Saturday, June 6, 2015

Eye of the Beholder: Oh, Great. Drow.

A role-playing encounter that I probably didn't spend enough time thinking about.

This is one of those posts where I have to ask you to forgive me if I tell part of the story wrong. My playing of Eye of the Beholder over the past week has been infrequent and furtive--a half hour here and there in between work sessions. I've also been going around the dungeon in a somewhat confusing pattern, making it tough to recall a specific order. The order of my screenshots helps a little.

Last time, I announced my intention to return to Level 5, track down those dwarves, and see if I can find anything about this "Wand of Silvias" that's supposed to be able to kill Xanathar. By the time I resumed playing, I had forgotten about that plan, and I just kept going to Level 7.

The dark textures on Levels 7 and 8 had me looking for a "Light" spell before I remembered the game doesn't have any.

Waiting for me at the bottom of the stairway were a bunch of Drow--undoubtedly the most over-used enemy in the entire Forgotten Realms oeuvre. I'm hard-pressed to think of a single FR game in which they don't appear, and I've grown sick of them. Their civilization doesn't even make sense; surely any society so brutal, joyless, and cruel would collapse upon itself.
  
For some reason, this game has them all with bushy white hair and drooping mustaches--and all male so far. They confronted me and demanded to know why they "shouldn't run [me] to the slave pens." The game gave me the option to "attack" or "bribe," and frankly I just assumed it was one of those idiot role-playing choices that you sometimes get where only the most pathetic players would hand over all their gold. Naturally, I attacked. The Drow swords were capable of paralyzing my characters, and with no room to maneuver, my party didn't fare very well.


After a reload, I cast a bunch of buffing spells like "Bless" and "Prayer" and potions like "Haste" and "Giant Strength"--the first time so far in the game that I've had to conduct such preparations. I ended up doing much better. Anyway, it occurred to me after the battle that there's no gold in this game, so I don't know what would have happened if I'd clicked "bribe." Maybe there was more to it than the usual, pathetic, throw-away role-playing option.

Both Levels 7 and 8 were crawling with Drow, and Level 8 added Driders. None of them were very hard as long as I could hit them from a distance or two the "combat waltz." They weren't even capable of spells. The Drows' physical attacks paralyzed, but I had "Remove Paralysis" and it wears off eventually anyway. Upon death, Drow dropped Adamantite long swords and Driders dropped spears. I don't know if any of them are better than the weapons my lead characters are carrying, but I've been hauling around a sample, just in case.

Hellhounds also appeared on Level 8, and Level 7 had some enemies that I first took at liches, but when they proved too easy, I looked them up in the manual and found they were just skeletons--a creature that seems awfully low-level for this deep.

These look a lot more elaborate than just "skeletons."

There weren't very difficult puzzles on the two levels, but there were a few areas in which pulling a switch released enemies in my backpath, and I had to stand and fight in a narrow corridor instead of using the maneuverability options.

On Level 7, I found a pile of bones next to a holy symbol, and I remembered that I wanted to talk to the dwarves again.

Bodies decompose in this dungeon remarkably fast.

Rather than make my way up the stairs, I decided I'd try to use the stone portals. That proved to be a bit of a mistake. I had assumed that all the portals connected in the central hub that I'd seen briefly before, but I soon learned a few realities. First, not all the portals go to a hub. Second, what I had taken for a "hub" wasn't really a hub--it only had 5 doors. Third, the places to which the portals take you are parts of the regular levels and need to be mapped as such. Finally, not all of the doors are two-way. Thus did I find myself on Level 8 before I was ready to be there, and the portal via which I arrived wouldn't let me back. It was scary for a bit, because I didn't know I was on Level 8--for all I knew I was on Level 15. Only after I'd mapped nearly the whole thing did I find the stairs and figure out where I was.

Escaping an area via a portal. I still don't know what level I was on here. The textures are all new.

At some point on Level 8, I accidentally walked into a wall and had it open up into a secret area. This is when I first realized that not all secret doors are clued with glyphs on the walls. Studying my maps of the previous levels, I found lots of blank areas, and I became seized with the idea that I'd missed a lot of secret doors, and perhaps that's why I hadn't been fulfilling any of the "secret quests." I decided it was time to head back up to the first level again and test all the walls that could conceivably lead to secret areas. Oh, and I also realized that pits sometimes drop you to areas of the levels that are otherwise inaccessible. I needed to test those, too.

My explorations didn't accomplish as much as I'd hoped--only two secret areas, I think, neither with much in them--but I did solve the secret quests on Levels 3 and 4. The solution to Level 3 was just to run around taking back the gems I'd inserted into the eyes on the wall that opened up the way to Level 4 in the first place. I didn't know I was solving a puzzle when I took the gems out; I was just kind of being a dick. When I got the message, I looked around and found a couple of new "Extra Healing" potions, so that was nice.

The solution to the Level 4 secret quest ended up being so pathetic that I'm not sure what happened. All I did was pull a chain on a wall. I'm pretty sure that the chain simply turns on and off a rotating set of walls in one part of the level, and I'm pretty sure that I pulled it when I first found it, so I guess the quest depends on something else set a particular way in another part of the dungeon. Anyway, after getting the message, I looked around but didn't find any kind of reward, so I'm not sure what that was about. I still haven't solved the secret quests on Levels 1, 5, 7 and 8, and I'm giving up on Level 1 at least. I've been around that level about 6 times.

That was a freebee.
  
I eventually did make my way back to the dwarves, but they didn't have anything new to say about the wand. I had the cleric resurrect the pile of bones, and they resolved into a half-elf cleric. I dumped one of the dwarf fighter NPCs to add her to the party. The game is confused about this NPC. In the dialogue, she calls herself "Sister Ileira," and in portrait she's pretty clearly a female, although I agree it's often tough to tell with Elvish folk. Anyway, her character sheet has her as "Ileria" (note the spelling difference), a half-elf male.

Sister "Ileira" in dialogue....
Brother "Ileria" on the character sheet.
  
Combat remains easier than I expected this late in the game. Most of my battles go like this:

Fleeing backwards down the corridor as I hurl missile weapons.
      
But the "combat waltz" option is always available if they get too close and there aren't a lot of them:

   
Real-time combat is slightly harder in Eye of the Beholder than in Dungeon Master because the game forces you to wait for the ends of animations--both spell and other combat animations, like swinging a sword--before you can move. Thus, if you want to dance the waltz, you have to make sure to leave the square before the attack animation starts. This is easier, of course, when the enemy has to walk into the square facing one direction, then turn to face you.

Miscellaneous notes:

  • I'm taking my time wandering around so much because food has ceased to be an issue. Both of my clerics are capable of casting "Create Food and Water," and one casting fills everyone up completely. I don't know why they included a food mechanic at all if they were going to make it so simple to overcome.
  • When you remove an NPC, he or she dumps all his or her equipment on the floor. That's a nice convenient shortcut.

I feel kind of bad for sending him off naked.

  • I've learned to turn and face every wall while exploring. Some of the secret buttons and messages are really hard to see from the side-view.
  • There are large chunks of Levels 7 and 8 with nothing in them. I suspect I'm going to find a way up into those areas from lower levels.

The mapped part of Level 8. I suspect there's something in that large white zone.

  • The sounds that the monsters make when in proximity--in particular the shuffle of the chainmail boots on the skeletons--would be a lot more haunting and nerve-wracking if the developers hadn't made it so easy to save and reload. This is yet another game in which I wish there was some kind of time limit on the frequency of saves.
  • I have one million cleric scrolls. Fortunately, I have a second cleric to start using them.
  • Occasionally, while transitioning between levels, this copy protection screen comes up.


  • So far, Level 4 is the only one to have territory that wraps around on itself. It's a silly dynamic, and I'm glad they didn't use it more.
  • I accidentally fired up the game in CGA graphics at one point. This is what it looks like. I figured it must be because the emulator was set to SVGA, but when I changed it to CGA, it didn't look any better.


  • Stuff I'm carrying around that I don't know what it is or does: a Scepter of Kingly Might, a "Night Stalker" sword, a sling that's magical but I don't know in what way, a Plate Mail of Great Beauty (no effect on charisma), 2 rings that are magic in some way, 1 medallion that's magic in some way. Somehow I got a Mace +3 that's clearly labeled as such; it's the only magic item that hasn't obscured its nature.

You'd think that this would increase my strength, but it doesn't seem to do that.

  • Stuff I'm carrying around for no reason: 3 axes, 4 shields, 1 suit of chainmail, 3 suits of leather armor, 5 adamantite longswords, 1 silver key, 2 maces, 2 spears, 1 flail, 1 helmet, 1 wand that doesn't seem to do anything, 2 sets of robes, a green gem, an extra rock, a Potion of Poison (you can't throw it at enemies) and 2 medallions, 2 rings, and 1 necklace not marked as being magical by "Detect Magic." 
     
Not much character development since last time; everyone's between level 6 and 8, with the lower-leveled characters being the multi-classed ones. With experience point requirements doubling between levels, I suspect leveling will be very slow until the end of the game, so I may not be as close as I thought last time.
 
I was a bit disappointed that there were no more dialogues or quest information on Levels 7-8. Time to see what the next lowest ones have to offer. I'll talk more about spells next time, too.

Time so far: 22 hours
Reload count: 8

101 comments:

  1. I thought the level 5 special quest was the easiest in the game. Anyway, here's a few hints, in no particular order:

    -Gur fcrpvny dhrfg vf pbagnvarq gb bar fcnpr.

    -Lbh pna qb vg jvgu fbzr irel pbzzba vgrzf lbh yvxryl nyernql unir be unir guebja njnl.

    -N jevgvat ba n jnyy tvirf lbh (rkgerzryl inthr, ohg pbzcyrgr) qverpgvbaf.

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  2. I'm not a Drow fan either but I really wish games would stop using shadows. Stupid grey-black blob enemies are boring and dull. Go home shadows!

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  3. It would take a stronger man than I to tackle this game in CGA. Damn that's hard on the eyes.

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    1. This is the era when VGA cards started being omnipresent instead of a luxury, and CGA support was a throwaway thing if it existed at all.

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    2. Yeah, amazing. Did anyone actually play buy games back then intending to play in CGA? I guess some people did. I remember being far more concerned about games supporting Hercules hi-res monochrome graphics. Before I spent the big bucks on a VGA card, that was what I was stuck with. A lot of other people's computers had them too, and I snuck a lot of games on other people's computers.

      It wouldn't have been so bad had it not been those throbbing magenta and cyan colors. Who decided that CMYK colors used for printed materials should be used on video instead of RGB?

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    3. Perhaps it was for reasons of brightness. Magenta and Cyan each have two colour channels (red and blue, or green and blue) pumping out light, whereas red green and blue would have less contrast with black.

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    4. CGA in medium resolution mode (320x200) could only support 4 colors at a time out of a total palette of 16, with all the colors being predefined. I think they were white, black, red, green, and blue, and then the various half-mix combos. That was probably the best they could do at mapping the VGA palette (256 at once out of a palette of 262,144.)

      Really, in looking back, it's amazing that such a crappy computer (the PC) ended up winning in the market. IBM had such cachet that they were able to dominate simply by being IBM: few people understood computers at the time, and expertise was very difficult to develop, so normal folks bought PCs because it was the safe bet.

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    5. If you are curious as to what they EoB 1 and 2 look in EGA instead, I tried and (to me) they are gorgeous:
      http://eab.abime.net/showpost.php?p=834466&postcount=2

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    6. The PC won because it was an open system that anyone could copy. That this attribute compensated for its technical flaws is a strong testimony to the great strength of openness.

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    7. It wasn't that simple. The biggest reason the IBM Compatible won out in the end was that all of the main competitors disintegrated - the Amiga wasn't enough to save Commodore from their own mismanagement, Apple's crap was too shallow and too expensive for most gamers, and Atari wound up bailing from the PC market altogether.

      The rise of cheap PC clones did help a lot, but this had nothing to do with openness - the clones were not licensed, and IBM took legal action against the first wave, in some cases successfully.

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    8. I looked at that screenshot for slightly more than 3 seconds and when I close my eyes, I can still see the freaking after-image!

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    9. IBM clones won because they were cheaper in the long run than any of the competitors. So it was not openness itself but rather some of its implications. Even if the major players of the time hadn't collapsed under their own mistakes they were doomed anyway because, as computer history proves again and again, hardware is a fools game.

      IBM clones were neither the best, nor the most user friendly, but they have laid the foundations for a PC mass market, the beginnings of the end of which we can observe today.

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  4. Not really related to this post, but I hope that some of you might be able to help me with a list of "genre benders" that I am building. There was a discussion on Hydlide of some console RPGs were sequels to non-RPGs: Zelda, etc. I thought there were a lot of them, but I think I was wrong as I can only find five in total:

    The Legend of Zelda (1986) -> Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link (1987)
    Castlevania -> (1986) -> Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest (1987)
    Mario Brothers (1983) -> Super Mario RPG (1996)
    MegaMan (1987) -> MegaMan Battle Network (2001)
    Metal Gear (1987) -> Metal Gear Acid (2004)

    (Of those, I am not sure about "Metal Gear Acid" because I have never played it and the descriptions seem to be "collectible card game RPG" which is a category that I am unfamiliar with...)

    Several of these, btw, have their own sequels. There are half a dozen Mario RPGs of two flavors, and the MegaMan and Metal Gear games both had their own sequels. Only Zelda and Castlevania never returned to that well, though in both cases some RPG elements would continue through the later games.

    Now, none of these are *C*RPGs. Were there any CRPG sequels to non-RPG original games?


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    1. Star Fox (1993) - Star Fox Adventures (2002)

      Sypro the Dragon (1995) - Sypro:Shadow Legacy (2005)

      I'll come up with more later but these two were attempts, though I don't think either are good rpgs.

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    2. Sonic the Hedgehog got an apparently terrible Bioware RPG. I don't know if the Bioware pedigree qualifies it a CRPG despite coming out for the DS.

      If you're counting JRPGs, Panzer Dragoon had the legitimately great Panzer Dragoon Saga as a sequel. I understand the Samurai Showdown JRPG is pretty good too.

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    3. The most well-known game I can think of to make the non-RPG to CRPG transition is Warcraft to World of Warcraft. Not sure if that was already mentioned in the previous thread.

      Also: Star Control to Star Control 2, although Star Control 2 is only sort of an RPG.

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    4. DOOM and Wolfenstein RPG come to my mind, though these were released for mobile platforms and not computers I believe. Not that you couldn't play them on one. There is also a roguelike based on DOOM.

      JRPG-spinoffs based on action games are Twinbee RPG and various games based on Compile's Puyo Puyo, e.g. Madou Monogatari and Waku Waku Puyo Puyo Dungeon. Probably there a quite some more.

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    5. While many people call System Shock and RPG, it was more of an action-adventure (no character system, for example). SS2 on the other hand is one of the best dungeon crawlers out there.

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    6. Far Cry ----> Far Cry 3

      The early NES Dragon Ball games could barely be considered action-adventure but they all became RPGs after a couple titles.

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    7. Actually, Megaman had an RPG way earlier in 1997. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mega_Man_Legends

      King's Quest 8 is an RPG instead of an Adventure game.

      Double Dragon: Neon had its roots from am arcade fighting game. http://store.steampowered.com/app/252350/

      If you want to include MMORPG playable on Windows PC, there's also Hokuto No Ken (Fist of North Star) released in 2008 (earlier predecessors were either Console RPGs or action games only).

      Dynasty Warriors (based on Romance Of The 3 Kingdoms) started out as a versus-fighting game. The sequels are all action/strategy RPGs.

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    8. There's also the reverse situation, where an RPG series switches and becomes something non-RPG. Example: Phantasy Star Online Episodes I + II were an action RPG, and then Phantasy Star Online Episode III was a card game.

      Delete
    9. Megaman X: Command Mission (Sidescroller to RPG)
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mega_Man_X%3A_Command_Mission

      Final Fantasy Tactics (RPG to SRPG)
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Final_Fantasy_Tactics

      Ragnarok Tactics (MMO to SRPG)
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ragnarok_Tactics

      RPG to *C*RPGs though... most I can come up with are ports or crossplatform anyway.

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    10. Final Fantasy I-8 -> Final Fantasy Tactics. -> Chocobo Racing -> Final Fantasy XIII (Action RPG)

      Delete
  5. It's clear that the culture of the Forgotten Realms discriminates against the transgendered and won't let that poor elf change her sex and name on her character sheet.

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    1. It's possible to hex-edit her to her preferred pronoun, at least. And the fan-upgrade to the Amiga port lists Ileria as female on her character sheet, but I don't know if that was changed in the original Amiga version as well.

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    2. First transgender character in a CRPG?

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    3. Heh, you beat me too it. From her portrait it's not entirely implausible, though that may be down to the limitations of pixel and colour resolution.

      Anyway, Man of Stone was clearly an early pioneer of Hex Re-assignment Surgery!

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    4. It could have been that the bones, which Chet carried to the cleric, included someone else's... er... appendages.

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  6. Hint for the secret objectives of levels 1, 5, 7 and 8 (same hint applies to all four):
    Lbh unir gb fubir fbzrguvat vagb fbzrguvat.

    Total spoiler for the first level secret objective:
    Gurer'f n furys jvgu n ohapu bs fpebyyf ba yriry bar. Chg n qnttre va vg. Gur erjneq vf n cyhf sbhe qnttre.

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    Replies
    1. I decided I'd just satisfy my curiosity and not actually go for it. I have no idea how it would have occurred to anyone to stick a random dagger in a random niche.

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    2. I remember being completely stumped by the really non-obvious puzzles in this game. That aspect of the gameplay kinda killed this one for me personally.

      If the game had come out before the Gold Box stuff then it's possible I would have spent the time required to grind to those solutions...but a replay of Pool of Radiance seemed more fun than trying to walk through every wall, click every object, and try every item/niche combination in this game....

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    3. Did you play the second EOTB? There is one elaborate puzzle that is essentially a big combination lock with -- at best -- one very obscure hint that doesn't help at all.

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    4. BelatedGamer: You're referring to "leave many things behind", right? Yeah, that one is high octane BS. Luckily there aren't that many possible permutations, especially if you attempt to do shapes instead of trying out literally random combinations.

      EOB2 is still amazing overall.

      I like heavy puzzle focus in DM clones. Fighting tends to get monotonous in these games, it's expected and you can make it fun on it's own but you can't really build a whole game on it (even though I have fond memories of Captive).

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    5. Is this like in Chaos Strikes Back when the commenters spoiled the idea behind the dungeon?

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  7. About the drow bribe thing:

    lbh pbhyq tvir gurz fbzrguvat gung znxrf gurz abg ubfgvyr hagvy lbh gevttre n sveronyy genc va gung yriry naq uvg gurz nf pbafrdhrapr; be hagvy lbh tb cnfg na nern (be cbffvoyl yrnir naq erghea).
    Jung lbh tvir njnl, fhccbfrqyl, fubhyq znxr zber qvssvphyg gb fbyir n fcrpvny dhrfg, gung lbh fubhyq nyernql unir sbhaq, naq nyfb, fubhyq znxr frafr jvgu gur fynire guvat tbvat ba.

    Also, there should no drow on level 8:

    vs lbh guvax gurer ner, cebonoyl lbh tbg fvqrgenpxrq ol gur pbzcyrk geniryvat orgjrra yriryf 7 naq 9, fb znlor lbh gubhtug lbh jrer va n qvssrerag yriry?

    The special quest on level 4:

    vgf checbfr vf gb punyyratr gur cynlre: bapr lbh frg vg pbeerpgyl, lbh pnaabg tb onpx gb yriryf 1 - 3 nalzber, nf gur bgure npprffrf orgjrra yriryf 3 naq 4 sebz gur punzore bs gur trz rlrf naq gur cvgf jrer bar qverpgvba bayl!

    Va trareny, va RbO, fcrpvny dhrfg qbrf abg nyjnlf zrna fcrpvny erjneq! :)

    However, good work making short work of the skeleton warriors on level 8! They are hard to beat because their high armor and resistance to magic (at that point I'm usually dependent from fireballs to take enemies from a distance)
    But things will get still harder!

    Vs V jrer lbh, nyfb, V jbhyq xrrc ubyq bs fbzr bs gur bowrpgf lbh unir sbhaq!

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    Replies
    1. Also, Roleplay-wise, the Drow are famous for not following deals and backstabbing....

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  8. by the way, the above hints are not too revealing, if you are curious! :)

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  9. 9 Wisdom? That's a pretty lame cleric.

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    Replies
    1. It is, isn't it? Also, the attributes are out of standard order for 2e. It usually goes S, D, C, I, W, C. Maybe that caused confusion?

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    2. I overlooked that completely. Good call.

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    3. Her attributes make more sense then. (Doesn't every character need minimum 11 WIS to cast level 1 Clerical spells and 1 more WIS for each successive level, or am I thinking of another edition? Or do those limits only apply to INT and Magic spells?)

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    4. Str/Int/WIs was the order till 3E when they put the three physical stats first.

      I think Wis 9 means you max out at 4th level spells in 2e? はかせの外人's statements would be accurate for 3E

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    5. That's what I'm thinking of, from browsing DandD wiki which is (I think?) mostly 3rd edition stuff. (Is there any similar general wiki-style reference for 1st/2nd edition AD&D? To just type in a spell/item/stat/class/etc and look it up.)

      Delete
    6. My take is that she was (ans is) completely out of her depth, like a placeholder for unprepared characters raiding dungeons.
      Of the three clerics encountered in the three games of the series, she's the one with the worse stats.

      Some year ago, I collected the stats and carried items for all the characters in the series and made a spreadsheet to consider making an all-NPC party to play throughout. The link is here if you are interested:
      https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1GXS4b1IC5wFpOP_52iNun4lYbzkFGRAnZxQ4VNz2yYU/edit?usp=sharing

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    7. I don't remember why there are missing stats, it makes no sense?

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    8. Using only NPCs is an interesting idea. When you reach the dwarf camp, you'd be able drop the four characters you created for a Taghor / Dohrum / Anya / Tod party, then go from there.

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    9. 9 wis is the minimum for clerics, and she/he could get up to 5th level spells, you needed 17 wis for 6th, and 18 for 7th.
      also with 9 wis you had a 20% chance of spell failure, not sure that would have been in the game though. this is all for 2nd edition ad&d

      Delete
  10. Your comment on secret doors reminds me that walking into walls to find out if they're illusionary is less painful for your party in this game than in Dungeon Master. DM also let you knock on walls, though, which you can't do here.

    The manual for the second game gives the tougher skeletons their own entry and calls them skeleton warriors.

    I had some fun trying to figure out how various NPCs died, my first run through the game. For Ileria, I think she set off that trap where skeleton warriors ambush from the backpath, and wasn't a high enough level to Turn them.

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    Replies
    1. In DM, however, you could check the walls with your hand (by left-click), and if you didn't hear a characteristic sound, then it meant an illusionary wall

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    2. Well then- how did Tod Uphil get killed by nothing

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    3. He was so inept that he managed to kill himself with his own lockpick.

      I know DM had that sound mechanic, but I never felt I could TRUST it. I mean, especially in old games, and especially when you're emulating them, sound can cut in and out occasionally. And sometimes they don't register a random click. I need to see some kind of visual feedback, not just audio, to be sure. Also, it was annoying to use the keyboard to turn and face the wall, then have to use the mouse to test it for a secret door.

      There are a lot of things that DM did better than EotB, but I rather prefer not taking damage from walking into walls.

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    4. "He was so inept that he managed to kill himself with his own lockpick."

      I'm imagining he had a horrible accident practicing his lockpicking skill on himself.

      (If that doesn't make sense, go start up Quest for Glory 2 as a thief and try typing "pick nose" or clicking on your lockpicks then yourself a few times.)

      Also, Wizardry still has my favorite effect for running into walls- "OUCH!"

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    5. My favorite wall-bashing effect would have to be Might And Magic's "SOLID"

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    6. Exactly. No ambiguity there.

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    7. >He was so inept that he managed to kill himself with his own lockpick.

      Maybe he set off a one-shot trap, which nobody was around to reset?

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  11. Those skeleton warriors were beasts when I didn't know the exploits. High DPS and hard to hit.

    Did Poolrad and Blades have drow? I don't think BG1 used them as foes. I like drow in RPGs because they drop good loot and award lots of exp, but I agree that the whole dark elf thing has been done to death in fantasy generally.

    I'm more sick of orcs. A fecund, easily dispatched race with crappy loot and low exp rewards.

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    1. Pools of Darkness did have them, as well as Pool of Radiance Ruins of Myth Drannor

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    2. No, you're right. I was hyperbolic about the proliferation of Drow. They do seem to show up in every SERIES, at least, if not in some individual games.

      I guess BG1 just had Drizzt.

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    3. And the enchanting Viconia <3

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    4. I forgot she was in BG1, too. That's awesome! I'm forgetting things about the game. By the time I hit 1997 again, it will be like experiencing it anew.

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    5. Viconia was easily missed in BG1 with, if I recall correctly, no side-quests of her own. She got a substantial upgrade in BG2, though I always preferred Aerie for her character development between BG2 and its expansion.

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    6. Viconia had the best romance though.

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    7. Here is the entry for the Skeleton Warrior taken from the 2E Monstrous Manual: http://www.lomion.de/cmm/skelwarr.php.

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    8. I once put Viconia and Valygar in the same party and well Viconia called him out for being "more into men then women" and he (ever the gentleman) stabbed her to death for it. : /

      I also had my party leader (an evil aligned elf bard with 20+ cha) to "seduce" Aerie (is it really seducing if she was fawning all over him ?) as part of the romance plot and oh boy that girl was in for a ride ... and was right after quite pissed for losing her virginity, women ...

      Anyway that was something mature I had never expected to see in a cRPG.
      I suggest chet get's an "NPC plot speed up" addon or your going to spend a LOT of time trying and waiting for various subplots to trigger in BG2.

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    9. The cross-NPC interactions in BG2 are fantastic. We don't see anything like it again (that I know of) until Inquisition.

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  12. An item you find on Level 11 (in combination with something else) will allow you to identify all your items.

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    1. I imagine that's the Orb of Power, and in combination with the Oracle. I hope I'm wrong about this, but I suspect that will just tell me the names of things, not what they actually do or how much damage they actually inflict.

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    2. Aren't damage values printed in the manual and standard per ad&d second edition?

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    3. There might still be a few mysteries post ID'ing. I don't know what it tells you about the sceptre.

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    4. You are right about getting just the trues names and not a description, I guess if they had added full descriptions (as well as taking up an extra disk) they would have let you look at them from about the start. I always did wonder about that scepter of kingly might, I know one item you are carrying is um less than useful, but then everything can be used to weigh things down (or some instances for other puzzles eg shoving daggers in certain niches). I am surprised the potions tell you they are poison..I thought the whole point was going by the colour (or is this years of roguelikes corrupting my memory).

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    5. The sceptre and other items (spoiler) :

      vf rvgure oebxra be abg fhccbfrq gb nqq nalguvat orfvqr vgf anzr; gur 'xvatyl zvtug' vg ersref gb vg'f rvgure bayl n fboevdhrg be n oebxra zrpunavp: vgrzf orfvqrf gur evatf naq zrqnyyvbaf qba'g nssrpg nal fgng rkprcg gunp0 naq nezbe pynff.

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    6. I'm guessing the sceptre of kingly might is a similar sort of thing to rod of lordly might, which Chet can google if he likes.

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    7. OWB, the manual would help me with how much damage a long sword does versus a mace. It doesn't help me with special and artifact weapons, which is pretty much all I have at this point.

      Yes, I could Google what things do. I'm sure there's a spoiler site out there that has all of the items in the game and their exact statistics. The point is that I shouldn't HAVE to use external resources to find these things out. By 1991, there's no reason I shouldn't be able to right-click on a weapon and see the exact numbers.

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    8. Welll when I said the true name of things, I meant with the plusses revealed, so for example having the short named called wibble, would be shown to be the short sword named wibble +2. From this as you can work out the damage.
      Fbeel ohg V qba'g guvax gurer vf ryrzragny qnzntr be rkgen rssrpgf ba anzrq jrncbaf. N znpr +3 anzrq jvaxre jbhyq or gur fnzr nf n znpr +3 anzrq oyvaxre (V nz pbzvat hc jvgu ynzr znqrhc jrncba anzrf gbqnl :F)

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    9. *If* the "rod of kingly might" is the same concept as a "rod of lordly might" *and* it's not broken, then it's nothing special unless you can figure out how to "push its buttons".

      Given the game's interface, I suspect either or both premises may be false. Does it work as a mace at least?

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    10. Yes, you can equip it like a weapon and swing it.

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  13. Drow as a society make more sense in novels then in most cRPGs.

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    1. I imagine most societies do -- it's the difference between Orcs being a brutal but interesting tribal people, and Orcs just standing in a cave with a couple of gold pieces.

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    2. The novel 'Homeland' by R.A. Salvatore is the blueprint for FR drow. The society doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

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    3. It makes more sense when you realize that the only thing holding it together is Lloth, who wants the society at the very edge of stability so she can enjoy the chaos.

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    4. Mmm...still doesn't really make sense.

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    5. Yeah. I can't imagine how they could survive Day 1. I'd be poisoning my uncle while he tries to stab his son as his son casts a Finger Of Death on our grandma as she fired a Hail Of Arrows on another clan which is also facing the same problem.

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    6. They survive because they are evil, plotting, manipulative bastards but not stupid bastards.

      from the manual "chaotic evil is not chaotic stupid"

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    7. Uh have you read Homeland?

      They're pretty stupid.

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  14. Pardon me if this has been mentioned already but the manual for SSI's Dungeon Hack (a roguealike for the EotB engine) is basically the DM's Guide and Player Handbook for CRPGs. It has some unique info to DH but for the most part it's a complete rule set for 2eD&D.
    I played DH for a while but the sheer lack of plot made it a silly waste of time. I'd rather play Doom for the 1000th time than slog through DH once. But dig up the manual online and it will give you many insights into the game without spoilers.

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    1. I must be the only person who enjoys playing Dungeon Hack. Bah, it was my first rogue-like and I enjoyed trying to reach the 25th level. Never did though.

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    2. No, I don't think that's come up before. I have no experience with DH, so I look forward to reconciling all the conflicting information I've heard about it.

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    3. Dungeon Hack was fun until level draining and instant stoning enemies came along. :(

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    4. Bought it in a bargain bin about a year or two after it came our for $5.

      It was definitely worth that $5.

      I think the fact that it could create "broken" dungeons kinda turned me off.

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    5. I played and enjoyed DH a lot more than the EOB series. I recommend to customize the setup to avoid undead enemies and other annoying features.

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    6. Dungeon Hack is an interesting, but ultimately failed, experiment. I love DM clones. I love roguelikes. I would expect to love a combination of the two. But Dungeon Hack is just so terribly boring.

      It's a good idea to contrast and compare the maps of Captive to the maps of Dungeon Hack. Both are algorithmic games that generate maps based on a random seed. But where Captive's maps end up radically distinct in structure and even memorable sometimes, DH just generates the same squiggly corridors punctuated with locked doors every time. There's no puzzles of course, just random enemies that drop random items in linear corridors, and once you grind your way through enough floors of that, you fight a slightly bigger monster and you win. That's the whole game. You can adjust the parameters and do it again, but it will be the same thing in the end.

      A game like this lives and dies on its ability to generate places worth exploring, and Dungeon Hack just doesn't have that ability. It's a shame, really, because the basic idea of doing a roguelike with the EOB engine was brilliant.

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  15. Why did they even include a food mechanic? Because they were busily filing the serial numbers off of Dungeon Master and of course you include food. Why is there a spell to cure it? Because D&D had a spell called "Create food and water" that would usually be left out of a CRPG, At last, a chance to use it! Why did they make food redundant? They just didn't care. Plus, if they had left food out they'd have gotten criticism for not following DM closely enough.

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    1. Cynical but nonetheless probably true.

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    2. I suppose it allows you to have a super hardcore experience if you eschew having any clerics in your party... but you're probably right.

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    3. Yeah. You could try a Fighter's-Only party (in D&D, we call such groups Class Acts) and it is one of the most explainable groups to exist in RP terms [Fighter's Guild for full warrior parties, hailing from same temple for all-Cleric groups and so on]. For a mixed-class party on tabletops, we always had to have some convoluted reasoning as to how the mage met the thief and how they both met the paladin, yet the paladin didn't haul the thief off to the authorities for being a thief, and some such.

      The most hardcore of all is to play EoTB with only 6 NPC warriors (Keigar, Dorhum, Calandra, Anya, Thagor & Isharn). It'd be really insane and badass.

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    4. That party would be a cool challenge for the first game, but I'm not sure they'd be able to make it through the sequel without starving. The devs skimped on the rations in that game, probably since even a freshly-rolled cleric starts with Create Food.

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    5. How about "To lull you into a false sense of security"? You don't carry much food because you have this handy spell, and then you get blindsided and your cleric bites it and now can you manage to get back to the dwarves before you die of thirst?

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    6. Even without the food spell, there are enough rations in the game that it's not a problem. Food is consumed quite slowly. Even if you run out, there are respawning monsters that drop food rations. It's just lame.

      However, assuming that they actually made a challenge dungeon with food as a timer, there would be tons of pissed off gamers who ran out and had to abort their games. It's not really making your characters eat that's bad, it's the fact that if you run out of food your whole game is messed up.

      But I suppose that's realistic! Starving to death on a multi-week trip underground. Although in reality you'd just go back to the surface for more supplies. One of those "we thought about this and came up with something clever, but didn't think it through" moments so common in RPGs.

      PS the Firefox comment restore plugin saved me when blogspot ate this comment.

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    7. They included the food mechanics because DM had it... And if food mechanics make no sense in EoB, it makes no sense in the original D&D too.

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  16. If you collect Kenku eggs on level 6 you can use them to bribe the Drow guards. If I recall correctly, it's rather interesting as other Drow on the level abstain from attacking you for a certain period of time.

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