Sunday, May 8, 2016

Fate: About the Town

Banks in the real world just don't have the guts to go for names like this, even though they'd work well when the bank inevitably buys the naming rights to a sports arena.
   
The breadth and scope of modern RPGs is both a blessing and a curse. Part of me loves huge, open-world games like Fallout: New Vegas and Skyrim, but there's a danger in biting off more than you can chew. I don't know how many times I started a new Oblivion character and said that this was going to be the one who solved all the quests, closed all the gates, and so forth, started off strong, and then inevitably coasted to a stop as I got distracted by other things. If my break from a game, intentional or not, lasts more than three or four weeks, there's a good chance I won't have any motivation to pick it up again. Instead, I'll let six months go by until I can stomach the idea of completing the introductory dungeon again, and then start all over.

Fate: Gates of Dawn is perhaps the first game in my official chronology to offer such a large scope that I'm likely to simply coast to a stop if I don't force myself to keep active with it. There were other games that have come close--Tunnels & Trolls, Knights of Legend, and Disciples of Steel all come to mind--but the risk seems higher with Fate. As I write this, I haven't played in 15 days, and I'm fighting the urge to just begin again rather than try to remember what I thought I was doing when I last saved the game next to a tavern.

Here's another thing incontrovertibly true about Fate: if I'm going to keep up a regular posting schedule, we're really going to have to get into the weeds. In a long game like Disciples of Steel or Might & Magic II, I might get one posting focusing on combat, one on equipment, one on magic, and perhaps one on character development. There are lots of games where I plan to do that, but the game surprises me by finishing before I can dedicate something to each of the topics. By the time we get to Skyrim, on the other hand, I'll probably have an entire entry dedicated to the different types of crossbow bolts. I might have a separate posting on each and every shout.

Fate feels like that kind of game, and hence this entry, devoted solely to the different kinds of things that you can do in a town. Not every town--just the first one, because I've barely gotten out of it. And even then, there are a lot of things I don't understand.
  
My "completed" map of Larvin.
   
Since I last posted, I have visited all the accessible squares in Larvin. I say "accessible" because there are several areas blocked by water. I assume there's some way to pass over the water at some point, as I can see buildings and stuff beyond. There's some kind of inaccessible island in the middle of the map, for instance, and a small building in the northwest. There's also a large area in the southeast that either requires me to skirt a bit of water on the east side of the map or find a secret door. I have no idea how secret doors work in this game. I've tried bashing headlong into every wall surrounding the inaccessible area to no avail.
   
An inaccessible building in the middle of a lake.
   
Last time, I noted the game's allegiance to Alternate Reality: The City, reflected in the size of the city, the types of facilities available there, the large number of essentially duplicate shops, and the kinds of things you can do there. Larvin offers banks, traders, smiths, taverns, chapels, healers, inns, and guilds, all with many of the same options as Alternate Reality, such as the ability to invest money in banks or the ability in taverns to purchase both rations (including water flasks) or food that you consume immediately.
   
I understand this about as well as my Fidelity statement.
   
Generally speaking, however, Fate expands upon the options of the Alternate Reality base. Unless I missed something in the earlier game, for instance, "chapels" are an entirely new option here. You visit them to "confess your sins" and pay a fee to cleanse your karmic slate. (I'm not yet sure if this has any real impact on gameplay.) When I visited one and chose to confess a "grave" sin, my character said that I'd killed a non-hostile person. I don't remember this, but it's entirely possible that I did so in the early stages of the game when I didn't understand encounters. The cleric wanted to charge me almost half my "piaster," so I at first said no, then found myself barred from the chapel in a most unpleasant manner. I reloaded, sucked it up, and paid the indulgence.
   
This town needs Martin Luther.
   
Taverns and stores each have an option to "go around," in which the selected character leaves the party for a time to check things out on his own. In stores, this seems to be a mechanic for stealing items. In taverns, it allows the party to hear useful rumors or find useful NPCs. After some fixed or variable interval (I'm not sure), the character returns to the party with whatever he's found. In a couple of cases, though, my party member hasn't returned after quite some time and I've had to reload to avoid losing him.

Taverns have an option to listen for rumors, but the other patrons always just want me to buy a round for the house. There's no explicit option to do that, so it's a bit of a mystery.
   
The options in a tavern. "Drink" seems only to apply to the party.
   
I haven't quite figured out guilds yet. They seem to allow the improvement of skills and acquisition of spells, but only for certain characters and (I guess) only after those characters have leveled up. I'm not sure if, having leveled up, you can only improve in one guild per level or whether you can make the rounds of all of them that help your class. The manual is a bit obtuse on this, and I haven't leveled up enough to experiment.
   
The various guild options.
   
Aside from the inaccessible water areas, there are a few mysteries about town. Two buildings called "stations" are always closed. One square has an inactive teleportation field. Another has a fountain that serves up cool mineral water--it is perhaps simply there to provide free water.
   
   
Finally, there's one square that notes a "hole in the wall." None of the many options the game gives you--examine, listen, look in, touch, pull, open, seize in (whatever that means), drink, take, hit, dig, search, read, close, climb, press, kiss, join, enter, item, or spell--seems to do anything, except for "close," which covers the hole with dirt.
   
This is going to bother me the whole game.
  
In between the shops, the party meets a wide variety of NPCs, including simple townsfolk, beggars, mages, druids, hunters, gladiators, and hostile creatures like thieves and burglars. Not even the latter classes, however, are universally hostile. Sometimes robbers will talk with you--even help you--despite their usual disposition.

A "murderess"--normally a hostile enemy--cheerfully tells me about her job.
  
When you first encounter an NPC, you have options to immediately fight, disengage, talk, move forward (if they start at a distance), or perform a number of other actions--mock, warcry, use a scroll, suicide, dig in, close eyes, and laugh. I don't know how serious some of these latter options are supposed to be. "Warcry" can scare away opponents, but "close eyes" seems to just be a joke--you close them, the screen goes dark, but then you open them and the opponents or NPCs are still there. "Laugh" just makes you go "Ha ha ha" to no avail. I don't even understand what's happening when you click "suicide." In the one or two times I've tried it, the game says, "OK! But first you must show me how to do it. I'm waiting!" then "Your click shows me that you're still alive! So I think it's better I do it too!"
  
Is this even English?
   
"Disengage" brings up its own set of options--run away, ignore, hide, pray, bribe, chant, and joke. I haven't been using it much because talking to NPCs and fighting monsters gets you experience, money, and other benefits.
   
I might be disengaging from this one, however.
   
I'll cover combat some other time, but if you choose to "talk," you get a menu with options to ask for (something), wait, chat, (ask them to) join, trade, threaten, give alms--which, despite the name, is more of a bribe--and say goodbye. "Chat" opens its own sub-menu with options to introduce yourself, tell lies about your prowess, brag, joke, curse, adulate (compliment), insult, or enchant (seduce) the NPC.

"Ask for," in the meantime, brings up options to ask about the NPCs name, profession, and "self" (characteristics), as well as ask for generic "help" and hints, including those about items, persons, and beings.
   
The various "ask for" options.
   
The menu options are arranged awkwardly, and it took me a lot of contacts to figure out what's going on, but basically it seems that your goal is to use the various "chat" options to either ingratiate yourself with the NPC or cow him, thus increasing the likelihood that he'll give you help or a hint. Your success at the various options seems to depend on your own attributes plus the class of the NPC. For instance, warrior classes often seem to respond positively to "joke," whereas mage classes generally say "I've heard better." Almost everyone seems to respond well to "adulate," hardly anyone (so far) to "threaten," "insult," or "curse"--in fact, some of the latter options can result in an instant kill against a party member if used against a strong NPC.
   
Winwood's use of "Curse" will turn out to be unwise.
  
"Give alms," which always gives 200 piaster, seems to obviate the other chat options, immediately turning the encounter into a positive one, but some warrior types get offended by that. I've found that "enchant," when used by one of my high-charisma party members, works reliably with them.

However you do it, once you have the NPC on your side, it's time to ask for help, a hint, or both. "Help" offers a small probability that the NPC will teach the character something that increases one of his attributes by 1. I've started keeping a log of what attributes each class increases. Thieves, for instance, increase dexterity, while druidesses increase wisdom. Some commenters noted that these increases won't help you above 20, but that doesn't seem to be universally true. Winwood's dexterity is 21, and when he talked to a thief and supposedly got an increase, I checked his character sheet and it hadn't gone anywhere. But later, talking to a "banshee" increased his wisdom from 23 to 24.
  
Winwood gets a mage to "help."
   
"Hints," including information about items, persons, and beings, seem to be how you find information about the game world, including your current quest. These hints seem to come in a set order no matter which NPC gives them to you, but certain hints only certain NPC classes will deliver. So you might get a line from a mage and then need to find a warrior to get the next piece of information.

From the succession of hints, I've learned that the city of Larvin is isolated from the rest of the world, and their only contact is through the "Cavetrain." The Cavetrain, however, has been broken by something called "mongards," a race of "nasty ape men," which live only in darkness. King Garloth has offered a "big reward" to anyone who can get the Cavetrain working again.
   
Getting a hint from an NPC in the dungeon.
   
Once the Cavetrain related messages ended, I started getting messages about the catacombs accessible in the northwest part of the city: they're a mysterious place, they're a nasty place, and something called "Shade Ghosts" live there. I did explore the catacombs briefly for combat experience and money. It turns out you can meet NPCs in dungeons, too.

The next set of messages has to do with the inaccessible southeast part of the map: it's a small island, some wise men live there, and I might find some clues there. Maybe at some point I'll find a water walking spell that allows me to get there.
   
An NPC responds favorably to "hint."
   
For now, the direction seems to be to head out into the wilderness and find the cave containing the "Cavetrain." Before I do, let's talk a little about my party. Largely by asking random NPCs to join me, I've filled it with 6 members in addition to Winwood. (A couple have died and been replaced along the way.) Right now, it consists of (and remember these people were named by the game):

  • Dolly, a Bes Zarak adventurer
  • Howard, a Laurin magician
  • Elgarette, a Moron priestess
  • Norma, a Ter Moron valkyrie
  • Unaques, a Zarak hunter
  • Billy, a Laurin warlock

I honestly don't know how many classes there are in the game. Each of the spellcasting classes in my party has a different (small) selection of offensive and defensive spells. The priestess has a healing spell which has come in handy.
   
I'm not sure the term "banshee" translated well.
   
As for the races, as the manual gives it, they all branched off humans through magical experimentation. Zaraks are strong and dumb; they used to be slaves. Bes Zaraks are human/Zarak half-breeds. Morons (ironically) are mentally superior but fragile; Ter Morons are half-human, half-Moron. Laurins are supposedly shapechangers created by black magic. Not represented in my party are giants, dwarves, gnomes, Errins, Pheyds, and mutants.
   
The main character's statistics as I close this session.
  
I wouldn't mind some advice from people who have played the game about my party composition. Dolly seems to me the most redundant since Winwood is also an "adventurer." Perhaps I should be looking for a stronger warrior class in that slot.

Several miscellaneous notes:

  • The day/night cycle has a lot of consequences. Different establishments are open during different hours, and more difficult monsters come out at night (or in the rain). The world gets almost completely dark at night.
  • Like any good game of the era, lamplight immediately starts out strong and fades as time goes by. Unlike most games, the entire lamp disappears when you use it.
  • After peaceful encounters, NPCs entirely disappear from the map.
  • Ending a conversation with a "bye" provides a small amount of experience.
  • Winwood has leveled up once since the game began.
   
Yay!
    
  • Time passes quite slowly in the game, at a rate of about 1 minute every 10 seconds. A game "day" takes 4 hours in real time.
  • If Winwood dies, the game doesn't end. Can the game be won without the original character? 
  
If everyone dies, on the other hand....
  
  • The excellent sound includes superb rain and thunderstorm effects. I left the game running while I was making some food and it started to rain and storm in-game. Both were so good that I thought it was actually storming outside. 
  • There are options to kiss and touch your fellow party members. I don't know why I would do this.
   
Neither do my party members, apparently.
   
Hints about anything I have wrong or have overlooked are more than welcome. I do quite like the game so far, but I can definitely see how it will take a long time to win. There's still a lot I don't understand about equipment and combat, but we'll save that for next time.

Time so far: 8 hours
Reload count: 11

 

47 comments:

  1. PetrusOctavianusMay 8, 2016 at 3:55 PM

    "Finally, there's one square that notes a "hole in the wall." None of the many options the game gives you--examine, listen, look in, touch, pull, open, seize in (whatever that means), drink, take, hit, dig, search, read, close, climb, press, kiss, join, enter, item, or spell--seems to do anything, except for "close," which covers the hole with dirt."

    "Insert" is not an option?

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    1. That would have been... glorious...??!!?!?!?!

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    2. What about the 'fire' option? Can you shoot your wand through the hole?

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    3. Stop guys, you're killing me.

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  2. Wow, 8 hours seems like a lot for exploring a single city and getting one level.
    It's astonishing how many chat options there are, I wonder how complex that really is or if you already explored most of it. I also wonder if all NPCs are handcrafted or if there is some generator behind.

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    1. There are a few handcrafted NPCs - some of those can be recruited, some not. However, the vast majority is randomly generated.

      In the near future, we may meet two NPCs that would make life easier but that are not required. Later on, there are a very few NPCs that are actually required to solve the game.

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  3. ...I think both of the inaccessible zones of the city are directly linked to the city dungeon. Same for the cavetrain.

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  4. You have come quite a ways. A couple of comments without spoilers...

    You have indeed missed two secret doors. One unimportant one, one very much more important one (you will immediately know the important one). Go bump into some more walls. Not every small inaccessible cluster of squares should be colored black.

    There will still remain unreachable portions of the city. No, you won't walk over water to reach them.

    Guilds: when you level, you get the permission to increase a stat or one of your magic spheres. You can do this at exactly one guild per permission, so choose wisely. You should really not start spending your permissions until after you have completed the first major quest and have access to the other cities, and even then I'd wait.

    Different guilds increase different stats at different prices, so it's worthwhile to shop around. You'll even find that one guild increases (say) STR by 2 points per permission you spend, while another guild increases it by 3 points, so it obviously makes sense to spend your permissions at that second one.

    However, guilds also allow your mages to acquire new spells ("Allocation") and switch mage classes once they have learned all the spells in one class ("Bestowal"). This you should always do ASAP. Prices differ wildly. Shop around as long as cash is an issue. Happily enough, one of the cheapest guilds for both Allocation and Bestowal is right in Larvin.

    Finally, guilds can also "Restore", which refills your mages' spell points and also restores your stats. This is more important than you might think. Check on your stats if a character gets hit by some magical effect, like being "frozen". Or when the green stuff deeper in the catacombs does unpleasant things to you.

    There again are differences between the prices the guilds charge for Restoring you.

    Some of the options in encounters only make sense later. I hear that high level priests can at some point "pray away" enemies. No XP, but this can be good against tougher enemy groups.

    The maximum attribute you can reach through "Help" is 40, not 20. One point about this: if you have, say, 40 WIS and 30 INT and a mage Helps you (which would normally increase both stats by 1), neither will increase, because you have hit the limit on one of them. If you have the patience, you can plan this and save your "permissions" (which you get by leveling) for after you have hit this "conversation attribute cap". Note that people in cities and in the wilderness increase different stats.

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    1. Party composition: my preference is to only have mages, plus Winwood. Fighter types are not as effective later on. Plus, some of the better weapons can be used by mages. Different mage classes can use different weapons, so you may want to try a diverse assortment of classes.

      That said, I'd say a Banshee is a must - she has great offensive spells, plus when she maxes out her first class, she switches to a class that starts out with an enormously useful spell. (Each mage class switches classes in a different fixed progression.) I'll usually have at least two of them in a party, even three.

      Archmages are also pretty good. If you can get one, keep him (or her).

      A Magician is good for the beginning. His "Strength" spell is useful if you, say, find something that you are too weak to do. Might happen, you know. I'd ditch him after that.

      A Warlock is almost as good as a Banshee. Valkyries can use some decent weapons. I've never found a use for priests, but YMMV - for healing, I'll usually use a Nymph.

      If you have a choice between a guy and a girl, go with the girl. There is something that the ladies will happily do, but the men won't, although it's quite useful. (You'll need to Restore the ladies to see the full consequences.)

      And yes, your first main quest is to reactivate the cavetrain. The wilderness won't advance that quest much. However, there are other good things you can find there, so do go out and have a little outing. (You did hear that you shouldn't be outside the city at night, right?)

      If someone dies, you can resurrect them at the healer. (Don't wait too long, otherwise he'll be too decomposed.) Incidentally, if you meet a dead NPC, it's the decent thing to do to resurrect him or her.

      A resurrected NPC has stats of all 1. Don't be misled by this. Restore him at a guild to see his true stats.

      However, there is indeed something that Winwood himself needs to do, so don't leave him dead.

      Yes, kissing can be useful... though not if Winwood does it.

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    2. Thanks a million for all of this. Your hints an explanations will help considerably as I move forward.

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  5. The game taught us that the dumbest Moron is still smarter than the average human. This message has been brought to you by...

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    1) Save with us! - Make an account with us and let us take charge of YOUR hard-earned money! What better way to ensure that your money is safe than to put it in the hands of a group of nameless strangers who could care less about orderly paperwork? Don't just save your game, save your money! With us, of course.
    2) Invest in us! - Adventuring is risky business. So, our loans to adventurers for them to buy their starting equipment is marked at 1,000%/expedition. Sometimes, they pay. Sometimes, they bail to another city. Sometimes, they outright die on us in the hands of self-announced killers & rapists. That's why we want YOU to give US your money to loan to these fragile vigilantes because who in their right mind wold use their own money, amirite?
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    So, join us now at THE BANK OF CHAOS. We promise you that you may/may not regret it!

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    1. That was just great. Had a good laugh over here.

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    2. Indeed. You have some rim shots now and then, Kenny, but this one was worth it.

      Delete
  6. Okay, this is getting ridiculous. I've tried to post my comment 3 times now, each time it disappeared after a few minutes. Is it stuck in moderation or what?

    "I have no idea how secret doors work in this game."

    They're the 'bump into walls until you find them' type, but thankfully certain light spells make them visible. The easiest is to get an Enchanter class mage, his 8th spell, Flare, can do this.

    "You visit them to "confess your sins" and pay a fee to cleanse your karmic slate. (I'm not yet sure if this has any real impact on gameplay.)"

    Guards attack on sight if you have many grave sins. Other than that I'm not sure if anything else happens, I've always tried to keep them at 0. Maybe shops and services throw you out? Clerics also get the series of Zapsin spells that do the cleansing for free.

    "After some fixed or variable interval (I'm not sure), the character returns to the party with whatever he's found."

    This timer is random, but is based on actions taken, not real time. The fastest way is to enter a submenu (like buying rations) then pressing Enter to cancel it. Doing this a few times should make the character come back.

    "I'm not sure if, having leveled up, you can only improve in one guild per level or whether you can make the rounds of all of them that help your class."

    Nope, one attribute point gets you one session of training, that's it. Don't use Larvin guilds, most of them give 1 increase per point, guilds in later cities offer more bang for your buck.

    "Another has a fountain that serves up cool mineral water--it is perhaps simply there to provide free water."

    There are indeed some water fountains, but most of them are magical. Examine should tell you what it does, but your character might get it wrong if he doesn't have a high Wisdom score. It's probably best to just save before drinking :)

    "Finally, there's one square that notes a "hole in the wall.""

    It's just there to confuse people, doesn't do a thing.

    "Maybe at some point I'll find a water walking spell that allows me to get there."

    I'll just say that all spells are listed in the manual, there are no undocumented ones.

    "I honestly don't know how many classes there are in the game."

    32 classes, but effectively there are only two: fighters and mages. For fighters, the only differences are maximum ability scores and equipment limitations. Each mage class starts with his own spell school and eventually learns all spells in the game, but in a different order.

    "There are options to kiss and touch your fellow party members. I don't know why I would do this."

    Only Nymphs can use them.

    "I wouldn't mind some advice from people who have played the game about my party composition."

    Winwood is necessary for the main plot, unfortunately, he's not a terribly good fighter. You should get:

    - A Witch. Keep recruiting and dismissing them until you find one with the Magic Ears ability (shown in Party/Info/Abilities). This provides a lot of helpful hints. They're also the only class that can use the game's most powerful weapon.
    - An Enchanter for the Location (coordinates), Showmap and Flare (reveal secret doors) spells. In addition they're the class that learns the Elementary spell school first that has some weather modification spells, which will be really useful at that point in the game.
    - A Cleric for healing. They're also the best class at using the Disengage/Pray command, which works very rarely at first, but becomes one the most broken options at high level.

    The last spot should be reserved for a special NPC you'll find in the wilderness, close to Larvin. One of the roads leads directly to him, shouldn't be hard to find.

    You should also explore the mountains surrounding the wilderness area, there's some nice magical equipment hidden there.

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    1. I really appreciate all the hints and tips. A lot of this is poorly documented.

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  7. "There are options to kiss and touch your fellow party members. I don't know why I would do this."

    And here I thought Fire Emblem was the first to let you molest members of your team.

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  8. OK, I give up. This comment engine is just horrible. Here's my comment in a pastebin, maybe this will get through. http://pastebin.com/LKtSqQwV

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Sorry it took so long to get your comment posted. The blog kept flagging it as spam. It lets the most obvious spam through and then quarantines yours.

      Delete
  9. This looks like it'll be a fascinating process. Both playing the game with its odd little nuances, and the reporting of it. I've definitely run into the problem of having to "stagger" discussion when writing about larger games across several updates (most recently The Witcher 3) and that struggle of having to pace yourself with all the pressing topics - combat, level progression, side-questing - you're itching to delineate.

    It's probably a good thing that you're still alternating games, as it'll help to prolong burn out. Nothing like some horribly oblique foreign language RPGs from the mid-80s to help you realize how good you have it with Fates, here.

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  10. Do shops or taverns offer temp. jobs as in Alternate Reality? This is an impressive game, but I am surprised. I have look a lot on the internet about AR but none of these sites mentioned this game.

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    1. No temp jobs. No sidequests as such. And the game is pretty much unknown outside the German-speaking countries because reLine went bankrupt pretty much exactly when the "translation" was finished, so it was never marketed in English. (Scare quotes around "translation" are intentional.) It's got a small cult following in Germany, though.

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    2. That cult following was persistant enough that there's been an unofficial Fate 2 beta going around some twenty years later. Don't know if it can be picked up anywhere anymore, though.

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    3. Even in AR, the jobs were only present in the Amiga and DOS versions, I think.

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  11. Lord High and MightyMay 9, 2016 at 1:46 PM

    Very nice post about this great game! LMFAO :)
    I am very curious if you can finish this game. Unfortunately I had to give up playing on the halfway. I blame the annoying winuae emulator for this! :)

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  12. 3 thieves, 1 scamp, 1 rascal, and 2 murderesses. That's quite an assortment of mustachioed men.

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  13. I played with almost Mage party - Ninja + Winwood and that mages - Witch, Banshee, Warlock, Cleric as a base + 1 another magic class but after some timueyou have to change someone for in-game important char(s) required to finish the game.

    All unaccessable places are reachable via the catacombs under city, but these are not 1 dungeon but 3 or 4 independent dungeon level chains unconnected by each other.
    So if you cast map spell/use wand/use crystal map you will see the area around you, but some places can be a part of independent dungeon accessable from different place and never connected to your present dungeon. But the game has them on one level of map technically.

    Larvin city dungeon is probably one of the most complicated/hard dungeon i have ever played in RPG games (and i finished tens of RPG games since 1990`s).

    Do not worry about train stations, getting trains to work is the first major quest of the game - destruction of M.A., you probably got some info about this quest from conversations with NPC and if not you just did not conversate enought :-D.

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    1. For some reason, I had this idea that the "Cavetrain" would be found in the wilderness around Larvin instead of in the catacombs. Thanks for clearing it up.

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    2. The cavetrain is not *in* the catacombs. The catacombs have something to do with getting it to work. You have actually already visited the cavetrain, but since it's not running right now, your visits were not overly helpful.

      Go talk to a couple of people to find out what to do.

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    3. Yes Gorgasal is right, train network is something different, it is not a Dungeon but just a "travelling between station around the world" feature.... and never forget to buy a ticket if you want to live :-D

      I give you one extremely importatnt hint about advancing and progressing the game.

      Getting informations by conversating with NPC is critical MUST TO DO think. This game has an anti-walkthroug features and you MUST DO the things in-game.

      The dungeons/world changes if you get informations about quests.

      For example, there is a XY coordinate with something buried (must have item) and if you just simply read the walkkthroug, go to this coordinates and click the "dig" option, Winwood will refuse to do that, because you did not finish some quest/got informations.
      And if you do it right way, you will really get through quest/get info Winwood "will know" a will dig up this item.

      This was just an example, one of many in the game, there are more situations like this - you can not speed up game progress by overriding quests or getting info by conversation, you MUSr REALLY do it in-game.

      But the game has an automated conversations topics system, so if you are not blind you always see if some topic ends, that means you will start getting info aboput something, for example about Train system and after some time, after you will successfully (success=you get some info) conversate with enought NPC`s Winwood will not ask about trains any more.
      That automatically means you finished the whole info harvesting for this quest and you are good to go.

      There is always Topic-chain of conversations with NPC to get info-Topic ends.

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  15. Finally caught up to the "present" after a long read through your blog. Thank you for providing many hours of entertainment and education! Saved me from my feeling I needed to play Wizardry 1 through 4, if nothing else.

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    1. Adding to that, that Chet was able to sqeeeze out a post before May 12 was a pleasant surprise. Thanks Chet!

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    2. Unfortunately, it just meant that there was a bigger gap before the next one.

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    3. And thanks, Greg. I'm glad you enjoyed the entries.

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  16. The more you describe this game, the more it sounds like a pre-cursor to Arena and TES- are there any earlier games that try to turn an RPG world, with multiple towns separated by wilderness, into a visceral open-world non-linear game like this? Other than Alternate Reality, of course...

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    1. A much more direct precursor to TES: Arena is a Legends of Valour from 1992. Along with Ultima Underworld and Darklands. As told by one of the Arena creators.

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    2. Makes sense, though I don't know Legends of Valour...

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    3. Legends of Valour was a huge disappoint for me. I remember seeing the ads, and box and reading the manual. The game itself was pretty bad. At least in my opinion. I can't remember all the reasons now, but back then I was not very happy with it.

      The addict may have a different opinion. Will be interesting to see what he thinks.

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    5. The Bard's Tale II and III and Legend of Faerghail all took similar approaches to towns and wilderness (although in the latter, they were only menu towns). Still, I could believe that the author of this game had played nothing but AR:TC.

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    6. Oh, and Might & Magic, of course.

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  17. "if I'm going to keep up a regular posting schedule, we're really going to have to get into the weeds."

    We're with you! If we didn't appreciate minutiae, we probably wouldn't be here to begin with. The details are usually more interesting than the broad-brush strokes anyway.

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  18. Thanks for being willing to put the time into this game. I hadn't heard of it before your first entry but now I'm excited to read more about it. There's a sense of wonder and possibility when it comes to games this large, and just the map of the first town has an interesting design to it. I hope you make it through this one, sounds like it will be quite an accomplishment.

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  19. Wow great!!! You are finally doing it. (maybe you remember that i wrote to you in january 2015 about this game)
    I see, that you have some comprehensible problems with that game, because it's huuuuuuge and quite hard, because you don't get that much help ingame what you have to do. ;-)
    When you solved the problems with the cavetrain you will get access to the main area of the game which felt like 10 times bigger than the location you already know (wilderness around larvin).
    There are a lot of mechanics in the game which are hard to understand to get (the most) a powerful party to complete the game and i can say it's possible to mess up your party in a way, that makes it unpossible to complete it and gives you nearly no other possibilitys than a restart. :-D

    It's great to see, that a lot of your questions are already answered, so maybe i can get some input on one of your next posts about this game.

    Some background informations.. the game was developed by one Person (RIP Olaf Patzenhauer)! He had some help with the graphics and sounds, but the most things were done from himself.
    There are some possibilities to speed up the leveling part at the beginning (you have to get stronger for the dungeon runs). So if you want me to get you some hints about this, just let me know.

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    1. "It's possible to mess up your party in a way, that makes it unpossible to complete it and gives you nearly no other possibilitys than a restart." Yikes. Is there a way you could explain how this could happen without delving into massive spoilers?

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    2. There are at least 2 must-have special characters (not randomly generated, but always present in the game - you wiil found them after some very-major quests so you will know they are something special). Game can not be finished without them.

      There are also 2 more special characters, which i am not 100% sure if you MUST have them in the party sometime, i think one not (for 99%) but there is a one very special in Larvin who is probably MUST HAVE character for some time, after something is done you will not need this char any more for 100%.

      And the point is, you can kick all characters from the party and if you kick the Must-have char he will dissappear.
      I do not know if he will be recruitable from any place (the place where you found him first time for example) later but i think not.

      Better to backup your savegame directory from time to time as you progress far in the game. Maybe every 10 hours of gameplay or something like that.

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    3. Kamikadze told you already the biggest problem with the main characters, which are maybe not identifiable as such important.
      Another reason (which is fixable with grinding up a new group) is to skill the wrong things (improving in guilds and other mechanics) that makes it very hard/impossible to get through later encounters. There are some parts in the game, where you can't leave the areas to refill stuff, so when you stuck there the game is over and you have to restart one of the earlier savegames)
      Just one general thing about the game. I would say to complete it you would need 5-10 or more days playtime, when you know what you do (i didn't completed it yet, so it's just a valuation).

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