Friday, October 6, 2017

Might and Magic III: Missed Dates and Money

Things are looking good for the party as this session ends.
I went too far since my last entry and consequently have too much to recount. I hate it when I do that.

As you may recall, I was working my way up Column E from the bottom, having already explored E4 and E3. I was trying to keep an eye on the calendar because I needed to return to Castle Greywind at Day 50, Castle Blackwind at Day 60, and Rainbow Isle at Day 99. If you don't remember why, I recount that below. It was like Day 20 when I got started.

E2 was the northwest quadrant of the swampy island that held the city of Swamp Town. The map was full of rogues and death locusts but had no dungeons.
After the last session, outdoor enemies became so trivial that I barely bothered to take notice of them.
I ran into an NPC named Ziltar the Wise in his hut. He told me of the vampire king, who rules an army of undead in the Tomb of Terror. All game, I've been hearing about the Tomb of Terror from messages scrawled on walls.

Another NPC hut held Princess Trueberry, who at some point is supposed to give me an alicorn horn that I need to return to a hut all the way back in Column A. But she wanted me to give something to her first: an "abundance of love." No idea where to get that. I tried giving her a Precious Pearl of Youth and Beauty, but I guess that wasn't the same thing.
Have you tried
Map E1 was the western half of another snowy island in the frozen north. It held a series of statues that permanently increased my attributes when given money--trivial amounts of money based on what I was carrying. Again, I have to wonder what path through the game that the developers intended, and what path I would take if I replayed with full knowledge of the geography. Certainly, it would be helpful to explore the entirety of Row 1 early, finding the +100 attribute fountain in D1, all these statutes in E1, and perhaps even the evil castle (below) early in the game.
This is less than pocket change by this point in the game.
E1 also had Castle Dragontooth, the "evil castle," where I at last got rid of all the Ancient Artifacts of Evil that had been weighing me down. Unlike the good and neutral castles, this one was swarming with guards who attacked as soon as I entered. Otherwise, it had the same features of the others: a king who wants Ultimate Power Orbs, a seneschal who takes the ancient artifacts, a jester telling idiot jokes, a dungeon that requires a puzzle to gain entry, and a bunch of chests that summon more guards when looted.

Unique to this castle were pools of acid that did tremendous damage to anyone entering, but which delivered about 8 "quatloo coins" that I later redeemed for attribute upgrades back in Slithercult Stronghold.
Bathe? No. Search? Yes.
I didn't expect "Malefactor, King Malicious" to be the best choice of the three kings. True to his name, he ranted about subjugating the islands under his rule and driving his enemies mad. Even though neither the good or neutral kings seem like great alternatives, I won't be favoring Malefactor in the endgame.
At least he's up-front about it.
I did give him a couple of Ultimate Power Orbs, though. Each one confers 1 million experience points on each character. The way I understand it--and if I'm wrong, boy have I screwed up my game--is that you solve a major quest by giving any of the three kings a certain number of Ultimate Power Orbs. I want to say it's 10, but maybe it's 12. Anyway, there are enough orbs in the game to give all of the kings this total, or almost this total, so if you solve the quest too soon by giving them all to one king, you miss out on millions of experience points. Thus, I've been spreading them out. At this point, I had given two orbs to each king, but by the end of this session, I'd given another two to each king.

The dungeon entrance puzzle involved following a story presented on statues scattered about the castle. The messages concern a war fought by the castle's guard against the werewolves in Serpent Wood. You have to follow the narrative to figure out how many legions were still alive by the end of the campaign. Then, you had to know how many soldiers are in a "legion." This last bit of information was imparted by a message in a hidden room; you have to teleport to reach it. Later in this session, I found such hidden rooms in several other dungeons, making me wonder how many I missed in the early dungeons.
This explains how the werewolves from two entries ago came to reside in the mountains.
The dungeon was full of witches guarding bubbling cauldrons. Some provided attribute upgrades, but others (somehow) had messages that said things like "in the hands of time, 11+ 3 = 2," referring to adding hours on a 12-hour clock, an abomination that civilization should have abandoned centuries ago, but whatever. I don't expect to convert you. I can't even get Irene to figure it out. When she asks what time we're meeting for dinner, and I text "18:00," she responds, "What is that in REAL time?"
I provide the counter-intuitive answer.
The messages helped with some of the chests upstairs, which required doing clock "math" to open. The chests in the castle delivered absurd amounts of gold. By the end of this session, I had also gone back and looted the two other castles, as my party was now strong enough to blast through their guards. Castle gold contributed significantly to my bottom line.
I know it will eventually run out; it's just hard at this point to see how.
Map F1 had the eastern end of the same island, one more statue, a couple avalanches, a few treasure chests, a third pyramid that I left for later, and another dungeon: Dragon Cavern. I anxiously checked the calendar as I entered the latter, noting that I was at 42 days. I knew that I was due several level increases by now, but I suspected if I returned to town and trained, I'd miss Day 50. Thus, I did the best I could buffing at fountains.
Talking skulls lend atmosphere to the caverns.
The caves were full of warriors called "draconi" as well as, predictably, dragons. They were much easier than they should have been. Buffed as I was, protected with anti-elemental spells, they hardly did any damage to me and I killed them in just a couple of attacks. I took far more damage from pools of acid that delivered 50 gems apiece.
The dragon's cold attack barely damages my buffed characters.
Treasure piles, some delivering millions of gold, gleamed all over the dungeon floor. There were several hidden areas (clued by wall messages) with even more treasure. I found two or four Ultimate Power Orbs.
A pile of treasure and an Ultimate Power Orb await.
By this point in the game, I'm having to return to town several times in the middle of each dungeon to offload equipment, since I only have about 10 available equipment slots. (This process was more annoying in the Dragon Cavern because you can't teleport in and out.) The problem these days is not quest items but actual usable equipment. I'm not sure if there's a limit to the number of rings, brooches, and medals that the game lets you wear; if there is, it's greater than 5. Thus, some of my characters have several each of these "wearable" items, and it's tough to deliberately discard them, lowering my armor class or sacrificing an attribute boost, just to make more room.
Tom is beginning to look a bit like a South American dictator.
The map culminated in a fight with the Dragon Lord, who had 10,000 hit points. Despite that, he wasn't very hard. He had an attack that damaged every character every round, but not for that much damage. He had no special attacks. It took a number of rounds, but I slowly wore him down with buffed melee attacks and high-level spells like "Dancing Sword" and "Mass Distortion." He alone had 5 million gold on him when he died.
Fortunately, the graphics in this game don't allow him to attack with 12 other dragons, which is what would have happened in Might & Magic II.
I had to interrupt my explorations of the cavern because Day 50 rolled around and I needed to head back to Castle Greywind in Map C4. You may recall that two adjacent islands hold two castles, Greywind and Blackwind, previously ruled by sorcerers of those names. They both were seduced by the mermaid Athea, both married her, and were both somehow magically imprisoned in their castles. On their wedding days--50 and 60 respectively--their thrones hold particular powers.
Given his condition, his nickname is a bit ironic.
As you enter each castle, both sorcerers beg you to free them from their curses. When you figure out how to do that, you talk to them on their thrones. In the middle of this session, I realized I had been interpreting the situation all wrong. I thought that the sorcerers could only be freed on their wedding days, so I delayed exploring either castle until then. That's not the case at all. I could have freed them and completed 99% of the maps at any time. The "wedding day" business refers to three additional thrones within each castle, each of which confers a boon (attribute increases, gold, etc.) when you sit in it. You have to do that on the wedding day. Moreover, sitting in one throne causes you to fall unconscious for a day, so you can only use one throne per year.
This is the type of situation for which the word "bogus" was coined.
I didn't discover this until late in this session, by which time I'd spend so much time exploring Castle Greywind and its dungeon that the day had rolled over to Day 51 and I missed the opportunity to sit in any of its thrones this year. Argh.
It's tough to keep to a calendar when so many things cause the days to advance outside your control.
Each castle had a wall message about how to solve the puzzle in the other. Greywind's was the toughest. First, I had to figure out the password to get into the dungeon: the name of his daughter. This is offered nowhere in the castle. Instead, you have to figure it out from two clues on two statues of Athea:
  • Greywind the Illusionist fathered two sons and a daughter. The first born he named Regran. The second son, a deadly archer, killed Regran to gain the throne.
  • Reharc killed his ranger brother to gain the throne, but later killed himself in a fit of remorse. Only our daughter, a beautiful cleric, was left to inherit the throne.
Can you figure it out? Between the two, you know that "Regran" is a ranger and "Reharc" is an archer. Following the same pattern--last three letters backwards followed by first three letters forwards--the cleric's name must be "Circle."
That's a pretty dumb name, but at least she wasn't a knight named Thgkni.
The dungeon was filled with piles of treasure, some real, some illusory. The difficult part was that if you try to take the illusory treasure, all your gold disappears. I'm not reloading for character deaths, but I did reload for that. I tried just ignoring the piles, but it turns out you have to take them to solve the puzzle, so I "Lloyd's Beaconed" back to Fountain Head to deposit all my gold before continuing.
Yeah, I don't think so.
To solve the puzzle, I had to turn a series of hourglasses, ring a gong, fight a bunch of hydras, pick up all the treasure, turn the hourglasses again, and ring the gong again. I think I have that sequence right. There was a lot of trial-and-error.

The hydras were the worst part. I'd faced them before, on the Isle of Fire, more than 10 levels ago, so I knew I could defeat them. But I was only half-buffed, and I was desperately trying at this point to avoid rolling over the date, not only because of the throne issue, but because I had deposited all my gold in Fountain Head, and without gold, my two NPCs would take off as soon as the next day hit. This meant that I had to kill all five of them with my existing hit point and spell point pool. I got oddly stubborn about it and wasted three reloads towards the end, making sure I killed them with no party deaths.
"You are a Dancing Sword! / Sharp and scored / Called by my keyboard. / Dancing Sword! / Rushing for'ard / Slice my foe's life cord! (yeah)...
Back up in the castle, Greywind thanked me for freeing his spirit and gave me half of a six-digit combination (645) that I'll apparently need later.
I made it to Blackwind's castle in enough time to use one of his thrones. The castle was swarming with flying piranas [sic] and had a bunch of whirlpools on the floor, some of which had treasure, some of which teleported us to the Arena. A statue in his castle offered every spell in the caster's spellbook for 2 million gold, but I think I've already purchased them all at the individual guilds.
I'm up to my fourth battle now.
The puzzles were much easier here. Getting into the dungeon required realizing that a sequence of letters--OTTFFSSEN--represented the first letters of the numbers 1 through 9. Freeing Blackwind was a matter of visiting three statues in the dungeons and giving them a sacrifice: 100,000 gold, 1,000 gems, and the life of one character who we immediately resurrected. The dungeon was full of annoying teleporters, but once I realized the statues were all in the corners, I just bypassed the teleporters with the "Teleport" spell. In reward, Blackwind gave me the other three numbers of the combination (231).
NPCs, you're up!
By this point, the session was getting pretty long, but I pressed forward into F2--the northeast corner of the large swamp island--and almost immediately found the Tomb of Terror.
Note how a lawnmowing player doesn't really appreciate the spiral path in the mountains that leads you here.
The Tomb was a fairly linear dungeon, featuring large, open rooms full of undead. The rooms start with skeletons, zombies, and ghouls, and progress to mummies, liches, and vampires, culminating in a battle with the vampire lord.
A lich flanked by two mummies. My characters look scared, but they're really just cursed.
Most of the rooms have coffins with treasures inside, but these are all cursed when you open them. The doorway to each room also has a trap that causes damage and destroys a trivial number of gems from your inventory. 

The damage was enough that I found myself casting "Lloyd's Beacon" in the dungeon and teleporting to town for healing several times during the expedition. I was trying to save my cleric's spell points for anti-undead spells like "Holy Word." What I didn't realize is that when you visit the temple and heal a character, each heal takes a full day per character. So does each "uncurse." Since I was typically doing both while I was there, I was burning 16 days in a single visit.

The vampires of the Tomb of Terror weren't so tough. They have a special attack that wipes your spell points, but they usually miss. I have to say that I like their animation, which has them switching from bat to humanoid form. The head vampire, VanEmosh ("homes"?) was just a tougher version of a regular one, and despite all the build-up, he only lasted a few rounds.
On the other hand, this vampire is wasting a lot of energy on something he doesn't need to do this often.
VanEmosh's chambers held four thrones. I tried to sit in one and found my character eradicated because he was not an "Ultimate Adventurer." I guess I'll need to return once I have that designation.
This sounds like the beginning of a reality show.
I got out of the dungeon thinking I had plenty of time before Day 99 to hit the Rainbow Isle and found out that the calendar had rolled around and it was Day 23 again. (Five full years have passed since I began.) Bah!

On the plus side, I'm earning a lot of bank interest. As I wrapped up this session, I had a total of 35 million gold pieces, most of it in the bank, earning about 1 million per month.

But I'm seeing signs as to how this situation could turn around. Training now costs more than 50,000 per level. With characters often able to train multiple levels, I need to take a few million to each training session. Moreover, my two NPCs are commanding 80,000 gold pieces per day each. (Fortunately, I only have to pay when the day rolls around naturally, not when it passes magically or during training or healing.) And with only three more maps to explore, the influx of gold is going to stop at some point. I figure I'll boot the NPCs if I dip below 10 million, saving the rest for training my primary party.
My NPC druid thinks he's all that.
Still, I could see how someone unwarned by his commenters and memories could start dumping millions into Fountain Head's experience-for-gold fountain. 

In other wealth news, I also have over 110,000 gems. I'm just not casting enough spells that make heavy use of them. I think I'll go spend a bunch of them on attribute-boosting sessions in the Arachnid Caverns before moving on.

It occurs to me that I haven't talked much about combat or spells, so I'll try to focus on that next time, as I explore the last three maps. This far into the game, I still don't really know what the "main quest" is. I suspect that it will resolve itself in the pyramids, but I don't remember if I have to finish the power orbs first. By next time, I ought to have some idea.

Time so far: 53 hours
Reload count: 19


  1. Terra seems to have an inflation problem. I wonder what the max level is, and how much gold is required to reach it?

    1. There's one thing I know: if I ever find myself stranded on Terra, I'm opening a training center.

    2. The max level is 200. The formula for training cost is (X is current level):

      10 + 10 * (X ^ 2 - 1)

      Which comes to 26,467,000 gold total per character, so almost 159 million for the whole party, not counting hirelings.

    3. Not much point in leveling that high since the game is already easy at his current level.

  2. Concerning princess Trueberry
    Lbh unir nyernql fghzoyrq ba gur fbyhgvba va na rneyvre cbfg
    Also don´t fret about the orbs there are more than enough to spread around

    1. If you need another generic hint
      Vg'f abg na vgrz gung fur jnagf

  3. You can keep giving orbs to a king after you solve the quest involving them, and still get experience from it. All that changes is what the king says when you give it to him.

    1. You keep getting xp? I think I always believed you didn't since it didn't tell you, and I was doing the same strategy as Chet describes here.

      Which is fine, as indeed there are enough orbs. However some of them are *REALLY* well and remotely hidden. One replay I remember running short of orbs and scouring the ENTIRE map and dungeons 3 times without finding anything and eventually giving up. Since then, once I get close to the magic number, I stash the difference in an inn, that way I'm sure I won't get stuck.

    2. That's not my memory of the game; I thought that once you gave 11 orbs to one king that was it. I seem to recall even the hint guide saying that. But it's been a long time since I played the game.

    3. I checked the hint book and it indicates that once 11 orbs are given to a king, it does in fact close off the other kings.

    4. Kurisu is correct; once you give 11 orbs to one king, the remaining orbs are useless. There are 31 orbs in the game, so you can't be locked out of victory ASSUMING that you can find them all. Some are a pain to find, and some are in the endgame dungeon. If you want my opinion, the optimal strategy is to give one king 10 orbs, leave an 11th somewhere you can get it easily, then split the remaining orbs between the other kings. That way, if you get tired of turning over every stone, you can grab your stashed orb and turn it in whenever you want.

    5. My experience was I gave all the orbs to the good king, even past the first 11, and got a million experience for each one.

    6. Oh I didn't know you could keep giving orbs to one king after they already destroyed the other kings.

  4. I'm not sure if there's a limit to brooches/medals etc, but it's certainly possible to fill all your inventory spots with equipped items.

  5. According to an old magazine I'm reading, equipment limits are:

    - scarab, charm, brooch, medal: 5
    - pendant, necklace, medallion: 4
    - ring: 10

    Considering 20 is the individual inventory limit, it's entirely possible to have nothing but equipment on a character.

    I don't think it's possible to screw up the power orbs, there are enough in the game to complete at least one king's quest even if you spread them around. It's mandatory as the king gives you one of the items needed for the endgame.

    I'm with you on the 12-hour clock, brother. The world also needs to get rid of various other outdated things, like the imperial system of units, and agree on a single date format (was a lot of fun before 2012 to see dates like 03/05/07), to name just a few of my own pet peeves.

    1. I agree with you but think... what would then happen to all those billions of clocks and watches all around the world ? I think changing the time-format would probably need to wait a few more decades when we turn fully digital.

    2. What's so confusing about 12-hour clocks? You just have to visualise the dial and it's all pretty obvious.
      The only problematic thing I see is the 12am/12pm stuff, but it doesn't exist outside of English.

    3. 10 rings, 4 medals, 1 necklace.

  6. Part of the fun of the game is not knowing what the main quest is.

  7. So am I safe saying that if another post concentrates on combat and spells it will be called "Might and Magic III: Might and Magic"? :)

  8. You are safe, but I think my liver just infarcted! Ouch!

  9. I understand that hired NPCs require a daily/weekly payment, but what about NPCs that were saved during a quest?

    1. They are just like hirelings, but they only become available after you saved them.

  10. In Greywind's dungeon I somehow managed to complete the quest without unlocking the hydras or taking the gold piles. I still don't understand that puzzle.

  11. Apparently the hydras only appear if you screw up and you definitely do not need to take any of the gold piles.

    In any case, you will know what the maximum orbs you can give a king soon enough unless you stop your method of outdoor exploration.


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