Friday, November 2, 2018

Crusaders of the Dark Savant: Rattrap

Esteban prepares to cast a spell that rarely fails to perform.
When I last wrote, I thought I was stuck underground in Nyctalinth. As some of you guessed, I simply overlooked a ladder. This brought me to an area I had marked as dead space. In the middle of that area was a statue of Phoonzang, labeled "THE CREATOR." I couldn't find anything productive to do with it. From here, a secret door put me back in the main area of Nyctalinth. Someone said I need something from another location before I could finish this map, so I took the Anthracax back to New City.
In New City, I found a random building in which to drop my excess stuff, as several of you recommended. This included quest items I'm pretty sure I've already used and special items that require different classes. I find it amusing that other NPCs repeatedly beat me to key treasure chests, despite all the obstacles in between, but apparently the stuff I drop in a random unlocked corner is safe.
I get a lot of use out of the fountain in the starter dungeon near New City.
Commenters had suggested that I might be able to do something with the computer in New City, perhaps with something I'd found in Nyctalinth, but I fiddled with it for a while and nothing seemed to work. I might need a more explicit hint there.
At this point, I had three major unexplored areas: south of Munkharama, northeast of Orkogre, and the sea. I chose the northeast path, but for some reason I decided to walk there from west of New City--probably because I stopped at the fountain in the starting dungeon first. North of the orchid fields, with half of my characters asleep, I ran into Shritis T'Rang, who'd I'd last seen when I gave him orders to STRIKE.
Then why are you wasting my time stopping me?
Shritis insulted me, and I decided I could do with one fewer NPC to encounter randomly in the world. I attacked him, which caused him to somehow immediately summon a veritable army of T'Rang to his side. Fortunately, I was at the peak of my powers, having just maxed out at a fountain, and a full-powered "Nuclear Blast" took care of everyone except Shritis himself. He was no pushover; he was capable of multiple high-damage melee attacks per round, with poison and paralysis effects. It took about six rounds to kill him in melee combat, and I lost Bix in the process (I resurrected him afterwards). I was hoping I'd get some kind of sick weapon or something, but the battle just won me a lot of experience. 

East of Nyctalinth and northeast of Orkogre, I entered a grove. Multiple ominous warning messages preceded combats with tree-creatures called "Man o' Groves" and "Halloweeches." I swear I've seen something that looks like these creatures before, in another game or movie, but I can't quite place them. There were about six fixed battles in the area, culminating in a combat with their leader, Tobagan.

When the dust settled, I found a slab in the middle of the area, with a carving depicting a giant tree with a gnarled face. Running through my items, the only thing I could think might help was the bonsai tree I'd picked up in Orkogre. When I planted it, it grew into some kind of creature named Maa-Googg, who promised me one of his servants would grant me a boon. The tree shrank and disappeared.
If I tell you my name, will it mean anything to you?
Moving on, we started to encounter a lot more Rattkin parties, and walls started appearing in the environment. Messages indicated that we were circling some kind of ruin, but the entrances were choked with trees and other foliage. Eventually, we reached a square where a tree came alive and lifted the party over the wall and dropped us in the ruins. I assume this was Maa-Googg's servant.
A tree lifts us over the wall.
The ruins, which I haven't yet finished, comprise two levels with a maze of ladders connecting them. Large parties of Rattkin have attacked me throughout, although they respond nicely to most spells, including "Asphyxiate." One battle, however, with a Rattkin named Grimal and several parties of Rattkin Ronin, was almost comically hard. The Ronin version are capable of numerous mage spells, including "Sleep," "Weaken," and "Fireball," and they get multiple attacks per round. When I first encountered them, I was at half-health and got slaughtered. I had to reload several times to defeat them, exhausting my spell points in doing so.
This was one of the hardest battles in the game so far.
There haven't been any puzzles in the area, but there are a few NPCs. One, occupying an alcove off a large courtyard, is an old blind Rattkin named--groan--"Blienmeis." He hasn't had much to say in conversation, and I'm not sure what to do with him. On an upper floor is an impatient, jumpy Rattkin named "Bertie" selling ammunition for bows and slings (I was just complaining about how rare ammo is).
Either NPCs don't have a lot of answers, or I just keep using the wrong dialogue prompts.
There are two major areas I haven't been able to figure out how to access. One is a locked door at the entrance to "Rubi's Funhouse." The face of a clown on the door is lacking a nose, and none of my existing objects seem to suffice.

The second area is behind a door titled "Ratskell's Thieves Guild." There's a window next to the door, and there a Rattkin demands that I put my hand through the window. He feels my hand and tells me that I'm not a good enough thief, to come back when I've had more practice. I suspect this is because I've barely put any points into the "Legerdemain" skill, not intending to steal from NPCs. I'm not sure how to fix that at this point, when leveling has slowed to a crawl. I may have to change my ninja back to a thief so I can jack up that skill.
There are so many ways this could go bad.
Lots of miscellaneous notes:

  • The economy is a bit weird in this game. You rarely encounter anyone with much to sell, but when you do, what you want is inevitably very expensive. Most combats don't provide gold--through most of the game, I've earned more from selling unwanted equipment--but occasionally you meet an enemy that inexplicably delivers a lot of gold. I made about 1,200 gold pieces per battle against the "Men o' Groves," for instance.
  • My characters' melee prowess continues to grow as I (slowly) level, with my lord now capable of about eight attacks per round, four at the beginning and four at the end. It's nice when a game doesn't under-value melee characters at higher levels. In some earlier Wizardry titles, spellcasters carry almost all the load once you hit the midgame.
  • This game could really benefit from a Bard's Tale-like "batch spell" that casts "Armorplate," "Direction," "Enchanted Blade," "Reveal Secret," and "Magic Screen" simultaneously. I try to keep these spells on as often as possible, but they only last about 15 minutes even at the highest power.
  • It's surprising how rarely the party is at 100%. It only happens when you spend some time at a fountain. Resting really doesn't restore much at all.
  • The game has an encumbrance system, but since it began I've been nowhere near in danger of exceeding any character's load, and I'm usually packed to the gills with inventory.
  • When I'm fighting Rattkin leaders, the game always says that they attack with vorpal blades. Where do those blades go when the combat is over? I never get them.
  • We have a new NPC who frequently drops in for a visit, forcing me to acknowledge her introductory text repeatedly before I can "Leave" and move on.
Why art thou trying to sound like Lord British?
  • It's extremely satisfying when I hit an enemy with a sling bullet or dart, do only 1 damage, and then roll a critical hit and kill him. 
I haven't talked much about the disarm and unlock minigames, which I enjoy. The disarm screen requires you to "inspect" the trap and try to figure out the trap's assembly pattern and match it to several potential traps accessible from the scroll bar. Attempting to disarm a trap or calibrate a lock tumbler requires you to click a button above a window that continually flashes green, red, and yellow.
Picking a lock. Getting all five tumblers was a stroke of luck.
If you click when it's red, you fail and the trap blows up or the lock jams. If you click when green, you succeed. If you click when yellow, you get another chance. The proportions of the colors are dependent on your "Skullduggery" skill, but otherwise it's just luck; the colors flash too quickly to actually time them.

Here's a quick review of all of my unsolved puzzles and unexplored areas. I'll take light hints if I'm already supposed to have the item or knowledge to get past the area.

  • Nyctalinth: Energy field blocking passage between two pillars.
  • Nyctalinth: The jeweled staff that the ghost keeps stealing.
  • Nyctalinth: Gooey balls on the cave floor.
  • New City: Computer in Controller room.
  • New City: Whatever I have to say to Professor Wunderland to get key to Old City.
  • New City: Access to Umpani embassy.
  • New City: "Twisted Heads" puzzle.
  • Seas and river south of New City
  • River north of Munkharama
  • Northeast ruins: How to get into Rubi's Funhouse
  • Northeast ruins: Getting into thieves' guild.
  • Continuing wilderness east of northeast ruins.
  • Munkharama: Getting the 5 flowers for Master Xheng.
  • Continuing wilderness south of Munkharama.

I like having my characters settled in a single class. My lord is particularly kicking ass every round with his Sword of 4 Winds. His statistics are almost maxed too--everything's 17 or 18 except one 16. Ninja (who despite my complaint above did end up with a Vorpal Sword) and Valkyrie continue to pull their weight, landing critical hits with satisfying regularity. My bishop doesn't have every spell in the game, but it feels like he's getting close, and when he's at full power, "Nuclear Blast" and "Death Wish" make ruin out of most enemy parties. When he's not at full power, the alchemist is there with her terrifyingly effective "Asphyxiation."
The mage, on the other hand, isn't doing as well.
Only my mage--who if you'll recall originally started as a bard--is a little weak. My bishop has more than 200 spell points in several schools and at least 100 in all of them, and my alchemist is well above 100 in all of hers. But my mage, who it feels ought to be racking up the points more quickly as a "pure" spellcaster, is struggling to top 80 in all of his schools. I think his intelligence may be partly to blame. I've been unlucky with the dice. The minimum for his class is 12, but after 14 level-ups, he's only at 14. (When leveling up, the game selects random attributes to increase by one point. Usually, it's just one attribute, but sometimes you get lucky and get a bump in two, three, or even four.) Perhaps because of this, he doesn't get many skill points. Where every other spellcaster in my party is already at 100 in his or her primary magic skill, Bix is only just about to break 75. Maybe I should give up and make a samurai out of him or something.

More on Legends of the Lost Realm coming up if I can get anywhere; otherwise, we may take a premature detour to Cobra Mission.

Time so far: 60 hours


  1. Regarding the thieves guild, perhaps you should try pickpocketing some NPCs in the area?

  2. The RatRacer 2000 is at your disposal, Madam. (Hungarians will get it ;)

    Nyctalinth: Energy field blocking passage between two pillars.
    Nyctalinth: The jeweled staff that the ghost keeps stealing.
    These are interconnected. You DID search that statue of Phoonzang in Nyctalinth, right? Maybe there is something else you can do with the statue? What's the theme for searching in Nyctalinth? Use what you found there with the ghost.

    Nyctalinth: Gooey balls on the cave floor.
    You haven't gotten the item to deal with them yet. There is a certain area that has a lot of things to help with Nyctalinth (guess who must live there?)

    ***Nyctalinth: There is something else you can do in Nyctalinth proper (not the graveyard) with the frozen Savant Androids. Once you figure it out, the method works on *any* Savant in the game, even in combat!

    New City: Computer in Controller room.
    You'll need an extra item to be able to access the computers. Again, you haven't been to the area yet where you get it. But other than that, you already figured out what to do.

    New City: Whatever I have to say to Professor Wunderland to get key to Old City.
    You'll know the keyword once you complete the Funhouse and speak with someone near the end of the Rattkin adventure.

    New City: Access to Umpani embassy.
    You'll get in "the same way" you got into the T'Rang one.

    New City: "Twisted Heads" puzzle.
    Read the ***BOAT*** map, once you get it.

    Seas and river south of New City
    Connected to the above.

    River north of Munkharama
    You'll get to that area from a different direction, you don't have to spam Stamina spells while swimming to explore there.

    Northeast ruins: How to get into Rubi's Funhouse
    Ask around in the area! (And have some cash on you.)

    Northeast ruins: Getting into thieves' guild.
    Do as they do! (Steal from a blind rat.) Check your gear before and after you do so, to make sure nothing vital is lost.

    Continuing wilderness east of northeast ruins.
    My memory might not be 100% accurate here: unless they're a dead end, they wrap around to your next question :)

    Munkharama: Getting the 5 flowers for Master Xheng.
    You haven't been to the area yet where you find them. You'll get there eventually.

    Continuing wilderness south of Munkharama.
    Seriously, check it out! :) You'll find many answers to questions you posted here. (There's a town.)

    Good luck, you're making good progress! Sorry if I'm cryptic, I was trying to provide hints as you requested, not explicit instructions.

    1. Please use ROT13 for clues.

      Go here:

      type your entry then cut and paste the text it automatically spits out in the box below.

    2. I normally rot every hint. Here I didn't because the Addict specifically asked for these ones.

    3. Thanks. It sounds like that most of those puzzles and areas are still in my future except for a couple areas in Nyctalinth and the ruins. These were "light" enough, and while ROT-13 is generally appreciated, I agree it's not necessary where I ask explicitly.

  3. A word of warning: don't drop too many items in one area (an area is a place that your map kit maps as one). If an area has more than 127 items on the floor, they can start disappearing.

  4. On encumbrance, you want to be at less than half of it. The higher you go above half, the more it affects the character. Try moving around in real life with 70+ pounds of gear, even if you can lift it, it still slows you down.

    Named equipment on non-named characters is a rare drop. Often very rare.

  5. "Where do those blades go when the combat is over?"

    I can't speak to /where/, but while they're departing there they definitely go "snicker-snack"!

  6. The reason your Mage is so low on spell points is your Piety stat is low (It's 10 in that screenshot you posted). Piety determines the spell points for all classes. I find you need Piety to be at 13 or above to get anywhere near decent MP myself.

    1. Interesting. I missed that part in the manual. That's another one where I've been unlucky on the rolls. When he switched to a mage, he would have gotten a piety of 9. In 14 levels after that, he only got one piety point. He also got screwed on speed, which precludes me from moving him to something more useful like a samurai or monk.

    2. Mages have no piety requirement, so your hobbit should have dropped to his race minimum of 6.

      If you're not happy with him, consider another class change. That might hurt at level 14, but
      - he'll catch up quickly, and in the long run will be only 3-4 levels behind the others
      - Your high attribute totals in strength and personality aren't that useful for a mage anyway.
      - Your party seems strong enough to pull the weight despite one low level character for a while.

      Ranger could be an option. He continue continue his Alchemist studies (he was an alchemist before, right?), and no attribute will drop below 8. And if you're reasonably lucky with Speed on level-ups, you could make a final class change to Ninja (Alchemist) or even Samurai (Mage).

    3. For some reason, I was thinking the minimum anything ever dropped was 9.

    4. The spell point calculation on level up is based on the number of spells you know. That's why bishops end up with so many spell points. The more spells you have, the more points you get every level up. Try class changing the mage into another spellcaster class, then back again.

    5. Bix is not low on spell points, he has considerably more spell points than a straight pure mage like the pregenerated one would have with the same experience.
      The main reason your casters have far more spell points than standard is that because of class switching they had more level ups where they knew more spells. Piety plays only a minor role.

  7. "Rubi's Funhouse" almost certainly came from the 1990 Williams pinball machine Funhouse, which featured a mannequin dummy head in the game called "Rudy." Looks like Bradley borrows references from all kinds of genres..

  8. Concerning "Man o' Groves"/"Halloweeches", you say:

    "I swear I've seen something that looks like these creatures before, in another game or movie, but I can't quite place them."

    If you're talking about the creature in the fourth picture in the post, who asks "who summoned the spirit of the great Maa-googg?"... I think what you're thinking of is a lemming, from the game "Lemmings!". :)

    1. A shambling mound from D&D immediately came to my mind. It looks like the one from the old Monster Manual, especially with that carrot nose.

    2. I've never seen Lemmings. Pavone is probably right; I'm probably remembering one of the vegetable-related monster portraits from Curse of the Azure Bonds.

    3. Possible, but to my mind they look a *lot* like Marvel Comic's "Man-Thing," which is where my mind went immediately.

    4. its Caliban,

  9. Cobra Mission looks like a point and click adventure game.

    1. I've already played a bit. It has enough RPG elements that I can't reject it as such.

  10. You're on the right track for pretty much everything right now. You have a few areas you haven't explored that will answer a few of your questions.

    Various ROT13 hints:

    1) Oyvrazrvfr vf zber guna ur nccrnef naq unf n frperg. Ur'f abg jvyyvat gb bssre vg hc, fb lbh znl unir gb or n ovg "farnxl" jvgu uvz. Whfg or pnershy ur vfa'g gbb "farnxl" onpx ng lbh!

    2) Gurer ner znal frpergf ohevrq ba Ybfg Thneqvn. Cubbamnat thneqf ng yrnfg bar, gubhtu vgf hfr vfa'g boivbhf jvgubhg n zveebe. Znlor gung fcrrql tubfg jvyy ybna lbh bar.

    3) Sbe gur tbbrl onyyf, yrg'f whfg fnl gung ng yrnfg bar guvat va gur tnzr vf **infgyl** zber cbjreshy guna "n pbhcyr bs fjvatf jvgu n oebnqfjbeq". Lbh unira'g zrg gur ACP jub tvirf vg gb lbh, gubhtu.

    4) Erernq gur zncf crevbqvpnyyl. Lbh'yy hfhnyyl svther vg bhg *nsgre* lbh unir fbyirq gur chmmyr. Fbzr yrnq gb gurve anzrfnxr, ohg bayl n "sbby" guvaxf nyy bs gur zncf ner hfrshy.

  11. NPCs getting maps before you has an interesting side effect - it makes some dungeons optional if you wait long enough. E.g. unless the Rattkin Ruins contain another quest item or act as a passage to another (non-optional) area, you don't need to go there if you eventually just buy the boat map. In a way, the game helps players that get stuck. Not sure if that was an intentional design decision or an unintentional effect. Unfortunately the reward for finding the maps yourself is rather puny.

    Glad you figured out the bonsai tree puzzle so quickly. I never did when I played the game back in the 90s. That kind of puzzle was typical of adventure games of that time. I don't think we really finished many games back then - still, they were fun.

    1. IIRC though, there is a certain map that, if a certain NPC gets ahold of it, the game can become unwinnable because (at least in certain circumstances) it is not possible to get the map from them and you must physically have it to complete the game.

  12. Oh my god, Cobra Mission. I remember it from my childhood. That's one's gonna be something. Definitely something. :D

  13. Ol' Blindmies, I spent a good couple hours fighting him on one of my playthroughs. He has one of the best weapons in the game, though it can only be used by Faerie Ninjas.

    1. You can also learn a personal skill from him.

  14. The lock minigame isn't supposed to be random. If you slow down your emulation, it actually becomes timing-based. The problem is, to get it running slow enough that you can play it that way, the game itself becomes nigh-unplayable.

  15. This must be a new record for your blog.
    Far from stuck in the game you ask for 14 spoilers and get 15 within two hours.
    The game really has a bad influence on players' ambitions to solve the games themselves.

    1. I didn’t ask for 14 spoilers. I asked for between 0 and maybe 8 hints if I should already have the information needed to solve the puzzle. (Obviously, I didn’t need hints for the bullets that just indicated I hadn’t gone a particular direction yet.)

    2. You're right, you didn't need hints. The term "spoiler" is not clearly defined, I used it too widely. Mirnaia obviously thought you were asking for 14 hints, for me (ignoring the 4 dots only mentioning unexplored areas) it looks as if you were asking whether you can solve them now for 10 tasks (no answer would give you the information no) and if yes for additional hints.

    3. Nah, I just can't read :) Re-reading the request I shouldn't even have been this specific.

  16. "There were about six fixed battles in the area, culminating in a combat with their leader, Tobagan."

    Glad to hear you survived that. It sounds like a situation that could have gone quickly downhill.

    1. Considering the power level of the party here it should actually be one of the easier encounters. Usually you go to the clearing much earlier and then the battles feel a bit like those Final Fantasy series of battles, where you think just made it in the end, but if you did it a couple of times they usually work out fine.

    2. A Toboggan is a sled or a type of roller coaster.

      I usually refrain from explaining jokes, but this one was worth it :)

    3. Speaking of terrible puns, the grave you fall in when you dig it up belongs to Notera Furmi (no terra firma).

    4. It seems that author is a master of Dad Jokes. Any encounter with him starts with "Hello X, I am Bradley" .

  17. Hello Mr. Addict,
    I am a 46 old guy from Germany and I just want to say that I love your blog. Sorry for my bad english, i dont have much practice in writing in english, but I try my best.
    I am still reading your older posts about Ultima, Might and Magic and actually Pool of Radiance. Great writing!
    Your blog gives me the Motivation to Play These old classics and by now i have finished Ultima1 and M&M1, actually playing PoR and loving it.
    Thanks for all the time and energy you put in this project and keep up the good work!

    1. Same to me, but some years older.
      Your articles are a great inspiration and help for playing older games. Wish I had more spare time.
      Will your blog stay readable after finishing your project? I really hope so.

    2. Since he accidentally did not reply to you guys...
      "Glad to hear it, mein Freund. Feel free to comment on my old entries with your experiences."

    3. Sorry I accidentally replied in a new thread. Easy to do when you're replying to the last comment. Zakh, I don't imagine ever reaching the end of the project, but if I did--or decided to quit--of course I'd leave the blog up. It doesn't cost me anything. I'm more worried about Google someday deciding to pull the plug on the Blogger service. I keep meaning to make my own archive plan--or publish in a physical medium--but haven't gotten around to it yet.

  18. Glad to hear it, mein Freund. Feel free to comment on my old entries with your experiences.


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