Thursday, July 17, 2014

Quest for Glory II: Class Conflict

Sounds like someone on the development team has experience with post-graduate studies.

Over at The Adventure Gamer, Trickster is going through Quest for Glory II as a fighter, which always struck me as the most boring of the Quest for Glory classes. Perhaps sensing this, the creators offered the upgraded "paladin" class for those inclined to a sword-and-board lifestyle. I am aware that mages and thieves can technically become paladins, too, though my understanding is that it's somewhat more difficult. I haven't decided if I want it for my mage even if it's possible.

However, I'm curious about one thing: if my mage becomes a paladin, can he use a sword? That I think fighters are somewhat "boring" doesn't mean I want to fight with a dagger for four more games. I visited the weapon shop here, thinking I might be able to buy a sword, but the jerk of a shopowner, Issur, would only sell one if I traded in my old one. What kind of way to run a business is that?

Oh, stop acting like there's some separate "sword" skill.

Issur, incidentally, offered a little armwrestling mini-game. I partook and won on my first try. I guess importing a character does have his advantages. Trickster lost his first attempt and tried to blame it on emulation speed. Hey, T! My hero can beat up your hero!

Issur looks like the guy on Pawn Stars.

Anyway, Issur wouldn't talk to me after that, or even play the game again, so I left to do more mage-type things.

That's what we call being a "sore loser."

I had two more things to do in the city before heading out into the wilderness: visit the astrologer and find the Wizard's Institute of Technocery (WIT). After asking a few NPCs, I found that the astrologer was at the end of "Tarik of Stars," which I guess makes sense.

Is there any rhyme or reason to the different background colors for NPC dialogue?

The astrologer asked me to tell him about my past, which reminded me there's a TELL ABOUT command in the game. I haven't otherwise had a chance to use it, though I suspect I'm missing opportunities. Anyway, after hearing about my past, he said he'd create a custom fortune for me, but it would take several hours and I should come back.

Fun stuff on the walls. I tried to climb up that ladder but the game wouldn't let me.

So the moneychanger was on "Dinar Tarik" and the astrologer was on "Tarik of the Stars." No one had told me the exact location of the WIT, but I consulted the map hoping there would be an "Arcana Tarik" or something. There was nothing like that, but there was a dead-end street in a very obvous place at the top of the map, where some kind of facility would have symmetry with the other plazas and buildings. I figured that must be it.

The map on the back of the game manual.

Reaching the dead-end street, I cast "Detect Magic," and sure enough, a door came into view at the end of the corridor.

I had to cast "Open" to enter. I found myself in a hallway surrounded by portraits of famous magicians, including Erasmus and Zara from the first game, the mysterious Erana of "Erana's Peace" fame, Aziza from Shapeir, a guy I didn't know, a blacked-out portrait (curious about that), and Harry Houdini and Merlin from non-Quest for Glory mythology.

A voice first asked my name, then why I wanted to enter the WIT. I was stumped at that one. After trying "TO LEARN" and "HERO" and getting thrown out, I replied simply "MAGIC" and was allowed to proceed. Next, voices asked who I'd use as a sponsor.

I had a feeling the "correct" answer was Erasmus, so I wanted to try some of the others first. Each selection was accompanied by the wizards contacting the named sponsor through his or her portrait and asking if he or she would support me. These were the results:

  • Zara said that aside from selling me a few spells, she didn't really know me and wouldn't take responsibility for me. I didn't think that was very nice. Clearly, she must have been aware that I saved Spielburg.
  • Aziza also said that she didn't know me well enough.
  • In response to Erana, the wizards said that she hadn't responded to summonses for many years. There was an odd note when I clicked on Erana's portrait that said "she reminds you of Genesta, a Faery you once knew." At first, I thought it was odd that the game was ascribing a background to the hero, but I guess it was just a King's Quest reference.
  • When contacted, Harry Houdini was clearly in the middle of one of his escape acts. Through muffled gasps and chokes, he conveyed he was too busy at the moment.
  • Merlin simply indicated he didn't know me.

The spelling "Merlyn" and the reference to "Gramarye" indicates that the author of this passage has read T. H. White's The Once and Future King, but the surname "Ambrosius" suggests that he or she has also read Mary Stewart's "Merlin" trilogy. (Either that or Geoffrey of Monmouth's Vita Merlini, but that seems less likely.)

Yorick, Keepon Laffin, and Baba Yaga simply produced notes that they weren't valid selections, so I guess they weren't members of the Institute. I think the game missed an opportunity to do something funny with Baba Yaga. I also think it missed an opportunity to have a response to "Fenrus" instead of "Erasmus."

In the end, it was "Erasmus" that got me in. The other members of the Institute clearly felt same way I did about him in the first game:

He appeared in his portrait, told a bunch of dumb jokes, and agreed to sponsor me. First, I had to pass a little test for him, which consisted of moving one of three bells to a pedestal and causing it to ring--in three spells or less. It was easy. "Detect Magic" identified the right bell, "Fetch" moved it to the pole, and "Trigger" caused it to ring.

Is this supposed to be a challenge?

The Institute then passed me along to the "real" test, which consisted of walking along a narrow path, with void on each side, and having to defeat four obstacles. The first was a spinning staff. I initially tried "Force Bolt" and "Flame Dart," hoping they would send it spinning away, but they didn't work. Confused, I started working my way down the list of spells.

The results of "Detect." Good to have that confirmation.

The solution turned out to be casting "Fetch" to get it to move towards me and then "Levitate" so I could move up as it passed under me. 

At this point, though, I was nearly out of spell points, and there was no way to rest during the test. I had to exit, go back to the apothecary, and stock up on some mana pills before trying again.

The second test was a stone wall that turned into some kind of rock monster when I cast "Trigger" on it. I could then "Calm" it and climb over it, but it woke up when I was on the other side and started pounding the walkway. I had to cast "Calm" a second time to keep moving.

The third test was a big iceberg. "Flame Dart" melted the frost on it, revealing a fracture. Three consecutive "Force Bolts" exploited the fracture and pushed two pieces apart until they fell off the walkway.

Finally, there was a door in front of a raging fire. "Open" opened the door; "Calm" made the flames diminish so I could see the hole on the other side; "Fetch" closed the door; and "Force Bolt" (specifically on the top edge) knocked it over so it provided a bridge across the hole.

There might have been other ways to solve some of them. None of the tests made use of "Zap" (which is understandable since you have to start the first game as a mage to even have it) or "Dazzle," though I wonder if the latter would have worked on the rock monster.

When I was done, the Institute wizards said I had passed and indicated that they wanted me to give up adventuring and devote myself full-time to studies. The game offered me the choice of whether to "take the oath that you will ignore and forget about those who said they needed you in the land of Shapeir and devote yourself to the improvement of your mind and magic." Way to ask a loaded question, Quest for Glory II.

At least it's a role-playing choice.

I said no, of course. The council was upset but Erasmus congratulated me, noting "what good is magic or knowledge unless you use it?" He gave me the "Reversal" spell, which rebounds magical attacks directed at you. I was then dumped back in the alley, leaving me confused as to whether I'm a member of WIT or not.

Flush with victory, I returned to the Katta's Tail Inn for the night. Omar the Poet was performing with his translator, Ja'afar (another name that would later appear in a Disney film). The "translator" wasn't a language translator, but rather someone who translated verse into plain text. It's rather funny. In response to NAME, Omar says:

This is followed by the "translator," who explains:

I imagined Omar saying "Fly me to the moon / and let me play among the stars / let me see what spring is like / on Jupiter and Mars" and Ja'Afar explaining, "Hold my hand. Darling, kiss me."

Omar indicated that the Katta had been expelled from Raseir, which is why they came to Spielburg to find me in the first place. This is nothing that was even hinted by Shameen and Shema. 

I settled in for Omar's official performance. The poem he recited was more prophecy than poetry:

In the Month of the Serpent, in the year of the Djinn
A shadow passed over the Katta's Tail Inn
Astrologers forell that Doom shall come to dwell
And Shapeir shall e but sand upon the wind

Comes a Hero from the North, riding on the very air
And this is sign the first to then beware
For Darkness soon shall fall and shadow cover all,
The city and the ones now living there

The first Doom shall be Fire, which shall burn the very stone
The next is Air, and rocks are overthrown
Earth shall be the third, then the final Doom is heard,
The Water gone, the city parched like bone

Unless the one called Hero is a Hero true indeed,
Who comes to help the city in its need,
Then will face the depths of Doom in the darkness of the Tomb
From the Elemental's Master, we are freed

The next morning, signs indicated that the first part of the prophecy was coming true. A Fire Elemental had been to town, and Alichica's stall was destroyed. Sounds like I'd better get cracking on the main quest.

Do all of my exploits have to be in service of some prophecy?

A few miscellaneous notes:

  • I ran into a beggar a few times in the Plaza of the Fountain. Giving him gold seemed to increase my "honor" score, but I didn't get any useful information out of him.

Sounds like your parents started you with a bit of a handicap.

  • Many of the plazas have open windows that make me vaguely remember climbing into them when I played as a thief back in the 1990s. I can understand why people play as thieves; the windows are just so damned enticing.

Yes, I do!

  • You have to eat and drink regularly as you explore, although the game automatically deducts water and rations if you have enough. That's a nice contrast to Fallthru.

I continue to love the game's overall sense of fun--something that I emphasized in my recent review of the first Quest for Glory. When you pass Erasmus's test with the bell, fireworks shoot out of the top of it spelling "Erasmus" and "Fenrus." A green-and-blue shield on the wall of the weapon shop is annotated as "the Black Shield of Falworth. It's been repainted." When you come out to Alichica's ruined cart after the Fire Elemental attack, he's optimistically trying to hawk the burned wood.

I don't think any other game I've played so far has imparted the same sense of having fun while still maintaining a relatively serious, interesting narrative. It makes it an honest pleasure to play the game no matter how it performs as an RPG.


  1. Regarding the "map at the back of the manual", is that from the Slash rerelease? The original Sierra release had a big-ish colored map.

    You can definitely play your mage or thief as a sword wielding Paladin in the later games. QfG4 had a few quirks with that, iirc: in some circumstances, playing with a Paladin who had been a thief in QfG1+2 triggered a few smaller bugs when attempting to enter the thieves' guild. Memory is a bit fuzzy, so I don't remember details.

    1. Good to hear. Yes, the map is from the anthology version.

  2. You managed to find WIT in an unexpected way! If you go around the city casting "detect magic", you will get arrows that you can follow until you eventually get to where you found the door. I was not quite as observant as you on my play-through so I did not notice the suspicious looking alley.

    And as for the WIT trial itself, I think importing has its benefits! It took me a few more days to get in since I did not have enough mana to cast all of the spells in the initiation in one go, and you are not allowed to use mana pills during the test.

    The fighter in this game is probably the most "boring", but there are some fighter-specific side items and the chance to enter combat with more things. There are also some role-playing choices which you like but will have to wait for you to read about them after you complete this round as a mage.

    1. Ha. Yep, the arrows do indeed appear. It didn't occur to me to just cast "Detect Magic" anywhere.

      Not true about the pills, though. I ate one in the middle of the challenge just fine.

      I should mention that I think the plain old "fighter" is just about the most boring class in ANY game. Early games tend to treat him as a brute, good for little more than swinging his weapon, and even then hardly outperforming classes like paladins and rangers who are good at fighting AND other things. I appreciate that later games--and later editions of AD&D--tend to treat him more as a "weapon master," with a lot more special skills and advantages that come from focusing on weapons and nothing else.

    2. IIRC, at least in the remake some NPC even gives you a hint about those arrows.

    3. As a kid I remember also finding WIT by looking at the map (the nice big foldout version) and thinking that there had to be SOMETHING on that little alley. I don't think I was looking for anything in particular, though. More than likely, I was playing a cross-class mage/thief, and 'sneaking' all over the city to grind up my skill, while consulting the map to see if there was anywhere I should try walking past just in case. I never knew about the glowy arrows until later, and had by now forgotten them until you mentioned them.

      I think I found the astrologer by just walking, too, although it's been far too long to be sure.

  3. "Is there any rhyme or reason to the different background colors for NPC dialogue?"

    As this is an EGA game and this means 16 colors palette, fixed, for the whole game, I do not think it's an engine-related issue. Games on weird graphic systems would sometimes have to hotswap GUI colors with a per-screen palette, but this isn't the case here.

    I personally always took it as an extra chance to show which character is talking, so, they're color-coded.

    Concurrently Lucasarts would introduce characters that talk by having their heads animate and their text (also color-coded) would appear above their heads simultaneously, so you always knew which character was saying what.

    Sierra tackled the same design issue in various different ways in different games. Some Sierra games have closeups of character portraits next to text boxes. Others have closeups of both faces of characters with the text in the middle, like Gabriel Knight.

    SCI games of this vintage are a mix. Sometimes it's a narrator text box telling you what a character on screen said to you in third person, other times they will have a little animated mouth on the character, they hold the gameplay until the animation plays out, and you'll get a colored text box with what they said, as you noticed.

    I like the Lucasarts solution because it reminds me of comic books and because it doesn't hold the action like Sierra did. Especially once they figured out the characters could talk and walk at the same time, it really sped up the action of a generally languid genre.

    Here's entirely more information on this than you needed.

    1. The colored backgrounds for character dialogue were supposed to help the player tell the characters apart in scenes where several people might be talking. It was also designed to reflect the personality of the character. We picked an appropriate color for each character and tried to make sure that there was good color contrast in every combination of background and text color.

    2. Monkey Island adopted this for their dialogue boxes as well.

    3. "Is there any rhyme or reason to the different background colors for NPC dialogue?"

      Also worthwhile to note is that since this game is preoccupied with elemental magic, Shapeir's four magicians are all also elementally inclined, and their elemental affiliation is suggested by their associated colours.

    4. Good answers, thanks. I was just thinking it was a shopkeeper/regular person difference, but clearly it goes way beyond.

    5. I'm impressed at how much thought the devs put into this. Omar the Poet speaks in purple prose, er, poetry on a paper-white background. Shihhad the beggar is dirt-poor, so his dialogue boxes are brown. The wizards, when speaking as one and telling you to settle down to a boring life, talk in dark gray. The whole game must be full of these nice touches. Well done!

  4. Your 'post-graduate studies' joke was great, I think I know the field you're refering to.

    I didn't like Sierra games when I grew up. My english simply wasn't good enough for command typing. That's why I prefered the LucasArts games - you just needed to look up a couple of words in the dictionary to get ahead. Now I would be able to complete the games, I guess. I should do it, they really look like fun.

    1. I wasn't really referring to a specific field--just the general theme of academia vs. practice. Even in my field, which is intensely practical, the majority of academics never seem to want to get their hands dirty in the "real" world.

  5. One realization as I read this is how _urban_ this game is. In how many cRPGS do you spend the majority of your time in a peaceful city? I wonder if that isn't part of your "how it performs as an RPG" comment. Think about it this way: two posts in and you haven't had a single random encounter or combat, except for Uhura in the training grounds. Is that a relief from the conventions of a cRPG? Or a detriment?

    Of course, you still have a lot to explore!

    1. Well, other than the QFG series, there's...
      1) Pool Of Radiance (Phlan)
      2) Circuit's Edge (Budayeen)
      3) Deus Ex (Detroit)
      4) Planescape Torment (Sigil)
      5) Unrest (Bhimra)

    2. The thing is, I could have wandered out the front gates immediately. I'm sure many players do that.

    3. Well you can wander out the gates here immediately as well. You get a lethal desert, random encounters and a few points of special interest.

      It's not unheard of of people to start playing QfG2 by going outside (especially as fighters) and fighting brigands for gold pieces to buy the map with, instead of bothering with navigating to the moneychanger.

  6. You might want to refrain from insulting me Chet. After all, I did just play through The Secret of Monkey Island, mastering the art of insult combat on the way to victory! ;)

    In my defense, I wasn't actually blaming the emulation speed for my loss to Issur. It was just that playing a mini game reminded me that I'd had to slow it down a fair bit in Quest for Glory I during combat.

    The real reason I lost the arm wrestle was because I suck! You just wait until I don't Mr Bolingbroke! Then you'll be sorry!

    1. It's double the funny when a Wizard can beat a Fighter in arm-wrestling.

    2. How did you master "insult combat" without understanding that "talking smack" means using anything the other person says against him, even if it's not technically true? I went easy on you. Think of the field day I could have had with, "I couldn't bear the shame of losing."

      I actually owe you an apology. I wrote on your blog that you could read this entry without fear because it solely concerned mage stuff, but I forgot about all the Omar stuff at the end. I hope you didn't get that far and spoil things.

    3. Nah, I could see lots of images that I didn't recognise, so I only read up to your blatant attack on my gaming capabilities. At that point went through the typical process of sulking and then deciding to come back stronger than ever. We'll see how that goes in the next day or so.

  7. Yes, Genesta is a KQIV reference. I think it got in there because I or someone commented that the portrait looked like her.

    You managed to get Lori to laugh out loud with your caption about Merlyn Ambrosius. Yes, she read both T. H. White and Mary Stewart. I also knew the term "gramarye" from Child Ballads (e.g. Child 79 - The Wife of Usher's Well). So "The Isle of Gramarye" means "The Magical Island". That sounds more like Ireland than England to me. ;-)

    There are several places in the game (at least one for each class) where you have "choices" like the one in WIT. If you really want to master something, you need to devote your life to it - There's no time to go off gallivanting as a hero.

    1. That's one of the strangest thing about RPGs. You don't get XPs (or a decent amount of it) if you DON'T go on adventures but choose to master the craft like any other non-adventurer types. You become a Level 12 Warrior by killing Orcs faster than training in a Fighter's Academy. IRL, the only job I'll get after killing a minotaur would probably be flipping beef burgers.

      If there's a minotaur to kill, that is.

    2. Then again, language studies in CRPGs are sometimes incomprehensibly easy. You don’t need to memorize words and their inflections, practice pronunciation etc. – just read a short dictionary and you’ll talk foreign language fluently in an hour.

    3. One of the things I like about QfG is that it bucks the norm. You can develop heroic skills without ever fighting a creature by using the various mechanisms of training.

      Corey, I'm like the Henry Higgins of Arthuriana, I guess. Tell me what you know about King Arthur, and I can tell you what books you've read. I should set up a booth at a Renaissance Fair.

      White's source for "Gramarye" is Kipling's Puck of Pook's Hill of 1906--he quotes the relevant verse right at the beginning. But White is the only author I know who interprets "Merlin's Isle of Gramarye" as the NAME of the land rather than just a generic term meaning "magic isle." It's basically just an alternate spelling of "grimoire."

    4. The word "grammar" has the same roots as grimoire and gramarye. That might help explain why the rules of English grammar are sometimes so arcane.

    5. I thought you were trolling again like with the Los Angeles park, but no, you are correct. It appears that "grimoire" comes from a French word that was used to refer to Latin texts--which to them were "arcane."

    6. I learn the coolest stuff doing this blog.

    7. @Ilmari:  "Then again, language studies in CRPGs are sometimes incomprehensibly easy. You don’t need to memorize words and their inflections, practice pronunciation etc. – just read a short dictionary and you’ll talk foreign language fluently in an hour."Of course!  Because in CRPGs, all non-human languages have isolating syntax with minimal inflection, especially in nouns, but also for verbs (this is a lot like Chinese, but completely unlike Finnish).  They also have easy phonemes (if you're an Anglophone; obviously, the apostrophes are silent), no allophones, no elisions, no combining forms, etc.  You get the idea.The humans speak English, naturally, because American cultural and linguistic hegemony extends to alternate realities as well as Charted Space.

    8. @Kenny,

      In old D&D, XP was the result of treasure, which is why you'd get nonsense like a loot-drop of gems from a sessile slime creature.

      Later, when it was pegged to killing things, you could instantly ding up a level in whatever class you had, if you committed arson in a civilian apartment building in the middle of the night.

      There was also never any idea that, after spending some dangerous years killing things and getting filthy rich, someone would just retire, get fat, and put the money into investments (like hiring poorer adventurers to kill stuff and share the profits).

      I'm not fond of D&D.

    9. @Gaguum

      Well, there was the idea, but I've never seen a tabletop campaign that actually USED the stronghold and retainer rules.

    10. Hm, you're right, I forgot about those. Serves me right for saying that D&D "never" had some idea. Between five-and-a-half editions, countless splatbooks, and forty years of Dragon magazine, there isn't much that somebody didn't write up at some point.

      But yeah, the way people actually played, they just leveled up ad absurdum and made wanton slaughter their character's permanent calling. It kind of makes you wonder why anybody else in the land bothered to have less-profitable steady jobs like, I dunno, farming. I guess it was because they didn't have the genes necessary for infinite hit-point growth. (You kind of need those in the "adventuring" industry.)

    11. At CalTech, using their D&D-variant "Warlock" system, all characters retired at the end of each school year. New and returning students all rolled fresh characters the next year. GM's often brought back the retired characters as powerful NPC's.

      The early part of each year was deadly. There was no Raise Dead until the first Cleric reached level 8. That character then became temporarily "retired" until several Clerics could cast Raise Dead.

      Housing and crafting were important parts of the campaign. Players saved up to build their strongholds, because that allowed them to hire NPC's such as Alchemists to make potions between game sessions.

      One year, a particularly wealthy player (who got very lucky on random treasure dice rolls) bought a huge existing castle, then sold shares of it - probably the first fantasy game condominium.

    12. Sounds fascinating. But what was the rationale about suspending play for the first guy with "Raise Dead" until multiple people had it? Did the second "retire" too, and so on, until X clerics had it?

    13. The only reason I can think of is if there were lots of PvP battles between parties. Having Raise Dead at your disposal is a huge force multiplier in that case. If PvP was a big deal, did they have any other mechanics fixes, like Hold Person or Fireball? It would be interesting to know how they modded the combat system to even out the balance.

    14. No, there was zero pvp, but the games were deadly and a cleric with Raise Dead was a critical resource. If the first one stayed home, he could revive a 7th level cleric to give them a second chance at reaching 8th and gaining Raise Dead. Or could save another relatively-powerful character.

      Remember that there were no NPC's who were allowed to raise the dead. Odds were good that the first level 8 cleric would die if he went back into the dungeon immediately - If only to a sadistic GM who liked his player kills.

  8. I tried the remake a few yars ago and instantly noticed the labyrinth and was like "f*ck this, I'm done" I guess I was too jaded on standard adventure game where maze has a no way around and only serve as to keep the game last longer.

    1. You mean this one?
      I've not tried it yet and not sure if saved games could be exported/imported in the series.

    2. Yes, the import/export function works fine in the remake and it's a great great game. It alos inludes an improved fighting system and a simplified city map.

    3. I think there is a feature in the VGA remake that lets you avoid exploring the street maze entirely. However, if you use it, you lose the feeling of a huge city that we tried to portray.

  9. Speaking of "arcane", that's another thing I don't like about D&D:  the legacy of malapropisms that Gygax bequeathed.  He was an autodidact who loved recherché words, but he tended not to look them up in a dictionary.So, where any normally educated person would say "occultic", he'd use "arcane" (which means "secret" IRL).  Instead of "endurance", he has "constitution" (which is confusing, to say the least).  He bizarrely says "somatic component" for something that is really a "gestural element".  "Alignment" is his lame rendering of a person's ethical sense.  Then there's "dungeon" itself ... ecch.  And it goes on and on.

    This is just a small part of the huge mass of atavistic cruft that role-playing games have inherited down to the present day, because D&D is, like, EVERY kid's first TRPG.  So, all these larval-stage gamers have their minds filled with inane and obsolete RPG artifacts that make it harder for them to accept a good system when it comes along.  (Think of kids raised on MMOs failing to appreciate a game like The Magic Candle III.)  Oh, how D&D fills me with bitterness.

    BTW, I'm not saying that Corey used "arcane" incorrectly (I think that's unlikely), but it was ambiguous.

    1. Meh, your gripes are a mix of basically accurate and totally wrong. "Arcane" certainly does literally mean "secret", which in this case is contrasted with the public knowledge of religion which backs the priestly spellcasters.

      "Constitution" has meant "Physical ... character of the body in regard to ... vitality" since the 16th century according to OED.

      "Somatic", of course, can refer to anything related to the body, including spellcasting movements. "Kinesthetic" or "gestural" would probably work fine.

      "Alignment" is a straightforward metaphor answering the question "Which side are you on? Good or evil?"

      "Dungeons" have been delved by knights since the chivalric stories of the 16th century.

    2. "He was an autodidact who loved recherché words." I'd say this is a case of the porringer making allusions to the atramentous nature of the çaydanlık.

    3. I don't know, X: do we have any evidence of the word "dungeon" used as a generic term for an "underground facility in which an adventurer might go questing" prior to its use in Dungeons and Dragons? I never saw it in Arthurian literature, at least, except when it was referring to a literal dungeon (e.g., a castle prison).

    4. X -- None of your objections make me think that anything I said was "totally wrong".

      Arcane: It's a stretch to go from "secret" to "non-priestly". But that's what the divide between "arcane" and "divine" magic is about. Gygax is talking about religion vs. magic, calling both "magic", and classifying personal magic as "arcane". But that's inaccurate. D&D has schools of magic openly operating. They're as "arcane" as law/med school. I'd have used a better word.

      Constitution: I know that, but it's confusing. There are political constitutions, and golems are constituted of this or that material. It's not the best word for "endurance", which has just the one meaning.

      Somatic component: Makes me think he's adding bits of bodies as reagents. It's unclear.

      Alignment: Come on, you could be aligned with a country, or an economic class, or a gang, or ANYTHING. The word doesn't imply good vs. evil, or law vs. chaos. He should've picked something more obviously about those concepts.

      Dungeon: No.

    5. Chet -- Yes, but I look mine up in the dictionary. Oh, and also: "Sorry, but I don't know any layman's terms."

      By the way, you did kind of prove my point about D&D's legacy.

      We're so used to thinking in its jargon that we don't bat an eye at "adventurer" being a technical term for "lawless wandering robber/murderer" who goes on "quests" that aren't assigned by his lord, but are just self-chosen vigilante missions to root out the lairs of evil bad men and/or non-human sentients.

      This ain't the quest for the Sangraal.

    6. LOL at this conversation! It isn't everyday that I have to switch back and forth between blog comments and, then switch to Google because some of the words aren't in Webster's dictionary.

      My use of "arcane" was an intentional word-play in the context of the discussion, making use of the connections with magic and with confusing or hard to understand rules.

      As for the word "occultic", I'm closing in on 60 and have never heard or seen that word used by any "normally educated person" in any context whatsoever. "Occult", yes, as in "occult lore", but "occultic" never. This includes a reasonably extensive study of 19th and 20th century books on magic and philosophy back when I was in my 20's and interested in such things.

      @Addict: Lori picked up the meaning of the rest of your sentence as soon as I looked up "porringer". I needed a second word (I actually went to çaydanlık before atramentous) before I caught it.

      Hilarious in a Mensa party way! ;-)

    7. Boy, I thought I had a good vocabulary, but I learned multiple words there.

    8. Let's keep going, shall we?

      "Dungeon" according to the OED has several senses relating to the D&D sense of the word and seems to have done a fairly complex bit of service even early. In the 14th century, it is first attested both meaning a "castle keep" or "tower", but also as a "dark, subterranean vault". In the 15th century, it also gained the sense as a mansion or large house. By the 19th century, it had a sense of a "deep mine".

      The OED does not dig down into the D&D sense of where adventurers go, but it is clear that it had multiple senses even early and so might have been a good choice as a word that could describe lots of places an adventurer would want to go.

      The ultimate origin of the word comes from Latin "dominus" meaning master, so it seems fitting then that many fantasy dungeons have their "big bad" at the bottom of them, lording over it all.

    9. Gaguum, if words having multiple meanings is confusing to you, I suggest you take up a language other than English.

      This is the first dungeon delve that springs to mind: Amadis de Gaula, author uncertain, circa 1304:

      Amadis went down the steps so far that he could see nothing; he came to a plain ground, it was utterly dark, yet he proceeded, and groping along a wall felt a bar of iron, whereto there hung a key, and he opened the padlock of the grate; then heard he a voice, saying, Ah, God! how long shall this misery continue? Ah, death! why delayest thou to come when thou art so needed? He listened awhile, but heard no more; he then entered the vault, having his shield about his neck and the helmet laced, and the sword in his hand; and passing further he found himself in a great hall, where was a lamp burning, and he saw six armed men sleeping in one bed, and by them lay their shields and hatchets.


      Amadis came to the door and called, Gandalin! but he ... made no answer, for he believed that his master was slain, and he himself enchanted. Gandalin? where art thou? again cried Amadis. O God! will he not answer? ... Amadis went to the lamp in the hall, and kindled torches and took them to the dungeon, and loosed Gandalin's chain, for he lay nearest the door, and bade him deliver his comrades.

    10. I mostly think the terminology of D&D is perfectly fine and understandable, even if some of the words have alternate meanings. That's hardly unusual.

      But a comment on "arcane". Just because there are schools of magic operating openly does not mean, that the knowledge those schools teach is well known outside of a very limited group of people.
      The definition I found of "arcane" defines it as meaning "known or understood by very few; mysterious; secret; obscure; esoteric"

      To my mind that fits wizards and sorcerers of standard D&D worlds perfectly. There are supposed to pretty few of those people compared to non-casters.
      Sure, divine magic casters aren't the most common people either, but that kind of magic seems to me to depend less on knowledge and more on faith.

      "Occult" would have been fine too, of course. I don't know if Gygax thought about this, but I would probably have avoided that word. At least to my mind "occult" has some associations that I wouldn't want people to think of. There's no reason to encourage people like BADD or other overly sensitive parents and/or religious organisations.

    11. @Corey, on "occult(ic)" -- Hm, fair enough. I'd forgotten most people use "occult" as the regular adjective. In the genre reading material I tend to get hold of, "the occult" is an abstract noun for all that stuff lumped together, and "occultic" is usually the adjective applied.

      Anyway, if you want to change what I said to "a normally educated person would say 'occult'" (rather than "occultic"), okay. But "arcane" still isn't as apt.

      @Equlan -- A lot of disciplines could be described as "arcane", though, like law and medicine and theology. So it's not the best term for non-divine magic.

      As for the public-relations angle, that would've been a wise precaution, but Gygax didn't anticipate that backlash, nor did TSR try to backpedal from it until 2e in the late '80s. What with all the cavorting with demons and devils in the first Monster Manual and Fiend Folio, it's pretty clear that Gygax wasn't worried about D&D's image.

      X -- Jeez, you keep willfully misinterpreting what I say. What, are you still mad at me because I mocked FallThru? It was nothing personal, let it go.

    12. X -- Anyway, I didn't say that "Constitution" was confusing to me, but it's still ambiguous, and hardly the best term there is. I don't see how CON is any better than END.

      X and Joe on "dungeon" -- Yeah, okay, but you're missing what I'm getting at here. In the Amadis example, they're in a basement, that's all. In the various senses used in those OED citations, they're all man-made, and most are strongholds belonging to some lord or a similar VIP.

      But in D&D, a "dungeon" is ANY enclosed space (artificial or man-made) in which to fight small-unit battles. This could be: a cave, a tomb, a bandit hideout, a tower, an underground habitat, a temple, a ship run aground, a mine, a ruin, an oubliette, an opium den, a prison, what have you. But many of these aren't "dungeons" in any of the pre-Gygaxian senses.

      Since the basic idea is "a narrowly enclosed space, with more or less complex branching, and filled with enemies and traps", I would've just called them all labyrinths, in honor of Daedalus's maze full of dangers.

      BTW, during T$R's heyday, the D&D knockoff game Dragon Warriors used the term "underworlds" instead, although that didn't apply too well above ground. I still think it works better as a catch-all term than "dungeon"; if you ask a non-gamer what a "dungeon" is, he'll say it's a basement prison, or something pretty similar.

    13. About "arcane", you're right. Most specialized disciplines are arcane in that sense. I don't want to make too much of my brief musings about divine magic being less about obscure knowledge than arcane magic, but still: With the divine/arcane distinction we're distinguishing two types of magic. You don't normally go around distinguishing between two types of law with very different sources of origin. I guess you do with medicine, if you care about so-called alternative medicine...
      So it would be more redundant to call disciplines like law, medicine, and others arcane.
      But in a D&D world you DO need to distinguish between kinds of magic.
      I'm not going to argue specifically that arcane is the "best" word. Just that it's perfectly appropriate.

      About "dungeon": It seems to me that the word has simply developed a specific meaning within the context or field of roleplaying. Plenty of everyday words mean something different in specialized fields.
      Like "logical" used in everyday circumstances is a much looser term than it is in philosophy or math.
      I have some speculation: D&D started out with Arneson having his group explore Castle Blackmoor and Gygax having his group delve into Greyhawk Castle. So in those early games the word "dungeon" would have been pretty appropriate. The term might then just have been expanded in scope fairly naturally as the games and their scope expanded, and people needed a word to quickly refer to wherever the main action of an adventure takes place.

    14. Equlan --

      On laws with different sources, actually, during the Middle Ages, depending on where you lived, lawyers trained in civil and/or canon law, and civil might be a hodgepodge of local custom, common law doctrine, old Roman law, etc. There were frequent controversies over marginal cases bordering on multiple bodies of law with different (maybe contradictory) things to say about the issue. It got complicated -- "arcane", even.

      Anyway...I agree with your analysis of D&D magic, but Gygax described it in a fishy way. Normally, the biggest difference between the two types of "magic" (religion vs. magic proper) is whether you're trying to get a god to do something, or trying to do it yourself in your own strength. But D&D calls BOTH things "magic" and "spells". That's pretty odd if you think about it.

      But then again, the two categories do amount to the same darn thing in D&D, mechanically. Prayers don't have failure rates like in Dark Heart of Uukrul or NetHack, where you have to keep an eye on divine favor and avoid presumptuous requests. In D&D, if you've got it "memorized", you can Raise Dead at will, regardless of what your tutelary deity might think/will. It's all just another kind of magic, with gods tacked on as your obedient flunkies. I think it would've been better to do the Final Fantasy thing and call the two types of magic after different colors or something, but take "religion" out of the equation.

      Anyway, I still wouldn't have called the one "arcane" in opposition to the other. They're both equally difficult and equally unavailable to most of the general public. The one is just officially godless, that's all, even though a bunch of "spells" overlap between the two.

      About dungeons, I believe your speculation is an accurate description of how the term became what it is today, and I agree that such a term needs to exist because it's a genre staple. I just don't think people should use it IN-GAME. If you want to pick fights in the Mines of Moria or a dwarven keep, that's up to you, but why call it a "dungeon", unless you're using metagame gamerspeak.

      You can be genre-savvy out of character, but I don't want to hear a DM playing a patron who says, "Get me the Tome of Corruption! It is three miles from our village, in a cave full of dire bears. It is a dank, dreaded, dangerous, deadly DUNGEON!" Um, no.

      (Sorry for the long-windedness.)

  10. You aren't going around eating rations while you're in the city, are you? You've got free room and board from the Kattas!

    1. Sometimes the game just deducts it automatically. Rations are really cheap anyway.

    2. The game shouldn't deduct rations automatically if you're already fed. You're missing out on Shema's cooking! (Seriously, I love the descriptions of the meals. Someone - Lori? - put some thought into them, varying them by day and making them sound delectable.)

    3. It takes too long to sit down and to wait for Shema to bring the food out.

    4. Corey and Lori gave you a "+" key for a reason. Use it! It makes things go much faster.

      Besides, it's worth it just to hear about the terrible thing that Shema does with sauerkraut.

  11. To language discussion above, word for dungeon comes from French donjon which means same as in english since english is part Norman French, part danish and a mix of gibberish thrown in.

  12. Well, I think I've run into a problem. Just before combat, the game shows me whipping out a sword and shield, although I only have a dagger when I actually go into combat. If I try to cast a spell in combat, I get a message that my shield (which I don't have) is preventing it. That plus my character portrait makes me think that the game screwed up my import. I found mention of a bug and downloaded a patch, but I imagine I'm going to have to restart the game.

    1. You have choices, you can drop the shield which will allow you to cast spells. Or, you can access the cheat menu to give yourself a sword.

      (I chose the first option, since it imported my maxed out character as a Fighter but without the sword).

      There may also be an issue towards the end of the game, but I'm not sure if there are workarounds.

      Later versions don't have this issue, but for some reason GOG have an earlier version on offer with various bugs and exploits available.

    2. I've already restarted and got to where I was anyway, but I could have dropped a shield I didn't have in the first place?

    3. Ah, didn't realise you didn't have the shield. When I started the game (GOG version, same import error), my character was made a fighter and given a shield, but not a sword. I had four daggers and a shield, which was useless to me, so I dropped it.

      I had begun the first game as a Thief (the only way to max all skills), so shouldn't have had the shield - you can't buy one.

  13. That is unfortunate, but at least you are only a few days in. :/

    It is karma for importing a character that could beat Trickster at arm wrestling?

  14. Regarding the two remaining portraits in WIT:

    As I recall, there are two other responses in there, if you ask for the proper sponsor. On one hand, it wouldn't be so much of a spoiler to tell you the names - since it's pretty much tangential to anything. On the other hand, I don't want to be considered giving a spoiler on my first post on your blog. Instead, I'll just give a somewhat vague hint: One of the two `missing sponsors' plays a rather large role in the plot of QFG2, while the other `missing sponsor' plays an extremely minor role in QFG2 but a rather pivotal role in a future QFG game.

    Actually, that's one thing that really impressed me about this game - in hindsight, after playing through some of the later QFG games. There are a number of things about the future games that you can ask certain characters. I understand that this was increased even more in the VGA remake, but even in the original game, I recall a surprising number of intelligent responses to not-so-obvious questions. I found it impressive how much the Cole's had plotted out the rest of the series (even though QFG3 was somewhat shoe-horned in).

    1. You're not spoiling a LOT, as I've played the series before. I assume one of the missing sponsors is the evil wizard in this game--I haven't met him yet and don't remember his name, and perhaps the second is a character in QfG4, in which case I agree that it's impressive how much foreshadowing the game does.

      Incidentally, you can't ASK ABOUT the portraits in the game. The only dialogue options you get with the WIT wizards are to say your name, why you're there, and the name of your sponsor. If you do anything else--even a single ASK ABOUT--you get tossed back into the alley. So you definitely would have to get the additional two names from gameplay rather than dialogue.


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