Saturday, February 19, 2022

Phalsberg: Sans Indice

Visiting the city of Cham Nahm.
Until I get out of this rut, we're just going to have to have short entries. It'll be like the early days of this blog, when I'd write 250 words and say, "Hell, yeah! Post it!" 
Commenters came through with the manual for Phalsberg. It cleared up some of the game's mechanics. Without it, I would have been perpetually confused as to some of the commands. Now I know that THRO(w) doesn't throw an item as a missile but instead throws it away. CLIM(b) is used to mount a horse, not scale a tree. ATTA(ch) is specifically for attaching your horse's reins to a fixed object so it won't escape. PICK applies not to locks but to fruits and vegetables. MATE(realize) means "resurrect." Still, a lot of commands are left unexplained, and I still don't know what the difference is between EXAM(ine) and SEAR(ch), nor whether the latter is to search a place or to search for a specific item.
The small game world.
I spent some time mapping the game world. It's only 52 x 36. It wraps. There are two continents. I'll need a boat to get from one to the other, but the exploration window is so large that I can map most of the second continent from what I can see from the first.
The starting continent has eight locations. I explored them all. I'll relate what I experienced there below, but let me handle NPC hints as a group. This is what I've discovered from repeatedly asking questions of NPCs. This is an annoying process because you have to repeatedly go into the QUES(tion) menu and half the time the NPC says something like, "I don't feel like telling you," forcing you to go back and choose it again until you get a hint or a hard "I don't know." The process is also annoying because you can't scroll up on the question list. If you accidentally miss the question you wanted to ask, you have to cancel out of the menu and hit QUES again. 
With who again?
As we go through these, keep in mind that my stated goal is to find the crown, scarab, and scepter, and then to find King Philoxal. But the question list lets you ask about other things before you've even heard about them. There are 25 questions, but I'll condense things by organizing them by topic:
  • Scepter. The great sorceress Roxane might be able to help me. The Amazons will guide me thanks to the Love Potions of Astrud.
  • Crown. At the heart of the Tarantic Ocean, I will find a reply to my question. Someone named Metrax apparently has it. Metrax is a mercenary working for Blackstar; he shares his plunders with the needy. To find the crown, I will need the Sword of Airain. I don't know if this is the same as the Bronze Sword, but if it is, an old magician possesses it.
  • Scarab. It is located in the Forbidden Cities. The sorceress Roxane might be able to help me.
  • Philoxal. He is reportedly "unfindable."
  • Key. In the Daccic desert, perhaps in possession of the Amazons. That must be on the second continent. I can see desert patches from the first. 
A clue in an endless selection of questions.
  • Map. In the sanctuary of Cham Nahm. With it, I will go in search of the Lens of the Astrolabe.
  • Lens. It is in the Forest of Sylvius.
  • Forbidden Cities. The crystal will give me admission to the Forbidden Cities, but no one yet knows how to make the crystal. 
  • Amyrthe. I still don't know who or what he or she is, but I should find him or her by going to the Sanctuary of Tallin with a cross.
  • Blackstar. He is reportedly "unfindable."
Now, onto the locations. Not all of them are marked. I don't know that I found all of them on the first continent, but I found all that were in obvious places, like the ends of roads that otherwise led nowhere.

  • The Clairvoyant Commune. Nothing special here. One of the clairvoyants answered some of the questions.
  • Cemetery of Url. I couldn't get anything to happen at all.
  • Castle of Blackstar: Nothing but enemies.
  • Magician Karob: When I asked about the crown, he drew the letters METRAX on the ground and gave me a bronze sword. (I didn't TAKE it at first and later had to return for it.) I also found a magic balsam here, whatever that does. The manual alerted me that the way to spend accumulated experience is to LEAR(n) in front of magicians. When I did that, he took my 82 experience and gave me 41 more dexterity, 41 more intelligence, and 41 more charisma.
My new attributes.
  • Abyss of Plaxel: Seems to be a deep cave, but I couldn't find anything there.
  • Cham Nahm. A city or town with several locations to enter. The hint said that I'd find the map in the sanctuary, so I went there and searched and examined every object there but I couldn't find a damned thing.
  • Forest of Sylvius: I couldn't find the lens despite it supposedly being here.
  • Phalsberg. The town had a temple, grocery, house, sanctuary, and tavern. The temple had an altar with a key, a chest, and a gold pentagram on it. A cleric stood guard. If I tried to take the key, a stone rolled and crushed me. The house belongs to the magician Astrud. I couldn't get her to say anything about love potions, nor did she offer one for sale. There was a revitalization potion sitting in her house, and I took it.
I wonder if Astrud is tall, and tan, and young, and lovely.
As I moved from place to place, I was attacked by a variety of creatures like goblins, vampires, guards, and tigers. I dodged most of their attacks and killed them in one blow. Combat is thus far a superfluous part of the game. Moving also depletes energy, but I rested occasionally to restore it. You can also restore it by eating and drinking, which also restores strength. Resting restores more energy but less strength.
Attacked by something.
I discovered that while I can never find a way to loot a slain enemy's purse, I can STEA(l) it before I kill him.
As I was preparing to wrap this up as a short entry, I found that disembarking from one continent to the other is simply a matter of moving to the coast and waiting for the message that you see a boat, then choosing EMBA(rk). I met hydras and mermaids on the waves.
"Rocked by the Blue Waves of the Sea" would be a good song title.
I sailed to the second continent and started going through its locations:
  • Cabin of Pescaris: The fisherman was there, but he had nothing to offer.
  • Cave of the Mercenaries: A corpse was on the ground surrounded by pieces of gold. When I tried to take the gold, I found they were poisoned. An inscription on the wall was in Kalvorian: "To the poorest of the Kalvorians you will always give." I thought this might be Metrax, but all the searching and examining in the world got me nothing.
  • Cabin of the Fisher Shimann. Ditto Pescaris.
  • Manor of Philoxal. It was abandoned. I found nothing.
The view of Philoxal's cabin.
  • Sorcerer Ephidas: He had no new answers to my questions, but I exchanged some more experience.
  • Village of Bringstown. Had a cemetery, armorer, house, and tavern. The armorer sold a food ration, rope, gun, and dagger. I bought all of them. The house belonged to the sorceress Roxane. But she had nothing new to say. When I asked about the scarab, she said, "I can inform you," but then told me nothing. I tried giving her gold, but to no avail.
She was supposed to help me, but she put on the red light.
  • House of the Farmer Foutral. Found nothing.
  • Town of Tallin. The town had a cemetery, armorer, hotel, and house. The armorer sold a bow, gun, laser, and dagger. I bought the bow and laser. (There's no way to equip a specific weapon, so I assume that all I buy are adding to my effectiveness somehow.) The house was called "Hermine," and when I entered, a message said, "The power of Hermine will be of a big help to you." Despite this promise, the clairvoyant inside the house was no help.
  • Cave of the Hanging Wolf. As far as I can tell, there was nothing there.
My inventory at the end of this session.
The desert in the center of the continent was labeled "Daccic Desert," but I couldn't find any Amazons or anything that would indicate a key. There were new enemies on the continent, including snakes, tarantulas, and skeletons, none any harder than the easy enemies on the first continent.
Thus, I'm stuck. There's either a mechanic that I'm not seeing or the solutions to these puzzles are buried somewhere in the labyrinth of menu options. Either way, I'll give it a couple more hours and move on if I find nothing.
Times so far: 6 hours



  1. I just wanted to applaud the Astrud Gilberto reference. Always worth reading the screenshot captions.

    1. Most of Chet's song references whizz right over my head. But I did catch Roxane and the red light one.

  2. The “balsam” is probably a healing item of some kind - that’s where the modern “balm” comes from. I’m hard-pressed to see where or how that would help very much given the many mysteries the game presents, though!

  3. Never played this game, but the Cave of the Mercenaries puzzle seems pretty obvious. How much gold were you carrying when you searched the body?

    1. A fair amount. I see what you're getting at, but I don't know. That seems sophisticated for this game.

  4. Oh, these were the times. In a modern rpg you must be blind to not find your quest destination, but in the good old times you didn't even know what the commands meant. Yay to Retro I say :-)

  5. Steal instead of looting? You solved othe carried purses mystery!

    Otherwise, I got stuck at the same point in the "plot" and moved on.

    1. Ugh. I think you were my last hope.

    2. I remember I went to Calamine's home and I slept until force and reflexes reached their maximum. Subsequently, I fought enemies and stole their purses (apparently I found that out, two years ago) until I accumulated enough money and experience, then spend them to raise intelligence, charisma and protection.

      With maximum charisma and intelligence, almost no character will still answer "I don't feel like telling you".

      It is still a chore...

  6. The instruction manual suggests that Amazons are a random encounter in the Daccic desert (similar to randomly encountering non-hostile NPCs). Maybe they aren't a fixed encounter, but something you have to stumble upon randomly?

    1. Maybe, but I think I need to solve the mystery of getting the potion from Astrud. I have an idea about that, so we'll see for next time.

  7. You mapped the whole thing? The French pdf documentation (I wonder where I saved it) included the world map. See here:

    Also, the English manual lacks the page that brags about the qualities of the game author. Do you remember David Bradley's Wizardry 6 manual?


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