Monday, October 16, 2017

Might and Magic III: Mounted and Mastered!

"And on the pedestal, these words appear . . ."
      
There wasn't much Might and Magic to play after the last entry. I could have finished it in another 15 minutes, probably. That it took me a few more hours was reflective less of my savoring the last moments and more that, because I didn't know what was coming, I spent a lot of time in needless character development.

The session started when I gave all my remaining Ultimate Power Orbs to "Tumult, King Chaotic," the neutral king, who had initially struck me as a good halfway choice between the zeal of the "good" king and the clear maleficence of the "evil" king. It turns out they were all jerks.
     
Guys, we might have made a mistake here . . .
     
Once Tumult had the orbs, he apparently used them to lay waste to the other two castles. They were no longer accessible, in any event. I got what I needed from the process, a "Blue Priority Passcard."
      
Sorry, king. But I suspect you would have done the same thing.
      
It's curious how the developers pitted "chaos" as the neutral point between good and evil, rather than the opposite: order for its own sake, irrespective of the ends. I wonder if they were making a point about the absurdity of classic D&D "alignments" in general. I think they disappear from the main series after this, and my understanding is that the alignments offered in the Heroes series are more nuanced.

After this, I dropped all of my gold at Gringotts and began the process of working odd jobs for $50 per week. To finish getting all the rewards from Greywind and Blackwind, I needed to wait until Day 50 and 60 of three consecutive years, and I figured I might as well earn interest in the meantime. As I started the process, I had $20 million.
     
Unfortunately, there's no option to burn weeks while resting leisurely.
       
Both Greywind and Blackwind had three thrones. One of them permanently raised attributes; the other two delivered gold and items. (Some of those were Precious Pearls of Youth and Beauty that I spent several days offloading one at a time to the Pirate Queen.) When I started the session, I had this idea that you could only use each throne once, but now I'm not sure that's true. Maybe I'll fire it up again and experiment before the summary and rating.
       
Not that I really needed any more advancement.
      
During the three-year period, I also turned in two more seashells to Athea on Day 99 and brought my love-struck party members to Princess Trueberry, finally curing her doldrums.
      
Yes, the solution to this puzzle was quantity, not quality.
      
Trueberry gave me the alicorn horn in return, which I brought back to the shrine in Orc Meadow. Something happened there involving a galloping unicorn. I didn't really understand it, but I got a few million experience points from the deal.
     
Isn't an alicorn supposed to have wings?
        
Just for the hell of it, I had my characters continue working odd jobs for another few years, rationalizing it with my belief that it's obnoxious to try to accomplish too much before you're 30. As I was wrapping up the process, I realized that Terra's years are only 100 days long, so a 30-year-old Terran is only a little more than eight years old by our standards. I've been practicing child endangerment this entire game.
     
Back at the vault, I retrieved my earnings. I had gained $15 million in interest in five years. Not bad.
      
I have to wonder who his other clients are that he can afford a 12% APR.
      
I immediately spent $13 million leveling my characters about 7 levels each. The average was 115 when I was finished, with the two NPCs now asking for $250,000 each per day. I still had plenty of money, and I could have leveled up some more by scattering some of it into the central fountain in Fountainhead, but at this point I didn't know how much longer the game would last.
      
My party as we head for the endgame.
   
I figured it was time to explore the central pyramid. I'm not going to keep mentioning it, but during the explorations below, I wasted a lot of time visiting buffing fountains before entering the pyramid and its various sections. The enemies weren't hard enough to justify all the additional buffing, and I'm not sure why I was being such a wuss.

The tunnel led to the Central Control Sector of the great space ship resting under Terra's oceans, the various storage and engine areas of which I had explored last time. Immediately as I entered, I was attacked by "Death Agents," who despite their name died in single blows without doing any damage to me.
      
Death needs better representation.
      
The area consisted of a central room with a bunch of side-rooms off of it, and one long corridor heading off to the west. I naturally explored the side rooms first. They held robots, including a new kind called a "Terminator" that couldn't be damaged in melee combat and was capable of "eradicating" my party members if he got lucky. I had to destroy them with spells; "Implosion" did particularly well. I had to resurrect slain characters a few times.
        
If they were going to give it this name, you think they could have tried harder on the graphics.
       
The rooms held a few boons, including chalices that added a few million experience points to the character who drinks from it. One of them served up an "Interspacial [sic] Transport Box," which is capable of visiting any of the game's maps by entering its number. It's a cute idea, but by this time I already had the ability to zoom to any game map with a combination of "Lloyd's Beacon," "Town Portal," and "Teleport." Since the box would have required a lot of fiddling to determine which number corresponded with which maps, I didn't waste a lot of time with it. Getting to this location ASAP would be the key to a successful speed run, however, as the box seems to remove the need for keys to the various dungeons.
     
Next time I swallow a good single malt, I'm going to think, "Ah, there's another 4 million experience points."
       
Most important, the half a dozen side chambers held talking heads that, when prompted with a password (CREATORS) that I got from another one of the ship's sectors, were quite explicit about the plot of the game. Together, they said:
       
Spanning the farthest reaches of the universe, two super-developed societies, the Ancients and the Creator, are engaged in a galactic race for power. The Creators exist in a nebulous realm where they construct their plots and create vile, chaotic armies to disrupt the civilizations of the Ancients. [The in-game text uses the singular "Creator" the first time and then "Creators" everywhere else.]

The Ancients draw their power from the heat and light of stars to create the intricate mechanisms of society, then send these civilizations to cultivate developing worlds. 
      
      
This mission has been code named The Great Experiment. It extends further away from the seat of the Ancients than any other colonization. It is under much greater threat from the Creators.

Because of the interference created by the renegade Guardian, Sheltem, the CRON and most of the VARNs carried by this vessel were lost in the Great Sea of Terra.
     
Okay, lots of exposition there. We'll learn more about Sheltem in a minute, but let's talk about the implications of the above. First the ship we're exploring is clearly the same vessel that held the CRON and VARNs of Might and Magic I and II. Now what do they mean that "most" of the VARNs were lost? Were some saved? Did the creatures from them supplant or merge with the existing life on Terra? How long has passed since this all happened, anyway?

What happened, I wonder, to the party that occupied this ship at the end of Might and Magic II? My pet theory is they somehow became the "Death Agents" that attacked me when I entered. There were only like six of them, and they're not found anywhere else in the game.

The background of the Ancients seeding worlds with their little CRON/VARN biospheres makes sense, but did they have to add vampires to the mix? How do undead in general fit with this backstory?

For that matter, how do the legends of the Elemental Lords fit? Are they the "Creators" mentioned here? (I suspect not, given what follows.) Either way, how were we able to visit their dimensions from CRON?

Finally, who are the "Creators"? Are the Kreegan of the VI-VIII series part of their "vile, chaotic armies"?

Seeking answers, we pressed forward down the long hallway. Well, no, actually we left the ship, returned to town, leveled up some more, visited the fountains again, and so forth, which again was all unnecessary. Then, we returned and pressed down the long hallway. The Blue Passcard from King Tumult was necessary to get through one of the doors.
       
       
I can't remember if there were any battles in the hallway. I don't think there were, meaning that one of the random combats with a "Terminator" was the last necessary battle in the game. Actually, I suppose those side rooms aren't technically necessary to win, so those pushover "Death Agents" were the last necessary combat in the game. There may have been one or two robots in the corridors; someone else might remember.
    
In any event, at the end of the long hallway, we ran into a scene that I wish had been illustrated but instead was only described via text:
     
The air is filled with the smell of ether and the flickering of colored lights, like horrible lightning. Down the corridor to the left, two robed figures battle among the plasm of magic so thick it hangs in the air like fog. It is Corak and Sheltem, locked in mortal combat among the sparks of their supernatural clash. Sensing your presence, Corak looks away long enough to give Sheltem the chance to pass into a nearby transport tube. Cursing under his breath, Corak beckons you to follow before disappearing into the same transport tube.
     
Would it have been too much to show Corak and Sheltem?
      
It's not a huge surprise that Corak is alive; the party from Might and Magic II reunited his soul with his body as part of the cleric's quest. I don't know how Sheltem came back to life. More important, though, the party from this game has no idea who these people are.

The player can turn left at the screenshot above and immediately proceed to the endgame, but naturally I had to explore the rest of the map. The automap clearly shows it shaped like the front of a ship:
     
Though not so much like the Enterprise.
   
At the ends of the corridors that look like guns are levers that say things like "Torpedo Launch Control" and "Primary Phaser Batteries." They didn't seem to do anything when activated, though its mildly amusing to think that the party is causing destruction and chaos all over Terra while they frown and flip the levers back and forth.
      
On the surface, an entire island is vaporized.
      
The whole area was swarming with robots, including a ton of those "Terminators." I fired off volley after volley of "Implosion . . ."
      
       
. . . but still had to reload a couple of times when everyone capable of casting "Resurrection" was eradicated.
     
Things aren't looking so well.
       
At the nose of the spacecraft were a couple of talking heads that congratulated me for making it through a difficult optional area. One of them offered the game credits. The other told me to use the special code "KTOW" when reporting my success to New World, to prove that I had made it to the optional area. It promised a "special reward" for this. I will wonder for the rest of my life what that award was.
     
Well, that's clearly me.
       
Time to win! Heading back to the location of Corak and Sheltem's duel, I found the transport tubes that they had entered. Entering myself, I found a couple of round doors . . .
     
       
. . . opening into the cockpit of a small two-seat craft:

       
As we presumably took the seats, a holographic head (accompanied by a digitized voice) appeared on a screen and asked us to "enter init sequence," which I correctly guessed to be the six-digit number offered by Kings Greywind and Blackwind. The five hologram cards I'd been collecting in the game's last hours were needed here.
     
     
The head then offered the final exposition as text on the screen:
       
The Grand Experiment of the Ancients: to use the technology of Elemental Manipulation to create a completely viable ecological and social microcosm. This microcosm was then to be transported to a distant biosphere (Terra) to supplant its indigenous ecosystem. The need was acknowledged for a central controlling unit capable of compensating for unexpected anomalies. 

Sheltem was created to be the Overlord and Guardian of Terra--the Supreme Law--but his conditioning was flawed. Seeing himself as the Guardian of Terra, not of the Ancients' colonization experiment, he rebelled against the "invading army" that was to be sent to "his" world. Sheltem was contained but later escaped, determined to undermine the Grand Experiment.

Learning from their earlier failure with Sheltem, the Ancients created a new Guardian named Corak. With his conditioning properly completed, the Grand Experiment was launched on its journey through the Void. Corak's first duty was to eliminate the threat of Sheltem, then assume the role of Guardian and Overlord of the Terra colonization.

Unable to stop the colonization of Terra, Sheltem has succeeded in disturbing the balance between the three alignments of men, a balance Corak must work to regain upon his return to Terra. However, Sheltem sees this as only a minor compensation and has set out to exact revenge by sabotaging other experiments the Ancients have scattered throughout the Void.

Two escape capsules have disembarked from this vessel, the first occupied by Sheltem, the second by Corak. At Corak's request, a third has been prepared to follow their course for a rendezvous at whatever world Sheltem seeks to exact his revenge upon. Having proven yourself as an Ultimate Adventurer, Corak and the Ancients ask your help in the adventures yet to come . . .
     
The scene then shows a small vessel departing from the main ship under Terra's seas . . .
     
      
. . . and launching itself into space.
    
"Fineous and Allan, I think it may be time to renegotiate your daily rate."
      
As we know now, of course, that vessel--called the Lincoln--missed its mark. While Corak and Sheltem ended up on Xeen, where a new party of locals would have to continue their fight, the Might and Magic III heroes somehow crashed into the seas of Enroth, found some SCUBA suits, and walked out of the ocean and onto a foreign shore.
     
Ah, but we're getting way ahead of ourselves.

(Side note: I never did find Tolberti or Robert the Wise, the two other canonical NPCs from VII. Where were they supposed to come from?)
      
From the exposition above, it sounds like the Ancients are the creators of the Elemental Lords, and all the backstory from the manuals in II and III about the elementals creating the worlds are mythological interpretations of a real creation process.

Sheltem and Corak are described as creations of the Ancients, but not robots, I assume, since Corak had a "soul" in Might and Magic II (although maybe that was an abstraction for something like a CPU). 

Sheltem being briefly "contained" seems to be a reference to Might and Magic I, where the alien (an Ancient?) described him as an escaped prisoner. It's hard not to agree with Sheltem's cause, incidentally. Isn't "supplanting" the life on an existing planet a bit evil? Especially when you're supplanting it with vampires and giant poisonous spiders and stuff? And if Terra is a real world, not a created one, why is it so small and flat? What condition are we leaving it, having taken Sheltem's existing "disruption of the alignments of men" and apparently carried it to an extreme conclusion?

As we ponder these issues, there are three other things I'm wondering for the final entry:
          
  • What's the highest score that anyone has ever achieved? On the surface, my score above (1,106,212,020) seems likely close to the maximum because I solved just about every quest in the game. I'm sure I could have gotten it higher by spending more time in the Arena and using the fountain in Fountainhead. However, when you consider that I could have worked my party at odd jobs for another 20-30 years, earned tens of millions more interest, thrown most of that in the fountain, and leveled up accordingly, I'll bet I'm nowhere near the top.
  • Even more interesting: what's the lowest score you could win with? That's related to the next question:
  • How fast could you win the game in a speedrun? I suspect you could do it in less than an hour. You'd probably solve Fountainhead's quest (to get the experience fountain active), put the reward gold in the bank, work odd jobs for a decade or so, use the interest to pay for 10-15 levels and the needed transport spells, and make the "Interspacial Transport Box" a priority, bypassing the need for a bunch of keys. After that, you'd have to go to a series of dungeons, zooming around for the Ultimate Power Orbs and hologram cards. The big question mark is to what extent you can avoid combats. I didn't mark the location of individual enemies on my maps, so I don't know how hard it would be to avoid monsters even if you could "Teleport" around. If there are a few major combats that you can't avoid, you would need the appropriate levels and spells to deal with them, which would result in a higher score.
         
Maybe I'll experiment with these things for the final entry.

*****

If any of you are following the progress of Felipe Pepe's CRPG book project, it appears it's almost done. It is done, I think, to the extent originally envisioned, but Felipe keeps adding more games and reviews. Right now, he's seeking dedicated fans to complete short reviews of a few remaining games, including Eamon, Fracas, Rogue, Questron, Divinity: Original Sin, and Dragon Age: Inquisition. You can see the full list here. If you're interested in contributing, you can reach Felipe at crpgbook@gmail.com


49 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your win! As you surmised, there are some speedrun efforts for this game that I have seen. If I recall correctly, one of the "features" is that the starting levels of some of the hirelings is based on your level and if you artificially prop up your level, you can get hirelings capable of magic that you don't have yet. I could be misremembering because it's been a while.

    You should bookmark this page because the infodump at the end of MM5 will be closely related, although you have a long time before you are playing that, I suspect. A couple of details (especially on the nature of CRON and VARN) seem different though that could either be my misunderstanding or a retcon. Still, it's amazing the ways each of these games give you more and more pieces of a completed story and I'm looking forward to when you can get to the end and talk about it all. (I haven't played past Xeen, and still did not do the post-MM5 bonus content so I am unaware of the Heroes connections.)

    I played this game "straighter" than you, without abusing the fountains and taking a more organic path. That's not your fault-- you played the game the way the creators allowed you to. But when you started this, I thought MM3 would be a shoe-in for Game of the Year. Now, I'm not sure because I think you experienced a lot more tedium than I did. I look forward to your final thoughts.

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    1. I was fascinated with reading his playthrough, as I've worked it always organically myself with minimal fountain use - and it made me think a lot about game design.

      On one hand, I feel that the game will get a lower score than it deserves because he experienced a lot of things in a relative disorder.

      On the other hand, I feel the game deserves that lower score because it's a design fault to have such abusable OP fountains.

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    2. The main cheat involves using the code to get lots of money. Mr. Wizard out. Use a code to get to Blistering Heights and get the high level hirelings. Go back to the money cheat and get the rest of the gold you can get by teleporting. Put the gold in the bank (think it is over 5 million or so). Spend lots of time doing temp jobs to get 1% interest per week. Fire your old characters. Get a new party and use the money to level.

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  2. So the ancients are playing 'Civilization' but with real people, and starting each game requires a massive war between sentient elementals that were created for this purpose.

    Then mid-game they crash their Civilization onto a preexisting world.

    These guys are jerks.

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  3. Alicorn is the historical name for a unicorn horn, but is apparently also used for a winged unicorn (this I did not personally know).

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    1. I think Alicorn being used for a winged unicorn is a recent invention, thanks to My Little Pony. Prior to that show, I don't recall ever seeing alicorn referenced as anything but the horn of a unicorn.

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    2. Not precisely. I think Piers Anthony was the first one to use "alicorn" as a fanciful term for "winged unicorn". Here you can see a collection of pre-MLP citations for this sense of the word (although they consist mostly of quotes from Anthony and furry roleplaying:) https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Citations:alicorn

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    3. Etymologically, it is the same word as unicorn, albeit through some metanalysis: unicorne > un icorne > l'icorne > (a)licorne. It resembled a bull but with wavy horns, according to the OED:

      1688 R. Holme Acad. Armory ii. ix. 170/2 The Alecorn hath large horns standing on each side of the head over the ears, flected and reflected, headed like a Bull, with the mouth slit up to the ears; the body, tail, and hoofs like a Bull; [etc].

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    4. It had horns of a bull, hoofs of a bull, body of a bull, tail of a bull, so we called it... alicorn. Which was logical, like, totally.

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    5. I wonder if Korodzik, after linking his list of pre-My-Little-Pony furry roleplaying quotes, had a sit down and a think about where it all went wrong?

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    6. The Oxford dictionary blog has an article about this:

      http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2016/11/unicorn-with-wings/

      "Alicorn" used in the sense of winged unicorn starts from 1984 (Piers Anthony). The use as reference to unicorn horn only dates back to 1930.

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  4. Regarding Terra being flat, it isn't. You can see it is a classical spherical planet when you ship flies away from it in the end sequence.

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    1. Yeah, I realized that now after believing the opposite for 25 years. So the ship is just buried beneath the isles in the middle of a planet. Heh. I feel that's a missed opportunity to, for once, give actual in-game justification to a flat world with arbitrary square borders you cannot cross. It makes even less sense when you see Xeen after which is a two sided flat rectangle.

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    2. Well, that's true. I didn't capture the planet in my screenshots, so I forgot about that. In that case, it's either a tiny planet (that for some reason doesn't allow you to wrap around), or the part you explore is just supposed to be a small portion. I guess I'm going to believe the latter--that the rest of the planet is just ocean in all directions, and the Isles are the only land it has.

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    3. That or you are in a sheltered archipelago, and can't leave it due to not having ships strong enough to survive the open ocean.

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  5. Congratulations on beating this beast!
    I have another idea for a book on rpgs:
    Short stories, or even just abstracts, which sum up the actual stories of the games.
    I have read this three times now and do not understand what the underlying story is actually about.

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    1. -Ancients come up with an experiment to seed planets with life.

      -They populate several biospheres with life and load them onto a spaceship (these are the CRON and VARNs of MM1 and 2)

      -They send the spaceship towards a planet called Terra.

      -The creature that they created to be the guardian of Terra, Sheltem, takes his job too seriously and sees the coming "invasion" of life forms as a threat.

      -He flies himself to the spaceship en route (MM1) and tries to crash it into the sun instead of having it land on Terra (MM2). The MM2 party stops him.

      -Corak, an agent of the Ancients, lands on Terra with the VARNs/CRON and begins his pursuit of Sheltem.

      -Absolutely nothing in MM3 has anything to do with any of this until the party catches up with Corak/Sheltem at the end, just in time to see them flee to MMIV.

      Cool idea for a book, though. Short stories set within the universes of popular RPGs. Some poor guy who tried and failed to become the Avatar. The tavern keeper's perspective in Wizardry. A story relating how Belethor really DID have a sister, and what happened between them that made him so bitter.

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    2. Actually, such a thing exists. There are two books written by Lynn Abbey, "Temper of Wisdom" and "Forge of Virtue" that are set in Britannia at the time of Ultima V. They feature a group of unrelated young adventurers, and the books do touch on the fate of unsuccessful Avatar aspirants from the time of Ultima IV. Plus, the novels are pretty good.

      http://wiki.ultimacodex.com/wiki/Ultima_Saga:_The_Forge_of_Virtue

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  6. Apparently you can speedrun the game in about 5 minutes. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqOA-SQW7RM )
    Honestly, from the video alone i can't judge if there are any glitches or cheating involved.

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    1. Yeah, he's using the magic mirror cheat codes to instantly get himself enough money to hire the Blistering Heights NPCs. Then it's mostly just abusing Teleport and the interspatial box.

      I haven't tested it yet, but apparently you can win in seconds. There's another cheat code that immediately gets you to the endgame. You only have to know the 6-digit passcode.

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    2. The M&M IV speedrun is similar; use knowledge of specific mirror words to quickly get to end game areas.

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    3. There's one major difference. Both MM3 and MM4 have mirror codes that are found within normal gameplay, and CHEAT codes that are NOT. This MM3 run uses these cheat codes, and would therefore not be eligible for either TASvideos.org or Speedrun.com. The MM4 run avoids these codes.

      It's likely that an MM3 run without cheating wouldn't be that much slower, but this isn't it.

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    4. I watched an MM3 speed run that takes about half an hour. It seems to be legitimate. I'll talk about it in the summary and rating.

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  7. Congratulations! This was one of the few upcoming games on your 1991 list I was tempted to jump into first, but this year proved to be particularly busy for new releases I was interested in (I'm actually playing the new Torment right now. It's, uh... different). Still, maybe I'll get a headstart on the Xeen duo when their turn rolls around.

    Alignments play a big role in M&M VII, since you brought it up, to the extent that it even changes the UI. Beyond that, I don't remember it being a factor in any of the other post-V games, besides maybe some of the faction choices in VIII.

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    1. I know what you're saying about MMVII, but I don't think that is so much an "alignment" choice as a role-playing choice. The characters themselves don't have alignments, right?

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    2. I vaguely recall that half-way through MM7 you have to choose between good and evil promotions for characters. I don't remember whether all characters have to choose the same or not,
      .

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    3. It's more like this game's situation, I suppose, where you're not so much selecting alignments in the character-creation process but eventually choosing between a "good" or an "evil" leader to stand behind.

      I'd better not get into plot specifics, but now that I'm thinking about the way M&M3 is connected to M&M7 it's possible the latter revisited this particular alignment system as a deliberate callback.

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  8. I am a tad disappointed that this game is over. There is something oddly calming about your write ups when grinding through these long haul fantasy RPG's. Either way It was top notch vicarious satisfaction and I really appreciate the time and effort you put in here.

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    1. I was worried I was taking too long and putting in too much detail, so I'm glad that some readers liked it. I guess alternating games helps.

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    2. I too enjoyed the length and detail of this one. I suppose if the game gives you enough to do and explore that you have a lot to write about, then by all means do so!

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    3. Well most of the time it's because you're such a good writer and the game happens to match my interests but I also have to admit skipping some of the titles because they didn't really held any interest for me and writing was a bit boorish though you have become better and better at writing interesting narrative.

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  9. My final score was 835,022,620. I skipped some obvious places and quests, like all other pyramids except the final, and the unicorn quest. Interesting point, KTOW is still the passcode to send along with the final score. I wonder how close the scores truly match up against each other. I've heard that the longer you take to complete the game, the lower your potential score dips.

    I don't recall the castles becoming inaccessible in the SNES port, but the I believe the kings are no longer there.

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    1. I wonder if it crashes or wraps around at 2^31 (about 2.15 billion) or 2^32 (double that). The numbers look perilously close to getting there, and not many coders of that era ventured into numbers outside this range.

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  10. "And on the pedestal, these words appear . . ."

    (You best caption in a little while)

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    1. I frankly question whether that Hall of Legends ever existed in the first place.

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    2. Haha, now I wonder if Ozymandias didn't merely commission two legs and a head and figure he'd get credited for a full statue in the aeons to come. Legacy on a budget.

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  11. The lack of kerning on that final score makes my head hurt.

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  12. On the topic of chaos as the midpoint between Good and Evil, it makes a fair bit of sense once you think about it the right way. EITHER of the two sides winning would (presumably) bring about total order, as most of the chaos in the world is created by the clash of good and evil. With one side gone, no more chaos.

    Thus, the "balanced" state with both extremes smashed remains one of constant conflict.

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    1. I don't have anything to add except that's a well-thought answer.

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    2. I think the lore regards a victory for chaos as much a departure from balance as either of the other two. The ancients want the three natures of men or whatever to coexist.

      In that sense it's kind of weird that you pick a winner. That's what Sheltem wanted I thought.

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  13. Ostensibly, the password KTOW got something added to the certificate you could mail in for, but the only one someone's scanned for the internet ( http://mocagh.org/nwc/mm3-certificate.jpg ) doesn't have anything that seems like it's specifically relevant to the terminal.

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  14. Yes, you can use one throne in each castle per year.

    I guess the alignments in AD&D make more sense with nine different combinations of (Good, Neutral, Evil) and (Lawful, Neutral, Chaotic).

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  15. I'm confused about the whole Ancients vs Creators thing. The Ancients were the ones who created the VARNs, CRONs and Sheltem and Corak. And I assume that each of the major island on Terra was supposed to be a VARN or CRON. The game never really explains how Terra was under threat from the Creators since Sheltem was a Guardian created by the Ancients who went rogue. (LOL so many interchangable terms) I haven't played too much of M&M 4 and 5 so aside from knowing the ending I'm not sure how much or at all they expanded on the Creators vs Ancients lore in those games.

    Anyway, it's cool how all the M&M games basically kept the same formula but iterated on the graphics and depth of gameplay each time. Other series that came up with a formula and stuck with it consistently are Ultima, and Dragon Quest (for you console gamers). I hesitate to mention the Gold Box series because even though they came up with a good formula they didn't really iterate on it at all. They all had the exact same engine and didn't change much between entries.

    You should also try to contact JVC and report your score to him. Lord British is still accepting people's victories in the Ultima games on twitter and you can still get him to sign one of the victory certificates if you can meet him.

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  16. I haven't commented on here in a while (though I still read regularly), but I guess another Might and Magic game would be the best time to do so.

    To answer some of your questions, I think the party from M&M3 is supposed to be the same one from M&M1-2. The intro and manual seem to treat them this way, and I'd explain them being level 1 as simply a technical limitation due to the game switching to a completely new engine. It'd also explain why the party knows who Sheltem and Corak are (and vice-versa). Contrast with the intro to Clouds (and the manual to that game), which clearly introduces the party as natives of Xeen.

    Although it's never stated outright, I'm certain the Kreegan are either the Creators themselves, or more likely agents or minions of the Creators.

    The question of whether the Elementals or the Ancients should take credit for creation is muddled. There's another reference to the Elementals having created the world of Enroth in one of the Heroes games. I think your interpretation of the Ancients letting the Lords loose then containing them when they've shaped things as the Ancients want them makes sense.

    Sheltem and Corak are both constructs, if I recall World of Xeen correctly. The "soul" is Corak's memory core being separated from his body.

    Robert and Tolberti don't appear anywhere in this game. I think they're standins for whichever hirelings you used, or maybe they're a bit of a retcon that assumes the party of 8 didn't have hirelings, and therefore they're the remaining 2 PCs.

    I don't think the CRON from M&M2 and M&M3 are the same. I always had the impression Sheltem was on Terra when he got that CRON crashing into its sea, so the Ancients send Corak to subdue him, he does, then loses him on VARN-4 (the alien you meet is Corak; I'm pretty sure you never see an Ancient in the games). Sheltem then goes to that CRON and tries to send it into the sun. IIRC he sun-icides a few other VARNs in-between too.

    I've always enjoyed trying to piece together the series' lore.

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    1. Wow, okay. Lots of interesting alternate takes here. You could be absolutely right about some or all of them. Here are the ones I'm not sure about:

      1. MM3 party is the same as MM1-2. This would clean up a lot of questions, I agree, but I don't know that it makes sense. The default character names are different, for one thing. And why would the party have to go through so much trouble to get BACK to the ship they came from? Finally, I'm pretty sure NPCs refer to the party as "Terrans" at points, but I can't find a specific example.

      2. Alien on VARN is Corak. Hmmm. I guess that would make sense except in the encounter the alien says that "our" prisoner has escaped, so there's clearly more than one of them. Also, Corak's been going around writing messages on walls and posing as a human, but I guess we can assume he made his way back to the spacecraft after he did those things.

      3. CRON from MM2 isn't the same as the one on MM3. If not, where is the one from MM2? At the end, the party is successful in preventing it from crashing into Terra's sun. After that, it goes where?

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    2. I am 90% sure that MM5 answers many of these questions, but in the interest of avoiding spoilers I won't comment on the answers. This type of speculation is EXACTLY what a MM3 player would have been trying to work out at the time.

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    3. I thought the intro was pretty clear that the M&M 3 party is a new group of adventurers. It says "And Introducing A party of adventurers to explore the surrounding environs." You don't introduce people that have been in two previous games.

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    4. Heh you've both brought up some great counterarguments.

      1. I forgot about the difference in character names, or as Steve pointed out about "introducing" them. I think a certain series of logs on Darkside answer this question unambiguously but I don't remember the texts.

      2. Right I forgot about Corak posing as a human. I guess "our" refers to both this alien and to Corak, and the alien (who might be another unit similar to Corak) stayed behind while Corak went undercover. I think this makes more sense than Corak going around writing this stuff as a human then going back to the ship as an alien. Though that does leave the open question of what happened to this other guardian.

      3. I guess it keeps going back to wherever it was headed to. For my interpretation of another CRON I'm heavily drawing from my recollection of those logs from Darkside that I mentioned, but I might be misremembering the details. I guess we'll find out when you get there!

      I think the series retcons itself quite a bit for these kinds of details (even within Worlds of Xeen, the game changes its mind about whether the party is the same from M&M3 or not several times). If JVC saw the kind of story detail we're nitpicking he'd probably call us a bunch of nerds :) I have to admit I still enjoy piecing together these little bits, even if they frequently don't make sense.

      Anyway congratulations on finishing the game, and I'm glad you enjoyed it. It's not my favourite in the series but I still like it quite a bit.

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  17. Since I did a replay to comemorate the fact that you had finally arrived at the first crpg I had the oppurtunity to really play I transcribed my final score together with the not so secret code
    Unfortunately at the same time as I finally got a proper computer working again last week the 9 year old laptop which I´ve been confined too for the last year died on me so we will probably never be able to compare scores

    I will try to get it going again there are some things on that machine I want to retain if I succeed I will post my score

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