Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas Spirit of Adventure

An encrypted message leads to some encounter options.
Playing RPGs wouldn't be a bad way to welcome Christmas Eve, but I don't want to give the impression that I'm that far gone. I scheduled this in advance. It looks like I'll end 2017 with around 120 entries, more than 2015 and 2016. Alas, we won't see the end of the interminable 1987/1991 pairing until February at least.

Spirit of Adventure continues to chug along in an inoffensive way. Events in the last town have increased my confidence that there really is a plot to the game and that we should expect to see some story resolution. It's not as packed full of content as Might and Magic but it keeps things more interesting than The Bard's Tale, and I expect in the end it will rate somewhere between the two.
FYI, this is what happens when the whole party dies.
Since my last entry, I've mapped three new locations: Rialdo's Castle (a dungeon), the city of Brataya, and the city of Werik, the latter so small that it probably shouldn't count. I'm guessing it's one of the features that some commenters have talked about: an unfinished area waiting expansion in later editions. It consists of one small t-intersection and a dozen houses with nothing in them. The screens explicitly say (in a meta-way) that the city is under construction, and "Lari," a friend of Rowena from Moon City, is waiting to take over as mayor.
Shelves?! Everyone knows shelves are the last thing you put in!
Rialdo's Castle was still a bit too difficult for my Level 3 party, but rendered a bit easier because of my recently-acquired "obstacle" skill, which greatly increases the party's chances of fleeing combat. I didn't flee every combat, of course, as I wanted to get gold and level up, but the skill allowed me to be strategic about which combats I fought. Even so, it's not infallible, and I had to return to Moon City for healing several times during the adventure for healing.
This is the kind of combat you run from.
The dungeon is 32 x 32, which seems to be the default for the game's maps, just a bit bigger than I normally like, although for dungeons, Spirit uses the "worm tunnel" convention by which every corridor has 10 feet of filled wall around it (i.e., corridors never share the same wall), reducing the number of squares to explore.
It seems impossible that I didn't miss something.
Walking through the dungeon periodically produces messages that it's cold and that every party member must eat one ration. I'm not sure the connection between the two things makes a lot of sense.

Early in the dungeon at a key four-way intersection is a spinner. For some reason, my Amazon's "compass" ability didn't work in the dungeon, so I didn't realize what was happening. It screwed up mapping for a while before I sorted it out.
This message was a bit mysterious, too.
Among a lot of random combats was one fixed one with some bandits. Bandits steal things from the party members during fights, but you generally get it back at the end. It's not like The Bard's Tale where they can steal things and then take off before the fight is over. They're worth fighting because they have a ton of gold.

Defeating them produced a "treasure map." There was no way to use or read it, but the game automatically told me when I entered an area that the treasure map covered. It alerted me to a secret door and then to a cache of bandit treasure that included a couple of new runes and some magic items, including an "ice lance," a mithril shield, and "Rialdo's Staff."
Finding the bandit's cache.
Alas, I left the dungeon not knowing who "Rialdo" is or was, and annoyed by some large blocks of unused map space. I think I searched every square for a secret door, but to be honest, I don't know for sure how secret doors work. The only one I've found was pointed out to me by the map, so I don't know if you have to search for normal secret doors or just try to walk through them, and if the former if you ever have to search multiple times.

With the new runes, I had the right combinations to create "Heal Body," "Heal Mind," and "Fire Blast" (I'm making up the names, but that's what they do). I returned to a temple and created the first two without problems, but the game said my level wasn't high enough for the damage spells.
My first successful spell.
I wasn't too vexed as I've had one of my spellcasters running the "Sizzle" skill, which negates all magic--extremely useful against spellcasters--and I'll have to turn it off if I want to cast spells of my own in combat.
A "sorcerer" can't do much against me if he can't cast a spell.
The city of Brataya was the same size as Moon City and took as long to map and explore. But it had a diverting quest that unfolded as I visited special locations and talked to various NPCs. The short story is that the city's fish had all gone bad--something confirmed to me when I visited a pub serving fish and all the characters got sick. When I visited the city's port, they said that it was closed "because of the disease and the tarantula monster," the latter of which was never explained.
The large city of Brataya.
The mayor, Lapa, asked me to look into the issue, mentioning that he'd already commissioned two notable citizens, Somar and Radin, to find a solution. 
Radin even has a street named after him.
I met a postal worker named Grinan who took the party boozing. After a couple of drinks, he offered to let us have a peek at undelivered letters for 100 gold. One of them was written by Somar to a man name Prior in Elfrad, saying that Somar had unmasked Radin as a traitor. He wondered why Prior hadn't responded to his earlier letter confirming such. He also mentioned that a magic mirror can exorcise a Garthian demon.

This latter bit was later confirmed in a library, where a book, authored by Somar, in which he discussed someone named Nuk accomplishing this feat. A nearby shop was selling "Nuk's mirror."
A possible nod to a competitor in the library.
When I found Somar, he told me that he couldn't stop the disease but he gave me a book with "hints" and shoved me out of his house. When we looked in the book, it turned out it had a hollowed out space with a key in it. An accompanying note basically said that the walls have ears, but that we should take the key to Narim, a temple guard. We did that and Narim gave us a key to Somar's mansion.

In the mansion, this "coded message" was written on the wall:


I wasted way too long on this thinking it was an anagram because you can get RADIN, GARTHIAN, BEWARE, FROM, OF, and KILL out of it and I figured the rest must spell something. Later--while I was composing this entry--I remembered my Might and Magic training and realized it was simply an interleave, requiring you to take the first letter from each set until it's all used up: BREAK A STONE FROM THE WALL AND YOU'LL FIND A RUNE RING.
Apropos of nothing, the weapon shop in the city has some cool stuff.
Another one in Town Hall reads:



Not solving the puzzles at the time didn't stop me from finishing the quest, since the game just assumes you've decrypted them and gives you the associated menu options. (Although I think not knowing the right course of action caused me to die and forced me to reload in Somar's place.) In Radin's house, I found his rune ring and the undelivered letter to Prior along with a note Radin had written to someone named Tibuk saying he'd gotten hold of the letter "just in time."

I finally found Radin in one of the houses. I never got any specific intelligence that he was possessed by a Garthian demon, but the game offered me the option to use Nuk's mirror, so I did, and the demon fled his body. He thanked me, said he'd figure out a cure for the fish, and told me to re-visit the mayor.
That nearly went badly.
Lapa gave me 500 gold pieces and 500 experience points, which is one of the few examples we have from the era of quest-based experience rewards. Mostly only the Gold Box games have done this.
Oh, and he gave me a rune I already had.
I closed the long session with a re-visit to Castle Attic for leveling. Then, I'll continue systematically exploring the wilderness for new locations.

Some miscellaneous notes:

  • An interface complaint: when you view your party members' character sheets, you initially select from numbers 1-6 corresponding with the character you want to view. But if you then want to change the character you're viewing, you select from 1-5, or from among the current unselected characters. That means there's no consistency in which number goes with which character. For instance, if Orithia (#1) is selected, Hanzo (#2) is activated with "1" because he's the first character currently not selected. But if Aibell (#3) is selected, then Hanzo is selected with "2." You'd be surprised how often this slows things down and makes it easy to miss a character when you're trying to check inventories and such.
  • A long time ago, I complained when the compass in Dungeon Master actually pointed north (which a real compass does) instead of the direction I was currently facing (which most games do). Now, in this game, I had the opposite reaction.
  • The leader of the monastery in Brataya is named "Heron" and he's one of several NPCs this session to dress up like a superhero. He had nothing useful to say except that his Moon City counterpart, Rowena, "did good work until a few months ago." This is the second bit of intelligence that suggests something weird is going on with Rowena. 
An "investor" in the city had the same costume. I gave him 400 gold pieces and totally forgot to return to him.
  • Brataya had a seer name Vidax whose prognostications were as useless as the guy in Moon City.
Although maybe it's a clue that aliens are responsible for the opitar epidemic.
I'll close by mentioning that as part of my holiday vacation, I indulged myself by purchasing Star Wars Battlefront II because I had greatly enjoyed its namesake from 10 years ago. I have no interest in multi-player gaming (and thus no stake in the debate over "play to win" and "loot boxes," although I can understand why so many gamers are upset about them), but the previous title of that name had a fun single-player campaign and an equally-fun "galactic conquest" mode in which you played with and against bots. That's all I wanted. I don't always want to play RPGs. Sometimes I just want to sit on my couch and drool and shoot things.

Well, I can't tell you how disappointed I am. There's no galactic conquest. The offline bot-play mode, "arcade," has no scenarios in which you can drive vehicles or engage in space-based combat. The earlier Battlefront II was even a quasi-RPG, with character upgrades based on achievements. This game may have something similar with its "cards" or whatnot, but I haven't been able to figure out how that works yet.

The solo campaign tells a decent story, I grant you, but what I really wanted was the old Battlefront II with better graphics--and to be honest, I don't even think the graphics from the original have aged that much. I'd have been happier just buying a used copy of the original game--if it worked on the Xbox One.

This is all to say that you'll probably see some decent progress on RPGs over the next week because my couch plan was ruined.

Happy holidays, everyone, and thanks for your continued support.


  1. Battlefront II is available on GoG, unless you just don't want to play it on your computer.

    1. For what it's worth, the game should work okay with an Xbox One controller on PC, as it supports a joystick, but IDK how much fiddling it would require and it wouldn't be the same. Still, it could be worth a try.

    2. Yeah, that might be a good solution. I could install it on the computer I have attached to my TV. It doesn't have a lot of text that would make it hard to play from that distance the way that some PC games do.

  2. Thanks for your continuing efforts mr crpgaddict!
    happy new year to come!

  3. Is there such a thing as a Christmas themed RPG?

    1. The is a Christmas themed puzzle game called Quiet Christmas by Nostatic Software. You control a little girl driven to silence everything in the house that is making noise. Not really an RPG but it does involve some inventory management and puzzle solving. Should take no more than 15 minutes to beat.

    2. There are adventures and other genres for sure, but it seems like a tricky theme to shoehorn into a classic CRPG.

    3. The player must defeat Krampus and rescue Saint Nick, while granting Christmas wishes (sidequests) in a Christmas-time-gone-mad setting. There's plenty of folklore from various regions dealing with both good and evil winter spirits to draw on.

    4. You have to fight a possessed Santa in Secret of Mana, and there is a Santa's village with reindeer and moogles.

    5. If you defeat Krampus, who will punish the bad children?

    6. @ Buck

      Well, the evil playthrough has you assume the role of Krampus obviously ;)

    7. If MMORPGs count, "Ragnarok Online" had a city named "Lutie" that was a Christmas-themed city run by Santa Claus, and there was even a Christmas "Toy Factory" dungeon there as well. That place was a place of nightmares:

    8. I seem to remember Costume Quest had some kind of meaningful Christmas content and an achievement for playing it on Xmas... may be mistaken though.

    9. Also, if Kingdom Hearts ends up qualifying as an RPG, it obviously has all the Nightmare Before Christmas stuff...

  4. Happy Green Earless Batman to you and yours, Addict, and thanks for all the edifying reading material this year.

    1. Seconded. It must be tiresome at times, but you persisted. Great work :)

  5. Is it just me or does Rodin look like Hardy and Vidax like the Soothsayer from Asterix?

    1. And Lapa is Sean Connery as in Highlander.

    2. It's not just you. Search for "Attic" on this page. A lot of the character portraits are based on film stills and/or celebrities. The same is true of their later Realms of Arkania series, which we'll see here eventually.

  6. About the black areas in your Rialdo's Castle map:

    - you have been at the bottom right area. When you activate the three pressure plates at the top left, you get teleported to the bottom right. It is hard to notice, since the new area is similar to the old one. This also should open the dead ends in the center bottom, that you already found.

    - the area in the center:
    I only know half of the solution, maybe you can find the second part?
    Minor spoiler:
    Zntvp vf abg nyybjrq va Evnyqb'f Pnfgyr, jryy, znlor gurer vf n cneg jurer zntvp vf cbffvoyr?
    Ubj pbhyq n fcryy or pbzcbfrq gung yrgf lbh vagb gur nern?

    Major spoiler:
    Gb trg gurer, lbh unir gb abgvpr, gung gur unyyjnl (3 fdhnerf) va sebag bs gur pragre nern vf gur bayl nern jurer zntvp vf nyybjrq. Lbh pna gura hfr gur fcryy Rnegu Fbsgarff Nve gb bcra n jnyy gb svaq n ebbz jvgu Zryshe'f sbhagnva. Gur sbhagnva unf or npgvingrq, ohg V arire sbhaq bhg ubj. Gur ovanel svyrf fubj fbzr grkg eryngrq gb Zryshe'f sbhagnva.

    1. Ah. I figured the pressure plates were opening and closing wall spaces. I didn't consider that they were moving me to a completely different area.

      Looks like I'll have to head back at some point.

  7. Happy holidays, Addict and all!

  8. As Andreas Mattern pointed out Vidax is based off of Prolix the soothsayer from the Asterix comic books. I'm inclined to say that you shouldn't trust him; Prolix was a charlatan. I haven't played this game however so I could be wrong.

    I'm look forward to your next piece!

  9. Thank you very much for all the great posts this year. Looking forward to the next ones!

  10. Thank you for your continued productivity! I'm raising a glass of hot mulled Gimlet in your honor.

    1. Mulled Gimlet

      Into a prewarmed teacup add:

      2 oz gin (something robust, Beefeaters?)
      1/2 oz lime juice
      1/2 oz light (1:1) simple syrup
      4 oz hot water

      Grate nutmeg on top.

  11. By the way, have you considered running a patreon campaign? That way you could perhaps make this a side job :)

  12. Funny to see you mention wanting the original Star Wars Battlefront II, because I ended up getting that during Gog's winter sale. More relevent to thr blog, I also ended up getting Baldur's Gate 2, Realms of Arkania, and Betrayal at Krondor


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