Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Ambermoon: The Plot Thickens

Fighting the big boss--of the previous game.
During the last session, I had obtained the last of the ingredients necessary for the "Demon Sleep" potion that would allow me to get past the guardian of the Brotherhood of the Temple of Tarbos. As this session began, I took them to the Witch Master's house, where I knew there was a cauldron in the basement. In front of the cauldron, I used the recipe again, and within seconds, I had the potion. I got a tingle watching so many quest items disappear from my inventory at once.
I whistled for the eagle, mounted its back, and flew it to the fortress on the island in the lake east of Newlake. I think this is where Twinlake was in the original game. A cratered ground suggested that the fortress was at Ground Zero for the moon impact 70 years ago.
I'm not sure that type of crater makes sense on this type of landscape.
We walked through the front door and found a crystal wall in front of us. The game had Gryban try to smash it with his axe, but he was unable to cause even a scratch. Moving around the wall, we found a short passageway with a demon at the end of it.
You'd like us to not pass. Is that what I'm reading?
We tried a regular battle against the demon, but no magic spell would touch him and no physical weapon would "penetrate the magic aura." He, meanwhile, was capable of casting "Iceshower," the most powerful destructive spell in the game. We didn't last long against him.
We had to try.
Reloading, we found an alcove off the demon corridor with a food bowl. "That looks like the food bowl of a very, very large guard dog," Gryban remarked. We poured the potion into the bowl and waited. The demon soon visited his bowl, lapped it up, fell asleep, and disappeared.
Taking care of the demon.
We moved past the demon into the fortress. The fortress's primary enemies were "magical guards." Each had a few hundred hit points. They were resistant (though not immune) to magic, and their physical attacks frequently caused critical hits, which in this game kills the target. I had to resurrect characters a few times and reload a few other times as I fought them. They were reasonably good for experience.
A locked door had runes reading "HANGAR," which I found intriguing, but we couldn't get in there for now. We took a staircase down and found ourselves facing another locked door with a "12-pointed recess." This one opened to the Amberstar--I'm glad I grabbed it when I went to wake up Gryban.
Using the Amberstar to open a door--just like grandpa.
The room beyond the Amberstar door had a huge coffin. As we approached, we "triggered an inaudible mechanism" which caused the ground to shake. The lid opened and a "gigantic demon" emerged:
He reaches his full height, looks around with flashing eyes and thunders at you in a voice which almost blasts you away: "Ah, mortals! Be afraid, for Tarbos, the God of Chaos, is free again!" Then he looks down and, with a cry of rage, he howls: "Aaarrghh! Why have I been separated from Tar? It's your fault, you miserable piles of dust! You will die for this, and right now, as true as I am the King of Hell!" He breaks down into an incomprehensible roaring and, in the deafening noise, Sabine shouts to the group: "That is Thornahuun! Our only chance is to attack immediately!"
I promise that we'll parse that little speech in a few minutes. For now, combat commenced with a demon that looked exactly like the invincible guard demon that we faced earlier. Thornahuun wasn't invincible, though. He had 792 hit points, a strong attack, and powerful fire-based spells, but he took damage readily enough. He was resistant to magic but not immune, and Nelvin got some lucky "Ice Balls" through his defenses. We had our own buffing spells going (principally, "Magical Attack," "Magical Wall," and "Anti-Magic Sphere") when we encountered him, so we shrugged off a lot of his attacks. Sabine kept up with healing as I whittled him down. He was easier than the magic guardians I had to fight to get to him. On his corpse, he left something called the "TAR Amulet."
He didn't do this every time, but he did it enough.
While we chewed over what just happened, we took another staircase from the main floor to the "head priest's chambers."  We fought several more parties of magical guardians. In a chest, we found a "hangar key" and a document titled "S'Orel News." The document was long but answered a lot of questions, while raising still others. It was written from S'Orel, the head priest of the temple, to his master, someone named S'Lorwin. The document indicates that the dwarves of Lyramion had been tricked into helping the Brotherhood of Tarbos build some kind of machine. In exchange, the Brotherhood promised to fly the dwarves to a moon that was "one enormous jewel" (recall the dwarf in the last session who had wanted to "go on the big boat to the green jewel"). But the Brotherhood lied; the moon in question was not a jewel but a "contaminated forest moon." The Brotherhood "dumped them there" and left them with no way to return. "Now that there are no more dwarfs here on Lyramion, no one will hear of our plans."
The letter goes on to say that no one in the Brotherhood had entered the chamber containing Thornahuun because they didn't have the Amberstar. The Brotherhood believed that the chamber contained "a godlike being by the name of Tarbos," but they didn't actually care. They just adopted the name "Brotherhood of Tarbos" to scare away everyone else on Lyramion. The members of the Brotherhood are, in fact, from another planet, and their "machine," which has already been activated, is doing something to "make [their] world fertile again," at the expense of Lyramion's eventual destruction.
The letter finally alerts "Master S'Lorwin" of our party. He knows my name but calls me "he." "Just let him come here!" he finishes. "Even if he should get past the guard demon, which he simply cannot, he still has to deal with me." 
Always like to see the character's name reflected in the game.
We "dealt" with him in the next chamber--a lizard-like humanoid with several magical guardians. "You are too late to stop the machine below the temple starting its work very soon," he boasted. Sensing our confusion, he added: "Ah, I see wonderment in your faces--perhaps you don't know what is going on? That is not important, anyway, because now you are to die!" He blasted us with a fireball, but most of us managed to avoid it. 
The ensuing combat pitted us against S'Orel and two magical guardians. We went all out with damage spells and scrolls and killed them in two rounds. The high priest dropped a "S'Orel Key." 
S'Orel and the Magic Golems.
Let's pause to consider what we've learned:
  • Thornahuun appears in the backstory to Amberstar. He was, indeed, the King of Hell, and the father of the evil wizard called both "Tar" and "Tarbos." He and Thornahuun somehow became a single being. He was on the verge of conquering the world when a confederacy of mages banished him to one of Lyramion's moons.
  • Amberstar dealt with a plot to return Tarbos/Thornahuun to Lyramion. I thought we were successful in preventing it at the end of Amberstar, but then the fact that the moon crashed into Lyramion, depositing Tarbos anyway, made me think that we had failed and the plot of Ambermoon would involve dealing with him for good. Now, I don't know what to think. Tar or Tarbos somehow got separated from Thornahuun before or after the moon crashed. Was that a result of the Amberstar party's efforts? Or a side-effect of the crash?
  • Either way, this party has just killed Thornahuun, something that the combined might of the pre-Amberstar world couldn't accomplish.
Fair point to S'Orel: We do not, in fact, know what is going on.
  • But Thornahuun only woke up in the first place because we brought the Amberstar to the temple. He was never the main threat. The Brotherhood of Tarbos turns out not to be about Tarbos but rather a front for an alien lizard race sucking the life out of Lyramion to restore their own planet. (I have to wonder if this plot wasn't influenced by the V series.) 
  • But why did I need the Amberstar to open the door to his room? The backstory of Amberstar says that the Amberstar was needed to open the way to the temple of Godsbane (where I found Gryban). It said nothing about another chamber on the moon where Tarbos was banished.
  • If Tar/Tarbos was somehow separated from Thornahuun, what happened to him? (More on this in a minute.)
  • The members of the Brotherhood of Tabos are capable of summoning a demon who is more powerful than the literal King of Hell.
The main plot of this game now becomes clear: I have to stop the Brotherhood's machine. To do that, I suspect I'll need to consult with the dwarves who built it, who are currently trapped on a forest moon. 
Fortunately, I have a way to do this. The "hangar key" opened the door to a large terrace full of crystals and what appears to be an airship.
"They all want to see Buck Rogers. And that's us."
We boarded the ship. A small map showed that it has three receptacles labeled "MORAG," "FOREST MOON," and "LYRAMION." I suspect "MORAG" is the name of the lizardmen's home planet. The receptacles looked familiar--more on that in a bit.
The receptacle that takes us to the Forest Moon. I'm glad the lizardmen use Lyramionic runes.
At the end of one corridor was the skeleton of a dwarf. He had a Chest Key, a piece of amber, and a note. The note indicated that the corpse belonged to Brom, who at the orders of his leader, Kire (of the "Palace of Kire" in Gemstone), had sneaked aboard one of the lizardmen's airships so that he could return to Lyramion and get help. The note mentions that Kire stole one of the Navigation Stones needed to fly the airship and hid it in the Old Dwarf Mine. The note mentions a sequence of gems that must be placed into receptacles in the mine to get to the chest containing the Navigation Stone. It is unclear how Brom died or why the lizardmen just left his body in their ship.
It's a good thing I've been holding on to these.
A couple of other chests in the ship contain a Morag Robe and a Morag Dart, both powerful items usable by mages.
It then clicked where I'd seen those receptacles before--there was one in the Old Dwarf Mine, and I couldn't figure out what to do with it. I returned to the mine and placed a topaz in it, and it opened a secret door to another receptacle. That one required a ruby. The third required an emerald, which I didn't have, but I remembered that merchants sold gems, and I found one in the first shop I checked, in Spannenberg. I had all the others: earth stone, quartz crystal, rainbow stone, diamond, and amber.
It would have been nice if I could have put all of them in a single container.
Behind the last secret door, I found the Navigation Stone, which I can presumably use to rescue the dwarves or take the fight directly to the lizardmen on their homeworld.
Even though this entry was pretty short, it seemed like a good stopping point, so I started to type it up. I had just finished typing, "If Tar/Tarbos was somehow separated from Thornahuun, what happened to him?" when it hit me: He's the "mad mage" that the healers have in a cage beneath Spannenberg! I would have completely forgotten about him except that I've been keeping a good Ambermoon notes file, and figuring out his issue is the only outstanding quest in it. Clementine, the healer, said that he arrived "shortly after the great disaster," was clearly a powerful mage, and had "half of a strange amulet." 
If this guy isn't Tarbos, he's someone important.
We returned to the basement. The madman just ranted and threatened us, although he showed a "flash of recognition" when we showed him the amulet. We went to the chest containing his amulet in a nearby room. Selene picked the lock. It had a "BOS" amulet, an old robe (broken), and a cell key. Unfortunately, this didn't help us at all. There doesn't seem to be any way to reunite the amulets, and showing the pieces to him individually just prompts that flash of recognition. If we open the cell door with the key, he attacks.
Oh, no! Not a "magic flash of light!"
So I leave off here, believing that the "madman" is probably Tar, but not sure what to do about it--if, indeed, there is anything to do about it. Whether I'm right or wrong, the game offered a pretty solid plot twist during this act. Frankly, if commenters hadn't spoiled it, I would have assumed that the final battle would be in the Temple of the Brotherhood of Tarbos, and that it would involve Tarbos. The "real" plot had been hinted at with the material about the disappearance of the dwarves, the visions of the dwarves on an alien moon, and an NPC in Newlake who talked about the members of the Brotherhood having scaly skin. I still wasn't prepared for such an interesting pivot.
You may ask why I'm so delighted at Ambermoon opening up a new chapter at the 60-hour mark when I've complained about Serpent Isle doing essentially the same thing, particularly when the quality of storytelling is not vastly different between the two games. (There are other vague similarities to the games, including the availability of fast travel via a central hub.) I think it comes down to Ambermoon offering far better RPG mechanics. Combat, equipment, and character development became afterthoughts in Serpent Isle many hours ago--and frankly, they were hardly ever forethoughts. Ambermoon, on the other hand, has maintained a certain consistency in combat challenge, character progression, equipment progression, and spell acquisition. I find myself looking forward to many of the combats, particularly with bosses. I still don't want Ambermoon to last many more than, say, 80 hours, but regardless of how long it lasts, I don't think I'll ever get as exasperated with it as I've been with Serpent Isle.
For the next entry, look for my party to take to the stars!
Time so far: 63 hours


  1. AlphabeticalAnonymousAugust 16, 2023 at 2:27 PM

    Congratulations! Sorry that the plot twist was spoiled; it certainly surprised me when I played a few years back, despite all the hints that something else might be going on.

    You have everything you need to figure out the Mad Mage; I bet the solution will come to you soon.

    As for the cratered landscape: look up 'Meteor Crater' in Arizona, a 1-km-diameter hole. And that's been sitting there for 50,000 years! (Honestly, if a moon-sized chunk of anything hits a planet the inhabitants will have a whole lot more to worry about than a few new lakes!)

    Finally: I loved the Right Stuff allusion. Classic.

    1. Haven't played the game but:
      Ivfvg Gurerfn gb ercnve vg?

    2. Sorry mean to use Name/URL and not just be Anonymous.

    3. Sorry to interupt, buddy, but we've got a launch here!

      @Harwin Yes. Cebonoyl qrcraqf ba vs ur unf vg va uvf abgrf. Ng guvf cbvag fur'f rnfl gb sbetrg rira vs lbh qba'g cynl gjb ybat tnzrf ng bapr. Ba gur bgure unaq, vg'f obahf pbagrag - lbh qba'g arrq gb serr uvz gb jva gur tnzr, ohg vg'f n avpr pybfher sbe gur cerivbhf tnzr.

    4. On the contrary, if a moon-sized chunk of anything hits the planet, the inhabitants will have nothing at all to worry about ever again.

    5. AlphabeticalAnonymousAugust 17, 2023 at 11:11 AM

      Well played, @Ross. Recommended reading on this topic: "Seveneves" by Neal Stephenson.

    6. I untangled Harwin's comment and my first reaction was "Who the hell is Gurerfn?" It's clear that I'm going to need to create a better note-taking and reviewing method for these longer games.

  2. I commented a few entries ago how the game looks gradually more beautiful. I am going to credit that for keeping the interest, because Serpent Isle does not give many surprises on environments. This one, I don't know it, I haven't played it, but the screenshots you upload makes me think "oh I WANT to play it now", which did not happen with the first entries.

    Anyway, that was a me moment.

    1. No, I've had the same reaction. There are some beautiful environments and excellent monster portraits and spell effects. I think the important thing is that the game doesn't try to stretch beyond its graphical capabilities. Too many games of this era try to depict more than they're capable of depicting.

  3. So you wind up fighting the Brotherhood from Another Planet?

    I'd be willing to headcanon S'Orel's pronoun trouble as the Morags not really getting our concepts of gender.

    1. I think it's 50/50 that and 50/50 that the authors just didn't bother to put an IF statement on the pronoun in the game's code. We see plenty of examples in modern games. I replayed Dragon Age with Irene a few months ago, and there were at least two places in which NPCs referred to my female PC as a "he."

      Oh, lord. What do you suppose will be the first game that lets you choose pronouns independently of biological sex? RPG Codex will crash.

    2. Cyberpunk 2077 does that I think. IIRC you choose your upstairs, your downstairs, your voice and your pronouns, all independently of each other.

      I think though, because the genre is explicitly about things like body-modding, and character creation content is optional in a sense, the people who get riled up by 'politics in games' might have given it a pass.

    3. The "choose your pronons" will be out of place of any RPG which his world is not a derivative of USA in the 202X, otherwise it will be even more incongruent that the "modern" outlook of Ultima characters. (this is one of the reasons i never liked the setting). As for Cyberpunk 2077 here is totally aproppaite to choose incongruent genicals since in cpunk is expected that character use all kinds of phisical mods even for trivial and cosmetics reasons. If any want to insert political commentary they could compare the cpunk axiom of 'flesh is almost totally malleable by tech" with the unspoken premised of today's liberal politics.

    4. There's already been multiple games that let you choose pronouns independently of any other factor - the 2018 Battletech tactics game did so, for example.

    5. Of course they are but they are just a insertion of usa's 202X ideology in places where they dont have any narrative sense. In fact if I remember well, Battletech with was a variety of 'feudalism in space' and a rough world without comforts would be an example of a world which no fits well with that ideology circa 202X . Maybe they have done some retcon in the last years to ease that insertion, but i stand with my point that only thematically has sense in very few game worlds.

    6. It was a joke, I'm sure it's 100% the developers forgetting an IF statement.

      (I have some spicier takes I could issue but I'll stick to "Elves should be non-binary.")

    7. eh, that's just a running gag in Order of the Stick. OK, here's one: In a thousand years fantasy RPGs will be putting gendered pronouns in random inappropriate places the way the Ultima series is all "thou thissest and thatest."

  4. It seems that game gave you a couple of aha-moments in this session. I think that is always a great motivator in games. Especially in CRPGs.

  5. I've never played the Amber games and I can't get quite a feel of these games from reading... are they similar to Ultima but with a higher difficulty level?

    I have Albion (1995) in my GOG library, I haven't yet tried that game. I've heard it's a spiritual successor made by the same team. Anyone can offer some comments and advice on Albion? What should I expect? How should I play?

    Ultima with a higher difficulty sounds like quite good deal to me.

    1. Albion is great. There are a lot of secrets you can find, and some gameplay choices (characters, sidequests, etc), but no major 'gotchas' or anything. Should be a great experience, playing blind!

    2. I think if you're going into it with an "Ultima but harder" mindset, you're setting yourself up for disappointment. Ultima is a clear influence but in the end, it is a really different game. It's certainly not as Open World or Sandboxy as an U7. It does have lots of text and worldbuilding, though, and other strengths (very good character progression throughout the game, good tactical combat, very nice dungeons with puzzles, and, at least in my opinion, stunning graphics).

      Albion is the first of the Amber series where I felt the need to grind, mostly because the economy is so tight.

    3. Thanks for the replies. I'll give Albion a try in the near future.

  6. An interesting coincidence that you ended up playing in parallel two games of similar length and both with a late twist that extends the game when you think it's going to end.

    Of the two, Ambermoon feels like the one that had the better foreshadowing, with random hints about the nonhuman apearance of the brotherhood members and the disappearance of the dwarves.

    On the other hand, I didn't find it as impactful as the one in SI. Turns out that the menace is a race of alien lizards that we need to chase around in a spaceship... ok, I guess? Maybe a bit too much out there for a setting that has been more or less grounded in classic medieval fantasy until this moment.

    It would also been interesting to have some hinting to the threat the alien pose until now, the whole quest was basically born out of grandpa's hunch.

    I don't know about Germany but V was massively popular in Italy, probably some inspiration from that series is indeed there.

    1. I'd say that this game uses the "surprise scifi plot" twist way better than the Might & Magic series did.

    2. AlphabeticalAnonymousAugust 17, 2023 at 11:10 AM

      We haven't seen a SciFi plot twist -- zooming around in a flying wooden sailing ship is hardly 'science' and not even really 'sci.' It would be like calling Brandon Sanderson's recent Cosmere books 'SciFi' because the characters visit other worlds.

      Ba gur bgure unaq, lbh'er evtug gung gur tnzr vf nobhg gb tb nyy-va ba n fpvsv gurzr. V cerqvpg gung PO'f rawblzrag vf nobhg gb fgneg qebccvat; V sbhaq gur arkg cbegvba bs gur tnzr vaperqvoyl sehfgengvat.

    3. As a German myself, at least my impression was that in the 90s, the "first-fantasy-but-then-sci-fi"-trope was pretty common.

      As was mentioned, the Might & Magic series (which experienced a wide distribution here with several years of delay) did it.

      Then there was Ambermoon. After that came Albion.

      The classic German TTRPG "Das Schwarze Auge" (or "The Dark Eye" internationally) in its then third edition had several official adventure modules published where the heroes had to investigate crash-landed spaceships, fight Cyborgs and could loot futuristic weaponry such as Laser Rifles. A far cry from what The Dark Eye in its now fifth edition has become (which is a "serious" Fantasy setting with a semi-simulationist approach for a quite peculiar target demography, but I digress).

    4. I don't have any hard facts to support it, but my impression is the miniseries and TV series "V" were indeed something of a cult hit in Germany.

      Given they were first released on TV there 1988-1990, the "lizard-like aliens are trying to secretly take over and exploit our planet" plot might indeed have been an inspiration for / had an influence on Ambermoon.

    5. Yeah a lot of Scifi/Fantasy combos woulda existed by this point in games and books. Shadowrun and Vampire on the tabletop side, Final Fantasy in consoles, hell I remember a D&D module I had that had obviously science fiction weapons and a flying saucer I believe in it. Sometimes you'd have suddenly fantasy as well as suddenly science....but mashing it up was becoming relatively popular by this point in a lot of things.

      I blame Clarke.

    6. AFAIK it was Final Fantasy that influenced Karsten Koeper regarding the space travelling ships. The concept of fantasy space flight was all the rage in the early 90ies in Germany, though. I read a Lot about it back then in nerdy fanzines. And of course there was Spelljammer.

    7. Pretty sure there was only one DSA module with spaceships and laser weapons: 'Borbarads Fluch', which has become somewhat notorious simply due to its sci-fi slant being irreconcilable with pretty much all world-building conducted afterwards. As far as I recall, it was one of the first modules ever as well, with the third edition still in the distant future at the time it was released.

    8. Jack Vance's The Dying Earth (1958 I think) had this mash-up and had a big influence not just on later SF but on D&D and thence presumably computer games. The theme was pretty common in SF from the '60s on - if your hero woke up in a feudal society, he was more often than not in the distant future or on a generation starship where the current inhabitants have forgotten their mission. [Gene Wolfe managed both in a single long series!]

      Actually I don't recall offhand any CRPG set on a generation ship. Technically early Might and Magics were that, but the ships were so big they were basically worlds.

    9. In the podcast with the developers posted here a few months ago, they mentioned that Karsten Köper didn't like the inclusion of a broom in Amberstar because he preferred a traditional fantasy world (there's a reference to this in Ambermoon). It would be strange then if he included the moon ships. IIRC they also mentioned that the green moon was designed by Erik Simon. Anyway, as mentioned above, a wooden ship flying to a moon is hardly science fiction.

    10. @Sir_Brennus While playing, I thought there were some apparent Final Fantasy 4 influences in the game (map progression, the airship) but I thought it was a coincidence since FF games did not get released in Europe until 7, and it must not have been that easy to get imported US consoles in the early 90s, or having them modded.

      If the devs said they they were influenced by the series, it makes more sense to me.

    11. @Honor Sharpe - I think the D&D modules you're thinking of made use of Dave Arneson's 'Blackmoor' setting, which he created in the early 1970s and always included sci-fi elements. I remember Temple of the Frog and City of the God's being solid adventures..

    12. @Gerry Quinn: The Dying Earth is from 1950, with further Dying Earth books appearing in 1965, 1983, and 1984. As you probably remember, the first story talks about an ancient lost lore called "Mathematics" and the last story in the first collection ends with the protagonists learning how the great wizards of past eras left for the stars.

      I don't remember the sci-fi influences showing through much in the early AD&D sourcebooks and modules except maybe for the psionics rules--and I'm not sure why I think those are sci-fi rather than fantasy, except perhaps that psionics are also in Gamma World. There's probably some science-fictiony bits that I'm forgetting, though. It's usually said that Vance's big influence on D&D was the fire-and-forget Vancian magic system--which is true, but that system really only figures in the first two Dying Earth stories, as far as I remember!

    13. Oh, and it looks like there's an early access game called "Colony Ship" set on a generation ship--that's all I know about it!

    14. Expedition to the Barrier Peaks in 1st Edition Ad&d

    15. This thread was interesting, but I'm not sure that I'd call what happened in Ambermoon "sci-fi," at least not yet. Lizardmen are regular races in plenty of fantasy games. The other worlds are all moons in the same system, and we reach them in airships powered by magic, not rockets. I think I need to see a laser gun or computer keyboard before I start using the term "sci-fi."

    16. @Sir_Brennus: I was looking for any public statement by one of the developers that they were inspired by Final Fantasy. There's no explicit comment about FF that I was able to find, but in the StayForever podcast interview, the designer Karsten Köper said that back then he did play through Japanese RPGs on consoles (even though he couldn't read Japanese) and that quite a few previous games already had flying ships - I guess that counts.

  7. I am the only one who every time he reads "forest moon" can't resist to mentally add "of Endor"?

    1. Maybe the dwarfs are extra hairy

    2. At least it seems Thalion did not produce any dwarf spin-offs or cringeworthy holiday specials Chet would have to consider playing.

    3. Every. Damn. Time.

      And in Admiral Ackbar's voice.

    4. Absolutely had those vibes. On top of "That's no moon...".

    5. I made and deleted about 7 puns along those lines.

  8. The story here starts to look a bit like "Die Höhlenwelt Saga: Der Leuchtende Kristall", an obscure (but very nicely drawn) point and click adventure game never released outside of Germany.

    I wonder what is that thing with Germany and "Sci-Fi meets Fantasy, and there is reptiloids too" concept.

    1. It's because Ambermoon is based on real world events, right? The Illuminate are pushing for a New World Order, controlling everything behind the scenes, and they are actually reptilian aliens that eat human flesh. Hilary Clinton is the leader of the cult of Tarbos, sacrificing children and doing satanic rituals.

      Right guys?

    2. I used to live a few blocks from the pizzeria and pung-pobg parlor where they supposedly held their rites in the basement. That building didn't even have a basement.

    3. You needed the Amberstar to find the secret basement door.

    4. Audible laughter was produced

    5. I would suspect that this connection is just because two notable science fiction games the Germans released that are generally known outside of their native country are both that. From what I know of German TV sci-fi, it's more or less the same as everything else released from that same period, and I'm sure novels are the usual assortment of out there concepts. That said, I can't actually think of any German fantasy...

    6. There's The Neverending Story, but you're probably thinking of something more in line with Tolkien.

    7. AlphabeticalAnonymousAugust 20, 2023 at 2:13 PM

      Neverending Story, like Princess Bride, is an enjoyable movie based on an even more enjoyable book.

      My wife can't stand the former, though -- she can't take the 'flying dog-dinosaur' (her words) seriously.

  9. Sounds like the foe at the end of the fortress was a bit of a S'Orel loser.

  10. A couple speculations why the switcheroo where there turns out to be more to the game is satisfying here and not in Serpent Isle--besides what Chester said about the game still being satisfying as an RPG, which is of course the huge one:
    As Vince said, Ambermoon has better foreshadowing. There's all that stuff about where the dwarves went. There's the madman in the basement who turns out to be Tarbos.

    There's also that this would have been kind of unsatisfying as an ending. Serpent Isle has the sidequesty thing where you can get to Batlin at your own pace, but it is still something you've been following for a while, with a grand buildup. Here you unlocked the battle b... gathering ingredients for a potion to put a gigantic demon doggy to sleep? Doesn't seem quite so climactic.

    And I think most of all, here you unlock a door and: spaceship! new worlds! new maps! Where in Serpent Isle you had to go to all the same old places again, except this time everyone's dead so they didn't have to write any new NPC dialogue.

    1. Ambermoon is actually pretty unspecific about the main quest. It starts with "seek out Shandra", who then tells you to go to the temple where "everything will be decided by your fate there". So it's more a reveal than a twist.

      Naq ragrevat gur grzcyr ernyyl znexf gur svany dhnegre bs gur tnzr, V jbhyq or fhecevfrq vs vg gnxrf zhpu zber guna rvtugl ubhef.

    2. Good analysis. I would also mention that killing Batlinin Serpent Isle came for me at Hour 95, or about 50% longer than Ambermoon at the same point.

  11. Not sure if others already mentioned, but you can definitely talk more with the madman after you connect the amulets.

  12. Thanks for letting us know, Addict! See you in October then. It will be a great chance for us to explore the last few years for things we might have missed.

  13. What RPGs are my fellow commenters currently playing, old ones or new ones?

    I'm playing Divinity: Original Sin (2014) which features an enjoyable engine but the story/world might not be compelling enough to get me over the current hump. I think I'm about 2/3rds of the way in, and struggling with some elemental lord boss.


    Queen's Wish: The Conqueror (2019) which has a more compelling world - always one of Spiderweb Software's strengths - albeit a slightly more basic game engine. I think I'm only a couple hours away from the end.

    1. Mostly Starfield with my limited gaming time...

      I've installed, but haven't yet played, Moonring, which seems like it would be of particular interest to this crowd.

    2. I am playing Drakkhen (1989) since last summer, three versions side to side: (1) the original Atari ST in French, with a party of two clerics and two scouts; (2) the VGA version for DOS, still in French, with a party of two wizards and two fighters; and (3) the Super Nintendo version, in mistranslated English, with the only possible party.

      The AST and DOS ports require loooong grinding, and the AST also has noticeably worse Artificial Intelligence. On the other hand, the Super Nintendo port suffers of "Chinese whispers/telephone" syndrome (French > English > Japanese > English) and too many game features were cut or over-simplified.

      My favorite version is the VGA-DOS one, the same Chet played for this blog.

    3. I haven't had time to get into Starfield but I was disappointed at what I saw in a video. The plot seemed derivative of Mass Effect. But more important to me, gazing at a horizon and thinking "I wonder what the game will procedurally-generate for me over there" isn't quite the same as thinking, "I wonder what there is to find over there."


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