Saturday, February 8, 2020

Realms of Arkania: Won!

Why are we leaving revelries behind?
               
I'm forced to confess that I got a little help on the endgame, both from some ROT-13'd commenter notes and a "low-spoiler walkthrough" that I found when Googling those precise terms. The game is a bit obtuse in its final moments, requiring the player to repeatedly travel well-trod ground to trigger a few final encounters. It's possible that there are in-game hints as to those final steps, and I just never encountered them.

When I left off last time, I was still trying to find the final two map pieces. One of the ones I found in the last session was apparently not a duplicate but rather replaced a "fake" piece--a complexity that the game absolutely did not need, especially without setting it up better. You can't really "follow" the directions on the map anyway, since you're not in control of your party when you travel the wilderness. The best you can do is find the right town and start wandering to other towns nearby.

I did what I said I was going to do, which was to run raids on Daspota, retreating to Varnhome to heal and sell looted goods, until the snows cleared. Daspota turned out to have an old man who claimed to have a piece of the map, but he wouldn't give it to me without a "writ." I guess whatever I had from the Hetman wasn't enough. I couldn't figure out what he was talking about and thus never got that piece.
            
Like a lot of dialogue in the game, this didn't make any sense.
         
Eventually, spring came and the pass to Thoss opened. Along the way, in line with the intel from the dying mercenary, we found a two-level cave full of traps and pirates, leading to the fabled Daspota treasure. It had several expensive items plus 500 ducats. The game had already been generous with money, but this moment marked the utter end of our financial woes. We stayed in the best inn rooms and had all our meals catered for the rest of the game. Moreover, I was able to liberally purchase potions of magic and healing, which meant I could trust the computer to fight a lot more of my battles, easing some of the frustration I had with the combat system.

When we made it to Thoss, we met Yasna Thinmarsdotter, recently moved to the city from Clanegh, where we had expected to find her. She no longer had her map piece; it had been looted by some sorcerer who makes his home in some ruins "by the road to Thoss," which wasn't very helpful since I was in Thoss.
          
And I didn't have to go around a mountain range--this conversation was clearly supposed to happen in Clanegh.
         
I guessed correctly that it was on the road between Thoss and Liskor. The ruins were a weird three-level dungeon. The first level was nearly entirely open. There was a battle with orcs, who dropped a bag when they died. Experimenting with the bag, I accidentally released a cloud of "magic dust," which apparently opened a doorway because the doorway wasn't there before I used it. I still don't really understand the causal mechanism, though.

The bottom level featured a fairly easy battle with a sorcerer. On his body, we found the sixth map piece, an amulet, and a pointed weapon called a "kukris." A few steps later, we found a chest with another 500 ducats. I'm not sure I spent more than 300 ducats the entire game.
         
Spellcasters really shouldn't attack without minions.
        
The last area I hadn't fully explored was Hermit's Lake. I could travel there from both Phexcaer and Clanegh. The game had led me to believe that it was deep in orc territory, and not a city, so I had put off visiting. The trail was very long and had numerous encounters along the way. In the first (very stupid) encounter, the party decided to follow some tracks that indicated the presence of a dragon. After forcing me several times to keep following the trail, the game finally brought the party to a cave--where we were disappointed to find that instead of a dragon, we had been tracking "a disgusting, stinking wyvern." Disgusted, the party (automatically) left the cave and returned to the trail. I guess wyverns in Das Schwarze Auge are a lot different than in Dungeons and Dragons, because I doubt any Level 5 D&D party would think it was beneath them to take on a wyvern.
            
Later, the wyvern "buzzed" us. Six eyes!? What is up with wyverns in this setting?!
          
The second encounter was with a unicorn. I was happy to see him because a commenter had suggested that he might have a map piece. Thus, I tried hard not to scare him off or draw weapons (which the game gave me the option to do several times). He communed with Sienna by touching his horn to her chest (no phallic symbolism there!), and although this seemed to draw blood, the rest of the party remained cool and she was okay. It galloped off after a few moments, and Sienna explained that it had "gone to get a map, then it will be back!"

This was great news to me, which made it all the more infuriating that the rest of the party refused to believe her account of the unicorn's telepathy. The encounter led to the desultory Sienna saying, "Let's move on" as I screamed "NO!" at the computer. Fortunately, the unicorn later met us again, but I had no way of knowing it at the time.
           
If it will be back, why aren't we waiting for it? And how is it going to carry a map?
            
Hermit's Lake was just a few squares with a cabin and a travel post. The cabin was occupied by an old man who invited us in for a meal and rest. He spun a long tale about how peaceful it is to live on the lake, after which the game gave us the options to leave or "settle here." I decided to call the game's bluff and chose the latter. The game called my bluff and presented me with an endgame message that suggested that the party retired in idyllic happiness. "The years pass," it concluded, "and you get old. Yes, nothing could make you give up this spot of peace and tranquility."
         
I should have posted the "won!" article ending the game here.
          
It then gave me two options: "Stop! Stop!" and "A wonderful ending!" I chose the second. The game finally gave up the ruse: "Why don't you see what would have happened if your characters had left the old man somewhat earlier? For my sake . . . ." And we were back outside the hut, with no time having passed.

There was nothing else to do at Hermit's Lake, but the exit post had an option to travel around the lake and return to the cabin, just like the island a couple entries ago. I chose that. It wasn't altogether pleasant--there was a marsh where I lost a bunch of stuff and had to reload. On the second try, I lost just potions and food, so I lived with it. Then I encountered some gryphons who wanted me to either turn around and leave their territory or give them one of my party members as "surety." When I chose the latter, they told me I could free her by answering a riddle:
           
           
I mentally worked through several possibilities. Take a way half of a ROPE and it just becomes a smaller rope, not "the end." Some with LEVER. You can't really "take away half" of TIME or a lot of other concepts that might otherwise "move all things." BRIDGE seemed promising, but not quite right. Finally, I hit on it with (WHEEL). The gryphons gave us right of passage.

Afterwards, I was attacked by a part of orcs. Then I was given a chance to climb a tall tower. On the top mesa, Halberman found a shrine with an "eye of darkness" (hey!) which, when touched, told me that TREEBORN KOLLBERG LIVES IN A COLOURFUL CARAVAN. I later learned that he was a merchant who would have had another map piece. Apparently, this eye gives you whatever hint you most need.

But I didn't need to find Kollberg, because on the final loop, we ran into the unicorn again, who for some reason forgot all about Sienna and gave the map piece to Bart de Wald. I suppose it doesn't matter. Once we had the seventh piece locked into place, one of my party members opined that it was enough.
          
I could "start to see something" ages ago.
           
I had already decided that the map's reference to "Phexen Town" was probably Phexcaer, which is accessible from Hermit's Lake. It was a long journey but a mostly uneventful one. From there, I could go upriver to Groenyelden, downriver to Vilnhome, or o'er hill and dale to Skelellen. The map seemed to suggest that the barrow would be found south or southwest of Phexcaer, and the long road to Skelellen was the only one that fit the bill.

Only a couple days out of Phexcaer, Bart de Wald suddenly demanded to see the map. I didn't really understand his subsequent reasoning, but the end result of the text options that followed led the party to a burial mound and then on to the ruins of a castle.
            
I don't see how we need to be other the other side of any river, but whatever gets us to the end.
           
The castle was four levels, and the biggest danger was tripping over caved-in sections. The rooms were big, so the dungeon was easy to navigate. I had to search every square in one huge room before I found a treasure chest with a ladder going down. (Passages down found inside treasure chests is a concept the game has used more than once.) The second level had a lever/party splitting puzzle that defies explanation. I had to look up an explicit hint. The puzzle requires you to notice that the lever button on the interface, which isn't usually available, is suddenly available.
           
Any Nirvana fans around?
          
On the third level, we had a knock-down drag-out battle with a group of zombies and skeletons led by the undead Hyggelik. Thanks to my funds, I had enough potions to see me through the battle without much trouble.
          
The final battle that mattered.
           
Afterwards, Hyggelik spoke to the party. Being undead seemed to have taken a toll on his psychology. He phased through periods in which he thought he was alive and still a hetman and the realization that he was dead and cursed (he attributed it to cursed gold scattered around the dungeon, which fortunately I hadn't picked up). Finally, he gave us his sword, Grimring, and demanded that we go deep into the orcs' territory and challenge their champion. There were a couple of nice screens to accompany this. I gave the sword to my Thorwalian, Dormauera.
          
I like how he hands it over the safe way.
         
The party made its way out of the caves and back to the road, arriving soon in Skelellen. (When you stop at a dungeon in this game, it always short-cuts the rest of the route. If you continue past the dungeon, you hit every minor encounter along the road instead.) At this point, I was a bit confused as to what to do or indeed whether there was anything left to do. My quest was to find the sword, and I found the sword, and the game had included a couple of special screens that might have been meant as "congratulations--your quest is finished" screens. It would have been lame, but I have too much experience with games of this era than to assume developers wouldn't offer such an "ending."

Was that the end?
             
After taking a save in Skelellen, I spent a while hopping from town to town to reach Thorwal again. I figured that the hetman gave me the quest to find the blade; maybe he'd acknowledge it and I'd either get the endgame or the next quest. Alas, his guards just turned me away.
           
I don't "just want to look around." I want to turn in the object of the quest he gave me!
          
I reloaded in Skelellen and took the trail back to Phexcaer. Fortunately, on the way back, you can take some extra hours and avoid the equipment-stealing swamp. I then took all the routes out of Phexcaer, hoping to find some final encounter with orcs. No luck. I went back to Hermit's Lake and did the loop again and still found nothing but the occasional random battle.

I let myself peek at the walkthrough again, and it alluded to an "orc cave" on the way from Skelellen to Phexcaer. Even though I'd just taken the route, I tried again and for some reason this time I found the cave. It's like the game knew that I read the walkthrough. Anyway, the orc cave was a single level with a lot of orc battles, a couple of weapons of war to destroy, and a couple of navigation puzzles. One wanted me to name the orcish "lord of death." I suspected the answer had something to do with two statues in the same room. When Halberman was in the lead, the game just said the statues were unrecognizable. But shuffling the party members around, I finally hit on the one who had enough "Arcane Lore" or "Rituals" knowledge, or something, and got the answer to the riddle as TAIRACH.
          
Same statue, two different characters.
          
When I left the caves, I had looted a "half moon disk" (never figured out what it was for) and a document that had "orcish battle plans." The plans indicated that the orcs intended to amass between Phexcaer and Hermit's Lake and then attack Thorwal in the last week of Peraine in the year 17. It was now Rahja in the year 15. I wasn't able to find a calendar that indicates exactly how far apart these months are, but it's at least 13 months.
           
Man, the orcs really plan ahead.
         
Nonetheless, I headed for the location, and the game gave me the option to waste over a year of my life just waiting for the appointed date. I said sure. Apparently, instead of killing small packs of orcs as they arrived, the party just camped there until the entire horde surrounded them.
        
We apparently just lingered in our tents while the orcs built an army around us.
      
The chief, calling himself Garzlokh, approached, and Dormauera challenged him to single combat. He agreed and gave us half an hour to prepare, saying that the battle would be one-on-one and involve weapons only, no magic. I had Dormauera chug a Potion of Strength and equip a few Potions of Healing.
      
          
When the combat began, Dormauera and Garzlokh's champion were in the center, surrounded by a ring of orcs and party members. The game still gave me turns for those other party members, but I just sent them fleeing from combat so I wouldn't have to keep acknowledging them. The champion was tough, but no match for a buffed Thorwalian with Grimring and a bunch of healing potions. The combat lasted about 20 rounds before he died.
           
I'm not sure how I feel about the "final battle" as a one-on-one.
           
Upon his death, Garzlokh grudgingly let the party leave and said that Thorwal was safe, but that we had "doomed another city" because "Brazoragh desires us to rid our lands of you smoothskins." Apparently the victory got the party a lot of quest-based experience points because everyone leveled up. This normally wouldn't bother me except that it takes about five minutes per character to distribute all the skill and spell points, and I knew the game was ending anyway. I can't promise I made the best choices.
        
The orcs are an honorable lot.
       
The endgame screens told of the party leaving the orc encampment and returning to Thorwal, where we were greeted by a "joyous and enthusiastic populace." The hetman threw a big party for us, where we handed over Grimring and got various riches and honors in return.
            
14-year-old me would have had a field day with the "sperm whale" reward.
        
The game ended with the party leaving Thorwal and musing on its next adventures, at which point the game announced that Part II of the Northern Trilogy, Star Trail, would be coming soon.
         
Miscellaneous notes:
       
  • When both bad and good things happen, it would be nice to know exactly what skill or attribute checks, if any, you passed or failed in that moment. I know that no game really gives you that kind of feedback, but I felt its want here more than other places.
          
Great. Was this because of his dexterity or his "Danger Sense" skill or his "Perception" skill?
         
  • Along those lines, there is perhaps nothing more frustrating in any RPG than knowing there is a trap in a particular square but having no recourse other than let your party blunder into it. 
  • I'm not entirely clear where you're supposed to equip rings and amulets. I've been putting them in the off-hand of characters who don't have shields. Sometimes, they seem to have an effect (e.g., raising charisma a few points), sometimes not. 
  • Dungeons have all been roughly 15 x 15, and with worm tunnels rather than razor walls, meaning that mapping is mostly unnecessary. The auto-map seems to work fine.
  • I'm not convinced that the game is applying the right weapon categories to the associated weapons. I have Halberman equipped with a hatchet, which is supposed to be a type of axe. He has an attack value of 9 with axes and a parry value of 8, but the game gives his values for the current weapon as 6 and 4. In a recent comment, Buck suggested that this could be because of penalties associated with his helm and armor, but that doesn't explain why if I equip him with a sword, his values go up to 8 and 6, just as they should according to his skill with that weapon. 
  • Every time I sleep without setting a watch, an enemy attacks me. Every time I set a watch, no enemy attacks. Watches apparently don't just alert the party to attacks; they prevent them.
            
And lions only ever attacked in random encounters at night.
         
Although I was happy to win, I developed a conviction during the final hours that a little Googling bore out: I think the GOG version of Blade of Destiny is made much easier than the original. I base this on the many logistical complaints (that I see on message boards) that I never suffered. Except for the tetanus in the first session, none of my characters ever came down with a disease. Neither did they suffer any poison despite fighting giant spiders. I was told to carry extra boots because boots wear out, but mine never did. I had plenty of weapons break but no armor. I didn't have any trouble eating food without carrying utensils. I was never told my party was too cold or too hot. I noticed that if one of my party members was hungry, he had no trouble taking food from another character's backpack, whereas a video I watched showed the player having to manually distribute food across all backpacks to keep them fed. I couldn't find documentation of these changes anywhere, and yet it feels like I didn't get the authentic, original experience--which probably means that I was annoyed a lot less than I would have been with the original.

I have lots of thoughts to collect for the upcoming "Summary and Rating," but on the whole I'd say that while the ending was satisfying, trying to find the ending was not.

Final time: 38 hours

*****

Are you one of my Patreon subscribers but not in the habit of checking the Patreon page? Please log in between now and 13 February to see a post about a fairly significant change I'm considering to "The CRPG Addict." I'm giving my Patreon subscribers a chance to read it and comment first as a reward for your support of the blog. Depending on the reaction there, I may or may not announce something here on my 10th anniversary on 15 February. I look forward to seeing your comments.

58 comments:

  1. I don't think it's quite fair saying that the game is too generous with money when you're going to reload each time you lose too many items - I'm pretty sure the money rewards assume you just roll with whatever losses.

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    1. They were like one-of-a-kind items, though. The one magic sword I'd found, for instance. If they'd been replaceable, I wouldn't have reloaded.

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    2. Yes, but accepting their loss would still affect your economy - you'd fare somewhat worse in combat, thus requiring somewhat more healing items and stuff.

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    3. I don't know anybody who wouldn't reload in such a case. Maybe a true DSA diehard would, though. Either way, I don't think this giving and taking is a good way of balancing. Even next to the fact that making no progress is kind of boring.

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  2. I'm very unsure if GOG can actually make games easier. They don't reverse-engineer them. They just take DOS games and make a ready-to-play version by adding a pre-configured DOSBox. For the older Windows games without any official patches to make them run OK at the new systems, they add some libraries and/or pre-configured wrappers.

    Maybe the game was made easier on some later CD-versions. Or maybe some people are actually miss-remember things. For example, boots did wear out in the Star Trail, but it may be not the case with the Blade of Destiny. But people may tend to remember things from the newer and all-round better Star Trail and attribute them to Blade of Destiny without checking.

    And if anything, they should've patched the saving system to not deduct experience for saving outside the temples.

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    1. I also do not think that gog makes games easier. As you noted, often there are different versions of a game around, and gog has to decide, which one it will make available.

      As I understood it, this is also what is said in the second to last paragraph.

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    2. I remember an interview with Guido Henkel where he mentioned that Sir Tech made some of these changes in the English version. But I never found that interview again.

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    3. Yeah, I recall the English version had some changes

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    4. I suppose you're right about GOG not really having a history of adjusting programming. I guess we'll see what the English reviews say.

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    5. My recent experience with RoA1's Gog version was very similar: I had no need for extra boots or utensils, temperature was never a problem, and my characters got sick only once or twice during my playthrough.

      Gog staff themselves probably don't do much or any engineering to the game code, but sometimes they do include community patches in their games. Fallout 2 and Gothic 3 are two examples that come to mind. What kind of patches RoA1 comes with, that I don't know.

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    6. According to the following link, they try to fix the games:

      https://www.pcgamer.com/gogs-10-year-journey-to-bring-old-games-back-to-life/

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    7. Thanks a lot for that article! It is definitely worth reading. I already knew about the difficulties they often have to get the rights of a game, and I also knew that they were optimizing dos box parameters game-specifically, but they are basically doing even more.

      It does not sound like they would make a game easier (they insist that they keep the original experience and do not try to improve the game). But they do things like applying community patches or fixing a bug that would randomly appear at a certain level position and require a level restart.

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    8. Just saw that commenter paradox above already mentioned the community patches.

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  3. Always great with the reviews. I hope you don´t make too many changes to the blog. I´m sure we all agree it´s great to see so many pc role playing games thrashed out here with plenty of revelations.

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  4. Gratulations.

    Hope you have more fun with the second one.

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  5. The broken (half) wheel is the symbol of Boron, god of death. For someone with DSA knowledge (or who remembered the gods from the manual) the riddle is therefore pretty easy, but it's possible to solve without that knowledge.

    Orcs started out as monsters in the first edition, but have subsequently become a normal, while often antagonistic, race in subsequent editions.

    I think you wore the rings correctly. I think the sequel has separate slots for rings. It's been too long. Some rings are magical, some are purely decorative (for selling). Analyze all Arcane Things tells you exactly what they do - it's Arkania's version of Identify.

    The Hetman alludes to your quest at the beginning of the game - find the sword, and demonstrate it to the Orcs so that they lose their moral and scatter. You still have to find the Orc cave to find out about their gathering place. If you don't solve the quest by the time mentioned in the battle plans, the game ends with the Orcs invading Thorwal (but, in this alternative turn of events, the Svelt valley is saved :) ).

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    1. I was thinking something had gotten lost in translation, as I couldn't tell how half a wheel spells "the end" of anything, except for maybe a road trip. Not sure how Chet arrived at that answer without the requisite insider knowledge. I would have had to just look it up, because never would I ever guess that.

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    2. My first guess was wheel, with a total lack of insider knowledge. I can't say that I was entirely sure of the interpretation given the last bit, but if I'd been playing the game I would have at least tried that option before moving on to others. Perhaps Chet did the same?

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    3. Before I read how the lore tied into it, my thought was that broken wheels referred to a carriage wheel breaking and spilling the contents.

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    4. I was going with love, or something a little more metaphorical. Never in a million years would I have guessed wheel.

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    5. I just mentally went through a list of objects that could be said to "move" anything else and imagined snapping them in half. All of them became shorter, stubbier versions of what they already were, but none of them killed the entire process. Then I imagined a wheel broken in half--like on a cart--and pictured the whole thing grinding to a halt. I couldn't think of anything else that worked except maybe CONVEYOR BELT, which doesn't really have a medieval feel.

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    6. "When I left the caves, I had looted a half moon disk"

      I wondered if this was a hint to the riddle. But sounds like it would have been the wrong order.

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    7. According to the fan page I mentioned in some comments, the "half moon disk" has no purpose in the game. It probably was intended to, because the official solution book said it would be required for the final battle, but people who analyzed it in very detail, said it has no effect.

      The half moon disk (red moon disk in the German version) is no creation of Blade of Destiny, but part of the RoA universe. It is the symbol of the Orkish idol Tairach.

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    8. Like Anon, I struggled with the "Wheel" answer, but eventually I imagined that "all things" was slightly overstated, since many things have a "heel" on one end, and "heel" is "Wheel" with at least a portion taken away, so one could imagine that taking away a portion of "Wheel," it becomes their (lower) end.

      Nice to hear the "Boron" logic, which is so much more sensible than my imaginings :)

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    9. I think the logic to the riddle is based more on lore, the half-moon being the symbol of the Orcish god of death in RoA, I think. The half-moon is the wheel snapped in half.

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  6. As for the attack/parry values, I've checked how the display works. The attack/parry values for "axe" already have the armor penalties factored in. You can see this as you equip and remove armor pieces while the dialog is open.

    The "present" value, in addition, includes a penalty for the equipped weapon. A sword has no penalties, so the values for "sword" and "present" are the same. Axes are more difficult to handle, and come with a penalty to attack and parry. Each weapon has different modifiers, but the manual only gives a rough indication how hard a weapon is to use and how much damage it does.

    If you equip Grimring, you'll see that is actually gives a bonus to attack and parry. Daspota, on the other hand, has a magical Orc hook which does fantastic damage, but decreases your parry value by 8. I've said before that you can check these values with Analyze all Arcane Things, but I think that might have been wrong - it only shows magical properties.

    I'm not ruling out that there are bugs in the game when it comes to these calculations, but the difference you see between "axe" and "present" are probably explained by a hatchet not being a particularly elegant and easy to handle weapon according to the DSA rules.

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    1. The cluebook that comes with the GOG version of the game has a table with the weapons and the corresponding modifiers. That should have been in the manual if you ask me - comparing weapons properly without that is nearly impossible. But of course, many of the original player would have had that information already from the P&P

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    2. Yeah, that seems to be the main problem with this game that it only really plays lip service to the players who didn't play the original RPG. There's a lot I really like about this game, but without the internet and the cluebook, I would have been totally lost. And even with these things, there's details that I'm missing that end up being in the rulebooks.

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  7. "Daspota turned out to have an old man who claimed to have a piece of the map"

    Wasn't that just a map to the Despota treasure? There's no mention of him in the spoiler walkthrough.

    "When both bad and good things happen, it would be nice to know exactly what skill or attribute checks, if any, you passed or failed in that moment. I know that no game really gives you that kind of feedback, but I felt its want here more than other places."

    Huh? Unless I'm misunderstanding something here, many RPGs have that option these days. Fallout series, Atom, Pillars of Eternity, etc. all tell you how many points you need right there in the responses, and the latter even shows what reputation or skill check caused that particular dialogue branch to appear.

    Sure, I certainly can't remember any game that does it from the '90s, but it seems common nowadays.

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    1. Also, at least in that particular skillcheck that is captioned, all the information is in the manual: trap evasion is governed by Physical Control (Danger Sense governs trap detection, while Perception, stuff like secret doors), which requires a roll of Courage, Intuition and Agility (Dexterity in DSA means manual dexterity).

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  8. You wouldn´t be taking screen shots from mobygames, would you perchance? Ha ha just kidding.
    I´m back lackeys and slackers! Brou-ha ha.

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    1. What does that even mean? If you're going to start trouble, at least make sense about it.

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    2. Hah. Failtroll!

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  9. Yeah that version must have had some changes, as the version I had as a kid you had to kill every Orc in the final battle, not just the champion. It was tough to do and keep everyone alive.

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    1. That happens only when you use a spell or when any other character gets involved in the fight. I'm sure I only had to fight the Orc champion even in the German version.

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    2. In my case they always approached and attacked the other party members, and the champion, Even before I took a turn. So its not just that.

      And if I used a spell the person just died right there.

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  10. I was not involved in the discussion when the terms "worm tunnel" and "razor" were defined to describe dungeon layouts, so forgive me if this was already brought up, but why not just call them "block" and "line"?

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    1. Perhaps because the latter are a bit dry, lacking in metaphorical flavor, and don't refer back to whichever post in which he described the two major formats.

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  11. I admit I haven't been reading the posts about this game super closely, but this ending felt kind of abrupt.

    Also a "kukris" isn't totally made up; a kukri is a type of machete originating in India, used as both a tool and a weapon. A "kris" is another type of weapon from Indonesia, or that part may be a reference to the "crys knife" from Dune.

    Or I'm totally wrong and "kukris" is an invention either of this game or the translators.

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    1. "Kukris" sounds rather naughty and very painful.

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    2. I'm pretty sure they just meant the multiple of kukri. Many pen and paper roleplaying games included the kukri knife used by the Gurkha. Because weapons used by certified bad***es are cool. Also the unusual design makes it distinctive (bend in the middle with a heavier tip end).

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    3. Kukri are good in NWN. They have a really wide critical hit range, which makes them well-suited for a dual wielding weapon master.

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    4. I think this is a translation error: in the game "kukris" is a strong venom and there exists a dagger-like weapon (a mengbilar which is a geographic reference in game world context) that can be filled with it. Probably a pre-filled instance of that weapon was looted.

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    5. In Star Trail at least, there's a "Kukris-Mengbilar" (in the German version) that applies one dose of Kukris to whatever you hit with it - one time only. After that, it's a regular Mengbilar, which is an unimpressive but very stylish pointy-type weapon.

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  12. "Here, you see Halbermann equipped with a hatchet ..."
    Did you forget to post the corresponding screenshot ?

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    1. Yeah. Wow. I could have sworn I remember loading it in there while I was writing that.

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  13. "The encounter led to the desultory Sienna saying, "Let's move on" as I screamed "NO!" at the computer."

    I had the very same reaction. I wonder what the developers were thinking when they coded that encounter.

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    1. There's nothing more frustrating in a book or movie when everyone refuses to even listen to one character. It's even worse in a game where you're ostensibly supposed to be in control of the characters!

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  14. For anyone interested Matt Barton did a 4-part interview with Guido Henkel a few years ago on his youtube channel (ep. 216-219). In ep. 218 they talk about RoA 1+2

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  15. As for the "wyvern", the translators dropped the ball just a bit:

    In the original game the stinky creature in the cave is called "Tatzelwurm", and it's a lesser relative of dragons, but lacks all the things that make them cool: it can't fly, breathe fire or do any other magic, and its hoard is generally quite underwhelming. On the other hand, it emits a noxious stench that can not only nauseate an opponent, but stick to them for weeks after the encounter. From the perspective of an adventurer (who has no concept of "experience points"), it's the kind of monster that's probably not worth the trouble fighting.

    Here's an unofficial picture: https://www.deviantart.com/pechschwinge/art/Aventuria-Bestiary-Tatzelwurm-581427798

    The second "wyvern" that flew over your party's heads was a very different creature, of the kind called "Riesenlindwurm" in the original. These are proper dragons – indeed some of the largest in Aventuria, even though their intelligence and magic ability is mediocre. Their most distinctive feature is that they have three heads, which explains the six eyes. Killing one of those or plundering their hoard would be a very profitable mission, but also a suicidal one for all but the most skilled and best prepared parties.

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    1. That really was bothering me, so thank you very much for this explanation. Maybe I’ll play the next one in the original German.

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    2. This still has a bit of a problem where this kind of description of these dragon-like creatures is only really within the source books so even though the original German would let you know they're different creatures, it still relies on you knowing the RPG to understand why the adventurers have that reaction. Pretty poor writing, which is a shame as otherwise it's a good encounter and detail.

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    3. Tatzelwurm and Lindwurm are not original to DSA, so a German player might be somewhat familiar with them even when not knowing the source books. The Lindwurm being more well-known because Siegfried and the Nibelungen saga. The Tatzelwurm is more of a southern German/Alpine thing, I hadn't heard of it before.

      Tatzelwurm and Lindwurm are the two dragons you fight in "Drachen von Laas", so maybe this was a reference to the earlier Attic game.

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  16. Hi!. What happened with the gimlet and final thoughts for this game?

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  17. The only thing I remember about this game is hating it after its save process managed to corrupt my hard drive. Still don't quite know what happened but I had to reinstall the OS, DOS/3.1 at the time I think.

    Glad to see you managed to complete it, I never had the patience to try again.

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  18. My memory of the latter-day Obsidian RPGS (Pillars of Eternity 1 & 2, and Tyranny) is that, after enabling an option in the Settings menu, they give you full details of what skills are being tested, when a high skill has enabled a special result, and what options would be available to you if you had additional skills (or backgrounds).

    None of those games roll dice against skills - either the skill is high enough or it isn't. I have many complaints about the combat interface of those games, but the non-combat interface was nigh-perfect.

    I feel like the Divinity Original Sin games also have this option, deactivated by default but available in the menus, and I *think* the Beamdog Enhanced Editions of the Infinity Engine games also have some version of this though it may be incomplete.

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