Monday, September 11, 2017

Might and Magic III: Maps and Madness

I'm sorry. I couldn't help it.
     
Well, despite what I said last time about picking up the pace, I didn't accomplish a lot since my last entry--basically just two more outdoor areas and two dungeons. My list of things to "return to when I'm stronger" is getting longer by the minute.

Corak's notes on area A2 promised several encounters: a house where a bodiless voice offered treasures, a shrine "sacred only to the orcs" and one of the "five ancient pyramids." It oddly said nothing about Castle Whiteshield (which I couldn't yet enter because of the lack of a "Crusader" skill for my characters), nor about the city of Baywatch in the southwestern corner. The area mostly held more orc and and goblin encounters, which by now were like brushing away gnats.
    
Corak prepares me for this area.
    
Area B2, meanwhile, was called "The Valley of the Trolls," and it had tougher encounters with ogres and sprites capable of casting "Curse" on my characters--a condition only cured via a visit to the temples. (One cute thing about the game is the way the character portraits change when subjected to a condition like curse, disease, or insanity. A couple of my characters have a naturally-distressed look, though, so I often think there's something wrong when there isn't.) For special encounters, Corak spoke of "two wise elders that live in the solitude of the mountains."

I explored the two maps simultaneously in east-west strips. Highlights of the encounters:
       
  • A shack with the disembodied voice mentioned by Corak. I paid 10,000 for a variety of weapons and armor. 
  • A dungeon with a locked door for which I needed a key to enter.
  • A few nooks in the mountains with buried treasure, including magic scrolls.
  • An "insect shrine" that told me to donate at all of the temples in the game, then return.
     
Why a shrine "sacred only to the orcs" wants me to donate at the temples in town is anyone's guess.
     
  • The two "wise elders" of Corak's journal, living in nearby shacks in the mountains. One told of Greywind the Illusionist and Blackwind the Spellbinder, two friends (and former rulers of Terra) who went to war after they were seduced by the same mermaid. Now eternally trapped in their keeps, their thrones are said to grant great power on their respective wedding days. 
  • The other, Guiltar the Wise, told me that the headquarters of the Moo Cult is the Cathedral of Carnage. The priests guard two Ultimate Power Orbs, captured from a vampire king.
     
      
  • Spawn points for the ogres, sprites, orcs, and goblins. Destroying these continued to provide the highest experience in the game so far.
  • A shack in which a message told me that Icarus, the last unicorn, has been imprisoned in some sort of magical tomb. I need to find the Golden Alicorn and return it to the shack to release him. It's supposed to be somewhere in the swamplands.
  • A pyramid that I couldn't enter because I didn't have something to fit into a small slot to the right of the door. Later we'll have to talk about the roles of pyramids in this series. 
      
I anticipate futuristic stuff on the inside.
      
A decent chunk of B2 was unexplorable because it came to end in a peninusula, and I expect B3 won't be accessible at all until I get "Water Walk."
      
As far south as I could explore in Column B for now.
      
My explorations culminated with a return to Baywatch, at the bottom of A2. Corak's notes said that undead had swarmed into the city after an earthquake. I finished clearing skeletons and zombies from the town and bought the inventory of spells from the guild. (Alas, "Water Walk" wasn't among them.) A fountain in the center of town increases luck by 100. An NPC named Brother Alpha told me of a nymph who will reward me with "gold and song" if I return stolen seashells to her. He referred me on to his brother, in the city's underground, for more information.
     
Upgrading my spell arsenal.
       
There were several holes leading downwards, but most of them just led to piles of treasure. One led to the underground. I explored it for a while but ultimately died there because I didn't have any protection against unavoidable pools of poison.. Something called a "Screamer" was capable of driving my characters insane. I tagged it for return when I was stronger.
     
Pit traps and poison patches made it difficult to navigate the dungeon.
     
At this point, I had six dungeons in my backpath. Three of them--Castle Whiteshield, the pyramid, and a keyed dungeon in B2--I couldn't yet enter. But I could enter the other three: the Cyclops Caverns, the Temple of Moo, and Slithercult Stronghold. I decided to attempt them before exploring more of the game world.

To facilitate my explorations, I went to my notes to plot an optimal path through the various helpful shrines and fountains that increase armor class, attributes, health, magic, resistances, and levels. Since their bonuses all expire at 06:00 each day, you want to start early in the day, plot the quickest path between them, and try to get to the dungeon with as much time left on the clock as possible.

In the course of trying to figure this out, I started with a scatterplot of the fountains' coordinates, followed by a rough map, followed by me breaking down and making an actual map of the territory I've explored so far, complete with textured tiles. (I binged the first season of "The Good Place" simultaneously, so the time wasn't completely wasted.) When I first started playing, I had said manual mapping was unnecessary because of the automap, but the automap doesn't show the entire world at once, so I think I'll keep going with this even though it tends to slow the game's fast-paced nature.

Map in hand, I could see that the ideal path starts in Baywatch, with the "Luck +100" fountain. From here, you take the teleporter to Fountain Head, exit, and dart a few squares southwest for a 20 point boost in armor class. Moving east, you pick up +100 hit points and +150 spell points at nearby locations, then trek a ways to the northeast for +30 might, +30 speed, and +20 temporary levels. This route bypasses fountains that increase intelligence, personality, fire resistance, and cold resistance, but these seem less important to me than saving time.
     
A stop on the trip.
    
By now, if you started as early as possible and didn't take unnecessary steps, it should be no later than 16:00. From the last fountain, you can reach the Cyclops Caverns or Slithercult Stronghold by 17:30, giving you a half-day of exploration inside each dungeon before 06:00 rolls around and you lose all of your buffs.

It sounds exhausting, but it was functionally the only way for me to survive. Without the buffs, I had no way to defeat the cyclopes in the Cyclops Caverns except to wait and return later, but I was getting sick of writing that.
     
I blast a group of cyclopes with "Toxic Cloud." Note that they have driven my lead character insane.
     
I made three visits to the Cyclops Caverns and still didn't clear it. The real problem wasn't the "bugaboos," or even the cyclopes (who are for some reason capable of causing insanity), but rather the traps. They're really starting to annoy me. You've got pit traps, acid pools, swinging bladed pendulums, and crashing spears, almost always blocking the path down a necessary corridor. I currently have only two ways to avoid them: "Levitate" gets me over the pit traps, and "Jump" will skip you two squares forward, avoiding any trap in between. But to thwart the latter, traps are often situated at bends in corridors, or one after the other, or worst of all, right in front of secret doors, so you take constant damage as you try to bash them open. I guess eventually "Teleport" will help me avoid some of these, but if I'm missing any other useful spells, I'll be happy to take a hint.
      
No "Jumping" this one.
      
Traps are often attached to doors and chests, too, so that my poor ninja, who tries to open everything, often gets blasted for all her hit points just for trying to open a door.

In addition to a bunch of experience and regular treasure, the Cyclops Caverns delivered a "Green Eyeball key" and a "Red Warriors Key," one of which I suspect is the way to get in the unnamed dungeon in B2.

I took a break from Cyclops Caverns at one point to explore the Temple of Moo. It was much easier. "Turn Undead" took care of most of the skeletons and zombies. The culmination of the dungeon was a statue that bestowed the "Crusader" credential on my party members, allowing access to the castles.
       
I somehow thought the "mascot of Moo" would be a cow.
     
I thus peeked into Castle Whiteshield briefly. An NPC named Praythos asked me to return good artifacts to him. There was a "jester's throne," but sitting in it just caused everyone to laugh. I declined to open several chests on the main floor because I don't think this is the kind of game where you get away with that. I was also wasn't sure whether to bash down some doors that seemed to be holding prisoners.
     
A jester told jokes worthy of Chuckles.
    
In the throne room, I met "Zealot, King Righteous" who told me of the Evil One gathering his powers and the neutrality of King Chaos. He asked me to bring him Ultimate Power Orbs to turn the balance towards Zealot's forces.
     
Maybe I'll just see what the other guys offer first.
      
There was a dungeon in Whiteshield and a bit of a puzzle to enter. A statue at the entrance told me to "seek the four warriors, north before south, east before west," and then subtract the castle's name. There were other statues in each of the four corners, and in order of northeast, northwest, southeast, southwest, they provided their names as JODELLE, LEADBEST, ASTRIEL, and TESHY. I figured subtracting the castle's name meant removing all letters that occur in "Whiteshield" from the four names and then smashing the rest together, a solution that would have been more obvious if any of the names had a "W." Anyway, that left me with JOABARY, which did work to enter the dungeons, but I though the king's name was "Zealot."

The dungeon immediately confronted me with a pendulum trap in front of a door. I marked it for later. I found the same type of setup the moment I entered Slithercult Stronghold. Moreover, the door on the other side of the guillotine trap wouldn't cave to my (unenhanced) kicks. Sick of these damned traps, I ended the session in favor of a mindless game like Heimdall.
     
A two-word phrase ending in "this" shortly followed.
    
Miscellaneous notes:
       
  • The bartender in Baywatch says "most of your actions will earn experience." Well, I checked frequently after he said that, but I didn't note any experience gains from simple exploration, casting spells, opening doors and chests, or other activities of adventuring. I got experience from killing enemies and solving quests.
  • There are whirlpools out in the water that I can't reach. I wonder if they take the party somewhere or if they just inflict damage or death. 
     
The way to Ambrosia?
     
  • At the close of this session, my characters are a mix of Levels 9 and 10. The training facility in Fountain Head stops training you after Level 10.
  • At the advice of some commenters, I've been depositing unneeded gold in the bank in Fountain Head so that it will earn interest and perhaps grant me a couple extra levels by the endgame.
  • A little over one year of game time has elapsed since I started playing. My characters started at age 18. I know that dying of old age is a potential problem in this game, and it doesn't sound like the game offers "Rejuvenation" spells the way the first two games did. Even though everything seems okay so far, I'm keeping an eye on the clock and trying not to waste time. Waiting until everyone can level up, perhaps even twice, before anyone levels up seems like a good place to start. 
  • While towns and outdoor areas all hold to the 16 x 16 standard established in the first Might and Magic, dungeons are much larger and sprawling.

As for the main quest, I have no idea. Something to do with Zealot and his orbs? I suspect I'll have the opportunity to deliver the orbs to any of the three kings, thus tipping the power on Terra in that direction. The question is how Corak and Sheltem work into all of this.
     
"Turn Undead" is one of the few spells I've been using with regularity in combat.
    
Among the four maps I've already explored, I still have to clear Slithercult Stronghold, the unnamed keyed dungeon, Whiteshield and its basement, and Baywatch's dungeon. I'm inclined to finish exploring this starting island before I continue with any more dungeon adventures. I also need to slow down in combat, stop relying on melee attacks so much, and more thoroughly test all of the spells I've been acquiring.

Time so far: 13 hours
Reload count:

56 comments:

  1. Time isn't really a big issue in the game. In my playthrough, none of my characters hit 30 by the time I finished, and I did nearly everything.

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    1. I'm getting weirdly conflicting reports on this issue. But based on the fairly limited aging so far, I suspect my experience will be closer to yours.

      Delete
  2. Since you asked for explicit hints.

    There is an easy way to neuter the "protection against unavoidable pools of poison" in the Baywatch dungeon. You might even have tried it already, but not realized it worked.

    Gurl'er abg cbvfba. Gurl'er NPVQ. Cebgrpgvba Sebz Ryrzragf (Npvq) oybpxf na nzbhag bs npvq qnzntr onfrq ba gur pnfgre'f yriry - naq lbh unir npprff gb n yriry-obbfgvat sbhagnva. N pnfgre jub unf hfrq gur sbhagnva jvyy eraqre gur cnegl pbzcyrgryl vaihyarenoyr gb gur cbbyf.

    Qrfcvgr gur cbbyf qbvat 0 qnzntr (nf pna or pbasvezrq ol purpxvat UC ba gur fgnghf fperra), gurl jvyy fgvyy cebqhpr gur uvg rssrpg, znxvat vg uneq gb gryy gung gur fcryy jbexrq.

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  3. For most of my outings, I only bothered with two of the fountains you listed, and considered it sufficient. Later in the game there's a few more that become useful, but at this stage I think you can make it farther without all of them, if you wanted.

    Counter to your comment, there was something I really disliked about the various stupefied character portraits. It was useful enough (unless I had two effects at once, and maybe didn't notice that I was poisoned as well as crazy) but it seemed just a little too cartoony or something for me. Not a bad idea, I just didn't like how it was executed.

    I think you're going to get tired of mapping, just because overall there are a lot of squares in the game. Especially with Eagle Eye, it's probably not too necessary, and better to just take notes for unique squares than try to track everything. But don't let me dissuade you if you're having fun.

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    1. I am having a bit of fun, and it's useful to be able to see the entire game world at once. Although I suppose I could use the map that came with the game for that.

      Delete
  4. Your optimal path-finding for the fountains is impressive! When I played through, I barely used the fountains and that may have been a mistake. I found them mostly useful for going places that I was pretty close to being powerful enough for, but not quite-- but for the most part, the "main quest" seemed paced well enough after a while that not having to use the fountains implied I was on the right path.

    Now, here's a question for you:

    MM games, including this one, put an awful lot of their growth in the little one-off bonuses you can find, +5 INT here and +10 MIGHT there. I've never been exactly sure just what is increasing when you actually gain levels, except hit and spell points. So in that way, this is a game where thorough (and careful) exploration is more (or at least as) important as fighting combats to developing your characters. (I still remember how many times I visited the circus in MM2; and I did work out an optimal path with teleports to make it as fast as possible.)

    I'm playing MM4+5 right now and just beat the MM4 part. Watching you play this game is bringing back a lot of memories and making me more aware of the polish they added for the next generation. I'm looking forward to watching you play those... eventually.

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    1. I seemed to have neglected the "question" part:

      What is your feeling on this development style? It seems unlike most of the cRPGS that I played. It is "rewarding exploration" or should they just had attribute increase as you gain levels?

      Delete
    2. Not a cRPG example, but Final Fantasy: Lightning Returns has an extreme version of this system, wherein monsters you don't have levels or accumulate experience points from fighting--you just get stat bonuses for fulfilling quests. The result in this case is that unless you're looking for something specific that monsters drop, or need to kill them for a quest, combat is something I tried to avoid much more. (Thankfully, the game lets you see the enemies coming, rather than random encounters.)

      Delete
    3. Joe, I agree that because of the attribute bonuses that you receive independent of levels, "leveling" is a bit anticlimactic. This improved a lot in MM6-8, where leveling confers points to spend on skills.

      Still, I suspect there's more going on than simple increases in hit points and spell points. After my characters use the "level up" fountain, they seem to hit more often and harder, irrespective of increases in strength and accuracy.

      Delete
    4. The characters get additional attacks every few levels (number depending on their class), which translates into higher damage per "click"

      Delete
  5. What a beautiful map! I recently started playing M&M3 as I played World of XeeN almost two decades ago and later again six years ago. However, I never had a chance to play Isles of Terra and after I saw your first two posts about the game, I was sold - generated a new party and started my quest.

    As much I enjoy reading about your adventures and seeing your beautiful maps (the map of Fate was a masterpiece, btw), I need to restrain from reading your posts for a while so I can enjoy an unspoiled game. Will be getting back with a weekly delay to hopefully add some additional observations about the game.

    One thing I wanted to note. I remember that in one of your previous posts you were talking about money, so I think it is important to mention that the bank in the first city is for a very good reason. And Merchant skills is invaluable. I’d wish my party weren’t so poor and greedy now so they could afford this skill for everyone; constantly passing items for sale to the same character is too time consuming, though very addictive :).

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  6. Aging isn't a problem in this game. Even if you were to explore every square, and complete every quest, your characters might be early 30's at worse. In my case, my party were only in their mid 20's.

    SPOILERS below this line (2 is very spoilery, gibberish is thanks to ROT13)
    BX, gurer vf bar rkprcgvba naq bar -ANFGL- frpgvba vs lbh qba'g fnir fphz.

    1) Cunagbzf unir n punapr bs ntvat lbh svir lrnef ba nggnpx. Vg'f n snve punapr, ohg gurl'er abg gung cbjreshy naq lbh'yy arire eha vagb znal bs gurz ng bapr.

    2) Ng gur raq bs gur tnzr (vafvqr gubfr napvrag clenzvqf), gurer vf bar (zvtug bs orra gjb, zrzbel vf sbttl) pelfgny ebbzf gung hcba gbhpuvat, lbhe -ragver- cnegl ntrf n pbhcyr lrnef NAQ gurer vf zber gura rabhtu pelfgnyf gb fraq rira n lbhat nqhyg cnegl ebpxrgvat gbjneqf gurve Tbyqra Lrnef. Obahf cbvagf: bar bs gubfr pelfgnyf fraq lbh gb n fcbg jurer lbh pna ano gjb Hygvzngr Cbjre Beof. Avpr, ru?

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    1. Osmol, the game does provide a solution to the first problem you mention. I thought that would fix the second problem, too, but looking it up it does seem like that one may be more dangerous.

      Delete
  7. IMHO, and without spoilers, I don't think you're going at it in the right order here - hence a lot of frustration with difficulty and traps.

    People have commented on the non-linear nature of the game: you are DEFINITELY not expected to clear areas in order. Castle Dungeons and city sewers can be easily 5-10+ levels higher than above the surface. Cyclops Cavern is a hard mid-game place, which you have been trying to do before the Temple of Moo which is an easy starter dungeon... (wow!) It's totally ok to leave a long list of things to do later when you're stronger, it's the nature of the game.

    Traps actually serve as a safety mechanism for preventing parties to jump too far ahead of themselves. Once you're at an adequate level for an area, traps are an annoyance, but no more than that, since they are balanced against much higher HP counts, and then, when you get in the red, just rest, heal, and continue to explore, something you can't do if you have to rely on buffs to survive. If traps in an area kill you in 2 steps, go adventure elsewhere.

    This type of difficulty non-linearity is something I miss so much in modern games, just because it gives a sense of scale. Having a Level 30 dungeon right next to your starting point, where you die instantly is cool, it gives you something to aim for! "When am I going to be able to beat that?" You come back at level 5 and die, at level 10 and die, at level 20 and die, and then someday after much adventuring, you come back at level 30 and finally beat it - satisfactory as hell and gives a much better sense of character progression compared toa game design where difficulty always curves optimally and ends up being no challenge at all. The Witcher 3 (which I'm going through currently) actually surprised me in that respect in throwing in level 30 monsters just off the road in a level 5-6 area, something that fondly reminded me of M&M.

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    1. I, like Chet, ended up trying the Cyclops Caverns way earlier than I should have been and I cleared most of it just by resting a lot but couldn't actually kill a cyclops at all, having to just run around them to collect the treasure. That made it all the sweeter when I returned mid-game and stomped all over them.

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    2. Admittedly, MM3 is somewhat aggressive with the difficulty scaling - it will happen regularly that you can beat parts of a dungeon with your current level, but still have to leave other parts for later. I remember that I slaughtered all the Bugaboos in the Cyclops Cave pretty easily, then got slaughtered myself by the Cylopses, which are massively stronger. Same for other dungeons, where certain monster types, the boss opponent or even certain chests required a power level much higher than the minions. (A look at the cluebook confirms these extreme differences.)

      The results is that you really have to claw your way through the dungeons and have to lead a pretty long "save for later" list. In MM4, on the other hand, you can usually clear out one or two dungeons in one session. Because of this, people complained it was so much shorter than MM3, even though in terms of number and size of maps, it was actually larger. I guess you can't please everyone.

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    3. Actually going through Witcher3 for the first time myself right now, and for some reason, the huge level disparity is kind of jarring for me. When I read reviews before playing the game, I had thought "sweet, sounds a bit like Gothic and stuff!". Now it just seems strange and a little unfair that the Ghouls in THIS part of the swamp can knock me down in two swipes, when the Ghouls a few hundred meters down the road were pushovers. It basically forces you to keep level and HP gauges on enemies on in the interface, which I hate, as it completely breaks immersion to me.

      I'd rather they'd have used tiered enemies, like in Wizardry 7, where you just learn after a while that a Luna Moth will kick your ass even if you can take any number of Glow Moths.

      Delete
    4. Ah, Paul I so agree with you and it's one thing I found really stupid! It makes no sense to have level 2 and level 25 Ghouls. They should indeed have tiered enemies spread around a range of 5-10 levels at the very most. I mean, it's not that hard, you can even keep the same model and animation, just update the texture maps a bit, call it Death Ghoul, Elder Ghoul, then Ur-Ghoul or whatever.

      Later M&M got that sorted out by colored monster sprites with 3 tiers of difficulty green-blue-red.

      Delete
    5. I appreciate the idea of wide level differences in a small geographic area in an open world game, but a fine sort of balance needs to be struck. I think Chet is demonstrating that MM3 is toeing that line successfully: there should be a good mix of activities appropriate for your character level, a few below, and a number of them above your level to serve as motivating factors and ways to keep you alert and promote a sense of wonder and difficulty. However, I really like that with tenacity and cleverness, you can mostly clear something like the Cyclops Cave. That promotes a sort of thoughtfulness I appreciate. Even the Medusa falls to the clever mirror.

      I thought another game that did this well was Dragon's Dogma.

      I actually didn't care for the way Witcher 3 dealt with it... I felt the randomness was so high that it severed any kind of realism. A small settlement in the woods, steps away from a titan-powered hag? Or the aforementioned level 25 ghouls. Or any number of insanely deadly things. For me that game didn't have a difficulty curve so much as a difficulty roller coaster.

      Delete
    6. I find the traps a little annoying only because there's no way to avoid some of them, which seems silly. But if my post seemed to be conveying frustration with the game's difficulty, then I didn't get the tone right. This is exactly the sort of game I prefer, where you can have a dungeon in the starting area that's still too difficult, where you carefully have to feel your way through the maps. Sometimes, I enjoy beating my party against a dungeon that's theoretically too advanced for them at the current level; other times, I simply mark it for later and go somewhere else. Either way, I'm still having a good time.

      When you're playing a game blind, there's no way to tell the "right order." You just have to bounce between places and test them, and my blogging is an account of how I'm doing that. I really get annoyed when someone suggests that I'm playing a game "wrong" when the only way to play it "right" is to read a walkthrough or have previous experience.

      Delete
    7. Hey, I really really REALLY didn't mean any disrespect here!!! There's no right order and I've checked some walkthroughs for fun and they all disagree on what should be done when. Of course you're trying out and I love trying too hard dungeons for the challenge as well when I play CRPGs.

      What I meant as "wrong" (big quotes, sorry if my comment sounded too assertive) is if you placed on yourself some kind of requirement to clear EVERYTHING in A1 before moving to A2, then to B1, etc. THAT would probably be difficult and go against a certain intended game logic/scenario.

      But please, have fun at it any way you want and keep the great posts going.

      Delete
    8. I wasn't THAT offended, but thanks. I just mis-conveyed what I was doing anyway. I don't feel like I have to clear everything in A1 before moving on, but I do like to test myself against tough places before adding them to my "try later" list.

      Delete
  8. Have you tried the Arena yet? Combats start very easy and slowly get harder, so you should do a few once in a while as you progress for a nice chunk of extra experience.

    Wasn't this the game where training takes one week per level per character? If so, getting to Level 200 will take ~23 years, not counting hirelings.

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    Replies
    1. No, shoot. I keep meaning to check out the arena and keep forgetting.

      Delete
  9. Concerning the fountains probably not a spoiler but

    V hfhnyyl gnxr gur sbhagnvaf va gur bccbfvgr beqre fgnegvat jvgu gur yiyf naq svavfuvat jvgu uc naq fc va beqre znkvzvmr gur tnvaf
    Nyy gur rkgen uc naq fc jvyy gura znxr vg cbffvoyl gb cynl sbe dhvgr n srj qnlf nsgre gur yiy-obbfg unf qvffnccrnerq

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    Replies
    1. Until I read this, I didn't realize that the bonuses conferred by the HP and SP fountains were dependent upon your level. I agree it makes sense to go in the opposite order in that case.

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    2. Specifically, they go to a certain point above your current maximums. Since the +level fountain doesn't boost your current HP, repeatedly using the fountains is almost necessary to gain full value out of all those extra levels.

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  10. If you're still spreading the stat boosts evenly, maybe reconsider that. At the very least, I'd recommend giving strength to the door bashers, that'll help in minimizing trap damage.

    And focusing defensive stats on one character can be useful. Since if there's even one survivor, they can drag everyone out of the dungeon. Would help avoid party wipes.

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  11. That map looks very nice! Is it still made in excel? I think I can just see how you would make it with a combination of formatted call backgrounds (gradients, patterns etc) and the use of Wingdings, emoji or other icon fonts for the symbols. I think I see the tell tale sign of cell comments with the little red triangles in the corner of cells.

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    Replies
    1. Bump to Talorc's question about "... in excel?". Doesn't look like a regular spreadsheet program.

      Chet, the FAQ doesn't mention how you're doing your mapping...

      Delete
    2. The Addict has always used Excel for all of his mapping, and refuses to use anything else because he's already used to doing it this way.

      Delete
    3. Excel, yes--but at one point Addict also told us about Grid Cartographer, which has progressed quite a bit beyond his review of it as well and takes a lot of tedium out of mapping. It can even autolink with MM3 so it tracks your party's location on the map.

      Delete
    4. Gnoman suggests the map image we're looking at is Excel. Okay, so the Addict inserted giant columns A, B, C, etc, then added numbered columns below those, then imported small images and pasted them into to the Excel rows ....

      He must have then used a paint program to generate small icon images that fit precisely into those Excel cells. Yes it all makes sense now.

      Delete
    5. It is Excel. No Paint or external images--those are just cell patterns.

      Delete
  12. One thing that makes especially the early game a lot easier is qbangvat ng grzcyrf, ng n grzcyr unir rnpu punenpgre qbangr n ohapu bs gvzrf (vg'f eryngrq gb gur ynfg qvtvg bs gur qnl pbhag) naq lbh trg nyy sbhe bs gur pnfgnoyr obahfrf.

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  13. Chet, I think #1 and #2 above about aging are probably worth reading, since it would appear that the affects they are referring to are not very noticeable, but could cause you some issues.

    My $0.02,

    Chris

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    Replies
    1. ughh...meant to be a reply to OSMOL's post above about aging.

      -Chris

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  14. I do not think you have to worry about dying from aging. You just get a penalty to physical stats (might, speed, endurance, accuracy) and a bonus to mental stats (intellect, personality). These are:

    36: -2/+2
    51: -5/+5
    76: -10/+10
    101: -20/+20
    201: -50/+50

    Thus the penalties are minor unless you really stretch things. I think you might die if a stat reaches 0.

    Most time is added from temple healing (1 day for the visit and 1 day per heal) and training (1 day per character no matter how much you level).

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    1. You definitely do die if a stat reaches 0. More specifically, the next time you rest your character will die. This led to some confusion on my part once, as I had a character with a stat below 0 that I needed to cast a utility spell and was out of spell points, but every time I rested the character died. Another character would rez them, but they still had no spell points, so I'd rest again. It took a few iterations of this loop to figure out what was going on.

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  15. I remember when I played the game I mainly focused on all the outdoor areas first before I went into any of the dungeons. There are 3 towns that you have relatively easy access to on the island. You don't have to clear out the harder dungeons until much later in the game.

    Also, one of the charming things about this game is how much they focus on riddles. Few games before or since have so many. I guess the only downside to riddles are that if you don't know the answer you just have to ask someone or look it up, which is not a fun way to solve something.

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    1. or you get strong enough to find the answer in one of the pyramids

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    2. Which I see as one of the strong points of this game they usually offer an alternative solution if you can´t crack the puzzles

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    3. Oh yeah I forgot about that.

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    4. It's true that in-game included hints are an interesting idea, although how it was done deserves a debate IMO, which we'll have when Chet gets to talk about it. Meanwhile, I think we should Rot-13 info about what's in the pyramids.

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    5. it was mentioned in the comments to a previous post but perhaps i should have scrambled it anyway sorry

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  16. Well, perhaps few *CRPGs* had as many riddles but they are a staple of the adventure game genre from its inception.

    Regarding the hint system, Pandora Detective did this reasonably well.

    Is MM3 the first to have pyramids? I do not recollect them in MM2 but then again the mountains look like pyramids on the automap! I am unsure about MM1 though.

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    1. Oops I must have fat fingered and hit the wrong Reply button, this was intended to respond to Steve's post regarding riddles and the subsequent replies discussing games with hint systems that were done well.

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    2. I recommend the Tex Murphy series: Very fun, complex, varied, hilarious and atmospheric adventure games that really make you feel like a detective. Tex Murphy is the opposite of the horribly boring and pointless Might and Magic games.

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    3. Yes, this is the first Might and Magic game to feature pyramids. I haven't played anything past this one though, so I didn't know they were a running theme.

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    4. I enjoy both M&M and Tex. I brought up Tex because in-game hints were done well in that series also (for Pandora Directive, Overseer, and Tesla Effect), via a different mechanism.

      I do know pyramids are prominent in 4/5 but serve a different function.

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  17. One of the weak points for me for the Might and Magic series is the fact that the Robber/Ninja are basically forced selections only there to open chests. Doors in Terra and Xeen are even optional, since you can just bash them in.

    That said, a famous Van Halen song gives you a hint on how to bypass some floor traps, others you can bypass with other spells. Those in the corners can be difficult to impossible to bypass though without the spell which gives you a mini map (discover it!) and teleporting through walls.

    Don't worry about natural aging. Magical aging can be cured, later, but even then it's not a major thing.

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    1. This is certainly not true (re. Robber/Ninja or its extension, Thief) in MM6+, so hardly can be said to be true of the series. In MM2, you can get by without a Robber or Ninja...you will just take more damage. I believe MM1 you can also make do without a Robber (no Ninjas in MM1). Maybe for 3 and 4/5, but that is hardly a weakness of the entire series...and even then I am not convinced it is true.

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    2. Not sure how "Hot for Teacher" really assists here, Dohmnall.

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    3. I appreciate the obscure hint, but I do mention the "Jump" spell explicitly in this entry.

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    4. For beating MM3,4 and 5 you neither need a robber nor a ninja.

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    5. I don't thin Domnhall was saying that the class is absolutely essential, just that most players will consider it functionally necessary for chests. The classes otherwise don't offer any serious advantage over fighting classes. Later MM games give thieves advantages that outweigh simple chest-opening (I think ninjas disappear after V).

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