Sunday, July 13, 2014

Fallthru: Two More Dungeons

I have no idea what's compelling me to continue filling in these squares.

My explorations of Faland continue, with minor progress. You have to understand that for everything significant happening in the game, there are hours where I'm just wandering the byways--frequently having to stop for food, water, and rest--collecting lore from warriors and citizens, fighting (although only for gold at this point, and I have plenty of that), and trying to find places.

Throughout the game, I'd been getting lore hints about the "Silver Way." It's key was said to lie "beneath the seven ways of Kymira," that it was "facilitated" by the silver ring, that it touches many settlements, and that the lost city of Sorf lies within it. At the conclusion of my last adventure in Faland, I had finally found the silver key in the Hole-in-the-Wall dungeon. Later, I traded 10 rubies (almost all I had) for a silver ring at the ringmaker's in Triod.

I had mentioned that five cities had mysterious locked doors and I was going to try the silver key at each to see if it opened any of them. It opened all of them. The Silver Way turns out to be some kind of mass transit system connecting various cities. A sign in each "station" says that "only an honorable warrior with a silver ring can use this facility" and tells you to use the word TRANSPORT to activate the transporter.

Exploring the entrance to the Silver Way.

Unfortunately, after using the command, the stations all ask for a password that I haven't found or heard anywhere. I've tried random selections from lore, but to no avail.

Having reached a dead-end there, I decided to re-try Black Water Cave. Lore about this location is some of the first dialogue you receive in the game, so it seems likely that you're meant to solve it early. The problems I was experiencing were twofold: you only have about six moves before the leeches kill you, and the only thing I could find to do in the leech-infested waters was to turn a valve, but the game kept insisting I wasn't strong enough.

As commenter X hypothesized a few days ago, the answer to the "strength" issue turned out not to be level or literal strength but rather injury level. The game wouldn't let me turn the valve if my injury was lower than 7 (from a max of 8). The leeches sapped 1 point for every move, so I basically had to find the valve room in a single move.

Just like Hole-in-the-Wall, the cave consists of a small number of rooms that all twist back on each other, rendering mapping futile. What's even more futile about the cave is that there doesn't seem to be any consistency to the directions. In Hole-in-the-Wall, going east from Room 2 might take you to the north entrance to Room 3 with no way to return, but at least it does that consistently. In Black Water Cave, going east from Room 2 might take you to Room 3 one minute and Room 5 the next.

Even if you get lucky on the first move, find the valve room, and are able to turn it, you still have to find the exit in 4 moves or less or the leeches kill you. This whole area took a lot of reloading.

Finally!

Turning the valve opened a door in the caverns above the water area, behind which was an altar containing the Weyring, an artifact that I was sure would make my life easier. With the Weyring in hand, you just type WHERE IS {PLACE}, and it tells you how many moves in a particular direction. It doesn't tell you exactly where because it only does one direction at a time. If you type WHERE IS BLAH, it doesn't say "5 legons east and 7 legons south" but rather something general, like "7 legons southeast." If you travel to that location, you then have to consult it again to find out that the location is now "2 legons west."

Nonetheless, I was convinced that the ring would make my life a lot easier, but it turns out it barely helps at all. First, you have to be in the general area already; otherwise, you get a message that the location is "out of range." Second, it doesn't have any data on most locations in the game. It won't help you find any city, for instance, or THUN, or BLACK WATER CAVE. I keep hearing about a castle called MORAG, but I don't know where it is and the ring says I'm out of range. I wanted it to help me find EYRY, the city where I can supposedly get a scimitar, but it wasn't in its databanks.

So for now, the only thing I could think to use it for was Blak'mine, the mine near the city of Riven, in the far southeast. Lore had told me that the place is inhabited by a "Shabog" demon and I could find a diamond there. I wasn't sure why I needed a diamond except that "deception may be unveiled in the clarity of a diamond."

The cave turned out to have a Silver Way station, which I still can't use. Beyond that, it was simple: a shaft down, then east, then up, then east, then up again to the diamond. The Shabog blocks the last bend, and you have to fight him twice, once on the way up and once on the way down. He can only be defeated by a bow and arrows, and you have to have some practice first.

My problem with the place was again logistical. I arrived with only 4 oil in my lamp, and it wasn't enough, so I had to return to town to get more. Riven, the closest town, didn't sell it, so I had to march all the way up to Woren a few hundred squares away. Then, on the next trip, it turned out I didn't bring enough arrows, which are only sold way farther away. After a lot of long treks back and forth--of course, having to stop frequently and eat, drink, and rest on the way--I had the right equipment and made it through the cave.

Except for game animals, you don't actually kill anything in this game. You just attack until it surrenders or runs away.

With the diamond in hand, I was out of ideas, so I consulted my lore list for anything I hadn't yet experienced or solved. This is what I have:

  • The Silver Way. Still need the password, don't know where to get it.
  • The golden amulet. Said to be a powerful ward against injury, to heal wounds, and to defeat poison. It would probably have helped with the leeches in Black Water Cave, but I don't know where to get one. Maybe if I keep wandering the roads and giving things to beggars?
  • Scimitars and Lithian Chains. The opal scimitar is the best weapon in the game. I've met lots of warriors with them. Supposedly, I can get them at Eyry, near Hole-in-the-Wall, but I wandered around the desert a bit and couldn't find any location. If I find one, I can apparently use it to cut the Lithian Chains on the vault in Or'gn
  • Morag. A castle that I'm supposed to find somewhere and not enter by the front gates. The Weyring tells me it's out of range and I don't have any idea what part of the map it's in.
  • The desert. I have lore about the positions of oases and how to survive there, just not any particular reason to go.
  • Thun. A mysterious, powerful cave at the head of the Fariver on the far east side of the map. I actually took the time to trek all the way up the river until I found it, off at an eastern coordinate of 1,000--and there were still squares beyond it, meaning the number of squares in the game has now topped 1 million. My bronze ring is supposed to unveil its secrets, but those secrets have something to do with interpreting a runestone, which I do not yet have.

This was pretty cool, but it took me an awfully long time to get here, to no purpose.

  • The Golden Way. If I ever figure out the Silver Way, I guess the Golden Way is next. Sorf is supposed to lie on the paths of both Ways, and the Golden Way is somehow the key to getting home.
  • Prothan of Woren. This sage has some knowledge about the great demon Zugg, who I apparently need to defeat to get home. But he won't talk to me unless I have a gold ring, which costs 100 rubies at the ringmaker's in Triod--or 98 more rubies than I have now. Rubies occasionally are dropped by warriors at the ends of combats, but the idea of grinding for 99 of them fills me with despair. In the entire game so far, I've only found 13.

With no other ideas, I guess the next thing to do is hit the desert and see if there's anything to experience at the various oases. At least the Flyr will make long travel distances a bit easier. But this game is stretching on well past its welcome at this point, so I'm happy for hints on any of the above.

22 comments:

  1. You have a great deal more patience and/or stubbornness than I do. I couldn't deal with having to spend hours wandering around the game with only an Excel sheet to show me any kind of progress. That just sounds like no fun at all.

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    1. That's why he's the CRPG Addict, and the rest of us aren't. I for one am glad he does all the hard work while I just sit back and read. Fun fact: go to Google.com and type "CRPG" and watch what auto-complete does.

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  2. Hmm... looks like the streak is ending here (though I haven't seen proof that the game can actually be completed). Well, I guess you can go for a couple more posts while QfG II provides a welcome change, but you've certainly seen enough of the game to form a fair opinion. Still, the concept of the game is still appealing to me. It's definitely not the ordinary RPG experience. (No, I wouldn't want to play the game)

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    1. Are you talking about my winning streak? I don't think it's ending. I'm not really at the verge of giving up.

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  3. This game seems more fun to read about than to play. I am enjoying reading about how you gradually pluck out the mysteries of the world-- and it might even be a GOOD game if 1/5th the length.

    One thing that I've noticed is that-- like my favorite games-- it always leaves you with something to do. You haven't exhausted your lore or places to explore. It's frustrating because the progress you are making is small and the rewards in following up on the lore so small, but from a game design perspective you have not just had to throw up your hands yet to find the random NPC that moves the plot.

    I am also enjoying the setting, though it could end up one of those over-used tropes. I'm guessing Planet of the Apes-style future Earth, though it could also be a Might and Magic-style generation ship. Better yet, I could be surprised. Good luck!

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    1. I just hope the game pays off with some kind of resolution to the story. I'll be upset if all of this ends with a screen that simply says "You made it home!"

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  4. For what it's worth, I gather from posts elsewhere on the web that there is some kind of healing salve that one should load up on before visiting the Black Water Cave. Of course, that advice is a bit late. *wry smile*

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    1. Kind of strange Chet explores everything and collects every piece of lore, but still misses a lot of important stuff/points of interest. I don't understand why that is, I would have done the same and quit the game far, far earlier...

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    2. Geoff, I had some salve, but unless you arrive with absolute loads of it, you still have to get lucky and find the valve (and then the exit) before the salve runs out. You lose 1 or 2 hit points (out of a max of 8) with literally every action. I agree it would helped if I'd brought more, though.

      sucinum, if The Lord of Omniscient Perception, Impeccable Memory, and Faithful Recording of Each and Every Detail would like to start a blog, I'll be an avid reader.

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    3. Well, if I ever decide to start my own Play Every RPG Ever blog, I know what I'll be calling myself.

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    4. That was a misunderstanding, I totally see the fault in the game for hiding stuff without enough clues. I don't see how you could have done better and envy your persistance and endurance.

      Still thanks for the title. I know it's a strange habit to equal "best" with "what I'd have done". ;)

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    5. Everyone knows The Addict doesn't deal with criticism.

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    6. Yes, I suppose I do have issues with that.

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  5. I'm surprised you were not able to accomplish anything at Thun. Why was that?

    Perhaps your resource-management troubles are due to not having enough burros? If you have enough ralls, you should outfit more burros with equipment for long expeditions.

    I'm not sure what's up with the "square" counting. In Baldur's Gate, you can step on almost any pixel of a map; there must be millions of pixels in that game that you could step on. But since you're under no obligation to step on all of them, why would that bother you?

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    1. That's probably not a good analogy, given (among other reasons) the frustration many people have over pixel-hunting as a game mechanic. :)

      If faced with millions of pixels, the knowledge that some pixels are important, and no clear guide about which ones are the important ones... the more pixels there are, the more ridiculous the task of finding the handful of important ones seems! Some people probably are pretty pissed off about the handful of random magical items hidden on stray pixels in BG, and at least those aren't needed for game progress.

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    2. Yeah, that would be maddening, but Fallthru doesn't work that way. Everywhere you go, people, signs and your own senses tell you about stuff you should check out and things you should try. I'm almost certain there's nothing to be pixel hunted in the wilderness; everything should be findable based on lore. On the other hand, I guess I've never tried pixel hunting, so if something does exist out there, I would never have found it.

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    3. Thun: I didn't see anything to do there, and all my lore was about deciphering rune stones. I assumed I'd have to return with a rune stone. Perhaps this assumption led me to not explore as much as I should have.

      "Not enough burros." I think my problems are more the constant transfer of items from burro to pack to hand to place. I haven't actually run out of room yet. Thinks like the lamp oil and the arrows were more an issue of having run low from previous use and not thinking to re-stock.

      "Square counting." I was just trying to get a sense of the scope of the overall game world. I don't understand why it mystifies you--literally every other game has clear and obvious borders that give you a sense of the size of the territory you have to explore in between. Baldur's Gate's millions of pixels exist between clearly-defined boundaries that I can define in terms of screens or measurements on those screens. I realize this game is a bit different, but I'm not an idiot for trying to determine the dimensions of the land.

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    4. I don't think he was implying you were an idiot. But rather that you were wasting time and resources mowing the lawn when that isn't the optimal play style for this game.

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    5. I don't think he was lawn-mowing now. He probably did previously but, from his later posts, he had given up and just mapping his routes and no longer blanketing entire areas.

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    6. Yeah, I wasn't lawn mowing. I was just trying to find the borders of the game world. I thought that was clear.

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  6. FYI, everyone, I just won the game, so don't bother about offering hints. The "won!" posting should probably come on Wednesday.

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  7. Well, "gratz" in advance. I've been wondering how many more stories this game had left in it. ;-)

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