Thursday, January 25, 2024

Worlds of Legend: Paying to Win

Three-quarters done!
Before continuing on to the next dungeon and the third of four amulet shards, I decided to fully explore the overworld and catalog its various locations. It turns out to consist of 22 locations. Fifteen of them are relatively generic cities, with some combination of apothecaries, temples, blacksmiths, and artificers. Each apothecary has a different selection of herbs and at different prices, so I took note of those for when I needed to stock up.
The "artificer" of each town sells magic items.
Five of the locations are cities with "Vaults" (dungeons). Each of these also sells horses, but none of the cities with vaults have any other services. Each vault except the first, in Imperia, is gated by a key that you have to get from Sushiana when you turn in an amulet shard. The order of exploration is thus quite linear, with the only "side" dungeon being the Mad Monks--more on them at the end. The Mad Monks are the 21st location, and the last is the "odd shrine" in the center of the map, where I suspect the endgame is going to take place.
I need the reunited amulet to "call forth the eternal champion."
I was going to list all the locations here with their rough coordinates, but I guess that would just take up space for no reason. Suffice to say that they all have vaguely oriental names (e.g., Sengrosiah, Tokiama, Insomyai, Guidato, Goshiata) that don't follow the linguistic rules of any real nation. No problem there; it's a fantasy world, after all.
Legend had a mechanic by which cities could change hands through conquest and such, and you had to defend your own faction's cities by paying for defenses or defeating the enemy armies yourself. This game removes those elements and just has the enemy armies roaming the maps. Sometimes, they're hard to avoid. If you stand still, they'll pass by without incident, but if you encounter one on the move, your only options are to show a pass, which you lose, or fight--which I, at least, almost always lose. I think I fought eight banner encounters this session and only won three of them.
Cities do change hands, but I don't think it has the same consequences as in Legend.
I don't think I've made one thing clear about combat in earlier entries. The game only allows a certain number of enemies on the screen at once. As you kill each foe, he's replaced with someone "waiting in the wings." There's no way to tell how many enemies are waiting to join the battle, so you just have to keep killing and hope for the best. In dungeons, the number of off-screen enemies is rarely more than double the number on-screen, but in banner encounters, it could be five or seven times the number you initially encounter. No matter how well you seem to be doing at first, the bastards just don't stop coming.
The difficulty of the battles gave me an excuse to try out some more spells and spell-related tactics. Most of them didn't work out well. The first thing I tried was "Surround-Thrall." "Thrall" is the only offensive spell that has no effect on allies, so you don't have to be careful about where you cast it. The results were mixed. When I cast it, I definitely saw an immediate change in enemy behavior, but it didn't last long. The spell might be short-lived, but also I don't think the party recognizes the change in monster status from enemy to ally, so they just keep pounding away at whoever is closest. This seems to dispel the "Thrall" status. Overall, the game provides so little feedback that it's hard to tell what's happening. At best, the spell provided a momentary respite.
Preparing to cast "Surround-Thrall" during a banner encounter.
I also experimented with more "Continuous" fields, but the impossibility of navigating characters--getting them to take certain paths, getting them to stay in place, getting them to follow orders at all--doomed the effort. Enemies would inevitably end up in "Healing" fields and allies would inevitably stumble into "Paralysis" and "Thrall" fields. Someone last session suggested that if the Runemaster was the only character, it might be easier, and there's something to that, but even in a later battle when I decided to focus on the Runemaster exclusively, I couldn't get her to stay where I wanted.
I did discover, however, that I can win just about any battle with three spells. The first is 16 instances of "Healing" strung together. Each one absorbs 16 units of hedjog venom, but each one restores about a quarter of the Runemaster's health. The second is "Forward-Disrupt-Disrupt-Disrupt" which kills most enemies in one hit and any enemy in two hits. With these two spells, I can keep my Runemaster alive and blast enemies one by one until they're all gone. The third spell is "Missile-Vivify" for resurrecting the other party members after the Runemaster saves the day.
I think this is just a random battle shot. It's hard to capture spellcasting in screenshots for this game.
Now, this strategy costs a fortune, so I was careful not to use it in every battle. But with those spells, winning combats becomes an economic problem rather than a strategic one. That's not a complaint. I like that the game gives an expensive "out" for players like me who have trouble with other tactics.
That's mostly how I won the three banner encounters, all of which provided new passes and very nice equipment upgrades like Ethereal Swords and Crystal Plate. 
When I was done with my overworld explorations, I headed for the city of Tokiama and the next dungeon. It turned out to be two more levels, the first quite large. It had the usual linear progression of keys and doors, but it also introduced some levers that rotated a central room, changing the configuration of corridors every time you pulled one of them. It took a few minutes to figure out.
The room beneath the three at the top rotates, causing different corridor configurations to appear depending on what levers are pulled.
I found the enemies easier in this dungeon than in the last, but there were more of them. They respawned faster than the previous dungeons and didn't give me much peace when I tried to linger in a room to let "Regeneration" do its job. The number of enemies was good for my finances.
The puzzles were a little bit harder. This room required me to have someone standing on each of the teleporter destination pads on the east side while another character walked onto the teleporter in the water. The problem is there are five pads (including the one in the water) and only four characters. I wasted all kinds of time trying to paralyze an enemy on one of the pads (a spell that wears off quickly) before I managed to get one to just keep attacking me from one of the squares. 
As long as that little kobold stays where he is, I'm good. (There's an invisible character on what looks like an unoccupied teleporter.)
This room had a similar theme. Standing in front of the button and pressing it caused the character to teleport to each of the pads on the other side of the "gap" and then back to the original pad. I needed the character to stay over on the other side of the gap. The only way to do that was to have a second character rush in and stand in front of the button just after the first character teleported away, but there wasn't time to select the second character and move him before the first ended up back where she started. Instead, I had to start the second character moving towards the location from several squares away and time it perfectly so she arrived just as the first character left. Then I had to cast "Damage" on those floor runes, but I mistook them for "Dispel" runes and wasted a lot of time hitting them with the wrong spells.
Carefully lining up my characters on teleport pads.
I couldn't solve the final room--the one with the amulet shard--and I had to get an online hint. (I tried for about 20 minutes.) This room has four pillars that constantly shoot area "Damage" spells. If you stand in them, you die quickly. Pressing the button on the pillar causes a "Teleport" spell to launch from the western pillar, perpendicular to the "Damage" spells. The "Teleport" spell hits any character in its path (along the "R" runes), teleporting him to the next "pier" to the west. You have to do this four times before the character can get to the chest. The problem is that standing in the right location means standing in the middle of a "Damage" inferno. I tried casting "Anti-Magic," but that kept getting stripped away. I eventually sent my Runemaster across, as she could heal herself, and it took about eight multi-"Healing" spells.
Try to notice a single spell shooting west-to-east in all of that.
The reason I couldn't figure it out on my own is that with the constant bounding of "Damage" from the northern pillars, I couldn't even see the "Teleport" spell firing from the western pillar. I thought the "R" runes were telling me to cast "Teleport" on them, not to wait on them to be teleported. 
Anyway, I got the shard and left the dungeon. I don't want to suggest it was quick--it took me about 5 hours--but there just isn't much new to say about the experience. There were a couple of odd encounters, though:
  • One room had a sign that read: "The grave contains the charred remains of a Mantric. How could one so powerful meet with such a gruesome fate?" I don't know what a "Mantric" is, but I was sure these were going to be the "bones of an ancient mage" that the artificer wanted. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything in the room no matter what I searched.
  • A second room had a glowing stone on a pedestal. "The power of the stone should not be played with, foolish mortals!," a sign read. I couldn't figure out any way to interact with it.
Good thing I never found a way to "play" with it.
Once I was out, I made the usual rounds, selling my excess stuff, replenishing my luck, and replenishing my reagents. I had enough money to get almost 999 (the maximum) of each reagent.
But when I then visited the Mad Monks to level up, I was short of the amount I needed to train all of my characters. I tried attacking them again and swiftly died at their hands. Determined to beat them, I tried a third time, parking my Runemaster in a corner square where she could only be approached by one enemy at a time, and blasting them with "Forward-Disrupt-Disrupt-Disrupt" the moment they did. I healed myself with the 16x "Healing" spell when necessary. By the time the battle was over, the Runemaster was the only one alive, and she'd mixed and cast so many spells that some of my reagents had gone from 999 to the low 200s--but I had won.
My Runemaster stands alone, shredding enemy after enemy with "Disrupt."
In previous attempts to beat the monks, I thought the battle was like a banner encounter, but it turns out that it's the opening room of a small dungeon. More monks attacked as I explored, but thankfully not as many as the initial room.
The dubious reward of a difficult dungeon.
I found my way to a door that was unlocked with one of the "lost keys" that I've been collecting. It led to a room with a treasure chest, which had a sword called "Occam's Razor" in it. It's a decent sword, but I don't think it's as good as what my characters were already carrying (two Ethereal Blades and a Wraith Blade). I didn't find any other doors for the other two keys.
I killed hundreds of monks to get their respect.
The one good outcome from the experience is that the monks will train us for free--which is good because I needed every penny to replenish my reagents from that one battle. I headed to the next dungeon city, Guidato, dead broke. There's all kinds of good-looking stuff in the blacksmiths' shops and artificers' shops that I haven't been able to afford, too. You know I like a tight economy.

Time so far: 26 hours


  1. I just looked up a spoiler for the bones of the ancient mage and I fear the answer is going to annoy you. ROT13ed for heavy spoilers.

    Vg frrzf gung gur obarf lbh jnag ner gur obarf bs gvznaa zbpuha, jub lbh qrsrngrq onpx va gur svefg qhatrba.

  2. So, game number 500 is going to be Bethesda's 'Arena'? There certainly are worse choices...

    (Sorry, can't really engage with the current titles.)

    1. That's a different Arena. And who knows what will move inbetween.

    2. People are way too hung up on that specific number. There's nothing I could possibly plug in there that would satisfy how much everyone has built it up.

    3. You could skip the number, just for fun. ;)

    4. Also, ES: Arena is from 1994 and I still think there are still a few games left from 1993, including a possible GOTY candidate like Betrayal at Krondor.

    5. I got it totally ass-backwards then, thanks for the heads up ;)

    6. 500 games is pretty impressive you must admit. It feels like something that should be a celebration. No idea about that particular Arena, but I note that Shadow of Yserbius feels fitting as game 500, since it plays like a spiritual successor to the mainframe games that began it all, decent solo, but only shines with other players.

    7. 501 is a good compromise.

    8. People just keep insisting because they're curious to learn which one out of the three enticing options to celebrate game 500
      you'll finally choose - sorry for blowing your secret already back then ;-).

    9. @Busca At least thanks to AI the second option wouldn't be a problem anymore if a transcript existed or if it's compatible with an automatic translation engine ;-) All joking aside I'm really excited and in awe what Google makes possible to understand these days.

    10. I meant to say a problem in understanding of course, the rest, oh's good that Chet will be in the 90s for many years to come. The later you get the more you will encounter Japanese RPGs of all variants, including hardcore manga style and eroge, with official English PC releases.

    11. I think Chet should just pick an early RPG from the Explorador de RPG's list. A straight PLATO clone done by a student on Ohio Scientific, SOL-20 or Zenith Z-89 for game #2500 is not what people want, but at this point it is what people deserve.

      Of course, we all know hat there will never be a game #500, only a series of BRIEF and "return to XXX".

    12. I don't really care about game 500, it's just a number. Now, game 12, that's something I'd like to see ;-)

    13. @Didier: Here you go ;-): (See the end of that entry for the reason).

    14. Ah, Oubliette! How could I forget that!?

      Thanks Busca! So game 500 will be game 500 after all. Time to jump on the game-500-is-important bandwagon...

    15. The evolution of 'round' game numbers on the blog:

      Game 100 - 'Dragon Wars': Don't recall any special comment or even discussion, though might have forgotten.

      Game 200 - 'Questron': "I did engineer things so that it would be my 200th game."

      Game 250 - 'Cosmic Soldier: Psychic War': "You may have noted that this is my 250th game. That's something of a landmark. I probably should have arranged for a more meaningful title to take the spot, but there was nothing obvious in my upcoming list, and I was having a hard enough time finding time to play and blog in May without adding the pressures of some kind of commemoration, too."

      Game 300 - 'Citadel of Vras': [First comment was "Congratulations on #300!"; Chet's reaction:] "I probably should have tried harder to make it a more significant game. Maybe for # 500."

      Game 400 - 'Dragonsbane': [Comment on Game 399 - 'Rambo': "at least it was not game #400. that should be a real RPG."; Chet's reaction:] "I wish I could say I saved something important for that slot, but I'm afraid I didn't. I promise #500 will be a landmark one, though."

      Game 500 (paraphrased): "You are all getting much too hung up on this number. I should just ignore it and play whatever happens to pop up."

      No pressure! ;-) We know if people push (too) hard for something, you'll just do the opposite or at least something different ;-). And since it's your blog you can just ignore it and us all and do whatever you please anyway - even Patreon doesn't come with a "Special Game 500 post guaranteed" obligation included.

    16. I repudiate everything I've ever said on the issue. Attaching any significance to round numbers is silly. My blog is successful because I plod along day after day, applying a small number of rules that keep me from over-engineering things to my (or anyone else's liking) and thus skipping obscure or difficult games that end up offering something of value.

    17. In case this came across the wrong way, my intention was not to argue for a 'special game'. I agree with what you say and personally really don't care much which game shows up for a given number, just found it funny how this whole thing developed. As you've noted on other occasions, your own perception of the blog and the way you handle things has evolved quite a bit over time.

  3. some of these puzzles made me think: have you ever played Baba Is You? might be an interesting diversion from the RPGs!

    1. It's an amazing game, but I'm not sure puzzles are The Addict's meat!

  4. Regarding the Mad Monks and the lost keys, you pna erghea naq gur qhatrba jvyy erfrg, nyybjvat lbh gb hfr nabgure xrl.

  5. After reading this game's description with armies roaming the land and cities falling, I wondered, why you ignored the 1991 game "Return of Medusa" on this blog. Sure... my memory is kind of hazy concerning the game, but I'm pretty sure that it was also a RPG/Strategy hybrid. Did it focus too much on strategy part? Or did the game fly under your radar, because it was from a german developer? It's probably no big loss, because as far as I can remember, the rpg part sucked, while the strategy part was quite decent. Just curious...

    1. The difference between Return of Medusa and this game is that ROM has absolutely no character development (unless you've very very generous and count the two crystals you can find which give you an automap and a stronger shot).

      What surprises me is that it isn't listed in the master list as rejected, because it used to be in there. But Rings of Medusa is in there now as unplayed (Rings is basically ROM without the dungeons, so even less of an RPG).

  6. Ah, I see. So that's the reason. Yeah, I guess that makes sense. Most websites list it as an rpg, though. Guess they were fooled by the screenshots of the dungeon master style dungeons. So it had hunger, thirst and health mechanics, but no attribute stats?

    1. Yes, that's it, plus a rank which I think goes from fighter to master wizard in three steps and gives you some abilities. It is increased by finding magic crystals in chests (there are two or three of them in the entire game). The rest is just equipment.

      Different sites may have other criteria for what is an RPG, but it wouldn't surprise me if most of them just went by screenshots. There is very little documentation about the game online.

      A friend and I played this a lot in school. We used the cheat menu to make the character invulnerable, and exploited a bug where you could predict roulette numbers. Made the dungeons and the whole economy pretty much pointless, but we enjoyed it nonetheless and thought nothing about it.


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