Sunday, December 1, 2013

Legend of Faerghail: Riddle Me This

I do have to give you that one.

Legend of Faerghail has become more interesting and more annoying in about equal measure. More interesting with some hints as to the plot; more annoying because the hints are so cryptic and in some cases translated poorly from German. More interesting with some tough riddles; more annoying because one of them is so tough I can't solve it.

When I last blogged, I had finished up the monastery near Cyldane, emerging with a mysterious (and extremely heavy) sarcophagus and some tomes that explained the titular legend in more detail. All I had left to do in the Cyldane area was to explore a walled region in the north of the map. As I entered the area, an old priest asked to join me on my way to the "oracle." I ditched Eljot, who had been with me since the monastery, and let him in. His name turned out to be Ihl Kazar, who (probably non-coincidentally) shares a first name with the author of "The Legend of Faerghail" books I found in the monastery.

It's a small annoyance, but I don't know why the game makes you type out "YES."
When he joined, he gave me a leather bag and said something about wearing the "mask" as long as it's not in its bag. He also told me to check out the gravestones in the elven cemetery before going to the "pyramid." He turned out to be absolutely useless after that; he won't even attack in combat. For some reason--mostly because I forgot I could parlay NPC monsters into joining me--I kept him around for several more hours, reasoning that at least he was drawing some enemies' attacks.

As we progressed along the path to the oracle, we encountered three elementals posing riddles. As you know, I enjoy riddles in games, though I'm wary when they're translated from another language. In this case, they didn't do too bad.

  1. "The more it gets, the more it eats, and has it eaten all, it dies."
  2. "A father's child, a mother's child, but son of none."
  3. "I talk without soul, I hear without ears, I talk without mouth, and I'm born in the air."
  4. "Two little windows, they have no glass, they stand next together like flowers in the grass. Two little windows, they show us the world, they show us the stars, the forest, the field, and the fold."

If I ran into this guy in a passageway, I'm not sure I'd be able to concentrate on his little poem.
I found numbers 1 (FIRE) and 4 (EYES) far too easy, number 3 (ECHO) gave me a little pause, and I'm embarrassed how long it took me to figure out number 2 (DAUGHTER), which should have been more or less instant.

At the end of the path, in a stone circle, a "thundering voice" told me to "go to he, who submitted to evil, and find the face of Balaan. Break his imprisoned fire and drown his vision in the dying of life." I imagine that will somehow be helpful later.

At this point, I'd finished everything (I think) in the Cyldane area, so I went back into the mines to return to the Thyn side of the valley. But I thought that since I was now stronger, I'd try to explore the two lower levels of the mines. Level 4 produced not much of interest except a little creature who, for 250 gold, told me that to kill Balaan, I'll need "weapons and armor that bear a very special emblem."

These little creatures keep popping up everywhere. I don't know what they're supposed to be.

At the end of the level, I faced an elemental who offered a riddle that I couldn't solve, not even after I got a hint later. This is the riddle in its entirety:

What is it, that not many like, but directs even the greatest of king's actions. It's much like a sword, and made to hurt, but it never draws blood even though wounding thousands. It thieves no-one but does make rich. It spans the whole earth and makes life fit. The greatest kingdoms it has founded, and built the oldest of them all, but never has it begun a war and the peoples who trust in it will live in plenty for ever more....

Nothing I tried--NEED, WANT, FAITH, DEATH--worked, and none of them quite fit anyway. The hint I later received in the elven pyramid was to "think about the work of the dwarves." I returned and tried METAL, IRON, SMITHING, MINING, and several other similar terms, but again none really fit anyway. I admit I'm stumped on this one. If you have a guess (not if you know the answer from a walkthrough or a previous play), feel free to comment.

In the meantime, I had plenty of other places to go. I trudged back up four levels of mines, returned to Thyn, and visited an "old priestess" in a forest clearing who I'd bypassed before out of the lack of a clue on what to do with her. I "used" every item in my possession until she finally responded to the amulet and gave me a Staff of Healing.
Doesn't look that old to me.

In terms of dungeons, I had three places remaining: the derelict castle, the elven headquarters, and Temple of the Savants. Figuring my quest started with the elves, I headed there. To get in, I had to answer a query about the lineage of the elves from the game manual, though I don't understand from studying this diagram how Scagnar is Findal's youngest uncle.

The elven "pyramid" consisted of four levels that gradually got smaller as they went up. The accumulation of room descriptions and hints suggested that the elves had recently become martial and bloodthirsty when their king was deposed and they made some kind of alliance with dragons. The pyramid featured the best graphics so far, with neat touches like detailed paintings on the walls:

Wandering monsters included elven guards, elven officers, elven mages, dwarves, and lizard men, and none of them were particularly hard except the mages. The mages have a "stun" spell that never seems to wear off  no matter how long I rest after the battle. Nor do I have any effective counter-spell. The only way I could find to cure it was to return all the way to the town and go to the temple, which I did exactly once. After that, I simply withdrew from any encounter with mages.
The levels were also full of treasure, so much that I had to retreat to the town and its bank several times--a process made all the more absurd by the fact that chests respawn when you return. Eventually, I just stopped picking up gold, knowing I could always return for the loot if I needed it. I marked locations of high-value treasure chests on my map.

In addition to gold, I found lots of good weapon and armor upgrades, including elven chain and some "dragon chain" and "dragon leather." Everyone has a pretty high AC now except for my mage, who hasn't found anything that he can wear. 

Another weird little creature told me that "only gem, corona, and staff make the key to the mountain." Okay, then. A dwarven warrior in a jail cell warned me that my amulet is "not genuine." A lot of people have stuff to say about the amulet; it's a good thing I didn't reject it at the beginning of the game.
At one point, I freed a lizard man from a jail cell and he gave me two maps. Reading them in-game referred me to numbered maps in the game manual, much like the journal entries you find in the Gold Box games, Wasteland, Dragon Wars, and such. They didn't really help. They showed locations of secret doors, but I'm in the habit of always looking for secret doors anyway.
I liked this image of a lizard man. I suppose it's plagiarized, too.
At the top level of the pyramid, I had an encounter with the "Mask Bearer" who went down in a few hits, leaving a glowing mask behind. The game didn't give me any option to pick it up, but remembering Ihl's statement that connected the mask to the leather bag he gave me, I used the bag and got it that way. I tried then using the mask, and it turned the character who used it into the new Mask Bearer and I was forced to kill him. I reloaded and just kept the mask for (presumably) later.
Also on the top level was a long corridor blocked by two "black flames." A previous scroll I found had said to defeat such flames with holy water. Unfortunately (see below) I didn't know which of the potions in my backpacks were holy water, so I tried random ones until the flames went down. In a cell on the far side of the flames was the imprisoned elven king. I'd hoped he'd explain a little bit about what was going on with the elves and such, but he just said that now that I'd freed him, he'd be able to fight his ancient enemy. He gave me the aforementioned hint to the riddle in the dwarven mines, said my amulet was the key to getting to the bottom level of the mines, and he gave me an elven bow.
Without this hint, I probably wouldn't have figured it out.
While exploring the pyramid, I discovered some locked doors that were passable by my thief's lockpicking or, when that failed, repeatedly bashing into them. But I also found some that clearly required a key, and I never found those keys. I hate leaving areas unexplored, but a thorough scouring of the pyramid didn't produce any more keys, so I'm not sure what that's about. Dejectedly, I left and returned to Thyn to level up.
This would be "rubbing it in."
My biggest problem with the game right now is that I'm loaded with items that I have no idea what they are. Some of them are probably treasures that can be sold; others are quest items; and others are perhaps magic items I haven't figured out how to use. These all include:
  • A "holy symbol" found in a chest in the elven pyramid. My paladin can theoretically use it, but it's not equippable.
  • A "golden casket," also found in a chest
  • A coal sack found in the dwarven mines
  • A barrel of explosives, also found in the dwarven mines
  • The sarcophagus from the monastery catacombs. It would be really cool to get rid of this because it weighs 300 pounds (out of 530 capacity for the character who has it).
  • A whole series of keys from the elven pyramid--air, fire, earth, and water--that opened no doors there (or perhaps some did, but not all)
  • An "elven bow" given to me by the elven king. Just a good weapon, or a quest artifact?
  • "Crafts" from the monastery
  • Several copies of books titled "Lord of Rinse" and "Book of Stars." Also one titled "Book of Herbs," and another titled "The Capital." None of these produce text when you "use" them, unlike some other books.
  • A "sacred dagger" from the elven pyramid
  • A "drum of fear." Forget where I got that.
  • Numerous scrolls of "enchant armour." You'd think they'd enchant my armour, but if I try to use them, I just get a message that it's "of no use in this situation."
  • The mask from above
I'd appreciate any hints as to these items, because I'm seriously thinking about just selling the ones I don't understand.

I'm also a bit annoyed by the way the game handles potions. There doesn't seem to be any way to identify them. If I try to sell them at the store, the shopkeeper will say, "I'll give you X gold pieces for that Potion of Whatever," but that's the only way I can determine the nature, and it doesn't rename the potion when he says that. I have to remember what each potion does by its position in the inventory.
Not to mention what is a "Potion of Kybol"?
Other miscellaneous notes:

  • I keep encountering "tradesmen" as wandering monsters. You'd think, given their name, they'd be interested in trade, but they never respond to my overtures. They just want to fight.

They look so friendly, too.

  • I've had three NPCs join me so far, and none of them have said anything interesting after I added them to my party. There was no victory speech from Eljot when we cleared out the dark dwarves from the monastery, for instance.
  • I've accumulated food so fast that it's weighing me down too much. There doesn't seem to be any way to drop it, but I got rid of a lot of it by trading it to my NPC before I booted him out of the party.
I now have the derelict castle and the Temple of the Savants to explore, plus the bottom level of the dwarven mines if I can ever figure out the riddle. My characters are Levels 5 or 6; I've been getting about one level per character per dungeon. Flush with cash, I've trained all of my characters in every language in the game: animal, orc, troglodyte, elf, dwarf, lizard man, "dark," and "magic."

This game has its moments, but I was ready for it to be over some time ago. It just doesn't feel like a six-posting game. I'm hoping I can win it in one more.


Further Reading: My first, second, third, fourth, and fifth posts on Legend of Faerghail, plus coverage of the game on "CRPG Revisiting old classics."


  1. If my merory serves me right you could just sell the golden casket. I think that is for pure gold only. Also, I think that even if you sell something important of mistake you would always be able to buy it back or recover it in case you need it. Also I think you could get rid of all scrolls with labels "Lord of Rinse" etc. The rest in your list I would save.

  2. Considering the riddle, my best guess is order (seems to fit everything, and it's a German game after all ;)), but I'd also try wisdom/knowledge, authority/power or work/labour.

  3. My guess on the riddle is "pride", which is common to both kings and dwarves.

    (Apologies if this shows up multiple times, but posting was not working on the iPad.)

  4. That's an odd riddle. ...I can't think of anything that would fit perfectly.

    Pride has already been mentioned, but how about love? 'course, it doesn't seem to have much to do with dwarves and I wouldn't say that it was made to hurt -- but seems to fit otherwise.

    1. I thought love too, when I read the riddle until the dwarves hint.

  5. I knew that riddle sounded familiar! It's actually a classic riddle poem by Friedrich v. Schiller (from "Rätsel aus Turandot") and the translation is...let's say, 'iffy'. :)

    The original as it appears in the german version of the game (actually, it's only the first half of the poem, as the second contains the solution):
    Wie heißt das Ding, das wenige schätzen,
    Doch zierts des größten Kaisers Hand,
    Es ist gemacht, um zu verletzen,
    Am nächsten ists dem Schwert verwandt.
    Kein Blut vergießts und macht doch tausend Wunden
    Niemand beraubts und macht doch reich,
    Es hat den Erdkreis überwunden,
    Es macht das Leben sanft und gleich.
    Die größten Reiche hats gegründet,
    Die ältsten Städte hats erbaut,
    Doch niemals hat es Krieg entzündet,
    Und Heil dem Volk, das ihm vertraut!

    Sadly, I couldn't find an official translation after a cursory search (and don't have time at the moment to search more) - maybe some other german speaking readers can help out here?

    1. I found one (not sure if there is such a thing as an official) translation:

      What is its name? – this thing, whose worth so few perceive,
      Yet which the greatest Emperor’s hand is pleased to hold,
      It has been made to cut, to slice, to cleave,
      Its next of kin’s a sword of steel so cold.
      A thousand wounds it makes, and yet no blood will flow,
      No-one is robbed, yet greater grows the common weal,
      The whole world of its victory does know,
      It keeps life smooth and on an even keel.
      It has the oldest cities founded,
      The mightiest empires raised out of the dust,
      And yet it brings no war, no guns have sounded,
      And happy are the folk who in it trust!

    2. Ok, I've found it (from the translation of the play (Turandot) itself):
      What is that thing, held cheap as dust,
      Yet honor'd by the Emperor's hand?
      'Tis made to pierce, with sword's keen thrust,
      But sheds no blood, tho' wounds like sand,
      In number deep inflicts; robs none;
      Enriches thousands; rules the earth;
      Makes life with ease and smoothness run;
      Has founded kingdoms; ended dearth;
      Most ancient cities it has built,
      But ne'er caused war, nor war's sad guilt.

    3. Wow, It was obvious, of course, that something was lost in translation, but I'd never guess it goes that far. Now the answer makes perfect sense.

    4. Here's a translation of those verses from Parables and Riddles by Friedrich Schiller, courtesy of Project Gutenberg:

      What is the thing esteemed by few?
      The monarch's hand it decks with pride,
      Yet it is made to injure too,
      And to the sword is most allied.

      No blood it sheds, yet many a wound
      Inflicts,—gives wealth, yet takes from none;
      Has vanquished e'en the earth's wide round,
      And makes life's current smoothly run.

      The greatest kingdoms it has framed,
      The oldest cities reared from dust,
      Yet war's fierce torch has ne'er inflamed;
      Happy are they who in it trust!

    5. First of all: My sincere apologies for spoiling anyone's fun by writing down the solution of the riddle a few posts further up. It's the kind of thing that happens when you focus very hard on something - you simply forget that the world is a lot bigger than the issue you're "obsessed with" right now. Truth is, I wasn't sure at all that I was talking about the right riddle, mainly because the solution I had found didn't seem to fit with the text of the riddle. So my main intention was to clarify that point. Also, I didn't think of the differences between English and American English. I'm German and more familiar with English English. That's why I chose the English English spelling of the solution when I translated the German word, although I know how it's spelled in the U.S., too.
      Still, it shouldn't have happened, but I can't undo it. Trust me it will never happen again.

      It looks like a lot of the confusion concerning this riddle (and possibly others, too) was caused by a less than satisfactory translation German -> English. For example "honor'd by the Emperor's hand" doesn't make sense. Someone said the original (German) wording was closer to "would honor an Emperor's hand" - this makes a lot more sense in my mind. Then there is a mix of English and American English: "honor" is definitely American, while the solution to the riddle is English.

      For the German-speakers among you: There is a relatively recent LOF discussion (2012) on that site:, with several contributions of the two guys who have created LOF.

      And a P.S. to CRPG Addict (although it doesn't help you with your corruted save game): Have you considered installing LOF to a hard disk? There is an install procedure on one of the disks, and it reduces the loading times somewhat.

  6. I remember this riddle from way back, it stumped me as well and the answer I eventually got (not sure how) was not very satisfying. One hint, due to the nature of the guesses so far: Think less abstract.

  7. The biggest problem I had with LoF was its riddles. It was because of them I never finished it in the 90s. This particular riddle I think I finally saw the solution for in a magazine at the time. Since I know the answer I cannot give you a guess either.

    1. I just encountered another tough one: "What lies between myself and my opposite?" I failed with both MIRROR and GLASS. Thankfully, I've done enough cryptic crosswords to recognize a clue with an "obvious" answer.

    2. My guess: The words don't deceive you ...

  8. Never played the game, but found a kind of a German walkthrough. It says something like: If you use the stairs from level 4 to 5, you arrive at stairs facing east. An elemental asks a nasty question. The answer is PLOUGH.
    Does this fit?

    1. Thanks for the spoiler (in caps, no less), that's exactly what was asked for!

    2. Given the flawed translation of the original riddle, which makes the correct answer utterly ridiculous, I don't think it's such a major transgression. It's all but impossible to figure out using only the in-game text.

    3. Well, the blog post does say not to give the riddle away. Though I do agree with VK: the translation of the riddle makes figuring out the answer almost impossible. How does it 'wound thousands' for example?


      And that's in India alone. XD

    5. Or the riddle is talking about worms.

    6. No, the riddle talks about the earth. By using the plough, you are taring apart earth and thus "hurting" it. Not sure if this is a German way of thinking, as I am German myself, but it sounds quite obvious to me. ;)

    7. The in-game translation is the problem. It inflicts a thousand wounds, but it doesn't wound thousands. :)

    8. The in-game translation definitely makes it more confusing, but even worse is the fact that the word has two spellings; I assume the answer uses the British English spelling.

      So, yeah. Sucks to be you, American English speakers. (Myself included).

      I ran into this problem with the original Bard's Tale as well - the endgame has a riddle with a British English word for its answer.

      Oh, and one of the Might & Magic games (4 or 5? I dunno) actually had a flat-out misspelling in an otherwise obvious riddle answer. I think in my usual submit-score-to-New-World-Computing letter I complained about this, and received an apology ("sorry, that is inexcusable on our part") in their reply.

  9. I googled the German text, then google translated a result page to get the answer, so that's an option if you want it. The answer does fit the riddle, but I wouldn't think of it without help. The hint about dwarves, however, makes no sense whatsoever, unless there is a story about dwarves in-game that has them doing something not particularly common in other dwarf stories.

    For the family tree, the oldest member is the trunk. If you follow the branches, Scagnar is Findal's only uncle (his father Findail's only sibling).

  10. My guess was "Plow" until the hint about the dwarves! Maaaaybe its a reference to "turning swords into plowshares?" Which is also hinted at in the third line of the better translation,

  11. I think maybe that screenshot of a "painting" in the Elven Pyramid is actually supposed to be a mirror, with the reflection of your characters staring back at you. The pose in the image combined with the shape of the frame seems to suggest that, anyway.

    1. You know, that makes more sense. It seems to have some depth to it.

  12. Regarding the tradesmen: I don't think they're traders willing to trade with you but rather men who work in a trade like smiths, coopers, masons and carpenters.

    1. You're probably right, though it still doesn't explain their hostility!

    2. Try being nice after being locked in a dungeon for years with nothing but monsters trying to chew off your head every few steps.

      Perhaps they'd be more civil in the DOS version. XD

  13. If the answer actually is plough, then I question whether the greatest Emperors would be proud to hold one.

    Also, I wonder if the game will accept "plow", the Americanized version of the word. If not then I suspect American players of the game have been even more frustrated by this riddle.

    1. In the original German verse the line is (if I understand correctly) "But [it] would grace the hand of the greatest king" so it's more of a political statement than actual description ;)

  14. Well, I was hoping to have a chance to figure it out for myself, but I did ask for guesses, and I suppose I should have expected that among them would be outright spoilers.

    I appreciate dahauns's revelation that the riddle has a basis of literature, and everyone who offered better translations. I don't know if "PLOUGH" would have occurred to me even with the better translations.

    1. I think that "LAW" makes a very solid answer. My first thought was "TAX", but I think wars have begun over taxes, and it just doesn't seem to fit as well.

    2. So many things almost fit, but it sounds like it's more of a literature reference than a true riddle. I'll take it as Germany's way of getting back at the U.S. for the PREAMBLE riddle in Might & Magic II.

    3. Nah, it's for the adult check in Leisure Suit Larry. ;)

  15. I think I understand the family tree- the base of the tree is the common ancestor. Each fork is the children of a parent. So looking at the branching, you have Findal son of Findail son of Alganor. And Alganor had a second child, Scagnar. That would be Findal's only uncle, so by default the youngest.

    1. That is correct. The idea is that the ROOTS are where the tree first started growing.

    2. Yeah, I got that right away, it is kind of odd our family 'trees' start at the top when you think about it.

  16. Let's dub these small unnamed creatures as "Little Bastards".

    1. I guess that IS shorter than "Everyone else's children"

  17. They're Tradesman because they want to TRADE some "blows" with you, MAN.

  18. I'm having the damnedest problem, and I'll take an outright spoiler if anyone has it: the entrance to the derelict castle has vanished. The location where I found it before (while playing the DOS version) is blocked by a tree. Nor does the woodkeeper appear when I enter the castle area and ask his question about vampires and mithril. Is this something that anyone has ever encountered?

    1. I had problems with corrupted savegames. What if you reload a previous save. Does it work then ? If it work it is your savegame that is corrupted and I don´t Think it´s possibly to remedy. Otherwhise it is one of the gamediscs that should be replaced with another version.

    2. When I had my problems Elodman tried to help me by saying:

      1 - a German LoF thread, mentioning some kind of amiga "savedisk" problem, too:

      2 - a discussion about error free amiga versions:

      The working English version, 100% bug free is the 2.0e English Version with the main executable (LOF file) dated 17-oct-1990. This is available only on TOSEC for now, but it will be released by SPS soon. These are the working TOSEC images:

      Legend of Faerghail v2.0e (1990)(Rainbow Arts)[a](Disk 1 of 3)
      Legend of Faerghail v2.0e (1990)(Rainbow Arts)[a](Disk 2 of 3)
      Legend of Faerghail v2.0e (1990)(Rainbow Arts)[a](Disk 3 of 3)(Boot)

      The SPS german version, Legend of Faerghail v1.8 (1990)(reLINE)(De)[0524] works fine without the riddle bug.

    3. It does appear to be the saved game. I have a string of about 12 going back to the beginning; I'll have to spend some time seeing where the corruption appeared.

    4. Well, it appears that the castle isn't the only structure missing. The elven pyramid is gone, too. The corruption seems to have occurred at some point after I was in the elven pyramid (the location of my last saved game). I wonder if it happened when I added a new character to my party after finishing the Temple of the Dragon Servants; that's the only major difference.

      Ugh. That means I have to finish the elven pyramid and complete the temple AGAIN. I hate going over the same ground twice in a row.

    5. Is this a game where you can make a new save game each and every time you save? I usually find that to be a good idea, not because I go back often (Well, not since Baldur's Gate when I'd get myself into fights I couldn't win), but due to bugs like this.

    6. Yes, you can name as many save files as you want. I typically don't take advantage of such capabilities and end up with only a small number of constantly-overwritten saved games.

      I'm not sure how much it would have helped me. The idea of going back hours and hours to a previous save file wouldn't appeal to me even if it solved the problem. But the bigger issue is that there's no way to guarantee that it will solve the problem. I could easily replay six hours of the game and still find the same corruption when I exit the Temple.

  19. Have to say that I too would had thought order or law as an answer to that riddle and definetly not plough.

    1. Myself, I was thinking "diplomacy". But wars *have* started over poor attempts at it...


I welcome all comments about the material in this blog, and I generally do not censor them. However, please follow these rules:

1. Do not link to any commercial entities, including Kickstarter campaigns, unless they're directly relevant to the material in the associated blog posting. (For instance, that GOG is selling the particular game I'm playing is relevant; that Steam is having a sale this week on other games is not.) This also includes user names that link to advertising.

2. Please avoid profanity and vulgar language. I don't want my blog flagged by too many filters. I will delete comments containing profanity on a case-by-case basis.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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