Sunday, October 8, 2023

Serpent Isle: Won!

Two out of three of you tried to kill me. Multiple times.
It's been a while, so let's recap: The Avatar, Iolo, Dupre, and Shamino came to Serpent Isle to spring an obvious trap. A search of the evil Batlin's belongings had revealed a curiously-preserved message from the Guardian instructing Batlin to meet him here. Coincidentally or not, Iolo's wife, Gwenno, had also traveled here during the events of The Black Gate, just to explore.
Serpent Isle was once called the Lands of Danger and Despair (Ultima) but had been severed from the rest of Sosaria/Britannia during the cataclysms that followed the destruction of Mondain's gem after the events of the first game. The isolated residents, later called Ophidians, divided into three factions that worshiped the serpents of Chaos, Order, and Balance--three primal entities of ambiguous origin who hung out in some place called The Void. Lord British and the rest of Sosaria/Britannia must have been aware of them because of the ubiquitous serpent symbology found throughout the series. During the events of Exodus: Ultima III, Exodus somehow kidnapped the Great Earth Serpent (the serpent of Balance) to guard the entrance to his fortress, which strikes me as overdoing it. The loss of the serpent of Balance triggered a war between the forces of Order and Chaos. Order won, massacring its rivals, and even managing to split the serpent of Chaos into three evil forces, the Banes of Chaos, which they imprisoned in their three Temples of Order. After the war, the people of Order fell into a terminal funk and decided to depart the Serpent Isle through the Wall of Lights. Every faction had its own Wall of Lights, activated with a blackrock serpent specific to its faction.
A book near the endgame recaps the plot.
After the events of Exodus, a group of malcontents upset with Lord British decided to emigrate from Britannia to the Serpent Isle, finding it deserted. They set up the cities of Monitor (fighters), Moonshade (mages), and Fawn (no particular class, but obsessed with Beauty). Several hundred years later, Batlin arrived and put his plan into motion. The Avatar and his party arrived on Batlin's heels and began their search for him. Our search led us to solve various problems in the three cities while Batlin stole a blackrock serpent and freed the three Banes from their prison. He then had to hunt down the three people that the Banes possessed--Cantra, Gwenno, and an unknown third person--and kill them so he could collect them in soul gems, although I'm not sure why he couldn't have done that when he freed them in the first place.
Eventually, the Avatar and company encountered Batlin as he was about to open the Wall of Lights in the Chaos Temple, but using the Order Serpent. (I still don't know what Batlin's goal was here, other than a vague belief that he would somehow accumulate power to rival the Guardian's.) Because of the use of the wrong serpent, the ritual went wrong and Batlin was killed. The Banes managed to escape again, this time inhabiting Dupre, Iolo, and Shamino, who went off to kill 90% of the population of Serpent Isle. The Avatar had to chase them down, kill them, collect the Banes in three new soul gems, and have them resurrected. He then had to clean their souls of the taint of the banes with the waters of the temples of the balancing virtues.
This guy asks this question literally every time you see him.
With Batlin dead, Gwenno resurrected and cleansed, and the party all together again, my original quests were solved. But the imbalance--manifested in lightning storms and a strange sleeping sickness--was affecting Britannia as well as the Serpent Isle, so I still had to solve that by reuniting the Banes of Chaos into the serpent of Chaos, a process that required a significant power source to fuel. That power source: the ashes of my late-departed friend Dupre, who sacrificed himself in my place. I finished the reunification at the end of the last session, but I guess that didn't completely solve the problem, because for some reason I still have to go to Sunrise Isle. 
This is, at least, according to the Chaos Serpent who tried to kill me.
Before starting Serpent Isle in February, I had last played it in the late 1990s. I remembered elements of it, but mis-remembered a lot more. For instance, I thought it was the demon Arcadion, escaping the Blackrock Sword, who caused all the devastation to Serpent Isle. I also thought I remembered an episode in which I had to fight him after he escaped. (It turns out that you never see him again, which I find rather ominous.) I thought Dupre's sacrifice came much earlier in the game. More important, I remember some episodes in which I literally rounded the island multiple times looking for anyone to talk with to move the plot forward, something I didn't experience here, likely because of better note-taking.
This session begins as we arrive at the Temple of Balance, which is apparently on Sunrise Isle, but you never see the outdoors, so it could be anywhere. My party members start complaining about being cold. I try to ignore it, but the temple takes so long that I eventually have to warp back to the Dark Path hub and sort through all of the junk I've left there to find warm hats and boots amidst all the gold, gems, armor pieces, and magic items. I don't find enough, because my characters keep complaining about the cold all through the endgame.
The next person to find his way here is going to be able to take over the world.
We arrive in the middle of an enormous temple with doors to the north and south and three scales and three pedestals in front of each door. A nearby book announces this as the Temple of Balance. "Only he who hath achieved balance within the temple may be free to find greater balance on the path to the Grand Shrine," the book warns. To move forward, we will need to "use the fire of chaos and the ice of order to restore balance."
There are glass serpents of fire and ice all over the place. Putting one each on the north scales and one each on the two south scales causes six objects to apparate onto each of the pedestals: a torch, an abacus, a heart, a rose, a chain, and a dagger.
The first of many "balancing" exercises in the game's final act.
What follows is a pointlessly long quest in which we have to open the north and south doors and find our way through a huge maze to six little shrines, three exemplifying the virtues of Chaos (Emotion, Enthusiasm, and Tolerance) and three exemplifying the virtues of Order (Ethicality, Discipline, and Logic). There's no reason the shrines couldn't have been rooms immediately off the main temple except that, Great Serpent forbid, the game might be over in 111 hours instead of 113. As you might imagine, each of the six objects that appeared on the pedestals is associated with one of the virtues, although some of the associations are a bit obscure. I get why the heart is Emotion and the abacus is Logic, but what does a chain have to do with Tolerance, or a dagger with Discipline?
A book tries to make sense of it, but these seem like after-the-fact explanations.
In any event, the goal is not to put the shrine's symbol on its altar but to put the symbol of the balancing virtue on its altar; to wit:
  • Emotion is balanced by the abacus of Logic to create Rationality
  • Enthusiasm is balanced by the dagger of Discipline to create Dedication
  • Tolerance is balanced by the torch of Ethicality to create Harmony
  • Ethicality is balanced by the chain of Tolerance to create Harmony
  • Discipline is balanced by the rose of Enthusiasm to create Dedication
  • Logic is balanced by the heart of Emotion to create Rationality
If the objects are a bit mysterious, so are the layouts of the shrines. I get why a tidy garden might represent Discipline, but why does a desert scene suggest Enthusiasm, and what about a swamp suggests Tolerance? For the record, these are the scenes:
Emotion: A barren dirt scene with a bunch of dead trees and a guy crucified on a cross.
Ah, yes, this area just screams, "Emotion."
  • Enthusiasm: A desert with dead trees, weeds, and a beast's skull.
  • Tolerance: A swamp.
  • Ethicality: A kind of seascape with a sandbar jutting into it.
  • Discipline: An ordered garden. My favorite part about it is there's a hidden chest with six torches in it. My headcanon is that it originally contained a pumpkin.
The party finds the last of the missing items.
  • Logic: An empty void. I get this one, I guess.
I try to balance logic with the torch of Ethicality and get attacked for it.
It's impossible to mess up the puzzle because if you put the right item on the pedestal in each shrine, it disappears and one of the party members yells, "That did it!" If you put the wrong item on the pedestal, nothing happens in most places; some enemies appear in others.
When we've placed our last object, a book appears on a pedestal between four stone obelisks. It tells us to read it again when we stand between "the great pillars." These pillars are found just beyond the northern doors in the arrival temple. "Thou art worthy!" the book says when we read it there. Two bridges of fire appear, one blue, one red, leading us across a chasm to the final area. 
The final area nearly broke me. It is such an unwelcome slog of puzzles after such a long game, and I honestly nearly looked up a walkthrough to just get me through it even though none of it is very hard. 
The final area is, I guess, another temple. There are too many things called "temples" in this game. You find yourself having to make distinctions between "a temple of order" and The Temple of Order. This one starts in a room with two pedestals, one red, one blue, both with plaques on the front that call for symbols of Chaos and Order, respectively. Two coiled serpents are on nearby tables, but of course that's too easy. 
This is what I'm going to say to Irene when I have to open a window in the middle of January to counterbalance the blazing wood stove.
There are a bunch of chambers off to both sides, and on the level above, and . . . I can't even bring myself to finish this narrative. Honestly, I was planning to post this on Friday but I've had such writer's block from this one section that it's going to be more like Sunday. If you really want the blow-by-blow, watch a video or something. Suffice to say that I have to find various gems and cubes for at least three pedestals, and finding them takes like an hour of going up and down stairs, through doors and teleporters, opening chests, pulling levers, pushing buttons, casting "Telekinesis" and "Dispel Field," finding objects in one place to use in another place, and so on. There's an "escape room" quality to the entire episode, which isn't so bad on its own, but this is a bit like coming to the end of a 10-year prison sentence and finding that you still need to solve an escape room to go home.
This kind of thing.
When everything is in place, a stairway to a teleporter has emerged over what was previously a void. A scroll lies on the teleporter. It warns me that:
  • To "commune with the Serpent," I will need the Earrings of the Serpent.
  • To "be at one with Balance," I will need all three blackrock serpents.
  • To enter the Grand Shrine of Balance, I'll need to be wearing the Armour of the Serpent, carrying the Staff of the Serpent, and wearing the Crown of the Serpent.
It's a miracle that I actually have all of these items and haven't lost one of them at some point along the way. I can imagine that some players must reach this point missing one or more of them.
"Wait . . . What's the Crown of the Serpent?" -- some poor bastard after 120 hours of gameplay.
I don all of the items and head through the teleporter, finding myself in a room in which all of the symbols of the virtues that I used in the previous area's puzzles (abacus, rose, etc.) are resting on pedestals. I notice to my alarm that the rest of the party didn't follow me through the teleporter.
An image of the Great Serpent appears and instructs me to lay the staff, armor, and crown on the altar at the north end of the room. Each sparkles as I place them on the table, and then the Eye of Order suddenly appears. Now, I already have the Eye of Chaos from the last session, but why does putting the artifacts of Balance on the altar cause the Eye of Order to appear? In any event, the image of the serpent declares me "worthy to bear the emblems of the Great Hierophant of Balance." I am automatically teleported back out to the temple and my friends. A large wooden door that was previously locked now opens.
You say that like you've seen it before.
On the other side is the Ultimate Final Grand Temple. As we approach, an image of the Serpent of Order appears: "Dost thou think thou canst chain the Serpent of Order within a prison of Balance? Never! Servants of Order, attack!" This causes eight "magical ice creatures" to gate in and attack us. I kill them all with one casting of "Mass Death."
Thus ends the final battle.
Before the statue of the Great Serpent lie repositories for all three blackrock staves, and it takes me about 10 minutes to drop them exactly where the game wants me to drop them so they'll actually go into the receptacles. "Now place the Eyes of the Serpent before my statue," the Great Earth Serpent demands. I place the two eyes on the altar.
The Serpent comes to life. But why?
There are lightnings and flashes, and then the statue starts wagging back and forth. "Slay me! Slay me with the Serpent Sword and send my soul back into the Void," the serpent demands. I do as he demands. The Avatar is then blasted with fire and lightning a few times, and the screen goes black.
The endgame cinematic shows the Avatar floating in a void, wearing the staff, armor, and crown that he no longer has. The Order, Chaos, and Balance serpents come together to form a kind of caduceus, but with the rigidly straight Balance Serpent occupying the position of the staff or wand in traditional depictions. 
Great! Can I go somewhere where I can breathe again now?
"There," the Great Earth Serpent says, "we are done. Balance is restored. Serpent Isle, Britannia, your Earth, the entire universe, are all saved. Worry not about your friend Dupre. He is one with us, and content. Goodbye, Avatar. We thank you."
The Void apparently has ale and wenches.
Before the serpents can execute what I'm sure is a sensible plan to send me home, the voice of the Guardian breaks in: "Well, well, well, Avatar. You have managed to thwart me once again. By restoring balance where once chaos reigned, you have saved your accursed world. But now here you are, poised at the edge of Eternity. Where would you go? Back to Britannia? To Earth?" A giant red hand emerges from the darkness behind the Avatar. "Perhaps you would join me in another world altogether? We do have a score to settle!" The hand closes into a fist and carries the Avatar away to Ultima VIII: Pagan. Roll credits.
Do we? I'd honestly forgotten about you.
A few thoughts on the ending:
  • Why isn't this area of space riddled with the bodies of the followers of Order who went through the Wall of Lights after the Imbalance War? Did they somehow "swim" to another planet?
  • Why is the Great Earth Serpent needed at all? Why aren't the Order and Chaos serpents coming together balance enough? Or, to put it another way, if Balance is its own entity, what purpose do Order and Chaos serve? What would have happened if Exodus had kidnapped one of them instead?
  • Balance is a nice sentiment, but it's boring in practice. If not for imbalance, the universe wouldn't exist at all. I'd like to see a game that acknowledges the need for, as Oscar Wilde put it, "everything in moderation, including moderation." We've had games that have used ankhs and caducei and taijitu as symbols; I want a game that uses a bell curve as its guiding symbology. "Be pretty much normal 68% of the time, but one day out of twenty, go wild," would be its message.
  • Why was the Great Earth Serpent's soul not in the void in the first place? How did it get into the statue that I had to slay? 
  • What does the Guardian mean by, "where once chaos reigned"? Chaos was destroyed by Order. Order reigned. Or is he just using "chaos" as a synonym for "imbalance"?
  • I'm glad that I didn't know that the fate of "the entire universe" rested on my success or failure. If the Serpents are that important, then how was a computer able to kidnap one of them in the first place? 
  • I've always thought that the Virtues of the Avatar were a better-constructed system than the Ophidian Virtues, but that was before I went to the Void and saw the reality of the three Serpents for myself. Truth, Love, and Courage are just Some Guy's Idea, whereas Order, Chaos, and Balance are objective reality.
  • The idea of a giant hand appearing in space is as silly here as it was in Star Trek. If the Guardian is this powerful, how have I been able to stop his plans at all?
Any angst I feel over these questions, however, is overshadowed by a much more annoying realization: I never used the damned glass sword.
Final time: 112 hours


  1. Welcome back! I am really happy to read you again! :)

    1. Seconded, welcome back!

      If I'm not mistaken SI will get third place among the your longest played above Wizardry 7, I really didn't expect that.

    2. Yes, good to have you back - I get a feeling that us readers have become more addicted to reading your postings than yourself to playing the actual games ;)

    3. Nice to see you being able to publish a new post after that stressful period and congrats on winning this interminable game! You probably had to re-read some of your earlier entries and notes on SI after this hiatus... .

    4. Indeed, I'm thrilled to be reading this blog again! Especially about a game I have (apparently misplaced) love for. I hope your schedule has eased up and writing this doesn't impact your work/life too much!

    5. So nice to read this blog again! Perfect for a relaxed evening.

  2. AlphabeticalAnonymousOctober 8, 2023 at 3:22 PM

    As always, your observations and assessment of the game's merits and shortcomings are spot on.

    Congratulations - both on finishing, and on getting caught up again with everything. Welcome back.

  3. The screenshot where the guy says 'I'm getting frostbite' while walking over a bridge of fire was priceless. No caption needed here.

  4. I played this as a teenager and I thought that ending cinematic was the most awesome thing ever. I invited at least two friends over to see it, and I don't think either of them had any knowledge of Ultima games at all, but I think they were nice about it (or I was oblivious).

    I do wonder if now, at about the same age as Chet, I would have similar feelings in a replay. I never will, with my ridiculously huge game backlog, so it's probably for the best to just be content with my memories.

    1. I never got close to beating this, but I remember hacking a way to view the ending. I think maybe just renaming the ending cinematic file to whatever the intro cinematic was named so that it would play instead when you started the game. I also thought it was pretty amazing at the time.

    2. I did exactly that. You just had to rename the outro file. It was the obvious thing to do since both the Intro and outro files were by far the largest ones in the directory.

      As a young teenager the outro hyped me for the sequel. After getting mocked by the Guardian in the Black Gate intro and not getting even close to him in two and a half games i really hungered to confront him. „We do have a score to settle“ - oh yeah? I was so ready!

    3. I had the exact same reaction -- I have not played SI since I was 15 or so, but I remember being blown away by the cutscenes and the voices, almost to the point of chills (I know this sounds ridiculous now but at the time it all seemed so profound, and I had hardly played any games that had voice acting, and the voices of the serpents especially seemed really cool. Nearly 30 years later I can still remember how the "Slay me! Slay me with the Serpent Sword" sounds.

  5. You have many questions, I have some answers (personal opinions, actually).
    For your other questions, I have no answer, and I was wondering myself about them.

    Q: Why does a desert scene suggest Enthusiasm, and what about a swamp suggests Tolerance?
    A: I assumed that because the Chaos Serpent was defeated and split up, his shrines fell into ruins.
    Q: Why isn't this area of space riddled with the bodies of the followers of Order?
    A: I guessed the Order Serpent lead them to another world, a "paradise/heaven" of sorts. After all, the Guardian takes you from there to the world of Pagan.
    Q: What does the Guardian mean by "where once chaos reigned"? Is he just using "chaos" as a synonym for "imbalance"?
    A: Indeed, I assumed he meant "imbalance" and, being evil, he did not care whether it was the correct word.
    Q: (OK, this is not a question) Truth, Love, and Courage are just Some Guy's Idea, whereas Order, Chaos, and Balance are objective reality.
    A: The last time I went through the series, I concluded that the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom is a sentient being, deity and holy book at the same time. I love books, I could worship such a deity.
    Q: If the Guardian is this powerful, how have I been able to stop his plans at all?
    A: My questions here are: What was the Guardian's plan, again? What was Batlin supposed to do for him on Serpent Isle?

    1. It seems to me that, unlike the rest of the game, the final area is pretty strong on "order is good and chaos is evil"; both because the "chaos areas" are swamps and such, and because of the Guardian's final words.

      The Guardian's plan was, simply, to keep the Avatar out of the way while he conquers Britannia. That means that yes, the scroll was a trap; and also that Batlin is unwitting bait. Gur cybg bs hygvzn rvtug vf irel fvzvyne: gur ningne vf fghpx va n jbeyq jurer abobql xabjf uvz, naq unf gb pbyyrpg cbjre gb orpbzr uvtu cevrfg naq ragre gur ibvq, juvyr gur thneqvna pbadhref oevgnaavn bss-fperra naq qbrf abg nccrne va gur tnzr ng nyy.

  6. Why Batlin didn't put the Banes in soul gems upon release... I'm going with "he messed up". A recurring theme in the plot is that Batlin isn't NEARLY as smart as he thinks he is, and this causes his plans to repeatedly fail. Messily.

    Why isn't this area of space riddled with bodies? Because the followers of Order used the Order moongate, er, wall of lights, which leads to a different section of empty space.

    Two questions I have myself are, (1) why is sunRISE island in the WEST? And (2) since the Avatar just disappeared and he's the only one with the spellbook and jawbone, how are the companions going to leave the island, like ever?

    (I suspect the answer to #2 is "the deus ex machina monks", but anyway).

    1. The west? Sunrise Isle was at the north end of the map. At worst, north-northwest. (But still.)

    2. The fan-made Dialogue Patch for Ultima 9 provides the answer to your 2nd question. (rot13) Gur Pbzcnavbaf erghearq gb Oevgnaavn jvgu gur uryc bs Refgnz. Va erghea, ur nfxrq sbe znal vgrzf, vapyhqvat gur cbpxrgjngpu, Vbyb'f unve, naq bgure hagbyq fghss.

    3. About Sunrise Isle: it is located where Ultima 1 had a landmark called Eastern Sign Post. Hence the "Sunrise" name.

    4. You think there are three Voids? Since all three serpents are in this one place, I just assumed there was only one void with three entrances.

      Good point about the companions. Why did the Avatar go into the Void in the first place? I didn't walk him into the Wall of Lights. He didn't technically need to BE there to see the Serpents reunited.

      I assume that with the Imbalance cured, ships will sail again, and the companions can just take a boat back to Britannia. The question is how long they'll wait before doing so.

    5. Not three voids, just a really big one.
      Since all of Sunrise Island is indoors, I'm unclear how ships are supposed to dock there.

      @Abacos that fanmade answer is really weird!

    6. Batlin didn't come to Serpent Isle with the knowledge of soul trapping. He had to buy it from Torrissio. The game's timeline is pretty vague but I think it's fair to assume that he only figured out what he needed to do with the Banes after he had released at least two of them. It's possible that he managed to capture the third one outright, which is why we don't have a third victim.

      Seems reasonable that the Avatar would be swept away into the Void with the Great Earth Serpent, especially considering they were making contact via the Serpent Sword. Or maybe the Serpent pulled the Avatar along intentionally.

    7. Also, Torrissio flat out TOLD Batlin that Batlin's plan wouldn't work. But he didn't listen.

    8. @Radiant: maybe it is weird, but it makes perfect sense. Think of it:
      (1) Serpent Isle and Britannia are on two different worlds (in my opinion, that is the reason Shamino does not get old in Britannia).
      (2) He is the only mage on Serpent Isle who learned how to teleport.
      (3) He collects human parts for his experiments (rot13: gurersber, vbyb'f unve pbhagf). Indeed, he resides on a place formerly known as "The Morbid Adventure" in Ultima 1.
      (4) rot13: Gur ningne'f jngpu jbhyq unir orra ernyyl hfrshy naq rnfl gb vzcyrzrag va hygvzn vk, gurersber vg vf n erny cvgl vg vf zvffvat.

    9. (2) Rotoluncia, Selina, Filbercio, Thoxa, and Karnax all have the ability to teleport. There's probably others.
      (3) He collects human parts for the purpose of making golems like Boydon; the part you mention really doesn't help with that.
      (4) So I haven't played Ultima 9, but if I understand correctly this fanmade answer is a handwave for why certain items do not appear in Ultima 9 even though that particular fan feels they should. I don't think that "a wizard did it" is a particularly strong explanation for that.

    10. Quite the opposite, I would rather say that the unpatched version simply ignores this and many other subjects. The Dialogue Patch tries to re-align Ultima 9 with all the previous canon, lore, and world-building.

      It is not very important anyway. Personally, I enjoyed the 2001 Dialogue Patch far, FAR more than the unpatched Ultima 9... Even though I am usually a purist!

    11. Oh, I would definitely play a fan patch over the original "What's A Paladin?" version. I just don't like the explanation that some character is bald because a wizard took his hair as payment for a not-so-unique teleport spell.

    12. Despite setting some parts of the plot in motion, Batlin seemed to accomplish little, and the Guardian even less? What did he do other than "also starring"?

    13. I found Ultima 9 to be a sub-par game even it its patched state. But was the lore really that bad? For me the big picture seemed to fit. Things like Iolo going bald neither seem particularly important nor that unlikely given his already receeding hairline in Ultima 7.

      The amount of dialogue was probably much lower than in previous titles (pre-V excluded), likely due to voice acting and lack of time. And the parts that catered to new players, sometimes unneccesarily so, I understand must have been irritating for someone who played and loved the previous titles. On the other had, I don't think you had to click on "What's a paladin?" to advance the game.

    14. I think Ultima 6 introduces the biggest retcon in the series by declaring that the Avatar was also the "Stranger" of each of the first three games. Nothing 9 does is that disruptive. But 9's revelation about the nature of the Guardian feels like it's based in a fundamental misunderstanding of the series. The appearance of the Guardian's sidekick also feels like a bizarre and unwelcome retcon.

    15. I'm pretty sure that was not the original intention for the origin of the guardian. But I liked the angle that gur ningne guvat arire ernyyl jbexrq bhg naq pnhfrq gur crbcyr gb bireyl eryl ba na rkgreany fnivbhe. Having read the Addicts coverage of The Black Gate, I found that very fitting.

    16. This comment has been removed by the author.

    17. Things like "What's a paladin?" strike me as pretty a pretty dire and artless "Writing to accommodate first time players" - lazy that they didn't come up with a way to frame the question better. But it hardly seemed like the betrayal of decades of series canon that a lot of people considered it.

  7. It's too bad that when they ran out of time to finish the game it was story, dialogue, and scripting that was left undone and not the surplus of dungeons and puzzles. It seems the game could be improved if you could shift some of that latter content to the former.

    1. Just in terms of a project management sense, given how colossal long the game came out to be, I think prudent edits along the way was really what the game needed, not "more time".

    2. Yeah, I always remember this at being the fault of evil ole EA. But looking back now, it is clear this was entirely on Origin and whatever broken systems they had in place that allowed this game to balloon to such a staggering degree.

    3. This was already the "edited" version. And I'm going to argue that they could have almost pulled it off.

      The big mistake is that none of the surviving characters react properly to the total destruction of the world. That is what kills the dramatic tension of the game.

      Instead the surviving characters give you inane tasks of finding random items, which completely takes you out of the tragic Gotterdammerung mood.

      It's like that guild master in Ultima 6, who asks you to make yourself a panpipe and learn Stones, which leads you to buying a log from the logger and then having it cut to a board... while his country is being invaded by Gargoyle armies! It's like that moment but even worse.

      And it didn't even need much text, just some sentences that help the player stay in the mood of the story.

      Was it really that impossible to come up with a few new sentences? Didn't they really have time for that?

      Maybe the writers were already working on other projects?

      They did put a lot of effort into characters responding to the gender of your character, since some conversations are completely different between male and female Avatar. The lore and worldbuilding also has a lot of work put into it. This was clearly meant to be an epic story-telling game.

      But when you go to post-destruction Monitor and talk with the healer woman and realize she's completely oblivious, it's just not the same anymore.

    4. I agree with Asimpkins; what this game needs is LESS content, not more details.

      Note how a lot of lengthy sequences are irrelevant to the overall plot, meaning they're filler. For instance, the dreamworld; the gargoyle city with a single gargoyle in it; Draygan; Vasculio; Erstam; catacomb isle; heck, the entire Gwani subplot and Hazard the trapper are essentially filler.

      I'm not saying everything should be 100% main plot, but easily half of Serpent Isle is filler material and a lot of that could have been cut without affecting anything.

      And instead of that, they cut the very plot-relevant scenes of the Banes running the three cities. Yeah, this game needed a better director, not more time.

    5. Dreamworld - I agree, unnecessary, doesn't really add anything to the themes of the game. But I guess they programmed their scripts around it, even cheat rooms have story-locked items before Gorlab Swamp.

      Gargoyle City - disagree, adds a lot to the game. He's the only character that actually talks about the Banes pre-Batlin twist. Plus Test of Purity tempts you by the vices of the Banes.

      Draygan - that part had some bad design, but otherwise it was short and the story adds to the general broken dreams theme of the game. I really liked how Draygan sounded like someone who had been in too many Tony Robbins conferences, a deluded self-made man, trying to will his pitiful success story into reality.

      Yeah, Vasculio was lame. Erstam is okay.

      What's catacomb isle?

      Gwani and the Trapper - depends which part you mean. The pre-Batlin North is awesome. The Trapper subplot after Batlin is lame. It should have happened before.

    6. From the interviews I've read...

      Serpent Isle had a very green team. They underestimated project scope and never came up with a realistic Plan B for recovering from a bad estimate. Their Plan B was to split the game in half (at Batlin's death), which is the kind of plan you need full leadership buy-in for from the start. They didn't. When it was clear they were behind schedule they offered up their Plan B and it got shot down. They didn't seem to have had any further plans after that. "Kill everybody" seems to have been a last ditch attempt at a solution, but it was quickly obvious that this didn't actually save them much time.

      My personal suspicion is that they did a lot of the late-game maps and puzzles early on in the development process, and it was just unthinkable to throw huge chunks of that away.

    7. Presumably they probably started by coding up the various “side stories” as it’ll let them learn the engine and if it’s a bit rubbish, it’s not affecting the main plot. Except they made these too big and then when they ran out of time, had the sunk cost fallacy go on and didn’t want to remove the work they already did, so just tried to finish the main quests as quickly as possible and this is what you get.

      It’s admirable what they tried, but it’s the epitome of scope creep and inexperience. The engine wasn’t able to support what they wanted to do with it, and their writing skills wasn’t quite good enough either. It’s very much the start of a transition period for gaming and RPGs, as they want more interesting stories which is really hard to do well.

    8. The Digital Antiquarian covers SI in passing in his 2019 article about the EA-Origin merger/acquisition.

      According to that, there was indeed pressure to get it out, though not anymore for the holiday season, that had already passed / been missed, but before the end of the company's then current financial year in March 1993.

      An interesting tidbit I learned from that article is that SI originally was to have had a pirate theme, on an oceanic world, with a voodoo-like magic system. But the writer (Jeff George) had problems implementing it with the U7 engine and in the end left Origin.

      Then Warren Spector took over and radically revised it. According to an interview linked in the comments, he had already before given guidelines to his initial project leader (George, I understand), one of which was “Get me off Britannia.” He didn’t want Garriott to ever say “that wouldn’t happen in Britannia.” Spector had several plot elements addressed concerning the Great Earth Serpent and finding out what happened to Shamino’s Land of Danger and Despair.

    9. I think someone started with the thought of "in BG Britain look really tiny and unbelievable as a city. We should do more believable cities in SI" . Then this set the size of the cities, this lead to the size of the land mass, and suddenly you have a lot of space to cover with content...

    10. I can't imagine them thinking that Britain is tiny, since it's still a very well-designed alive city to this day.

      I see Bethesda trying to recreate that feel of a living city, with Skyrim's towns and Fallout 4's Diamond City.

      Britain's big for any game. Especially when you mentally include Paws. None of the Serpent Isle towns are bigger.

    11. Er, posted this to wrong thread above...

      I'm not sure it's completely the case in this instance, but often editing things out can take lots of time as well. Whether it's plot or mechanics you may have been relying on some bit of what you want to remove; to remove it means you have to find another place to put it. It can also lead to inconsistencies if you don't manage to round up all the tendrils.

  8. Welcome back! I'm glad you were finally able to cross this one off your list.

  9. After reading this I don't think VIII will actually disappoint.

    1. Mmmmhhh, not so sure about that.

      SI might have its issues, but Ultima VIII has worse ones, at a more fundamental level (and I do enjoy parts of it, like plot and setting).

      It won't take 112 hours to finish, that's for sure.

    2. I rage-quit UVIII after unable to jump across the stones for the 4675687644th time and it took forever to reload whenever you died.

      Pretty sure addict won't experience this frustration and as a result the final gimlet will be much higher than it deserves.

    3. Playing the original release version of Ultima VIII is the only way to fully appreciate how much angst the game inspired. Over time conventional wisdom seemed to shift toward, "It's a decent game, just not a good Ultima" -- but I doubt many people would feel this way if they had to play through it with the original jumping mechanics and 90s PC loading times.

    4. I do imagine that I'll have to experiment with both versions.

    5. Uh, no. Don't experiment with both versions of U8; avoid the patched version just like you've avoided the fan-made remakes of earlier Ultimas. Or actually even more so, because the patch changes the game's mechanics more thoroughly than anything in those remakes.

      You could even argue that the patch really is a fan-made patch, since it was made by just one guy, at home, on his own time and dime. (That guy happened to be the U8 project leader, and he somehow managed to make Origin agree to distribute the patch officially after it was done, but still...)

    6. Isn't the GOG version patched version anyway? Where can you even find the pre-patched version?

    7. "That guy happened to be the U8 project leader, and he somehow managed to make Origin agree to distribute the patch officially after it was done, but still..."

      Was that Mike McShaffrey? Am I wrong in remembering that the original intention for the jumping in U8 was that it would be targeted (as in the patch), but someone got the idea their head that making the jumping harder would compensate for the decreased length of the game after 2/3s of the content was cut?

    8. Yeah it was Mike McShaffry. My understanding is that the original jumping system WAS the design, Mike did say the QA testers kept telling them it wasn't good but Product didn't listen. He did take all the source home and implement the point and jump approach, which renders a lot of the game jumping puzzles trivially easy but also makes the game easier to play.

      My understanding is finding a pre-patch version digitally is impossible. I know I have it somewhere myself, either on a CD or 3.5" floppies.

    9. The patch came with a lenghty "apology" by Richard Garriot trying to explain what they wanted to achieve, "you spoke, we listened", etc... even if it was Mike McShaffry's initiative, it had definitely Origin's stamp of approval on it (there are also some references to the then in-progress U9 which are quite hilarious, in hindsight).

      Of course, at the time there was the small issue of getting it in the hands of the users, which probably by that time (9 months after release) had either completed the game or gave up on it.

      I agree that Chet should check the unpatched original (which is fairly trivial to find) to see how bad it was, but I don't see any argument to have him play it to the end, aside from sheer sadism...

    10. Thanks Adamantyr and Vince for the info and for the correction on the spelling of Mike *McShaffry*'s name.

      I'm not sure where I got that idea from, so it's probably wrong. There's something appealing about the image of a shadowy EA exec saying "You have to cut half the game to ship by Christmas? Just make the jumping harder. Kids love jumping! Have you even played Mario Bros?"

    11. There was a discussion of U8 by Digital Antiquarian a while ago. IIRC there was not much pressure from the Evil Ampire to ship U8 on time and to cut the extras. And Lord British in creating this Super Avatar Bros was inspired more by then Broderbund's wildly popular Avatar of Persia than by those Italian plumbers.

    12. This conversation seems confusing. Is there some unofficial patch around that's been applied to all versions by default, to the point that a floppy version without the patch is some kind of rare item? Or did it come out long after either version, and thus, it's of little concern? If the later, I hope some people were being sarcastic...
      Though, that said, it would probably be in GOG's interest to distribute floppy versions of CD games anyway, as some are better than the CD versions. To bad they're not being very smart these days.

    13. The jumping patch was officially released by Origin and it came out within a year of release. It also fixes bugs. The comparison to fan-made remakes that came out years later does not hold water.

  10. I must say that this is a disappointingly anticlimactic ending that would have absolutely incensed me had I put in as much time as you have back when this was released, taking into account the speed of contemporary machines. Broken floppies returned in the mail, indeed lol.

    1. I don't know that I'd call the ending "anticlimactic." It's a bit silly, to be sure, and could have used a final combat of some sort. But it does have some decent puzzles that reinforce the game's themes and the denouement is told in a cinematic with decent graphics, voice acting, and music. That's more than we get from a lot of games. At the end of a 30-hour game, I might have found it all relatively charming.

    2. I was about to write a rebuttal how the Sunrise Ise puzzles are actually quite good. :D

      It also made me realize how Ultima 9 is a more logical continuation to previous Ultima's than I've thought so far.

      The dungeons of Ultima 9 are full of such puzzles and some of them are quite clever too.

    3. Despite how far afield U9 strays, it's still tighter continuity with the rest of the series than you see in most video game franchises.

  11. Congratulations on being back here and beating this slog of a game!

    BTW. I got the impression what playing Serpent Isle and Ambermoon side by side was a tiring experience for you. May I suggest a kind of addendum to your rules? Something along the lines of not playing two long and complicated games at once. With the additional caveat, that you can play shorter and less complicated games even if they come from a more recent years.

    1. Maybe if it happens again. I think there's danger in over-engineering the upcoming list. Choosing at random has mostly worked for me so far.

    2. AlphabeticalAnonymousOctober 9, 2023 at 5:18 PM

      Fewer contests to let readers pick the next game, then? (I still feel a tad guilty about picking Ambermoon and piling on a heavier load.)

    3. I would have had to play it eventually, and I've mostly enjoyed it. Nothing to feel bad about.

  12. What RPGs ask (or let) you to make choices "on a bell curve", I wonder. Certainly, Geneforge and Avadon series come to mind (it's a huge pity the first Geneforge starts only in 2001 - there is no guarantee we'll live until Addict gets there, and it's ll be completely obsolete in terms of graphics and UI compared to non-indie RPGs by then, and might not even run on then-modern computers short of putting up a VM with Windows XP, but the story in that series is top-notch in terms of philosophy).

    Before that... I guess, Fallout isn't particularly black-and-white, and you get the best outcomes when you act very sensible sometimes, but do crazy things at other times...

    1. My visual problem with Jeff Vogel's games isn't that they're graphically "obsolete", many indie games today go for retro graphics.

      The problem with Vogel's games is that he doesn't have an eye for art, and the visuals are just plain ugly.

    2. I'll have to disagree here - I actually like his games' aesthetics, especially compared to higher-budget modern RPGs. Maybe it's my sight's problems, but I find Vogel's games "easier to see", easier to distinguish enemies and other important features from background.

    3. The graphics aren't anything special but at the size they are they are basically just icons anyway IMO. (I do find his latest Queen's Wish series a bit ugly though.)

    4. I also enjoy Vogel's aesthetic. It's just functional enough to allow me to fill in the gaps with my imagination. I feel that Spiderweb deserves more praise and recognition in general. His games really scratch the itch.

    5. I'm sure not a fan of the Phil Foglio art that Vogel used at first, but I like the games art as a whole. I still need to play more of them

    6. I've also enjoyed Jeff's aesthetic, you'd think it wouldn't work at all (and clearly for many it doesn't) but I've always found it charming in an indescribable way and generally very to tell what's going on to actually play the game with.

      I'd say you really play his games for the writing and combat though, the only game I've actually failed to get through of his is Nethergate and that's only because I discovered it so later at that point the user interface was so outdated that compared to even his own modern games (modern meaning 2010 and later) I just can't do it. Clearly the addict would have no trouble here, but it'll be a long time before any of these games are reached.

    7. I really wanted to play some of the spiderweb games, but for me the art is unbearable ugly. I can't even describe why, I could live with U6 graphics. But everything in the spiderweb games just looks so artificial... I am really sorry - and a bit annoyed by myself. But I just can't...

    8. For the first Exile/Avernum game, you have three versions: Exile, Avernum, and Avernum: Escape from the Pit. None of them are what I'd call pretty, but they are rather different from each other graphically, so if you don't mind old graphics I'd think you'd find at least one of them at least acceptable. They are not just graphical remakes, though, and as an old-school player maybe you'll find the newest one too streamlined.

    9. On his blog, Vogel goes into a lot of detail explaining why the visuals look the way they do. In short, better art is too expensive and they don't have the money for it.

  13. Welcome back and congratulations.
    I finished this game back in the 90's but can't remember anything of the final part. In my memory the game ended with Dupre's sacrifice.
    I tried to play again along with you, but a bug stopped me midgame and didn't feel like starting again after 80 hours.
    Anyway I enjoyed a lot U7, SI and U8, but I have never been able to finish U9

  14. Let me add congrats to the list as well as a hearty welcome back!

    On the themes of the shrine rooms: the chaos rooms are all degraded, while the order ones are not. I took that as representative the state of the two serpents. On the other hand, it seems like there may have been an intention to mirror some of the rooms (e.g., swamp and seaside are both watery landscapes).

    I'll also admit to arriving at the end game without the serpent sword - it looks exactly like the generic serpent swords in U7-1, so I really had no idea it was special. I'm embarrassed to admit that in the era before the internet, I had to call the Origin hint line ($3.99 a minute, probably) to figure out what I had done wrong. In retrospect, I wonder if the difficulty of this game was intended to generate a second Serpent Isle revenue stream for EA...

    1. This is one of those situations where blogging about the game helps. In my second-to-last entry, I wrote that Xenka gave me the Serpent Sword "that will have some role in the final ritual." If I hadn't written that, I could imagine sorting through my inventory and saying, "Serpent sword? One of those generic weapons from Serpent Keep? Why am I lugging one of those around?"

    2. Yeah. I also forgot the Serpent Sword in my recent playthrough in August.

      It would be the most ironic thing to ragequit the game after that, since it's the only thing you are required to do before the ending cutscene.

    3. This game has too many McGuffins, and too many of them don't look like they're all that important.

      Isn't the Serpent Crown in a random hollow tree somewhere? That's very easy to miss. It's also easy to overlook the Staff at a random spot in the dungeon, and the Armor in the treasury where you have no real reason to visit. At least the other items are automatically obtained as part of the main plot.

    4. It's not really in a "random hollow tree"; it just seemed that way for me because I stumbled upon it long before I got the map to the pirate treasure that would have led me to it.

  15. Since you've already completed the game, I guess we can talk about this now.

    This game has two cheat rooms. One is accessed from Monitor and the other from Moonshade (a tree stump next to Stefano's house). The one from Monitor leads you to a Cat Island, which seems to have been a part of some cut content.

    The Moonshade one leads you to an island, where you can walk through a water path into a very unique room, full of naked female Avatars of all races. It even has it's own music and tileset.

    Funnily enough, the cheat rooms are also story-locked. Certain items (serpent tooth to some location in the North) won't appear before Gorlab Swamp.

  16. Welcome back!

    And at last it's done... this will be one heck of a GIMLET!

  17. I was watching a twitch stream the other day, and someone asked a question that I thought was interesting: "What game do you love, but would never actually want to play again?"

    I think I'd still be willing to go back to Serpent Isle from time to time... but I'm not sure I'd ever finish it. I think I said in some earlier entry that I usually only made it as far as Gorlab Swamp before calling it a day, back when I used to replay the Ultima games.

    For what it's worth, younger me really liked the ending, I think my imagination surely filled in various gaps and inconsistencies in the plot, to make it fit with whatever I wanted the game to be in my head.

    1. I still really like Serpent Isle. I've sometimes thought about learning how to use Exult Studio to see whether I can fix some of the issues I see with it. The setting and backstory are really interesting and a lot of the places and people are memorable. The Fawn trial is highly ambitious and pretty cool if it doesn't break horribly, Gorlab is a fun concept, and I honestly could have used an entire game's worth of Moonshade drama.

      I genuinely think that a few thoughtful edits, a lot more QA, and some quality of life improvements (in-game journal, please) would be sufficient to make Serpent Isle a pretty great game. Not a great RPG, but it inherits its shortcomings in that regard from Black Gate. If anything, the game could stand to lose a few vestigial RPG systems (food and moneychanging; I like the varied currencies but make the moneychanging automatic).

    2. I agree. I also really like Serpent Isle.

      In my recent playthrough, I did start to wonder what if Serpent Isle had some optional megaboss encounters in it's post-destruction half, like Final Fantasy games do. Give some goals for the player to strive to and force them to use their fancy loot.

      The original Ultima 7 has an Exult mod called the Keyring mod, which adds a completely new area, Mariah as a companion, a new sidequest and boss fight to the game. And I remember the fight to be even somewhat challenging by Ultima 7 standards.

      It's a proof that Exult is capable of adding a lot of content to the core game.

      At the moment, Serpent Isle only has a fix patch, which adds some already existing but uncoded reactions back into the game: Cantra will react to her restoration, companions will thank you after releasing them from the Banes, Iolo is more aware of whatever condition Gwenno is in... but the surviving city characters are still oblivious and off-beat to the destruction surrounding them and Dupre's death also gets no reaction, so it doesn't actually improve the story experience that much.

  18. Welcome back, Addict! Not the worst start to the cold season to finally leave this somewhat tedious epic behind.

  19. Considering that entire garden is orange, a pumpkin would fit right in. I think your observation about the six torches is spot on!

  20. As delighted to see you back as I'm sure you are to have finally finished this one off! Bravo.

  21. Great final line. Now that you're back, are you going to turn Patreon back on?

  22. Welcome back, and well done on completing this over-long game!

    That last line slayed me!

  23. Welcome back!
    Ref the glass sword, Larry Niven wrote a great fantasy story called, "What Good Is A Glass Dagger?" This could be a reference to that (and everyone should track down the story and read it).

  24. On the serpents, the end of the Ophidians is what happens when you only had the Order and Chaos serpents. They CAN'T cooperate with each other to achieve balance. They need something between them to keep them from fighting, since their world views were so different.

    Without the Earth serpent mediating between them, they can't agree on how to do anything. Then their human servants went to war with each other. All started by Order.

    Everything was out of balance because they were incapable of cooperating with each other. The Earth serpent was called Balance because it kept the other two from each other's throat.

    Alternately, they were at least capable of going to war with each other. It was the humans of Order that caused the whole mess after Balance stopped guiding it's servants.

    1. EDIT "capable of NOT going to war" in the last paragraph

  25. Been looking forward to the Addict's commentary on this one for going on a decade now. Have to say it didn't really turn out how I was expecting. I knew the game was rushed out the door before final polish but wow, the impression I get is that Origin had a bunch of maps finished with nothing in them and just whipped up some timewasting puzzles to use them for *something* at the end.

    Given the sharp decline in Origin game quality post U7 and the EA acquisition, here's the million dollar question. How much of the flaws in U7P2, U8 and U9 were producer mismanagement from the top, and how much was Origin's own fault for failing to prioritize appropriately? Strike Commander and The Black Gate were already way behind schedule when EA became involved, as far as I know.

    1. This is about the point in game development history where games made by one person or tiny teams started to really diverge from what was considered "state of the art," yeah. I don't know of any Ultima VII "clones" (said with affection to these games that kept widely-beloved gameplay aspects of Ultima alive in a world that was trying to push 2D out), but you have so many for the previous six. (We'll start seeing the Ultima VI clones with the Spiderweb Software games, Odyssey: The Legend of Nemesis, and Excelsior: Phase II. Even as the Ultima series takes a downturn here, there is still plenty to look forward to on this blog for its fans.)

  26. To echo others, indeed, welcome back!

    It must be a satisfying return as well. As much as this outstayed its welcome, it must be satisfying to have it done.

    I presume Order did reign after the Order followers left. There was nothing there. Chaos returned with the Brittanians who founded the cities?

    1. Order wiped out the followers of Chaos completely. It was a total genocide. And then... they just left.

      Whatever that means.

      The Imbalance is because the world of Serpent Isle has been on auto-destruction ever since the genocide. It just took centuries and in that time the Britannian settlers managed to settle there.

      The automatons you see in Moonshade are followers of the Order, who have been left behind and their memories wiped clean. Why were they left behind? Is it because they were killed in battle? I don't know. Lot of unanswered mysteries in the lore.

      Petra most certainly was an order follower who decided to become an automaton, but then somewhere must have had lost her original identity.

      The process of automatization really does seem to make you less than a human. The human person is dead and whatever, is in the automaton, is an echo of the said person.

      I base this on the actual surviving Order automatons in the Temples, who are very programmed and reduced personalities, if they were ever human at all.

      On the other hand, because Petra clearly loves Rocco, it must mean there's something human remaining in Petra. Something that is not just programmable and erasable.

    2. automatization - should it be automatonization?

  27. I remember Sunrise Isle being kind of a cool ending area. I never expected there would be a big bad boss or anything, but the puzzle area where you have to put opposing icons on the pedestals - which is a change from what you've had to do thus far - made complete sense in the temple of balance, which you really haven't had to demonstrate at all until this point. That the puzzles were simplistic didn't matter - only the symbolism did.

    Admittedly I was using a walkthrough somewhat to get around so that would have made it a hell of a lot less tedious to figure things out.

    Ironically what I remember of Sunrise Isle is the pedestal area and the ice golem combat and the wall of lights ending but nothing else of it, and it was skipped over in this entry (which is fine - every time I read these entries, I feel like if I was writing it, every entry would skip over parts like this one did, and I'm amazed at the level of the detail on the blog in general).

    I'd played U8 before U7SI, so younger me was really quite amazed at the cool cutscene ending with the guardian's hand because for its time, this was simply cutting edge, and I could only imagine what it would be like for people who played Serpent Isle to have to wait for whoknowshowlong to see what Origin had in store for them next with the Guardian saga, this time without any kind of clue as to what's to come. At least last time they knew the Avatar was stuck on Britannia and that there would be some kind of semi-connecting story; here he was yanked away from his companions from another world that wasn't Britannia onto another world. I don't think that they thought maybe the Guardian was taking them to the Land of the Dark Unknown or the Feudal Lands.

  28. It feels like the game turns into an adventure game in the end where you need to solve puzzles and place a lot of items in the right places. No more combat, exploration, leveling, etc.

    1. yeah i'm not a fan of that, i prefer when my RPGs are about killing monsters, looting, exploring and building my characters, some lite immediate puzzles are welcome, by immediate i mean short-term puzzles where the solution is found within the dungeon/area.

      the last thing i want is to get stuck in a puzzle where i need to use weird items i found it dozens of hours ago(if i even did) to solve it and advance through the game, what i will call long-term puzzles.

    2. Ultima's been like this since Ultima 6. Once you realize that the evil invading demonic horde is actually not evil or demonic, that game also turns into an adventure game. There's a reason for why the next logical step for Origin was to do Ultima Adventures, which would double down on puzzles even more.

    3. Ultima 6, however, did get stellar ratings on this blog and Ultima 7 did not!

    4. Wait until we get to Planescape Torment :D Great adventure, average RPG

  29. Have you ever considered doing Below the Root? You referred to it as an adventure game in one post a while back, but I think that it is an RPG. You start by selecting from different characters with different stats. Those stats can be increased or decreased through play. You talk to many different NPCs and they treat you differently based on which character you selected. You can kill people (though it is pacifist centric). You obtain items/equipment to solve puzzles. There is a magic system and a money system. You need food and rest.

    I consider it to be the first open world RPG.

  30. Late answer but regarding this: "Truth, Love, and Courage are just Some Guy's Idea, whereas Order, Chaos, and Balance are objective reality"

    They're two takes on the same things. The principles of Balance and the principles are equivalent. Rationality (The ability to comprehend life and understand the world) is similar to Truth, Harmony (be at peace with the self, the individual and the world) is similar to Love, Dedication (That which permits one to surmount obstacles and lead others) is similar to Courage.

    This is hinted by how Monitor that fell to apathy (imbalance of dedication) is linked to the helm of courage, Fawn that fell to prejudice (imbalance of harmony) is linked to the rose of love, and Moonshade that fell to ruthlessness (imbalance of rationality) is linked to the mirror of truth.

  31. Looks like blogger ate my comment, sorry if it's a duplicate

    "Truth, Love, and Courage are just Some Guy's Idea, whereas Order, Chaos, and Balance are objective reality"

    They're in fact two takes on the same core principles, you merely were on the wrong axis.

    Harmony, "The ability to be at peace with the self, the individual and the world", also describes Love.
    Dedication, "That which permits one to surmount obstacles and lead others", also describes Courage.
    Rationality, "The ability to comprehend life and understand the world around us", describes the understanding of Truth.

    This is reinforced by the three cities. Monitor fallen to apathy, an imbalance of Dedication, is linked ot the Helm of Courage. Moonshade fallen to ruthlessness, an imbalance of Rationality, is linked to the Mirror of Truth. Fawn fallen to prejudice, an imbalance of Harmony, the linked to to the Rose of Love.

  32. Were the Ophidians humanoid or nagaoid? I think they're naga in UO.

    1. That's very weird. They're definitely humans in this game. There are still a few of the around, after all, particularly in the Silver Seed.


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