Saturday, February 20, 2010

Wizardry: This Is Going to Take a While

Yeah, so Wizardry is a bit of a bitch. Here's what I've discovered bumbling my way through the first level:

  • There's no real way to save the game. When you come out of the dungeon and return to the town, your characters are saved, but the dungeon itself is reset. There is no way to save your progress while in the dungeon. And here's the kicker: if your characters die, they die permanently. You cannot quit the game and reload to save them.
  • When you encounter monsters, only your front three characters can directly engage them. The back characters can use spells, but they only get a couple of spells each at the first level, and these run out quickly. There doesn't seem to be any missile weapons in the game.
  • Practically every chest is trapped, usually with a poison needle, and half the time my thief trips it and gets poisoned.
  • The magic system is interesting. To cast a spell, you must type its name. Luckily I found some spell cards online.
  • When you engage in combat, you tell the game what you want each of your characters to do in the next round, such as (f)ight, (p)arry, or cast a (s)pell. You then execute these actions all at once.
  • There are fixed encounters at certain points on the map. Sometimes these encounters turn out to be with "friendly" monsters, but otherwise there is no way to avoid them.
I must admit, though, I'm a sucker for games that allow me to map on graph paper. I just enjoy making these maps and annotating what I find in each square. Lacking any graph paper, and not really wanting to carry it around with me, I hit upon the solution of using Excel to create the maps. I'm making each worksheet a level, and using the border options to draw the walls and doors.

Modern-day graph paper

You can see I didn't get very far. First trip out, I mapped the bottom corridor and killed some kobolds. So far, so good. I went back up to the surface to save and identify a piece of armor at the store. Second trip, I went back to the same place, got ambushed by two groups of "small humanoids," and all of my characters were slaughtered.

Party 1 about to enjoy its first--and only--successful battle

I generated a second party and had a little more luck, winning about six battles.

But none of my characters had even leveled before the inevitable happened:

Damn. This is a little discouraging. Well, when I have time I'll generate a third set of characters and try again. Having to buy the same equipment over and over is getting a little old, though.

I shouldn't even be playing this. I should be practicing crosswords. No more posts this weekend, and I mean it this time.


  1. This game dates from when I was just first getting into computer gaming. Playing on the school's Apple //e's was fun, but I never had enough time to really dive into a game like this. Friends who had them though loved this game.

    Good luck...sounds like this one is really rough.

  2. Oh the graph paper! One of the best things about old RPGs was grabbing the graph paper and mapping it out by hand. RPGs lost a little bit when they switched to auto map.

  3. Yay for maps! I had this thing fairly down until one day (I think it was with Wizardry 2) I encountered teleporters... Ok, no big deal, I'll just start a new graph and when I find that it overlaps with the previous one, I'll merge them both. And then, some time later, I entered a dark room with teleporters... now that was evil because you could only tell if you got teleported because the screen flickered briefly. Augh.

    But you make it through, eventually, just be very methodical.

  4. Hehe +1 here for automaps :) Back at my youth since I also played (and still) text adventures, making raw maps on paper or better for more serious games on graph was ok , but STILL tiring on graph for me.. As you can tell, I found a lot of those games tiring (BT1, sorry fans!) .. And I loved games with no need of it, Phantasies for example (loved them ) .. Havent checked Wizardrys yet (oops!)..

  5. Aviendha! A Wheel of Time fan? Thanks for this trip through memory lane & an idea or two on how to waste a weekend...

    1. Sort-of a fan. I won't be too upset when it's over.

    2. I read up through book 11 in high school and then decided not to wait up for the end of the series. Looking back, I think the action kind of stopped after book 6. (Also, I want Elayne and Aviendha to marry Rand and be happy and that may not happen if I read the rest).

  6. Heh I see 1 WoT char, 1 game of thrones char, and 3 malazan chars, you definately know who rules the roost in fantasy :D. Not sure who vin is supposed to be.

    I know I'm way late, but you can bring a dead guy back to the surface and pay cash to get him resurrected. Also at low levels the mages haev a group sleep spell that is invaluable at putting most of the guys to sleep so you only fight a couple at a time. I also would pretty much run to the surface after every 1 or 2 fights at early levels to regenerate my spells. You can also hop in the first room of the maze cast all your heals, hop out, rpeat until fully healed up. I was thinking 'jesus it takes a lot of exp to level up' until I realized you have to res at the inn to level up and i promptly gained 4 levels on everyone, woops...

    1. Vin was Sanderson's Mistborn protagonist.

      Oddly, my wife had the same experience you did when I asked her to grind my Wizardry V characters. I forgot to tell her about resting, and it was days before I clued in on her protests that the combats on level 1 were never getting easier.

    2. Never read that, or anything by that author, worth a read?

    3. Oh, he's fantastic. I first heard about him when he was tapped to finish the Wheel of Time series after Robert Jordan's death. His Mistborn trilogy is very tightly plotted and well-written, and it introduces a great magic system. His Way of Kings is simply one of the best fantasy books I've ever read. And I think he's doing better with WOT than Jordan.

    4. I love how you say, 'I asked my wife to grind my characters for me...', like every wife does this.

    5. They don't? I go to the kitchen to make my wife her 'damn sammiches' too. It's an egalitarian society we live in.

    6. I explain it better in the related W5 posting from the end of 2011. It was a special circumstance, and it didn't work anyway. Grinding can only be done by someone who cares.

    7. Btw, read way of kings book one and two at some point over the last year or so and they were great, you were even more on point than I new!

    8. I'm glad you liked it. I thought Words of Radiance was even better for world-building, but there were some more cringeworthy character moments in that one. Anytime Sanderson tries to do anything involving romance or sex, he comes across like an inexperienced 12-year-old.

  7. There is something charming about drawing your own maps, in "tile" type of games where it lets you do that.

    And something a lot less charming when you realize you goofed something up and aren't sure yet where your meticulous mapping miscounted a square :)

    1. I hate that. On paper maps, you basically have to start over. Even using Excel, as I do, accounting for a missed square is a difficult process of inserting cells and redrawing borders.

  8. Bring out your dead!

    There is something to be said for how games back in the day made death inconvenient.

    The original Apple II version of Wizardy was easier to work around than it sounds like DOSbox is. In the Apple II version, just reboot the computer before everyone in the party is dead and your characters will be in the same state as your last castle visit. This works in Apple II emulators as well as the real hardware.

  9. Ha, now I know how you do the maps, just Excel :) Always wondering which fancy mapping tool would be used, but you later didn‘t mention it.

    I never played a game that required manual mapping (my first RPG was Final Fantasy 7, addicted to RPGs since that). Maybe I try one of the older ones, to see what it feels like.

    I’m now continuing with my quest to read through all of your articles...

  10. You can use Libre Office to make maps


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.