Sunday, February 23, 2020

Ragnarok: Gods and Giants

About how it goes every time I face a new monster.
           
Playing Ragnarok is a process of repeatedly convincing yourself that your character is getting stronger and you're getting better and then suddenly getting torn apart--quite literally--by the next level of foe. That's not quite a complaint, but it's inescapable that while the main game is about as difficult as NetHack, its worst foes would have the Wizard of Yendor for lunch.

I spent the bulk of this last session finishing up the dungeon beneath the opening forest. The dungeon consisted of 3 levels and 27 screens, and the key plot reason to be there was to obtain Odin's spear, Gungnir, from Vidur. As I closed my last session, I was having no luck even scratching Vidur let alone killing him. I tried it hastened with Potions of Speed; I tried it invisible; I tried it under the influence of a Potion of Phasing, which doubles your armor class. He still kept killing me in one round.
         
Maybe don't eat random mushrooms.
       
I took time to explore the rest of the dungeon to strengthen my character and hopefully find more valuable items. Some notes from that process:

  • The levels aren't all randomly generated. Even when they are, there are rules set on some of them to avoid exits on certain sides of the map. The Temple of Vidur on Level 3 is only supposed to be accessible from a hole on Level 2, not any of the other Level 3 maps. However, a Wand of Tunneling or a pick-axe can undo such intentions--sometimes.
  • More intrinsics: fire dragons confer fire resistance; "blurs" make you faster (although I think just temporarily); wraiths give you level increases, although at a certain point they stopped working. Through other means that I didn't fully note, I have also acquired resistances to petrification and death rays.
        
This sounds so unappealing.
       
  • There's one mushroom that fills you up when you eat it. The others are not worth experimenting with.
  • Kalvins are horrid, hateful monsters who swipe one of your eyes out with every hit. It turns out that a blessed potion of curing will regrow an eye, but I was so traumatized by my temporary blindness that the next time I found a Scroll of Extinction, I used it on Kalvins.
  • Worse than Kalvins are Zardons. They can send out a piercing wail that hits you for about 50 hit points at a time from anywhere within the dungeon level. Guess what else soon went extinct? 
           
I'm not sure I should have this kind of power.
        
  • One damned hit from a werewolf is enough to give you lycanthropy, which requires a blessed Potion of Curing to cure. Scrolls of Blessing aren't so common that I like wasting them on this.
  • On the matter of Scrolls of Extinction, I can't be the only roguelike player who has secretly thought that if I just find enough of them, I can genocide every monster in the game. 
  • I keep finding Amulets of Quickening, which double my speed and are thus incredibly useful. But they have limited duration, and then they run out, they turn into something called "Eyes of Sertrud." I have no idea if they do anything in their "Sertrud" form.
  • A couple of enemy types are capable of reproducing faster than you can kill them. One is these little tiny things called "secitts." The second are tree creatures called "faleryns." I had to abandon a dungeon level to the latter creature when they wouldn't stop multiplying, but I gained about 15 levels trying to kill them all. If I need to grind, I'm going back there.
        
You guys can have this dungeon level. I'm just trying to get to the stairs.
        
  • The best spell scroll combination I've found is a Scroll of Blessing with a Scroll of Enhancement. Use the former on the latter and then the latter on a piece of armor or a weapon, and you soon have a +13 (or higher) item. I'm carrying a +14 mirror shield and a +13 silver sword because of that combination.
  • Some of the scrolls are "diaries," which give you hints. 
         
Glad I got this hint because I would have thought this was bad.
         
  • Something weird happened with my strength. For a long time, it was stuck at 18.99, and I figured that was the highest, but at some point it rolled over to 19-something and has been continuing to grow towards 20 ever since.
  • At some point, I acquired the "Psi Blast" power. I have no idea when it happened or why. It doesn't seem to do very much damage.
            
When I hit Level 20, I got the "Fletching" skill, which allows me to make arrows out of woods. Since "Terraforming" allows me to turn any square into woods, I basically have all the arrows I want. Anyway, I took the game's offer to change classes and changed to a conjurer. I spent 20 levels as a conjurer, skipping the first offer to change, because I hardly gained any spells. Even after 20 levels, I can only cast "Set Recall" (which only helps if you have a Scroll of Recall), "Reflect," "Draw Life," and "Illusory Self."
        
Casting spells. I thought I'd have cooler spells.
        
At Level 40, I changed to a blacksmith. Somewhere along the way, I read a couple of Scrolls of Knowledge and obtained the "Fennling" skill, an extremely useful skill that lets you combine the charges of two wands of the same type. I also got "Relocation," which lets me teleport on demand, "Ironworking," and "Taming." I haven't really experimented yet with the latter two. 

When I was done exploring, I went back to the Temple of Vidur. He still killed me instantly, but this time I had one new item: a Wand of Death. It only had two charges, but one of them took care of Vidur nicely (unfortunately, not before he killed my new companion, whose release so enraged Vidur in the first place). Gungnir was on his body, and apparently I'm too weak to wield it.
         
The first god falls.
       
I headed back to the surface and found the forest absolutely swarming with monsters. They're low level, and no danger, but they're so thick that I can barely move. Thankfully, my teleportation abilities get me through. They seem to respawn as fast as I kill them. I wondered if Ragnarok had started while I was in the dungeon or whether carrying Gungnir brings them to me.
            
My reputation must have taken a hit while I was underground.
          
While I was in the forest, I happened to note an icon I hadn't seen before. I (L)ooked at it and the game told me it was Thokk, the giantess who refused to cry for Baldur, meaning I'd have to bring her soul to Hela to get Baldur out of hell. I slipped on my Ring of Soul Trapping and killed her with a single blow. I made the mistake of not taking off the ring afterwards, and her soul was immediately replaced by the new slain enemies'. That required me to reload a significantly older game and replay Vidur's temple again. The second time, I found Thokk in the same area and took off the ring after capturing her soul.
        
Part of one quest down!
        
Lacking guidance on exactly where to go, I escaped the monster horde by jumping through a portal. It took me to Slaeter's Sea and some other outdoor maps that kind of wrap around the opening forest, including the River Vid and the River Gioll. I can just stroll across the water because I have Skidbladnir (the magic boat) in my pocket.
           
The River Vid is mostly water.
        
I soon found out that if you go the wrong way out of these areas, you wind up in the open ocean and you immediately get attacked by Jormungand. The first time I found him, he damaged me for -60302 hit points. (I had a maximum of 452 at the time.) I tried the Wand of Death on him but it didn't work. He's also inescapable. I suspect you're just not meant to go into these areas.
          
I suppose if I could kill Jormungand, I wouldn't need to do anything else.
        
But there's an enemy that roams the rivers and lakes of this "outer rim" that's almost as deadly as Jormungand: the lorkesth. He gets like 5 attacks per round and does massive damage. He's the reason I can't just blithely stroll through the areas (the other enemies are relatively easy at my level). I have to watch very carefully for their appearance and use my teleportation ability to get to a safe square of land. There's no outrunning them, since they can move three times for every move I make. If I stand one square away from the water, I can defeat them with throwing weapons and wands, but like any monster they may auto-generate at any time. If I get another Scroll of Extinction, they're going to be strong candidates.
         
I like to think I'm skipping these shurikens along the water.
          
To the west, the world ended at the Bifrost. (Which I have been unable to take seriously since I discovered it's properly pronounced "beef roast," although I think it's cool that the Norse conceived it as a rainbow. So many things in mythology are dark and dreary.) I figured it was too soon to go to Asgard, so I went the other way. Mapping in this game is complicated; I'll explain more thoroughly in my next entry. Suffice to say that the particular section of maps I was in ended to the west at the Bifrost and east at the River Gioll. The Gioll map had some patches covered in fog and a river swarming with lorkesths, but oddly no other enemies or items on the map. For some reason, my Ring of Locus Mastery doesn't work, meaning when I teleport, I just teleport to a random place. Something is also causing me to teleport frequently even if I take off my Ring of Relocation.

In the middle of a patch of fog on the east side, I ran into a character named Harbard. He was rooted in place and didn't pursue me, but if I walked up to him, he killed me in a couple of blows. So I stood a couple squares away from him and hit him with the second and last charge in my Wand of Death. His body disappeared in the fog, but when I walked and stood upon it, the game told me that there was a staircase. Taking it led me to Niflheim.
          
Hell looks a lot like Maine in April.
         
I immediately had one of those moments that I described in the opening. I had been killing fire dragons and frost dragons in single blows, so I wasn't bothered by the "hel dragon" heading in my direction--not, at least, before he killed me in one attack that left me with -1,006 hit points.
             
My brief foray into hell.
         
Upon reloading, I tried again, taking pains to avoid the dragon, and I did come across some luck when I stumbled on a Wand of Wishing with three charges. I immediately wished for another Wand of Death, and while it worked fine against the next hel dragon, it did nothing against the unique enemies of the area, including Konr Rig and Plog. I reluctantly returned to the surface and decided to try again when I was stronger, although given the fact that I've already maxed in most of the game's classes and I have incredibly powerful equipment and near-max strength (I assume, since it's now going up by decimals instead of integers), I don't know what "stronger" is going to look like.

Still, I moved north from the River Gioll to what turned out to be the mountainous realm of Jotenheim. I expected to meet a lot of giants but mostly found the same creatures from previous areas, including a lot of faleryns, who fortunately didn't seem to be as interested as replicating as they were in the dungeon. Teleport control still doesn't work, which makes it hard to explore systematically.
        
The transition to Jotenheim.
       
After I cleared most of the map, there remained an impenetrable rectangle of mountains and trees. Figuring it must hold something interesting, I used my "Terraforming" ability to change a tree into regular ground. Inside the rectangle was a small building populated by a large foe named Gymir. He had the decency not to kill me in a single blow, but his attacks were capable of doing more than 100 damage each. I quaffed a Potion of Speed and a Potion of Curing and proceeded to kill him in legitimate combat. He left behind Mimming, Freyr's sword. I'm too weak to wield it.
          
My character doesn't just chop down trees; he changes the very nature of the landscape.
          
Jotenheim continued for two maps to the north. To the north of that was "Mimer's Realm," a map of mountains, lava pools, and fog. A new monster called "iridorns" were introduced. They can kill in a single hit by ripping off your head, although they die pretty easily if you can strike them first.
          
With Mimer's Realm, I found Mimer's Well, mentioned in the backstory as the residence of the serpent Aspenth, the transformed version of Gjall, Heimdall's horn. But I need the "Swimming" ability to navigate there and I don't have it yet.
           
My character at the end of this session.
          
At some point, while exploring Jotenheim, Heimdall's voice bellowed from the sky:
              
O great heroes of the world! I must have Gjall to rally the forces of good. Time begins to grow short. The sea rages with the anger of Jormungand. The earth quakes mightily. Loki seems ready to burst his bonds. The moon and sun shall soon be swallowed by the mighty wolves Fenrir and Garm. Surtr is honing his sword of destruction. The evil ones are gathering their forces.

To speed you in your quest, I will use my powers over nature. The lesser creatures of the realm shall grow weary and despair. They shall no longer wish to battle against your might.
              
This announcement suggests the game has a time limit (and also that Heimdall just removed my ability to easily grind). I'm going to explore to the north a little further, but if nothing pans out, I'll use my Wand of Wishes for Scrolls of Knowledge and see if I can pick up the swimming ability. At this point, I have three of the six quest items. If I can get one more, it might be worth heading to Asgard.


Time so far: 15 hours

*****

B.A.T. II: The Koshan Conspiracy was going to be next, but I'm not sure how it got on my list in the first place. None of my sources call it an RPG, not even a hybrid. I can't find evidence that any commenter defended it as an RPG. I'm dumping it unless someone can make a persuasive case. The Adventure Gamer already covered it if you really need to read about it.

That means we get to our first random roll for the next game on the list! Pulling up the list, adding a "Random" column, filtering out games I've already played or rejected, we get . . . Xenus II: White Gold (2008). But of course I'm not going to play a game before its predecessor, which in this case is Boiling Point: Road to Hell (2005). That's also the first game on my list from Ukraine. I can't find mention of any other necessary precursors. But I'm just kidding because I'm not going to let myself jump that far ahead in one go. The actual next game needs to be in the next year I have not yet played, and a random selection from that year brings us to Shadowkeep 1: The Search by the same author as the Bandor series. Meanwhile, Planet's Edge gets moved up a notch to Game 358, but I'm having trouble with that one. DOSBox crashes every time I try to leave the intro screen. So the real next game might be Ishar while I try to solve that problem.

93 comments:

  1. Since when does any kind of tree multiply quickly?!? Should have at least been kudzu or another nasty vine...

    ReplyDelete
  2. I wonder if Biskup got some of his ideas from Ragnarok. I guess you'll ask him when you get to ADOM.

    "the levels aren't all randomly generated. Even when they are, there are rules set on some of them"

    I think this is really important for roguelikes. Exploration is one of the primary hooks of an RPG, and 'dungeon level 43' isn't nearly as compelling a location as 'the dwarven halls'.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The problem with introducing more plot to roquelikes is that then it becomes increasingly more tedious to start over and pass through the plot areas/events you already know. Ragnarok kinda alleviates that with its backup system, but then the question is whether at that point it wouldn't make more sense to just make it a traditional RPG.

      Delete
    2. Walking around cities chasing clues from NPCs and doing fetch quests to advance the story is not roguelike gameplay, I agree.

      But for instance: Making it so D:17 is always 'the sump', with it's own unique map, monster, and loot generation rules, which make it stand out a bit from the levels above and below it, adds to the ability of players to share stories about the game, and adds to the feeling of exploration.

      Delete
    3. Exploration is the opposite of the same level every time. You can't explore something you already know.

      Delete
    4. A popular modern roguelike, Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup (DCSS) does have a map but it is variable. For example, there is a series of randomised levels with a characteristic monster set called the Lair, but you don't know which dungeon level the entrance is on, and it leads to certain levels that might or might not appear in a particular game (again, you don't know which Lair level will go to which sub-region).

      Nobody complains when roguelikes go straight down, yet that's surely the same map randomised each time in spades!

      Delete
    5. My problem with most roguelikes isn't that they go straight down but rather that procedural generation algorithms produce levels that are very boring to explore - small, repetitive, featureless and lacking an underlying theme. That's what introducing an occasional hand-made content could solve. But given how many times you're supposed to die and start over in a typical roguelike, that also becomes a problem because you now have to go through the same content over and over again.
      The one exception from the rule I know is Unexplored, which uses some advanced goal-based level generation techniques. It can produce puzzles, multi-level side quests, alternative paths through the level, logical monster ecologies - and combine all that into coherent areas that make sense. Now that one was really fun to explore.

      Delete
    6. That's why I'm not a big roguelike fan and haven't reached the end in any of them yet. Despite the fans' claims that roguelikes are "infinitely replayable" I find them to grow repetitive rather quickly, especially when you just play them casually and die often so most of the time you will fight low to mid level enemies and never meet the cool higher level stuff. Sure, the layout of the dungeon levels will change, but the gameplay loop of going through them will still always be the same.

      Delete
    7. Roguelikes tend to be 'lifestyle games' - they're designed such that even after you've sunk multiple hundreds of hours into them, you still feel like you're learning new things and getting better.

      Many lifestyle games are sufficiently opaque that engagement with their communities is necessary for most players to get the most out of the game.

      Delete
    8. A lifestyle game is Chess, Go, Magic: the Gathering, Bridge, Poker, Statis Pro Baseball, Dungeons and Dragons, Scrabble. It's a game you'd rather play than any other. You could get through life just fine without ever playing another game. Just dabbling in different games makes some people feel scattered and restless and unproductive.

      All my life, I've wished I could find "my game"--the one game that clearly suited me and satisfied me, to the point where I'd have no need to bother with any other games. It wouldn't be the main thing in my life, but it'd be a rewarding hobby--much as stamp collecting is for some, and woodworking for others.

      Delete
  3. Looking forward to Ishar! Been waiting for your coverage to decide whether to play it or not.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Try running INSTALL.EXE before starting Planet's Edge. It's set to the wrong sound card by default, and there's also an option to start a new game (reset progress).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never had any issues getting Planet's Edge to run in DOS Box. Chet, where did you download it from?

      Delete
    2. Can confirm - I just found a copy, ran Install.exe first, and the game ran fine.

      Delete
  5. B.A.T. II does have some RPG elements, but probably not quite enough for you to bother with. I would definitely recommend people read the Adventure Gamer if they're interested though!

    As for your potentially next game, I do remember playing a bit of the Ishar trilogy, and I remember it being a pretty decent party-based RPG. Hopefully it'll be an enjoyable experience for you, I feel like they should be relatively easy for someone with your ability!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Having played the game, I'd agree that it's not worth Chet's time. You could even say it's more of a (space) flight simulator than CRPG.

      Delete
    2. I remember it being called an RPG when it came out, that's the main reason I bought it at the time. Turned out to be kinda disappointing and not very RPG-y, never finished it.

      The Adventure Gamer coverage is good though.

      Delete
  6. I think Ragnarök is a great example of why having saving in a roguelike can make it more interesting. You have a couple of instakill enemies that would just be completely unfair in a standard permadeath roguelike, but here they're a gun obstacle to get around.

    Then again, maybe permadeath roguelikes also have enemies like that and I just don't know because I never got that far in one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ADOM has the, al least. And yes, it feels unfair as the are near the endgame

      Delete
    2. Instakill enemies are bad design irrespective of subgenre.

      Delete
    3. Using the Wand of Death is what makes them a "gun" obstacle, I assume.

      Delete
    4. Oops, gun was a typo, should have been fun!

      Delete
    5. If the instakill is telegraphed and there's something you can do about it (use the right spell/right equipment/move out of the way/etc) then it can actually be a fun challenge. For instance, its a frequent trope of the Final Fantasy series for powerful enemies/bosses to have instant-kill moves if you take too long to beat them; this makes the fight a fun DPS challenge (or find a combination of equipment/magic to tank through it and you get to feel like you outsmarted the game)

      Delete
    6. Many, many monsters in Nethack have instakill potential, from poisonous killer bees and soldier ants all the way up to the Wizard of Yendor himself with his touch of death. Oh, and there's the riders of the apocalypse in the final level, whose number traditionally includes Death...

      I think it's part and parcel of the challenge of such a game to find ways of dealing with all the different kinds of death you may encounter, from killer bee poisoning to giant eel drowning to mindflayer brain-eating to medusa stoning. Usually, there's a way of dealing with these - which include running away like a little girl, of course, this being a roguelike.

      Delete
  7. For fun, once I started up a game of nethack in wizard mode, then genocided dwarves and gnomes and entered the Gnomish Mines. It was pretty empty.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, I'd always wondered if genocide in games like these actually reduced the overall number of enemies encountered of if they just got replaced with different enemies.

      Delete
    2. In Nethack, it depends on the level. Some placed enemies can get replaced with other kinds, while others (like dwarves and gnomes in the mines) are simply gone.

      Delete
  8. It would be interesting to see a running list of your top 3-5 candidates for Extinction with each posts. That's a fun mechanic where you get to significantly and strategically change the game world. I'd like to see it more in other games.

    Since we are coming to terms with the fact that this blog will probably not cover every RPG (unless the singularity hits), it makes sense to get much more strict about disqualifying partial RPGs going forward. Think of it this way -- every partial RPG covered is causing a true RPG to be missed. Stay focused on the opportunity cost.

    To me, the random selection seems to undermine the best reasons for opening up future years early. That is to make sure to get to the most interesting games in a reasonable amount of time. Randomly picking an average game from '93 instead of an average game from '92 doesnt seem that exciting. I think random selection from some sort of high priority list would make more sense?

    But if it's just about covering what was going on in future years, even in the mediocre to bad range, then it's fine.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Random selection preserves the ability to find the underappreciated gems.

      Switching between random and curated games gives you the best of both worlds imo.

      Delete
    2. Sure, it preserves what we already have, but does it add enough to be worth losing a thorough chronology?

      Like I said in my last post, maybe the point is just to get a mix of all sorts of games from different eras at the cost of chronological thoroughness. And that's fine. But I thought it was more about getting to the important games of the modern era in this lifetime.

      So I agree with your random/curated split, just that the random fishing for gems should continue to be confined to the oldest years so that we continue to complete them, and the future picks should come from a curated list so that this isn't entirely a retro-endeavor.

      Picking randomly from everywhere seems to be the worst of both worlds. Longer time frames to finish old years, and small probabilities of happening upon important milestones. Instead we'll just mostly be doing a lot of blah games from the late 90s.

      Delete
    3. I can only keep repeating: it's a trial, give a few months, we'll see if it works, etc.

      Delete
    4. I hadn't envisaged that this new strategy would just result in playing a low quality M&M clone, was that really the intent of the change?

      Delete
    5. Sure, there's always a CHANCE of a "low-quality M&M clone" when you randomize part of the process. But that's how you find the gems, too.

      I can only keep repeating: it's a trial, give a few months, we'll see if it works, etc.

      Delete
    6. Even if Shadowkeep isn't all that good, its at least short enough for one entry. I think I beat it in like 1 hour years ago when I didn't understand RPGs at all. Its not worth whining about.

      Delete
    7. I don't care at all bout Shadowkeep, maybe it will be a hidden gem. I'm just more confused about the randomness. I thought that the purpose of this was to reach classics like Fallout in a semi-reasonable time, but won't this method create a chance that it actually takes longer to reach Fallout if the random number generator lets you down and just chooses random rubbish from further in the future?

      Delete
    8. I'd rather have some obscure games covered that I never heard of before than the "important milestones" I already played through myself and of which there are a dozen blogposts, forum discussions and YouTube let's plays already. This is one of my favorite aspects of this blog: it covers every RPG ever made, not just the well-known titles.

      Also, the new ahead-skipping rule doesn't reduce the blog's chronological thoroughness. Chet still plans to play through the entire list eventually. The rule merely allows to push some games from future years a little bit forward, but it doesn't allow skipping entire years.

      Delete
    9. "I'd rather have some obscure games covered that I never heard of before than the "important milestones" I already played through myself and of which there are a dozen blogposts"

      Sure Jarl, but wasn't that what the old method was achieving anyhow?

      Delete
    10. @Mirakov - Trust that Chet will get to Fallout et al in a semi-reasonable time frame. That's the point :)

      Delete
    11. Its worth pointing out that there are many paths to the classics. We'll take Fallout. If the luck of the draw brings up any game in the Fallout series, Fallout 1 would be played instead. Any Bethesda, Obsidian, Interplay or Black Isle games made after their respective contributions to the franchise would instead be Fallout 1. Plus any games made after by the writers of those games; Any games made after 1997 with post-apocalyptic themes; Any tactical RPGs after Fallout: Tactics; Any games inspired by any of the games in the proceeding categories. I'd wager that's at least twenty games. While that doesn't seem high, considering a good chunk of games don't have twenty games leading to them.
      Of course, that also assumes there's nothing Chet wants to play before Fallout...

      Delete
  9. Can you equip an Eyes of Sertrud after losing your eye?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can, but it doesn't function as another eye.

      IIRC there is some kind of telepathy ability that lets you sense enemies when blind, but it only goes just so far to making up for being blind.

      Delete
  10. "I can't be the only roguelike player who has secretly thought that if I just find enough of them, I can genocide every monster in the game."

    People have done this in Nethack.

    It makes for a very intense endgame, since there are monster types you can't wipe out in this way, and they include little things like Archons...

    ReplyDelete
  11. On Boiling Point, since its a shooter/RPG hybrid, I would think that earlier shooter/RPG hybrids would count as predecessors. Shadowcaster or System Shock if Shadowcaster doesn't fall into that niche, depending on your opinion.
    On Planet's Edge, you probably just got a bad dump of it. I'd get a different version.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Boiling Point: Road to Hell looks to be as much an RPG as the Grand Theft Auto series.

      Delete
    2. Uh, yeah, it does. I don't remember what IV played like, but San Andreas and V had skills you could level up as you used them. Boiling Point, from what I've read, has considerably more skills, and if you don't use them, they get worse over time.

      Delete
    3. I bought Boiling Point because they sold it as a shooter/RPG,but I never got to play it to the end. I remember it as a shooter with abilities but not at all an RPG.

      Delete
    4. There are loads of games on the master list that are not RPGs, but action games or FPSs (and strategy games and even racing games) with RPG elements.

      Delete
    5. I think it would count but as predecessors of the genre, Chet would definitely have to play Bungie's Pathways Into Darkness, and the Doom engine game Strife. Those are the earliest relevant FPS-RPG hybrids.

      Delete
    6. I don't really have much familiarity with continuous-movement first person RPGs - do Strife and Pathways into Darkness add anything that we haven't seen in UU?

      Delete
    7. If Strife is an RPG it'll be the lightest RPG we'll see for a long time. Not very similar to UU at all; more like open-world DOOM with some extremely light RPG elements.

      Delete
    8. Dunno about Pathways into Darkness, but Strife is pretty light on the RPG stuff, compared to something like UU. Much more action based, IIRC.

      Delete
    9. Pathways into Darkness I'd call an *adventure* game that *looks* like an FPS. But to say more would be a spoiler. ;)

      Delete
    10. I agree overall Morpheus. I was trying to find a way to search out shooter/RPG hybrids in MobyGames but couldn't figure it out.

      Delete
    11. I never played the actual Boiling Point, but the sequel to it *is* sort of a shooter rpg--it has lots of skills to level up, factions, etc--but it's really in line with something like the modern Far Cry games. So I guess it depends on if you consider those to be RPGs.

      It's not nearly as RPG-like as, say, Deus Ex, though. But then nothing has ever been as good as Deus Ex :)

      Delete
  12. You may have covered this already, but what happens if you combine Scrolls of Blessing and Extinction?

    ReplyDelete
  13. Ah, Ragnarok... I encountered this on a PC Gamer disc back in the day, and spent a lot of time subsequently playing it. It definitely was difficult, although that's measuring more against games I'd played to that point rather than other roguelikes. Still have a big soft spot for it, though.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Could you do anything witm Mimer's well? In Norse myth, Odin traded an eye for a single drink from it, which granted supreme wisdom. This seems like am obvious opportunity for a stat boost.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I couldn't figure out anything to do except try to enter it, when it told me I need the "Swimming" skill.

      Delete
  15. Mimer's well. (optional but recommended first step) Get and wear a helm of knowledge. This means you won't get duplicate skills when you read scrolls of knowledge. Then read scrolls of knowledge to learn swimming. Then go underwater in the well.

    Also, have you polymorphed yourself into crazy monsters yet? It's fun to rampage around as a dragon for a while and bake/freeze everything with your breath weapon. (and of course sometimes this will wreck you, so save a backup first)

    There's a strategy guide that covers almost everything. You might have fun reading it when you are done. If you don't already have the guide, let me know where to post it. It's in an arcane MS Word format that is hard to find a way to read, but then, that seems fitting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't done much with polymorphing deliberately. I always under-used that ability in NetHack, too.

      Delete
    2. Would love to see this guide as well, I think I've seen it online many, many, many years go

      Delete
  16. There is also a place you can go that has pools of liquid you can use to make your own potions with empty vials. That's fun. And with alchemy, you can mix vials to make all new potions.

    Also, you don't *need* to do all the quests. I think they each give you a +20% chance of swinging the tide at Ragnarok.

    I think you are teleporting randomly because you ate the teleporty creature (A knilb? I cant remember the final name we gave it).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds plausible. Thanks for the hints! I appreciate you dropping by.

      Delete
  17. You are a level 10 woodsman with 8 fingers?
    Five beers for the men from the sawmill!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm pretty sure the count doesn't include thumbs.

      Delete
    2. It does not count thumbs. You can get up to 16 fingers. More rings. whee. I think you can get 5 eyes too.

      Delete
  18. That thing about strength getting stuck at 18.99 really sounds like something derived from 2nd edition AD&D. For some reason, 2e had special rules around characters' strength once it got up to 18 where it increased a lot more slowly from 18/00 to 18/99, or something like that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1e and 2e both had this mechanic. D&D influences permeate the CRPG genre - consider that the very first games were an attempt to replicate the D&D experience on a screen.

      Delete
    2. It was weird, though. It finally got past it, but now it seems stuck at 19.99.

      Delete
    3. Maybe it's stuck at 19.99 because the game is afraid of the Y2k bug. Hah.

      Delete
    4. There's just a third variable behind the first two strength numbers in the display. So imagine the third number (65) in 18.99.65. You are temporarily increasing the third secret stat until you break it over 100. Kinda dumb, but we liked to keep people guessing.

      Delete
  19. I don't think there's a time limit in this game. You probably just triggered some special event in the game, maybe by getting to a specific place or amassing a certain number of objectives etc

    ReplyDelete
  20. "Hell looks a lot like Maine in April."

    Having spent some quality time in Washington County (and much more time slightly farther North in New Brunswick), this made me laugh out loud. Thank-you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Irene and I call it the "mud season." The snow is mostly gone but the May flowers haven't come out yet. Everything is wet, trampled, and a little depressing.

      Delete
  21. I am looking forward for Shadowkeep I, how it compares to Bandor I & II, and how it does not to the two previous Shadowkeeps, despite the numeral 1.

    ReplyDelete
  22. An information concerning Planet's Edge: I downloaded the game in
    https://collectionchamber.blogspot.com/2017/04/planets-edge-point-of-no-return.html
    and, until now, had no problem with it.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hi Chet, I had so much fun with this game when I was a college student (I bought as Valhalla on a 3,5 inch disk with manual in a cardboard box with art on it) that I decided to play this along with you as I have done earlier with my first cRPG M&M1. I'm not quite as far as you in character development (started as blacksmith, became sage and now Viking), but I'm close to you in questing. If you want to know more about the time limit (light spoilers ahead I would say) then read this in ROT13:
    Gurer vf n svkrq gvzr yvzvg gb guvf tnzr naq lbh unir gevttrerq vg. Ng ghea 20.000 lbh unir 5000 yrsg gb ernpu Nftneq ivn Ovsebfg naq wbva gur tbqf sbe Entanebx. Lbh qba'g arrq nyy dhrfg vgrzf, ohg bqqf sbe ivpgbel vapernfr vs lbh oevat zber. Svaqvat gur oyhr phor jvyy arg lbh ba nirentr na rkgen 2500 gheaf orpnhfr vg gheaf onpx gvzr va enaqbz vagreinyf. Guvf bayl cebonoyl rssrpgf gur ghea "zrgre", V qba'g guvax vg ernyyl erirefrf gvzr (jvgu ybff bs cebterff).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There might be a version difference. I didn't get the alert from Odin until turn 24,999, and it was almost 1,000 turns later that I showed up at the end of the Bifrost.

      Delete
  24. Ok, so I have finished and won the game with 5/6 of the quests completed! I did abuse a walkthrough because I couldn't muster up the time and patience to playtest everything and reload a couple of thousand times more than I already did. Still a total blast of fun again and even with walkthrough a buttcheekclenching affair in a couple of places because of the 200 turn rule for saving. Can't fathom how the makers put so much gameplay into what essentially amounts to the size of a moderate email attachment nowadays. I'm very much looking forward to see how you fared Chet. I documented my end journey with some screenshots, so if you need some additional material, let me hear it (did some for MM1 too back in the day).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You did better than I did. I won with 4/6. Final entry coming in a few hours.

      Delete
  25. I replayed along with you(for the umpteenth time across half a dozen different versions), and finished the game in two days. My basic strategy(Heavy strategy spoilers) ROT13:

    1. Fgneg nf na Fntr. Fgebatrfg pynff novyvgl naq n fglyhf znxrf guvf fyvtugyl rqtr bhg nypurzvfg. Rneyl fgeratgu vf rnfvyl envfrq naq ivxvat, oynpxfzvgu, jbbqfzna naq pbawhere nyy unir snveyl jrnx pynff novyvgvrf.

    2. Fjvgpu gb nypurzvfg ng yriry 10. Ng guvf cbvag, lbh pna jevgr n fpebyy bs fjvgpu obql, naq fgrny gur obql bs n Qenhte vs lbh jnag vafnar culfvpny cbjre, naq ab jbeevrf nobhg gur ghea pbhagre, be fbzrguvat yrff BC vs lbh yvxr. V hfhnyyl pubbfr abg gb, va beqre gb cerfreir tnzr punyyratr. Ng guvf cbvag lbh pna rkgvapg zbfg "Crfxl" zbafgref. Inavfuref, Erq Bbmrf, Nepuzntrf, Jvmneqf, cnyr bbmrf, naq mneqbaf graq gb gbc gur yvfg(nyfb crytengf vs lbh unir n jnaq bs jvfuvat naq ab erq ont).

    3. Gur cbgvba bs Qvzrafvbany Geniry ng yriry 10 nypurzvfg pbasref na nyzbfg arprffnel fxvyy. Nf fbba nf V zvk vg naq V unir n jnaq bs jvfuvat V jvfu sbe nf znal rzcgl ivnyf nf zl yhpx, naq urnq gb Nmner'f Cynar(Lryybj ba gur Pebffebnqf). V svaq gur ubyl jngre cbaq ol hfvat n ivnyf ba gur cbaqf, gura chzc zl yhpx hc gb 100 ol jvfuvat sbe rzcgl ivnyf naq hfvat oyrffrq erpunetvat fpebyyf gb erpunetr zl jnaq.

    4. V jvfu sbe 100 qrnq ury qentbaf, hagvy V ohzc zl pbafgvghgvba hc gb 1500. Gura V jvfu sbe +100 evatf bs ntvyvgl, +100 nezbe, naq n +100 fnv(guvf frrzf jrnxre guna bgure jrncbaf, ohg ba zber cbjreshy rarzvrf, gur novyvgl gb znvz vf fb zhpu zber cbjreshy guna gur rkgen qnzntr.)

    5. Bapr zl NP vf nobhg -800, V tb svaq n qenhte naq cbjre yriry gb nobhg 60-70. V jvfu sbe fpebyyf bs xabjyrqtr hagvy V xabj ubj gb fjvz, gura pbzcyrgr gur fvk dhrfgf, naq urnq gb Ovsebfg sbe gur ivpgbel.

    Abgr gung gur tnzr vf ernyyl sha jvgu erfgevpgvbaf -- ab cbylzbecu(be sbe n erny punyyratr, cbylzbecuvat vagb jrnxre punenpgref), ab jvfuvat, ab creznfnirf, naq ab qvzrafvbany geniry nyy qenfgvpnyyl vapernfr qvssvphygl.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow. I did so little of that that it's like we played different games. I can see how the strategy would work well, though.

      Delete
  26. Great succinct write-up Kohl! I love the direct approach and would concur with the order of class advancement. It still has some tedious grinding in it, and I wonder if you know these two tricks:

    Ernqvat n fpebyy bs oyrffvat juvyr pbashfrq (sbe rknzcyr qevaxvat zrnq) unf n 60% bs pbasreevat oyrffvat gb nyy lbhe npgvir onpxcnpx vgrzf. Ernqvat nabgure bar evtug nsgre gung, hcf guvf gb nebhaq 85%. Ernyyl phgf onpx ba nyy gur oyrffvat tbvat ba. Naq sbe qvzrafvbany geniry juvpu vf vaqrrq pehpvny gb gur tnzr, n cbgvba bs Zhfvp (nqinaprq nypurzl) naq na rapunagrq (tynff) bpnevan jvyy tvir rira zber pbageby bire qvzrafvbany geniry guna ivn gur cbjre vgfrys. Guvf vf orpnhfr gur cbjre jvyy yrnq gb gur Pebffebnqf naq nygubhtu jvgu fbzr rkcrevzragngvba lbh pna svther bhg juvpu pbybe naq trareny cneg bs gung fcnpr jvyy yrnq gb juvpu ernyz, vg gnxrf gvzr, abg va gur yrnfg ol univat gb jnaqre nyy gubfr qvfxf. Jvgu Zhfvp naq gur tynff bpnevan, lbh pna whfg fcrpvsl sebz n zrah jurer lbh jnag gb tb, rira gb rknpg cynprf yvxr gur Jnfgrynaq be gur Pelcg. Ohg gur ovt jubccre vf gung vg nyfb yvfgf gur Onmnne! Guvf abeznyyl pbzrf bayl nsgre fntr yriry 31 naq gur novyvgl gb jevgr gung fpebyy ohg vg whfg fubjf hc va gung gryrcbegngvba yvfg. Abj zvaq lbh, V nyernql jnf pncnoyr bs jevgvat gung fpebyy, fb V fgvyy unir gb svaq bhg vs vg fubjf hc jvgubhg orvat n zntr yriry 31, ohg vs vg qbrf, guna gung'f n ovt cyhf!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How do you reach this "bazaar" normally, and it is a place that you can spend a lot of gold? If so, the game might be worth more in the "economy" category than I was about to give it.

      Delete
    2. Well, I think there are 3 ways to reach the Bazaar, of which one I can't confirm. The most straightforward way is to get your sage up to level 31, at which time he gets the ability to write a scroll of transport. This immediately teleports you to the bazaar. The scroll doesn't vanish either, and when you use it again, it brings you back to the exact spot where you left. So stand in a store, sell your stuff, go to the Bazaar, spend your gold (they won't buy anything) and go back to the regular store again. The second way, is when you acquire the Dimension Travel power, you can accidentally find it by walking of in the grey area at the Crossroads. I yet have to find out if certain spots you walk of are fixed or that it is completely random. I found a fixed spot for Mimer's Well so it may contain also one for the Bazaar. You'll have to try a lot of places though to find it probably, because that grey area is quite big...The third way is acquire Music Ability from an advanced alchemist potion (probably already at level 10), then enchant an ordinary ocarina to become a glass one. If you use the ocarina, you will get a menu of places to go. Mine also listed the Bazaar, but this was after I attained sage class 31 and wrote the scroll. It stands to reason that it only shows up then, but if that's not the case, I found a very nice shortcut to the Bazaar. Start the game as alchemist, go up to level 10. Find or buy an ocarina and enchant it, mix the Music potion and voila, early access to the best store in the game! I may even be so crazy as to try this....

      Delete
    3. I did! It's a great little trick for getting more blessings than you normally would. I rarely use it because I'm usually in a time crunch in unpolymorphed runs, and in an item surplus in polymorphed runs (When playing with the 4000 turn save or permadeath -- you can abuse the 200 turn save to avoid wasting too much time) and being confused for that many turns, plus the time to find Ullr. The glass ocarina is great, but I'm so used to dimensional travel that I hardly use it. One of the (many)signs this game is so well designed is there are so many ways to skin a Jacchus.

      I found I keep discovering things even after 25 years of playing it. When I was playing versions 1.8, 2.1 or 2.5 I remember either getting a "Your control is blocked here" or a success when using Geology in Chaos. I had never tried it in Valhalla. Imagine my shock when ~150 turns away from the 4000 turn save, every tile came to life and tried to kill me. I felt pretty confident because I wasn't taking much damage, until a watery form got a lucky instakill in and drowned me. I still don't know if it was a version difference or a rare effect of Geology that I hadn't encountered.

      I also never knew(Until Chet played it, and Crom Void confirmed it) you could skip quests. I read it, but when I tried 3 or 4 times with 4 or 5 quests the gods lost badly. I always thought it was just a bug that some user or users got. I still haven't had any luck replicating it, and it's easier for me to just complete the quests now. I also didn't realize that some versions had "Scrolls of Enhancement" in place of "Scrolls of Enchantment" until Chester wrote it up.

      I often play with much less direct strategies. Heck, It was a LONG time before I realized you could wish for the modifier on weapons and armor. Before that, I would laboriously hoard scrolls to rewrite, and manually bless my weapon up to +100. Ragnarok really rewards alternate playstyles. Earlier versions required totally different strategies -- permadeath and the Wand of Wishing having a chance to explode when recharging really changes how you play. This makes the game much less "exploitable".

      Delete
  27. Naq jvfuvat sbe n qrnq Oeryrbe naq rngvat vg, pbasref Qvzrafvbany Geniry naq Pnegbtencul. Abg erpbzzraqvat jvfuvat sbe n yvir bar....rira jvgu lbhe raq-tnzr punenpgre fgngf :-)

    ReplyDelete
  28. So Chet, I wrote my own GIMLET....went a bit overboard with this game, but boy, did I love it again! Don't know if you like or allow people to use it, but the system has felt so right for judging cRPG's, that I just can't keep from doing one in my head for my own favorites :-) Just give the heads-up if you would like to read mine, of course after you published yours!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure! Mine will be published at midnight tonight, so feel free to comment with yours and see how it compares.

      Delete
  29. "Xenus II: White Gold (2008) [...] Boiling Point: Road to Hell (2005). [...] I can't find mention of any other necessary precursors."
    I see what you did there, you sneaky devil! :)

    ReplyDelete

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

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

2. Please avoid profanity and vulgar language. I don't want my blog flagged by too many filters.

3. Please don't comment anonymously. It makes it impossible to tell who's who in a thread. Choose the "Name/URL" option, pick a name for yourself, and just leave the URL blank.

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

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

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

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

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