Friday, November 18, 2016

Fate: Inventory

Another sprawling dungeon begins.
     
I had a major project due on Thursday, and I should have been working on it exclusively all week. But I've long passed the point that I can concentrate on one thing for an indefinite time period, not even if my livelihood depends on it, so I allowed myself to take periodic Fate breaks in between my work. I would typically work for 45 minutes and then allow myself 30 minutes of gaming, although if I were being honest, those 30 minutes occasionally got extended, and if I were being really honest, I downloaded Dishonored 2 at some point, too, and may have even played the first couple of levels.

Anyway, I found the Fate breaks remarkably soothing. The entire time, I was mapping--first, the huge city of Valvice, then two huge levels of the dungeons beneath Valvice. But I didn't mind. After 45 minutes of crunching data and writing expository text, I was happy to mindlessly fill in lines on a virtual piece of graph paper. I looked forward to the breaks desperately.

Finally, on Thursday night, I finished the project. (Or, I should say, I finished enough of it that I could punt the rest of it down the pike a little ways. I don't remember the last time a project was really "finished.") I thought I'd reward myself by letting myself play Fate for a couple of hours. Almost immediately, I got annoyed with it. For Quest #1, I had to map seven huge catacomb levels, and then the game immediately thrusts me into who-knows-how-many huge levels of yet another city for Quest #2? Did the developers have no sense of pacing? Maybe alternate long quests with comparatively short quests? Do there really need to be this many frigging monsters? Could they at least have the decency not to re-spawn right in front of you?

Often, I've worried at my inconsistency on this blog, sometimes saying that I enjoy mapping, other times punishing a game for being too large and sprawling. Part of me always knew that my reaction to these game elements depended largely on my mood and what else I was doing. I just don't think I've observed such a change in reactions to the same game before. Fate tends to take you to extremes. There are times I can't take another minute of it and times that I want to play it exclusively until I'm done.
    
The very large city of Valvice was fun for a while, and then it wasn't.
     
I agree with Zardas and probably won't try to map the entire outer world, but that didn't stop me from mapping a little of it and trying to figure out how the Cavetrain route works. In the northwest, you can see the Larvin area that I did map in total. There are two stations in Larvin, and after that it goes to Moonfield before leaving the "starting" area. Desert Falls is outdoors, but the stop in Perdida (technically called Carmac Place) is inside. Moonlake is outside, and then Cassida has two stops inside the city. Deathstone is outdoors, followed by two stops in Valvice. After Valvice, the train has three stops in a row in wilderness areas--Crying Fields, Demolon Station, and Spectre Wood--before hitting a city again in Fainvil. After Fainvil, it's back to the starting area in Laronnes and then Larvin again.
     
A Cavetrain route map on top of the part of the world I've already mapped.
     
Here's what would make me really happy: if you told me that every city has a Cavetrain stop. That would mean I've mapped all the cities and I know where all the guilds and services are. I don't know if I can take another one as big as Cassida and Valvice.

Valvice had a "Buccaneer's Den" theme going, and it was the most unique of the cities so far. Its NPCs were all rough-and-ready characters like pirates, corsairs, and buccaneers, sprinkled with brutish enemies. No spellcasters approached me the entire trip. There were chapels of the healing kind in town but no churches of the "repent your sins" kind. There were also no treasures on the map, which was unusual. There was a surfeit of taverns.
     
And this was the nicest tavern in town.
     
A "prison island" held a kind-of prison with a small 3 x 1 cell and a fixed combat in it, but nothing too difficult. A slab on a wall evoked a voice that repeated "19,15," which were the coordinates of some stairs down.

I also explored outdoors for a while, thinking I at least might map the perimeter of the world, but the sheer number of dwarves, imps, and whatnot that the game threw at me was infuriating. In some places, the game "seeds" encounters from a dump truck. Walk, fight, turn, fight, check a jewel because you can't remember where you are, fight, walk, fight, pause to get your bearings, fight. And so forth until you quit and reload so you can get a 45-second break.

Meanwhile, I thought I was doing good economically. Battles with a few dwarves or imps might net 20,000 piaster or so. Every once in a while, a dwarf would successfully steal some of my money, but I assumed it was just a few hundred piaster each time and I let it go. When I finally checked, it turns out that the dwarves were stealing hundreds of thousands. I lost a ton of money when I thought I was making it.
    
This is going to take a little longer.
    
All this time, I was trying to get new quest clues from NPCs. The outdoor NPCs talked about unfriendly mages wandering around Cassida at night, which is particularly funny because everyone in Cassida is unfriendly. I heard of some place called the "Forbidden Zone," where "every creature who isn't in the service of Thardan will be killed by the deadly spheres." (Reminder: Thardan is the "big bad" of the game.) Sailors in Valvice spoke of a mysterious island "beyond the great sea" and a city called Katloch found on it. Reaching the island means navigating whirlpools, erratic winds, and giant squids.
    
A hint about a potential ally.
    
Most of the hints in Valvice had to do with the dungeon beneath the city, called the Grottos of Gahmos.  NPCs spoke of marvelous treasures there--and the failure of treasure-seekers to return. The few that have returned have come out insane. At some previous time, a mage named Mandrag appeared in Valvice, pursued by Thardan. The city thought it was going to be sacked by Thardan's army for harboring Mandrag, but Thardan's warriors mysteriously disappeared. Mandrag then entered the Grottos of Gahmos, saying he was searching for a strange stone, and he was never seen again.

When the hints dried up, I entered the Grottos myself. The dungeon has interesting textures, with walls covered with vines and pools of blood or something. Monsters are things like giant ants, spiders, and frogs, as well as humanoid insects called "myrmidons." They tend to attack in small groups, but they're capable of poison and disease. Moreover, the myrmidon warriors have ridiculously powerful physical attacks that can immediately kill some of my lower-hit point characters.
   
Here's a bunch of them at once.
     
I've only explored the first two levels so far, but they're huge and sprawling. Copious fountains help with the poison and disease. The wall textures are complicated enough that it's easy to miss doors when you view them from the side, which is kind of annoying.
    
The second of perhaps 8 levels under Valvice. The red is pools of blood or something that looks like blood.
    
I've been making use of a couple of spells that I only recently acquired, both in the "Elementary" category. "Zaptraps" creates a bubble around the party that makes them immune to traps. This was particularly useful in one corridor where every step was a trap. Unfortunately, the spell doesn't really do what it says: it doesn't zap the traps. It just keeps the party from setting them off. They remain active and will still slam you if you walk over the same area once the spell has run out.

"Teleports" deactivates teleporters for your duration of time on a level. It would have been useful in one puzzle back in the Alarian Vaults.
   
The Grottos are full of vegetation and pools of blood.
    
There's some puzzle going on in this dungeon that is ultimately going to involve a paint can and a black box, but I'll cover that in the future. For now, let's talk about equipment in general. As I've remarked before, I find it enormously rewarding to find equipment upgrades, and games can maximize this sense of reward by maximizing both the number of characters and the number of equipment slots. Fate, offering 7 characters and slots for armor, headgear, gloves, and footwear (though oddly no rings or amulets) does better than most.

Each character has slots for both primary and secondary weapons and primary and secondary armor. The intention in the latter case seems to be to allow a cloak or cape on top of a suit of armor, but the game allows you to put anything into those two slots, in any order.
    
My assassin wears a War Coat over a suit of Silverscale.
    
I also like games that make it easy to evaluate weapons and armor, and here Fate is a mixed bag. It offers an "examine" option that provides statistics as well as an extremely useful list of people in your current party who can equip the item. A variety of values that describe the item's positive effects must be balanced against its weight, as overloaded characters lose effectiveness fast.

The first problem is that the meaning behind the values isn't entirely clear. I've been through the manuals several times, and I don't see the statistics defined anywhere. "AC" is pretty clear, and I think that "active magic" is actually magic resistance (?). "WC," "DC," and "SC" would seem to be modifiers to weapon class, dexterity class, and skill class, respectively. In general, I think you want high positive values in all of these fields.
     
Winwood's Star Cloak adds to a number of attributes and can be worn by several party members.
    
The second problem is that weapons often have special attacks that go beyond what the statistics indicate. For example, Winwood's "Ice Sword" not only hits multiple enemies instead of just one but also does "freezing" damage. Dichara's "Argondagger" is capable of instant kills. Elgarette's "Angelstaff" is capable of "possessing" enemies. (What this does is itself a mystery, because such "possessed" enemies still fight the party.) Looking at the statistics sheets doesn't make it clear when a weapon affects a stack of enemies or when it does special damage. You have to figure that out through experimentation.
    
Nothing about the Ice Sword's statistics indicates that it freezes enemies or affects all enemies in a group.
    
I assume the same is true of some armor pieces. Is it possible that my witch's "Icegloves" don't do some cold damage or protect against cold damage? Are Winwood's "Flameboots" just an odd name? Does his "Luckmail" not do something related to chance?

Generally, I've been populating my characters' armor and weapon slots with things I find in the dungeons. Recently, a commenter alerted me to the fact that Cressida's smithies probably have items that outperform what I'm wearing, but I haven't had a chance to get back there.

Regardless of their statistics and relative merit, the names of the items in Fate are fun and evocative. Winwood fights with an Ice Sword and a Crystalbow. My enchantress has a "Medustaff," which has a chance of turning enemies to stone. My witch fights with a Crimson Whip and a Wizz Bow. My assassin is equipped with Gord's Axe, which has a range up to 40 yards, but that doesn't compete with my warlock's Crimstaff, which can hit enemies up to 45 yards and returns if thrown. The same warlock strides into battle with a Lichrobe over a suit of Gordscale; other spellcasters have Manerobes, Mage Cloaks, Star Cloaks, and Holy Gowns, supplemented with items like Kingsboots, Cloud Boots, and Archgloves.

I'm not making very effective use of potions. I find them all the time, including healing potions of various levels, and those that increase attributes or resistances 1 or 2 points temporarily. If I just drank them as I found them, I'd probably be better off than hoarding them.

I also have more limited-use, miscellaneous magical items than I know what to do with. The manual covers most of them. My warpipes--I must have 8 sets by now--damage all enemies moderately, but a lot of them save against the damage. My "plunger" is a fantastically useful device that yanks a distant party into melee range. I have oakleaves that simultaneously heal and improve defenses. Clover eliminates hunger, thirst, fatigue, and "vitamin deficiency," which I didn't know was actually implemented until I read that. A "starwand" will heal poisoning and disease. As with potions, I need to be making better use of these items instead of letting them pile up.
    
Some of Winwood's miscellaneous items.
    
The little meters on the main screen help you assess the total value of your items. I guess Winwood may have outgrown the Ice Sword--which I found early in the game--and might be ready for something more powerful. Elgarette's "Angelstaff" must be pretty weak, since her weapon class is low on the meter, though it is tough to find weapons that a priestess can use. Almost everyone could use something that does a better job on their dexterity class. On the positive side, a few of my characters are about as high as they can go with their armor classes.

Miscellaneous notes:

  • Enough with this:

     
  • Some party members get ornery if you try to double-check the first character's assessment of what a fountain does:
    
    
Expect the next post to be titled "Journey to" or "Journey through" something or other, because what else am I going to do with a "J"? In the meantime, I'll make a decision on Knightmare.

Time so far: 89 hours

26 comments:

  1. "Here's what would make me really happy: if you told me that every city has a Cavetrain stop. That would mean I've mapped all the cities and I know where all the guilds and services are. I don't know if I can take another one as big as Cassida and Valvice."

    Good news - bad news situation here. Good news is that there isn't another city as big as these two. Bad news is that like you said in one of the earliest posts, the game has four cities and five villages and you've only visited 3-3 so far.

    "When I finally checked, it turns out that the dwarves were stealing hundreds of thousands. I lost a ton of money when I thought I was making it."

    Yep, they steal a percentage of money, which is automatically pooled to one character if you visit any shop. That's why banks exist. I opened a general account which is accessible from every bank in the world and dumped most of the money into it when I came across a bank.

    "here's some puzzle going on in this dungeon that is ultimately going to involve a paint can and a black box, but I'll cover that in the future."

    Huh? A black box is a combat item. The other item needed here is something else. Just think about what tool you need for painting other than the paint itself.

    ""AC" is pretty clear, and I think that "active magic" is actually magic resistance (?). "WC," "DC," and "SC" would seem to be modifiers to weapon class, dexterity class, and skill class, respectively. In general, I think you want high positive values in all of these fields."

    Many items provide bonuses to the secondary stats (anti-magic, anti-stone, etc.) Active magic is the sum of these. WC is physical damage done, DC is attack avoidance and SC is attack accuracy.

    "Looking at the statistics sheets doesn't make it clear when a weapon affects a stack of enemies or when it does special damage. "

    The game calls weapons that affect an entire stack "melee weapons," visible on the examine screen. But special damage is indeed needs to be experimented with.

    "I assume the same is true of some armor pieces. Is it possible that my witch's "Icegloves" don't do some cold damage or protect against cold damage? Are Winwood's "Flameboots" just an odd name? Does his "Luckmail" not do something related to chance?"

    Alas, nothing special like that, they're just a bunch of random names. All they do is provide boosts to secondary stats, but the only way to find out is to compare before/after stats.

    "My assassin is equipped with Gord's Axe, which has a range up to 40 yards, but that doesn't compete with my warlock's Crimstaff, which can hit enemies up to 45 yards and returns if thrown."

    That's damage modifier, not throw range. Some weapons can also directly hit enemies at 2-4 yards (the Crim Whip reaches to 12 but the damage is pitiful)

    "Some party members get ornery if you try to double-check the first character's assessment of what a fountain does:"

    If they do that, you'll know the first assessment was correct. Low stat (maybe wisdom?) characters can get it seriously wrong, though Winwood usually manages.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. I should have realized those distances were too high, although it is true that those weapons seem to affect enemies further away than most weapons do.

      Disappointing about icegloves, etc.

      Delete
  2. 1) the city dungeons have always 7 levels 2) you have now only 1 big city to map

    ReplyDelete
  3. What about a gimlet in the 'Son of a Bitch'?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I doubt it - at this rate, I expect the "Won" posting to line up perfectly with "W".

      Delete
    2. Rangerous the SecondNovember 19, 2016 at 8:31 PM

      ...or "Quit when you're ahead" with "Q"?

      Delete
  4. Manual page 28 :-D

    WC - Weapon class
    AC - Armor class
    SC - Skill class
    DC - Dexterity class

    To score a hit in battle the character must first overcome the opponent`s DC with his SC or he will miss. Second, he must surpass the opponent`s AC with his WC. Only when both of these conditions are met the opponent is hurt (and vice versa if opponent attacks you).

    Grottos means another large 7 levels, but it is a straightforward dungeon in comparison witj Larvin catacombs, there are no independent dungeons mixed together, just one compact dungeon.




    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi CRPG Master,
    I dont know if you already know this website for Fate, it could be helpful, but it is entirely in german... http://www.fate2.de/fate1/

    ReplyDelete
  6. It boggles my mind how this game fits into two Amiga floppy disks. That's 1.75 megabytes. There are so many bitmaps, sounds and huge maps.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rangerous the SecondNovember 19, 2016 at 9:23 PM

      IKR, the scope is absolutely amazing. (Not to worry, no spoilers follow) With memory instrumentation and hex editing across 4 complete parties of 28 changing characters, I've identified 11 races and 32 classes, 8 special abilities, 74 unique weapons, 58 types of armor, 40 kinds of headgear, 32 glove types, 23 different footgear, 88 potion types, and 58 item types. Beyond unique characters, each class and gender has its own image which also changes with age. Not even considering mapping, it seems as if a lifetime of experimentation would be needed to work through all of the unique effects. In addition, the translation can add its own special charm.

      Delete
    2. Making large maps actually doesn't take much space. It's all positional data. But to your point, the sounds and textures DO crank up the filesize.

      Delete
  7. "Almost immediately, I got annoyed with it."

    It's funny you say that, I have often the same feeling while playing this. I find it great as a side game to play though. And I find it easy to keep track after a break as long as I keep notes, I often struggle to get back to games I took a pause from but this one is easy to get back to.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Other things you could do with J:
    Use Jazz as a very. Ex. "Jazzing up Fate"

    Jactitate (Jactitating around Fate)

    Ok, I'll stop before you get annoyed. But Jade as a verb might work: "1. trans. To make a jade of (a horse); to exhaust or wear out by driving or working hard; to fatigue, weary, tire."

    (Jazz is the only one I thought of on my own, the rest I skimmed the OED for)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Jaded by Fate" has a nice ring to it.

      Delete
    2. Jilted by Fate?
      Jabbed by Fate?

      Delete
    3. Fate: Jacitating between jilted and jaded on my journey

      Delete
    4. Jamming along with Fate.

      Jousting with Fate.

      Delete
    5. I have this feeling you all are just going to keep posting to this thread until I publish something new.

      Delete
    6. We'll be generous and give you another day, and then the wordsmithing shall begin... ;)

      Delete
    7. Fate: Jerking Around.

      At the rate it's going it might not be far off.

      Delete
    8. Fate: Just End Already!

      Delete
  9. Amiga Forever, the 'official' (apparently) Amiga emulator is available for US$2.50 as part of a Groupees bundle that is currently running:

    https://groupees.com/remute15

    Don't know whether Chet or anyone else here is interested in trying Amiga Forever, but I thought I'd point it out in case anyone was, especially as the current game here is an Amiga game.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I used it a long time ago, for something or other. It worked well for that one game, but I had problems with it for others. These days, I've learned to say things like, "There's no way to configure WinUAE to work correctly with this game," and then commenters respond with custom configurations all set up for me.

      Delete
    2. "These days, I've learned to say things like, "There's no way to configure WinUAE to work correctly with this game," and then commenters respond with custom configurations all set up for me."

      Cunningham's Law at work!

      Delete
  10. Obdurate Hater of Rhythm GamesDecember 4, 2016 at 1:52 PM

    Here is some good news for fans of big, futuristic vehicles and classic games about them: Mechwarrior is coming back! http://www.pcgamer.com/mechwarrior-5-announced/

    I beat Mechwarrior 2 and played part of four, and those were great games. I hope that this game and Star Citizen can recreate the fun of destroying things with giant futuristic vehicles in the same way as the previous Mechwarriors and Wing Commander.

    I also started playing a translated game about shooting things with futuristic vehicles yesterday, coincidentally enough: Metal max Returns. Great game, very fun and creative and really mixes R.P.G.s and futuristic tanks well.

    ReplyDelete

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