Sunday, January 28, 2024

Bloodstone: Island of the Gods

None of those axes, alas, is the one I seek.
I had hoped to win Bloodstone for this entry, but I'm just a little shy, and I want to have something to post at midnight. I've collected all the artifacts, given them to my chosen dwarf leader, and breached the dwarf god's castle at Entemar. I still have at least a few dungeon levels to go, though.
To recap, the plot involves a young, orphaned dwarf warrior (my lead character, Danat) trying to unite the dwarves to counter the threat of the Taldor, although frankly the Taldor don't seem like much of a threat since the first hour or two of the game. The mechanism for doing this seems to be to throw his lot behind one of the two remaining clan leaders--Chief Torongo of the Tamar or Chief Rakan of the Morin. They agree with Danat that the artifact is Khamalkhad, the magic axe that the dwarf god, Rohrkhad, forged for his son, Dahlkhad. But they also want a series of lesser artifacts, including the Scarab of Dablak, the Brooch of Aquilla, the Golden Bowl, a Magic Orb, the Iron Crown, a whistle, a mitre, and the Death Mask of Rohrkhad.
Exploring the Tower of Kireini.
Through a long process of finding keys, finding passwords, collecting hints, and dungeon delving, I started this session with all the artifacts in my possession except the Death Mask, the Mite, and Khamalkhad. Getting the axe involved building a boat to sail to Rohrkhad's castle, and that in turn required a Golden Needle (to go with the canvas, hammer, and wood I'd already collected). I had just entered the Tower of Kireini, where I was supposed to find the needle and mitre.
Kireini was, I think, the largest dungeon in the game so far, with six levels. The path through the levels was very linear, involving the need to visit some levels multiple times. This path introduced navigational elements seen in the previous Magic Candle games but not Bloodstone until now, including one-way doors, rooms whose exits don't take you in the direction that you expected, pressure plates that open walls, and teleporter pads. The Candle games had teleporters that would come upon you in random squares, so that you had to step into just about every one, but the ones here were all marked with pads. I think. There may have been a couple that didn't have any markings.
Heading for a couple of pressure plates that open a wall.
Perhaps to compensate for navigational complexity, the monsters in the tower were mostly easy, many of them unable to even pierce my armor. Even the few ambushes didn't really cause any troubles. Treasure chests generally contained loads of mushrooms--which would have been nice if I hadn't just loaded up on all the mushrooms I could carry.
Oh no! What am I going to do against enemies that have no magic, no armor, and whose physical attacks don't even penetrate my armor?
On Level 3, I found a locked door for which I didn't have the key. Above it, a sign read, "Some doors are better left unopenable -- Doroma." I had just encountered that name in the previous session: He was the childhood friend (or more) of Gregor, the Rulaanese warrior who secretly loved flowers. Doroma's father had sent him to school to become a wizard, and Gregor never saw him again. He apparently took over this tower at some point.
The Golden Needle came out of a treasure chest on Level 5. On Level 6, in a chest in the hallway, I found a magic sword named Kastapha. I had to wield it and attack a few enemies before a skill increase told me that it was a sword. I gave it to my only sword-wielding character, Maxon the Mage.  
Another one of these damned things.
The top level had a central room whose door didn't reveal itself until I cleared out all the other rooms in the area. Inside, I found Doroma, his head buried in a book. He yelled at us for disturbing him, made some half-hearted threats, and wouldn't engage in any dialogue options. But when I gave him the Book of Flowers that I had received from Gregor, his tune changed: "This is so cool! I always wanted to work with flowers, but pop wouldn't let me. He said I had to be an evil wizard like he was. How can I ever thank you?" Before we had a chance to respond, he came up with the idea on his own: he'd tell us the location of the mitre, buried just outside the chamber.
He seems to be drawing a doodle on that page. And who holds a pen like that?
A few moments later, we had the last object. I should mention that the mitre is the only object for which I never saw any dialogue giving it a more extensive name or history. I'm not even sure what it's supposed to be. In modern parlance, it would describe a bishop's hat (which might be hard to wear with a crown), but historically it has described a waistband or various types of headbands.
The top level had a teleporter, which we took back to the surface and then walked to the camp of Denatrius, the shipbuilder. It took me a while to figure out how to enlist him to build the ship. You have to just give him the gold, and the rest of the items follow automatically. A cut scene described how he taught us his skills and put us to work.
I'm not sure how sawing that particular stack of wood that particular way contributes to a ship.
Soon, we had a ship to board. Sailing it is just a matter of walking aboard and heading off. You move where you want to go. There's no consideration of wind, no waiting or resting during the voyage, and no indication that the dwarves are getting seasick (as in the Candle) games. 
I spent some time sailing around the continent and islands. I verified that the coordinates go from (0,0) in the northwest corner to (255,241) in the southeast. Because of the coordinate system, I already knew the relative positions of the islands I'd already visited by teleporter. The largest "open" area was to the northeast, and I correctly guessed that the island with Castle Entemar, Ilakasek, would be there. I spent some time in the other corners and around the perimeter of Tarq, and I found nothing I hadn't already visited except a couple of mushroom patches.
Reaching the ends of the world.
[Ed. Forgot to include this originally, but while sailing around, I stopped by the SeaTemple in the southeast part of Tarq and grabbed the Death Mask. Since I had already cleared out the dungeon, it just took a few minutes.]

At this point, I had all the items on my "to do" list cleared except for finding the chamber of the sleeping god Tito, giving the artifacts to my chosen dwarf leader, and breaching Castle Entemar. I got the impression from a previous commenter that there are three endings to the game, one each for choosing a different chieftain, and one if you get Khamalkhad without giving the artifacts to either of them. I took a save and headed over to Castle Entemar to explore the third possibility first. 
Approaching Castle Entemar.
Entemar was on an island in the middle of a lake on Ilakasek. My "Swimming" skill was sufficient to get me there, though I could have used "Teleport' otherwise.
The castle's gate was magically locked but I had the password (TOGARNAK) from the loremaster way back in Tulara or something. As we entered, Maka offered: "We are now in the home of Rohrkhad, the god of the Dwarves. Out of respect, please do not speak unless absolutely necessary." The vast, ornate halls were full of displayed weapons and odd furniture. As previously reported, there's really no way to interact with environmental objects except to look at them. The only way you can even pick up treasure is to U)se a shovel and dig for it or U)se a pick and loot it from a chest. 
Four of us are dwarves, Maka.
I had intended to try to find the axe as fast as possible, see the ending, then reload from outside. As such, I wasn't interested in wasting a lot of time with rooms, though I did clear a few while looking for stairways. The first few fights were relatively easy, against firelords, windhir, and bazards. They all have lots of hit points and high armor, but a full load of mushrooms and the extra round offered by "Timestop" were enough to defeat them. 
Even fueled by a Mirget and with his armor stripped away, it's going to take me three more hits to kill him.
Then I wandered into a room with some new enemy called "dokari." There were 13 of them. They have 680 hit points, armor of 60, shields of 99, and they hit multiple times per round for 70-80 hit points each. They were hard. Even with "Timestop," I couldn't kill more than a few of them in two rounds, and they blew through my party and wiped out my Nifts within a couple of rounds after that. Three times, I suffered full-party deaths at their hands while experimenting with different spells. 
On my fourth try, I used this strategy: Everyone entered full of Nifts, Gonshis, Mirgets, Luffins, and Turpins. First round, I had one mage "Jump" the fighters into range. The second mage cast "Weaken" on the dokari, one by one, removing their armor before the fighters attacked them. I had the fighters swallow Mirgets before every attack.
I would give anything for a mass "Weaken."
Second round, both mages continued to "Weaken" the rest of the enemies while the fighters continued to attack. The dokari came alive, decimated the Nifts on the fighters, and killed one of them. During the Third round, one of the mages cast "Crumble," removing all enemies' shields. The other cast "Wherrigan" summoning a powerful ally to the battlefield. Then they hit the dokari with "Firedeath" and "Firestorm," softening them a little for future attacks.
The dokari mostly ignored the wherrigan and had killed all my fighters by the end of the third round. One of them ran up and quickly killed one of my mages. But with one mage left, I adopted the strategy of using "Jump" to move between corners of the battlefield round after round. The dokari would only just get into melee range during their turns, and then I'd jump away to the other corner. In the meantime, I was using the rest of my actions each round to continue blasting them with spells, as was the wherrigan.
Maxon prepares to jump away just as the dokari reach him.
After seven rounds, I killed the last one and proceeded to "Resurrect" the other five party members. My reward for the most difficult battle in the entire Candle series? A fountain with 13 "Glamour" spells. After that, I avoided rooms if I could.
Another hard-won victory.
Fortunately, most of the stairways in the castle didn't require me to pass through rooms. On Level 3, in a large hall, Maka spoke up again: This must be the tomb of the first dwarven king. As a child, I was told that the first king of the dwarves was placed in a tomb near the world windows so that he could watch them until the end of time itself." Sure enough, a large sarcophagus in the room, surrounded by weapons, was near a couple of portals in the floor that seemed to gaze out on the cosmos. Again, there was no way to interact with any of this, but it was fun graphically.  
The sequel will take place on another planet.
On Level 4, we came to a room with an enormous throne and a weapon case behind it. As we approached the case, we were teleported to a new, icy-cold dungeon called "Caverns 1." There didn't seem to be any way back.
I forgot who is speaking here.
At this point, I decided that my interest in seeing multiple endings wasn't strong enough that I wanted to complete a multi-level "Caverns" dungeon, then have to reload and do the whole thing again. I instead reloaded from within Entemar and made my way to the exit.
The final dungeon?
When it comes to giving artifacts to the dwarf chiefs, I don't know if you have to give them all to one, or if your "favor" is simply determined by who you give more to. Either way, to make the choice, I decided to look up what the two chiefs had to say when I first approached them.
Torongo (Tamar chief): "Greetings, adventurers. Since you are in need of aid, I have a proposition for you. Scattered throughout the land of Tarq and the surrounding islands are many lost relics. The evil and hated Morin, weak dwarves living to the south of here, covet these treasures. But as chief of the greatest tribe in the land, they are rightfully mine. Unfortunately, I can spare no troops to secure these treasures, as I must protect my people against the depredations of the Taldor. With the treasures in my possession, I will be hailed as the most powerful Dwarf of our time. Return these treasures to me and I shall reward you appropriately."
Using the "Notes" option to look back on the previous dialogue.
Rakan (Morin chief): "Brave warriors! I commend your skills in battle! Come, join me in my feast and let us talk of things great and small. In the days of yore, the gods gave treasures to those powerful in mind and body. As the ages passed, these treasures were lost to marauding tribes and monster hordes. Now, many lifetimes later, the treasures are but a memory recorded in the tablets of the loremasters. I have no right to ask you to find any of these treasures, but please give them to me. With the treasures in my possession, all the Dwarves in Tarq will recognize my superiority and flock to my banner. United. We Dwarves can defeat the Taldor and other evil creatures. But separated, as we are now, we shall fall, tribe by tribe. In return for your help, I will do what I can to aid you in your adventures."
Who would you pick? Between the two, Rakan seems a bit less entitled and obnoxious. He speaks of unity instead of how much he hates the other tribe. He seems focused on defeating the Taldor, whereas Torongo dreams of personal glory. I ended up giving everything to Rakan. He didn't have anything special to say once he had the full set.
He just says this after you give him each object.
But I still don't know why I couldn't be the one to unite the tribes. Because I'm not chief? Or is that what happens if I don't give the artifacts to anyone? I thought I remembered someone saying that collecting Khamalkhad without divesting the axe first was a lesser ending, perhaps a bug, but if I'm wrong, let me know and I'll reload before making the final push through Entemar.
Time so far: 47 hours


  1. Given the texts, I'd say the game clearly points you in the direction of Rakan.

  2. The website I linked and quoted back when you started the game calls it a "game-crippling bug", though from their description it's not entirely clear to me if the result is just a(n unintended?) short(er) ending (ROT13 just in case): "Nf fbba nf lbh ergevrir gur tbq'f nkr, gur tnzr vf bire naq cebprrqf gb fgebyy bss vagb gur svany raq-frdhrapr nhgbzngvpnyyl."

    They claim "The publishers acknowledge the goof by inserting a statement in the game box."

    As far as I can see, Andrew Schultz only seems to mention what happens at the end (ROT13) vs lbh tvir gur vgrzf gb Gbebatb vafgrnq.

  3. Did I miss something, or is the Death Mask's acquisition not covered here? It sounds like it's still needed at the start, then we jump to turning in the artifacts after acquiring the Mitre. Either way, looking forward to the end of this one!

    1. Oh, right. Thanks for mentioning that. I grabbed it from the SeaTemple while I was sailing around in the boat. I had already cleared the dungeon, so it just took a few minutes.

  4. He seems to be drawing a doodle on that page. And who holds a pen like that?
    Artists don't hold pens and pencils like you would for writing, since they often need to make large lines, something ill-suited for the grip one uses for writing. That's designed for small detailed work. While I don't really use that grip myself, it does work for making those longer lines. That said, the dwarf in the image is clearly done with having a laugh at everyone's expense. If you notice what he's drawing, he's drawing a smiley face with a brush, and doing so in such a way that guarantees that his presumably expense brush is going to be utterly useless soon.

  5. I love this blog, keep on playining crpgs for a long time

  6. Every time I read about the god Tito, I wonder if Marlon and Jermaine are coming up next.

  7. I remember finishing it without having ever given any of the special items away, or at least ensuring neither had more than the other.

  8. It always bugs me in an RPG when your character is virtually a living god by the end and yet you're expected to give the Holy MacGuffin to one faction leader or another without even a nod to the idea that you might do it yourself (even if only to explain why it's totally impossible). Sounds like this game might not have that problem.

  9. Am I the only one who read castle Entemar as castle Alamar at first?


I welcome all comments about the material in this blog, and I generally do not censor them. However, please follow these rules:

1. Do not link to any commercial entities, including Kickstarter campaigns, unless they're directly relevant to the material in the associated blog posting. (For instance, that GOG is selling the particular game I'm playing is relevant; that Steam is having a sale this week on other games is not.) This also includes user names that link to advertising.

2. Please avoid profanity and vulgar language. I don't want my blog flagged by too many filters. I will delete comments containing profanity on a case-by-case basis.

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

4. I appreciate if you use ROT13 for explicit spoilers for the current game and upcoming games. Please at least mention "ROT13" in the comment so we don't get a lot of replies saying "what is that gibberish?"

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

Blogger has a way of "eating" comments, so I highly recommend that you copy your words to the clipboard before submitting, just in case.

I read all comments, no matter how old the entry. So do many of my subscribers. Reader comments on "old" games continue to supplement our understanding of them. As such, all comment threads on this blog are live and active unless I specifically turn them off. There is no such thing as "necro-posting" on this blog, and thus no need to use that term.

I will delete any comments that simply point out typos. If you want to use the commenting system to alert me to them, great, I appreciate it, but there's no reason to leave such comments preserved for posterity.

I'm sorry for any difficulty commenting. I turn moderation on and off and "word verification" on and off frequently depending on the volume of spam I'm receiving. I only use either when spam gets out of control, so I appreciate your patience with both moderation tools.