Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Serpent Isle: Charmed, I'm Sure

She even looks a bit like Irene.
The last update ended with the party emerging from Furnace, back on the main island for the first time in a couple dozen hours. My first goal is to head to Monitor, just to the east, and use the training points my characters have accumulated. Alas, I soon run out of money. The pikemen's bodies I return to the crematorium get me some cash, but only enough to train two characters. I put the only money changer in town in jail on my previous visit.
Up at the Sleeping Bull, I can't remember who changed my money before, but he's no longer there. So to get enough monetari to train, I'm going to need to return to Moonshade or find whoever changes money in Fawn.
"But you still have to pay me, of course."
No one in Monitor or the Sleeping Bull has much new to say. Ensorcio is willing to sell me some spells, but I don't have the money to pay him, either (most of my wealth is tied up in gems). There's a gleeman in the inn named Byrin; either I missed him during my previous visit or he didn't show up until recently. He has a bunch of songs to sing and tales to tell, most of which he requests a tip after telling. I learn a few things from him:
  • He speaks of the Gwani, the "northern savages," who look like men but are covered in fur. Everyone has described them as fierce and vicious, but a verse in Xenka's prophecy said that I'd doom the world if I attacked them. I should probably stop wearing cloaks made out of their skin before I encounter them.
  • He tells the tale of the three serpents. The fire (chaos) and ice (order) serpents continually warred but were held in check by the serpent of earth (balance). But when something happened to the serpent of earth, the war waged out of control and the land was destroyed. We've had hints of all of this before. My working thesis is that the whole thing started when Exodus somehow yanked the Serpent of Balance from its realm and forced it to guard the entrance to his castle.
  • He speaks of the land having once been ruled by two kings, one old, one young. When the young king abandoned his people, the old king went insane, killed his people, and threw himself from White Dragon Tower.
The greater revelation concerns the "young king" who abandoned his people and his lover, who I gather was the White Dragon King's daughter. Shamino is shaken by the story and demands to know the missing king's name. Byrin confirms that it was Lord Shamino. This isn't much of a revelation if you've played Ultima, where Shamino is one of the two rulers of the Lands of Danger and Despair. Shamino's reaction is odd, as if the events are so long ago that he himself doesn't really remember who he was or what he did. The reactions of Dupre and Iolo ("It can't be!"; "There must be some mistake!") suggest that they didn't know this aspect of Shamino's history. I remind you that while the Ultima materials explicitly state that Dupre and Iolo came from Earth originally, Shamino is supposed to be a native Sosarian, and nothing so far has accounted for his unnaturally long life.
Did you wear that hat while you were king, Shamino?
I'm sure we'll hear more about all of these subjects later. For now, we decide it's time to explore Fawn. Actually, we first figure out the destination of the serpent's tooth that we found in Monitor. It takes us to . . . Monitor. While messing around with the portals, I am reminded that we never found a way to open the locked door between the Furnace teleportal pad and the dungeon itself, so I'll be making another pass through the dungeon after Fawn.
My excitement about a new teleport pad lasted a few seconds.
As we head towards Fawn, I set a goal to try to find a use for all of the spells in the spellbook. Here's a quick report on Level 1 spells:
  • "Create Food": I've used it several times already. It creates about 4 food items on the ground. Useful.
  • "Cure": Also already used a few times, though I favor red potions if I have them. It cures poison delivered by snakes, swamps, and other sources. Important but not vital, since you can wait out poison.
Reviewing Level 1 spells.
  • "Detect Trap": I used it in the Mountains of Freedom and will probably continue to use it sporadically on chests, but chest traps are survivable and reagents are expensive and rare. Useful.
  • "Great Ignite": I use it for the first time as we enter Fawn. It automatically lights two lamps at the end of the bridge. I could have just double-clicked on them. Honestly, I can't think of a single reason to ever use this spell. I'm going to rate this "Worthless" unless some specific circumstance comes along.
Well, that was a waste of good reagents.
  • "Light": Saves you from having to carry torches. Vital until you have "Great Light," then worthless.
  • "Locate": I would have thought it would duplicate the sextant, but it's worse than that. It just tells you where you are. Worthless, unless there's some circumstance later where I'll be confused about that.
  • "Telekinesis": Activates switches and such from a distance. Vital for solving at least one puzzle in the Mountains of Freedom; slightly useful in other situations.
I should note that I don't have one Level 1 spell--probably something Mortegro sold.
As we've previously learned, Fawn is dedicated to the "virtue" of Beauty. Is ruled by Lady Yelinda, said to be the most beautiful woman. Three Great Captains (Garth, Joth, and Voldin) serve as her advisors, and the Priestess of Beauty, Kylista, reports on the "revelations" of the Oracle in the temple. The city's economy is based on fishing--an odd pairing with Beauty--and thus has been suffering from the devastating storms. All of the ships have been destroyed, as has the city's lighthouse.
Fawn's palace . . . where no one is ever found, and nothing ever happens.
A group of emissaries from the Fellowship arrived shortly before we did, but their teachings grated with the city's dogma, and they were soon blamed for the storms and exiled. As we arrive, a storm is blasting the central square with lightning. People slowly return after it disappears.
Geographically, the city is probably meant to evoke Venice. It is built atop the water, with buildings situated on platforms connected by white brick walkways. The building interiors are tidy and richly-furnished. 
I'd pay a lot for this view.
It takes us two days to make an initial circuit of the city, talking to the various townsfolk. Findings:
  • Jorvin, Captain of the Guard, thanks us for liberating Fawn Tower and gives us a lot of background on the city. He carries the Wand of Detainment.
  • Olon, a fisherman, asks Iolo for a song. (We meet him outside, but all his dialogue suggests that he thinks we're in a tavern.) He tells us more about the fate of the King of the White Dragon. Olon says he drove away the other king (Shamino) and was thus left without allies when a goblin horde invaded his lands. Anticipating defeat, his mind broke. He invited all his people to a party and murdered them. Now the castle is haunted and the goblins won't go near it. Iolo sings him a sad ballad about the missing Gwenno.
  • Delin runs the provisions shop. He has been cripplingly absent-minded since he lost his wife, Elissa, and the magister of Moonshade kidnapped his son, Freli. He says that he lost a stack of filari during a teleport storm, and the amount we have is exactly what he lost. But the meat that replaced it is long gone.  
I give Delin his filari back, but . . .
  • Alyssand is Delin's daughter. We've already met her in the Fellowship outcasts' camp. Her fiancĂ©, a fisherman named Keth, disappeared during a storm. Lacking direction, she has fallen into the clutches of the Fellowship. She reminds us here that she's with a rebel group called the Cause, which seeks to free Fawn from the orthodoxy of Beauty.
  • Delphynia sells reagents and vegetables. I met her previously when she sold me the herbs that cured my poison. She thinks she's responsible for the storms because she fell in love with Ruggs. She won't sell us reagents unless we catch her in her gardens, but she never seems to be there.
  • Zulith is the chancellor. I've apparently met him before, but I don't remember. He assists Lady Yelinda and arranges her schedule. He also exchanges money. I delay on this because I don't know how much I'm actually going to buy in Fawn. He intimates that it might be a while before we can get an audience with Yelinda, but our work at Fawn Tower should speed up the process. He thought the city might be overrun with goblins until we saved the tower.
  • Great Captain Voldin is in charge of city security. He thanks us for dealing with the goblins, who killed the town's healer, Seth. He thinks the storms have been sent by the gods because they allowed the Fellowship emissaries to enter the city. He thinks the solution is to return to Beauty's Truth: "All good people are beautiful." He seems to be a bit of a misogynist; he makes a couple of asides suggesting that he thinks women can't be trusted.
That question is a bit difficult to parse, Voldin.
  • Great Captain Garth, the youngest of the Great Captains, comes from a family of wealthy traders. He's actually never been to sea. Described by the others as a skirt-chaser, he nonetheless comes across as intelligent and compassionate when we talk to him. Yelinda has tasked him with finding some way for the city to prosper without its ships, a task he worries is hopeless. He says that Joth, Voldin, and Kylista are the real power in town. He thinks that Voldin and Kylista have somehow corrupted the Oracle to say what they want it to say. He's not particularly obsessed with Beauty and thinks that Ruggs is a good man.
  • Great Captain Joth suffered an injury while heroically protecting the town one night after a storm zapped away the lighthouse, replacing it with a "strange haunted building." He ordered his ship to anchor at the mouth of the bay and flash its own lights, but his ship ran aground and injured his back. He was pulled from sea duty and given a place on the great council. I hear about him before the events below but never actually run into him.
  • Jendon runs the Broken Oar, the town's inn and tavern. His business has been suffering since there are no more sailors. Like Harnna in Monitor and Bucia in Moonshade, he has dialogue options on all the people in town and local places, but only a certain number before he won't talk again for a while.
  • Kylista, Priestess of Beauty, I find hanging out in the tavern. She interprets the divine words of the Oracle, which was created by the mages of Old Sosaria. We won't hear one of these revelations, as she's closed the Oracle to outsiders. She agrees that the storms are a punishment from the heavens for hanging out with the Fellowship group, and she advocates wiping them out to return to the gods' favor. She thinks Voldin should be Yelinda's only advisor. I have no options to ask her about the breastplate that appeared in my inventory, but I find a suit of magic armor in a chest of drawers in her house and replace it with the plate that Dupre has been carrying.
One of the best recoveries so far.
  • Yelinda is the ruler of Fawn. The first time we talk with her, we catch her sleeping in her home at 10:00 in the morning. She doesn't have anything new to say about the city, and she comes across as a bit of an airhead. 
"It somehow doesn't bother me that you're in my bedchamber."
  • Some guy named Kalen, dressed like a sailor, starts attacking us while we're exploring. We hit him a few times and he dies, but not before indicating that he works for Batlin. 
At some point during our explorations, Jorvin approaches and says that Lady Yelinda wishes to hear the songs of the honored bard, Iolo, and we should attend her in the throne room after noon. I'm not really sure what building he means, as there are two buildings labeled PALACE, each with their own thrones. It turns out to be the northern one. We arrive shortly after noon. Yelinda has somehow heard about the ballad that Iolo sang to Olon. She gives Iolo a white diamond necklace to give to Gwenno when he finds her.
250 years old, and Dupre still hasn't learned how to "read the room."
She then--despite the lack of any obvious source of drinks--calls for a toast to Beauty. We drink. She  toasts to Love and to Queen Fawn, "who founded our fine society." We drink again. Then Dupre has to be an idiot and propose a toast to Lord British. She immediately orders Jorvan to "lock that criminal away and call for a speedy trial" and execution. Before we know it, Jorvan has blasted us with the Wand of Detainment, and we all fall unconscious. 
I awake at the inn, with everyone but Dupre next to me. A scroll on my bedside table reads: "Thou art required at the temple for trial." We hustle up there, and the trial begins as soon as we double-click on the doors. Somehow, we end up in the accused's box along with Dupre. A huge Oracle statue watches the proceedings from the front of the room. Kylista pronounces the charges as "inciting rebellion against Lady Yelinda" and "allegiance to that archfiend, Beast British."
Yelinda declines to conduct the questioning herself ("I fear the witnesses might be tempted to spare my sensibilities"), so Voldin agrees to do it. Jorvin announces that for the purposes of the trial, "unsavory characters"--namely, the representatives of the Fellowship--have been allowed to enter the city. I'm sure this will go well.
These two are supposed to be the most beautiful women in Fawn? Yikes.
Delphynia is the first witness. She relates how we consulted her for a leaf to counteract poison, to which Voldin ties the most tenuous thread to "Beast British" and dismisses her. Leon, the Fellowship leader, is next. He only manages to get out that he met with Dupre in the Fellowship camp before Voldin dismisses him for trying to proselytize. The addled Delin is third, but he doesn't even remember meeting Dupre.
Voldin then calls on Yelinda to relate what happened. She lies outright, recalling Dupre as saying: "Curse you all, and Beast British shall drink thy blood." Dupre protests. Yelinda suggests they spare him "further embarrassment" since the conclusion is foregone, and Voldin agrees. Dupre asks what I recommend. I tell him to continue. Next, Ruggs is called, admits to having met Dupre, and is immediately dismissed. He shouts his love for Delphynia on the way out, while she sits still and mutters, "I can't."
"And he did pry into everybody's NAME and JOB."
Kylista testifies that she found our lack of understanding of Beauty "appalling." She thinks the Fellowship is "an invention of Beast British, by which he means to destroy us!" Jorvin testifies that he's been following us around, and we've been entering buildings where we don't belong and opening drawers and barrels without permission. I wonder if that's just an assumption as to how most players will play or if it really is tailored to our actions. Voldin idiotically interprets this as us searching for our souls, which we sold to "Beast British." Jendon testifies that we asked a bunch of questions about the people in town. Alyssand testifies that we mysteriously had her missing engagement ring. Voldin naturally interprets all these things in the worst possible way.
Scots, the cartographer, is called, but he gets no further than defending the beliefs of the Fellowship and the nobility of Lord British than he's expelled. I'm not sure why he's not put on trial, since he said as much in favor of Lord British as Dupre did. This whole island just sucks.
As often as Sosaria/Britannia is reconfigured by some calamity, I'm surprised Scots isn't on the Fortune 500 list.
Kylista calls a recess until tomorrow before we hear Dupre's defense. Dupre names me as his counsel. A guard takes Dupre away. I'm tempted to let him go to the headsman's block for being such a moron. I suddenly wonder what would have happened if Dupre hadn't been in the party. I reloaded an earlier save, kicked him out, and visited Yelinda without him. All that happens is Shamino has his lines instead. If you kick out Shamino, it's Iolo--and you can't visit Yelinda without Iolo, so there's no way to stop the offense from occurring. 
Acquitted of being an idiot? I'm not that good.
I decide to start heading around town to see what support I can muster, but I'm no more than a couple blocks away when Alyssand runs up and hands me a key. It's to Dupre's cell, beneath the temple. "One of the temple guards is sympathetic to our Cause," she explains. "If thou dost explore the temple tonight, I can arrange for the guards to be absent." 
For fun, I tried to screw up this part of the game, and I don't think it's possible. No matter how many days pass, the trial won't re-commence until you've used the key. 
I forget about the "tonight" part and head down during the day, but there are no guards either way. Dupre is in a cell, but the key doesn't open the cell--just the door to the stairs. I can't interact with Dupre. I note with some amusement they've left him a bucket of water and a pile of food, but also a corpse on his bedding.
Have you been sleeping with the charred, twisted body or the skull?
A switch opens a door leading to a stairway up. Here, we find Voldin meddling with a row of five levers. "The levers have been set," he says, "and the traitor's fate is sealed." Suddenly realizing we're not Kylista, he attacks us. I don't know why so many evil-doers in this game think they'll prevail with one-on-four odds, but Voldin doesn't even come close.
Says the man conspiring with the Priestess.
I start fiddling with the levers myself. Each one is trapped and damages me when I pull it. When I pull the fifth lever, the Oracle comes to life: "What does thou wish, Master?" I ask for a revelation. The Oracle says that at the end of the trial, she has been told to say that Dupre is guilty of consorting with daemons, that the Avatar is also guilty, and that both need to be executed. "Change revelation," I say, and have three options: "He is innocent"; "The trial is corrupted"; and "Make no change."
I go with "The trial is corrupted." The Oracle is thrilled: "I have waited many years for this moment. I thank thee, Master!" Upon further inquiry, she relates that the Great Captains have been controlling her for a long time. "At last, I can speak the Truth."
But . . . you're still speaking what I told you to speak.
I crash in a random bed--no one actually seems to use their houses in this town--and return to the temple. As the second day commences, Yelinda questions where Voldin and Kylista are. Zuilth says he doesn't know, and that Captain Jorvin is also missing. Yelinda kicks things off in Kylista's place. I'm told I can call anyone in Dupre's defense, but Zulith clarifies that doesn't include the Fellowship members, who haven't been allowed back in the city after their performance yesterday.
My options are Delphynia, Joth, Delin, Garth, Jendon, Zulith, Olon, and Yelinda herself. I go through the list. Delphynia testifies that Dupre drinks too much, is a braggart, and fancies himself a ladies' man. "Dupre doth have an evil heart," she concludes. Not a good beginning. Joth testifies that he's never even met Dupre, which is fair. Delin does a pretty good job. He points out that we returned the engagement ring, and the storms are probably why it disappeared in the first place. He also wants Dupre to marry Alyssand, but Dupre remarks that she's not "lively enough," whatever that means.
I call Garth, expecting his support, but he testifies that Iolo is the most disagreeable man he ever met. At first, I think the game is glitching, but Olon points out that the trial is about Dupre, not Iolo. Garth nonetheless "stands by his statement." He has worse things to say about Lord British, and he concludes by saying that Kylista is "too beautiful to be wrong." What a hypocrite.
Are you sure you're talking about Iolo?
Jendon says favorable things about Dupre, including that he can "out-drink any man in this town." Olon, who is drunk, says, "I love that man!" He recites a ribald song that Dupre taught him. I wonder when this all happened. My companions must get up to a lot of stuff while I'm sleeping.
Zulith is no help. I call Yelinda last and ask her about Dupre's exact words. She claims she doesn't remember, so Dupre repeats them. Distraught, Yelinda runs off the stage.
With all my "witnesses" exhausted, Yelinda proclaims the trial over. She asks for a ruling from the Oracle. "Dupre is innocent!" the Oracle proclaims. "Set him and his companions free!" She goes on to explain that the "true criminals" are Kylista and Voldin.
Yelinda, to her credit, apologizes. She gives Dupre the Crystal Rose of Love. Just then, Alyssand arrives with Jorvin. They announce that they've captured and imprisoned Kylista and that Voldin has been found dead. Kylista has already confessed to an evil conspiracy involving the levers. Yelinda praises the outcome and remarks that she has "much to learn about being a ruler." We're free to leave.
Yelinda conveniently forgets that she started this whole thing.
  • Jorvin must have already been convinced of Kylista's guilt. He clearly arrested her before the Oracle condemned her.
  • Dupre technically isn't innocent. He praised Lord British to Yelinda's face. The whole of Fawn still thinks Lord British is an evil usurper intent on destroying the city. It would have been nice if the Oracle had been clearer.
  • This whole episode seems to have been aimed at putting the Crystal Rose of Love in our hands. Its introduction here is just as clumsy as the Mirror of Truth in Moonshade.
I naturally have to know what happens with the other Oracle options. I reload and give it a try. If you "make no change," the Oracle says what Voldin told it to say, but right afterwards, Alyssand bursts in with Jorvin. They announce that they themselves entered the secret room and found Kylista operating the levers. Kylista arrives to dispute their claim, but Alyssand asks Yelinda to call on the Oracle for a new judgment. Yelinda does, and the Oracle says the same thing she says if you chose "The trial is corrupted." Everything else proceeds the same way from there.
If you choose "He is innocent," the Oracle proclaims: "Dupre is innocent! Gideon and his companions have no wish to destroy Beauty! Free them at once!" Yelinda apologizes and hands over the Rose, but there's no talk about Kylista being arrested. If you go talk to Alyssand in the Fellowship camp, she says that the Cause is doomed. "We somehow missed the last chance to expose Kylista and her minions for the hypocrites they truly are!" 
Any consequences for the rest of the game?
All in all, Fawn was the silliest of the three cities, but also the shortest. I can't find Zulith after the trial is over, so I sigh, walk back to Monitor, take the teleportal pad to Moonshade, visit Topo, sell my gems, visit Bucia, exchange all my riches for gold coins except for enough monetari to train, take the teleportal pad back to Monitor, sleep until morning, train my characters, walk to the Sleeping Bull, and pay Ensorcio every gold coin I have for his spells. It's not nearly enough, and I still need lots of reagents, so I hope my return trip to Furnace yields some more loot.
As I close out this session, Gideon and Dupre are Level 7, Shamino and Iolo are Level 6, and Boydon is Level 5. I've been training in a way that seeks to balance strength and dexterity. 
Boydon had a long way to go with dexterity when I found him. Even after 4 training sessions, there's a hefty imbalance.
I like NPC dialogue and prize it as a key part of the RPG experience, but I'm also slightly elated that--unless I'm mistaken--most of the talking is over. I'm sure there will be plenty more NPCs, but I doubt there will be entire cities of them. I'm ready for, in the words of Elvis, a little less conversation and a little more action, if you please.
Time so far: 44 hours


  1. "Have you been sleeping with the charred, twisted body or the skull?"
    Since it's Dupre, probably both if he's got enough drinks in him.

  2. If you don't kill Voldin, you can find him in jail after the trial (along with Kylista). Nothing super revelatory there, just more misogynist ranting.

    As you might have guessed, the testimony is based on which character is on trial. Delphynia likes Iolo, for instance.

    I like the Fawn plotline but of the three New Sosarian cities it's clear Fawn got the least attention. It's a really interesting map but mostly empty, and there's nothing much to do other than the trial. The trial is pretty cool for the time but it's unfortunate that it's all pretty much preordained. I love trial minigames in RPGs. I think the best one I've seen is the one in Neverwinter Nights 2.

    1. The NWN2 trial is great. Both times I played I stopped playing shortly afterwards though. The game feels needlessly long.

    2. It's sad that some of Obsidian's best moments are in an otherwise dull game.

      Will probably replay it soon. :D

    3. Going in the realm of JRPGs, Chrono Trigger has also a fairly memorable scam trial, where your actions early in the game influence (but not really) the outcome.

    4. I like NWN 2 mostly from the trial onward, it is mostly the first act that feels stretched. I especially disliked the long thieves/city guard conflict and the Owl's Well line. And of course, Mask of the Betrayer is a masterpiece.

    5. I've never played NWN2, but thinking about trials in games, I was reminded of SOME game that I played where a trial was judged by a panel of judges, and I had to get clues as to what types of arguments were most likely to persuade them so I could vary my strategy accordingly. For instance, a purely logical argument would work on one judge, but another one was more likely to rule on the basis of emotional arguments. I just can't remember what game this was.

    6. I think there was something similar in the planet Manaan in "Knights of the Old Republic".

    7. There was also something very much like that in Jade Empire, though it was not really a court trial, the judges were just determining who won a debate.

    8. I think Jade Empire is probably what I'm (mis)-remembering.

  3. Now that you have a spellbook Ensorcio will also sell spells, might be worth paying him a visit at the Sleeping Bull.

    What's interesting about the trial is that the witnesses have dialogue for each of the 3 companions being the accused.

    1. So quite a lot effort went into making that trial scene. But how is the imprisoned party member selected - is it always Dupre, if he is in the party, or is it random? I think I remember Iolo being under trial in my playthrough, but I'm not sure anymore.

    2. Always Dupre if he is there, there is a set priority.

    3. Joshua - Dupre if he's in the party, then Shamino, then Iolo if neither are in the party.

  4. He, another entry where I especially enjoyed the captions.

    In case it becomes relevant again, it was Devra, the inn-keeper, who exchanges money at the Sleeping Bull, including gold nuggets, gems, and jewelry.

  5. Does the sextant work in dungeons?

    "These two are supposed to be the most beautiful women in Fawn? Yikes."

    Given the portraits, I'd say they judge beauty by the size of the cleavage.

    1. These two are supposed to be the most beautiful women in Fawn? Yikes.

      The first time I played the game, I thought: "Did Americans in the early Nineties like women who looked like that? Yikes!"

      I am glad I was wrong.

    2. Most of the character portraits in both Ultimas VII are based on people who worked for Origin or people they knew. So I'm not going to cast any aspersions upon their appearance other than to note that the hairstyles were not particularly fashionable at the time, which suggests to me that the player's response was not meant to be "honk honk awoooga hubba hubba".

    3. They all have that "Austin SCA 30-40yo lady" look about them.

      Isn't it strange how you can just tell when video game portraits are of real people instead of the art team just drawing something?

    4. I lol'd at "honk honk awoooga hubba hubba".

    5. Audible laughter produced here too. I think a Kenny seal of approval(tm) would be in order.

  6. Do I remember vaguely the Avatar having the possibility to sleep with Kylista?

    1. If you show her the breastplate (I think you need Jendon to tell you it's hers? Maybe Stendarr the Monitor armorer?), she'll suggest you bring it by at nighttime, wink wink. But nothing happens if you do. Fawn: they really didn't finish it.

    2. You can also visit her in Dupre's prison cell after she's arrested. She'll claim her innocence and then infer that she can keep the Avatar warm at night, 'unlike that skinny Alyssand'.

      On that note, of all the women in Fawn I thought Alyssand was the most attractive, honestly. Both in portrait and the fact she's a smart and capable woman. It's unfortunate she fell in with the Fellowship but given the lack of ethical options around, it's not surprising.

    3. Alyssand is the only character that reminds me of a real living person - actress America Ferrera

    4. If I was going to write Serpent Isle fanfic, it would be about (ROT13, implicitly spoils ending of game): gur Sryybjfuvc erzanagf ba Frecrag Vfyr perngvat na irefvba bs gur cuvybfbcul gung raqf hc vzcebivat yvsr sbe gur Arj Fbfnevnaf, orpnhfr serr bs gur Thneqvna'f vasyhrapr gur pbzovangvba bs Sryybjfuvc vqrnyf naq Oevgnaavna iveghrf vf npghnyyl na vzcebirzrag ba gurve rkvfgvat rguvpf.

    5. I always thought Selina was a dead ringer for Jenny McCarthy.

    6. Selina's portrait is definitely hot... when I first ran into her playing I was like "Wow, she's a 10..." followed by "Definitely can't trust her." (Amusing reference to this phenomenon: )

  7. Captain Garth's betrayal in the trial hurts the most. You think you shared an honest moment between yourselves, but no. Dude's just corrupt and bored.

    Fawn will have later one of my favorite moments in the game - it's very brief and your mileage may vary, in fact, you might not even notice it - but it has stuck with me.

    Regarding Fawn lorewise... I understood that Fawn in Old Sosaria was what Britain became later. The City of Beauty turned into the City of Compassion.

    All those filthy beggars and ugly people looking for alms. Lord British destroyed Old Sosarian values with his arbitrary King Arthur cosplay.

    That's why the True Patriots had to leave. No filthy beggars in Fawn. Lots of them in U7 Britain+Paws. I think we can all conclude to whom time has vindicated here.

    1. Fawn and Britain both existed as separate towns in Ultima III.

    2. Forgot that. :) Still, the point about beggars remains.
      Compassion and Sacrifice are such ugly virtues.

      Old Sosarian values are for strong and beautiful people, Lord British' virtues for sad and ugly people.

      That's why he indeed deserves to be called the Beast British.

  8. For the Fawn trial, I always think to the trial early on in Chrono Trigger, pretty similar. I really hate Fawn, it feels like a lot more was planned for it but didn't make it in.

    1. Aw, I mentioned the Chrono Trigger trial above before reading your comment.

      Regardless of the quest, I really love the look of Fawn, its white stone streets and Venice-inspired waterways makes it the most beautiful (appropriately) and unique-looking city in U7 P1/P2.

  9. "All in all, Fawn was the silliest of the three cities, but also the shortest."

    Yup. I definitely remember it feeling underdeveloped and empty, and not a place I ever wanted to double back to, though the aesthetic was lovely. The "city as one single puzzle/sub-quest" approach just isn't as interesting as something that's more woven into the larger world. Maybe they had bigger ideas that got cut down in the rush to finish the game.

    The idea of there being a Fellowship ministry that's unable to get any traction also feels like it could have gone more places. I might have preferred a plotline about how the Fellowship actually is able to gain a different foothold here. In Britannia, one of their selling points was that the Virtues were admirable but too hard to attain. Here, they'd have an easier time, because the society's moral system is transparently broken --- three towns ruled by petty tyrants hawking really schematic, self-serving 'virtues,' while the seemingly more reasonable monks have totally removed themselves from the world. There's a void here waiting to be filled!

    It might also be fun to see what the Fellowship's ideas morph into without a demonic aggressor and his henchman running the show. Could a group of sincere, well-intentioned believers, cut off from "The Voice," end up reworking their patchwork self-help-book canon into something more intellectually robust, that legitimately speaks to the lost people of this broken world? I guess it'd have to be a pretty big plotline to work, and after The Black Gate, players were probably ready for a break from these jokers.

    1. A storyline like that would have been really impressive and way ahead of its time. At least 5 years ahead.

    2. One of the prophecies of Xenka mentions that the hero "will ally with those that once were his enemies" which, at least in part, could refer to the stranded Fellowship guys, pointing to a more in-depth involvement that might have been planned.

      While basically all Fellowship members in U7P1 are shown as twisted or brainwashed to an extent, Scott and Ruggs are pictured here as fundamentally good guys and even the leader comes across more as a naive young man than an evil scheming bastard like the branch leaders in the previous game.

    3. This is a great thread. I agree with everything. The Fellowship's ideology is bland but not particularly harmful. What's harmful is how it's liable to be twisted by those with evil intent. Again, I can't help but think of prosperity theology. Leon, whose portrait I showed in an earlier entry, looks straight off "The 700 Club."

    4. One of my favorite things in Black Gate is how in the same Fellowship meeting you can find people who interpret it as being a kind of prosperity gospel and people who interpret it as being liberation theology. "The Fellowship has taught me not to be afraid of success" and "The Fellowship has taught me about the evils of the class structure", sitting right next to each other.

  10. Now that I think about it: Dupre was already drinking too much in Ultima Underworld 2. Was this trait present/hinted at in previous installment too or it was a recent addition?

    1. Way back in U3 you meet him in a tavern, when he says "Drink up!"

      In U7P1, you recruit him in a tavern in Jelhom, while he is busy "researching" all drinking establishments in Britannia.

    2. People from our world that crossed over into Sosaria/Britannia found an adventure waiting for them. He found...other activities more pleasant to him. ;-)

    3. You also have to pay his tab for him in New Magincia. I don't really recall there being that much talk of him drinking prior to Ultima 7.

    4. Ultima VI is where the NPCs started to adopt a hint of personality. I wrote in this entry . . .

      . . . that it's where "Dupre establishes the wine-women-and-adventuring personality that he'll keep through the rest of the series." But I forgot that this was foreshadowed back in U3. Thanks, Vince.

    5. Personalities started in Ultima 6, agreed, but Dupre didn't lean so heavily into the alcohol in that game.

      Ultima 6 he is wine-WOMEN-and-ADVENTURING and Ultima 7 onwards it is WINE-women-and-adventuring so to say. If I didn't miss anything in the transcript he only has one alcohol related comment in U6. Iolo also has at least one, so it's not his really Dupre's defining thing until Ultima 7.

    6. To be fair, you first meet Dupre in Ultima II on the planet Jupiter (I think) trying to sell you a duck. He definitely had a problem even then! (I mean Jupiter doesn't even have liquid water for them to swim...) Fear and loathing indeed.

    7. Note that unlike Shamino, Iolo, and the Avatar himself, Dupre is seen with an actual woman precisely never. Maybe he wants to be a womanizer but is just really bad at it (possibly because of his heavy drinking)? I'm sure Steve could have a field day with this one.

    8. It's just that Dupre always ends up with a hernia when the Avatar is around, from all that boat-carrying.

  11. That whole trial felt like a bad episode of Star Trek TOS; all it needed was the Avatar concluding it with a Kirk speech about how beauty without truth was pointless.

    1. Almost, as I remember someone (I think Iolo) states during the trial that "Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder".

    2. Yes. Iolo... (Chet this is a serious spoiler!) nsgre fxvaavat gur Dhrra nyvir, Vbyb jvyy nyfb gryy ure gb nfx Ningne vs ornhgl vf whfg fxva qrrc. N unhagvat zbzrag.

  12. I spent too much time trying all the different variations in Fawn. I also learned a lot how the game is designed.

    Too many times the game hides plot items from the player by only making them appear when the player triggers a proper plot flag. A certain order is always forced upon the player.

    In Fawn, the first plot trigger is walking into the town with Iolo. That will trigger the cutscene where he plays the lute. This will trigger the pirate attacking you a few moments later.

    Mentioning Alyssand's engagement ring to any person will trigger Alyssand spawning near you and initiating a conversation. Talking with Alyssand will trigger the invitation the party (and also Zulith following you). Invitation will lead to trial.

    If you say no to Alyssand, she will keep pestering you. Every now and then, she will spawn and chase you down and ask you if you've changed your mind about the Cause.

    This part is even in the Xenka prophecies. The Avatar must overcome her prejudice and join her former enemies to reveal the Truth of Beauty. Or smt like that.

    Except if you never join the Cause and just sleep until the final trial, the game will solve the situation for you, as you also described.

    The only way to have the bad ending (Voldin and Kylista still in power, but your companion free) is to join the Cause and pick the revelation that would free your companion, but not incriminate V and K (also not kill V). Status quo maintained and Alyssand will be sad.

    It would have been better if not uncovering the secret of the Oracle would actually lead to something bad... like the Avatar having to kill the entire town.

    Anyway, the Trial is an interesting mix of reacting to player actions and not reacting to them. The first trial is mostly the same, no matter what the player does.

    Delphynia will still mention the Avatar poisoning subplot, even if you've never done it. Jorvin will mention you looking through barrels, even if you never touch a single barrel or drawer in Fawn.

    The only thing that is influenced by the player is whether the Fellowship members have anything to say about the Avatar. If the Avatar never spoke to them, they will have nothing to say.

    The second trial is more reactive to players actions. If you never spoke to someone, they will tell in the trial that they've never met you, so they can't comment on your companion's character.

    Also they all have different reactions to Dupre, Shamino or Iolo.

    You did Dupre, so you know what kind of impression he made. A loud man with a too lustful gaze. The dirty minds love him, but the proper ones are disgusted by him.

    Shamino scares people. Everyone is made uneasy by him. He's too silent. No one likes him. It's easy to believe that the works with Daemons. Why is he so quiet, so weird? Clearly he's a man capable of any evil.

    Iolo is liked by everyone. A kind man, good with children, they just can sense his good heart. Everyone will say that they can't believe that this man would work with Daemons. Only Joth will say that he hates bards and he can't stand Iolo.

    1. Awesome comment. Thanks you for taking the time to document all of this If you'll look at the entry I just posted ("Chaos Talking"), you'll see some of other examples of the forced linearity and triggers that you're talking about, and yet some unorthodox ways around a couple of them.

      My favorite part of your narrative is: "Jorvin will mention you looking through barrels, even if you never touch a single barrel or drawer in Fawn." The developers just assumed that every player would go around clicking on everything. I suppose it's the rare player who does not.


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