|What I thought was the northern "border" of the game--until I found passages downward.|
Since the last post, I have devoted an absurd number of hours to Fallthru--I seriously need to start doing something more productive with my summer--and the best I can say is I have a better sense of the lay of the land. So far, I've mapped both northerly and easterly coordinates as high as 750--making the known game world 562,500 total squares--although I know it extends more than this. The cliff at the northernmost part of the map turned out not to be a barrier. There are at least two places that you can go down the cliff into the desert, and I have no idea how far the desert extends. Meanwhile, at the far extend of the east is a seemingly endless series of forest squares. I suppose it's possible that there are no north and east borders; that the game just keeps generating squares in those directions until you run out of supplies and die.
As I've noted before, there's precious little to be found in all of these squares. I've found 12 cities, 2 external dungeons, a handful of inns, and a couple dozen generic farms. Some of the cities are at the ends of absurdly long rows of hundreds of squares.
In mapping this game, you have to treat it something in between a top-down game like Ultima IV (which you don't map at all) and an adventure game like Beyond Zork, where you would map and annotate every square. In Fallthru, it would obviously be crazy to map every square, but you don't just want to record locations as a series of coordinates, either, because you won't get a sense of the geography of paths that connect them. My Excel solution has space for every potential square, but mostly I'm just mapping roads and key locations.
The "flyr" has made travel a lot faster. I paid a pretty penny for it, but it was worth it. You set the device to any number between 1 and 20, and you automatically move that number of squares when you specify a direction, using only the food, water, and fatigue from having moved one square. Despite its obvious utility, it was a while before I trusted it enough to use it. I was worried I'd miss key locations or encounters on the road. But after some experimentation, I found that it stops you at any location you can ENTER or any person to whom you can say HELLO. Unfortunately, it doesn't stop at bends and turns in the road, so occasionally I find myself launched into the middle of some forest.
|He said, "Hey, yo, get out' my SPACE, 'fore I PLACE this MACE in your #$*%ing FACE."|
The central part of the map, where the game begins at Or'gn, is made up of farms and a fairly dense series of interconnected roads, with a farm (where you can buy food and get free water, although often food is "sold out") at every major intersection. You rarely have to go more than 20 squares before you can find a place of safety. To the south, a series of mountains rise, and most of the paths come to dead ends. One long road winds its way through the mountains for more than 300 squares before coming to an end at the city of Targ, where there's a locked dungeon I can't yet enter. Many cities have some kind of locked dungeon that requires a special key.
To the east, the road network collapses into a single road heading into dense forest, with different roads going off to cities called Rooden, Frgaz, Woren, and--way at the end of a winding trail that goes more than 500 squares and crosses a river--Riven. Rooden, and Woren both had locked doors. Woren also had a sage named Prothan who, lore says, could tell me about the demon Zugg, but he wouldn't see me unless I returned with a gold ring. I found where gold rings could be traded in Triod for 100 rubies, but so far in the game I've only found (or been given) about 14 rubies, so I'm a long way off.
There was some talk about a diamond mine in the wilds near Riven, but I didn't have any particular reason to visit yet, so I declined to waste a lot of time bushwhacking for now.
|Lore tells me that my bow and arrows will help me defeat the Shabog. Oddly, there's no INFO entry on him.|
The north, as I said, mostly ends at the top of a cliff, though there are two ways down to the desert, one called the "cleft" and one called . . . wait for it . . . "Waydn." The cleft has a dungeon called Hole-in-the-Wall on the way down, which I will cover in just a minute.
Finally, to the west the roads again converge into a single long road that ends at the sea, at the city of Oshan.
I haven't gotten anywhere near the 0,0 coordinate. The furthest south I've been able to go is 150, but that was way to the east, at the x coordinate of 750. It appears the southwest part of the map is all wilderness, and I run out of food and water if I try to go too far. This is true of a lot of places on the extremes.
Just running around and finding all these places took a good 8 hours. In between:
- I seem to have hit my max combat level: 76. None of the warriors I meet are higher than 75, and no matter how many I beat, I never reach 77. Renegades have stopped attacking me, which makes sense given that lore says renegades only attack warriors they know they can beat. I'm still "too weak" to turn the valve in Black Water Cave, so clearly something else is going on there. One nice consequence of hitting the max level is that I no longer have to spend times recording the names and levels of every warrior I meet.
- Having maxed in levels somehow doesn't bother me as much as it did in Dragonflight, perhaps because combat is such a minor part of this game and it's over quite quickly.
- Commenter X's revelation about the HERE command saved me a lot of grief. I missed it in the documentation. Previously, I had thought everything had to pass through the hands. So if you wanted to move something from the backpack to the ground, you'd have to type MOVE FROM P01 to HAND 20 RALL and then DROP 20 RALL. It turns out you can just say MOVE FROM P01 TO HERE 20 RALL. MOVE FROM HERE TO P01 allowed me to pick up the ikons and bring them back to Or'gn for sale. For the gold ikon, I got 10 rubies.
- The cities in the forests to the east sold bows and arrows. It turns out that the game tracks some bow (and presumably throwing knife) skill behind the scenes, and it has nothing to do with your combat level. I had a miserable time shooting at and missing wildlife before I slowly improved.
- The economy isn't particularly strong in this game, but it's fun that as you get to the cities in the far-flung parts of the world, everything is more expensive. Bows and arrows sell for twice as much in Riven as in Frgaz, and food sells for 9 times as much as in Or'gn. Or'gn, of course, is in the middle of a bunch of farms, while Riven is hundreds of squares in the middle of nowhere.
- I keep forgetting to pick up my knife or arrows after throwing/shooting them. Having to replace them is annoying.
- Thanks also to X's comments, I realized you can take a shot with a knife or arrow when combat begins. If successful, the missile attack effectively lowers the opposing warrior's level by 2 or 3 and makes it an easier combat. Unfortunately, I got this information after I was near-maxed, so it wasn't much use.
|Defeating a warrior by hitting him with a knife.|
- Hitting various levels makes you immune to wildlife attacks. A piece of lore specifically says that warriors Level 3 or above needn't fear "eagen" (eagles). As I explored, I found I was a high enough level to automatically fend off berven (bears), hyens (hyenas), and other creatures. Unfortunately, no level is high enough to defeat ferven (tigers, I guess), and having to keep a lamp going every time I walk around on moonless nights is logistically annoying.
|Hyen attack me and are driven off with no input on my part.|
- Some other ways to make money became apparent, including taking sacks to a mountain quarry and filling them with sand, and killing elvir (elks) and davi (deer) for their pelts. But from combats, I already have more money than I know what to do with.
- I'm still collecting a ton of lore--about 75 entries now. They get repetitive for a while, and then suddenly I get a whole new set. I don't know if they're dependent on geography or level. I suspect the former.
|I still don't know where "Thun" is, and I haven't covered any terrain of snow and ice. On the other side of the desert, maybe?|
- As far as I can tell, there is no consequence to death in the game except that you restart on your last safe square. The only problem is if you die somewhere without food or water and there's none nearby. You get into an endless cycle of starving to death, with no hope unless you have a saved game in a better place. But some foresight--keeping plenty of food in packs, keeping full canteens--keeps this from happening.
Only towards the end of the session did I start to make some progress on the main quest. I had found a bronze key beneath Slavhos, and lore told me that the bronze key opened Hole-in-the-Wall. I didn't find that dungeon (nestled in the cleft in the northern cliff) until late in my explorations.
|Well, that's promising.|
Like a few other dungeons I've found so far, Hole-in-the-Wall was a twisty maze of passages going in any of eight cardinal directions plus up and down, with no rhyme or reason to where they deposit you in the next chamber. You could go east from Chamber 1 to Chamber 2, and then have to go east from Chamber 2 back to Chamber 1.
To keep it all straight, I at first tried digging holes. Every time you DIG, you dig 1 foot, up to a maximum of 8 feet. I recorded the first chamber as "1H," the second as "2H," and so on. There were more than 8 chambers, so I started combining holes with ralls. "2H1R" was a room where I dug a 20-foot hole and dropped 1 rall.
It seemed to be working for a while, but then it turned out that holes close themselves after time, so I got hopelessly lost and ran out of oil for my lamp. Reloading, I tried the same strategy but with combinations of ralls and ems. This allowed me to map the entire maze, but I was unable to find anything useful, and I kept getting into an area with an endless loop that wouldn't let me leave the maze.
There was one location where I had to defeat a demon. He wasn't remotely hard, but nothing happened after I defeated him. After I explored the rest of the dungeon and found nothing, I figured there must be something special about his chamber. Since there weren't any environmental cues, I tried just digging in the floor, and it worked: I uncovered a silver key. I think the solution ought to have been a little more obvious.
I don't know what the silver key unlocks, but I have five cities--Biclif, Targ, Rooden, Woren, and Oshan--that all had locked doors, so I guess I need to try them all in turn. Maybe by next time, I'll have something more interesting to report on the story. This game is sorely testing my patience, though. The world is unconscionably large and empty, with such repetitiveness in its encounters and locations, that I really don't understand what its fans see in it. On the other hand, I grant that there's absolutely nothing else like it on my list.