD-ROMs in 1990, but I don't think there's yet a game on my list that wasn't available to players swapping floppy disks. I don't expect the next game to be Ultima Underworld or World of Xeen, but it sure would be nice to play a game that made me feel like those titles weren't very far away.

The Legend of Faerghail isn't going to be that game. Oh, sure, it's pleasant enough. It fuses a quasi-Bard's Tale exploration screen with a combat mechanism reminiscent of Phantasie. There are skill and language systems that do credit to the game. But for the most part, it feels like we've been here, done that.

Consider the attributes: strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, and wisdom. The races: human, dwarf, elf, halfling, half-elf, and half-orc. There is some innovation in the classes, with illusionists, healers, monks, barbarians, and blacksmiths joining the standard D&D gallery of paladins, warriors, rogues, priests, druids, and magicians. None of this feels like the developers sat down to really create something.

The skill system, while not exactly "new," adds something that some other first-person party games doesn't have.

That's my starting point, anyway, so let's see if Faerghail is able to impress me from here.

The back story has some original elements. It casts the PC as a dissatisfied young farmer. One night at the tavern, as he or she listens to adventurers swap tales of the monsters they've slain, a mysterious man named Sarian approaches. Sensing the PC's discontentment, Sarian suggests that he or she present himself or herself to the Count of Thyn for a mission. It seems that the elves have lately become inexplicably aggressive and have waged war on the region. Thyn is in desperate need of soldiers, and the count thinks that the PC might be able to convince the neighboring Count Hagror of Cyldane to spare some. The PC is instructed to scout the nearby inn for some companions, head to the blacksmith for equipment, and set off. Oh, and while the PC is on this diplomatic mission, he or she should also "find out the reason for the strange behaviour of the normally peaceful Elves and wipe out this cause of their aggression." I mean, I would think that this little side-quest would somehow render the main quest unnecessary, but whatever.

You begin by "looking for" characters in the inn by specifying what race, sex, and class combination, but of course this is all just a thin veil for creating the characters yourself. I didn't find that there was much variance in the attribute rolls to matter how many times I tried them. There are some odd inconsistencies here. Sex, race, and trade (class) are listed in that order, but the interface lets you go back and forth among them. If you start by selecting a female, you can't choose the smith or monk classes, but if you start as a male and select the smith class, then the game has no problem letting you go and change the sex to female. There are other restrictions based on race: no elf paladins, halfling barbarians (in fact, halflings can only be warriors or rogues), dwarf magicians, or half-orc druids, for instance, but it only takes reversing the trade/race selection order to make all of these combinations possible.

Creating a character. Despite allowing female half-orc barbarians, the game doesn't provide a proper character portrait for one.

I rolled the following six characters:

  • Boone, a male human paladin
  • Sandahl, a female half-orc barbarian
  • Ladd, a male dwarven smith (the smith class, which can repair weapons and armor, is one of the few original contributions in this game, so I felt I had to try it)
  • Grace, a female halfling rogue
  • Holt, a male half-elf magician
  • Chalke, a female human healer

Equipping Chalke's starting gear.

Once you assign and equip your characters, you're off to the town. Thyn is a menu city with an equipment shop ("emporium"), bank, inn, temple, and a "house of trades" where you can improve your skills, learn spells, and study languages once you have enough gold and experience. Lacking these, I immediately set off for the wilderness and was given a mysterious amulet on my way out of town.


The wilderness area looks much like those in The Bard's Tale II and III, with the need to maneuver around trees and such. A big difference is that the game passes in real time even if you just stand still.

While beginning my mapping process, I was approached by a warrior named Siegurd who wanted to join the party, but I didn't have any room. Guessing that this game will be a lot like The Bard's Tale III, with floating NPCs able to take empty slots, I decided to dump Sandahl the barbarian (the game said that she went off to the nearest inn) and bring Siegurd on board. Once he was in the party, he told me that he was heading to Cyldane, too.


Not long after, I had my first taste of the game's combat, against "4 elven officers." The combat system is somewhat like Phantasies, with the various "ranks" of enemies facing each other. You have some initial options--attack, greet, talk, flee--after which (assuming you attack) each character can choose to attack, defend, cast a spell, sneak, or use an object. Attacking characters can move forward into one of two ranges: "kill" range, which maximizes offensive capabilities, and "attack" range, which sacrifices some offense for defense.


Once you line up your attacks, you can either (A)ttack to watch them execute one at a time. A little animation appears briefly in the lower left, and the screen tells you the results. You have to acknowledge them with the ENTER key.


Or you can just enter "quick" combat and see the results of the actions, including the number of hit points lost, any damage done to weapons or armor (which is a thing I'll cover in a later post), and bonus points earned. You don't get a summary of the enemies slain, but you do see their little icons disappear if you've killed any.


When the combat is over, the game gives you a summary of the experience and gold earned by each character. The experience seems to be dependent on how successful you were with your various attacks and movements, and in the first few combats, my NPC, Siegurd, got the lion's share.


The game remembers your actions and positions and not only sets them as the defaults for the next round, but also for the next combat, which is nice. A couple of times, when I faced very low-level, easy enemies, it was simple just to cycle through the combat rounds. Enemies I've faced in the opening area include elves, orcs, bandits, rats, bears, and deer. They don't just appear out of nowhere--you see them walking about the area, but oddly they all look like ghosts.



Even right at the beginning, combat is quite difficult and deadly, and I kept losing characters. You can pay to resurrect them at the temple, but it's pretty expensive for a starting party. I had to jettison some of them and replace them with other characters of the same name.

The game has a reasonably funny joke if you select a living character for resurrection, though note the punctuation, which we'll talk about in a minute.

Hit points and spell points don't appear to regenerate automatically; you have to rest to recover them. The easiest and safest place to do this is in the inn back in town. I also find I have to return to town now and then to replenish rations, which my characters automatically eat at a rate of six per day. The inn is also the key to restoring the party's morale, which progresses from "good" to "mediocre" to "alarming" depending on how long you've been walking around and how many wounds you've taken. At least, that's what I thought. But I can't seem to get my morale off "alarming" no matter what I do, even though all my characters are "good," have full hit points, and are well-rested.

So far, I've mapped a bit of the opening wilderness area. The way the game presents walls and objects is very odd. Consider the image below. In most games, this would mean that there is a wall to the left, right? Unfortunately, no. I'm actually standing at the corner of the apex of a north/south wall and an east/west wall, and I'm facing south. Walls, trees, and doors that are directly to your right or left don't show up in the view at all; you have to turn and look at them. This is in contrast to how most games depict walls in the active square, and it keeps hosing up my maps.


Incidentally, you don't accidentally want to bump into walls or trees. Some character takes significant hit point damage.

In my original draft of this opening post, I spent a long time complaining about the horrible spelling, grammar, and punctuation in both the game and the manual. Later, I realized it was developed by a German company and everything had been done in translation. While this means I won't spend as much time making fun of them, I will say that if you're a non-English-speaking game publisher and you're producing an English version of your game, you might want to hire someone who actually speaks English to translate the manual and in-game text. Consider these two paragraphs from the manual:

[Wisdom] is the man attribute of Clerics, Druids and their powerful 'lower' classes, i.e. - Rangers, etc. This talent enables the 'lower class magician' to perform magic by use of memory / wisdom; a Cleric may perform magic without the use of a spellbook and well learned phrases - as a 'normal' magician would not... Female characters have, more often than not - a somewhat higher Wisdom bonus.

The second kind [of role-playing game] is the 'real' role-playing-game: Here, a group of gamers meet, and each player 'plays' a character. A gamesmaster 'directs', (tries to direct) the game, (in computer-role-playing games, the computer simulates the gamesmaster's functions) - controls all NPCs, and all random occurrances (with the use of dice), steers the group into situations of which he gamers often have no influence (and are now and again not allowed to have), and guides the destinies of the player-characters. The gamer tries to 'play' his character (created using dice, and with differing traits) as realistically as possible within the fantasy, or science fiction world of the gamesmaster.

We've got misspellings, unnecessary uses of quotes (and the wrong kind of quotes), dashes mixed up with commas (and the wrong kind of dashes), unnecessary hyphens, unnecessary commas, parentheses immediately following commas, and an overall description of "role-playing-games" that manages to utterly confuse me as to what they are despite having played them for 30 years. The author is absolutely in love with "i.e." and "etc."; both occur on almost every page, sometimes multiple times, often with the "I" capitalized.

There isn't enough text in-game for it to really bother me, so I'll let it go from here.

There's not much else to say at this point. I think I have enough experience for at least a couple of my characters to level up, but that costs around 1,500 gold pieces, and I haven't come anywhere close to that yet (an average battle might give me 4 per character).

89 comments:

  1. Terrible translation it may be, it did hit on an essential truth of many pen & paper games:

    "A gamesmaster 'directs', (tries to direct) the game"

    True that.

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    1. Also, this game looks terribly familiar. But bits of it look mysterious too. I *think* I had it as a youngster somehow but was terribly annoyed by the fact running into the wall damaged you, so I just went back to failing at Wizardry.

      It still annoys me. Who thought that was a good idea, or even a realistic one? "Here, we're going to simulate what happens if you purposely run headlong into a wall while walking down the street, as people in ye olden days were wont to do."

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    2. Ha. That was exactly my reaction, though you said it a lot funnier.

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    3. It looks so much like a Bard's Tale game that it would probably seem familiar to anyone who played one of those.

      I think punishing you for running into walls is okay for atmosphere so long as it isn't overdone. Dungeon Master, for example, hurts your front characters when you do that, but the injury is slight. You *can* nearly kill yourself by firing a top-tier fireball directly into an adjacent wall, but in that case you feel you deserve it for your stupidity.

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    4. It's definitely overdone here. Three or four hits and one character is dead, and given the sensitivity of the controls, this is certainly possible.

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    5. If secret door are of the "Just walk right through" variety, then it makes sense that your characters would try to walk through the wall if you tell them to.

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    6. I don't know. Are secret doors that you "just walk through" supposed to be ILLUSORY doors? Or is just walking through a shorthand for the process and finding and opening them? If the latter, taking damage doesn't make any sense; if the former, it only makes sense if you assume the characters aren't smart enough to wave a sword at the wall or push it before walking headlong into it.

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  2. Ha. Computer games are so cute with their attempts at obfuscating rules.

    2.2401 GUN DUELS: Vs a non-concealed, non-Aerial DEFENDER's declared Defensive First Fire attack on it, a vehicle may attempt to Bounding First Fire (D3.3) its MA (/other-FP, including Passenger FP/SW) at that DEFENDER first, provided the vehicle need not change CA, is not conducting an OVR (D7.1), its total Gun Duel DRM (i.e., its total Firer-Based [5.] and Acquisition [6.5] TH DRM for its potential shot) is < that of the DEFENDER, and the DEFENDER's attack is not Reaction Fire (D7.2). Neither the +1 DRM for a Gyrostabilizer nor the doubling of the lower dr for other ordnance in TH Case C4 (5.35) is included in the Gun Duel DRM calculation. The order of fire for non-ordnance/SW is determined as if it were ordnance [EXC: TH Case A can apply to non-ordnance/SW only if mounted-on/aboard a vehicle that is changing CA; all such non-turret-mounted fire is considered NT for purposes of TH Case C, and A.5 applies to any type of FG]. If the ATTACKER's and DEFENDER's total Gun Duel DRM are equal, the lower Final TH (or non-ordnance IFT) DR fires first— and voids the opponent's return shot by eliminating, breaking, stunning or shocking it. If those two Final DR are equal, both shots are resolved simultaneously. Any CA change the DEFENDER requires in order to shoot (5.11) is made before the ATTACKER's shot if the DEFENDER's total Gun Duel DRM is ? the ATTACKER's; otherwise its CA changes (if still able to) after the ATTACKER's shot. After the initial Gun Duel has been fully resolved, and if otherwise able and allowed to, that DEFENDER may announce another attack vs that ATTACKER who in turn may declare another Gun Duel; this time the printed ROF of one firing weapon on each side may be included as a negative DRM in that side's Gun Duel DRM calculation. Only the ATTACKER may declare a Gun Duel [EXC: not if the DEFENDER has done so as per 5.33].

    -- Advanced Squad Leader

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    1. You picked a quote from the war-game set most notorious for overly complex and obscure rules. I don't see why it is relevant.

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    2. I think you'll find it's called humour :)

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    3. In the wargaming community, ASL is maligned (except for the dying cadre of true believers) that quoting it is like quoting the writings of a 10-year old to make fun of of fine literature. As such, the humor is lost on me.

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    4. That is because you are a dry and humourless, bitter old individual (no matter your actual age). Try and remember what it was like to be a human being. You can do it, I think, if you really try.

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    5. I think Legend of Faerghail's translator would have improved that one!

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    6. Oh, you haven't seen an incomprehensible RPG till you've seen HYBRID.

      At least, its creator claimed it was an RPG. I've seen many RPGs accused of being "unplayable", but HYBRID is the only one I know of for which the claim might be literally true...

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    7. For a brief taste of HYBRID's utter insanity, here's the partial text of "Rule # 0", the fundamental rule that all the several hundred other rules of the "RPG" are purportedly based on. (Partial, because the full text of Rule # 0 drastically exceeds the 4,096-character post limit.)

      "RULE # 0: 1st version # naming rule: Rules or/and equations grow @ rate of 1 per month; but, Version # = [((year) – 2000) / 10], Version V, for the web-page version. So, in 2002, the Version # is @ V 0.2 by [(2002 – 2000) / 10] = 2/10 = Version V 0.2. So, % complete = (100*V), where % @ V 0.2 = 20% complete, < currently > for the web-page version. Then, in 1999, V = -.1. Then, 2nd version # naming rule: based on the value of the sun, where V 0.3025 would place the sun @ 55 C1 DP or Default Psyche. And, the 3rd version # naming rule: combination of the 1st & 2nd version # naming rule, where by the 1st digit “3” in 0.3 such as in 0.3025 after the decimal point would signify the sun @ 55 C1 DP, the 2nd digit “3” in 0.33 for the year 2033, and the last digit or 4th digit such as in such as “in 0.339, the month of the year, such as in start of autumn of 2033. But, V.34 should be done in 2034. My 1st version # naming rule @ V 0.08 is proportional to the appearance of the 1st mutant(s) in Aberrant rpg in 2008, since my version # partially coincides with the value & magnitude of the sun, which signify the appearance of the 1st mutant, sort of like in DC Universe for the future earth timeline where future DC earth is called planet Krypton, which is DC earth in a future DC timeline, AT LEAST THAT IS HOW I INTERPRET THE DC UNIVERSE SUPERMAN BEING FROM THE FUTURE, < notice the red sun > , where Kal EL travels back in time in a time machine is how I interpret it. So, by giving a larger value for the sun or the earth in the present timeline, you increase the probability of mutants on earth being born. You might ask how ? The Answer is: Conservation of Mass & Energy which would be (increase in) Negative Energy (which is also used for time travel) resulting IF you artificially increase the value of the sun or the earth or that of any large heavy object near earth, where this Negative Energy would be transferred to some organic body in manner similar to that of creating the MU Cosmic Cube, & in similar manner that used by the DC Jor El to created the Eradicator, later reborn as Kal El. In the 1st cartoon series of Superman in the 21st century, Superman uses this Negative Energy to create Brainiac, in Superman’s attempt to take over DC earth, but in different way from the Martian-Man of DC Mars, IF he’s from Mars, though he could just be a mutant from DC earth pretending to be from Mars. All members of the Justice League are super villains, including Aquaman, except that they have better PR than the Legion of Doom: they are all super villains trying to take over DC earth, including the current Clark Kent of the tv series “Smallville”, where he pretends to be a good guy, but he’s constantly scheming evil plots. Even, Wonder Woman is evil as well as a lier, by that I don’t mean her sexy outfit. I’ve been preaching, if you want to call it that, this that these so-called super heroes are super villains in disguise for the past several(7) years, ever since I discovered the subliminal PLOT(s) in DC & MU comics & cartons of DC & MU in 1996, after years of research consisting of running various alternate scenarios, all of them leading up to the same conclusion that they are all super villains. HUMANS ARE SO GULLIBLE THAT THEY BELIEVE ANY AUTHORITY FIGURE, JUST LOOK @ GULF War I & ii, both times USA lied to its public, 1st (it was) Kuwait was stealing Iraqi oil, which was never told to the USA public even now it’s hidden unless you do research..."

      Maybe if I took the time to really study it, I could figure out what some of that mess meant and what relation it was supposed to have to an RPG, but I have better things to do with my life...

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    8. (Granted, of course, HYBRID wasn't a computer RPG, but I guess it just goes to show that incomprehensibility is not limited to the digital realm...)

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    9. I thought it was a satire site! People actually tried playing that thing? Wow... I'd really like to know these guys and request for their help to "transfer a few million US Dollars from a dead dictator of some small South African country into their bank account".

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    10. It's not a satire site, but no, I don't think anyone ever actually tried playing it. That is, the guy who created the "game" seems to have actually taken it seriously, but I'm pretty sure no one else did. (This is one of three RPGs, along with "Racial Holy War" and "FATAL", often cited as the worst RPGs of all time. "Racial Holy War" and "FATAL" aren't as incomprehensible; they're terrible in other ways.)

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    11. And I have no idea why I just put those game titles in quotation marks.

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    12. "That is because you are a dry and humourless, bitter old individual (no matter your actual age). Try and remember what it was like to be a human being. You can do it, I think, if you really try."

      I didn't realize I was posting on RPG Codex. Sorry.

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    13. Every once in a while, a thread like this comes along that completely baffles me. I don't know what Harland's comment had to do with my post; I don't understand why it was funny; I don't understand why william decided to suddenly be insulting. You guys are really just...out there...sometimes.

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    14. @Jalene, that was your inner Russian writing ;) Here putting titles in quotes is a rule.
      By the way, LoF's use of single quotes may also be due to German punctuation rules, at least I've seen such things in German books. Unfortunately, they very rarely teach you these things in foreing language class.

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    15. @VK: Inner Russian? By ancestry I'm part English, part Swedish, part Scottish, part Welsh, part Norwegian, part Irish, part Danish, and I think maybe a tiny bit of German, and if certain family accounts are true possibly a sliver of Romany and Native American, but as far as I know no Russian.

      Anyway, by the usual English standards, titles of short works such as songs, poems, and short stories are put in quotation marks, but titles of longer works such as novels and RPGs should be italicized.

      (Also, for what it's worth, it's Jalen, not Jalene. Though of course it's not my real name regardless.)

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    16. Ah, wait, I think I misinterpreted your comment. You meant that you were Russian, and in Russia ("here" to you), titles are put in quotation marks. Gotcha. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

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    17. Yep ;)
      Sorry about misspelling, I'm dyspraxic and thus very prone to typos.

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    18. Jalen Wanderer: Technically RaHoWa isn't playable, as you can't complete an attack role. I can't verify this, as while I have a electronic copy, the one time I tried to read it I felt physically ill.

      Chet: Hybrid is a set of psudomathamatical rules with lots of racist comments, that is claimed to be an RPG. As said above, it is one of the unholy trinity of RPGs, the three RPGs considered to be the worst ever written; the other two are FATAL (The second edition was titled From Another Time, Another Land, which was a great improvement on the original title of Fantasy Adventure To Adult Lechery. It is 400+ pages of rules for rape, racism, and pages and pages of horrible tables and math and blehhhh.
      It has nany pvephzsrerapr tables.

      Racial Holy War is the worst of the lot in my opinion, as well, it was written by a skinhead group and freely distributed, so you can guess the contents. Or what they tried to write anyway. There moral rules meant that any character you could create would automatically run from 5 unarmed grandmothers, no matter what weapon they had.

      Does that clear things up at all?

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  3. Ha, I remember playing this one.

    Faerghail was bit obscure even back at the day, but had some nice innovations. Not enough to make it truly a gem, but enough to remember it. Looking forward to read your impressions.

    Btw If I remember it correctly, the blacksmith class isn´t just a curious innovation. You really need one in your party. Supposedly not to finish the game per se, but to make life a lot more tolerable.

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  4. Hmm that amulet you get at the start is an obvious plot item, I wonder what happens if you chose (L) to leave it?

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  5. Hmm... I just had to go for a guess the name reference here :)

    Boone - perhaps Richard Boone of Have Gun - Will Travel fame
    Sandahl - I'm dead certain it has to be Sandahl Bergman, from Conan the Barbarian and Ren Sonja
    Ladd - Alan Ladd, because he played in Whispering Smith and your dwarf is, you know, a smith
    Grace - I'm thinking Grace Park, Boomer/Athena in Battlestar Galactica
    Holt - in keeping with a Western actor theme, I'm gonna say Tim Holt of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre fame.
    Chalke - it's pretty obvious it has to be Sarah Chalke, Elliot from Scrubs.

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    1. Good guesses. Richard Boone played "Paladin" on the show, so there you go. For "Grace," I was actually thinking of Grace Kelly from To Catch a THIEF; "Holt" is from Bob Holt, the voice of the main character in Wizards. "Chalke," whom you were right about, is of course a healer.

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    2. Grace Kelly, now that you've mentioned that film, should've been quite obvious, but I never would've gotten Bob Holt :)

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  6. I wonder if this game is related to the Dark Eye ruleset, which is apparently what Germans played instead of D&D in the '80s and '90s. It spawned the Realms of Arkania series and other games notorious for their systematic simulation of adventuring.

    What would be telling is if there's a lot of micromanagement in it, and so far you've mentioned food use, smithing, a morale system and weapon deterioration, all systems that we've seen before, but not often all of them together in the same game. So I'm inclined to believe that even if this isn't a licensed Dark Eye product, it's getting a lot of its rules and spirit there.

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    1. Don't think so. Stats, skills, classes, combat and magic systems in Faerghail have nothing in common with DSA. And, for example, Magic Candle series also has lots of micromanagement, but it doesn't make it related to DSA in any way.

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    2. Some of Dark Eye influences can be construed, I guess. Having played both Legend of Faerghail and the Realms of Arkania games, however, I can say that these influences are rather modest and are dwarfed by the very to-the-letter rule adaptation of the latter. I feel it's more a correlation than a causation thing.

      On a sidenote, the Faerghail developers went on to program Fate: Gates of Dawn which (by contrast) was a very innovative cRPG for its time. Sadly, the company went bankrupt before they could port the Amiga/Atari ST version over to MS-DOS, and I understand the English version saw a very limited release only so it might be hard to get hold of these days.

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    3. Not hard at all, you can download it here for example: http://dungeony.rpghry.cz/fate/.

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    4. Sure, I'll settle for just osmosis. I would wager that German developers coming from a paper and pencil background would find it hard to not have at least a little influence from how Dark Eye handled itself. It seems actually that Germany has a propensity for rules-heavy rpgs generally, though I have no idea why.

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    5. Ordnung und Disziplin, Herr Helm! :D

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    6. Rules and table heavy games were the norm in US culture in the 80's 90's too. MERP (middle earth roleplay), an example off my shelf that I acquired in the era had charts on charts to roll on instead of play. AD&D 2nd ed had also turned into much rolling little playing by the time I got into it. This is why to this day I like the British game Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay that had simple rules and made the game run quickly, because it was the first game that didnt have 50 pages of charts and obscure formulas to simulate game play events.

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    7. I'm very familiar with AD&D and second edition and although there are lots of optional rule supplements, I don't think the core of the game included stuff like... rolling to see if you got a cold because you're not wearing enough fur in winter like in Realms of Arkania rutinely does. But perhaps that might have been the atmosphere in the - Greek - rpg scene a couple of decades ago.

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    8. To make a clearer point: one thing for rpg culture to have rules upon rules for highly detailed procedural combat a la Rolemaster or whatever, another to have systems for every minor inconvinience that might take place during a campaign like RoA. That's where I suspect there might be some German-specific zeitgeist involved because a long of their other famous tabletop games are super-systemized versions of boring (at least to me) tasks.

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    9. Helm have you ever come across ryuutama? I heard about it at a gencon conference and as far as I can tell it mostly involves getting from point A to point B and all the things that could get in the way. Often compared to Oregon Trail.

      Hope our dear addict doesn't mind the link:
      http://www.j-rpg.com/ryuutama/

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    10. Nope, that game sounds fascinating in that it exists. Don't know if I'd like to play it. I have to look into this 'heartwarming' trend, super interested in whether it's ironic or straight-up or wherever in between. Hard to tell with a different culture in any case, perhaps we'll see examples of this new subgenre in the west soon enough and get a clearer picture then.

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    11. My take is that it is not ironic, due to my minor knowledge of the culture.

      The art is straight up feel good style anime.

      There is a huge trend for what we would call "wholesomeness" that is like the cult of cute we all know about. I liken it to our one time love affair with Norman Rockwell.

      All accounts I have heard allude to very serious play and strictness in interpreting the rules.

      When I was in japan no one really got sarcasm, so I don't think it has as big a role in the culture as it does in Roman derived cultures.

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    12. Looks like it has a kickstarter to translate it and publish in English.

      The kickstarter page has more information about the game.

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    13. Never liked those Dark Eye Games.
      I don´t do train simulations (another german thing), and I LOATHE too much micromanagement in Crpgs.
      Greetings from Germany
      :-)

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    14. An RPG called Blackguards based on Das Schwarze Auge just came out in prerelease. Pretty fun, though you can get stuck into one nearly impossible fight if you do it too early (such is the trails of alpha access). That fight made the rest kind of repetitive afterwards. Of course, I did the whole first section in a giant 11 hour run, which might have not helped.

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  7. I wonder if the proximity to the game name 'Sword of Fargoal' is purely coincidence. SoF was quite influential.

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  8. "Heck, if I didn't believe that, I wouldn't have just added dozens of titles to my backlist. [...] Hell, computers were already shipping with CD-ROMs in 1990"

    Well, that escalated quickly! :D

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  9. "with illusionists, healers, monks, barbarians, and blacksmiths joining the standard D&D gallery of paladins, warriors, rogues, priests, druids, and magicians. "

    Actually, illusionists, monks, and barbarians all are part of the standard D&D gallery, dating all the way back to first-edition D&D.

    (Healers and blacksmiths not so much, though... the cleric generally played the healer role in D&D, and there was certainly no blacksmith PC class.)

    Judging by the fact that this game also uses the standard six D&D attributes and the standard AD&D races (minus the gnome), I'm pretty sure this is not a coincidence. Kudos to the game designers for at least including two classes not borrowed from D&D, though, I guess...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. By the way, racial restrictions to classes was also a big part of AD&D. I'm guessing the ability to go back after selecting a class and change to a race initially unable to have that class is an accident rather than an intentional feature, especially given the lack you point out of character portraits corresponding to "forbidden" combinations...

      Delete
    2. I knew when I typed that bit about classes that I was being lazy and probably should have looked it up. What I meant was more that those classes join the standard D&D-derived gallery of paladins, warriors, etc. Illusionists, monks, and barbarians might have been part of first-edition D&D, but computer RPGs typically didn't implement them as options.

      Delete
    3. Jalen Wanderer: Sort of, Barbarians weren't added until Dragon #63 (July 1982) or Unearthed Arcana in 1985. The rest I'm not sure about, and it is late.

      Delete
    4. Yeah, but Unearthed Arcana was still first edition. I just said they were in first-edition AD&D; I didn't say they were part of the first-edition core rules.

      Delete
  10. Regarding morale, I never bothered with it much but I think your groups composition of races affects it as well as the lack of rations.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's weird. Apparently, resting in the inn in town doesn't reset it, but resting outside does.

      Delete
  11. For what it's worth, every parenthetical phrase here is probably a single compound word in the original German.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Out of curiousity, is there any music in the DOS version?

    -BelatedGamer

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Funny story, that. I've been playing this week quite late at night, in my office right next to the bedroom where Irene is sleeping. For reasons not worth recounting, I'm shy a decent pair of headphones right now, so I decided I'd just play the introductory section with the sound off and check it out later.

      Well, I just checked it out, and it appears that the DOS version of the game not only has no music, but in fact has no sound at all.

      I know what everyone's going to say, so don't bother. I'll think about it.

      Delete
    2. I'm not sure everyone will say the same thing. Just award zero points for sound and astute readers of the blog will know that another platform with sound could have scored 1-2 points higher on the GIMLET.

      Delete
    3. Whenever anyone says "For reasons not worth recounting" it is a sure fire way to make me want to know the story.

      Delete
    4. Not worth recounting because it's boring: I left my only good pair of headphones in a hotel room.

      Delete
    5. See and this is why my overactive imagination is always disappointed. Couldn't you have just said "I was minding my own business when Samuel L Jackson walked up and slapped me across the face sending my headphones flying out of the helicopter into the ocean. Then he realized I was not the real Lex Luthor, just a body double, so he parachuted down to the volcanic fortress and I went home to play legend of faerghail with no sound."

      I would have been happy with that reason.

      Delete
    6. I left them in the hotel room while frantically trying to make my escape after the terrorist bomb went off. I frantically shoved my laptop into my waterproof backpack before smashing the window with a chair--the hallway was already a raging inferno. From six stories high, I jumped into the hotel pool and emerged, sputtering, to find a scantily-clad firefightress handing me a vodka gimlet made with real lime juice over crushed ice.

      Delete
    7. See everything is better when shoehorned into the right context.

      Delete
    8. There's a posting over at the German cgboard which says that the DOS version has intro sound if LOF.MUS + LOF.TIM + VOR.EXE are in the LOF directory.

      Delete
    9. Huh. Those files weren't part of the version I downloaded. I tried two other sources, and they don't seem to have them, either.

      Delete
    10. It's possible they are all simply the same, faulty rip. That's not uncommon. The manual scan I have doesn't list credits for DOS music, only for Amiga and Atari ST though. I might investigate this later.
      There's also a fair bit of talk about bugs, and a developer giving a little insight over at the German Legacy entry:
      http://www.thelegacy.de/Museum/4714/

      He says the rules of the game were based on the 1st German AD&D edition.

      Delete
  13. "I'm ready for 1990s developers to kick it up a notch, to show me that they're making use of SVGA, soundblaster, and better storage capacity. Hell, computers were already shipping with CD-ROMs in 1990, but I don't think there's yet a game on my list that wasn't available to players swapping floppy disks. I don't expect the next game to be Ultima Underworld or World of Xeen, but it sure would be nice to play a game that made me feel like those titles weren't very far away."

    Patience. The things you listed only really hit it big when Windows 95 came out. In 1990 even basic VGA wasn't commonplace yet. UUW and Xeen were both initially floppy-based games that later got CD re-releases that added little more than bad voice acting. In any case, you're several years away from the CD revolution (which IMO ruined games for years the same way the early 3D boom did - devs were so drunk on new exciting technology that they took every possible excuse to use it even when their games suffered from it).

    You might actually find a much earlier CD RPG on the console side since TurboGrafx/PCE had a CD-ROM way back in 1988. You'd have to learn Japanese though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "you're several years away from the CD revolution (which IMO ruined games for years the same way the early 3D boom did - devs were so drunk on new exciting technology that they took every possible excuse to use it even when their games suffered from it)"

      Amen to that.

      Delete
    2. I look forward (in a masochistic way) to learning exactly what you mean.

      Delete
    3. I think 1992-1993 is the era you want to see, Addict. VGA and Sound Blaster were the standard, dialog and plot presentation were given more attention, and it saw Ultima Underworld, Lands of Lore and Betrayal at Krondor spearhead their respective RPG subgenres. It was also just before the CD-ROM – which gradually became the industry standard in 1994 and 1995 – started making developers think of only one thing: how do we fill that disc to the brim with badly digitized multimedia.

      Delete
  14. 'I will say that if you're a non-English-speaking game publisher and you're producing an English version of your game, you might want to hire someone who actually speaks English to translate the manual and in-game text.'

    You really have no right to complain. Given the usually miserable translation of games from English language, it's just fair that you get some in return. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You don't know what a miserable translation is if you haven't seen Chinese instruction manuals translated into some inflection-heavy language ;)))

      Delete
    2. Bad translations can be so fun :D

      The Danish translation of the old HeroQuest boardgame was especially bad. Two fun examples:
      1) The Dwarf was able to "remove traps", which clearly should be translated as "move and remove traps".
      2) A dungeon from the Kellar's Keep expansion is described as being defended by "many traps", which is translated as being defended by "many stairs" (stairs being "trapper" in Danish).

      Perhaps more an example of bad subtitling specifically, rather than bad translation. But I once watched a movie where the sentence "My brother in France" was translated to "My brother Franz"...

      Delete
    3. Seriously, have any of you watched this? http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Star_War_The_Third_Gathers:_The_Backstroke_of_the_West

      The famous line uttered Obi-Wan: "Anakin, you fucking what?"

      Delete
    4. Yep, that's about it, only if you add declention, conjugation, adjective concord etc. to the mix (all completely wrong, of course) it gets a ton more fun. It's really impossible to botch an English translation to the same degree as with the more, shall we say, convoluted languages ;)

      Delete
    5. Well Finnish version of HQ boardgame had either a bad translation or some of the rules missing because the original English version seems to be twice as long.

      Also Kellar in Finnish declines as kellarin in the title and we end up with "The fortress of the basement" since kellari means basement or a medieval style cold storage in Finnish.

      Delete
    6. Kenny: Machine translations are cheating.

      That said:
      In A.D. 2101
      War was beginning.
      Captain: What happen?
      Mechanic: Somebody set up us the bomb.
      Operator: We get signal.
      Captain: What !
      Operator: Main screen turn on.
      Captain: It's you !!
      CATS: How are you gentlemen !!
      CATS: All your base are belong to us.
      CATS: You are on the way to destruction.
      Captain: What you say !!
      CATS: You have no chance to survive make your time.
      CATS: Ha ha ha ha ...
      Operator: Captain !!
      Captain: Take off every 'ZIG'!!
      Captain: You know what you doing.
      Captain: Move 'ZIG'.
      Captain: (...)For great justice

      Wikipedia also has a more accurate translation:
      In A.D. 2101
      War was beginning.
      Captain: What the heck was that?
      Engineer: It seems that someone set off some kind of explosive on our ship.
      Communications operator: Captain! Incoming transmission!
      Captain: What?
      Communications operator: Route video to the main screen.
      Captain: Y-you!!
      CATS: You seem busy, gentlemen.
      CATS: Thanks to the cooperation of the Federation Government forces, CATS has been able to take all of your bases.
      CATS: I guess it will soon be the end for your ship, too.
      Captain: It-it can't be...!
      CATS: I would like to thank you for your cooperation. Treasure what remains of your lives....
      CATS: Ha ha ha ha ha...
      Communications operator: Captain....? What should we do....?
      Captain: Issue an immediate take off order for all ZIG units!!
      Captain: Leaving the mission to them is all we can do now...
      Captain: I beg of you, ZIG!!
      Captain: To try to restore hope to our future...

      Delete
    7. If it wasn't for that bad translation the internet would be a poorer place.

      move zig
      move zig
      move zig
      all your base
      all your base
      are belong to us


      Also, it makes me feel old when 20 somethings like my wife don't have any idea about "all your base" or "yatta irrational exuberance"! You young whippersnappers with your you tubes and redddits back my day you had to wait whole halves of hours for a video to load, and you were happy if there wasn't a surprise gross-out sick image at the end.

      Delete
    8. There's a famous interview with George Lucas during a tour in Germany, where he was asked to repeat "that famous sentence from Star Wars". Unfortunately the simultaneous translator did not appear to ever have seen Star Wars, so he translated "May the Force be with you!" into a German sentence that said: "May, 4th, we'll be with you."

      That being said, I don't think translation is the problem of this horrible paragraph with hyphens, parenthese and the wrong use of quotes. It simply strikes me as a paragraph where the author wanted to sound either funny or witty or vey "modern". If I translate that back into German, it sounds just as horrible.

      Delete
    9. I envy those with 20-year-old wives. Oooh...kay... better not let my wife see this...

      Delete
  15. "it only takes reversing the trade/race selection order to make all of these combinations possible"

    "Despite allowing female half-orc barbarians, the game doesn't provide a proper character portrait for one."

    That's the tell-tale sign of a bug due to inadequate testing. I was actually going to suggest you drop Sandahl; there's no telling what other bugs could have resulted later on from a combination the developers never intended to allow.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Typo in the final sentence of the 7th paragraph ("rorc" for orc). Relevant: How do you feel about readers submitting typos?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm of two minds. One one side, I want to know about them. On the other, I don't like to see the comments cluttered up with them. But it seems unfair to expect readers to go through the trouble of e-mailing them to me. So I guess I don't have an official position and I expect readers will just do what they want.

      Delete
    2. "One one side, I want to know about them."

      It should be "On"

      Delete

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