Friday, October 8, 2010

Game 26: Tera: La Cité des Crânes (1986)

Tera: La Cité des Crânes
Grafmodcolor (developer); Loriciels (publisher)
Released in 1986 for DOS
Date Started: 8 October 2010
[Note from 17 March 2017: When I first started playing this game nearly 7 years ago, I didn't know what I was doing and I didn't know French very well. My coverage below is scant and incomplete. I recommend skipping this entry and the next one and going directly to my 2017 coverage of Tera.]
I have had the dual pleasure of once confidently striding up to a hotel clerk in Santiago and saying, "Quisiera cambio, s'il vous plait," and on another occasion asking a street vendor in Paris for "deux croque-monsieurs, por favor." After the last episode--and, really, only in Paris would a grease-covered, t-shirt clad sandwich peddler turn up his nose at an accidental slip in the language--I vowed to jettison French. Because, after all, almost anyone who speaks French also speaks English (even if they won't admit it), while the same isn't true of Spanish.

Well, here I am, getting my head full of Français again just a couple of months ahead of my next trip to South America. If I begin my speech, "Señoras y messieurs," I'll know to blame Tera: La Cité des Crânes ("Tera: the City of Cranes").

A far and wide search fails to turn up a manual for this game, but it features a fairly extensive opening introduction, with a number of screen shots that set up the game's plot. Not that it makes any sense. This is my best translation:
Not many games combine skyscrapers and sorcerers.
Amarande the Black [a planet], once thriving, is now torn between three forces: technology, which incorporates all that was invented by scientists; transcendence, whose power relies on priests and vestal virgins; and magic, whose "temple" is buried in the depths of the City of Skulls.

Technology tends to take refuge on a nearby small world--Alfol, an inhospitable desert. It is rumored that the priests are allies of Etres, inorganic telepaths of Meduz, and that the City of Skulls is populated with nameless horrors--the guardians of treasures! The most formidable of them are Arioch and his peers, names one avoids uttering.

[Something about me being an exception to something] so that harmony reigns again on Amarande and the chaos is banished forever.
Well! Now that that's clear, let's get into character creation. It looks like we name our character and assign points to various skills of the standard sort: strength, intelligence, agility, and so on, only in French.

When done, I have my character and a bunch of heads at the bottom of the screen that I don't understand.

The game starts you out in the middle of a first-person wilderness full of interesting plants and rocks.

The interface is all keyboard, of course, with a wide variety of commands and sub-commands.

It looks like the opening wilderness is about wandering around and collecting clues from various buildings and signposts. For instance, this guy at an abbey is telling me that the City of Skulls is under something called the SUN RAA.

I've also gotten some clues that I need to go to a place called Kronopolis to buy things. But the language and/or lack of a manual keeps tripping me up. I wandered into one building described as the "Temple of Seth" where I met a woman. I tried using what looked to me to be a "seduce" command on her, and before I knew it she was thanking me for giving her 250 ducats--half my wealth!

Do I get anything for that?

[Later Edit: It turns out that for my 250 ducats, the woman, Sonja, joined my party.]
When I asked a few months ago what you've learned from CRPGs, reader Rizla Croix noted that they taught him English. This was a pretty good answer to my snarky question. I guess the question now is whether I want to invest enough time in Tera to bolster my French. Right now, without any kind of manual or clue, and having to stop and translate every screen, my prospects of long-term involvement in Tera are looking a little bleak. Have any of my readers played this game and made sense of it?


  1. There is a french manual available at

    Check (link is dead but it should be back in few days)

  2. I'm about 15 years removed from my 4 years of high school french as well and its pretty funny reading about you stumbling through this.

  3. I reversed this game back to source code (turbo pascal).
    You can get the current zip in the last post:

    To win the game you have to perform 4 tasks:
    - Invoke some name on the planet Meduz (and to go to Meduz you have to climb the pyramide and invoke another name)
    - Get support from the "medias" (you have to explorer the base on Alfol, find the "bureau des medias" and give them 1000 ducats)
    - Kill Arioch (by being strong enough and after finding him)
    - Kill some Arioch's friend (after having found its name and invoked it before the "autel des tenebres")

    1. Thanks, Joe. This will be helpful if I decide to take another look at it.


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