Monday, August 16, 2010

Game 22: Rings of Zilfin (1986)

Rings of Zilfin
United States
Strategic Simulations, Inc. (developer and publisher)
Released 1986 for Apple II and Commodore 64; 1987 for Atari ST and DOS
Date Started: 16 August 2010

When I last posted, I said I was going to try out several different games and go with the one that I took to the most strongly, so I could actually finish it. Well, none of them really did. This wasn't the fault of the games, I'm sure. I'm facing one hell of a busy week, and I was hoping for a game whose mechanics I could figure out immediately--something like another edition of Wizardry, or Might & Magic. Since none of the games fit this profile, I decided to stick with Rings of Zilfin, which was next on my list anyway. I was excited about another SSI game--I'm eagerly awaiting the day that Pool of Radiance comes up on my list--but this game doesn't feel like an SSI offering so far. In Dungeons & Desktops (2008), Matt Barton calls Rings of Zilfin "a game intended for novices" (p. 109). Barton should try playing it without a manual--I couldn't find one anywhere. Mostly I have no idea what I'm doing, and I'm trying to feel my way through it. Let's start with what I do know. The game is notable in that it starts with a cut scene. I'm not 100% sure this is a first for CRPGs, but I honestly can't remember encountering one previously.

Please note that I did at least hesitate for a little while, though. I'm not a total wuss.
The story that the animated scene tells casts you in the role of Reis, an apprentice wizard from the village of Sham. One night, you awake in a cold sweat, having dreamed about hordes of goblins. You receive a telepathic warning to "run for your life." Grabbing some food and weapons, you run out the door into the woods, just in time to avoid a demonic assassin named "Dzomon," sent on behalf of a nameless master. At this point, the introduction says, "so begins your quest...for the Rings of Zilfin." Huh? There's a hell of a "yadda yadda yadda" in there somewhere. I have no idea what the Rings have to do with Dzomon, my attempted assassination, or the quest. Maybe that becomes clearer later. The game then tosses you onto the open road, where you can wander from town to town. Along the road, you encounter different types of mushrooms and plants (I've figured out what a few do through trial and error), pools of water that sometimes offer good benefits and sometimes poison you, and a variety of monks who give assorted clues.
This monk was not particularly helpful.
At the end of the roads are various towns with different buildings that you can visit. Some of the buildings house shops, some inns, and some temples with monsters. There are also wandering townspeople. Again, the purpose seems to be to get various clues.
Just like the swamp boots in Ultima VI.
I don't know what a prihny is, and I don't know why I'd want a witch to help me, but thanks!
Occasionally, you encounter monsters. As far as I can tell, there are just two forms of attack: sword and bow, and I'm almost out of arrows. I'm not sure what purpose combat serves, since you don't seem to get experience points from your victories. There seem to be just two major statistics: endurance (damaged in combat) and fatigue (damaged by walking or running, especially if you don't rest for a night). I'm not quite sure how to restore either.
Combat with...actually, I have no idea what.
My plan right now is to keep exploring and mapping, and hope that something of a main quest becomes clear. In the meantime, I would love any clarification from anyone who has played this game--or a manual if you have one.


  1. Funnily enough I have a text file of the game manual which I got from... well I've no idea where, because I never had the game itself! I can upload/email the whole thing somewhere if you want, but for now I'll just paste the list of commands.

    A = Arrow Attack -Fires an arrow. Requires a direction of attack in ground
    C = Cast a spell -The (P)repare command must be used beforw a spell can be cast.The status screen shows the spell you have prepared and is ready to use.
    D = Drink -To drink water and other liquids. Requires a direction during travel.
    E = Enter -To go through doors and other entrances. Usually an option.
    F = Flee -To flee from combat. Low chance of success.
    G = Get -To pick up visible objects, plants, mushrooms, etc. Must be followed by a direction when you are in travel mode.
    L = Look -To search for and pick up hidden objects. No direction.
    O = Offer -To make an offer to other inhabitants of this land. The program will respond, 'Offer What?' Reply with single alphabet that represents the object.
    P = Prepare -To prepare a spell. The program will respond with 'Which Spell?' Type the letter of the spell you wish to use.
    R = Rest -Allows you to set up camp and rest at night.
    S = Sword Attack -Uses your current sword. After pressing (S) you must choose a direction or nothing will happen.
    T = Talk -For conversation. Requires a direction if you are travelling.
    U = Use -The program will respond 'Use what?' you type a letter or number.
    X = Exit -For leaving a location. Cannot be used during combat.
    W = Word -This switches you to word input mode. You can type in words, one at a time then press [RETURN]. Useful in single prayers or speaking to another character.
    = Status -Always works,displaying your status and putting the game on hold.
    Space = -Walk/Stop-Will stop you if you are walking and vice-versa.

    Hope this helps!

  2. I continue with the following part of the text file ;-)

    FOOD: Starvation is not known in Batiniq. Each day that passes, your food
    supply is one unit less. When your supply falls to zero the warning beeps
    are sounded,and you must find food before the end of the day if you are to
    GOLD: Basic currency of Batiniq. You begin with 20, and need more.
    WEAPONS: Another basic currency of social exchange. Bows require
    arrows. Ash bows can break; Brom bows cannot. Five types of sword can be
    had. Each beginning adventurer gets a short sword,you need a better sword.

    ------ ----------------- -------
    Shortsword 0 9
    Pala 10 29
    Slicer 30 49
    Slayer 50 69
    Grandsword 70 99

    ARMOUR: Reduces the blow of your enemies:Light Armour,5; Medium Armour,15;
    Heavy Armour,30.

    MUSHROOMS: Eating the mushrooms of Bantiniq can be rewarding. The 'Use'
    command enables him to eat, and you indicate your choice by
    entering these numbers:
    1. YURPIN MUSHROOM - Increases your endurance.
    2. TERGIN MUSHROOM - Strengthens your fatigue factor.
    3. PARZIN MUSHROOM - Gives you the greatest sword skill for one blow.
    4. FUHYIN MUSHROOM - Nourishment equal to one food unit.

    PLANTS: Some plants are healthful.
    2. PURLET-Chewing these leaves will temporarily grant you immense strength
    good for one sword attack. Don't miss. One hit will reduce your
    enemy's endurance by 200
    3. MIFT -Rubbing these leaves on your body leaves you immune to any
    physical attack for one blow. Unless against magic.
    4. IOLA -An antidote for poison.
    5. JINN -Like MIFT but stronger. You are invincible for five blows, but
    your fatigue is drained by 50 points.

    OBJECTS: These can be traded, eaten, planted, offered, ignored, etc. To
    refer to them, use the letter associated with each.

    A. Elvish Boots
    B. Torch K. Flute T. Amulet
    C. Match L. Gem U. Pearl
    D. Cloak M. Riddle Book V. Chewba
    E. Nukh N. Staff W. Spice
    F. Prihny Powder O. Harp X. Elixir
    G. Key P. Toy Y. Tea
    H. Horn Q. Ring Z. Cookie
    I. Rope R. Silk
    J. Seed S. Tobacco

    (Sadly, the formatting gets lost but it should take small effort to get it right)


  4. I can't thank you guys enough. The manual helped a lot!

  5. Do you guys have some sort of cracked or codes-free archive of this game or you simply have the codes? I would like to play this obviously great game, but unfortunately I'm asked for some copy-protection codes after the first village. Any help would be the most appreciated.

    Thanks in advance,

  6. River, the answers to the copy protection questions are found in the manual, at the link that Stu posted above. I wouldn't exactly call it an "obviously great game," but I'm glad you were inspired to play it.

  7. Geeeee, I actually checked the manual and I totally missed the codes. To be honest, I was already interested in playing RoZ and I tried it out just a couple of weeks ago, but codes prevented me from playing as I already said. Maybe it's not "obviously great game" but you screens look amazing for the game so old, I am always amazed to see people putting effort in creating a game despite of hardware limitations - I even skipped most of your shots after seeing just a few of them so I don't spoil my own enjoyment :)

    I was hoping to find your email address, but I guess this is fine too.

    Thanks for help, Addict


    After checking the manual again, I see no codes. I guess that copy protection questions are something game related info that can be found in the manual, I forgot what those questions are.

  8. No, there's no section of the manual called "Codes" or anything. Instead, the game prompts you to answer questions that are found in the regular text of the manual, like the maximum strength you need to wield a particular weapon.

    You can reach me at if you need help.

  9. I've never played this game myself but the mushrooms and stuff looks suspiciously like those found in The Magic Candle.

    1. You think Magic Candle borrowed from this? Good choice as well, I think that one is coming up soon.

    2. Good guess.
      This was Atabek's first RPG. He later founded Mindcraft Software and developed The Magic Candle series.

    3. Good guess.
      This was Atabek's first RPG. He later founded Mindcraft Software and developed The Magic Candle series...

  10. Following the link found on Google, I am enjoying your blogging very much. Thanks a lot to share your experience and very interesting posts. I am also enjoying the old CRPGs mainly ran on old 8 bit computers (mostly Apple II) and on PCs (MS-DOS machines). I have a question: many of PC DOS games you played took pretty long time to win. And your screenshots show you used DosBox original version. Did all games you played have their own state saving functions? I also use DOS, Apple emulators such as DosBox or AppleWin. But in case of DosBox, because of the mentioned state saving function, I am using DosBox SVN (Korea Daum cafe's version). I am curious how you do with the original DosBox to play games in such a long period.

    1. I don't have a DOS emulator with save-state capabilities, so any time I've played and won a DOS game, it's been with the native saving abilities of the game. Fortunately, since DOS and DOSBox uses a directory structure compatible with Windows, this works fine.

      For other emulators, since they don't read Windows directories the same way DOSBox does, in order to use the native saving capabilities, you have to make save disks and simulate the process of swapping them in and out. I've found this process is fraught with errors and I often lose progress, so I typically use save states for such games--which the other emulators generally support.

  11. The screenshots look really good, for such an old game.

    I'm trying to restrict my CRPGs to Dungeons & Dragons since I have so many other hobbies that I can't possibly finish everything I want, but I might be tempted, whenever I finish the D&D games, to extend the list to SSI games, of which this one will be one of the first.

    So far, I'm about to start Curse of the Azure Bonds, after clearing every single quest off of Pool of Radiance AND running every character through Hillsfar.

    After the SSI D&D, I'll just have to go through all the games I finished so long ago, Baldur's Gate, Icewind dale, Neverwinter, etc. and then I can move to the other SSI CRPGs.

    AND THEN, Ultima, Might & Magic, Wizardry, Avadon, there's simply no time, I need to replace my whole body with robotic parts.

    Why don't they hurry up with life-extending technology already?


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