Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Crusaders of the Dark Savant: Won!

Yes, that's what I want to hear after 108 hours. Our adventures are only just beginning.
The final level of the dungeon on the Isle of Crypts holds the Tomb of the Astral Dominae. It's behind a gate that doesn't open until you've walked around the level and stepped on various tiles with the same names as the game's maps.

The greater difficulty on the level was the numerous encounters with robots. I believe in order of difficulty they are battle droids, cosmo-bots, and mega-bots. Each is capable of a mass damage laser or phaser attack, and if any spells were capable of protecting against them, I never found it. They were highly resistant to spells themselves, and so battle mostly came down to keeping everyone alive while I destroyed them with melee attacks. When I first arrived on the level, I thought my party was pretty tough, so the level shook me a bit.
This was harder than the endgame battle.
Combats in this game are extraordinarily variable in composition and thus difficulty. The enemies themselves might always be the same in a particular area, but the number varies a lot. When you step on a "battle square," you might find a single dragon or six dragons in three groups of two. In the case of this level, one or two battle droids were no problem. A party with six mega-bots was game over. I got through the level mostly by dying and reloading when I encountered a tough party and saving when I got through a battle with an easier one.

The difficulty of the droids paled in comparison to the final battle, but I need to relate a bit more before I describe that. The final battle takes place in the Tomb of the Astral Dominae, and to get through the Tomb, you need two "keys" from the outside world: the Locket of the Tomb and the Ring of the Globe. Both require some item or knowledge from within the Isle of Crypts dungeon, which is what I meant last time about the backtracking.
What happens when the party reaches the Tomb of the Astral Dominae without these objects.
Getting the Ring of the Globe requires the party to complete the "Great Test" in the City of Sky. The test involves three statues of Phoonzang, the first of which just requires his name. The third statue doesn't really have a test at all. But the second one has a level of puzzle difficulty that's a little absurd. I wouldn't have figured it out without a hint. It involves pressing nine buttons in a particular order. The buttons are labeled serpent, gate, wand, pyramid, star, dragon, cross, skull, and map.

The hint, which I saw accidentally while trying to look up a different hint, was that the solution makes use of the STAR map, which you find on one of the teleporter levels on the Isle of Crypts. The map is full of long and pseudo-poetric ramblings. The relevant part reads:
Look upon life as thee may look upon the stone, and create thee then thine own order. Look first at a man, and if thee looks rightly, then soon ye shall come full circle. Then look beneath him, and if thee looks rightly, then soon shall thee once again come full circle. Thus may thee divine the puzzle from the pieces.
Well, none of this has anything explicit to say about the buttons on the statue, so I would have overlooked that it had anything to do with the puzzle without the hint. But the only hint I got was that the STAR map was the key to the puzzle. I still didn't know how it solved the puzzle, and I was determined to figure that out for myself.

It didn't take me long to realize that the different buttons on the puzzle correspond to some of the items listed on the Stone of Gaelin, and the map of course tells the reader to "look upon the stone." I had previously thought the words on the stone were clues about where to find the maps or where to use them, but I was barking up the wrong tree.

The words on the pillar, if you ignore the titles and read in a counter-clockwise direction (i.e., "look rightly"), go in this order:
  • First Row: man, pyramid, crescent moon, devil, boat upon waves, cross, tower, coiled serpent, lantern, dragon, chest, key
  • Second Row:  egg, winged chimera, magic wand, skull, radiant jewel, statue, cube, crystal ball, gate, stone tablet, three statues, five-pointed star
So basically you start with "man" on the first row and then read to the right, ignoring the words that don't have a corresponding button. When you get back to "man," you "look beneath him" and do the same on the second row. The final order of buttons is pyramid, cross, serpent, dragon, wand, skull, gate, and star. The "Map" button in the puzzle is never used at all, which is a bit confusing. Having described the puzzle, I'll save a discussion of how I feel about it (and the maps in general) for my summary.
All that to get here.
Beyond the statues of Phoonzang, we found a spaceship, and in searching the spaceship, we found the Ring of Globes. The spaceship becomes important later.

The Locket of the Tomb comes from the Mandolian Isles, a small area west of the Isle of Crypts that I would have missed if I wasn't trying to grind a bit before attempting the final dungeon level again. Since enemies don't always appear randomly when you want them, the easiest way to "grind" is to first make sure you've tripped all the fixed battles, and that means visiting every square. I was systematically lawnmowing the Sea of Sorrows when I ran into the Mandolian Isles, stepped into a building, and found an obvious place to use the "Jewel of the Sun" I'd found in the Hall of Gorrors.
This is like the 90th statue of Phoonzang in the game. The guy sure did think a lot of himself.
We were teleported to an area with a statue of Phoonzang. Searching it revealed the locket, and then the statue awoke and had a long speech:
The day is come! I do not know how many centuries have passed since last I breathed these airs and walked these lands But in death does time lose all meaning. And so it is but a moment ago that I lay down to final rest. There is much I wish to tell you, the story of all stories. Of life and death, and of the time between. But soon enough shall my voice fade again, its energy depleted, its task at end. In your hands you hold the locket, a part of the final key. Carry it well, for it is a guardian of my secret. Within its crystal cells have I imprinted the code of my palm, so that by my hand alone shall the key unlock the Astral Tomb. But though I be dead a thousand millennia, this cast does yet live on. For upon all my descendants and theirs, for the remainder of all time, shall my code exist upon their hands, the secret bequeathed through the blood of my children. I do not know your name, whether you be man or woman or child. But if your blood be mine, then the secret shall be thine. When you stand alone within the Astral Tomb, grasp the locket within your palms and behold the miracle! O, would that I could see the wonders of my works! My blessings be upon you, distant child of my loins Upon your brow do I heave the weight of a Universe!
The text is important because it indicates that the person who uncovers the Astral Dominae will have to be a descendant of Phoonzang, which on the surface seems like an absurdly short-sighted requirement (what if his kids decided not to have children of their own?). This sentiment is also echoed in the GLOBE map, which says "thou are the key!" In other words, Vi Domina is supposed to be the one doing all this work, not my party.
The woman can't even pronounce the damned thing right.
This brings us back to the Tomb of the Astral Dominae. We entered the tomb to find it vacant. Some words on the floor read "*ASTRAL DOMINAE*," and the game tantalized us with the possibility that, just like the maps, someone might have beaten us to it. That would have been funny. After all this work, I've got to chase down Brother T'Shober to win the game.
One wonders why it's called a "tomb" since the Astral Dominae wasn't really "alive."
But no, it was just hidden. Searching the area revealed a kind of trap door in the floor. Using the two "keys" produced no result. Time to call Vi Domina. When I used her communicator, she appeared and seemed surprised as I was that the globe wasn't in the room. She mentioned some "keys" that the Dark Savant had talked about, and asked if we knew what he was talking about. We said YES. She asked if maybe she should use them. We said YES.

The globe arose from the floor but was curiously dark. Then the Dark Savant appeared, claiming he'd injected Vi Domina with a homing device after her last disappearance, as well as something that allowed him to paralyze her with the push of a button. He tried to take the globe but found he couldn't budge it. Then, he attacked the party in a rage.
I think . . . maybe you mean "mercilessly"?
He attacked with a group of "Savant Kui'S-Ka" in multiple groups. Both the Savant and his allies have powerful mental attacks that drove the characters insane each round. I couldn't keep up with "Sane Mind," and the insane characters were useless, so he mopped the floor with us in several rounds.
The Dark Savant's party.
I tried several reloads. The Savant also has something called a "Chroma Glove" capable of paralyzing multiple characters--sometimes every character--when he pulls it out. I tried a bunch of different spells and tactics but couldn't defeat him. I was discouraged from reloading too many times because every time I did, I had to go through all of Vi Domina's dialogue and acknowledge the various Dark Savant messages first. This might be the earliest example of a difficult boss encounter with a long, unskippable cut scene in front of it.

I returned to the outside for more grinding. Among other things, I returned to the Dane Temple and re-visited the meditation chamber where, ages ago, three of my six characters had gained the "Mind Control" ability. At the time, I didn't understand what was happening. Later, after commenters clued me in, I didn't realize the importance of the skill. I'd already squandered any opportunity to develop the skill to a high level, but I figured it might help if each character at least had it.

I finished lawnmowing the Sea of Serpents and gained a few more levels. Later, I realized that there's one square within the teleporter levels that always generates a combat when you step on it, and the experience rewards here were higher than anything outside, so I spent some time there. By the time I got bored, my characters had risen from around Level 25 (in the first Dark Savant encounter) to Level 32. Three of my characters now had "Sane Mind" instead of one, and everyone had at least 10-15 points in "Mind Control."
My ninja and some of her endgame stats.
It took me a couple reloads--the "Chroma Glove" was still a dealbreaker when he pulled it out--but I defeated him. I focused my lead characters' melee attacks on the Savant while two spellcasters ravaged his minions with "Nuclear Blast" and then cast buffing spells (including "Create Life"). He only had about 500 hit points and lasted only about 4 rounds. I just had to keep the characters alive that long. If I'd known that, I probably could have won with a few more reloads the first time, without the extra grinding.
The Dark Savant is after the ultimate power in the universe and wields a magical glove. It feels like this is familiar.
When he was dead, Vi Domina roused herself, put on the Ring of the Globe, and started fiddling with the Astral Dominae. [Edit: In saying "fiddled with," I should have mentioned that she has a special eye underneath her patch that allows her to gaze into the Astral Dominae.] When it came on, she had a long bit of rambling exposition:
This is incredible. It's a blueprint. No, it's . . . it's a formula, a code. For the creation of life! Wait. It's also a map Of Energy. And Matter. Of the nexus between Energy and Matter. But, but . . . then, that is what Life is. The nexus, the flux, the bridge between Matter and Energy. That is the secret of Life! By the gods!!! With the power of this Globe, you could create a living being of unlimited energy! A being with the power of the stars! A Superman! A God!!! No wonder the Dark Savant wanted to get his hands on this. Ut! What is this. It's a chart of a star-system. Hey! I recognize this system. But there isn't a . . . Oh! Very clever! This must be where it all started!
There were a lot of screens of blah blah after this (sample: "Who among you could have guessed on this day that the awesome power of the heavens [would] fall into your hands?"). None of that made very much sense and left a lot of open questions--if you could do those things, why didn't Phoonzang do them instead of leaving it to a descendant that might never have been born, and so forth--but we'll talk more about the story next time. For now, Vi Domina wanted to know if we'd discovered any sort of spaceship that might get us off this rock. Obviously, we had, because that's where the Ring of Globes was. She said she was going to get her personal things from the Dark Savant's ship and to summon her when we were at the spaceship's location. She gave us the Astral Dominae to hold in the meantime.
Are you going to call the thing by its actual name even once?
It would have been nice if the game had just taken us there, but instead we took the long way back down through the Isle of Crypts dungeon and its teleporters, rowed the boat back through the fog, walked through the cavern network, and emerged again in the City of Sky. We felt our way through the invisible walls and back to the starship that had given us the ring. We used Vi's communicator to call her back. I'm eliding a lot of superfluous text here ("What is this new place that Vi Domina seems intent upon reaching in such a hurry? And more, will the charms that seem to bless her life be strong enough to protect you as well?" etc.)

Instead of Vi, the Dark Savant appeared, clutching Vi Domina's bloody and unconscious body. [Edit: In keeping with my edit above, I also should have noted that he apparently gouged out her special eye in the meantime. The game alludes several times to the bleeding socket and her resolve in pushing through the pain.] He didn't really explain how he survived, just mocked the idea that we could have hoped to defeat him. And in one of the most annoying tropes in fiction, he then claimed that we had been doing his bidding all along (which really isn't much of a twist if you started the game with the opening that has you arriving on the planet with the Dark Savant). I suppose I ought to give you a bit of his subsequent rant. This is in ALL CAPS in the original, but I can't bring myself to type it this way:
I am the Savant, the dark herald of change! For too long has the fate of man been ruled by the ghosts of those enshrouded in mystery. Deciding how and when men might be slowly fed the secrets of the heavens. It is time for a new order in the universe! It is time of a new perception of purpose in the cosmos. It is the time of the coming of change! I am the harbinger of new destiny! I will create galaxies filled with supramen . . . men who are unafraid to embrace the truth of the heavens.
He then demanded that we turn over the Astral Dominae in exchange for Vi Domina, suggesting that it was the only way to save her life (and ours). It's a classic choice. Does the good of the one outweigh the good of the many? You could make a strong argument that giving an item of ultimate power to an insane megalomaniac is far more evil than letting one woman die. You could make the opposite argument, too. It annoyed me that the game decided to come down hard on one side and make an explicit suggestion to the player:
Considering the unknown nature of his awesome powers, perhaps your role at this time is that of compliance. After all, certain death is not the way of the wise, and to die here shall certainly serve no meaningful purpose, and who knows what tomorrow shall bring. Better to be alive to see it than not.
Thus annoyed, the first time I got these messages, I chose to keep the globe. This brought up an immediate and short ending. The Dark Savant raised his hand and: "There is darkness all around. You feel nothing, nothing at all. You do not know how long you have been here. You do not know how long you will remain. There is only the darkness all around." But the game did prompt me to make a final save, so I guess it's a legitimate ending and may have a unique beginning in Wizardry 8.
The player makes a final save.
I reloaded and gave the Dark Savant the globe. This resulted in a lot more text, but it boiled down to Vi waking up, saying don't worry, she knows where the Dark Savant is headed. Using the ring and locket, she fires up the spaceship and we head off.
Out there, somewhere, looms the shadow of the Savant, in his hands the power of the Astral Dominae, and deep within, you know that your paths are destined to cross again. During the voyage, you spend many a night listening with fascination to the incredible stories that pass from the lips of the remarkable girl, Vi Dominae, who seems to possess an unquenchable curiosity about the nature of the universe and everything else as well, and it is through these tales that your own new perception of life and the stars and all that they contain begins to emerge.
Again, cue a final saved game.
I'm not sure we made the right decision here.
There turns out to be two more potential endings that I didn't experience. But to get either, you have to blatantly lie to Vi when she asks if you've discovered a spaceship. I'm not sure if the developers got confused and thought they had left a way open to reach this point in the game without visiting the spaceship, or if they just thought some players might want to lie. If the latter, they don't really given any compelling reason to lie. But if you do, Vi tells you to meet her back in New City. There, you get caught up in a final epic battle between the T'Rang and Umpani and have to choose one side or the other. Somehow, the Dark Savant still ends up with the Astral Dominae, and the party and Vi end up chasing after him in either a T'Rang or Umpani ship.
In 3 out of 4 endings, you're in a spaceship chasing the Dark Savant.
I've had negative things to say about the quantity of text and the story it tells, but we can't ignore that by 1992, there are few games that even attempt to tell a story with this level of complexity, and even fewer that allow for player choices and multiple endings. I have to give the game credit for those features even if I make fun of some of the specifics.
It's nice to have choices at all.
I would note that some of the text at the end of the game is oddly racially specific. The Dark Savant rails about the "fate of man." The STAR map talks about "the unique gift of Man, that by which he alone is separated from all others." This is interesting rhetoric, but my party, which includes only one human, isn't sure how to take it. It's possible that in this universe, we are to understand "man" as meaning any sentient race, but perhaps not. Phoonzang himself is clearly human, and the "hero" of the story, despite the party doing all the work, is clearly the human Vi Domina. This isn't necessarily a plot hole or a criticism. It just adds an interesting twist if your party of Mooks, Felpurrs, and fairies finds themselves within an epic quest to determine the fate of "mankind."

I was surprised that nothing about the ending came back around to the beginning. We never see Aletheides again, nor ever hear anything again about the Cosmic Forge or the Lords of the Cosmic Circle. I never got any satisfaction about the relationship between the Cosmic Forge and the Astral Dominae, even though it sounds like they do many of the same things. I'm guessing that even if you arrived in the game with Bela the dragon, he never reappears either. Most disappointingly, if your beginning had you arriving on Guardia with the Dark Savant, who demands that you find the Astral Dominae for him, there's no way to role-play your party--quite ironically--as crusaders of the Dark Savant. The endgame still assumes that you're opposing him instead of willingly obtaining the globe for him.

I'll have more thoughts on the story in the summary, where we have to talk a bit about what happened next for Sir-Tech. For now, it's nice to wrap this one up after more than 100 hours. It would be nice to think that this will be the longest game of 1992.


  1. Did you play Wizardy 8 before? If not, it concludes story and answers all questions.

    1. No, but the fact that a sequel 9 years later answers my questions doesn't really make me feel better about this game. I think it's okay to leave SOME questions unanswered, but in general a game has to stand on its own.

      This is particularly true in this case because there was no guarantee that W8 would continue the story. As I'll discuss more next time, the "found" documentation for Sir-Tech's original sequel, Stones of Arnhem doesn't suggest that it had anything to do with continuing this storyline.

    2. Thank you for answer! Do you have link to this documentation? Also, Wizardry 7 have some weak points, but its 10x times better than modern games which sunk to lowest common denominator like Fallout 4 or Skyrim or etc.

    3. That can't be D.W. Bradley. Bradley's general writing style seems to be the same as in his games. :)

      While Wizardy 8 concludes the story, I don't think Bradley had anything to do with it. So if he had anything in mind for the story after Wizardry 7, we'll likely never know.

    4. The Museum of Computer Adventure Gaming History has some material on Arnhem (search in the upper right), but a lot of it is scattered among various message boards. I'm not sure the entire stash has ever been released, and frankly I'm a bit confused what happened to it after the eBay auction was yanked.

    5. But Arnhem also had nothing to do with Bradley, so it's not like he's responsible for that either.

  2. As a minor note, the grinding in the Crypt gets easier, maybe even a lot easier if you figure out to use the Mystery Ray on your opponents. It's really the only useful Firearms weapon in the game. Anybody can can use it with their left hand even and it does a ton of damage to robots. Oh, and you don't even have to charge it.

    What did you choose to take from the City of Sky museum by the way? A bit disappointed that you didn't mention that at all.

    1. I never went back. I won the game mere minutes after my last entry, so i didn’t have a chance to incorporate a lot of the feedback from commenters.

      That’s interesting on the mystery ray. I didn’t realize it was anything more than a quest item.

  3. Congratulations! It sounds like Crusaders wasn't totally to your tastes, but finishing it still seems like an accomplishment to me. (As I may have mentioned, I have a deep and somewhat blind love of the game... coming to it at a young and impressionable age, the challenge of the gameplay and the ambition of the story--with its sense of the strangeness and wonder of Guardia, its purple ruminations about the nature of life, and its grand ideas about the nature of life and a villain out to overthrow the gods--left an indelible mark on young A. Seeing some of its flaws highlighted is a bit painful, but nonetheless, my love remains.)

    On a far more nitpicky note...

    I never got any satisfaction about the relationship between the Cosmic Forge and the Astral Dominae, even though it sounds like they do many of the same things.

    This probably doesn't qualify as a satisfying answer, but my impression was that the Cosmic Forge controls fate and the Astral Dominae is a blueprint for life. The backstory in the manual, as I recall, notes that the theft of the Cosmic Forge is what started the whole gold-rush-to-Guardia-thing--that the Cosmic Circle (which the Savant wants to overthrow) couldn't keep Guardia and the Dominae hidden without the stolen Forge.

    But that doesn't really explain anything in real depth, and the lack of follow-up with Aletheides (who actually does appear in a side quest, but only sort of) or Bela.

    Young A. was very, very eager to see the sequel. In truth, I still am--Wizardry 8 has a lot of virtues, but from a story side it doesn't have the weird, portentous feel that Bradley brought to the previous two games. I wish we could see the sequel he'd envisioned... yes, even with the copious amounts of text.

    1. Isn't Wizards&Warriors kinda Bradleys Wiz8 though? Of course, it doesn't have the sci-fi aspects, but there's plenty of weirdness anyway. Also, personally I think it's a better Wiz game than the actual Wiz8.

    2. As a game, Wiz8 fixed the thing I hated most about the earlier Wizardys - the class-changing exploits (though there are some suggestions that due to the importance of level, it might not have ban as much of an exploit as some believed).

      Plus, it had a rich environment and interesting NPCs to join your party (Vi Domina herself was a good choice, as a strong Valkyrie you could pick up early).

      By all accounts, it was not quite finished, and lacked some intended quests. But what there was of it made for a very good game.

      Battles were very fair. I would not recommend the ironman option, due to occasional bugs and realtime challenges. But outside of those, ironman actually felt viable despite a game with high combat difficulty. Kind of like a roguelike, I guess.

    3. Can you elaborate on Altheides appearing in a side quest?

      I guess you make a good point about the Forge/Dominae relationship. Earlier in the year, I remarked that I didn't mind the Might and Magic series for offering less-obvious hints to the game world and main plot, so I really shouldn't punish the Wizardry series for doing the same.

    4. The "fix" to the class changing is one of my disappointments for 8. It makes changing classes almost worthless to "fix" a problem that only happened with people who'd most likely already beaten the game. I'd beaten 6 three times before I'd even heard about doing that.

    5. Can you elaborate on Altheides appearing in a side quest?

      In the Witch Mountain area (which a few commenters have brought up), the witches take the forms of important NPCs--Vi Domina, the Savant, Aletheides, and (I think) Phoonzang. There's not really a lot of content there--you don't get to chat with the "fake" versions of the characters--but it's a nice reiteration of what's important in the story and potential foreshadowing (depending on when you reach that point.)

  4. Congrats on the win.

    Did you try 1000 Eyes again?

    As for the question about GLOBE or GIRL, I have some recollection of reading that when faced with a choice, you should always rescue the girl.

    Personally Wiz 7 is a game will probably never replay. Just too exhausting, and too many annoyances.

    1. I completely forgot about stopping by the Gorrors on the way out of the dungeon; I was just focused on getting to the endgame. I suppose I could reload an earlier save and try again, also perhaps get that light sword that everyone raves about.

    2. If you go for it, you can als look for Blienmeis, if he is still around after the Rattkin left to get the Cane of Corpus (ask him about Reflextion beforehand, the misspelling should be the correct in this case) for a ring for a personal skill. A few fights should make you fairy a competent Ninja, although his level would suffer against the Beast's Dazzling Lights.

      A side note: A Psion turned Monk at level 10 might have been a solid choice for another Caster/Fighter Hybrid with Ninjutsu, Kirijutsu and very high or low AC.

      Congratulations for the win, if you look for a more modern one, I really like Pathfinder Kingmaker, but its a reloading fiesta and you should wait until it is more polished.

  5. Congratulations on finishing the game!

    Back a few posts, when I gave way too many hints instead of "you should already know this / you'll learn this later", I tried to subtly allude to the Mystery Ray being effective against any Savant (and the robots) - I guess it wasn't too obvious.

    Are you now aware of what was in the one area you didn't solve? It would have provided help for the final boss, but there's a part that is about as obscure as the second puzzle in the City of Sky. You would have gotten it, because you had the required item equipped.

    Apart from inserting the Black Wafer into the slot in the Forbidden Zone and the square in the teleporter dungeon that you've discovered (by the way, the first time I was there, I got through it only with the automap, checking which squares weren't filled in yet), killing poor drunk Brother T'Shober provides probably the best battle generator in the game. His ghost appears at Munkharama Bridge and you can leave the area towards Munkharama and come back to reset the encounter.

    It felt good to re-experience the game as you went through it, and it was very interesting to see what you did and didn't like about it. Looking forward to the summary article!

    1. Oh, right. I had meant to look that up. Probably could have won the battle the first time I encountered him. Oh, well. The game offers so many puzzles I don't feel bad about not having solved all of them.

  6. I´m glad they made so much effort with the plot. Just awesome!

  7. Hi Chester,
    Good read again, I'm looking forward to the Gimlet. In the meantime: I've sent a PM via, I'm not sure if you read this often, so just in case.....

  8. Wow, the whole gameplay was a tough battle. You can put "heated Wiz7" as a life accomplishment at the same level of writing a successful sci-fi trilogy or composing a symphony.

    This was always fun to read, but somehow what I feel now is so happy for you, as if you got married or something.

    1. heated = beated or beaten. My phone autocorrect, as usual, gaslighting me.

  9. I'm happy for the addict as well, true, as he seemed rather fed up with the game in the end (and with some aspects almost as soon as he started...). I've started Wiz7 multiple times and reached about the halfway point once or twice, but could never bring myself to go on and actually finish it – even though I made heavier use of some mechanics the addict doesn't seem to have explored much: Ninjutso on every character, coupled with a recharging fountain, the Recharge spell, and an amulet of asphyxiation/thermal pineapple... that combo really speeds up random combats in the midgame! Good job making do without the cheese, though.

    Howevermuch I enjoyed the writeups of Wiz7, I must admit that there's very little in the upcoming list to catch my interest, even though there are many 1992 games whose coverage I'm looking forward to. Here's hoping for some undiscovered gems among the chaff!

  10. Those 3 spaceship endings look and feel very much like Might & Magic 3 ending.

    1. It's almost exact when you think about it. Antagonist gets away, party leaps into a spacecraft to follow him. I suppose the difference is that in the sequel, the Crusaders party actually encounters him.

    2. Regarding Might and Magic: cneg sbhe qbrfa'g unir nalguvat gb qb jvgu gur birenepuvat cybg, ohg gur vageb zbivr bs cneg svir vzzrqvngryl fcrnxf bs nynzne. Fvapr lbh unir cynlrq zvtug naq zntvp bar, vg fubhyq or ab fcbvyre sbe lbh gung nynzne rdhnyf furygrz. Naq lrf, lbh qb trg gb zrrg uvz va gur raq.

  11. Adding my congrats on the win as well.

    Crusaders was a game I tried a few times over the years, but never made it very far on any occasion. Thanks for documenting the experience. I've never heard of Stones of Arnhem, so I'm looking forward to the summary!

  12. Congrats on the victory! This was quite a journey and feels like an acomplishment of sorts.

    I've only played Wizardry 8, so was really interested in the events that happened in previous games. Thank you letting me understand the plot without the need to play the game myself.
    Gotta say, I was kinda expecting more from the "good ol' games" after hearing so many praises to earlier Wizardries.

    But from what I've read in your posts, Wizardry 8 seems like a quite a big improvement.

  13. "Yes, that's what I want to hear after 108 hours. Our adventures are only just beginning."

    Well, they won't begin for nine more years (which will likely amount to around twenty in blogging, if you can keep it up that long), so there's plenty of time to unwind.

    In fact, the time gap is so large that maybe you should make an exception and play Wizardry 8 in the near future, while the experience is still fresh and you still have the final saves?

    "There is only the darkness all around." But the game did prompt me to make a final save, so I guess it's a legitimate ending and may have a unique beginning in Wizardry 8."

    It indeed does, but... let's just say that you should keep the other final saves too. :)

  14. I think this is a good suggestion to jump to Wiz 8 in the near future to get closure.

    I beat 6 once, started 7 but never finished it but have come back to 8 again and again. Having just played it again this year I think it withstood the test of time quite well.

  15. Personally, after finishing Wiz 7, I was so eager to continue with Wiz 8, but the much less tactical combat system, the lack of mapping fun (it's 3D, no more tiles) and the worse graphics (I vastly prefer 92-94 2D art to late 90s early 3D which hasn't aged well) made such a sharp and negative contrast that I couldn't get over it and dropped it after only a few hours. Maybe I should give another chance at some point. And also, maybe waiting a couple of years between games might make the switch more favorable for Wizardry 8.

    (Oh, and congratulations obviously.)

    1. I loved 8, and sooner or later I will buy it from GOG again. Though I know I will throw my laptop at the wall after the 100th encounter with waves of plants and those summoned creatures on the Arnika Road....

    2. Yeah, I nearly bit through my keyboard when I got attacked by no less than billion of Scorchers right after fighting more than million of rounds with 5 or 6 of them with my lone fairy ninja.

  16. Ugh, what a goofy end to a goofy game. I remembered while you were blogging that the goofiness, combined with the opaque nature of many of the systems, turned me right off when I tried to play it back in the day, even though I *wanted* to like it because it was a good looking game.

    It turned out that Might & Magic was pretty much my limit for how much random nonsense I could take from a game like this and still basically enjoy it. Crusaders of the Dark Savant is at least three steps past that, and I feel justified now in not proceeding.

    1. Your reaction is a little stronger than mine. I probably need to backtrack on the criticism a bit in my final entry, or at least make it clear that I enjoyed the game a lot despite all the fun I made of the plot.

    2. The ending was a little less goofy with the parts left out. Vi Domina has an eye under her patch designed to look into the Astral Dominae. And the ending, when you're flying off in the ship with her, has her touching the patch with blood leaking from it...

    3. I did leave out some parts that I didn't fully grasp at the time. I made some edits above after reviewing my screenshots. That was a bit lazy of me.

  17. Congrats on getting through one of the more time-consuming games on your list. Having played Wiz8, these entries helped fill in a lot of missing context so I appreciate that. I also know where you'd start in Wiz8 if you aligned with the T'Rang, Umpani, Vi, or none of the above, but that trapped in darkness ending and its apparent continuation perplexes me.

    Still got many big names left in '92, so I wish you luck with those and look forward to reading your impressions on them. And with the '89 stragglers, of course.

    1. Right now, the '89 stragglers are a lot worse than the long '92 games. The year has no sense of decency.

    2. Keep up the good fight��

  18. It's weird how the "obvious" solution is to rescue Vi Domina. It seems way less obvious that "your paths are destined to cross again" with the villain and somehow defeat him after handing over the key of life, making him essentially invincible. The obvious solution I would think is destroying the astral dominae, since keeping it seems to mean he kills you and takes it.

    1. Right? This is what I'm saying. Or just attack. I defeated him once before. Maybe he's barely holding it together.

      That reminds me of some class I was taking back in high school where we got to an ethics section. The teacher set up this scenario where an insane dictator lined up six people and handed us a gun. He said we'd have to pick one of the six people to kill at random or he'd kill all six. Everyone in the class wanted to shoot the dictator. The increasingly exasperated teacher kept trying to explain that wasn't a choice.

    2. The impression I got was that the Dark Savant threw the fight. He was pretending to be much weaker than he really was to get you to do the work for him.

    3. Usually the gun isn't even loaded in that scenario, and it's just a test of loyalty or resolve. At any rate, you can't have your main villain die in the second episode of a trilogy, right?

    4. You could certainly not make it a trilogy.

      I don't mind games that continue settings and themes between sequels or that tell a new story with familiar characters. But stretching a single plot across multiple games is a bad idea, at least for players. Too many things cause games not to get made. This series is Exhibit A, where players had to wait 9 years for a plot resolution. By then, a lot of them had probably moved on from game playing.

    5. The ending infuriated me. No matter how you look at it, the best option is to rush the Savant. How tough could he really be? Who cares if he kills Vi, I had four characters capable of casting Resurrection.

      I hate it when games force you to act stupid in order to protect a character the author loves. It's so stupid. At least in Wiz 8, Vi is actually pretty good and useful party member, not to mention you can just ditch her whenever if you don't like her.

      Also, FYI, you cannot import the "in darkness" save into Wizardry 8. It's this game's version of the Dumb Boffo Ending.

    6. The game demands a lot of imagination, goodwill and effort putting aside absurdities in order to immerse yourself in a setting where primitives can defeat high-tech regularly, and in the end you are treated as an idiot for doing so.

    7. Wait, they give you the option to save after w7s dumb boffo ending... if you overwrote your save there, and hadn't backed up... That's it? No import? They really built in that opportunity totally blank your game?

    8. Wow. So you save the game as an "ending", 9 years later you import it to wizardry 8 ... Only to find out "they are "still floating in endless darkness" and are not allowed to start their adventure in Wizardry 8.". Harsh

  19. I realize this game has warts, and big ones. But it captures so much of what makes playing good CRPGs fun ... fairly open world, tons of places to explore and map, lots of NPCs, many little decisions about class-changing and character development, starting off wimpy and being able to pound Gorrors at the end (even giving you the boss of the starter dungeon to compare!), and even plot choices at the end. I'm far happier playing games like Wiz 7, warts and all, than older obscure dreck that barely qualifies as CRPGs.

  20. I went and read Wizardry 8's wikipedia entry, and the "floating in a dark void" ending does have a unique beginning in that game. Kind of.

  21. For the witches which you skipped, you need to wear the Necromatic Helm in a specific spot outside near the cave. It's obvious which spot, since the game mentions something about it. But, you have to do it at night, possibly near midnight.

    I believe a book found in New City gave a hint for it. I believe it was from an android fight near the Rattkin librarian

    If I remember right, you got an item in that cave that helped against the Dark Savant fight.

  22. This has been a very good and interesting discussion of a game that I never got to play back in the day. Since Wiz8 is a direct sequel maybe it would make sense to make an exception and play it now (or in a few months when you have recovered from Crusaders)?

    1. I'm going to keep going as I am for now, but in a while, after I've united the lists, if I seem to be bogged down and not having any fun, I'll consider a new approach, including perhaps abandoning strict chronology.

  23. I found it very funny that because of the extra-spacey spelling of 'savant', the word 'DARK' no longer fits on the same line.

    I found it less funny that 'Vi Domina' and 'Astral Dominae' are mangled Latin. If you're a serious game designer, get a friggin' dictionary already.

    1. The problem is not so much the dictionary as it is that game designers have no idea there are such things as declensions and how they function in ancient languages. I cringed when I saw "Deus Enim et Coloniae" in Dead Space 3. Obviously a writer just plugged the words "For God and the colonies" in Google translate (or looked up the words in a dictionary without understanding that there are multiple meanings of the word "for") and called it a day.

    2. *R O M A N E S E U N T D O M U S*

    3. Well, my ex-girlfriend told me about a friend of hers who got a tattoo in Latin meaning "Nothing lasts for eternity". Or at least it's supposed to, because the girl wasn't very good at Latin: "Nihil est pro aeternitate"

      Even though my ex is an ancient linguist, she decided it would be more merciful to not tell her friend about how wrong that sentence is... :P

    4. Well, it literally means "Nothing is for eternity", but you wouldn't say it like that in Latin, it's a word for word translation. My Latin isn't great either but the "pro aeternitate" is extremely wrong, the Latin "pro" doesn't mean "for" as in for a period of time, it means "for" as in supporting someone or something, like in the principle of justice "In dubio pro reo", when in doubt judge in favor of the accused.

      So the actual meaning of the Latin sentence is more like... Nothingness supports eternity.

    5. An actual Latin saying about this subject would be "omnia mutantur" (everything changes) which isn't QUITE the same thing but is much closer than typing each individual word into google translate.

  24. I van't understand what Admin D is saying, but she is a fine thing, and she links to many Japanese girls with very nice bottoms

  25. Well, I finally caught up with the blog. It’s been a fun read so far.

    Congratulations on winning! Incidentally, this is probably my least favourite Wizardry. I am extremely fond of the fast-paced, tense dungeon crawling of the early titles, and Wiz8 is probably in my top 5 favourite games ever. Wiz6 added almost necessary save scumming to the experience, as well as somehow making the UI worse than the 1981 game, and Bradley in his infinite wisdom removed the Dumapic spell while not giving any alternatives to help with mapping. That said, it was still reasonably fun. Wiz7 made things worse with more frequent encounters, more purple prose, annoying skills such as swimming or cartography (I would much preffer the Might & Magic binary approach), and the fanboys praising it to high heavens and setting unrealistic expectations didn’t help it’s cause. I dropped it fairly early, but I kinda want to give it another try so I can properly hate it.

    Sorry for the rant, I really had to take my annoyances with the game out of my system.

    1. There are times I'm glad commenters say things that I sometimes want to say, but then think better of.

  26. Congratulations! There's a slight taste of pulp 50s sci-fi in this game.

  27. Congratulations! Thanks for getting through this beast.

  28. I liked how older RPGs tended to blend sci-fi elements instead of sticking to the old formula of a high fantasy setting.

  29. I'm a huge fan of your work overall, but I absolutely loved the write up on Wiz 7. I had played - and won - most of the Wizardrys when this came out in 92. I got a bit into this one, but given its length and time commitment it quickly got dropped in favor of beer, girls, and all the other things that are part of an 11th grader's social life.

    Fast forward many years later and I fell in love with Wizardry 8. I've played it - and all the various mods out there for it - dozens of times. It's my number one game of all time and I'll probably come back to it every couple of years for the rest of my life.

    Anyway, given that 8 was the final installment of a trilogy, I finally forced myself to go back and beat 7 about a year ago. I still had the original hint book that I found in a bargain bookstore somewhere in the mid-90s, but even with a bit of leaning on that it still was a tough slog.

    This experience is still fresh in my mind and as a result it really made me appreciate the blogging of your play through even more. We played the game very differently in places so this helped fill in some gaps for me and also share some laughter and frustration about some shared experiences.

    Anyway, thanks again for all that you do here. I've been a reader pretty much the whole way and will be here for as long as you go.

    Sorry for the bad spelling/grammar - I've had several drinks and am typing on an iPad so it's the best I can do.


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