Sunday, December 2, 2018

Crusaders of the Dark Savant: Gorror Show

So begins a mostly-optional but fun dungeon level.
             
I spent 14 hours late this week trying to win Crusaders, and I made it to the threshold, but I can't quite cross it. Unfortunately, I waited a bit too long to blog about this experience, and looking at my notes and screenshots, I find it impossible to discuss what I accomplished in any kind of linear order. The endgame requires so much backtracking that I came to memorize entire dungeon levels. It also required three separate violations of my "no cheats" rule, although they're not technically "violations" if I'm completely stuck and can't progress otherwise. They still feel like violations.

Getting into the dungeon on the Isle of Crypts required the "Majestik Wand" that I found last session.
         
In broad terms, there's only one dungeon left after the experiences I related last time. It was on the Isle of Crypts, and it consisted of four major sections:

1. The introductory level full of undead, 22 x 22.
2. The "Hall of Gorrors," 16 x 16.
3. Eight small 8 x 8 levels with a bunch of teleporters connecting them
4. The level with the Tomb of the Astral Dominae, 16 x 22.

I had to leave the entire dungeon--and once I got to the third section, that involved a lot of backtracking--at least half a dozen times to pick up some new item or clue or experience. I think even if you played more optimally than I did, you'd still have to backtrack out of the dungeon a minimum of twice, because there are things you can't do on the surface until you find the right clues or items in the dungeon.

The first level was large and full of undead, fairly easy to map. It has some annoying squares where every time you enter, you set off a trap that damages, blinds, or "vegetates" your characters, and there doesn't seem to be any way to avoid or disarm them. I don't know; there's a golden urn at one point, and it might be possible to disarm the traps by putting some powder in the urn the way it supposedly is in the Dane Tower, but I never found any of that powder.
              
This message accompanied a lot of the unavoidable-damage squares. I never figured out what it was about.
         
As I began to explore, some ghost kept appearing and shrieked things like, "IIII WWWWANT MMMY BMOCYENOBBB!!!" Having been programmed now--largely by the Wizardry series--to automatically check everything backwards, I immediately interpreted this as something like "bony comb." I'd been carrying around a "bone comb and brushes" since Orkogre Castle, so when I finally found the corpse of an old Gorn queen and used the object on it, the specter went away. That might be the longest amount of gameplay between finding a quest object and using it that I've experienced.
           
Most of the ruins in this game used to belong to the Gorn, it seems.
       
There were some locked doors on the level that opened only with "Keys of the Tomb" or "Keys of the Crypt," both of which appeared in random loot on the level. The rooms behind these doors had some treasure chests with decent objects. There were actually quite a few treasure chests throughout this session, and while I didn't record in detail what I found and kept at each location, by the end of the session most of my characters were wielding different items. My Valkyrie got a Valkyrie-only weapon called "Maenad's Lance." I found a decent mace called "Diamond Eyes," but the only character who could use it effectively was my lord, so I ended up transferring the "Sword of 4 Winds" to my ninja, who oddly never found a high-level ninja-specific weapon. I found an entire suit of Samurai-specific armor on one corpse, and I hated to discard it all, but at this point I didn't want to do any more class changes.
          
It would have made more sense if his name were * M I L D  I N C O N V E N I E N C E *.
              
There were combats with demons and dragons among all the undead, and the level culminated with a battle with a black dragon called * D O O M *. Despite this being a spaces-and-asterisks boss, he wasn't that difficult, or at least I didn't take any detailed notes that suggested the combat was difficult. I think I might have gotten lucky with a critical hit (against which most boss-level enemies seem immune) in an early round.

The next level is the one worth talking about. It was small and easy to interpret, consisting of six 2 x 6 rooms, each behind a locked gate, each featuring a different unique enemy, each with a treasure chest behind him. Each gate opened with a "Key of Gorrors," of which I only had two when I first entered the dungeon, but later discovered more after random combats. Some of the gates required swimming for up to 7 squares, so you arrive at those exhausted and have to spend some time sleeping before the battle.
           
"And a thousand eyes, can't help but see . . ."
         
The enemies, all of which were optional, ranged from the trivially easy to the impossible. In rough order:

  • Ra-Sep-Re-Tep. This was the undead skeleton in the starter dungeon. I don't know how he's in two different places, but he doesn't seem to have advanced very much in between. I killed him almost immediately. It was frankly embarrassing.
  • D'Arboleth. A ghost enemy. He died in maybe 8 rounds of physical attacks (meaning he had maybe 1,000-1,200 hit points), with none of his attempts at "Death" working.
        
D'Arboleth's demon ally was more difficult than he was.
       
  • Horragoth. A demon who attacks with some lesser demons or sphinx-type enemies in tow. Both he and his comrades are fond of mass-damage spells, and Horragoth himself often casts "Death Wish" and "Word of Death." When these spells work, they're obviously devastating to the party, but I find--especially with "Magic Screen" active--that they hardly ever work. To beat him, I just had to keep up on healing while whittling down his hit points.
          
"Do you know what you just interrupted?!," Horragoth screamed.
        
  • Thing from Hell. This is a bug beast with more than 5,000 hit points. It frequently casts "Mind Flay," which can drive a character insane, and a physical attack that causes high-level poison. (Insane characters behave erratically, usually ignoring your assigned action and sometimes attacking other party members.) This was the first Gorror that I encountered as I mapped, and I gave up after a few tries. Much later, when more of my characters were capable of casting "Sane Mind" and had higher levels in "Mind Control" (see below), I tried again and was able to beat it.
          
Bix goes insane.
       
  • Beast of a Thousand Eyes. I haven't been able to defeat either of the last two enemies, but at least I can survive a couple rounds with the Beast. By icon, the Beast is in the "flying jellyfish" family. He has these tentacles that don't do much damage (although they can poison), and every time I tried to fight him, he'd use those tentacles for a few rounds while my melee characters pounded him for hundreds of hit points. But then, inevitably, he'd cast "Dazzling Lights" and it would be all over. "Dazzling Lights," according to the manual, is a spell that does random effects to enemies, including insanity, nausea, blinding, stoning, and death. His, for whatever reason, seem to favor the "death" option. I tried to keep up with resurrections and other healing spells, but in about 15 tries, he always wiped out my party by the 12th round.
         
Ironically, he doesn't appear to have any eyes.
       
  • Fiend of 9 Worlds. In contrast to the Beast, I couldn't even last three rounds against this Rattkin enemy before all hope died. He has a Vorpal Blade that causes 99 hit points every time it strikes, almost never misses, and leaves a character poisoned even if he survives. He also shoots mystic arrows that seem to have a lot of luck with critical hits.
              
It annoys me that an enemy this powerful is a Rattkin.
         
Once I understood the "shtick" of the level, and perceived that the combats were optional, I didn't mind the difficulty so much. It actually improved my approach to the game's combats in general, which is a funny thing to say this late in the game. There are so many spells that even with the number of combats you face in the game, I've tended to rely on the same handful for most of them. (It should go without saying that with any difficult combat in this game, I started, or at least re-started, with "Enchanted Blade," "Magic Screen," and "Armorplate" blazing.) Trying to defeat the Gorrors, I experimented a bit more with different spells and combat options and found a few combinations that could have served me better.
           
Having just woken up from a nap, the party regrets not having its protection spells turned on right now.
          
Among my discoveries are the utility of "Create Life," which creates an (invisible) ally to fight along side you. Not only is this ally capable of doing some significant damage, but he must stand off to the side somewhere because the enemy is capable of either attacking the party or the ally. If he casts a spell at the ally, even a mass-damage spell, it never affects the party. Those rounds where the summoned ally absorbs the enemy's attention are very rewarding.

The spell "Armormelt" seems to do a good job of softening enemies for melee combat, and I've found that "Anti-Magic" causes their spells to "fizzle" a satisfying number of times. "Superman" does a good job bolstering allies. However, the problem that I have with these spells--and perhaps the reason that I avoided using them for so long--is that the manual is coy about how long they last. There's no indicator on screen to show that you have any of the buffing spells activated, so you just have to trust that when you cast the spell, it's doing something. I'm not big on that kind of trust.

A lot of commenters have extolled the virtues of building up the "Ninjutsu" skill and hiding in the first combat round. My characters do all have this skill--a side effect of my cycling them through ninja or samurai classes, if only for one level, to give them "Kirijutsu," which governs critical hits. When it works, all the characters drop into shadows and then come out screaming the next round with backstabs and such, doubling or tripling the melee damage they can cause. You can also elect to stay hidden for multiple rounds and let your summoned allies do the work. There are even some mass damage spells that don't break your cover, although I haven't experimented long enough to get these.

Anyway, my problem with the strategy is that it really only works if all of the characters manage to hide. I didn't spend enough points on "Ninjutsu" for some of the characters and they usually don't make it. When that happens, the un-hidden characters draw all of the enemy's attention and don't prevent the enemy from casting mass-damage spells that hit everyone. Also, even characters with 50+ points in "Ninjutsu" don't seem capable of hiding from high-level enemies like the Beast with the Thousand Eyes.

What strikes me is how, this late in the game, it's generally physical attacks that save the day. This separates Crusaders from a lot of games in its genre where fighters become useless around mid-game, and spellcasters end up doing all the heavy lifting (Phantasie and The Bard's Tale series are two where this is is particularly true). Here, it's the spellcasters who become somewhat weak, with high-level enemies (infuriatingly) shrugging off even the highest-level spells cast with the highest number of dice. I find that at this stage, the best my spellcasters can do is keep the melee characters alive and healthy long enough to do their jobs. In a lot of rounds, I have my mage, bishop, and alchemist join the front three characters in physical attacks.

The only thing I had to accomplish on the Hall of Gorrors level, it turns out, was to find something called the Jewel of the Sun behind a hidden door and corridor. After that, it was on to the next section. But to get there, I had to get the first of my three hints.
             
This pillar is going to be important later, too.
           
To get out of the Hall of Gorrors, you have to open a gate with something called the Key of Skulls. The Key of Skulls, in turn, is hidden within a pillar called the "Gaelin Stone." The pillar has four faces, and at each face, the party can read a message that talks about two of the game's maps. It turns out that to get the key, you have to physically "use" the LEGEND map and hold it up against the western-facing edge of the pillar, which discusses the DRAGON and STAR maps. This is what it says:
          
*DRAGON*
A Dragon, a Chest, and a Key...

*STAR*
A Stone Tablet, Three Statues, and a Five-Pointed Star...
             
This is what the LEGEND map says:

Whatever was written upon the map has long ago faded. Now it is but a blank piece of parchment, dotted with several scattered holes. Around the edge of one hole near the center, you can just barely discern the faint remnants of a ring of reddish dye.
               
When you use the LEGEND map at the pillar, it says this:
      
You hold the Gaelin Legend over the face of the Runed Tablet, and see that the holes in the parchment conform perfectly with the knobs of stone protruding from the pillar. The hole near the center of the Legend is positioned directly over the eye of the Dragon, and by inserting your finger, you discover that it is actually a well-concealed button. Pushing the button, a secret compartment opens up in the tablet, revealing a black key in the shape of a skull.
     
Even knowing the solution, I don't understand how I was supposed to figure it out from the available evidence. The word "Gaelin" is only attached to the LEGEND map, as far as I can tell, in this one paragraph. Nowhere else in the game do you "use" the maps like this. What am I missing?

In any event, the gate led to the next section of the dungeon, where I spent most of this session's time but have the least to say. It was eight levels of 8 x 8 squares with no stairs between them, only teleporters. There are 54 teleportation destinations within the area, but some of the destinations have more than one teleporter, with the result being that about 25% of the squares are either teleportation or destination squares. Some of the levels have dark areas that you have to "feel" your way through, and one has a water area. There were a few locked gates where I had to find treasure chests with keys before I could open them.
         
Dark squares, a staple of other tile-based blobbers, really haven't been a part of Crusaders so far. This was briefly disorienting.
       
Naturally, it took a long time to map the entire thing, but this is the kind of challenge that I enjoy. I don't know why I enjoy it. There isn't much creativity involved in mapping an area like this, just a lot of trial and error. I enjoy it anyway. I stayed up all night one night finishing the map.
          
The eight dungeon levels with all of the teleporter origins and destinations.
        
There were multiple battles with undead, demons, dragons, and other high-level enemies, and while I had a fair number of reloads during the process, the battles weren't overly hard. Each one delivered an average of maybe 20,000 experience points. My characters require 600,000 experience points between levels these days, so about 30 battles per level, but I have six characters, so roughly every five battles or so, someone leveled up.

Aside from a few weapon and armor upgrades, the key item to find among the eight levels was the STAR map. The STAR map turns out to be the solution to one of the "statue" puzzles back in the City of Sky, and you need something from that area to get through the Tomb of the Astral Dominae, so this represents one of the mandatory backtrackings from this dungeon. At the time that I found it, however, I didn't even begin to guess that was it's purpose. It wasn't until I was looking up a later hint that I saw an unwanted (although it turns out, equally necessary) hint about the STAR map.
            
If someone else had gotten to this first, I might have rage-quit.
         
The hint I needed came from one of the dungeon levels, where to progress I needed to press eight buttons--Egg, Moon, Cross, Tower, Dragon, Skull, Sun, and Star--in a particular order. Looking through my existing maps gave me no ideas. Looking for a hint, I discovered that the answer was to be found on the CRYSTAL map, the only map that I hadn't retrieved so far. The last clue I'd received about it said that the Rattkin had it.
           
This area had four rooms of two buttons each.
         
It was clear that both to find the CRYSTAL map and make use of the STAR map, I'd need to leave the dungeon, so I backtracked my way out the doors and back to my boat. I returned to New City to use its fountain and sell some excess equipment and ponder my next move. I briefly considered looking at a more explicit hint about the CRYSTAL map, but ultimately sighed, sucked it up, and took the long forest path back to Rattkin territory.
No one ended up having the damned map--I killed every NPC to check and reloaded when they didn't have it--but it was an interesting side trip regardless. You may recall that the last time I visited the Rattkin, I had given some information to Barlone' of the Rakuza that would allow him to intercept a T'Rang starship and perhaps use it to expand his influence off-world. Well, it must have worked, because on my return he told me that the Rattkin would be clearing out of the area. He offered to let me ransack his treasure room for 40,000 gold pieces, which I gratefully paid because I have plenty of excess gold. The treasure room turned out not to contain much of anything I needed.
          
I'm glad you're moving up in the universe.
        
I suspect the map is in the hands of Ratsputin, who I haven't seen for a couple dozen hours. (Ed: A comment reminded me about the "Locate Person" spell. It said that Ratsputin is dead. So who knows where the map went.) Meanwhile, any "lore" about the map has completely disappeared. Every time I talk to a wandering NPC, the tell me about every other map, including all the ones I have, but CRYSTAL has never come up again. Of course, the NPCs themselves have been few and far between now that I actually need them.

After several hours of aimless wandering, I did what I'd been trying to avoid and looked up the text of the Crystal Map, which told me how to get through the area and up to the final section of the dungeon, holding the Tomb of the Astral Dominae. I was utterly unprepared for the difficulty of the enemies on that level, least of all (what I assume is) the final battle, and I ended up leaving the dungeon again for some grinding and other character development time. But this post is already pretty long, so I'll save my further adventures for next time. As I write this, I'm preparing to take on the final battle again.

Some random notes:

  • The City of Skies, which I talked about last time, has this museum where there are several powerful-sounding artifacts including a "Mercurian Light Sword" and a "Cobaltine Power Glove." Each item is behind a force field and can only be unlocked with a "Key of Light," of which it appears only one exists. When I first visited the city, I found the key after visiting the museum, and owing to the difficulty navigating the area and its invisible walls, figured I'd decide on the artifact later. Then I forgot to go back. I also forgot to go back when I visited the city the second time to use the STAR map. Those items probably would have made a difference. Maybe I'll go back if I still can't beat the final battle.
  • Many of the chests in the Isle of Crypts dungeon were impossible to disarm even with a character with a "Skullduggery" skill at 100. That seems a bit unfair.
  • In my opinion, the graphics and animations for the various demon creatures are the best in the game.
           
These guys are reasonably intimidating.

             

  • It seems like almost every weapon and piece of armor I found was useable only by a fighter, Valkyrie, lord, or samurai. I never found any really good stuff for my bishop, alchemist, or mage.
  • At one point, I thought I had discovered some good stuff. One chest gave me a number of items "of Doom," including a staff, and both upper and lower pieces to a robe. The items were cursed, which isn't necessarily a bad thing in this game; it just means you can't unequip them without casting "Remove Curse." The armor class on the robes was insanely low, and they also had a high magic protection rating. I was so enamored of them that I didn't realize until much later that they sap hit points from whoever is holding them. It's slow, but fast enough that the character will die during 8 hours of resting. I reluctantly gave them up.
  • My characters all have at least 18 in everything now. Some of them are up to 19 or 20 because of ankhs that you can "invoke" for a one-point attribute gain. The nice thing is that even with the toughest enemies, my characters almost always act first. 
  • It's been a long time since I cast something at anything but the highest level. I wish the game would just default to the highest level.
  • And I wish there was a higher-level healing spell. Most of my characters have enough spell points for 8 to 10 castings of "Heal Wounds," and it takes that many to fully restore a character's health. That's like trying to heal a Dungeons and Dragons character with nothing but "Cure Light Wounds" when he's Level 20. It would be nice if the game had offered a "Heal Wounds a Lot" spell to cut down on some of the time.
  • Here's a process I'm getting sick of: Entering the temple in New City. Acknowledging a message about the statue of Phoonzang. Acknowledging the screen with the name of the temple. Acknowledging a descriptive message about the temple. Acknowledging the introductory screen of Father Rulae. Telling Father Rulae that we want GUIDANCE. Talking to Father Rulae. Reminding Father Rulae that we know the SACRAMENT. Acknowledging his reaction. Saying BYE to Father Rulae. Acknowledging his farewell message. Telling father Rulae to LEAVE. Acknowledging his farewell message again. Then finally being able to walk down the corridor behind him to the healing fountain. It would be nice if the corridor had just stayed open permanently after the first time I told Rulae about the SACRAMENT.
           
The characters have gotten creative during this process.
        
Sorry for all the posts in a row on Crusaders, but this isn't a game that rewards taking time off, and my two other active games are too difficult to offer any kind of reprieve from this one. Let's keep pushing on through.

Time so far: 104 hours

62 comments:

  1. I'm surprised you have so much problems combat wise, with all that grinding you do.

    I defeated all the Gorrors except 1000 Eyes on my way into the dungeon, "Mighty Mouse" being the second hardest one to be beat. But I defeated 1000 Eyes on my way out again. My characters were levels 28-36 then. I did import items from Wiz 6, but I never bothered with the Ninjutsu skill for the reason you mentioned: "it really only works if all of the characters manage to hide." And of course if you do lots of class changing your characters will have a lower class level, which affect all combat calculations.

    It was one hell of a fight; that's for sure. And you haven't really completed Wiz 7 before you defeat The Beast of a Thousand Eyes.

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    1. I haven't really done a lot of grinding in this game, at least not before the final battle. My characters were Level 21-22, maybe 23, when I first entered the Hall of Gorrors.

      I've said in previous entries that I like when games give the OPTION to grind. That doesn't mean I always engage in it or particularly like doing it.

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    2. Sounds like you may have done too much class changing then, and your characters having too much of a disadvantage due to low class levels. My party was level 22-29 before fighting their first Gorror.
      I did limited class changing, mainly to get the magic skills up.

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    3. Yes, yes, I'm sure whatever issues I'm experiencing are from playing the game "wrong." Thank you for that regular reminder.

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    4. Have you tried grinding?

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    5. Grinding and class changing in the first half of the game shoudln't matter much. The XP you gain/lose there is pretty much equal to only a few combats in the final dungeon.

      Levels are important because the relative level of character and monster determines the effectiveness of many spells, but the Beast of 1000 Eyes has such a high level I'm not sure if it matters if you're in the high 20 or low 30s.

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    6. Yeah for levels to have any meaningful effect on the beast you have to get into the 30s, which is ridiculous overkill for the rest of the game.

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    7. On this thread, I really appreciate that Chet often takes an approach to these games which is different from what I'd do but no less passionate, obsessive or "hardcore". It lets me see a different side of the game systems and how they handle other approaches which are supposed to be viable (or in some cases actively encouraged).

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    8. I tried the horror with 6 multi-classed ninjas all with kirijtsu and ninjutsu, all fighting empty-handed.
      First round, all disappear into the shadows, second round, all attack from the shadows.
      The result was awesome, but still, could not beat the beast.

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  2. You can easily train Ninjutsu. Like weapon skills, it's not worth spending points on except maybe a few to get the skill up to 5-10.

    I've always had my Ninja fight barehanded, he was pretty effective that way.

    You might have gotten the Crystal map by killing Barleone (not sure if that is an option when you don't betray the family - did the NPC options come up in the final encounter with him?). There are two game breaking bugs in Wizardry 7 I am aware of - the Rattin leaving with the Legend map, and there is an (unlikely) combination which can lock you out of the upper levels of the Dane tower.

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  3. What a dense game. Very ambitious.
    It feels like the first time on this blog you can actually miss whole storylines because you don't backtrack every once in a while.

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  4. Your hunch is correct, you can shut Evilspeak up by burning Jonga powder at the urn - I think you can still buy them from Almagorte if you have none left over.
    You have briefly touched on the second shuttle puzzle but didn't say anything conclusive - have you figured it out?
    The four gorrors you have defeated are the feasible ones, the last two are extremely difficult. By the way, you can shut the Thing up relatively easily (for a gorror), and for some reason Deadly Poison works on it really well.
    The Fiend and the Beast are very tough, Hide or invisibility potions are pretty much a must against the fiend. It is also the perfect fight to experiment with cloud spells (those that stick around for n+1 rounds when cast at level n, getting reduced by 1 level in power every round.)
    Party level matters a lot for these fights. Playing on Expert (you're playing on Normal, right?) has the benefit that by the end game your party is a lot higher level. If you do not change the difficulty during the game, Expert actually makes some of the end-game stuff easier.
    Create Life 7 is one of my all-time favourite spells when the party can hide properly, because it gives your enemies a much larger punching bag than the other two summon spells.

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    1. Also, I did laugh out loud at the SACRAMENT.

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  5. Different monsters have different resists, including to specific debuffs. So sometimes you just have to try different spells and see what sticks.

    The Beast and the Fiend are the two hardest in the game. The Beast is pure luck. It's basically supposed to be a mega-beholder. I've beaten it before, but purely through save-scumming. The Fiend is just plain difficult, with HIGH hp.

    The items in the museum cause a lot of damage to the monsters in the last level. Though you have to decide WHICH of them you want. Two of them are firearms that require specific ammunition, that is obtained in the City of Skies by using a credit card (single use, rare drop or bought, one at a time, from the leader there) on a specific machine found in the city.

    You can get two of them, but only if you got a specific item from talking to Rebecca in Cosmic Forge in the good ending. Which uses up a very nice accessory.

    Caster armor is rather rare.

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  6. So I'm writing this from Germany, where I ought to be doing something fun, but it's raining and nothing is open. (Next time my German readers want to get smug about health care and supposedly enlightened attitudes towards nudity, remind me to remind them that they apparently live in a theocracy where you can't buy a bottle of Diet Coke 14% of the week.) I just came back from Five Guys, where while waiting in line, among all the German speakers I couldn't understand, I clearly heard a woman say (in English, but with a Gemran accent) to her companion, "I must have some Norweigan in me to have let things go on so long."

    I've been turning this over in my head and can't make any sense of it. Do Norweigans have a reputation for a laissez-faire attitude or procrastination or something? Is there some German-specific stereotype about Norweigans? Or is there something likely context-specific in that statement that I missed.

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    1. We've had one of the driest years ever on record and you arrive when there's finally more than just a little rain. Try to feel special ;) Aren't you in Munich? Train stations, gas stations, and a few other places have shops open on sundays. Also, christmas markets are open now, since its raining there's a chance you won't get crushed there by all the people.

      I've heard about Norwegians being slow, but that's mostly from my Swedish relatives.

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    2. Sounds more to me as if they may have a reputation for stoicism / masochism, perhaps as a consequence of the cold climate.

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    3. Hi Chet, if people have told you that closing shops on Sunday is a church thing, they are misinformed. It may have been in the 1950s.

      These days it's mainly the shops themselves that prefer the current arrangement, so they're happy to preserve the status quo and lobby for it. It lowers their costs, and people go along with it because of the argument that people working in shops deserve the Sunday off work, too. Spend time with their families etc. Think of it as something like the concept of a siesta.

      In any case, thousands of places in Munich where you can get your diet coke on a Sunday. Train stations, petrol stations, takeaways (doner joints, pizza joints etc.), fast food outlets and many others. If it annoys you that much, I'm happy to pay for some pizza delivery service to bring you some drinks. :-)

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    4. In Denmark we have both healthcare AND shops that work on Sundays (some are even open 24/7). Booyah.

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    5. The Norwegian thing sounds weirdly specific, so I think there is some context we don't know about, like an actual joint Norwegian acquaintance with certain character traits.

      Scandinavians have a reputation of stoicity, but to speak of Norwegians specifically would be odd, like Americans saying "Guatemalan" instead of "Mexican" when they want to use a Latin American cliche.

      If people want to bring on Scandinavian cliches, they'd be much more likely to speak of Swedes. (Sweden being closer, larger, and more laden with cliches thanks to IKEA and a more closely linked history.) Norway is an exotic faraway place we know nothing about. :-) (Except that they are filthy rich, everybody knows that.)

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    6. Could be worse. You could be in northern Maine. We've had 12 inches of snow on the ground since November 12th.

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    7. As a Norwegian I get the impression that Germans are very fascinated by moose/elks.

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    8. I find it somewhat ironic that an American feels the need to point out that Germany is a Theocracy. Have you considered that the average American is way more pious than the average German? Check this out

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Importance_of_religion_by_country

      Sure, some of our policies are based upon supposedly Christian traditions, but the role of religion in current lawmaking is almost certainly way less pronounced than for example in the US.

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    9. Well, me, my friends and other Germans are very fascinated by the whole country of Norway. Because it's one of the most beautiful places on earth in a, well, nordic kind of way if you get what I mean. It feels almost like something we lost here in central europe with our densely populated areas relatively speaking.

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    10. @Malte I don't know if that's quite correct, from what I heard and read it's not the shops themselves, they would gladly open on Sundays. I's the shop workers represented by labor unions like verdi who want to keep the sunday free fearing more work for the same wages, and of course the christian churches. Lately they often sue shopping malls which try to open on Sunday via special permit on certain occasions, festive or otherwise. They are successful so far, even during the Frankfurt book fair there are no open shops around anymore.

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    11. Thanks, everyone. It sounds like I just missed something context-specific about the Norweigan comment.

      Like you, fireball, I have been seized with a desire to visit Norway recently. I'm suddenly becoming interested in very remote, cold places for some reason. I was looking at a map the other day trying to figure out how far north a person could practically drive on public roads, without a special vehicle or equipment. To that end, Dungy, the snow we get in Maine doesn't deter me a bit. I love it.

      Florian, I really hope my comment didn't sound as serious as that. I was expressing comical frustration at my inability to find a store open on Sunday, not making a real social critique.

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    12. Hi @fireball, maybe it depends on which store owners/companies you ask. I was going from https://www.thelocal.de/20171027/why-does-germany-have-such-strict-opening-hours-on-sundays, which includes this:

      'In a survey by Spiegel Online in June, 61 percent of respondents said shops should be able to decide for themselves whether they want to open on Sundays.

      On the contrary, large chains such as Rossman and Hornbach told Spiegel Online they do not think opening their doors on Sundays would lead to a significant increase in their sales and profits. "We are very happy with the current situation," Rossmann said.'

      Not sure how representative it is, but where I live (in the Southwest), opening hours have been unlimited Mon-Sat for a while (there used to be a 10 pm cutoff for supermarkets and similar shops), yet even the large chains close at 9 pm or 10 pm. I suppose it's one of these things where there is an unspoken agreement to not compete on extended opening hours to save everybody costs.

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    13. No worries, I also thought my retort-comment might come across too seriously, but I wasn't really able to find a way to make it less serious :D

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    14. Addict, you probably know about the Trans-Taiga road?

      http://jamesbayroad.com/ttr/index.html

      It doesn't go nearly as far north as you could in Western Canada, Alaska, Siberia or Scandinavia, but in the eastern half of the continent it's the northernmost place to which you can drive, and it's certainly remote.

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    15. The northernmost road end is in Russia, some guys made a trip to its end in a Lada: https://gentlemanadventurer.travellerspoint.com/889/

      Although some sources say it's still in construction...

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    16. Fun link! Yeah, the Trans-Taiga doesn't go nearly as far north as that, nor as far north as corresponding roads in Western Canada, Alaska, or Norway. On the other hand, it does have the advantage of being far easier to reach from the Northeastern US!

      I'm surprised those fellows were able to pull off that trip in Russia. I remember looking at something similar and getting the impression that the amount of paperwork and permits required was immense.

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    17. Your impulse to drive as far north as possible might be related to your rpg mapping compulsion

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    19. You tell the stranger "I seek the one true map tile...from which all directions are as one...where the sun rises and sets both once a year...This is my quest, even if it take me ten thousand leagues...I will pay dearly for passage!"

      He looks perplexed and says, "Sir, this is the check-in desk for Emirates. Do you have your ticket from L.A. to Dubai or not?"

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    20. Trans-Taiga has a long east-west section that deters me a bit. From maps, it looks like you can achieve a more northern destination (with less travel distance) by continuing north on James Bay Road and continuing to take local roads when it ends, though of course I don't know the condition of those roads.

      Frankly, it would be pretty incredible just to see Hudson Bay.

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    21. Radisson and Chisasibi are a bit south of the northernmost part of the Trans-Taiga, but it's a matter of only ~20-30 miles difference and a much shorter/less extreme trip to get there. And you can get to the James Bay from Chisasibi, which is a big plus to say the least, though you'd need to travel another 60 miles by boat to enter the main body of the Hudson Bay.

      I think the local roads are all reasonably well-maintained gravel. And speaking of which, there's talk of extending the main road a hundred-plus miles further north.

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    23. If you are in southern germany, then yes, shops are closed on sundays.
      But we do love saunas and being able to buy alcohol anyhwere at any time :D

      Where are you in germany right now? Any chance of a "lets meet chet and give the maniac the worship that he so readily deserves"?

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    24. Aren't they fans of slow TV? It is when something that is not dynamic, e.g. classic chess tournaments is broadcasted.

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    25. Clarco, thanks for the offer. I'm in Munich, but it's a work event and I don't have a lot of free time. Leaving tomorrow, alas.

      I'm not even really in Munich proper, and there isn't much around the hotel. I'll leave here having done nothing more "German" with my first trip to Germany than ordering a double cheeseburger mit tomatoes at Five Guys.

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  7. Can the "Locate Object" spell be used to find maps you don't have? If not, is there some other productive use for the spell?

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    1. No, it just displays a 10 x 10 map of the surrounding area and I guess notes important objects within that area. I didn't acquire it until recently and thus haven't used it throughout the game. To find maps with it, you'd have to be in the area of the map.

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  8. Count me in as another player who found the 8x8x8 section of the Isle of Crypts dungeon to be absurdly satisfying to complete. It reminded me of Ultima V's endgame dungeon Doom but it was even better. I did W8 around 20 years ago and I still remember this part of the dungeon while forgetting many other details of this game.

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  9. Regarding your items "of Doom": If they're really that stellar (except for the HP sap), would it be useful to just don them before the final battle? Or would the gradual life erosion still outweigh the stat buffs?

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    1. They sap health even if you're just carrying them, not just wearing them. I did briefly think about keeping up with healing and dropping the items before resting, then picking them up again, but I don't want to micromanage things to that extent.

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    2. In Wizardry 8 there are some items that give hp regeneration, so you can use them to negate the sap health effect of Doom items. I don´t remember if these items are in this game though.

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    3. There are +regen items. The way they work on a character is that the game adds the biggest bonus and the biggest malus together. If you have one +1 regen items, you can equip as many -1 regen items as you like and end up with normal (0) regen.

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  10. That's cool you got the lance. I believe the Gorrors drop all the best stuff in the game* but it's random. So you may get garbage. I recall discussions of people save-scumming chests to get the Muramasa or Excalibur. I also didn't know Diamond Eyes was in this game; that's a great weapon in Wizardry 8 too. Pretty sure it doesn't import though.

    You should go back and get the Light Sword, it's super dope.

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  11. Also, the best Ninja weapon is the Cane of Corpus, which you have to kill Bleinmas to get. It's only usable by a Faerie Ninja however, so it's not much help (unless you have a faerie you want to class change). It is insanely strong though, with something like a 50% instakill chance that stacks with kirijutsu.

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  12. The 4 Gorrors you've beaten are considered the feasible ones. I remember the guide I read years ago saying that beating the last two is near impossible without ridiculous levels of grinding or hacking your save game to give you ridiculous stats.

    And don't feel bad about looking up a couple of hints. The guide I used to beat this game for the first time in the 90's even said that if you manage to beat this game even with the guide print off your maps and brag endlessly to your friends, as it is tough to do.

    Granted, that is probably less true now that we have the internet and everyone can look up things on gamefaqs.

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    1. Beating the last two is far from impossible. I beat "Mighty Mouse" without too much problems; only a few reloads IIRC and only four party members killed.
      1000 Eyes is very difficult, though, but after numerous tries I finally beat him. With Bat Necklace + Necromatic Helm for 100% Light resistance, and realizing that Resurrection also works in combat I was eventually able to defeat him.
      I did not grind or use hacked save games. Instead of grinding I instead returned to 1000 Eyes on my way out of the dungeon, when my party had gained another 6-7 levels.

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    2. Yes, optimizing the party defense to focus on Light resistance is critical in the Beast fight. Everyone should wear a Bat Necklace for at least 50% light resistance, and there are other items to get you to 90-100%. And don't forget your new best friend, Anti-Magic, which will fizzle Dazzling Lights a reasonable percentage of time.

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    3. Fiend actually felt rather trvial compared to 1000 Eyes back then. I even beat the double Fiend in expert mode, but never stood a chance against a single jellyfish in easy mode.

      Contrary to what some others write Ninjutsu was very helpful. It is true that attacks are focused on the remaining few characters, but who cares if that's your Ninja or Lord at AC-10 all around which even the Fiend can barely ever hit. The hidden characters just buff the fighting ones then.

      Generally I think there are just two feasible weapons for a Ninja in the end game. Either use his hand&feet or one specific item from the City of Sky museum. Of the six items there I think only two are feasible pickups anyway. Firearms are generally just for show in this game. Reloading weapons that don't do more damage than the best normal weapons in the game doesn't make any sense. Actually there is one firearm that is awesome in one place. Remember what you did to that one Savant Guard in New City? That might still help you in this game.

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    4. Oh, and for the Gorror chests. These may contain the best items in the game. If you wanted to save scum the chests for rerolls you get stuff like Mantis Gloves, Ebony Plate Mail, Excalibur etc. there.

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    5. You can beat the Beast - even in Expert mode, with two of them - with a single character pretty easily. Only if you are an experienced player, though, who has beaten the game repeatedly and a) knows how to optimize, b) is willing to grind endlessly to get to level 120+. A first-timer has virtually no chance to do that.

      Chet shouldn't worry at all about not being able to beat the ultimate Gorrors. He's doing ways better than I or any of my friends did when we played W7 for the first time :-)

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  13. When you have finished the game you should have a look at the *Cosmic Forge* editor. It's a tool for modding Wizardry 6-8. It allows a great insight in the game mechanics. The "Save File Viewer" have some nice infos hidden behind a little button "World".

    Features: https://mad-god.webs.com/cosmicforge.htm
    Pictures: https://mad-god.webs.com/apps/photos/album?albumid=8847264

    As a bonus there is an option to enable some little patches.

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    1. I second that. If one's curious about what's really going on, the tool is a fantastic gold data mine.
      Also, a more appropriate name has scarcely been given. After all, that is literally what the Cosmic Forge does.

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    2. That reminds me of the theory that Vivec used the Elder Scrolls Construction Set to make changes to Morrowind.

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  14. If I remember correctly, you don't consider it a "cheat" if it's to workaround a game-breaking bug, right?

    Well, the Rattkin getting one of the maps and disappearing is a reasonably well-known bug in this game, though I usually see it with the *LEGEND* map instead of *CRYSTAL*. Be thankful it wasn't that one because you'd be either unable to complete the game or forced to use a save editor to give yourself the map.

    As for the items in the museum, I highly suggest the sword.

    Also, take note that Diamond Eyes is the only mace that can be used as a *secondary* weapon. Most folks overlook that bit and go "Meh. It's nice, but not as nice as..." It's probably the best secondary weapon in the game and could be a good option for your bishop.

    Good luck on the last boss! I'm really excited to see your score for this game.

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    1. No, of course if it's to avoid a bug, I don't consider it a cheat. Given what you say, I'm glad I didn't waste any more time trying to find the CRYSTAL map.

      Diamond Eyes is a short-range weapon, though, so I'd have to move the bishop up a slot to make use of it. Actually, that would be possible now that the Valkyrie has an extended weapon (she didn't before). Oh, well. Too late now.

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  15. One tiny--even trivial--thing I enjoy about this game is the little bits of worldbuilding detail. Ra-Sep-Re-Tep's presence in the Hall of Gorrors is odd... but then you recall the message after his defeat in the starter dungeon about fragments of his skeleton crawling back toward the pool. Brombadeg is a legend told by an old sailor in New City, and finally turns up dozens of hours later with a light bit of flavor text. The Gorn combs and brushes play a role in the first and last major dungeons.

    These aren't great storytelling feats, but they suggest a deeper world than really exists--and they allow the player to put the pieces together, or not, as desired. Ignore the connections or remember them.

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    1. That's a good point. There are small elements to praise even as I leverage some criticisms on the broader themes.

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