|The Fire Elemental destroys Shapeir if you oversleep.|
Since last blogging, I had to start the game over. It turns out that there's a bug in the game that, when importing a character from Quest for Glory, causes it to mis-identify the character class. In this case, the game thought I was a fighter instead of a mage. This should have been obvious when all the mage-related things I was doing (like passing the WIT initiation) wasn't causing my score to increase, but I didn't get it until I started exploring the desert and found that I couldn't cast spells in combat because my shield (which I didn't actually have) was getting in the way.
Re-starting wasn't so bad. With the knowledge from the first character, it only took about 90 minutes to get back to the same location. Since I now knew the uses of BARGAIN, I saved a lot of money. My score was much higher when I finished, since I got appropriate credit for the mage stuff. Most important, re-playing made the game's approach to chronology a bit clearer.
It turns out that Quest for Glory II is organized into a series of days on which specific events occur. For instance, Shema always dances in the inn on the night of Day 2, the poet Omar always recites on the night of Day 3, the Fire Elemental first attacks and destroys Alichica's cart on Day 4, and then re-appears for the player to deal with on Day 5. You have to be ready for these events as they occur. Once the Fire Elemental appears, you only have two days to defeat him before he consumes the entire city and the game ends.
The flip side of this is that if you know what you're doing, you have to spend several days screwing around waiting for major events to occur. I re-did everything I had accomplished in the first few hours in a single day: visited the moneychanger, bought equipment and spells, talked to all key NPCs, visited Aziza and the astrologer, and went through the WIT initiation. That left several days to explore and character-build before the Fire Elemental first appeared.
Thus, on Day 2, I decided to set out and explore the desert. This first involved purchasing a saurus from a dealer at the city gates--a dealer who looked suspiciously like Groucho Marx. BARGAINING got him down from an asking price of 50 dinars to 20. The saurus immediately walked up and licked me.
|Ha ha! You can go.|
The saurus makes desert exploration possible in a number of ways, primarily by cutting down on the travel time significantly and thus reducing water and ration usage. At any point while riding him, you can say GO HOME to get back to the gates of Shapeir. Having to MOUNT and DISMOUNT constantly is a little annoying, but not much. He bolts immediately (throwing you off) at the appearance of an enemy, and it took me a while to figure out that I need to return to the screen where I originally lost him to find him again.
I had to laugh when, once again, I found myself exploring a desert that is apparently endless (at least, in two directions), with only a couple of key encounters, and the need to keep an eye on my food and water levels. Quest for Glory II and Fallthru are probably the only two RPGs on my list that fit this exact description. East and west, the screens never seem to stop but there are less than a dozen north to south, with the entire desert surrounded on those ends by rock cliffs. During my exploration, I only found three areas of note:
- A cliff with a griffon sleeping in a nest. By casting "Levitate" to get myself up to the nest, I could take one of his feathers, an ingredient the apothecary needs for a "Dispel Magic" potion. I don't know why, but I forgot to take a screenshot.
- An oasis where an old man sits with his long beard wrapped around a tree. His dialogue revealed him to be the "Dervish," and taking a bit of his beard back to Keepon Laffin solved his quest. I couldn't get any useful dialogue out of the Dervish.
|A case of do or die?|
- A tree in the shape of a woman. When I first found it, I had no idea what to do. Later, I got some hints from the apothecary and Aziza, but I'll save that for next time.
|Or I've been in the desert too long.|
I figured Raseir would be on the other side of the desert, but I'll be damned if I can find it anywhere. The large span of dunes in between holds occasional sight gags, like a golfer unable to get himself out of the huge sand trap and an airplane flying overhead . . .
. . . but more importantly combat with brigands, scorpions, TerrorSauruses, and jackalmen. There are also supposed to be "ghouls," but I haven't been able to find any yet, and I need to for one of the apothecary's quests.
I could swear Corey Cole made a comment on my blog in which he said he regretted the combat system in this game. I can't find it, so perhaps I'm wrong. I hope so, because I don't really mind it. I think it improves significantly on the first game. Instead of one button for attack, one for defend, and one for dodge, Quest for Glory II gives you numberpad options to attack, dodge, and parry high, medium, and low while still supporting spells with the regular parser. I actually find it's easier in this game to anticipate attacks and take the appropriate action, and my "Parry" and "Dodge" skills have gone up nicely as a consequence. It also makes sense that different levels of attacks work better on different creatures. I've been trying to mix up attacking, parrying, dodging, and spellcasting in each combat.
|Fighting a brigand.|
Scorpions are my least favorite enemy, since they have an attack by which they grab you by their claw and sting you with their tail, and once they decide to use it, I can't figure out any way to defend or evade it. But killing them is extremely rewarding for the 20 dinars the apothecary gives you for their tails.
I had jacked up "Flame Dart" to a high level in the previous game and found that it serves me well here, although I can't seem to hit enemies with it before combat the way I could in Quest for Glory; perhaps that isn't possible in the sequel. "Force Bolt" seems promising: it both damages enemies and knocks them back for a second, allowing you to get in a few attacks afterwards.
In contrast, I've found that "Calm" does absolutely nothing. Charging enemies stop respectfully and wait for me to finish casting it, then keep on charging and we enter combat anyway. I also can't see any effect to "Dazzle." Perhaps it does lower the attack abilities of my foes, but there's no on-screen confirmation that it's accomplished anything.
Over several days, I killed dozens of brigands and a few scorpions. I don't seem strong enough yet to take on TerrorSaurses (which are mercifully rare) nor the large packs of jackalmen who attack at night.
|The hero learns not to be cocky about wandering around the desert after dark.|
On Day 5, the Fire Elemental was in town, so I had to stop character development for the time being and deal with him.
|The results of all my desert explorations.|
The four elements and their associated elementals are clearly going to play a big part in this game. The WIT council was composed of masters of fire, air, water, and earth magic, and each mage I've met so far is aspected in some way to an element: Aziza to water, Keepon Laffin to air (he even floats about on a magic cushion), and the alchemist Harik Attar to fire. (I haven't met an earth-specific person yet that I know of.) The astrologer said that I would "walk in fire, earth, water, and air" on my quest.
Most important, the poet Omar, in his poetry/prophecy recitation, indicated that the city would be attacked by elementals of fire, air, earth, and water in that order. The prophecy started to come true the next morning when I found that Alichica's cart had been ruined by a Fire Elemental.
Aziza was kind enough to give me a little tutorial on each of the elementals, suggesting that they would gravitate to the areas of the city that offered them the most fuel: open plazas for the Fire Elemental and the fountain for the Water Elemental, for instance. She further suggested that I would need to lure each of them from these places of comfort, then damage them somehow with their elemental opposites, and finally capture them in containers aspected to each elemental type.
She had the most information about the Water Elemental, and she directed me to the other mages for information about their respective specialties. Harik Attar, for instance, told me that incense would help lure the Fire Elemental away from the open plaza.
I engaged the Fire Elemental in the plaza outside the inn and used the incense to lure him into one of the passages. I thought to lure him all the way to the Plaza of the Fountain, but the game immediately told me that just getting him out of the first plaza was enough.
I then used my waterskin on him, which caused him to significantly diminish.
Finally, I placed my lamp on the ground, and he obediently fled right into it. I now have a magic lamp with a Fire Elemental trapped inside, which must be good for something.
I assume the other elementals will attack in regular intervals over the next few days, and I'll keep you updated. I have to say, I rather liked the first game's open-ended approach to time more than this game's insistence that the player accomplish certain tasks on a clock.
A bunch of miscellaneous notes:
- Guards prefer that you not cast magic in the city--not even if you're just "practicing."
|"Whoa, whoa, whoa . . . watch the magic!"|
- Guards and random NPCs have a way of walking in the middle of conversations you're having with other NPCs and responding to your prompts.
|Yeah, I wasn't talking to you, Mr. Ego.|
- For my second character, I decided to buy things from the merchants--flowers, baskets, pots, whatever--whether I had an immediate need or not. Fortunately the ones selling things that were unimportant refused to bargain with me.
|That's remarkably honest of you. I guess Katta aren't really like Khajit.|
- Between combats with brigands and selling scorpion tails to Harik Attar, I have no problem with money. I've been able to keep a good stock of healing, vigor, and mana pills, and the only thing that I'm "saving" for is a sapphire pin that the jeweler is selling for 500 dinars (I currently have only about 180).
|That seems like a hint, but I can't begin to afford that right now.|
- I'm way overloaded with centimes, and I have no idea what to do with them. You get them as change from spending dinars and on enemy corpses, but shopkeepers never seem to take them instead of dinars. You can only DROP or GIVE them one at a time, and I don't really feel like spending hours typing GIVE CENTIME to the beggar, even if it will jack up my honor score. The moneychanger wants nothing to do with them. What am I missing?
- I beat Trickster at yet another challenge.
I still don't quite understand what's going on with the Katta. In the first game, I got the impression they were in Spielburg as part of a trading caravan and just got stuck there, but at the beginning of this game, Shameen suggested they had gone to Spielburg specifically to find a hero, something that Corey seemed to confirm in a comment. Then, the poet Omar mentioned that a year ago, when the Emir of Raseir dissappeared, the Katta lost their home there, something that Shameen and Shema hadn't mentioned at all.
|Something fishy is going on here.|
But if the problems have been going on for a year, why were Shameen and Shema in Spielburg for three years?
Why didn't the Katta tell me that they came from Raseir? How did they know there were going to be problems at least two years ahead of time? What aren't they telling me?!