Friday, January 26, 2018

Eye of the Beholder II: Hexapodal Hoedown


A nice action shot from this session.
    
It's surprising how much relief is occasioned from the simple act of finding a key. In the Eye of the Beholder games, progress is almost always blocked somewhere by a locked door, and finding the right key tells you that at least one more path is now open--that you aren't about to hit a dead end. Sometimes I think I have a surplus of keys and figure that the game must have purposefully seeded extras just in case you miss one, but then I inevitably find a door for which a key is necessary. As I write this entry, I'm down to one--a stray skull key.

Not every key fits every lock. So far in the game, I've encountered locks that require grey keys, copper keys, spider keys, Darkmoon keys, bone keys, and mantis keys. There are also non-key items that functionally act like keys, including the stone object used for the teleportation door and (as we'll see) four horns. A very small percentage of locks can be picked, and since any "surplus" of keys always turns out to be illusory, I figure that any lock that can be picked must be picked to explore the full game. A small percentage of doors can also be forced.
          
My lead character sorts through some of her keys.
       
As I wrapped up last time, I had finished with D-4. I used the teleportation door to return to the main level, rest, and see what happened when I resurrected Amber, the scout Khelben had sent me here to rescue. She turned out to be a neutral-good female elf thief/mage, not a useless class, but not really adding anything to the party. She has the highest charisma in the game, but I'm pretty sure that's the most useless statistic. I preferred my pure mage. Thus, I reloaded and kept my original configuration. I guess Khelben can resurrect her when we get back if he really wants to.
         
A 17 intelligence coupled with 18 dexterity keeps Amber alert.
       
Side note: Either it's possible to resurrect an individual from bones alone, which seems unlikely, or the "bones" are just an abstraction and I'm actually carrying a decaying corpse in my backpack.

After my side-trip, I headed back down to D-4 and from there to D-5. This turned out to be the lowest level of the dungeon unless something else opens up later. It was a small level, occupying only 20 x 12 coordinates, with about 130 used squares. There were no secret doors that I could find.
       
It's THEM!
         
The corridors were crawling with giant ants capable of poisoning my characters, but I had plenty of scrolls and potions for that, plus the ants died in a hit or two. They kept respawning, but at least there was a reason for the respawning: two locations where I encountered holes in the wall too small for the party, but apparently big enough for the giant ants living in the area.
       
What do I keep a dwarf around for if not for this?
       
The floors here teemed with treasure, including entire sets of equipment atop the bones of their slain owners. San-Raal worked overtime with "Detect Magic," "Improved Identify," and "Remove Curse." I didn't find much that was useful, though, except a couple magic knives for throwing and some new keys.
    
There have been about five cursed items in the game so far.
        
There were messages that some jars had smashed and some black, tar-like substance had leaked out, but I never figured out what that was about. Maybe the previous inhabitants had been making some kind of syrup that attracted the ants.
      
. . . filled with some kind of syrup or liquid.
        
One of the keys I'd found on D-5 opened a new corridor on D-4. A niche on the wall here held the fourth "wind horn." A series of staircases from here led back up to D-2, where a button opened the way back to the small "spider area" I showed last time.

At this point, the only unexplored path I had marked was a corridor on D+1 where I needed some kind of mark or brand to pass. However, I also had four horns that I thought would have some use at a main-level mural depicting the four winds. Sure enough, blowing the four horns brought the wall down and opened a new pathway upwards.
          
       
The new area was difficult enough that it felt like everything up to this point had been some kind of prelude. The main enemies were "mantis warriors," who almost always hit, cause paralysis when they hit, and are fast. There was no maneuvering dance that remotely saved me from harm.
        
The terrifyingly-fast new foe.
       
The only thing that saved me was the fact that paralyzed characters don't lose their place in formation, so rear characters still can't be hit by enemies in the front. Every time I had to face a mantis warrior head-on, my front characters would inevitably get paralyzed in the first round, leaving my rear characters to kill them with missiles and spells, hopefully before their front-rank colleagues were killed. I couldn't help but imagine a real party in this situation, propping up their stiffened friends and using them as shields. I soon learned to fill my Level 3 cleric spell slots with "Remove Paralysis."

The game didn't introduce this terrifying new enemy slowly, either. When the level opened, I faced a puzzle consisting of light pads that zapped my party every time I stepped on a lit one. I could only suck up damage from one of them before the second had a chance of killing my lowest-HP characters. These pads plugged the corridors to the north and south and filled a room to the east.
       
Yow!
         
Some of them occasionally blinked off for a couple of seconds. Through much trial, error, and reloading, I mapped a semi-reliable path from the beginning to the east side of the room, crossing nine pads that alternated on/off states. (Semi-reliable because it was virtually impossible to avoid getting zapped at least once.) Upon reaching the other side, however, an invisible wall opened and four mantis warriors blocked the way forward. I couldn't backpedal into the deadly light pads, I couldn't move forward because of the warriors, and I couldn't stand still because I got zapped every time the pad blinked back on.
          
I had to concentrate too much on combat to take a screenshot. Here's the aftermath.
            
After several failed attempts, I was able to defeat the warriors by buffing, crossing the pads, launching my deadliest spells as soon as the wall opened, hopefully killing one, stepping forwards amidst the others, and finishing them off before everyone was killed. It was a difficult challenge, but pleasingly so. I don't mind combats that force you to reload three or four times. More than that starts to become a bit sadistic. Later in the level, long corridors and fighting retreats made the mantises a little easier.

Other encounters on the level included:

  • When I first arrived on the level, some vision "welcomed" me and said I'd be facing a "test of faith" on the level.
        
The #$%@ are you?
        
  • A magic mouth that demanded three bones. Fortunately, I'd been annotating assorted skulls and femurs on my map, and I knew where to get some. I fed them to the mouth and got a bone key.
     
The magic mouth enjoys its calcium.
   
  • A long, dead-end corridor with plaques that read "What can be trusted?" and "Nothing ventured, nothing gained." I never figured out what these were talking about.
  • A neutral-good male half-elf fighter/cleric named Tanglor. He was sleeping in one of the rooms and indicated that he was also there for the "test." Since I already had two clerics and didn't need another fighter, I declined to take him, although his wisdom (16) was better than Shorn's (13). What kind of pure cleric has a wisdom of 13?
        
Also, he was kind of an arrogant ass.
   
  • A mantis warrior was bleeding and dying on the ground. I had options to heal, kill, or leave it. I chose to heal it and it attacked me, the bastard, forcing me to kill it.
    
As  deontologist, I was still comfortable with my choice.
   
  • I come to a t-intersection and was automatically turned to face a couple of mantises to the west. One threw a "sphere-like" object at me; it was in fact a "glass sphere," which strikes like a fireball. Stepping to the left quickly allowed me to avoid it.
      
But of course it filled me with shame at how badly I was abusing the game engine.
       
  • A room full of mantis warrior eggs. It had treasure at the end, but walking to the end caused them all to hatch at once, dooming the party. I had to slash the eggs and kill their inhabitants one at a time.
  
What gives it away?
   
  • In a mystery that still bothers me, a hall contained a button, a pit, and a second button on the other side of the pit. Pressing the first button opened a second pit in front of the first. To solve the puzzle, I had to fire a missile down the corridor to activate the second button, closing the first pit but opening the second, then hit the first button to close the second pit. This procedure opened up a secret door on the other side of the first pit, which led into a 10 x 10 room, which had . . . nothing. No treasures, no more secret doors, just nothing at all. I can only imagine I'll get teleported to this little room later or something and thus be glad that I opened the way out.
          
I love the party comments.
The "trial" level.
        
Moving up from this level via a staircase, I groaned when I heard buzzing in the distance. Giant wasps are never fun. Here, they're capable of both paralyzing and poisoning characters. I found they died quickly from "Fireball" and "Ice Storm." Between those and the "Remove Paralysis" and "Neutralize Poison" spells I need to cure their effects, this game is really getting its mileage out of spell levels 3 and 4.
      
Of course, my second mage spent his slots on "Lightning Bolt."
      
Like the ants, the wasps had an excuse for respawning--a nest hidden in the walls. I can understand letting this happen in a distant sub-basement, but on the second floor? The clerics in this place are a disgrace.
      
Shooting weapons or fireballs in there doesn't do anything.
      
My characters entered the game with 172,234 experience points and currently have 272,646. That's been enough to get my fighter/thief one level each in his classes, my mage one level, and my ranger/cleric one level in cleric only. My paladin hasn't gone up at all and won't for another 30,000 experience points. It's almost impossible to imagine reaching the 1.5 million experience points that the paladin needs for Level 13 (theoretically possible in the game). I wonder which is true: a) enemies are about to get a lot harder; b) most players end the game well before the level caps; or c) this is a 200-hour game and I've barely begun.

Four random notes on game/D&D rules:
        
  • Identifying an item with "Improved Identify" requires that the wizard hold it in one hand while he casts the spell. But to cast the spell, he has to have a free hand. Thus, I don't see how you can identify two-handed weapons.
  • I was going to comment that the rule that characters only get 1 HP restoration from 24 hours' rest is kind of stupid. Then I thought about it and realized that resting for 2 months to go from death's door to perfect health is probably about accurate. In much later AD&D-based games like Baldur's Gate, one night's rest restores all hit points, I think. Did AD&D rules change, or did the game adaptations change?
  • The paladin gets a few spells starting at Level 9, but the ranger never gets any. I guess the developers didn't want to bother with druid spells.
  • Back when she had the Ring of Wizardry which gave her two additional Level 4 spells, I had my mage memorize four iterations of "Ice Storm." After she lost the ring, she can still memorize those four spells, with the game saying that she has "-2 out of 0" spells to memorize. If I clear the four spells and try to select new ones, I'm sure this will go away and she'll only be able to memorize 2.
     
As I wrap up, I'm stuck on a lever/door puzzle on the bee level. There's a 3 x 3 room with levers in each corner. A doorway to the south leads to a hallway with four closed doors. Each lever seems to open one door. The problem is, each lever also opens a pit in front of another lever, and no pattern seems to allow you to flip all of them without blocking yourself by a pit at some point. The most I've gotten is three.

Down the corridor a ways, there's a button on one wall that doesn't seem to do anything. I'm sure opening the final door involves some combination of levers and the button, but I'm not getting it. A sign in the room says "faith is the key." No idea how that helps. (There's no obvious way to make a "faith-based" pattern, like a cross, in the order of the levers.) This is the first puzzle in the game to seriously challenge me, so in that sense, it's somewhat welcome.
     
I'm grateful for the comment. I haven't otherwise been looking at floor moldings very carefully.
    
If I can rise another level or two by the next entry, I'll try to analyze combat and spells in more detail. Certainly, the spells most useful in Eye of the Beholder are a bit different from those in the Gold Box series.

Time so far: 18 hours


101 comments:

  1. Rest and HP recovery rules in AD&D tabletop have always been brutal. You recovered 1 HP per day of normal rest, and if you were doing a full-on "stay in bed all day" with someone attending to you, you could recover 3HP per day. It was assumed players would use magical healing to get back into fighting shape faster.

    3rd Edition they changed it so you recovered your level in HP per night of rest, and a complete rest for a day and night recovered double that.

    In 4th and 5th Edition, a full night's rest restores all HP. Some old-school gamers hate this, and ignore it and use the older rules.

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    1. Yes, and resting in Baldur's Gate did not automatically restore your health, although you could set it to automatically cast healing spells. I believe you could stay at an inn and buy a more expensive room to recover more hp.

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    2. Yes, Baldur's Gate added Inn qualities to speed it up, and a rule by which anyone with healing spells would use them to heal up wounded players. (Which is pretty much what tabletop games would do.)

      The biggest issue is that you end up spending a LOT of time healing up, which meant that by the time you returned to a dungeon all your work at clearing it would be lost, because new denizens would have moved in.

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    3. And then Neverwinter Nights went all the way and sitting down for five seconds now cured everything and restored all spells. And frankly, that's how I prefer it. Sure, it's not realistic at all, but much less of a hassle. Most games don't track time in any meaningful way anyway.

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    4. I'm filled with happiness every time I mis-remember something about Baldur's Gate. Maybe by the time I get to 1988, Minsc will be a completely fresh surprise.

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    5. I'll say, "who's that guy who sounds like Hondo?"

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    6. And get a bunch of old age jokes in return.

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    7. Yeah I'm 42 and even the Hondo reference required Googling... Also it's 1998 for BG release ;) You got a few years to complete before you get to it.

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    9. TFW you realize that this year is the 20-year anniversary of Baldur's Gate.

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    10. Yeah in AD&D people recover from wounds with non-magical means in semi-realistic ways.

      But even with magical healing, imagine this life, where you fight an intellect devourer today, an umber hulk tomorrow, get inevitably crumpled and wounded terribly, sometimes more than once a day in different fights, or even might die a few times and be brought back from the dead or nursed with magical means, just to rejoin the fray every time. You'd think a few near-death or beyond-death experiences would make a few dwarves and elves retire some axes and bows but no.

      The life of the dungeon and dragon adventurer is this sadomasochistic spiral of getting beat up, magicked back together until they die-die or they end up powerful enough to be a god.

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    11. If you get beat up in an combat sport in the US, these days you get handed a 3-month medical suspension.

      Retired adventurers would basically be invalids after all the stuff they went through.

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    12. It's really crazy how many voice acting roles Jim Cummings has had in TV and video games.

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    13. *Sigh* now I feel ancient...my reaction to "Why does he sound like Hondo?"
      was...
      "Minsc doesn't sound like John Wayne...."

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  2. The 2nd edition entry for the 'Resurrection' spell does not explicitly state how much of a corpse is needed for it to be successful, but considering that the lower level spell 'Raise Dead' (the one the subtracts a point of CON) states you need a full corpse I think it's safe to say that you can 'Resurrect' with just a few bones.

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    1. Learned something new. Thanks. I figured "Resurrect" was just restoring a spirit to a body, but it sounds like it's more like recreating the person's existence.

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    2. Tabletop D&D has usually included three "bring back the dead" spells.

      Raise Dead (level 5 cleric spell) required a fresh corpse, would not work for someone who'd been dead for more than one day per level, and drained Constitution. In 2nd Edition, it did not work on all playable races.

      Ressurect (level 7 Cleric spell) worked for up to ten years per caster level, worked on everybody, and only required part of a corpse.

      Reincarnation (level 7 cleric/druid spell) required part of a corpse, only worked on people who had been dead for less than a week, but had the special property of creating an entirely new body (of a random race) instead of restoring the old one. This spell is somewhat useful for cheesing the system, as it could easily result in a 90 year old human wizard becoming a 20 year old dwarf or elf wizard.

      3rd edition added "True Ressurection", which was a 9th level spell that requires nothing of the corpse.

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    3. There must be rules about what you get when you subdivide human remains, resurrect a portion of them, and then cast it again on the other pile. Or is this just the fantasy version of cloning? (With a sufficiently quick system of the transportation of remains, it would be a D&D version of Star Trek teleportation!)

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    4. Reincarnation at age 70 sounds like a good/neutral option to be something much like a lich. Or a Doctor Who.

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    5. One of the benefits of reincarnation is that it bypasses the 'Resurrection Survival' roll that is required for the other methods of reviving. It's a percentile roll tied to you constitution, a character with Con 10 has a 25% chance of failing the roll and if that happens 'Only divine intervention can bring such a character back again'. I don't think any video game adaptation of the D&D rules has ever implemented this.

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    6. Wizardry did, with botched resurrections turning the character to ash.

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    7. @Rowan That method of transportation was used in the 1981 film Dragonslayer. *Spoilers*
      Gur jvmneq unq gb znxr n ybat wbhearl ohg xarj ur jnfa'g urnygul rabhtu gb znxr vg nyvir. Ur nyybjrq uvz gb or xvyyrq fb ur pbhyq or pneevrq gb gur qrfgvangvba ol uvf hajvggvat ncceragvpr naq gura erfheerpgrq va gur qentba'f pnir sbe gur svany fubjqbja.

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    8. @Rowan Lipkovits: Actually, the 1E and 2E rules were vague on a lot of grounds, and there certainly weren't rules explicitly addressing the case you bring up, but in this particular case, I doubt any DM would let a player get away with what you propose. (There was in fact a "clone" spell, but it had its own limitations and issues. And of course there are also teleportation spells, so killing a character, transporting the remains, and then bringing the character back to life would be... needlessly complicated.) You can only resurrect a dead character; once the character is alive you can't resurrect them again, even if there were pieces left because you separated them before resurrection. I don't see how that would be meaningfully different from, say, cutting off a character's arm and casting resurrection on it to try to get another copy of the character. Extra parts of a living character are not the same as the remains of a dead character.

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    9. To expand a bit: In D&D, a character has a soul; when the character dies, the soul leaves the body and goes to its final reward (eventually, though it has to travel through other planes to get there, and... anyway, the details aren't really important right now.) Resurrection brings back the soul and reunites it with the body. So once a character is resurrected, the soul is back in the resurrected body; casting resurrection again on other spare parts of the character that might be lying around for whatever reason won't have any effect, because the character doesn't have a second soul out there to reunite with them.

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    10. There's nothing in the rules to support this, but I know that if I was DMing a session where a player tried that, it would result in the immediate creation of a hostile Evil Ash-style doppelganger. Or maybe just the offending body parts coming to life and mindlessly rampaging around. That would be fun, the party fighter's legs running around kicking people.

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    11. Trolls actually did have body parts that would keep fighting on if severed and would reassemble (you ran into this briefly in Curse of the Azure Bonds and Gateway to the Savage Frontier).

      I believe either Heroes of the Lance or Dragons of Flame did have the possibility of failed resurrection and character loss.

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    12. My copy of the AD&D 2E Player's Handbook (which is the first edition of it, not the WoTC reprint) specifically says that the 7th Level Cleric spell Resurrect works on bones, as long as the target has been dead for less than 10 years.

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  3. I think in BG a night's rest gave you between 1 and 4hp depending on room quality. In 3e they upped it to 1HP/level for a night's rest or 2HP/level if you rest for 24 hrs.

    Raise Dead required a pretty ripe, mostly complete corpse. Resurrection could bring back something that died 100+ years ago even if all you had was a femur. Even a tooth would do but would have a greater chance of failure.

    Those mantis guys or Thri-Kreen as they're usually called, were on level 13 or 14 in the original game, and they were annoying back then as well.

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    1. Useless factoid: Thri-Kreen were invented by Paul Reiche III while working for TSR, he would later team up with Fred Ford and go on to create the Star Control games

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    2. Thri-Kreen are a playable race in the Dark Sun games. They pack quite a punch there, too.

      I wouldn't have recognized them from these images, though. I think in Dark Sun they are yellow, not green.

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    3. It's an art error. In the Forgotten Realms just like in Dark Sun, Thri-kreen are yellow or brownish, not green.

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    4. Yeah, it's an art goof, though it should be pointed out that the Thri-Kreen in 'Pool of Radiance' are also depicted green.

      In the Dark Sun setting there are 6 Thri-Kreen sub-species, and while the two most common types are yellow, there are also Kreen who are red, purple, black and dark green.

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    5. Edit to the above: Looking at the Thri-Kreen's 1st ed entry (Monster Manual II) it doesn't state the colour of their chitin, and says they live in 'small lightless burrows', which is in-line with how they were portrayed in PoR. The 2nd ed entry (Monstrous Manual) gives their colour as yellow but states that they are organized into hunting packs and there 'are no permanent Thri-Kreen communities'. The 2nd ed Monstrous Manual was published in 1993 and I can find no earlier 2nd ed entry in any of the compendiums, so at the time EoB2 was published there was still no canonical colour for them and the guys at SSI probably just remembered making them green in PoR.

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    6. There was an earlier second edition entry, in the 1989 Monstrous Compendium Volume Three: Forgotten Realms Appendix, and it's pretty much in agreement with the Monstrous Manual entry regarding their color and social behavior. So yes, at the time EoB2 was published it was already established in print that thri-kreen were "sandy yellow".

      However... the first-edition Monster Manual II wasn't actually the thri-kreen's first appearance! They were one of a handful of monsters specifically created for the "Monster Cards" TSR published in 1982 (all of which made it into the Monster Manual II the next year), which had full-color illustrations. And in its original Monster Card appearance, the thri-kreen was... actually kind of reddish-orange. Huh. I guess that got ignored in 2E.

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    7. There were also a few thri-kreen in Curse of the Azure Bonds as an optional battle in the Myth Drannor Burial Glen.

      They were also green. I'm guessing it's error that got carried on from Goldbox, along with the spider sprites. ;)

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    8. @Jalen Wanderer, thank you for that, thought for sure I checked MC3, but obviously must have skipped it. To complicate matters even more, the Thri-Kreen appears on the cover of MC3... and it's black with five-fingered humanoid hands.

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  4. Spellcasting in D&D doesn't require you to hold a spellbook (or a holy symbol); this is merely a consequence of the computer interface. This is how one might identify a two-handed weapon. Abgr gung lbh pna vqragvsl gjb vgrzf ng gur fnzr gvzr ol hardhvccvat lbhe fcryyobbx (juvpu qbrf ABG pybfr gur fcryy vagresnpr) orsber lbh pyvpx ba gur fcryy gb pnfg.

    The answer to your current puzzle is that cerffvat gung uvqqra ohggba va lbhe ynfg cvpgher pnhfrf bar bs gur cvgf gb orpbzr vyyhfbel, urapr vs lbh unir snvgu lbh pna jnyx ba vg.

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    1. Ah, very good. Thanks for that trick.

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    2. "to cast the spell, he has to have a free hand. Thus, I don't see how you can identify two-handed weapons."

      Rules aside, I imagine that he could /hold/ a two-handed weapon in one hand (perhaps the other end leaning against the ground) while casting, just not wield one. (But I imagine most two-handed weapons are generally out of the question for mages anyhow!)

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    3. That's the nice thing about p&p RPGs, they write the rules and let the players apply them with common sense or even use their imaginations to come up with clever solutions.
      The problem is too many rules lawyers come up with game breaking solutions that ruin everyone's fun.

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    4. The DM’s job is to ignore rules lawyers, even if it cones down to enforcing house rules. Another nice thing about pen and paper RPGs is the ability to do this.

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    5. In 3e clerics needed to be able to hold a holy symbol when casting any spell with the Divine Focus (most of them). That meant you could hold a weapon in one hand, OR a (non-buckler) shield, but not both.
      Not that most clerics followed those rules. (My cleric always used a buckler for that reason)

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    6. You have to have a divine focus, but I don't see any rule that says you have to be holding it. You have to have your hands free for any spell that uses somatic components, of course.

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    7. Yes, I think you are correct. It was my fellow clerics casting with a heavy mace and heavy sheild, but I forgot why.

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  5. Are the pits illusions? What happens if you just walk over them? Think indiana Jones and the last crusade.

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    1. It's even the same "faith" hint as Indy.

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    2. Anyway, aren't you jumping down every pit? If not you are missing mapping/loot opportunities. (Not sure how much there is in eob2 specifically, but generally dungeon designers love to hide secrts down pits)

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    3. Addict clearly chose ... poorly.

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    4. LOL the old illusory pit trick. Gets 'em every time.

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  6. From when I played Bg 1 / 2 inn quality held no difference but then again iwas neven masochistic enough to play those without both cleric and a thief in the party.

    Time does pass in BG but since the game doesn't care about the passage of time you can spend as much as +350 days in resting ... as my friend found out in IWD 2

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    1. Yes, the villains are perfectly cool with you resting your rusty bones in an expensive hotel for months and will wait for you before they move on to the next phase of their world domination plan.

      However, I do recall some rather time-sensitive quests in both 1 and 2, as I found out to my disappointment. Let's say that Minsk was not on my party when I finished the first game even though he had joined me.

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    2. Indeed other then that the game didn't care "oh sorry Imoen & Irenicus just took me 300days get the cash and get here you know I'm a busy guy lots of dungeons to explore and quests to fill".

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    3. It's funny, but practically every game does this, so it's not like BG is worthy of particular ridicule.

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    4. In Throne of Baahl, I played through the beginning, when the city is being attacked, as fast as I could due to the sense of urgency.

      Turns out I missed a load of really cool items because of it.

      So nowadays, I just take my time. I just finished all 3 Dead Spaces (they're not RPGs, but that's kinda my point, in survival horror, twiddling your thumbs is even more ridiculous & immersion breaking), where I was very content in leaving everyone's lives in danger, waiting for me to smash open all crates & look into every nook & cranny.

      Yes, we're all in mortal danger & even the whole human race can go extinct, but let me just backtrack all the way to the start to see if I missed a crate.

      Yup, and there was a small tube of healing gel in it. Worth it. Right, let's get back to this saving our lives & possibly the universe thing.

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    5. To be fair, you don't really successfully save hardly anyone in the Dead Space games

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  7. Howlongtobeat.com indicates that it's more of a 20-hour game. Differing play styles will vary of course, but sounds like you don't have to worry about a 200-hour behemoth. ;)

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    1. Yikes. I can't see wrapping this up in 2 hours.

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    2. In fairness only nineteen people entered their personal playing time, so it's not like there's a large sample size. Gamefaqs, for instance, lists the average playtime at 34.5 hours based on twelve votes...

      From what I personally remember of this game, based on where you are, how long it took you to get there, and assuming you have made no progress between the time of your posting and now, I'd estimate you have another 17-18 hours to go. You're not quite halfway content-wise, but given your veteran experience I think you'll progress a little bit faster even as the difficulty ramps up, if that makes sense. Puzzle solving will, of course, be the big variable along with burnout and fatigue, but I'd put your over/under at 35 hours and take the under.

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    3. That would be about right for this type of game. I'd be happy with a 35-40 hour finish time.

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  8. Yeah, in high level AD&D you'd be expected to level up maybe once per major campaign -- probably at the end, when you get your experience for finishing it. Reaching level 20 would take you years and years, and was meant to represent becoming powerful enough that you could conquer back (there were rules for this) and challenge gods.

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  9. Weren't the Gods in Forgotten Realms level 20?

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    1. There were no stats for the gods themselves - A god in their own plane kinda defies stats. There were stats for the avatars which they could send to the material plane (and which they were trapped in during the Time of Troubles) and they would have multiple classes of level 20-40, plus other powers and supernatural stats.

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    2. 3,5ed got around this in Faiths and Pantheons -book with a rule that all gods were ranked with divine ranks of 0 - 21+ that roughly corresponded to levels that granted "saline divine abilities" this allowed them to be handled mechanically similar to mortal or mundane creatures without breaking things too much.

      Normal mortals such as "fresh" 20lvl epic level PC are still mortals so do not have a divine rank ie. any of them would automatically have their asses handed to them unless they somehow would gain this divine rank of at least 0.

      People like Hercules and other mortal & god offsprings have a rank 0 such as the Bhaal spawn and can therefore rise in ranks though the events BG 2 pretty much catapulted you into rank 20 something which I'd say is quite a career move from lvl 0 to 20 in a day.

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    3. It wasn't Faiths and Pantheons that established the rules about divine ranks... that was the 3E Deities and Demigods. Faiths and Pantheons came a few months later and applied the Deities and Demigods rules specifically to the gods of the Forgotten Realms.

      Though really, I don't know that the whole divine ranks idea was all that well thought out. It basically leads to two possibilities:

      * Mortals with no divine rank stand no chance against a god. In which case, what's the point of even giving the gods detailed stats (and boy howdy, are their stats detailed; the gods' stat blocks are huge), if they're unbeatable?

      * Mortals with no divine rank do stand a chance against a god. In which case, fully statted gods are just turned into super-high-level monsters to fight, which... I'm not convinced is a good thing. (Though in practice I doubt many players ever had characters of sufficiently high level for this to matter anyway, which reduces this to the first case.)

      I suppose there's a third possibility:

      * Mortals with no divine rank don't stand a chance against a god, but the gods' stats are still meaningful because a PC could have or acquire a divine rank and become a god (or at least a demigod) him- or herself.

      Which sounds like it could be kind of interesting in principle, but was never really supported by any of the sourcebooks.

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    4. In the Time of Troubles, mortals could beat gods (with great difficulty) but couldn't kill them without some sort of divinity.

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    5. I, myself, quite like the idea of mortals slaying their own gods, Klingon style...

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    6. AD&D 1st Edition absolutely had killable gods with statblocks that weren't yet qualified as "avatars", as first detailed in Deities & Demigods (1980). The gods here usually had an average level of 20 in five or six different classes at once. 1E had a much lower level curve though and Gary Gygax at least anticipated that players wouldn't reach level 16 even in five years of weekly play sessions, so level 20 may as well have been level infinity. (I'm not sure players followed Gygax's intended progress rate in practice, but that was the mindset behind level 20 gods.)

      None of the Deities & Demigods entries were specifically Forgotten Realms but the following year the adventure module Queen of the Demonweb Pits culminated with players literally killing Lolth (god of spiders and drow), again intended at the time to be literally her and not just an avatar.

      Subsequent editions have gone back and forth on the mortality of gods. 2E went (eventually) with the Avatars theory, which I think continued more heavily into 3E. 4E just gave you stat blocks and let you decide whether they represented the actual god or not. Basic included rules for players becoming gods themselves, so certainly conflicts with other gods were on the table.

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    7. Well, yes, that's all true; I was only commenting on the 3E treatment. But if you want to see where the gods were first given full statblocks, you can go back even farther than first edition! There were gods with statblocks in Supplement IV to the original D&D boxed set, "Gods, Demi-Gods, & Heroes", which came out in 1976, the year before the first AD&D book. They weren't very long statblocks, but none of the statblocks were very long in OD&D; they were still complete enough that D&D players with sufficiently powerful characters could in principle fight and defeat gods if they wanted to. (For example, the Egyptian god Ra, the first god listed in the book, had 300 hit points, an Armor Class of 3, and the abilities of a 16th-level fighter... along with some additional powers.)

      Gary Gygax implies in his introduction that the gods aren't meant as monsters to be fought; he calls the book "our last attempt to reach the 'Monty Hall' DM's. Perhaps now some of the 'giveaway' campaigns will look as foolish as they truly are. This is our last attempt to delineate the absurdity of 40+ level characters. When Odin, the All-Father has only(?) 300 hit points, who can take a 44th level Lord seriously?" Nevertheless, in principle the gods could be fought and killed by the rules in the book, and if statting out gods as creatures beatable by powerful characters was meant to show how ridiculous it is to have such powerful characters, I can't help but think the strategy may have been a bit counterproductive. I'd be surprised if there weren't at least a few D&D players who did have their character fight the gods using the stats in that book, Gygax's contempt for the "absurdity" of it be damned.

      So, yeah, I guess you could say that having (in-principle) killable gods goes way back to the earliest version of the game...

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    8. Just wanted to say I love that phrasing "saline divine abilities".

      ("salient" is the word you're looking for, don't be salty about it!)

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    9. Thanks for that lovely reply Jalen. :-)

      It's a regrettable trend in any systemed RPG.
      Early World of Darkness: Abominations (werewolves that are vampires) are ridiculous, exist entirely as antagonists, and should not be playable under any circumstances.
      Three years later: Here's how to play as an Abomination.

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    10. Yeah 1e (and 4e gods) are definitely killable, although I don't think it's reasonable to have her die in Queen of the Demonweb Pits (even though that is one of the two winning options).

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    11. I recall that Gygax regretted about it a few years later as he found out that, when you give something Hit Points, players will inadvertently try their best to bring it down to 0.

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    12. Don't forget 1986 Had the "Immortal Rules" Gold Box for the basic game....which interestingly used similar "divine ranks" if I remember correctly as Petri R stated for 3.5. It also included rules for gaining that first level 0 rank.

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  10. "I couldn't help but imagine a real party in this situation, propping up their stiffened friends and using them as shields."

    Weekend at Bernie's - fantasy edition.

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  11. bullet #3: chg n ebpx va gur avpur naq vg jvyy or ercynprq ol n jnaq

    bullet #8: if you're referring to the east side of the western half, gurer fubhyq unir orra n znagvf xrl va gur ebbz gung bcraf hc orlbaq gur cvgf

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    1. Ugh. I'm 100% sure there was nothing in the room. I guess if I get stuck somewhere because I don't have a mantis key, I'll know where things went wrong.

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    2. So Addict, are you able to read ROT13 text without a translator yet? I'm sure you recognize plenty of words by now.

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  12. Faith as in "leap of", maybe?

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  13. I'm playing Dungeon Hack, the later semi-roguelike that SSI made based on the EoB III engine I believe... in that game, you can open the spell menus and then remove the caster item from the character's hand and cast spells, the menu stays open. Could you do that in this game?

    It's handy for identifying items, or holding a shield or second weapon while fighting as a multiclassed character. One thing I'm unclear on is whether or not you still get the bonus from casting using a magical holy symbol or spellbook ifyou do this. I suppose we'll figure it out when we get to Dungeon Hack in 1993.

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    1. That is indeed the solution. Thanks.

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    2. There is no "bonus from casting using a magical holy symbol or spellbook" anywhere in the rules.

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    3. No problem.

      In Dungeon Hack, there are special unique magical holy symbols and spellbooks that you find in the dungeon that are supposed to enhance cast spells. I'm wondering if that counts if you open the casting menu while holding one, and then remove it from your hand.

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    4. I'm quite excited for the Dungeon Hack writeup when it comes up...

      I want to see just how low it scores. :D

      I have never felt that playing a game was more pointless than when I played that. Progress was unsatisfying, the enemies were insipid, the levels were boring... Just endlessly find a key in a space filling corridor then use it immediately on the next door, over and over and over...

      http://www.mobygames.com/game/dos/dungeon-hack/screenshots/gameShotId,8067/
      Whoever thought that these kinds of levels would be in any way satisfying or fun to explore?!

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    5. V'q thrff gjragl-svir cbvagf ng zbfg. Pbzcnerq gb Orubyqre, vg trgf znlor n cbvag be gjb rkgen sbe zber rdhvczrag naq fcryyf, naq gur vzcebirq ratvar. Ohg vg'f n mreb va ACPf, mreb va dhrfgf, mreb sbe fgbel naq znlor bar va chmmyrf. Abg tbvat gb or cerggl :)

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    6. It has a back story; get the orb for the sorceress.

      just delete my other entry, k ?

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    7. I figured talking about those items from Dungeon Hack was ok, since they're mentioned in the manual. Also, Dungeon Hack is basically a first person roguelike, Viila.

      Nyfb, gurer'f n ovg bs n gjvfg gbb, gung fbeprerff gheaf bhg gb or RIVY!

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    8. Abg va gur raqvat V'ir frra naq orfvqrf lbh rkvg jvgu n pneg ybnq bs tbyq.
      Gur fbeprerff arire fnlf JUL fur arrqf gur beo whfg gung fur arrqf vg.

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    9. Lugh, I know (and I like roguelikes and roguelites), but it's not a good one. It doesn't have the mechanical depth of a traditional roguelike, and the level generator is especially weak. Even Captive had a better level generator. Much better.

      The best parts of Dungeon Master and Eye of Beholder are the environments and the puzzles spicing the gameplay. DH generator can only generate the most pedestrian obstacles, and it doesn't seem to be able to even do complex dependency graphs, only simple linear chain of obstacles A, B, C, D that you have to solve in order and when you get to an obstacle you know you already have everything you need to solve it. No puzzle depends on you having solved a puzzle elsewhere, no alternate paths, no branches, no worthwhile optional areas... Add to that the worst kind of maze generation: space filling curves... There's just nothing inspiring in that game, at least for me.

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    10. V jbaqre jurer gur jurryoneebj pnzr sebz gung vf hfrq gb unhy gur gernfher bhg bs gur qhatrba. V qvqa'g tb va jvgu bar naq V arire sbhaq bar.

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    11. I didn't fully appreciate how great the map generator in Captive was until I saw Dungeon Hack try the same thing several years later and utterly fail. The dungeons in DH are just trash, and that's kind of a big deal when that's the entire game.

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    12. After some more time spent with DH, I have to agree with you all. Still, it's good for my gaming with my brain off needs, like when I'm listening to podcasts.

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  14. It has a back story; get the orb for the sorceress.

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  15. The 'Giant Bees' reminded me of a scene in "The Abominable Dr. Phibes" (1971) :
    "He was stung... to death by bees in his library."
    -"Bees in his library?"
    "That's right.Before we arrived, the whole place must've been swarming with them.I've got the file on my desk now.You should've seen his face.The whole flesh was a mass of...well,boils."
    -"Boils?"
    "All over.Stings, I suppose."

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  16. I used to play this game a lot in the nineties... Never beat it, so many dead ends... I stopped in a place where you have to put some mirrors in some walls, whatch out, cause I could´t find all of them (maybe I lost one at that time, thinking it wasn´t important). New to your blog. Current playing: Might and Magic 3, but considering a bigger challenge with Might and Magic 1...

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    1. Yeah, I just had that problem. I had to backtrack and find where I'd discarded a couple of the shields.

      Have fun with MM1!

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