Friday, October 12, 2018

Crusaders of the Dark Savant: Pomp and Circumstance

I would hope that the number of people I have "both loved and slain" is small.
In several long sessions, I conquered and pillaged the Temple of Munkharama. I had to review my screenshots from hours ago to remember why I was there in the first place. (Because of all the dialogue and descriptions, my screenshots folder has swiftly ballooned to over 2,000 shots.) It goes back to the garrulous Brother T'Shober, guardian of the Munkharama Bridge, who begged me to find my way to the Temple, beneath the city above it, and retrieve the Holy Work before a bunch of evil monks from the Dark Forest got to it first. He told me to bring it to Master Xheng, Lord of the 5 Flowers.

I thought the Holy Work might be the Astral Dominae, but I should have realized it was silly to expect any actual connection between the game and its backstory this soon, if at all. Instead, it was just a book.
A book as helpful as the in-game text!
Reaching it was a long process that began by--as I had surmised several entries ago--shouting "COINS" as a response to the riddle of the well. In return, it delivered me four coins that I had to use in four receptacles to open four doors, two of which had switches that opened secret doors accessible from the other two. One of those secret areas led to a bunch of new rooms on the east side of the monastery, one to a bunch of rooms on the west.
The east side housed a logic puzzle by which I had to drop four beans into four chalices and then pull a spindle in a central room. The spindle activated a kind of slot machine with four panels colored black or white. It took me a few tries to figure out what was going on, but basically after pulling the spindle, the panels showed me how many beans were in the correct chalices by the number of black panels vs. white panels--but not which beans were correct. Every time I got it wrong, I got dumped through a trap door into a basement and took damage. There were 4!=24 potential combinations, but each try gave me enough information to cross several possibilities off the list and narrow it down. Eventually, I got it right. The solution opened a secret door to the rest of the section.
This was a good thing.
With my recent failure in Shadowlands on my mind, I should point out that this is the kind of puzzle I like. It takes some effort and experimentation to figure out what's happening, and once you intuit that, you can solve it by logic. It wasn't just about mechanics, and there weren't rats or a food meter impelling me to solve it faster.

The new passage led the party to Brother Moser's Apothecary. Aside from selling potions, he didn't have a lot that was interesting to offer just yet.
My full map of Munkharama.
Over on the west side, I found myself in front of a large building labeled "Palace of the Gran Melange, The Land of Dreams." ("Gran Melange" is a perfect David Bradley phrase, like "Dark Savant," that at first sounds okay but then falls apart when you consider its true meaning, in this case something like "great miscellany.") Inside, a monk wanted to know what I was doing there. I tried HOLY WORK, GRAN MELANGE, ASTRAL DOMINAE, and even COSMIC FORGE (hey, my characters are still a bit confused) before finding success with (duh) DREAMS. But I couldn't answer his second question about "what happens to those who cannot walk the land of dreams" until I returned to Brother Moser and asked him, and learned that such people "walk the land of the living dead." This is another kind of puzzle that I like: the kind where you have to pay attention and take notes, then use those notes at a later point. Admittedly, the copious verbiage in this game makes it tough.

What followed were a series of rooms (connected by a maze of ladders) where I encountered a bunch of monks high on some kind of pipeweed, spouting nonsense about life being a dream and other silliness that was probably meant to sound profound. (Sample: "Life is a mystery, a puzzle, a riddle, a rebus, an enigma. As you live, you discover some of its pieces. Some you know, as if you had always known. Others you do not recognize, and discard. But all is part of the puzzle.") From these encounters, I got a smoking pipe and some "pastilles" to pack into it.
I'll smoke what he's smoking.
The monk at the entrance had warned me not to go through a black door, but it was the only way to go, and after doing so, I found myself in a blank void. And here I got one of the games absurdly, almost offensively long expositions. I've complained about wordiness a few times, but I want to make it clear that I certainly don't mind the brief atmospheric descriptions. For instance, here's one that came later in the area:
You step into the arena of a tremendous cathedral, its bizarre frescoes long faded, its papal pews submerged under a dense cesspool of stagnant water and filled with the wrenching odor of offal and decay. Thick molds cover much of the ceiling and chamber, and splotches of scummy mires are visible floating on the surface of the water. It is not a very pleasant atmosphere.
Now that's great. It gives a lot of context to otherwise somewhat featureless wall textures, and it even makes sense given the overall backstory of the location. I wouldn't mind if the text was delivered a bit faster, in a smaller font, without requiring me to acknowledge every sentence, but I otherwise have no problem with the prose.
Occasionally, the descriptions are funny. I don't often appreciate Bradley's humor, but this passage from later (beneath the temple), got a chuckle, even though it hijacked my characters' attitudes, something I usually object to:
You pull the lever but nothing happens . . . Playing with the lever for a while and getting nowhere, you eventually resort to more forceful tactics. Pretty soon the floor is littered with pieces of hacked lever parts, everybody is yelling at everybody else, and finally you concede that some things were not meant to be.
This, on the other hand, is what I got in the dream void:
You step into oblivion. You are falling . . . falling . . . falling. And then you are falling no longer. All is quiet and black. Though you can feel a solid surface beneath your feet, you see nothing, and all around you presses the deep void. A vision of burning flames appears in the distance. You draw closer to the fiery blaze, and you see there is something burning in the flames. It is you. The fire swells and suddenly you are surrounded by faces from your past, faces of those you have both loved and slain. Their skin bubbles and their eyeballs swell and then explode as they scream. And you watch as they turn into a host of blackened charred corpses. Their screams become a mad cackling, and as they crumble into dust you see arise within the flames huge buildings and structures. And you sense that the structures mean something important, but watch as they too crack and fall into the burning inferno. The flame congeals into a flaming ball, and from its smoke and ash forms a sphere of spinning firmament which begins to orbit around the burning mother. And you look upon the sphere as its surface transforms, blossoming an infinite variety of features, and soon there are other spheres and then behind them still others and then a thousand suns dot the black sky. A million planets swarm past you, racing through the void, and time itself seems to accelerate as you witness the birth and demise of nations and whole worlds. You gaze upon the evolution of life as it streams through the galaxies, birthing and growing, warring and dying, and soon the shapes become a blur until they finally collide in a tremendous explosion and time itself becomes exhausted and collapses. And then all is still and black again.
If even that doesn't seem so bad, keep in mind that this narrative is being delivered basically one sentence at a time, frequently appearing that it's over, because it ends one-third of the way down the screen, only to start up again on the next screen. And if it still sounds cool, ask yourself: What is the point? Why these images? Do they actually mean anything? Is there any payoff? Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think so. I think the author is just being self-indulgent. I think he's read things like this in other stories, better stories, where there is a purpose and payoff, and he's trying to mimic that.
Here, it's just a waste of time. It doesn't even lead you to the correct next action, which is to combine the pipe and pastilles and light it. A good narrative, in addition to being much shorter, might have ended by saying something like, "You see images in the void, but your sober mind is not in any position to decipher them." Oh, incidentally, if you do the wrong thing, you have to read all of this again.

Lighting the pipe didn't make anything more sensible. A being called the Spirit of Life appeared, spouted some more pretentious nonsense ("this is the seed that is the root and heart of all living things" offered a particularly glorious mix of metaphors) and then asked me to choose the form of divine assistance: a sword, a staff, a gown, a ring, or a stone. I somewhat unimaginatively chose the sword, and I was given a magic weapon called the Sword of 4 Winds. Equipped by my lord, it does about twice the damage as his previous sword, so it wasn't a terrible choice, but I'm curious what the other choices would have gotten me.
Yeah, choosing the sword is pretty "basic," but who says "gown" at a time like this?
Incidentally, I think there's a bug attached to the sword. First, it's cursed, which means I can't unequip it until I cast "Remove Curse." That's fine; I don't want to unequip it. But it's also one of those weird Wizardry weapons that asks me if I want to "invoke" it, which usually gives you something like an attribute boost in exchange for the item disappearing. In this case, invoking it raises my maximum hit points, permanently, but the sword doesn't disappear because (I think) of the curse. This means I could theoretically use it to elevate my lord's hit points to game-breaking heights. But after I saw what was happening (after invoking it twice), I stopped.

Out of the dream world, I found myself in a new area: the courtyard of the Xen Xheng School of 5 Flowers. Inside, Master Xheng challenged me with a code phrase ("Slay not he that cannot hear"), to which I fortunately knew the counter-phrase from Brother T'Shober: BE THANKFUL YE THAT HATH AN EAR. Master Xheng wanted the Holy Work, which I didn't have yet, so there wasn't much else to do here.
Be thankful ye that took screenshots.
To get into the temple beneath the city, I had to solve another coin-related puzzle by putting four coins (ruby, emerald, diamond, and amber, found in pools in the central part of the keep) in associated urns: cuprum, viridian, silver, and gold. If it's not clear (and it wasn't to me at first), each gem/urn pair is the one closest together in color. This requires you to know that "viridian" is blue-green and that "cuprum" is the Latin word for "copper."
The underground had two large levels with many interrelated stairways, ladders, and pits. Getting through it was a long process of finding the right keys and objects to open the right doors in other areas. There weren't a lot of puzzles otherwise, just fairly tough encounters with a variety of monsters. Several types of monks (spelled "munks" by the game for some reason), all with mid-level magic powers, kept attacking. There were also ghosts capable of causing a "terror" effect, nymphs who could cast high-level mass-damage spells, and some kind of floating jellyfish. I hate the "fear" effect, because in addition to taking the party member out of commission (about 50% of the time), there's a chance that the party member decides on his or her own to flee, abruptly ending combat no matter how well you're doing.
The spirits are particularly well drawn.
There were three notable "boss" battles. The first involved a bunch of deranged monks and a "leper giant," who was capable of doing enough damage in a single round to kill a character. Fortunately, he usually missed, but after three tries I couldn't win the battle without losing one character, so I sucked it up and resurrected her with a scroll I had found earlier.
And Esteban goes spinning through the sky.
The second boss battle was with the leader of the evil monks, the Lord of the Dark Forest, who had some very high level spells and resisted most of mine. I got lucky with a critical hit on my third combat with him.
The Lord of the Dark Forest "holds" a bunch of us during our first fight against him.
The last tough fight was with eight "skeleton lords" in four groups of two. They were curiously resistant to even my highest level "dispel undead" and had to be killed by more conventional means, which was tough because in addition to fear, they can cast "Fireball." This one combat produced over 17,000 experience points, the highest total in the game so far.
Skeleton lords appear to be skeletons of cows.
Mitigating the difficulty was a fountain that restored health, stamina, and magic points. It's been a while since I found one of those. Even with copious resting, the party is so rarely at maximum strength in all three attributes that these fountains really are a cause for celebration. Even better, it was in the middle of a water area, so I used the occasion to swim around (refreshing stamina at the fountain every few moves) until everyone's "Swimming" skill was at 100. This is enough to swim about six squares before someone dies. 
This is always a welcome sight.
When I was done, I had two artifacts: the Holy Work and something called Wikum's Globe of Power. I don't know what the latter object is for, but the former I returned to Master Xheng. He took it gratefully and offered us the choice to join the monastery and learn the "path of the five flowers." I said sure--I probably just made some irrecoverable faction choice or something--and he gave me a further quest to go find five flowers in some mountains. He also gave me some equipment, which included some cool bits of armor for my ninja.
My undiscriminating party just joins the first faction that asks.
By this time, I should mention, my inventory was bursting with stuff, including a lot of scrolls, potions, bombs, and powders that basically just serve as lesser alternatives to spells. I ended up selling a lot of them to Master Xheng just to clear space.
On the one hand, that's a useful item. On the other, that's a reasonable amount of money.
But I still have a bunch of things that I'm not sure about. These include:
  • Items marked with large yellow question marks (instead of small white ones) always seem to be quest items. I've used most of them (like the cable trolley) and know what they're for, but I'm still toting around "bone combs and brushes," a bonsai tree, and a white rubber bear. They're all mysteries.
  • I've had two iron keys and a pewter key for a long time, since like maybe the first dungeon.
  • Back in the Gorn castle, I fond three jars of "munk innards" and 15 units of "salted munkmeat." Since munks are humans, the Gorn must be cannibals. Why am I carrying these around?
  • A potion called a "Cask of Ill Repute." I forgot where I got it. 
  • Something called a "Rebus Egge." No idea.
  • Several items in small blue pouches with stars on them: brimstone nuggets, skullbones, aromatic salts, and deadman's hair. They sound like spell reagents, but this game doesn't have a reagent system. Nothing happens when I try to "use" or "merge" these.
During these explorations, I kept encountering certain NPCs over and over. It got a little annoying because they almost all have several screens of inescapable text before you can talk to them or dismiss them. One of them was the Gorn king, who I'd met in his castle. He alternately told me that the war was going well or poorly, sometimes both within a matter of 10 steps. Brother T'Shober appeared once, but I didn't get anything useful from him. An Umpani named Lt. Gruntrapper stopped us a couple of times. When I went to trade with him (which I almost always try with NPCs), I saw that he was carrying something called a "Crypt Map." I got an idea from comments that I'm supposed to be collecting these "maps," so I bought it from him, even though it took 2/3 of my gold. Finally, some tall blue guy from the "priests of Dane" kept ranting about the end of the world, but I could never get him to like us enough to talk or trade.
This had better pay off.
Leveling slowed to a crawl, causing a bit of a withdrawal after my last session. Almost everyone is back up to Level 10 in their primary classes, and with hundreds of thousands of experience points necessary to get to Level 11, it's hard to imagine ever making it to, say, Level 15. I don't think I'll be up for yet another round of class-changing, though, so I'll just see how it goes.

I have no particular idea where to go next. A couple of my characters have the "Watchbells" spell now (which awakens sleeping party members), so I could try that field of poppies, and there are some water squares I could explore given my new ability to swim. Beyond that, there are unexplored paths to the south of Munkharama and to the north of Orkogre Castle.

This session ended at the 40-hour mark, and I feel like at this point I should have some sense of the main plot, but if it wasn't for the Umpani and T'Rang showing up occasionally, I'd begin to suspect that the backstory has nothing to do with the game itself. I may feel differently by the end, but right now, it feels I'm in the middle of a sprawling, silly narrative with little thematic consistency or sensible story arc. At least I like the combat, leveling, exploration, mapping, and puzzles.

Time so far: 40 hours


  1. Invoke items can have multiple (in rare cases even infinite) charges, so the sword not disappearing is not a bug. Do it often enough and it will eventually disappear.

    1. I suppose a way to test it would be to remove the curse from it and try and invoke it again? If it disappears after the first try, it was indeed a bug (or it had three charges).

    2. Removing the curse just lets you unequip the item. The item is still cursed. But it's not a bug, the sword has multiple special uses before it disappears.

  2. The bags of reagents are, strangely enough, accessories that can be equipped in the same slot as amulets or rings and give various resistances.

    I read that the metal keys you sometimes get from rattkin can be used to open some of the doors in New City. Not sure if they open any doors later in the game, but my guess is that if you have a character with good skullduggery or a mage with knock, you don't need those at all.

    The munk innards are required for something "later in the game", as are probably all the mysterious question mark items you named. As far as I know, the meat isn't useful for anything but selling.

    1. There's a simple trick: If you can sell it, it's not a quest item. The munk innards can't be sold, but the munk meat can. You can drop quest items, though, so better note where you left them.

      Equipping also helps with identification, if the item has special powers the game will ask you if you want to use them. Besides checking your stats afterwards, there's no way to tell what it does though.

    2. Since inventory space is at a premium in this game, and only gets more so the longer it goes on, I don't mind dropping a slight spoiler here: the rubber bear can safely be discarded, sold, or "invoked". The latter will do you no good, though, since all it does is increase one character's Swim skill.

      I chose the gown instead of the sword – it's a good sword, so I wouldn't mind that either, but the gown provides some unique and very nice armor. All the things are good but not spectacularly impactful, so you can't really make a wrong choice here

  3. "The fire swells and suddenly you are surrounded by faces from your past, faces of those you have both loved and slain"

    This game knows you Chet... don't you remember burning your party alive in Ultima V to escape Lord British's chamber?

  4. I get the feeling that the game is hinting to you to run the characters through another class change by making the levels so hard to get past 10. Is it just me or does it seem easier to increase in power by cycling classes than by leveling more purely?

    1. Game gives you way to create 6 ultimate specialists, but hitting, defending and resistances depend on your level. I recently used Cosmic Forge editor to create event where two basic stag bugs attacked me, each giving 100k xp or something. I maxed all skills in no time, but my characters weren't able to slay few groups of moths with a couple moths in each. My characters were all constantly put to sleep and quitting the game and reloading was the only option. Also any stronger enemy, like T'Rang Assassins were shredding through my party as they weren't even there.

      So my guess is that authors recognized that while class switching was extremely powerful, real power comes from having high levels. And thus higher levels are hard to get. Mainly due to the fact that grinding after level 20 is not easy, not easy at all!

    2. My characters reached level 28 with several class changes and no serious grinding. I think after level 16 (?) XP requirements stop increasing, but you'll get more and more XP from enemies.

    3. I was reading through the official clue book, and it's interesting how in all of the suggestions of party composition, from official playtesters, no one is talking about class change. All of them assume you will build up a single party configuration and keep it until the end, and go to great lengths to make sure your starting party combination can develop all the essential skills.

      So maybe class change wasn't meant to be exploited that way in design, or they assumed that "restarting at level 1" was a big enough drawback that you would do it in only special and rare cases.

    4. When you're still running around Munkharama (Munks are the people who live there, btw, and some of them happen to also be monks), it's small wonder that your leveling has slowed to a crawl. Once you get to more advanced locations, regular enemies will drop a lot more experience (and also be a tad bit more difficult...), so leveling will pick up again. It will stay much slower than during the first few levels, but that is to be expected, right?

      Those skeleton lords with their 17,000 XP to a single fight will look like regular fare soon enough!

  5. "eight "skeleton lords" in three groups of two" - that's some creative math :P
    As for main plot, treat it as an Adventure game. It's structured very much like one.

    1. Also, you should exclude your long grinding session from the 40 hours.

  6. I just wanted to point out, that I never see ongoing buff spells like enchanted blade or armour plate in one of the six orbs on your screenshots. They last a while and should make combat easier.
    As far as class changing goes, having ninjutsu 100 on all chars eventually makes combat a lot easier and I would also not remain in a regular class as a final one rather than an advanced one.
    The fairy screams to be a ninja eventually... ;)

    1. I do occasionally use them, so it's funny that none of the screenshots I included show them. But even at the highest power, they disappear so quickly that I find it annoying (and a questionable use of spellpoints) to keep recasting them. I don't want to waste points I need for healing on too many "Enchanted Blades."

    2. You'll need less healing with more Enchanted Blade, though... That spell is usually constantly up when I play, and I recommend you do the same. IMO it's worth it.

      Also in combat, Bless and Armor Shield are a great use of spellpoints: they are cheap to cast, and really make combat go more quickly with more hits (Bless), while being much less hurtful (Armor Shield). Moreover, spellpoints in those realms aren't useful for much else anyway.

      In-combat buffing spells benefit a lot from the Ninjutsu skill, btw, since you can just hide everybody in the 1st round of combat, cast buffs as you like in the 2nd, then ambush/backstab the monsters on round 3. Paired with good Speed attributes which your characters hopefully have, you shouldn't take many hits even from more powerful monsters.

  7. "Gran melange" doesn't fall apart that much: it means the great mixing/blending, not the great miscellany. As this is the land of Dreams, it might be the place where all the races' dreams gather...

    1. Actually I've always thought that it's the name for the drug the munks smoke. Melange as in blend and also as in Dune.

    2. Oooh, excellent idea !

    3. I played it for a first time a long time ago, barely knowing any English. I remember coming to a conclusion that Gran Melange is some nonsensical name, something akin to company name like Land Rover or Chrysler :)

  8. If I remember right, the bear "vf vaibxrq, V guvax sbe fjvzzvat." I think the spot where it was found is a clue to it's use.

    I just drop the cable trolley by the river. By the time I end up on the side without the item I can swim across it.

    Not all cursed items are bad for you.

    As mentioned above, use persistant buffs, especially if you're near a good fountain. Although they don't last a huge amount of time, and get weaker the less duration they have left, they're still extremely useful. Magic Screen helps with enemy spells, for instance. And Enchanted Blade, even at low levels, increases to hit and penetration.

    1. Forgot this, sorry: use silence on non-alchemic casters. Against groups of tough casters it's worth the spell points.

  9. Garrulous, copious verbiage - you're on a roll when it comes to one-upping David Bradley! :)

    Since you've asked, not gonna rot it: The Bone Combs and Brushes and the Power Orb will have their uses… much much much later in the game. Hold onto them.
    Way before that, you'll also need the Bonsai Tree to access an area, you'll know what it is when you get there. Same for the Rebus Egge (you got it from the museum in New City, where you got diseased).
    I don't remember what the rubber bear does, however, it's not a crucial item.

    Leveling will pick up eventually. It gets worse until level 16, after that, requirements become linear (and the same for every class).

    By the way, are you aware of the 6 spells the spheres at the top of the screen are for? Three help with combat, the other three with navigation.

  10. If my memory serves, the Rubber Bear served to give a one off boost to swimming skill (as this is usually the first place in the game you really get to test it & obviously need it for the areas below). With everyone now at 100, it might be a bit redundant.

    I feel you've missed a host of areas back in Orkogre Castle... and if all else fails, follow the paths to the ends of the road

  11. The Gown is a form of armor, if I recall correctly. I picked it once to experiment. It is hard to pick something other than the sword when you go through so much to get there. This game is obtuse, sometimes in the extreme to the point where I loose interest.

    1. That armor offers regeneration on top of being light and providing really good AC, and being wearable by most classes. One of the better armors in the game. But the sword is a fine pick, as well.

  12. "Several types of monks (spelled "munks" by the game for some reason), all with mid-level magic powers, kept attacking."

    Seemed obvious to me. Munks from Munkharama. :)

  13. In the long run, having everyone in an advanced class is the best choice, as every class has different, innate resistances (growing with level), and basic classes like fighter or alchemist have terrible resists. When multiclassing, the resists of the highest class are used.

    Getting Ninjutsu for casters is very powerful, as they don't break stealth when casting spells.

    "I'm curious what the other choices would have gotten me."

    Not sure if you've noticed but it also grants a point to some attribute and +1 Karma for everyone. I think the items can also be used in combat to cast some spell.

    The sword is probably the best choice. It's a strong weapon can be used by many classes, even monks. The +HP use effect has 4 charges, so you can use it one more time. It can also cast Asphyxiate at power 6, which is super useful in a pinch, but not sure how many times it can be used. Maybe it shares charges with the +HP use?

    The staff just causes sleep on hit, I'd say it's the weakest of the items.

    The gown, ring and stone (amulet) all give protective items with HP regen and some resistances.

    1. It seems to me that Gown is not a bad choice as well. If I remeber correctly it can be used by Bishop and it is probably best armor for this class. The sword is good, but there will be better weapons later. The Staff is rather weak, and ring and stone are nice, but nothing really special.

    2. The sword is the best choice unless you are rocking one of the importable uber weapons from Wiz 6, like the Avenger or the Muramasa.

    3. I guess I don't feel like my "unimaginitive" choice was actually stupid, then.

    4. Guessing from forum discussions on some Wiz7 board or other, the Gown and Stone are generally considered best for players who know where everything is already... but none of the choices are weaksauce or limiting your ability to compete later on.

  14. As much as others seem to like the game and you seem to enjoy the combat, I do not think I could play this one all the way through. I have the attention span of a coked out butterfly, and that slow text crawl would KILL me.

  15. I think the only real faction choice in the game is Umpani vs T'Rang so don't worry!

    Definitely keep everything that seems like a quest item.

    Good thing that you bought the map! As you have guessed, this map came from a chest that is now "empty", like the one you found in Orkogre Castle. You need all maps (I don't remember how many there are) to find the tomb of the Astral Dominae.

    Luckly, some of them are only required for the hints on them, so in the endgame after hours of searching the world hoping to fall on the NPC who has it, you can look up the map on a walkthrough if everything else fails. But some maps you actually need physically in the game.

  16. "Since munks are humans, the Gorn must be cannibals."

    Technically, no. Cannibalism is the act of eating a members of the same species. But, of course, using sentient species for food can be considered an evil and vile act.

    1. It also seems to me that maybe they aren't human, just look like it (like on star trek) Because if they are human, what makes their innards more special than someone else's? Just get any old innards if they're human.

    2. A snail is sentient. I think the word you're looking for is sapient.

      That "you instantly turn evil if you eat the wrong kind of meat" thing is pure 3rd edition Dungeons and Dragons, nobody else has it.

    3. I know of some vegans who would tend to disagree... ;-)

    4. That's interesting. I've always heard "sentient" used, and used it myself, to describe higher thought, basically self-awareness. But no dictionary supports that definition.

    5. Fallout is pretty anti-cannibalism.

      Kill someone in cold blood who belongs to a particular gang? Good on ya!

      Eat their corpse afterwards? You monster!

  17. Swimming costs stamina. A character with no stamina will down. But while swimming, you can cast spells or use items to restore stamina and give yourself more range.

    It is not recommended that you do so to explore the ocean. You'll eventually get something else to do that and it would be boring and frustrating to swim it all.

  18. Hey, glad you're making progress. I loved brother T'Shober! Never felt more satisfied gutting an NPC in any game before.

  19. That massive descriptive text instantly reminded me of the intro passages of the "Lone Wolf" gamebooks 11 and 12, where the hero falls through the Shadow Gate. Of course, with a book you are free to read as quickly as you wish to or even skip the darn thing...

  20. Are you aware of the map that came with the game? It might help with the choice where to go next. You can also see that you don't have to cross the field of poppies, it's just a shortcut.

    1. I have to confess, I looked at the map early on but dismissed it when I realized the wilderness areas aren't openly navigable. Now that I look at it again, at your suggestion, I see how it would have helped. In any event, I've already blunt-forced my way through the orchid fields.

    2. Alright, never tried that before! I would have suggested going south from Munkharama first and doing Ukpyr (the questline there is, for some reason, endlessly funny to me). But with a multi-switch level 10 elite classes party, you should be survivable enough to at least do a little exploring next to anywhere you can go right now, so more power to you for trampling those orchids!

      By the way, if you find travelling the wilderness and fighting random encounters on the road aggravating, the map will provide some shortcuts later on, with some hubs that take you quickly from place to place.

  21. I kept reading "Holy Work" as "Holy Wok"; what a different game that would be.


I welcome all comments about the material in this blog, and I generally do not censor them. However, please follow these rules:

1. Do not link to any commercial entities, including Kickstarter campaigns, unless they're directly relevant to the material in the associated blog posting. (For instance, that GOG is selling the particular game I'm playing is relevant; that Steam is having a sale this week on other games is not.) This also includes user names that link to advertising.

2. Please avoid profanity and vulgar language. I don't want my blog flagged by too many filters. I will delete comments containing profanity on a case-by-case basis.

3. NO ANONYMOUS COMMENTS. It makes it impossible to tell who's who in a thread. If you don't want to log in to Google to comment, either a) choose the "Name/URL" option, pick a name for yourself, and just leave the URL blank, or b) sign your anonymous comment with a preferred user name in the text of the comment itself.

4. I appreciate if you use ROT13 for explicit spoilers for the current game and upcoming games. Please at least mention "ROT13" in the comment so we don't get a lot of replies saying "what is that gibberish?"

5. Comments on my blog are not a place for slurs against any race, sex, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or mental or physical disability. I will delete these on a case-by-case basis depending on my interpretation of what constitutes a "slur."

Blogger has a way of "eating" comments, so I highly recommend that you copy your words to the clipboard before submitting, just in case.

I read all comments, no matter how old the entry. So do many of my subscribers. Reader comments on "old" games continue to supplement our understanding of them. As such, all comment threads on this blog are live and active unless I specifically turn them off. There is no such thing as "necro-posting" on this blog, and thus no need to use that term.

I will delete any comments that simply point out typos. If you want to use the commenting system to alert me to them, great, I appreciate it, but there's no reason to leave such comments preserved for posterity.

I'm sorry for any difficulty commenting. I turn moderation on and off and "word verification" on and off frequently depending on the volume of spam I'm receiving. I only use either when spam gets out of control, so I appreciate your patience with both moderation tools.