Saturday, January 3, 2015

Wizardry III: Out of Alignment

The party, now thoroughly evil, relaxes in town.

Lots of Wizardry III playing over the last couple of days. I've mapped the first five levels completely and about half of Level 6. I think I'm only a few hours away from winning.

Now that I can see the dungeon in its totality, here's the setup: Level 1 is an introductory level. It's basically for grinding. Levels 2 and 4 are for predominantly good parties and Levels 3 and 5 are for predominantly evil parties. Through experimentation, I found that this means only that more than half of the non-neutral characters need to be of those alignments. You could go with 5 neutral characters and just swap the last one, or you can do what I did and start with an overwhelmingly good party (5/6) and then switch their alignments. As soon as 3 of them went to the dark side, I was able to get on the evil levels.

The primary goal of the good and evil levels are to find the Crystal of Good and Crystal of Evil. There were also elemental artifacts--an Amulet of Air, a Staff of Earth, a Rod of Fire, and Holy Water--found after fixed boss battles. Each of these items casts a useful spell, but I'm otherwise not sure if they're technically necessary for the endgame. Nothing has called for them yet.

After I finished exploring Levels 2 and 4, it was time to switch alignments. The process was easier than I thought. I just roamed Level 1, blowing through easy combats, until I found a friendly group of Garian guards. I attacked them. Two of my characters immediately switched. The next 30-40 minutes produced 3 more encounters with friendlies. In 2 of them, no one switched, but the third one finally left me with 3 evil characters and 2 good ones. This turned out to be enough to access Level 3. Later, I found other friendly encounters that switched the rest of them. In fact, the bigger difficulty was remembering that I needed to attack "friendly" parties from now on, lest I switch back.

"No, Chester. Please. I can't do it," Gideon begged as Chester gestured to the guileless group of Ronin. "They haven't done anything to deserve it." Victoria just whimpered in horror. But they were mercilessly prodded forward by Malory and Grey Star. "We have tasted of innocent blood," they said in eerie unison. "So too must you."

This is pretty messed up from a role-playing perspective, though. Think about it. You have a party of pure-hearts trying to help the kingdom of Llylgamyn. But some message in the dungeon tells them that they need to understand evil to solve their quest. So after putting it off as long as they can, they come upon a group of affable guards who wish them no harm. Steeling their resolve, they draw swords and mercilessly slaughter them. Repeatedly. Meanwhile, the poor neutral thief who just joined the expedition to make a few bucks looks on horrified, as he soon becomes the least malevolent person in the party.

Because the game doesn't know whether you'll be starting good or evil, you can access either Level 2 or Level 3 from the castle on Level 1, and the battles on Levels 2 and 3 are pitched about equal. So are the battles on Levels 4 and 5. This means that, having grinded on Levels 2 and 4, I had a fairly easy time with 3 and 5, only to get slammed on Level 6.

I just thought this was funny. What kind of master ninja are you?

Scattered about Levels 2-5 are "Ships in Bottles" that you get after random encounters. They don't do anything when "used" and don't sell for anything, but I figured out through trial and error that having one in your possession allows you to cross the moat on Level 1 and access two staircases that go directly to Levels 4 and 5, making late game navigation a lot faster.

A lot of the stairways and key areas were blocked by riddles, most of them quite simple, but there were two that stumped me for a while. One was a simple demand for a password. Earlier, an NPC had said, "Tell them Abdul sent you," so I tried ABDUL as the password, to no avail. Later, I realized that the voice hadn't asked who sent me but rather what the password was. The answer was literally ABDUL SENT YOU.

The other was harder and a little unfair. It blocks the way to Level 6, so you can't avoid it. See if you can get it:


I had no idea what it was talking about. After a while, a tarot deck--with which I have no experience--occurred to me, and a quick Wikipedia search confirmed that a typical tarot deck has 78 cards. Not knowing what any of them were, I did some image searches and scanned several decks before I decided that the answer was probably CHARIOT. The card sometimes depicts two horses drawing a chariot ridden by a king with a crown. Other times, the chariot is drawn by sphinxes, or the king doesn't have a crown, or it's a modern deck that depicts a motorcycle or muscle car or something. Anyway, without the Internet, I have no idea how I would have solved the puzzle, and I have no idea what kids in 1983 did other than hurl insults at their computers.
  
Not all of them are as obvious as this one.
  
Level 3 was the hardest to map. The middle part of the level consists of a series of concentric "rings" of walls that appear when you move north or east from the starting point. Each of the gray walls in the map below isn't there when you're facing it from the west or south, but when you move, it suddenly appears behind you. The level is also notable for three consecutive squares with messages warning you not to go any further. If you step in the fourth square, you get teleported into solid rock and the entire party dies (and remember, this game has permadeath). You can't even send a new party to retrieve them. In 1983, I would have been tearing apart the floppy disk with my teeth.
  
  
Level 5 contained a large and pointless area of darkness, full of trap squares, and the only way out was to pay Abdul $5,000 or find the one teleportation square. The area wasn't only dark but also magic resistant, which really helped when I encountered large groups of necromancers, but not so much when I needed to cure poison or paralysis. Mapping in the dark isn't so hard until you lose track of where you are, or aren't sure that the keypress for the last turn actually registered, and then you're hopelessly screwed up.

Level 5 with its areas of darkness and the Fung Priest temple to the west.
  
"Abdul" showed up as an NPC several times throughout the levels, usually offering a quick trip back to the castle for $2,500 or $5,000, and I availed myself more than once when things looked grim. He also appeared on Level 5 to sell me the Rod of Fire for $25,000.
  
  
Oh, but to get to him, I had to pass through the "Temple of the Irascible Fung," which included numerous fixed battles with "Priests of Fung." The level had been relatively easy up to this point, so it seemed a little unfair to suddenly face multiple parties of multiple enemies, each capable of casting BADIAL (massive damage) and BADI (instant kill) spells. There are 6 such battles in the area and at least 4 are necessary to progress to Abdul and buy the staff. If there was only 3 groups, it was technically survivable: I had my lord and priest cast MONTINO (silence) on two groups while my mage cast MADALTO (mass ice damage) or LAHALITO (mass fire damage) on the third. But a fourth group, or an unlucky roll of the dice, meant instantly-dead characters.

ONE group of these guys might have been fair.

After several trips back to the castle with dead party members and a couple of reloads from my save disk when party members got turned to ash during the resurrection process, or when my whole party died, I resorted to a worse sort of cheating. When you enter an encounter, Wizardry saves your location to the save disk. Once the fight is over, the game saves the results to the disk. If you kill the game in the middle of the fight (once you realize it's going badly), you can reload and "restart an out party" from the "utilities" menu to get back to your pre-encounter state. The danger is that you immediately re-enter an encounter (a random one) and, once that's over, then face the original encounter again. If you have to do it multiple times in a row, you run the risk of your party getting weaker and weaker while still having to kill the same enemies that caused you to resort to such cheating in the first place. But sometimes you get lucky and get fewer enemies, or better rolls of the dice. Using this method, I limped through the area. I'm not proud of it, but the alternative--grinding for 300,000 more experience points until I got a TILTOWAIT (nuke) spell--didn't seem like something I'd do.

While I'm thinking about that, here's a major complaint about the game: while leveling is relatively rapid in the early stages, it tapers off very quickly after Level 10 or 11. Even on the higher floors, there are hardly any encounters that deliver thousands of experience points. (Those Fung priests should have been worth like 10,000, but they were only around 1,200.) My mage is currently Level 11 and has 164,132 experience points. To get to Level 13, where he'll finally get Level 7 spells, he needs 439,874. While I've been patient about grinding, there is simply no way to grind that much in this game and retain your sanity. That means I'll never get MALOR or find out what the "wish" spells do. By the way, the wish spells are stupid. You get HAMAN at Level 11 but you're not allowed to cast it until Level 13, by which time you have MAHAMAN. What possible reasoning is behind that?

Anyway, at long last I made it to Level 6. I soon discovered DUMAPIC doesn't work, but that's fine: I'm an old pro at mapping blind. Only two doors into the level, I encountered the dragon L'kbreth, who immediately attacked me. None of my attacks would hit him, all of my spells were "neutralized," and soon I was dead. A couple of reloads, attempting to use the elemental artifacts, produced no better results.
  
"Surprise" didn't really help with this foe.
  
I then took to messing around with the crystals for a while. I discovered that if I invoked the Crystal of Good, the character turned to ash, but if I invoked the Crystal of Evil, it fused the two crystals together into a Neutral Crystal. With the Neutral Crystal in hand, L'kbreath stopped attacking and told me to "go forward in peace."
  
"Worthy?" You don't know what kinds of crimes we've had to commit to make it here.
    
Not too long after L'kbreth, I ran into a statue holding a crystal sphere. It took my Neutral Crystal and gave me an unidentified Orb. Thinking this was the Orb of Earithin, I joyfully started hunting for the exit (the way back to the stairs had closed behind me in L'kbreth's room). Level 6 is a classic maze, and the enemies are a lot tougher than Level 5. (They include archdemons, hydras, cyclopes, and a samurai-looking warrior called a "Mifune," which I assume is an homage to Toshiro Mifune, the Japanese actor famous for The Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, and Rashomon). But I was mostly only interested in mapping progress, so I didn't mind so much if the party died. I just reloaded, reacquired the Orb, and mapped a new direction.
  
The famous "6 samurai" dismantle my party.

Eventually, I found a teleporter back to the stairs and joyously returned to the town, only to find upon identification that I had an Orb of...Mhuuzfes. I thought that seemed too easy. Thus, I think what I have to do is re-visit the levels that have the Crystal of Good and Crystal of Evil, re-acquire them, fuse them again, and explore the top level a little more carefully. There must be another encounter somewhere that results in the real Orb of Earithin. Or maybe something that converts the Orb of Mhuuzfes into the Orb of Earithin or trades one for the other. I still have about 1/3 of the level to map.

A few closing notes:

  • I generally like the spell system in the game. You get an increasing number of castings per spell level with each character level, up to a maximum of 9. At Level 11, for instance, my priest can cast 9 Level 1 spells, 9 Level 2 spells, 7 Level 3 spells, 5 Level 4 spells, 6 Level 5 spells, and 3 Level 6 spells. The limitations on the slots preserve the tactical challenge of the game, as they're only replenished when you return to the town. At the same time, there are some deficiencies. The mage has increasing levels of mass-damage spells (MAHALITO, LAHALITO, MADALTO) but lacks a good single-enemy spell. The priest gets some cool damage spells, but you basically have to preserve all her slots for the various healing spells (DIOS, DIAL, DIALMA, MADI), cure poison (LATUMOFIS), and cure paralysis (DIALKO), since tons of enemies cause the latter two conditions at higher levels.
  • Here's another riddle. I tried DIE and DICE to no avail before realizing the more obvious answer.
  
  
  • Even at the top level, the best weapons and armor my characters found were +2. The one exception is an "ebony blade" that I have in the hands of one fighter. I assume it's good.
  • I forgot about helmets and gloves until very late in the game. The store sells them. I could have enjoyed -1 or -2 to my AC for the entire game.
     
One fighter's character and equipment late in the game.
              
  • Unlike most games, including previous Wizardry titles (I think), when you look at teleportation squares straight on (without stepping into them), they show you their destination rather than their origin. You know there's a blank wall in front of you, but the square shows a massive room. It's pretty cool.
  • It's not often that a game makes me laugh out loud with its monster names, but this one did:
           
    
  • On the other hand, I'm not sure it's concept of a "vulture" is very accurate:
       
           
  • At one point, something got corrupted in my inventory, and I was unable to use one of my slots. When I viewed that slot in Boltac's Trading Post, it turned out to contain an "**ERR**" that sold for $5,170,000. It took a lot of willpower not to take advantage of it.
        
That would buy a lot of resurrections.
    
As I play Wizardry III, I'm reminded how much I like the process of mapping old RPGs. Mapping is really a sort of puzzle--especially when you have to deal with tricks like teleporters, dark areas, and no-magic zones--and every room or corridor feels like a small victory. I've learned to treat mapping as its own "progress," irrespective of what's happening to my characters, and more than once my party has become so battered that I think of them as being on a suicide mission--just map as many more squares as possible until you (inevitably) die, so I can reload with a fresh party. This wouldn't be possible, of course, without the leeway I'm allowing myself to save every 30 minutes. Back in Wizardry, I would desperately cling to any hope of life.
    
I'm guessing one more post on the game, including the final rating, but do let me know if I'm off track with the Orb of Earithin. I know I should get back to MegaTraveller soon, but the problem with both it and Hard Nova is that I simply can't muster any interest in them. I'm not saying they're bad games--I haven't played long enough to assess that one way or the other--but for some reason they just leave me feeling blah. I'll try to rally myself nonetheless.

49 comments:

  1. The (hilarious) way you described having to switch alignments does make it more than a bit odd. Wikipedia suggests people played largely neutral parties with a pair of good and evil characters to swap in and out. The alignment restriction is described as a blatant stretch of gameplay hours.

    And I would think a Master Ninja would be very adept at running away. That was their SOP, after all.

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    1. Yeah, but when they do it, it should be called something like, "Ninpo: Million Smoky Mirages Of Vanishing Shadows!"

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  2. Always interesting to read different people's reactions to the same part in the game.
    CRPG Addict:
    "I had no idea what it was talking about. After a while, a tarot deck--with which I have no experience--occurred to me, and a quick Wikipedia search confirmed that a typical tarot deck has 78 cards. Not knowing what any of them were, I did some image searches and scanned several decks before I decided that the answer was probably CHARIOT. The card sometimes depicts two horses drawing a chariot ridden by a king with a crown. Other times, the chariot is drawn by sphinxes, or the king doesn't have a crown, or it's a modern deck that depicts a motorcycle or muscle car or something. Anyway, without the Internet, I have no idea how I would have solved the puzzle, and I have no idea what kids in 1983 did other than hurl insults at their computers."

    Me:
    "I had a hunch it might be a Tarot card, so I looked it up on Wikipedia which confirms it uses 78 cards. But which card?
    It's rather unfair of a game to assume knowledge of such superstisious nonsense.
    Further research on Wikipedia convinced me it must be The Chariot, which also fits with having found The Staff of Earth (which broke after one bleeping use?!?) and the Amulet of Air:
    "The Thoth Tarot deck has the figure controlling four different animals, representing the four elements."
    But how the hell would a snotty faced little me had known that, or even known where to look for the answer, back in 1983?"


    The Priests of Fung is one of the most difficult areas I've ever encountered in a CRPG. I contemplated various vile schemes, like rage-quitting and using SaveStates, but in the end I prevailed when got lucky with the numbers. I think they may worthy of a place on the most annoying enemy list.

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    1. Funny, I thought it was fairly obvious ;) If you forget the Taro stuff and think of what could actually be drawn forth by two bold steeds, there won't be too many options really.
      (though I do have a knowledge of Taro, so maybe my view of this puzzle is skewed)

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    2. It's simple - the Chariot card is explained like this by old Fortune tellers: The Chariot: Journey · Progression · Strong character · Success from effort · Transportation and movement (source: http://www.trustedtarot.com/cards/). Do you need to hear more? ;-) Happy New Year and all the best for finishing '90

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    3. VK, I think you're forgetting the "stars shine from my crown" part. Since a chariot doesn't actually wear a crown, you'd have to know that the "chariot" is actually the name of a card depicting someone DRIVING a chariot.

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    4. Brutus, I'd agree with your last sentence if there were more of them, but you mostly just have to get lucky for 4 battles. That's certainly sufferable.

      I found your post. Until now, I wasn't 100% sure about the name. Don't feel like you have to stick with it forever.

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    5. No, my apologies. I just looked at my map and you have to survive 6 battles. I got lucky with a teleportation trap after getting the Rod of Fire, and I got to skip the last two battles.

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    6. I just think it's one of those puzzles that give you excessive information to confuse you. From what I remember, the stars and the crown aren't canonical elements, they won't help you identify the card either. Also sphynxes are in fact more canonical than steeds. And the most "stable" aspect of the card's imagery - that these animals are black and white respectively - didn't even make it into the puzzle. So all that info does a piss poor job as a card description - and that's why I think it's only there to lead you astray.

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    7. (Although it makes certain sense, as the black and white steeds/sphynxes symbolize good and evil, and the game is built around its alignment system)

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    8. Once you realise it's a Tarot deck, home in on the "foretell victory" phrase for a hint that's agnostic to the artistic style, and probably could have been looked up in a good encyclopedia pre-Internet.

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  3. I actually had to research the tarot deck in my junior high school's library to figure out the tarot card riddle. I never did figure out the merging of the crystals thing when I played this way back when. I would just fight creatures until I found a teleport chest and open that which would allow me past L'kbreth. Then I'd have fun grinding and finding better and better weapons.

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    1. That's awesome. I almost wish we were back in that day, where I would have had to drive to the library to figure out the answer to a CRPG riddle. I guess I wouldn't have a blog if that were the case.

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    2. That or you'd be posting this on a BBS, and it would download so slowly that we could read it while it was still downloading. My Dad talks about a modem upgrade he got that made him actually have to use the page up key.

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  4. The whole game sounds terribly unfair to me, I mean, who would have completed it back in 1983 in a legal way? They must have assumed that people would try to cheat to win.

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    1. Please, read the previous post :)

      Dear Crpgaddict, thank you for playing this game.

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    2. It's the things we've been saying all along. We're in the Bronze Age. Few standards, players might have spent months and months on an single RPG, winning was supposed to be a rare and exhilarating victory, not a foregone conclusion, etc.

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    3. I beat it and was around 15 or 16 at the time. No internet, no bbs, no guides. Of course like Chet says I would have played it for months and not days like he is. My casters definitely had the top spells and nice gear.

      It reminds me of another game, Zork I which took about a year to finally beat mostly from one room where everything you typed was repeated back to you. We're incredibly spoiled these days with instant access to knowledge, walkthroughs and video guides.

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    4. So if you wrote "Congratulations! You have won." you would win the game?

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    5. @ Jay: I admire that. DId you win this game without dying, ot did you die several times and then played Wizardry I and II again to get another party? Did you know about tarot, and did you not end up in rocks at some point? I think I would have thrown the disks out of the window at some point.

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  5. I find it quite funny that you scoff at JRPGs (considering your taste with good reason *most* of the times) and yet you do enjoy playing this game with the restrictions most commonly found in them (it's a rare case of an JRPG that doesn't have savepoints spread roughly 30 minutes of gameplay apart).

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    1. And there is JRPGs like "Shin Megami Tensei", clearly inspired by Wizardry and offering solid CRPG-like gameplay, while having an interesting plot. I think what Mr. Addict really should make an exception and play that one.

      -VladimIr V Y

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    2. Do point out where I have "scoffed" at JRPGs.

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    3. That's just the general impression I got (been a reader pretty much from the blog's beginning). Might have something to do with the fact that you haven't been playing the genre's strongest entries - having to play Rance is not something I would wish even on my worst enemy.
      Apologies if it came out too strong.
      Also, while we're on the topic and I have your attention - in light of your mapping comment, you really should give the Etrian Odyssey games a try - they are basically (slightly) less sadistic Wizardy games, that are pretty much all about manual mapping.

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    4. The simple fact is that I don't have enough experience with JRPGs to say whether I like them or not. In the period that I've already covered, almost every JRPG was either a) never released in English or b) released only for the console. The few games that I HAVE played that originated in Japan--Sorcerian, The Ancient Land of Ys, Drakkhen--have been so different in tone and gameplay that it's hard to see any common threads among them. I certainly wouldn't use these three as an example of a unified genre. It looks like we start seeing more PC versions of JRPGs in the mid- to late 1990s, so I guess I'll be able to evaluate things better then.

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    5. Saddest thing is that PCs in Japan were generally never thought of as gaming machines. Dad's used them for spreadsheets for the day and an erotic game or two for the night.
      Most of the games were released only on consoles and given how CPU, RAM and controller button bound those were before the 32-bit generation, RPGs released there were extremely streamlined.
      I still think you will enjoy the first Final Fantasy whenever you will find the will to tackle it - slightly nonlinear gameplay (in that you can tackle midgame dungeons in any order you want), systems and enemies heavily influenced by AD&D (spell charges instead of mana pool, character classes, abilities and monsters taken straight out of rulebooks) and the ability to actually finish the game with any party you pick (I don't think it's possible to beat Wizardry with a single Priest or Mage - and there are documented runs of FF1 doing just that)

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    6. "The few games that I HAVE played that originated in Japan--Sorcerian, The Ancient Land of Ys, Drakkhen"

      J'accuse! Drakkhen ees, how-you-say, a Fronch game. (Which explains a lot, somehow.)

      BTW which platform are you planning for Black Onyx? I wish I could tell you that it's something to look forward to, but...

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    7. I guess you're right about Drakkhen. I had this idea that it was published by Infogrames by developed in Japan. I know that Data East had some involvement, but I guess it was just the U.S. subsidiary.

      As for Black Onyx, I haven't gotten that far. It never had an English/western platform release, but someone did an English translation a few years ago, and technically I have a PC-88 emulator, so I reluctantly added it on the list. After all, I was willing to play a fan translation of Rance.

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    8. The version I played was the ColecoVision adaptation of the SG-1000 port, which was ported (to CV) and translated by Bruce Tomlin several years ago. I haven't tried the PC-88 version, but I see it's been translated, so in terms of authenticity that's probably the one to go with.

      And yeah, despite all its flaws and irritations (I seem to remember a comically early level cap), Black Onyx is so influential and seminal that it does deserve your time.

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  6. It seems like the slow leveling after Level 10 or so is another holdover from Dungeons & Dragons. In D&D, characters reached "name level" which represented a plateau of power within the game world, after which every subsequent level only rewarded you a couple of hit points and not much else. Magic-Users, on the other hand, unlocked entire new spell levels even after reaching "name level" at Level 11, when the title associated with their level became "Wizard."

    It sounds like what you did with the Priests of Fung had already been anticipated by the game's creators, if they imposed the penalty of fighting a random encounter before fighting the fixed encounter again. I suppose people regularly turned off their computer when a battle went south in Wizardry back then, and so the game created its own arbitrary "cheat" to foil players who did that. And people also backed up their save disks, too.

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    1. I'm not sure if it's deliberate. It feels like the game only saves the fact that you just entered an encounter. So when you reload, it goes, "oh, hey, encounter!" and dredges up something random based on your current level. Then, once that's over, it bothers to check what square you're in and brings any fixed encounters that go with it. That's my thesis, anyway.

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    2. I believe I had MALOR when fighting the Priests of Fung. Very helpful to teleport in to previously mapped regions, once you'd mapped to a certain "depth", and to teleport out. Unfortunately, lots of grinding to get 7th level spells at that point.

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  7. "No, Chester. Please. I can't do it," Gideon begged as Chester gestured to the guileless group of Ronin. "They haven't done anything to deserve it." Victoria just whimpered in horror. But they were mercilessly prodded forward by Malory and Grey Star. "We have tasted of innocent blood," they said in eerie unison. "So too must you."


    Chet, if u haven't written a dark humor fantasy book yet, WHY NOT? I want to give you my money NOW if you would write it in that vein. Oh man, Chet my pseudonymous friend, you are sitting on a GOLDMINE of talent here.

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  8. You mention mapping as something you like. I do as well and am currently playing some RPG's on my 3DS called Etrian Odyssey 1-4 where a key part of the game is drawing your map as you adventure. You have a really cool map editor in one of the screens you draw with the stylus as you adventure forth and do battle. Really slick and fun feature. Another I will try is called Dark Spire and it's basically a Wizardry style game and you can toggle the maze to wireframe to make it even more so.

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  9. Chet,

    Thank you again for your blog. Your views on saving the game have had a great impact on me. As I play Secret of the Silver Blades, I find myself saving less and less, usually at the beginning of a map. I do not save again until the map is finished or I have retreated. This has made the game far more interesting as there are times I do not know if the party will live. Thank you again for making these old games even better with your wonderful blog.

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    1. Glad to hear it. For me, the annoyance in having to re-play an area is outweighed by the sense that there are true consequences to a combat gone bad. It encourages me to use all my items and tactics.

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  10. I would have to say that "blah" includes most of the traveller and T&T style RPG's of the 90's something in those games just makes them off putting.

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  11. The pic at this link is pretty cool and has details on the history of the Playstation name and history. Because I guess I am a PSfanboy after all. Huh.

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152978602243518&set=a.10150750961543518.424527.595318517&type=1

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  12. Chet, you're at least partially on the right track with the "false orb". However, in my play-through, once I'd traded for the false orb, the game would not let me recollect the Crystal of Good or Evil again (actually only tried one). Maybe you have to drop the false orb first. I just chose at that point to pick up with a previous save game. One before which I had collected the false orb. It would be interesting to know, though, if collecting the false orb would mean you would have to start over. This would really have driven me nuts in 1983!! Overall, I would say I'm glad I played Wiz. II & III in 2014, rather than in the 1980s!!

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    1. I had been wondering whether Chet would flip his desk when he encountered a fake orb. I guess not!

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  13. Glad to know I am not the only one that felt the experience was very low for difficult battles. I feel like I would have enjoyed Wizardry III a lot more if it was easier to level grind, possibly even surpass II as my favorite of the original trilogy. I also found the "nocorn" to be hilarious, definitely the weirdest enemy name I have seen ha.

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  14. I was able to guess CHARIOT - 78 cards made me think of Tarot even though I didn't know specifically how many cards are in that deck, and the major arcana have been referenced enough in other games I've played (Ogre Battle series; more recently, Binding of Isaac) that I knew one of them was a chariot.

    I assume the answer to the other one is WHEEL?

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    1. You're right!! Actually, I found the WizIII puzzles too easy for my taste. I prefer (at least occasionally) mulling a puzzle over for awhile before getting it.

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  15. Forgive my ignorance, but what's Black Onyx, why was it seminal, and who did it influence?

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    1. It was a somewhat primitive CRPG released on the PC-88, which was the Japanese equivalent of the ZX Spectrum computer, and later on the technologically superior MSX computer and NES console. The importance of it is that it was the one of the very firsts CRPG developed in Japan (as opposed to being imported from America as with the Wizardry series that was even more popular in Japan than it was over here), rather than any particular merits of the game itself (which I recall being rather crude). If we were to refer to Wizardry being the 0th jRPG, Black Onyx would be jRPG #0.5

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  16. To your Vulture comment. I only know this because I play a lot of CIV IV.

    The Vulture was not a specific type of troop within the Sumerian army, but rather a symbol. Warfare was a fact of life between the city-states of lower Mesopotamia, but it was during a battle between the King of Lagash and the King of Umma in 2525 BC that something exceptional occurred.

    After a resounding victory over the King of Umma, the King of Lagash erected a stele to commemorate the occasion. In commissioning this monument to his victory, the King of Lagash created the first known depiction of war ever created by humanity. The stele's carvings display the troops of Lagash: spearmen arranged in a phalanx formation, with eight men to a row, six rows deep. (As a phalanx arrangement would require strict training and discipline, this suggests that the Sumerians had one of the earliest professional armies.) Elsewhere on the stele, vultures can be seen carrying away the heads of the fallen Umman warriors. As a result, these Sumerian soldiers have become known as the "Vultures of Sumer."

    -Crunchy Frog- (For some reason I was unable to log in)

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    1. Similar to the Sumerian Vultures are the Persian Immortals. Also know about this because of Civilization. Sid Meier should be so proud.

      P. S. As much as I want to know why you're called "Crunch Frog", I'm also extremely apprehensive to find out how you would know a frog is crunchy.

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    2. That's an interesting bit of history. Thanks!

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  17. Check out Monty Python's Whizzo's Chocolate skit.... It's worlds of fun.

    -Crunchy Frog-

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