Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Quest for Glory II: A Knight without Armor in a Savage Land

Far be it for me to ignore such a suggestion.

I've already won Quest for Glory II, but I'm going to do something different. Rather than finish the series of posts as a mage, I'm going to cover the trials of Shapeir from the perspectives of the other two classes, then cover the rest of the game by looking at all three classes at once.

This is for a few reasons. First, I wanted to end my time with Quest for Glory II with three saved games, so I could explore all the class possibilities in Quest for Glory III. Second, I wanted to try a few things I hadn't tried in my first journey through Shapeir. Most important, the last third of the game (beginning once you leave Shapeir in the caravan) is very linear, with almost no player choices or RPG elements. Hence, blogging about it becomes straight story-telling unless I have something fun to do, like contrast the experiences of the different classes.

Gideon the fighter, after quite a bit of grinding.

Trickster is playing a fighter, so anything I say about the class's experiences will be a little redundant. I wouldn't have played this class at all except I decided I did want to end the game with a paladin, and I was disappointed when my mage character didn't achieve that status at the end despite having jacked up his "Honor" rating to heroic proportions by doing all kinds of honorable things, such as returning Omar's lost coin purse, giving lots of money to the beggar, and saying THANK YOU to everyone he encountered.

It turns out there are mysterious "paladin points" behind the scenes that go up when you do these things, and several others, but you can also lose them with a few actions. My mage character had lost an irrecoverable number when he accidentally disturbed, and then was forced to kill, the griffon. Okay, "accidentally" may be a bit of a fib. I couldn't believe there wasn't something more to do with him, so I kept screwing around before he finally woke up and attacked me. I think maybe it was throwing a rock at him that was the last straw.

I didn't want to replay as a mage again, and the thief can't become a paladin if he does all his thief stuff, so a fighter was my only choice.

The fighter offered a shorter game but, in some ways, a tougher one. Since I didn't have a fighter exported from the first game, I had to create one anew, and he started with significantly lower skills, attributes, and gold. This meant I had to do a lot more time grinding in the desert. When I started, I was appalled by how poorly he did even against the basest of foes, like brigands, but I was also a bit surprised by how quickly he improved. With no need to grind spells, I could concentrate all my time on fighting, dodging, and parrying.

There's just something more satisfying about doing this with a proper sword and shield.

Many of the puzzles in the Shapeir section of the game went the same way. There was no difference in how I defeated the Fire, Air, or Water Elementals, for instance, nor in how I dealt with the caged beast or freed the spirit of the tree. Since the fighter doesn't come with climbing skill or the "Levitate" spell, there's an alternate method for him to get the griffon's feather, by lifting a rock at the base of the cliff. His method of earning points is also a bit different, including points earned for every type of monster killed. And since he can't cast "Fetch" on the bellows, he has to arm-wrestle Issur with the bellows as the wager.

The biggest difference was with the Earth Elemental. You need fire to defeat him, and lacking the "Flame Dart" spell or the thief's option, I had to talk to Rakeesh and borrow his flaming sword. It turns out that Rakeesh did try to defeat the elemental on his own, but his bad leg prevented him from being victorious.

You protest just a bit too much, Uhura.

Rakeesh lent me his paladin sword, Soulforge, saying that even though I wasn't a paladin, it would flame for me because he would will it. With the sword in hand, I fought and dispersed the Elemental, then scooped up his remains in a cloth bag just as the mage did. I then had to make sure to return Soulforge to Uhura, and apparently if you wait too long for her to prompt you, you can't become a paladin.

The other major difference concerns the Eternal Order of Fighters, a pathetic and somewhat sinister guild. It has a plaque in the Adventurer's Guild, but my mage character never had anything to do with them. My fighter, on the other hand, was given a note by Uhura after they stuck it in the Adventurer's Guild door with a dagger: "Tomorrow night is your last night.  You'll get your final orders then." I was confused, but the next day another note, stuck to the door with a sword this time, instructed me to go to a particular street.

He's not my friend, I promise.

The street ended in an open wooden door. Inside, I found myself in darkness. I was bound, stripped of equipment, and shackled to a wall. The lights came on and a voice said that I had 10 seconds to retrieve my weapon.

BREAK CHAINS got me off the wall. A masked warrior with a scimitar entered. I dashed past him, grabbed my stuff, and entered combat. I had been grinding pretty hard by now, so before long, he was sprawled on the ground and voices were ordering me to "Kill him!"

Nice guild you belong to, buddy.

Mindful of my paladin aspirations, I simply said NO. Issur, the weapon store owner, entered the room, revealing himself as the head of the guild. He introduced me to Walid, the fighter I had declined to kill, and admitted me into the guild even though I'd disobeyed and failed. We partied long into the night, and I didn't wake up until mid-day the next day. "Somehow," the game notes, "this just isn't your idea of how a Hero should be."

The Companions would have these guys for lunch.

The next day, I departed for Raseir in the caravan as usual. We'll take a look at the thief next, then pick up with all three for the endgame. Short posting today because my week got hijacked with work stuff.


  1. "Welcome to the EOF"

    Not really feeling the 'welcome' very much here. Sorry I didn't murder the guy like you asked me to. Unlike becoming a Paladin, the EOF is never brought up in any of the subsequent games and there's no other quests related to the EOF in Quest for Glory II.

    You will forever be known as 'Brother Saurus'

    1. The EOF don't even get mentioned in the next two games either, and I think you lose your membership card too, so I guess that whole aspect of the fighter path was just ditched?

    2. The EOF is a trap and probably a bit of an anti-Union statement. (Our views on unions have changed somewhat since we wrote QG2.) It is there to show that you can become a rough, tough Fighter without being a Hero. It's a lesson in how not to behave.

    3. I don't mean to start big discussion on politics or unions, but I'm surprised at it being a statement on unions.
      Even knowing this I don't any impression from the description above, that it's supposed to say something about unions.

      Is it because of my non-American upbringing, and that unions are so harshly maligned in the US? Some people dislike unions here in Denmark, but nothing where that kind of story would at all make sense to most people.

    4. It's because unions provided thugs to beat the crap out of people. Do some research into the Teamsters. They were bad. Or Cesar Chavez...union thugs tried to stop what he was doing. Union bosses routinely subverted democracy by engaging in election fraud to ensure union-friendly politicians stayed in office. American people didn't suddenly decide overnight, to despise unions. It's because they had personal experience with them.

    5. I tried googling around for Chavez. I couldn't find find anything about union thugs being after him. In fact he seems to have been himself a major force in unions.
      I didn't do a lot of research, but it seemed like the criticism, I could find, was pretty far right. But that's hardly surprising, that they'd dislike a union man.

    6. In the US:

      Labour unions have a specific exemption from the Federal racketeering laws, and various courts have ruled that they are allowed to use violence for "legitimate union goals." (Translation: If you try to cross a picket line, odds are good they can kill you for it without repercussions. If you vote against unionizing, they can burn your house down without repercussions. The big unions do these things just often enough to keep people fearful of crossing them without turning public opinion against them. The hired thugs who perform the actual actions are *sometimes* prosecuted, but the leaders who ordered it done are legally untouchable, even if there's incontrovertible evidence.)

      In many states if one person more than 50% of a business' employees vote to join a union, *all* non-management employees of that business will be forced to join that union. This causes many shops to have dues and benefits distributions designed to keep a bit over half the employees very happy by abusing the rest of them. (For example, my wife was working part-time, but had to pay the same dues as a full-timer, yet got no voting rights, no medical benefits, and was effectively earning less than minimum-wage after paying her dues.) Also, as noted above, it is not uncommon for dissenters to have horrible things done to their property or persons if they make too much of a nuisance of themselves.

      This results in very mixed feeling about unions in the USA, exacerbated by the mainstream media's tendency to speak as though all unions are the same, and to downplay or ignore acts of union violence (You might think the broadcasters were unionized or something...) Many small, local unions are well liked and respected and wonder why so many people dislike unions in general. Many of the national ones are horribly corrupt and, according to the FBI, have strong ties to organized crime. People who are in the "50%+1" who get practically anything they want and are capable of turning a blind eye to the shenanigans that go on behind the scenes tend to think they're the best thing since sliced bread. Everyone else considers them to be roughly equivalent to the brother-in-law who lost his job, moved in with you, and proceeded to eat all your snack foods while sitting on the couch in his underwear, watching TV all night and claiming that he'll "get around" to finding another job when he finds one that "suits him".

    7. Oooooooooooookay. Well, we've gotten pretty far from CRPGs here but in case Equlan is still reading, and curious about labor in America, the version of events put forward by Anonymous and Laurence Perkins is... very unusual, and does not represent how all or most Americans feel about organized labor. (The business about burning houses down while remaining legally untouchable is just bizarre - must be some meme I haven't encountered yet.)

      But this is a blog about computer role-playing games! I think it's pretty apparent that the gag in QFG2 is meant to be a gentle ribbing of union social customs (or better, with male "secret societies" and fraternal orders - the Masons, the Red Men, the Knights of This Or That, etc. etc.). Only after reading Corey's comment here would I be inclined to take it more harshly, as a suggestion that Shapeir's "union" is dithering around getting drunk and hazing each other while an individual "hero" steps out and saves the day. Unless Corey wants to say more about that, I think Equlan's question has been answered.

    8. A number of years ago, I took a position that was covered by a union agreement, and the Teamsters was the representative union. I was unhappy with this circumstance given some of the shenanigans that the Teamsters were known for, and I refused to join the union. It was a relatively meaningless gesture; you can't be forced to join a union, but you can be forced to pay an "agency fee" (suspiciously equal to union dues) if your position is covered by a union agreement. I received some low-level harassment as a result, but nothing overtly illegal.

      Unions have done a lot for working conditions in America, and I believe in them for unskilled workers in particular, but they of course also have their downsides, and arguments about them tend to take extreme forms. Laurence's is one of those extreme forms. Lest anyone misconstrue his comments, the various court decisions and acts he alludes to (primarily United States v. Enmons) only state that the UNION ITSELF--primarily its leaders--can not be prosecuted for acts carried out in furtherance of union goals. Specific individuals committing those crimes are still liable for prosecution. If you cross a Teamsters picket line and one of the members kills you, he's still going to get arrested and charged (assuming he can be identified), but the union itself MAY not be prosecuted for inciting the violence.

      The ruling isn't completely idiotic. Investigating unions under racketeering and conspiracy charges every time one of their members crosses a line would be an easy way to break up unions.

      doctorcasino is right that this isn't the place to hash all of this out, but like almost everything in government, politics, society, and life, the union situation in America is complex and nuanced, and there are no easy answers.

  2. The Air Elemental is another that has a different solution based on class, but I think your mage solution was done as a fighter. The "correct" mage solution to the Air Elemental as far as I know is to cast Levitate and drop the earth down the funnel when it comes by. (Which can be pretty tough, but I did it.)

    1. I tried that, but I couldn't get him to come under me. In fact, the Air Elemental was unique from the others in that he deliberately seemed to avoid me, whether I was in the air or on the ground.

    2. It took some doing, but I got him under me eventually. I had to be in the west part of the plaza and stand in the middle. The rest of the time he seemed to avoid me. I suspect that this may have been a somewhat under-tested puzzle but my mage had neither the strength to force the elemental like yours did, nor any throwing ability to deal with it that way.

    3. The air elemental is more aggressive on the second day, so it should move towards you when you are levitating.

  3. The earth elemental is called "Rocky"?

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. It's interesting to watch this play out through the eyes of a dedicated CRPG player (versus an adventure gamer). I imagine there are big overlaps between the joys of adventure gaming and CRPGs - for example, it's always great to discover that one's actions have opened up new opportunities, allowed access to new parts of the map and so on. But QFG2 is probably "on rails" more than the first game was; to me, that linearity was familiar from other Sierra titles, and so the fun of the game was partly in the ways it did deviate from the formula. That is: the addition of the timer made it a novel adventure game, since usually you can just putter around forever even though the end of the world is supposedly right around the corner. The idea of timed events that you might miss depending on where you were was getting some play elsewhere in the genre - for example, down the hall in The Colonel's Bequest. The addition of combat was also something you kept seeing people do; it's less fully integrated in, say, Conquest of Camelot (more of a minigame you have to do once at the end, like the arcade minigames in the Space Quest games). And, as in the first game, the multiple character classes promised multiple ways through the game, increasing value on that $50 retail price. (In practice, I think the games vary a bit in how much 'multiplied' content is really available, but that didn't keep me from indeed playing through them with all classes, multiple times!)

    Compared to CRPGs of its date, QFG2 probably seems a little lacking - too linear, too puzzle-driven, and with combat kind of segregated off in one big "wilderness" area. Compared to QFG1, even, it probably seems like that. But compared to adventure games of its date in general, all these make it just one of several possible combinations of elements to liven up the genre. For players who disliked the open-endedness or combat elements of the first game, this may well have seemed an improvement! One can imagine a developer playing this, and then deciding for their own game to go a little more on combat, a little less on linearity - - - or, develop the dialogue and puzzles more down, keep the stats (for things like climbing, agility, etc.), but ditch the combat entirely... etc. It's interesting to think about, and I'm curious to see how QFG3 and 4 play out for you, whenever we get there.

    I loved the game as a kid but replayed the first more often; not sure if that speaks to the interface/style as much as it does the graphics. I just loved EGA Spielburg - so lush! - and the great big monster sprites in combat.

    1. An addendum: even as an adventure gamer, I think I wanted this to swing more towards role playing, particularly with some of the big choices you've identified: your options for responding to things like WIT and EOF are no-brainers, which is fine for an adventure game, but maybe missing something compared to the way you've framed a good "encounter" in an RPG setting. It would be nice to have multiple "good" responses, with in-world consequences - perhaps EOF membership gets you discounts at certain places, but the Katta no longer let you stay at the inn for free or something. That's just off the top of my head, but I could imagine small ways that this kind of thing could play out, increasing the sense that your actions matter, without really messing up the main quest or overcomplicating the web of logical flags that the programmers would have to keep up with.

    2. And finally: it must be quite a game design challenge to include choices with real consequences (affecting the game world, future available options for other choices, etc.) while telegraphing that they are choices. In other words, how do you make it clear that what one just did was a choice, and not the solution? The worry would be that a player replays the game but does things the same way out of the belief that the previous approach was the correct solution rather than a role-playing choice. It ain't easy being nonlinear...

    3. In 1991 they weren't as obsessed with categories as you seem to be in 2014. You seem to assume every game is either 'adventure' or 'RPG' and to stray outside the conventions of the genre is a bad thing indeed. It wasn't like that back then.

    4. I think maybe you've misread me; I was playing back then, and I'm not saying any of these things are bad things. In fact I enjoyed all the attempts to stretch and hybridize genres...hence my great love of the QFG series!

    5. You make an excellent point about my reactions to the game not coming from an adventure game heritage. In this regard, Trickster's series is probably more interesting to read, as he has the other Sierra Quest experiences that I don't.

      I also agree that it's tough to distinguish a role-playing choice amidst all the other puzzle-solving that goes on in a game like this. That said, there aren't MANY such places in the game. Whether to kill the fighter at the EOF initiation is the only straight up-or-down choice that I can see, although a few others (returning Rakeesh' sword and Omar's purse) do require the player to do something proactive.

      Harland, I simply don't agree with you. 1980s and 1990s players many not have been "obsessed" with categories, but they clearly existed, and games did generally cleave to one genre or another. It's rare to find games with RPG character-building mechanics and adventure-game puzzle solving, and reviews of the time make it clear that they realized QfG was doing something unique.

    6. An example of a game that fails one of the things that doctorcasino mentioned, specifically failing to show a choice was present, is Beyond Two Souls. It has a ton of choices that you never know you made, so you don't see how branching the game can be, and worse, the things they change only make sense to the designer, so if you play through twice and see different things you'll have no idea why.

  6. I am 80% sure I finished QfG1 and QfG2 as a thief, which was then imported to QfG3 as a Paladin.

    1. Did you finish the burglary jobs in QfG2? The site I consulted after winning said that a thief could only become a paladin if he didn't do the burglary jobs (and thus didn't get a full score).

    2. Those details I can't remember I'm afraid :( I also remember vaguely hacking a character save to change the "class" byte, maybe it was from QfG2 to QfG3 - even though I'm almost sure it was from QfG1 to QfG3.

    3. Trying to organize my playthroughs in my head: I first played QfG1 and finished as a mage which I then imported to QfG3 (didn't get my hands on 2 at that time), I believe hacking the class bit to "Paladin".
      Years later I played through the entire series as a thief, not focusing on game points but on maximizing class scores.

  7. Recently found your blog and I love it! Your style of writing has gave me some new ideas


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