Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Ambermoon: Dead Weight

The party arrives in a new town and immediately confronts a mystery.
In the last entry, I remarked that "by the time you finish a dungeon, you feel that you're a real expert on fighting that type of monster." A few hours later, I'm an expert on fighting stone golems. If I never see one of those bastards again, it will be too soon.
 When I closed the last session, I had just adopted Selena, the sylph thief, into my party. (Try saying "sylph thief" five times fast.) I started this session by getting her up to speed. She came with a good 40 learning points, so I spent 10 of them on "Attacking" (which got her to her maximum of 50 right away) and then spent the rest in the Thieves' Guild chambers on "Find Traps," "Lockpicking," and "Disarm Traps." That left me nothing for critical hits, but her maximum in that skill is only 2, and I figured (correctly) that she'd gain another level soon.
While in the guild, I remembered the Test of Thieves. It was a small area of the existing tavern cellar. The first test was simply getting through the locked and trapped entrance door. Inside, there were two doors that required keys to open, and those keys were behind more locked and trapped doors or in locked and trapped chests. There were some battles with giant spiders, cave lizards, and bandits, so it was less a Test of Thieves than a Test of Thieves and Their Friends. It also made me wonder how the guild chooses what members to sacrifice every time someone wants to take the test.
It makes you wonder how the guild keeps going if four of them have to die for every one person who takes the test.
As I had already guessed, picking locks is a separate thing from using lockpicks. Anyone can use lockpicks, and as long as the door or chest doesn't require a specific key, they always work. Using the "Lockpicking" skill, conversely, does not require a pick. Its success is entirely dependent on the thief's skill level. In this universe, I guess everyone has some base skill with lockpicks, but only thieves can do it without special tools.
You can try finding traps and picking locks multiple times, with no penalty, which makes me wonder if there's much utility in pumping up those statistics above a certain level. However, disarming traps has a chance of failing, damaging the party, so it's worth the investment. Selena failed at a couple of traps the first time during the test, but as far as I could tell, her failure had no effect on the party.
Selena gets it on the second try.
The centerpiece of the Test of Thieves was a box floating in a well, too far below the rim of the well for us to reach. We needed to somehow cause the well water to rise up to a level where we could reach it. The solution was, of course, found in the Aesopesque fable that I recounted a few entries ago, found in a book in the House of Healers. The game spoiled it a bit, though. First, there's a guy standing right outside the Test of Thieves who tells you that he once read an awesome story in the House of Healers. Second, there's a pile of sling stones in the room next to the well. I would have preferred that the game make the solution a bit more obtuse. What's particularly silly is that the pile of sling stones isn't large enough to raise the water to the requisite level. You have to leave the test, go to the store in Spannenberg, and buy about 100 more stones. (That is, unless I missed something in the test.) 
How about we just lower someone with a rope?
A key in the box opened the final door to a chamber with a final trapped-and-locked chest. It contained a complete set of gear for a thief, including:
  • Cloaking Cap: +2 armor, casts "Magical Shield" 3 times.
  • Swift Shoes: +2 armor, +10 speed, casts "Hurry" 5 times.
  • Shadow Belt: +8 armor, +10 dexterity, casts "Blind" 5 times.
  • Murderblade: +10 damage, +1 critical hits, casts "Poison" 5 times.
  • 10 lockpicks
  • 5 ropes
It also had 1000 gold, another Windpearl, a set of wishing coins, and a full set of excavation equipment (shovel, pickaxe, crowbar). I guess I could have sold those golden horseshoes.
With that accomplished, all I had left on my list was to finish collecting the ingredients for the Swamp Fever cure, and that meant going back to the Temple of Gala. I returned and went through the candle-lighting ritual that I recounted last time.
The temple took about three hours, its time bolstered somewhat by my own stubbornness. I had to defeat dozens of stone golems and two granite golems, easily the toughest enemies I've faced so far in the game. I swiftly learned to swallow my pride and sleep between every battle (fortunately, I had plenty of food), which usually meant waiting for half the day so that the game would let me sleep. I exhausted every single one of my healing and mana potions. 
Re-solving the entry puzzle.
The Temple was in a few major sections. Each section had a spinner in a central corridor, which just added to the level's frustration. Spinners in this game don't just spin you once. They spin you repeatedly at regular intervals of around 3 seconds. And you have to be very careful how you walk out of them because you can easily trigger them and get spun again. You want to move only directly--forward, backward, or strafe. Trying to turn takes too long. So the typical scenario is that I'm heading north along the corridor and suddenly get spun around so I'm facing east. I look at the compass and see that I'm facing east and realize that to get out of this situation, what I want to do is strafe to the . . Whoops! Too late. I just got spun again.
Anyway, the exit from the first area was blocked by a double set of doors requiring two stones called Tears of Gala. These were held by two granite golems, who I could only face after defeating several waves of stone golems first.
Solving a simple navigation puzzle.
Stone golems are capable of casting earth-based destruction spells like "Mud Sling" and "Rockfall." But those spells are almost a blessing next to their physical attacks. They get two per round and can hit for a dozen or so points each. A successful one-two punch could knock one of my character's health bars down by a third. They're immune to "Lame" and "Sleep." I don't know about any other status spells, but I didn't have any memorized. They could be damaged with damage spells, but my mage only had a limited number of those that he could cast. Most of the time, it came down to melee attacks.
Each party had between one and four stone golems. One was no problem. If I was lucky, I might not even have to sleep afterwards. I could usually defeat two, but I would need to rest immediately. Three required a lot of luck and all my spell power. Four required a lot of luck, all my spell power, and a good portion of my saved healing potions. I got a fair amount of use of the mage spell "Magical Arrow," which hits every enemy in a single row (though not for much) and "Winddevil," which does a reasonable amount of damage to one enemy. 
These guys are lined up perfect for a "Magic Arrow."
The Tears of Gala were both held by granite golems. They were easily as hard as three stone golems put together. Thankfully, there were only two of them, and they attacked individually. They're capable of casting "Earthquake" and "Earthslide," mass-damage spells with frankly terrifying animations.
I reloaded a lot in this dungeon, and frankly I could have made it easier on myself. My characters each gained about four levels in this dungeon alone; after one or two of them, I could have taken a break, got some more training, and spent some of my tens of thousands of gold pieces on more potions. Instead, I stubbornly fought, died, and reloaded. At one point, I found a chest with a ridiculous number of spell scrolls--something like 97 scrolls of 24 different types of spells. Some of the spells might have been useful, but I wanted to take the time to study them, not learn them under pressure just to defeat the enemies in this particular dungeon, so I loaded up my party and saved them for later.
A granite golem's terrifying spell sends a rolling wall of earth at us.
The one good thing about the dungeon is that there were a number of glowing balls of light that increased the attributes of anyone who touched them. There was no way to tell what attribute would be increased, so I gave most of them to Qamara. I think I accidentally had Egil or Nelvin as the active character when touching one or two.
The dungeon culminated in a large room full of teleporters. They moved around the room, so there was no way to map them. Each one took me to a small room with a return teleporter and yet another battle with one, two, or three stone golems. I was out of potions by this time and reloading more than ever when things didn't go my way. It turns out that one of the teleporters went to the exit, but I had no way of knowing which one it was. As I entered each teleporter, it vanished from the room, reducing the selection. I found the one I wanted when there were only three left.
This was a lot of trouble for a little water.
The exit took us to an outdoor area with a small pond--the Spring of Life. Walking into it completely healed our wounds. I filled up one of the vials that I had bought at the alchemist's shop. Back in the dungeon, a lever opened the way back to the beginning, and we ran out, leaving a few stone golems somewhere behind us.
We returned to Spannenberg and Father Anthony, who brewed a Swamp Fever antidote. We took it to the sick child. She swallowed it and recovered so fast that her icon hopped out of bed and started jumping rope after a few seconds. Her father gave me a Windpearl as a reward, and the girl gave me a Ring of Sobek. The ring, identified at the sage's, turns out to bestow 99 "Swimming" ability (Sobek is the god of the sea, apparently). 
The final Spannenberg quest.
It was about 02:30 in the morning when I finished the Temple of Gala. I had to be up at 06:30 the next morning. That's how much I wanted to get the dungeon finished. When I exited, Qamara was Level 15, Egil and Nelvin Level 10, and Selena Level 7. They all had a fair number of training points available. I took Selena to the chief bandit to get her 2 points of "Critical Hits," then spent some more on the other thief skills. Egil still hasn't maximized "Attacking," but he's getting close. More important, he finally got two attacks per round on his last level-up.
With that, I had solved all of the quests on the island. The only ones left in my log required me to visit the nearby isle of Burnville. I spent some time wondering how to get there. The obvious answer--a ship--was unavailable because the shipwright was in Burnville.
The less-obvious answer.
I had just acquired a ring that allowed me to swim, of course, but it only works on one character. Some experimentation shows that the ring allows for swimming in still water immediately around the island, but not choppier water in the open ocean. There is a channel of still water that goes south from Spannenberg's island to Burnville's island, where there's a raft on a dock. After failing to come up with another solution, I shrugged, jumped in the water, let Egil, Nelvin, and Selena die, swam to Burnville, grabbed the raft, took it back to Spannenberg, went to the House of Healing, and resurrected everyone.
They all made this same joke.
With everyone alive and hale again, we jumped on the raft and returned to Burnville. Only a small part of the island, with the dock, was accessible by raft; the rest was surrounded by mountains or deep water. Walking off the dock, we found ourselves in a small valley with a dungeon entrance at the east end. There was no other way to go, so we entered.
Qamara makes a grim ride on the raft.
Almost immediately, we were attacked by orcs. It's a measure of how much we've grown since the last orc battle that we didn't need "Lame" or any other spells. After clearing out the area, we found a locked door. It opened with the key that the healer in Spannenberg had given us.
A few hours ago, this battle would have been unwinnable. Now, it's nothing.
On the other side of the door, we met the orcs' leader, a fire giant. He attacked by himself. Despite some fire-based spells, he wasn't very hard. I cast a couple of damage spells on him but mostly took care of him with melee attacks. Egil's second attack per round is really helping out; it's like having another party member. Qamara hit Level 16 after the battle. The fire giant had a nearby treasure chest with a small amount of gold and a bunch of regular weapons and armor--"the property of the victims of the fire giant," the game said. I had better stuff than anything in the chest. 
I wouldn't say that we're particularly "sensible."
The dungeon disgorged us into a desert. From there, we hunted our way around the island until we found Burnville. The town's name was prescient, it seems: "As you enter the town, you immediately see there must have been huge fires," the game said. "Almost all the houses are badly damaged and everything is black with soot. There seems to be no one around and it is deathly still."
Curiously, everything looks okay from the outside.
We hunted around town. At most of the buildings and shops, the game noted that we "searched through all the rooms, calling, but the house is apparently desolate and empty." It did let us enter one building, however--a large House of Healing in the center of town. The building was empty like the others, but on a bookcase, we found a diary and a key.
No idea what the key is for.
The diary was written by Sabine, the daughter of the healer from Spannneberg, who we'd come to town to find. In it, she recounted how a huge red dragon appeared one day and blasted the city with fire. It then spoke to the denizens, demanding that they subject themselves as slaves to his master, the Master of Fire. Sabine thought that this Master of Fire must inhabit "the old tower of black magicians." The dragon gave the populace one week to agree to this servitude, then left. The townspeople took a vote and decided to resist. When the dragon returned and heard their answers, he summoned other dragons. They gathered the townspeople in nets and flew off with them. Sabine hid and was left behind. She tried to go to Spannenberg for help, but the fire giant--also apparently in the service of this Fire Master, who he called "Luminor"--blocked her passage through the tunnels. With no other recourse, she vowed to go to the tower alone and try to free her people from Luminor.
Searching around town.
There was one other visitable place in Burnville. Through a secret door, we found a ladder down to Nalven's Magic School. Nalven, a recluse, was completely unaware what had happened above him, though he was concerned that no pupils had arrived in recent weeks. He offered spell scrolls and training on reading and using magic. I invested some training points for Nelvin. 
Why, yes, I do!
I guess the next step is to find this tower and see if I can free the people. I enjoyed both parts of this session. The stone golems were a bit too numerous, but they were authentically challenging and thus satisfying to beat. I liked the way that the game set up the mystery of Burnville; exploring the deserted town was authentically creepy.
Before my next entry, I want to sit down and make a list of all the spells that I'm going to consider essential so I make sure I leave enough training points for them. Then I'll look over my existing scrolls and see which ones I want to try to memorize. I'm happy to take non-spoilery suggestions on this.
Time so far: 33 hours


  1. I'm really liking your Ambermoon posts, although I'm torn between reading them and avoiding them, hoping to play the game myself in the future and not wanting to spoil the plot for myself!

    Still, the more I read about the game the more I want to play it 😁

  2. AlphabeticalAnonymousJune 27, 2023 at 12:59 PM

    My only non-spoilery recommendation for (destruction) spells is to save your spell-learning points for the big damage spells, and those that hit multiple enemies at a time. The amount of damage scales roughly with the number of SLP & SP required.

    I was also struck by the absurdity of having one character swim across while the other three drown (and are pulled along behind? perhaps used as flotation devices?). But in a world where resurrection is to be had for a few gold pieces, this sort of thing must happen a lot. For that matter: why didn't the healers resurrect everyone that died when the moon crashed into Lyramion?

    I also liked the eerie feel of exploring the near-abandoned Burnville; it's not the last environmentally evocative setpiece you may encounter.

    Good luck with Luminor...!

    1. The cheaper option is to make them leave the party, swim across, get back with the float and pick them up again. But since they all return to different locations it's a bit of a hassle.

    2. I thought of that, but I couldn't figure out how to make them leave the party and a search of the manual didn't help. There's probably an obvious button staring me in the face.

    3. In case you need it in the future: the dialogue menu (mouth symbol on the GTFO panel) should have an option called - somewhat confusing in English - "ban from the group" (rather than "dismiss" - the German original is "aus der Gruppe entlassen" - which is probably why you didn't find it).

      According to the manual, each dismissed character returns (to its) "home" and can be picked up again there. Though as Buck notes, this appears somewhat cumbersome, especially if we're talking about several characters like in this instance.

    4. After beating the game I checked the walkthrough for this part and it seems that killing or dumping your party are indeed the only possible options.

      About the spells, in addition to AA suggestion, I found it useful to learn status effect spells, which in general are cheap and can be handy sometimes (at least one of them would have helped a bit againt the golems).

    5. Oh, I see the problem. That option only appears when you're indoors. I was trying to figure out a way to dismiss them while I was outside.

    6. That's strange (both from a technical and an in-game perspective). So you are in an outdoor area and want to get rid of someone, but have to wait to do so until you find a settlement/building or dungeon? "You know, I actually wanted you to leave already three days ago in that valley we crossed - when I got sick of your annoying complaints about the weather, the food and the lack of bounty - but hey, somehow I just couldn't bring myself to do that outside."

      The manual doesn't indicate such a limitation (which of course does not mean it isn't present). It just says "When you click on your figure you can speak with the characters in your party." and that this should give you the "ban" option among others.
      Would test it myself, but Amiga emulation on the Mac is a pain to set up, I find (the feature might be somewhat different in Pyrdacor's rewrite), plus would have to play until getting an additional party member just for that... .

      Never mind, don't know if you'll need it again and you probably usually meet NPCs which might require making space for them in settlements or dungeons anyway.

    7. It makes sense that you can dismiss party members only in civilization and not in some desert, though. Just a bit surprising, because it's badly communicated.

    8. You don't even have the option to talk to party members when you're in the top-down interface, so the "dismiss" button never appears.

    9. Followup: You CAN talk to party members in the top-down interface. You have to click "Talk," then click on yourself, at which point the game asks which party member you want to talk with. in the indoor interface, it asks automatically if there's no NPC directly in front of you.

  3. "If I never see one of those bastards again, it will be too soon."

    Come back later when you're stronger and can swat them like flies. It's very satisfying.

    Ambermoon.net gives Egil an additional attack every five levels, which helps a lot. I don't remember how it was in the original German version. Since this was very likely in the data files and not hardcoded, these differences are strange.

    If you name a town "Burnville", you're really asking for it.

    1. ...Burnville. The town's name was prescient...

      I know of a real city in North Italy called Busto Arsizio, meaning "Burnt and Arson", because it was burned down and rebuilt twice during its history (Roman Empire and Middle Ages). The two parts of the name were given AFTER each burn-down.

      Therefore, the town name Burnville must be "a posteriori" instead of prescient, and you just witnessed a new burn-down. Destiny.

    2. "Burnt and Arson" sounds like they mixed up cause and effect.

  4. Maybe the Thieves' Guild also just resurrects everyone at the House of Healing?

    1. AlphabeticalAnonymousJune 27, 2023 at 3:17 PM

      Exactly my thought. There are a lot of new options available, when it's trivial to bring someone back from the dead.

  5. 'Try saying "sylph thief" five times fast.'

    sylphthief, sylphtief, syphlties, syphiltis, syphilis!

  6. On a more serious note, the game seems to have a nice power progression curve; something satisfying about curve-stomping monsters that gave you a hard time before.

  7. Did Nalven and Nelvin have any kind of dialogue to suggest they're family members? Are you going to keep finding bearded wizards in other places that introduce themselves as Nulvon and Nolvan?

    Glad to hear you're past a hurdle, as it's entertaining to read about this game as an Albion fan. (And yeah, AoE spells that target rows or the whole grid were godsends in Albion and I suspect here too.)

    1. Maybe they're magical clones, even?

    2. No, I thought of that, too. There was nothing in the game to suggest a relation.

  8. I don't think Sobek is god of the seas so much as it is a play on Sobek in egyptian mythology being a crocodile headed god....thus the ring lets you swim in relatively calm placid water like a river....but not in rough water....where you generally won't find crocodiles.

    1. AlphabeticalAnonymousJune 27, 2023 at 11:30 PM

      Maybe so! But in-universe, I believe it was established in Amberstar that Sobek is the god of the seas.

    2. Saltwater crocodiles can swim in the open ocean, I believe! Though Sobek presumably has the head of a Nile crocodile, not a saltwater croc.

    3. oops that was me!

    4. You can always swim in placid water (and never in rough water), you just take damage according to your swimming skill. The Ring of Sobek just raises you swimming skill above 100% (the best you can get naturally is 99%, but there's no trainer on the Spannenberg island) so you never take damage.

  9. "The one good thing about the dungeon is that there were a number of glowing balls of light that increased the attributes of anyone who touched them. There was no way to tell what attribute would be increased, so I gave most of them to Qamara. I think I accidentally had Egil or Nelvin as the active character when touching one or two."

    "After failing to come up with another solution, I shrugged, jumped in the water, let Egil, Nelvin, and Selena die, swam to Burnville, grabbed the raft, took it back to Spannenberg, went to the House of Healing, and resurrected everyone."

    From a role-playing perspective, it's kind of fun to imagine how bizarre situations like these would play out in-universe.

    1. I like to think that they were just arrogant.

      Qamara: "You guys understand we're going to SWIM to Burnville? It's a couple of miles. I can't do it without this special ring. Maybe I should go alone."

      EGIL: sneers.

      SELENA: "How hard can it be?"

      NELVIN: "After those stone golems, you think a little water is going to scare me?"

  10. Did you encountered battles outside of 3D dungeons? I made it to elf city and only fought one outside batlle with desert lizards on the first island. I don't if it is bug or what.

    1. AlphabeticalAnonymousJune 28, 2023 at 4:00 PM

      I don't believe that it's a bug. At this point there are very few combat encounters outside of towns, dungeons, thieves' hideouts, etc.

    2. That's interesting. Amberstar was like that, too. I haven't had any combats on Burnville's island so far, and I probably only encountered three groups of desert lizards in several hours criss-crossing that continent.

  11. I don't know if it is bug. Sorry

  12. Huh. "Let most of the party die swimming" looked like an alternative solution rather than the approach expected in a standard playthrough; I assumed there must be some canonical way of either getting there or retrieving the raft without blithely killing off everyone but one party member. But a quick perusal of walkthroughs online suggests that, nope, that's the way you're supposed to do it.

    1. I'm sure the intended way is to dismiss everyone except the main character. The problem is that they go home, so you have to run around the island picking them up later.

  13. Playing until 2:30 and having to get up four short hours later. Is there anything better/worse than game lock?

  14. So I found Luminor's Tower, but I'm stuck on the first level. There's a big open room and no way that I can see to move forward. I've searched every wall for secret doors, tried to click on anything that remotely looks like a switch or lever. If anyone has any advice, I'd appreciate it. Otherwise, I'll have to look up spoilers tomorrow.

    1. Hint: Have you examined the room, is there anything else ? Nalguvat qvssrerag sebz gur erfg?

    2. Damn it. I STILL had to look up a spoiler. I couldn't see the frigging thing against the wall texture.

  15. I'm sorry, I'm sure it's already been answered (I'm a little late for the Ambermoon posts): Is there a concrete reason why it is the original, emutaled version that's being played instead of "Ambermoon Andvanced"?
    (or maybe it is, and I'm just blind?)

    1. A simple reason: Ambermoon Advanced is a 2022 game, and in my chronology, I've only reached 1993.

    2. The reason I asked: you can pick to play either version of the game from the start menu, and I think ( but someoe correct m if I'm wrong) they fixed up the 3D elements even in the normal version, i.e: you can actually move around well enough.
      I do understand the ethos and rules of the blog, so this is a perfectly understandable answer, on the other hand, I think anyone reading these blogposts, who'd later pick this one up nowadays would play the slightly updated port, making the original obsolete in my eye.

    3. As I understand it, Ambermoon.net is a rewrite of the game with some bugfixes and QoL improvements, but otherwise basically unchanged from the original.

      Ambermoon Advanced is an expansion by the same author (Pyrdacor) with new added content. It's still work in progress. As you indicated, you can choose in the start menu to play just the rewrite or to play a version including the expansion.

      There is more information on Pyrdacor's homepage, the github pages for the rewrite and the expansion, respectively, and his announcement of the latter on eab.

      Haven't seen if a change to movement is mentioned, but I think I read somewhere else that problems like those described by Chet may (at least partially) be caused by emulation and might not be present (to the same extent) in the original game if played on original hardware. Not sure, though.

    4. I could understand why a modern player would go for the remake. I'm deliberately seeking to achieve the original experience, though, or at least as much of it as I can while playing on a modern computer via emulation.

      Ambermoon.net may be the exception to the rule, but so far, I've not encountered a remake that was "basically unchanged from the original" that held up to scrutiny. Any such claim is almost always followed, 20 hours later, by something like, "Oh yeah, I forgot--the remake adds 16 new spells and three new NPCs and cuts all the dialogue for this other NPC and breaks two side quests and completely changes the ending. But other than that, it's completely faithful!"

    5. Haven't played enough remakes where I also know the original game well enough to provide my own experience on this. I guess that yes, many programmers/companies doing them probably can't resist the urge to realize the 'improvements' they always dreamed of or think their audience wants/needs nowadays or otherwise leaving their personal stamp on such a work.

      This case does sound like it might indeed be the exception. Otherwise, the purists on the Codex would quite probably already have picked up on it (the initial release was almost two years ago, with continuous updates since then), but so far it's mostly positive feedback and even praise there and no mention of new/changed content. Though I don't know if anyone who is familiar enough with the original has completely played through it yet.
      The fact the author is also making an optional extension with just those types of things you mention - new locations and potential party members, modified properties and spell effects etc. - at least appears to indicate he is aware of the issue and able to separate such new input from the original/rewrite itself alone.

      I understand your approach for the blog given its premise. While I'm usually also happy to play the emulated original versions, I'll probably go for the rewrite / remake here - both for bugfixes & QoL improvements as well as currently finding Amiga emulation on Mac too much hassle for my taste.

    6. While Ambermoon.net attempts to be as faithful as possible, according to the list of issues on Github there must be some small discrepancies remaining. If Chet runs into a rare game-breaking bug during his playthrough of the original version, it would be relevant to this blog, given its quasi-historical nature. However, if Chet plays the new version and encounters such a bug, what should he do? Should he restart from scratch with the original version? That'd be a hassle.

    7. I think creating a faithful port of Ambermoon was easier due to so much of the game being in datafiles - not just maps, NPCs, items, but also a lot of the mechanics. The only significant gameplay difference I noticed so far was the difference in attacks per round based on the level.

      I wonder how much the keyboard navigation (a keypress just registering on the GTFO panel leading to very unsmooth movement) in the original is affected by emulation, or if it was the same on original hardware. Maybe someone who played the game on an actual Amiga can clarify.

  16. I finished this game a bit short of a year ago. I enjoyed it a hell of a lot, despite having the same issues as you with slow movement. I watched some videos of a German fellow livestreaming it with an actual Amiga computer. He had an accelerator card, and his movement was as smooth as butter! I had heard there was a way to emulate an accelerator card, but apparently not with FS-UAE. I bet you could with WINUAE, but that emulator often confounds me. What I ended up doing was clicking on the arrows in the interface, and trying not to turn when too close to a wall, where the textures were zoomed way in. The alternative reminds me of that old sketch performed by Laurel and Hardy, The Three Stooges, Lucille Ball and others: "Slowly I turned... step by step... inch by inch..."

    I had disbanded my party and gone back to collect them later. I just couldn't bring myself to let them die, even momentarily... orrr maybe I wanted to save money by not having a need to resurrect them at the healer. Why not both?

    I'm pretty sure you were fine with me posting YouTube links to my playthroughs, so here is mine, in case you or anyone else needs a hint or wanted to see how I handled certain dungeons or what-not. If not desired, I'll delete and repost my comment without the link. I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of your Ambermoon adventure!


    1. >I had disbanded my party and gone back to collect them later.

      That's what a true role-player would do. I'm a bit ashamed.

      I'll play with WinUAE settings, maybe. Once I have things working in that emulator, I don't like to rock the boat too much.

    2. Nah, don't be ashamed. You've been playing games for over a decade that force you into metagaming. How many times have you been hogswaggled into reloading because of an arbitrary character death or dead end scenario, and then acting on information your characters shouldn't have? Heh, it still happens nowadays too.

  17. As I had already guessed, picking locks is a separate thing from using lockpicks. Anyone can use lockpicks, and as long as the door or chest doesn't require a specific key, they always work. Using the "Lockpicking" skill, conversely, does not require a pick. Its success is entirely dependent on the thief's skill level. In this universe, I guess everyone has some base skill with lockpicks, but only thieves can do it without special tools.

    This reminds me of a mechanic in Octopath Traveler (though not a lock-picking one; only the thief can lock-pick in that one). There's four fundamental kinds of NPC interaction (beyond talking), and each is associated with a pair of characters in a "noble" and "rogueish" form. The noble forms always succeed, but can only be attempted if your level is high enough. The rogueish forms work at a lower level, but have a chance of failure, which damages your reputation (If your reputation falls too low, no one will interact with you until you go through a costly "repair reputation" procedure).
    (A thing I found interesting is that the "rogueish" approach to learning secrets is to have the scholar "scrutinize" the NPC, a sort of Sherlock Holmes "I see from the wear on your boot that you work in a factory, are fighting with your wife, and own a dog." If you get caught, you're penalized for being creepy; the noble version is for the itinerant alchemist to just make small talk)


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. I will delete comments containing profanity on a case-by-case basis.

3. NO ANONYMOUS COMMENTS. It makes it impossible to tell who's who in a thread. If you don't want to log in to Google to comment, either a) choose the "Name/URL" option, pick a name for yourself, and just leave the URL blank, or b) sign your anonymous comment with a preferred user name in the text of the comment itself.

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?"

5. Comments on my blog are not a place for slurs against any race, sex, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or mental or physical disability. I will delete these on a case-by-case basis depending on my interpretation of what constitutes a "slur."

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.