Thursday, January 5, 2017

Fate: One Piece Found, and Close on Another One

'Cause ghosts are entirely unbelievable in a fantasy world of monsters and magic.
  
Let's recap where we are. My character, Winwood, has been sucked into the Fate universe from the real world. This was done by the evil mage Thardan, through methods unknown and for reasons unknown. So far, Winwood has been able to avoid Thardan and has, by repairing the Cavetrain, managed to escape Thardan's plan to keep him boxed in the small starting zone.

My explorations of the wider world (400 x 640 squares, with plenty of cities and dungeon levels of around 60 x 60 squares) has revealed that to reach Thardan, I'll have to enter his Forbidden Zone. To survive its horrors, I will need a mage from Cassida, equipped with the Moonwand, as part of my party. To free Bergerac, the Cassidan mage, from his stone form, I need to explore the multi-level dungeon Agyssium (in the city of Katloch) and retrieve Bergerac's heart. Coincidentally, the same Moonwand is needed to eenter Agyssium.

The Moonwand has been split into seven pieces, each with its own name, and my most recent stages of gameplay have been focused on collecting intelligence on the seven pieces and finding them. As this session began, I had learned a bit about the Dreamstone, the Crimcross, the Marbeye, and the Spiralgem.

You may recall that after my last post, I had resolved to stop wasting so much time mapping and get down to business. But at the time I made that resolution, I was in the midst of mapping a ring of mountains, and I decided I needed to finish that up. It turned out to be a very large area.
    
And there went another 4 hours.
    
When I was done with that, I made my way to the closest city, Perdida, determined to pump its inhabitants for every bit of information they had. You may recall from earlier postings that each successive hint is in the hands of a specific character class, and you have to get them in a fairly precise order. Of course, you don't know what class holds the next clue, so you have to keep trying different classes until you get lucky. In my case, it was a witch who knew that the Perdidans had intelligence on the Crimcross in the first place. Once in Perdida, I had to find a ranger to learn that the Crimcross is buried in the Withering Woods, and then a druid to learn that "an old man on the shores of the Moonlake" knew more about it.
    
It would be nice to meet one NPC who doesn't talk in all exclamation points.
    
So far, so good. From my previous mapping, I knew where the Withering Woods were--I had found the sign. I also guessed that the Moonlake was the large crescent-shaped lake near Perdida, which I had already fully mapped. I returned to it and hunted for an old man. I soon found a druid, but once I had his hint--make an offering to the Oracle at Demon Tower--I realized that I'd already met him when mapping the Moonlake in the first place.

I had no idea where Demon Tower was, so I decided to visit some of the other cities to learn about the other pieces. That first entailed getting my ship, which I had parked far to the east of Perdida. I set out east, mapping a new route to my ship's berth, when I serendipitously ran into Demon Tower.
    
Moonlake to the west, the Withering Woods in the middle, and Demon Tower to the east.
     
Demon Tower was a small mountain maze ending at a well in the center. Dead-end passages on the outside of the maze led to two messages. The first I found said, "Dig around the lonely rock at Zabros Point." At this point, I didn't even know I was at Demon Tower, but it was an easy quest--I had mapped Zabros Point a long time ago, and it was just a few clicks to the south. I visited, found a single rock square, dug, and found a gold coin.

Returning to the Tower, I kept mapping the perimeter and found a second message that said, "Drop the goldcoin into the Oracle's well." This was my first confirmation that I was, in fact, at Demon Tower.
    
Then this made it a bit more explicit.
    
Eventually, I reached the well itself, dropped the goldcoin, and received directions to the Crimcross: find the southern edge of the Moonlake, then walk 24 steps east and 11 steps south.
    
     
The southern edge of the Moonlake wasn't hard to identify; there's a single southermost square. But there were other problems with the directions, including the fact that forests block you from actually walking 24 steps east and 11 steps south. Even if that wasn't a problem, that precise number of steps places you in the middle of a forest square. If you go 12 steps south, on the other hand, you reach the dead-end of a twisty forest path, and I figured that's where I needed to go.

A previous clue had said that the Crimcross would only appear at midnight, so I did a little mapping until the appointed time, dug, and sure enough found the first piece of the Moonwand.
    
Yay!
    
I returned to the task of marching to the far eastern end of the world to retrieve my ship. On the way, I mapped the rest of a road and was surprised to find it end at a new city: Mernoc. Somehow, I had the idea that I'd already discovered all the cities. The inhabitants were all hostile and very difficult (capable of one-hit kills of my characters), so I left it for later, hoping that I don't need to find any hints about the Moonwand there. If I do, I'll do it last.

Back in my ship, I mapped a couple of small islands on my way to Pirate Rock, where I hoped to find more information about Captain Bloodhawk and the Marbeye. It wasn't long before I received hints that his spirit is said to haunt Fainvil and that when in Fainvil, Bloodhawk only slept in "the best and finest beds."
    
As does my party, since I have nothing else to spend money on.
    
I figured this would be an easy one. Fainvil has only one inn, so I visited and rented out the finest room. I thought I'd have an encounter with his ghost or something. Alas, nothing happened. I wandered around and asked for hints from NPCs and taverns but got nothing. I feel like I'm close on this one.

If I can't solve it soon, I still have a few leads. Back in Laronnes, the mage Rinoges has the Dreamstone and I guess I just need to keep trying to enchant him until I succeed. I know some fairies on Spawn Island have the Spiralgem. I don't know where Spawn Island is, but that gives me an excuse to do more mapping. As for the rest of the pieces, I still haven't asked for hints in Larvin, Valvice, or Katloch (I assume Cassida is a waste of time).

I am quite determined to finish this game before April comes around and I've been playing it for a full year.

Time so far: 186 hours

****

Let's talk about a few other games. Fer & Flamme is driving me crazy. All the weapon-buying that I did when I started the game doesn't seem to have carried over to the game itelf, so I had to buy new weapons (with a greatly reduced pool of money), but I still can't even inflict damage in combat, let alone win it. NPCs keep popping up and saying "bonjour!" but never offer anything substantive--they must have a purpose, right? The game crashes at the drop of a hat and does this fun thing where it suddenly won't recognize my save disk; I don't know whether to blame the game or the emulator. And of course there's the horrible interface. I don't want to continue with it, but I don't have enough material assembled on it to give it a fair GIMLET, and I'm not leaving another game hanging on the list with no rating.

I'd appreciate hearing from anyone who's played The Dark Wars for the Atari ST. I can't find documentation on the game, and it's a bit confusing. I'm not even sure it meets my definitions as an RPG; it looks like one, but the character sheet offers no evidence of experience or level. It seems to come with a pre-created main character named "Adam," and I don't know if there's some way to change that. 

I feel like if I can can just get past a few difficult games, the rest of the upcoming list looks easier and fun.

35 comments:

  1. Congratulations on finding that piece!

    About Fer&Flamme's stability issues and other bugs: sadly, I can confirm you this is most likely not emulation related, as it was also my (painful) experience on the real computer back then - and actually the only aspect of the game I remember distinctly.

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    1. It's probably earned a "fair" GIMLET of 0 for being unplayable, then.

      Delete
  2. Holy moley this game is so obtuse I'd swear the author hated RPGs and made the worst example of one as a troll.

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  3. I see Phantasie II is upcoming.
    Which version will you be playing?
    If you want to play the same party in all three games, as well as having superior sound and graphics, the Atari ST version is the best choice.

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    1. No, I think I'll probably go for the C64 version. I never have any problems with that emulator. Since I already covered P1 and P3, transferring parties isn't a consideration.

      Delete
  4. "The inhabitants were all hostile and very difficult (capable of one-hit kills of my characters), so I left it for later, hoping that I don't need to find any hints about the Moonwand there. If I do, I'll do it last."

    Alas, you'll need to visit here. It's pretty small though, about Laronnes-sized, and linear. But get hints first.

    "I figured this would be an easy one. Fainvil has only one inn, so I visited and rented out the finest room. I thought I'd have an encounter with his ghost or something. Alas, nothing happened. I wandered around and asked for hints from NPCs and taverns but got nothing. I feel like I'm close on this one."
    Indeed. Just keep sleeping in that inn and walk a minute or two between rests. Winwood will eventually pipe up. But get the Dreamstone before you continue, you'll need it.

    ---

    I say just mark F&F as Unplayable and walk away. (How's the leg by the way?) You've wasted enough time on that crappy interface as it is.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. The knee turned out not to be a big deal, fortunately. A week of rest and a few special exercises and it was fine.

      I'm reluctant to bail on F&F after I gave it a number and got started with it. I'll try to tough it out for a second entry, at least.

      I slept in that damned inn 20 times and tried every room to no avail. I'm back in Laronnes going for the Dreamstone now.

      Delete
    2. Having the Dreamstone might help you getting hints in your dreams when sleeping in inns. I'm just sayin'.

      And the fairies don't live on *Spawn* Island, but on *Fawn* Island.

      Delete
    3. Well I had the Dreamstone by then, so maybe it's strictly necessary for getting the event.

      Spawn Island is a fitting name though. :)

      Delete
    4. I'm hoping that F&F is able to be explored a bit - I think these early titles from outside the US have a lot of archival value.

      Delete
  5. Mappy New Y- wait, I did that one already.

    Congrats on making progress. Then again, getting all of that cartography done is progress of a sort, as is collecting all those clues. I'm sure you'll defeat Fate before April; I'm more concerned you'll run out of alphabet first, and have to move onto numbers and then various unicode characters after that.

    (And here's hoping EotB2 and M&M3 treat you better than Knightmare did. Sounded like quite the ordeal.)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. EotB2 is basically like the first one except more challenging, so that should mean Chet likes it about the same as the first one but a little more. So, not a beautiful undiscovered gem for him, given that the Dungeon Master clones aren't his favourite subgenre, but pleasant enough.

      I haven't played M&M3 - I somehow skipped straight from 2 to 4 - but I understand it's much more like 2 than 4 so I'm expecting a similar score.

      Lots of satisfying grid-based mapping in both games. :-)

      Delete
    2. MM3 is much more like 4 and 5, but harder. I wish it had been more like 2, though

      Delete
    3. MM3 is a much more streamlined game though than these experimental and obscure games, so it should be a nice, smooth experience.

      Then there's Magic Candle II too -- '91 is going to be a long year.

      Delete
    4. Magic Candle II is awesome. One of the few RPGs I bothered to map or record coordinates of groves and thickets.

      Delete
  6. I found the following on a forum (you probably have as well)

    ---

    I received a mail from olivier cordoleani and if he is a graphic designer of the atari version, he said it to me :

    "Fer et Flamme ATARI n'est pas sorti . Ce n'était pas Hervé Lange le programmeur de la version ATARI et il a confié le developpement de l'adaptation à une personne qui n'est pas arrivé à finir le jeu.
    Parallelement, Hervé travaillait sur le scénario de BAT et sur l'apprentissage du GFA basic sur ATARI. UBISOFT nous a encouragé a faire BAT au lieu de finir FER & Flamme."

    ---

    Makes it sound like it truly was shovelware.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. If I'm interpreting that correctly, it sounds like the Atari ST version was never released and Ubisoft moved on, but that doesn't say anything about the Amstrad CPC version, which as far as we know was complete.

      Delete
    2. Just in case you're not 100% sure of your french:

      "Fer & Flamme was never released on Atari. Hervé Lange wasn't the coder on the Atari version and he outsourced the port to someone who didn't manage to finish the game.
      At the same time, Hervé was working on the script of B.A.T. and learning GFA Basic on Atari. Ubi Soft suggested that we do B.A.T. instead of finishing Fer & Flamme."

      Delete
  7. Regarding Fer&Flamme equipment, I think someone commented the initial "purchase" only set stats and you had to buy more once the game started. So that may have been expected, if still really weird.

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    1. Right. I wasn't clear. I did find a weapons store in the game and bought new weapons, but with much less money to spend since I'd spent most of it on the phantom equipment at the game's beginning. But even having done that, I can't make a dent in combat. Not sure what I'm doing wrong.

      Delete
  8. I have uploaded the Dark Wars manual, hope it helps: http://pastebin.com/PfPU19bT

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It helps immensely. It did eventually find the game document on the disk (who titles the manual "README"?!) but something was screwed up on the display and it cut off the last few words of each line. This is great. Thank you!

      Delete
  9. For what it's worth, your posts on this game are really enjoyable -- I've always been fond of explorers' reports from anyone taking a journey into unmapped territory or walking paths seldom trod.

    I hope that goes some way toward making the slog easier -- but then again, it often sounds like you're actually enjoying the game on some level(s). Does the sheer scale and unmapped hugeness of Fate elicit a sense of wonder from the jaded adventurer (that's why I liked Faery Tale Adventure), or are you enjoying the game despite those things, do you think?

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    1. Seconded--while I'm not sure this extraordinarily in-depth examination of Fate is necessary as part of the blog's historical examination of the genre, I find it hugely entertaining on its own merits and very much look forward to Fate posts.

      I, too, will be very curious to see some high-level discussion of what makes it work--because it does sound like Chet is finding it pleasant enough, on the whole, despite not finding the combat especially interesting. Is it simply the attraction of the scope (as you say, PK)? Is there something compelling about the story? Is there a consistency of theme and atmosphere that other games lack? How does Fate compare to, say, Fallthru?

      Unrelated: There's a lot about the game that brings Wizardry VII to mind for me--from the visuals to the quirky puzzles to the vast wilderness world. Is it just me? Could there have been some influence on D.W. Bradley?

      Delete
  10. As always, I deeply admire your unique combination of seemingly endless determination and great writing skills. I've tried reading other LPs, but haven't found one that even comes close. Thanks for playing all those games for me I'll probably never have the time to play.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I see Roadwar 2000 has popped up on the "upcoming games" list. While its a great game, it isn't an RPG.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. It's one of those ones where character development and inventory management and derived statistics are all there, but spread differently (in this case 'gang' and 'vehicles')?

      You have encounters with different options, exploration, a main quest. It's not a traditional rpg but I think Chet should give it a go and see whether it feels like enough of one. I think the closest equivalent he's played so far is King's Bounty?

      Delete
    2. In his original post on AutoDuel Chet said that it isn't an RPG and I think there was some discussion about it at some other point were most people also said they didn't think of it as one. So is this an oversight or has Chet changed his mind. I hope for the latter, because I never played the game would like to read a bit more about it.

      Delete
    3. A year exactly is what I spent playing v8 of PLATO DND - a hell of a long year. Fate sounds like a far more varied and fun experience.

      Delete
    4. 1. I recognize that Roadwar 2000 is a stretch as an RPG. I want to check it out because I have some memories of it from the 1980s. I never really understood what I was doing back then.

      2. Nathan's blog deserves a lot more attention:

      http://crpgadventures.blogspot.com/

      He's putting my feeble efforts on the PLATO games to shame.

      Delete
    5. Speaking on which my english skills weren't really up to it when I was 10 so for the longest time I thought that "arms master" had something to do with having beefy muscles. :D

      Delete
    6. Thanks Chester, but I'm somewhat regretting my completism. The last couple of PLATO games have devolved into months-long slogs, and the blog has suffered for it.

      Delete
    7. If you mean it's suffered because your entries are less frequent, that's true -- but otherwise I've been enjoying the depth of your coverage a lot. (Maybe I should comment more often to say so, but without firsthand experience of those games it's hard to say much beyond "Keep going!" and other vague platitudes of encouragement.)

      Delete
    8. Thanks man - the holiday season is murder on my blogging/writing schedule, but I'll be back to it soon. Unfortunately, I'm no closer to finishing Moria than I was a month ago. Chester might finish Fate before I'm done with Moria.

      Delete

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