Saturday, May 14, 2011

Might & Magic II: Mazes and Monsters

I'm sensing a lot of sexual tension here.
Lots of dungeon crawling today. I explored castle basements, caves, ruins, and dungeons. They were filled with monsters and mysterious messages that I need to solve the game's various puzzles and quests. 
A primary point of dungeon exploration is to get clues like this.
All of the castles have two dungeon levels below them, none seeming to have anything to do with the castles themselves. Inexplicably, most of them offered the ability to travel via portals to the others. 
A lot of the dungeons feature areas in which certain races and classes are banned, for no reason (it seems) but to make things a little more difficult. Generally when I encounter these, I cast "Lloyd's Beacon" to mark the location, "Town Portal" to one of the towns, remove the unwanted character or characters at an inn, and "Lloyd's Beacon" back to the original location. It doesn't add much to the game experience except time. 
In this example, I found an artifact only usable by humans, ironically.
In the Castle Pinehurst dungeon, I found this wizard, who offered every spell in the game for 2 million gold. I had almost all of them by then, and knew where to get the rest, but I also had plenty of gold. It still seemed like a bit of a cheat. 
Interspersed with the dungeon explorations, I started to do the character-specific quests one-by-one. At my level, they haven't been terribly hard. The most difficult part has been getting to and from them. Since each character must go alone (or accompanied by a robber), I don't have my full complement of traveling spells. But between roads and NPCs (who I can dismiss once I find the location), it hasn't been crushingly difficult.
Mistress Quickly earns her plus.
Of the character quests I've finished so far, the sorcerer quest was by far the most difficult, but also the most fun. I had to navigate two castles (good and evil) full of word puzzles. The evil castle, for instance, began with a message that said "All that are even are less but odd. All that are odd become more odd." The first room had two doors, marked #1 and #2, with a message that said "It's not one," meaning that it's 2. But since "all that are even are less but odd," I really want Door #1. Similarly, the next room had four doors with the notation that "it is one." But since "all that are odd become more odd," I really want Door #3. Fun stuff.
After navigating my way through these doors, I encountered the evil wizard Ybmug in a stasis field with two sets of codes on the walls on either side of him. I couldn't figure out which ones to enter at first, but searching my notes I found a message from the Vulcania dungeons: "To unlock the frozen secrets of Evil, try Right 46 and Left 23." A lot harder than just killing things, which is all the other characters had to do. My cleric got her + by restoring Corak's soul to his body. I rather thought that when this happened, he might give me some hints as to the main quest, or otherwise tell me anything about CRON, Sheltem, and so on. But he just thanked me, gave me some useless advice about where to find the encasement spells (I already have all of them), and disappeared. In some dungeon, I finally encountered a Dagger Jaw, got that reward from Lord Slayer, and was given a third quest to slay a Fire Faery.
Finally, in my explorations, I encountered one enemy so bafflingly evil, it's hard to believe it actually exists: the Phase Spirit. They are utterly immune to melee damage, and a single one can drain every character's hit points to 0 in a single attack. Unless the sorcerer or cleric can kill them all in the first round, there is effectively no way to win against them.
Somewhere along the line, my "Turn Undead" spell stopped working completely. It fails every time, for both my priest and my paladin. Their alignments haven't slipped, and I otherwise can't figure out what could be causing it. Other spells seem to work fine. Any ideas?
One dungeon I've yet to explore is Dawn's Mist Bog Cavern. I know where it is. It seems a lot of things are riding on this dungeon. My ninja needs to kill Dawn to get his plus; some guy named Murray wants me to kill her; I need to free a couple of NPCs; and per the message above, the Elemental Orb is there. My guess is I'll go there next.


  1. It shows clearly that MMII is a good game in that you haven't mentioned giving up on it once for these actual play reports.

  2. Someone in this thread had the same issue as you with Turn Undead. I suspect either an alignment-related bug or a bit where alignment flipped back and forth without you even realizing. Maybe break alignment intentionally and then cast restore alignment and see if that flips the turn undead flag?

  3. A few random notes:

    1. The "no [race]" signs always have an item that can only be used by that race. I don't remember what the "no [class]" areas had though.

    2. I'm not sure if you've realised this, but you don't need to limit yourself to only your main character of that class and your robber when doing the class-specific quests. You can take as many hirelings of that class AND as many hireling robbers as you want. Disposing of the Iron Wizards on the sorcerer quest becomes much easier when you have a half dozen sorcerers along for the ride!

    3. You should really just switch to Holy Word if you've got Rejuvenate or another way to remove aging. It's like a more effective and never-fail Turn Undead.

    4. I'm not sure if this counts as a spoiler... but there's something you should probably know about the Lords' quests (Slayer and Hoardall specifically). Unlike in MM1, where each Lord has a series of quests, there's no series in MM2. For all levels but one, the quest is random and you can repeat it an infinite number of times (with a randomly chosen target each time). It is the one non-random level that you should be interested in.

    Hope this wasn't too spoilerish...

  4. Helm, I wouldn't think of giving it up, just because I want to finish the whole series. However, I will say that I don't like it quite as much as the first one. It's hard to say why. I'll think about it for my final posting.

    Jason, thanks for the link. The problem is, I don't think I've ever had my alignment shifted. I don't even know how to make it happen. I'll play with the possibility, though.

    Ziad, thanks for the tips. I had figured out #2, but most of those NPCs are rank amateurs compared to my characters. I've been getting through the class-specific quests reasonaly easy without the extra help, but I'll call on them if I need them. I guess you're right about Holy Word.

    Didn't know about #4; I thought I had to step through them. Thanks!

  5. I'm facing the same problem with Turn Undead - it has become all but useless. It always fails against higher level undead, and when I tested it on Skeletons it only killed two of them.
    The post Jason Dyer linked to was about MM1 and the problem in that game was due to alignment shift. I haven't noticed any aligment shift yet in MM2 (my Cleric and Paladin are still Good), so the problem must be something else.
    It actually reminds me of the critical hit ability of Hunters in Bard's Tale 2 that steadily got better but suddenly stopped working after a certain level. I think it was level 16 which is the level my Cleric and Paladin in MM2 are now. Now 16 is a round number if maths, so it may be some formula that is broken.

  6. Only 5 years later I read this. I guess it's a binary roll-over problem. Decimal 15 is binary 1111. If you add 1, it becomes 10000. If they use a half-byte to store the value (bytes were in short supply at the time), the most significant bit would be lost and the value would rollover to zero. So you have turn undead level 15, progress one level more and get level 0. It's really a case of sloppy programming: they should not try to increase a value after it reaches the maximum value of the datatype they store it in.

  7. The problem with this theory is that extracting and storing those nibbles uses more than one byte of (text) space, and checking for overflow in a nibble again costs more than is saved.

  8. This is just to confirm that the Turn Undead problem is a bug. Once your character gets to level 16, it'll never work again. Presumably it's some kind of programming error like Anonymous suggested. It's not so bad for Clerics, who can just shift to Holy Word once they've found it, but it means Paladins become useless against the undead!

    Sort of spoilery:

    I think the "no [race]" squares in the castle dungeons give boosts to your max hit points. Maybe they do other things as well, but you can only get one boost per moon phase (60 days), and they were too small for me to bother setting a reminder to go back for. (I think this is the only relevance of the moon phase, which is mentioned in a clue in a very early dungeon.) So I don't know what all the different boosts are. The "no [class]" squares give major stat-boosting items for members of that class.

    1. Thank you for the confirmation on both issues.

      Wow did this entry need some formatting clean-up. I can't do anything about the length, though. I really thought 750 words was a full entry back then?

    2. This was during the time when you posted 22 times per month (ie. five times per week), so yes, 750 words was pretty typical. Under your current schedule (once in every 2.5 days) that would correspond to an average length of about 1400 words, which might still be on the short side but not really that bad.


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