Monday, September 24, 2018

Die Dunkle Dimension: The Name of Evil

Our hero meets a "dame der nacht."
                 
Things are coming together in the Dark Dimension. You will recall that I've been warped to this land to save it from an Evil One who shattered a crystal that previously "kept the land in balance." I need to find the crystal's splinter and then somehow unite it with the crystal to restore the sun and save the land. Along the way, I might need to solve a couple of side quests, like rescuing the princess from a dragon.

As I wrapped up last time, I was recalling a clue that said to talk to the mages of the Black and White circles about the Evil One. I began this session with such a discussion and received, in turn, a major part of the main quest. It turns out that the Evil One was conjured by the master of the Black Circle (no matter how much German games try to sell you on the idea that black and white don't necessarily mean good and evil, the black mages are always up to something sinister). When he realized what a mistake he'd made, he wrote the name of the Evil One on a clay tablet, which shattered when the Evil One crispened the Black Circle's master. Each piece was given to a druid and hidden in one of the seven major cities.
          
A druid knows the order of one of the tablets.
             
Last time, I was a bit mystified as to the use of the druids and mages in each city. It turns out that the mages know the location of the tablet in their cities, and the druids know the order of the tablets. Together, I've figured out six of the seven letters, spelling TROFN_H. I haven't found the final city yet. I'm frankly surprised it wasn't MONDAIN.
        
Finding another once of the pieces.
        
I continued my systematic exploration of the main island. In the city of Ackbah, in the southwest, I met a prophet named Mohammed who preached about the god Rastullah. Mohammed said that he used to be a warrior, wielding a dragon-slaying sword called Sicaria Draconem, but after Rastullah told him to lay down his weapons, he buried the sword. He'll reveal its location for 1,500 gold pieces. I left the city with three major financial goals: 1500 for the location of the sword, 1000 for the location of the magic elven bow, and 1000 for a ship.

I did buy a horse in Ackbah. When you spur it to a gallop, it goes double speed and finally I could outrun monsters. 
          
Coming upon a dungeon entrance while on horseback.
        
I ran across the first dungeon I've found, called Höhle, but I couldn't explore because I didn't yet have a "Magic Light" spell or any torches. I also suspected I wasn't smart enough to learn the spell even if I could find the White Circle.

I thus settled in for a period of grinding, focusing mainly on the bridges. Trolls deliver a reliable 12 experience points per troll plus often double that in gold. I soon had over 1,000 gold and rose two levels. Last time, I said that enemies scale with you, but that isn't quite true. The maximum size of an enemy party seems to scale with you, and some individual enemy types don't appear until higher levels, but you still often find parties of one orc or a single skeleton. It thus seems that the maximum difficulty scales rather than the minimum, which in my opinion is the way to do scaling.
          
Large enemy parties like this are more common as you level up.
            
Horses make it possible to cross swamp without inevitably getting poisoned, and thanks to my horse I was able to cross a swampy patch in the northeast to find a new city, Muspel, populated by dwarves. Unfortunately, I spent all my hard-won gold on a magic lamp (300), the location of the reagent Alraune (500), and the location of the wreck of the Windjagd, where I can supposedly find a magic axe (500). I also found an intelligence trainer in Muspel, but I had only leveled enough to increase by two points, and when I finally found the White Circle tower nearby, that still wasn't enough.

Back I went to grinding, but this time (now that I had the magic lamp) in the dungeon Höhle. As in the game's source, Ultima IV, dungeon exploration is in the first-person. Levels are a small 11 x 11 and use the "worm tunnel" approach. Progress seems to be about navigating all the up and down passages and finding copious secret doors.
              
There's a secret door in practically every wall.
           
Unlike Ultima games, enemies don't appear in the environment. Neither do traps or treasure. Instead, any step has a possibility of generating a monster, gold, or a pit, even ones you've already been over.

Combat is much quicker and more direct than on the surface. You only face one enemy at a time, directly in front of you. There's no consideration of terrain or distance. It was much faster to grind in the dungeon, except that I kept getting poisoned by zombies or slimes and had to keep leaving to walk to the druid's hut for healing.
            
Fighting a headless in the dungeons.
          
You can't save in dungeons, so I didn't get very far. I left when I had over 1,500 gold again and could finally purchase a ship.

After crossing the continent to Thorwal again, I finally had my ship. Just like Ultima IV, it comes with cannons, but you don't get any experience or gold from blasting enemies with them. Still, they're a great way to take out parties that you'd rather not fight, leaving only more desirable foes. It's also convenient to fight from the ship because the limited terrain helps ensure that you can funnel them to you.
           
I'll blast the horses but fight the orcs.
        
I begin exploring counter-clockwise around the continent, checking out various islands. I found the wreck of the Windjagd and its magic axe, which just as in Ultima IV (sorry to sound like a broken record with that phrase) serves as both a melee weapon and ranged weapon and returns to your hand when thrown. It's handy, but not noticeably more likely to hit or damage foes than the regular axe I'd been using previously.
        
I'm not really sure how I'm searching.
         
An island off the west coast is this game's version of Buccanneer's Den. Called Mubrak, it offers illegal reagents, prostitutes, gambling, and a peep show. I had to bribe guards just to enter. Paying money for the peep show was necessary to see this town's piece of the clay tablet. Meanwhile, one of the prostitutes said she'd been with a druid and confirmed everything the Black Circle representative told me about the tablets, the druids, and the mages.
           
I hope Google doesn't slap a "mature audiences" tag on my blog for this.
          
The gambling game was a fun little version of blackjack (called teufel, or "devil") where the goal is to reach 13 rather than 21. I lost more than I won, however, so I didn't spent a lot of time there. A broke gambler sold me a compass for 150. A warrior named Arnor confirmed that I'd need a magic weapon and armor to kill the evil dragon (I've heard nothing about magic armor yet). 
        
This was not a smart wager.
          
I also found a beggar playing a magic glass flute and bought it from him for some large amount of gold. In another city, a bard had told me about losing the flute and said that it had something to do with making crystals vibrate. I suspect I'll need it at some point.

After Mubrak, I continued searching islands and one of them turned out to be the lost island of Uyrp, yielding a 1000-gold piece treasure. That gives me enough for the magic bow. I need to grind some more for the dragon-slaying sword.
          
Searching every island pays off.
            
I know there's at least one city left to explore, but I think I've hit most of them, which means the hard part of the game (all the translation) is mostly over. I need to keep grinding, raise my intelligence some more (I found a charisma trainer, but I can't see wasting slots on that), buy the magic items, and then see about heading towards an endgame.

Time so far: 17 hours

46 comments:

  1. Speaking of endgame, I hope you've seen the two leading zeros in your experience display.

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    Replies
    1. Are you suggesting that before then endgame - which would then be quite far off - those zeroes will be some other numbers...?

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    2. Yes, I think these numbers are there for a reason. As far as I remember level 7 is not even close to win this game. But my memory of this game is 30 years old.

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    3. I remember many a blissful Sunday sitting in front of my C64 and happily grinding away hour after hour to reach the max level.

      Seriously, I blame this game and Bard's Tale III for my inordinate love of grinding.

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    4. If I have to grind to Level 21, I hope there are places that offer monsters with higher experience rewards. I'm never going to get there earning 12 at a time from trolls.

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    5. Level 21, the highest level in the game, requires only 21,000 EP as written in the manual, so don't let the zeros scare you.

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    6. Only 9 times what I have now! What a relief.

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    7. (17 hours - 7 hours[translation_time]) * 9 = 90 hours

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    8. Level 21 isn't required to win the game.

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  2. A 'charisma trainer'.
    Heh.
    Executives would *kill* for that.

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  3. "Meanwhile, one of the prostitutes said she'd been with a druid and confirmed everything the Black Circle representative told me about the tablets, the druids, and the mages."
    Oh, well! If the prostitute says it, it must be true!

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    Replies
    1. I'd trust a member of the working class over a king or wizards any day!

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    2. In Japan, Geishas (and even modern day hostesses) are a great source of information if you managed to befriend them and coax it out of them. Their job is basically listening to their clientele bitch about *their* jobs and bosses.

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  4. I guess, the missing letter will be 'I', giving "TROFNIH" - reversed "HINFORT": geman for "go away" / "away with you".

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    1. You might not know it, but this is a spoiler.

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    2. As is confirming it to be a spoiler.

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    3. It would have taken a real crossword expert to crack this otherwise ;-)

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    4. You know, when I first played this game I did not see it. When I finally figured it out, I facepalmed so hard, I bet they felt the reverberations it in the dark dimension. Potentially, this is why the crystal fractured in the first place.

      Also I think the most appropriate translation in this context would be "begone".

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    5. That's okay--finding the last tablet isn't going to be a big deal.

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  5. I believe the city you are missing is Damraskan. The manual states "DAMRASKAN - Diese Stadt liegt auf der gleichnamigen, großen Waldinsel östlich vom Uhrl-Gebiet."

    And later on the manual continues to explain the lay of the land. Here it has to the following to say on the island of Damraskan:

    "... Südlich der Flußmündung liegt Schloß Uhrl, die Residenz des Königs. Weiter Im Osten, ein Stück weit südlich der Krakenspitze, befindet sich die große tropische Waldinsel Damraskan. An deren Westküste ist die gleichnamige Stadt zu finden. ..."

    Explicit spoiler in ROT13
    Qnzenfxna vf gur ovt vfynaq rnfg bs gur xvat'f pnfgyr.

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    1. Damraskan sounds almost like the island Maraskan, The Dark Eyes version of Japan/China/Asia (which is also a tropical island). Rastullah is taken straight from DSA it seems.

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    2. This game owes a lot to other RPG franchises.

      This was my first cRPG and I simply adored it as a child. I still have a soft spot for it in my heart of hearts. It makes me sad to realize how liberal the Dark One was with adapting certain aspects of other RPGs.

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    3. Actually the map of DDD is not that large that you can miss a city.

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    4. I haven't missed it. I just haven't circled around to the east side of the mainland since getting my ship.

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  6. Some more hints, tips, and spoilers in ROT13.

    On the cave:

    Gur Uöuyr lbh sbhaq pbagnvaf gur pelfgny fcyvagre. Vs zrzbel freirf, lbh arrq gur tynff syhgr gb fhzzba gur fcyvagre va gur ybjrfg yriry (9?) bs gur qhatrba.

    On grinding
    Sbe zr, gur snfgrfg jnl gb tevaq jnf gb trg gur Zntvp Obzo fcryy naq gura whfg fcnz vg ba tebhcf nsgre tebhcf bs zbafgref, juvyr erznvavat pybfr gb Presnx. V vagrefcrefrq zl zbafgre obzovat enzcntrf jvgu tbvat nebhaq gur jbeyq gb bognva gur vaterqvragf bs gur fcryy. Sha gvzrf ...

    On levels
    Lbh ernyyl arrq znk yriry be pybfr gb znk yriry gb fheivir gur pbzong ntnvafg gur Yvaqjhez. Gur Yvaqjhez ahyyvsvrf nyy zntvp, fb gurer vf abg n ybg bs gnpgvpf gb gur svtug. Rira jvgu znk yriry, gur orfg nezbe naq gur Fvpnevn Qenpbarz, V erzrzore vg orvat n pybfr pnyy. Zvtug unir whfg orra hayhpxl gubhtu.

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    1. On levels
      V ubcr jura Purfgre ernyvmrf gur gvzr ur unf gb fcrag ba tevaqvat ur jvyy pubfr gur bayl srnfvoyr bcgvba. Purngvat. Bgurejvfr guvf vf whfg n jnfgr bs yvsrgvzr. Gur pbzong vfa'g vagrerfgvat rabhtu gb fcraq n uhaqerq ubhef ba vg.

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  7. Sorry it seems i am only commenting as a GN... nur it's "Dame der Nacht" (Lady of the night) with an "h" in "Nacht".. not to be confused with "nackt"...

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    1. Annoying that I managed to make a typo in one of the few German words I actually know.

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    2. Peep Show is in English, oddly.

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    3. Not too odd to have peep show in English considering we use the English term in German ;)
      German loves using English loan words, or straight up use English words to refer to some things, it's not that odd. Sometimes we even make up new English-sounding words that aren't used in any variant of English (the German word for mobile phone is handy, for example...)

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    4. Funny enough, in Finnish we use very similar, but fully Finnishized, word "kännykkä" ("handlet"). (The word was actually coined by Nokia and it was a registered trademark, though I'm pretty sure it has long since suffered genericide...)

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  8. What would a prophet want with 1500 gold pieces? Fund his jihad? Geez... this is so weird. XD

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  9. Any of you original players ever encounter an issue where after you get the splinter, the ladder back up (and out of the dungeon) disappears? I have the splinter but I can't get out!

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    1. Yes, this is a bug in the original version which kept me from finishing this game until the advent of the Internet and C64 emulators.

      Did you download your version from The Dark One's web site? Because I know that I successfully finished DDD with a version from said web site.

      Hopefully this is just a damaged data disk and you can simply continue by loading your game with a fixed game version.

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    2. After some searching, I found the version I used to finish this game in 2003 in one of my archives.

      I am pretty sure that this is a version that can be finished, as the folder also contains the emulator safe state files I used in lieu of saving on disk.

      There is one safe state called "finished" in there, as well as, one that is called "taking a break for playing nippon".

      Apparently, I was using a slightly modified version of DDD, originally from the Dark One's web site, where the movement keys were remapped to the cursor keys.

      Here is the link to the way back machine archive [1]. If that does not work, please get in touch, I can upload my local or send you my local version.

      [1] https://web.archive.org/web/20071013035822fw_/http://www.die-dunkle-dimension.de/ddd-c64c.zip

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    3. I guess I can easily provide you the memory location of your current position. When you enter the dungeon it is set to 6361 decimal. By adding or subtracting 144 you can shift your floor in the dungeon.

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    4. Guess the memory location for this variable is at 75f7 for this dungeon. Weirdly stored as a 5-byte floating point number

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    5. Thanks, everyone. The archive.org version worked. I just had to re-do the dungeon. I'm trying to avoid downloading a hex editor--I haven't had one since I got my new computer 6 months ago--to avoid temptation.

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  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  11. >> "Trolls deliver a reliable 12 gold pieces per troll plus often double that in gold."

    I assume one of these should be experience instead of gold?

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  12. "Sicaria Draconem" - have they no shame ? Sicarius Dracorum is the name of the spear in the Dragonslayer movie

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    1. I was wondering where that came from. Thanks. Funny to think of someone so influenced by that absurd film.

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  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

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