|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.
- "The more it gets, the more it eats, and has it eaten all, it dies."
- "A father's child, a mother's child, but son of none."
- "I talk without soul, I hear without ears, I talk without mouth, and I'm born in the air."
- "Two little windows, they have non 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 imaging 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 points (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."