Sunday, December 18, 2011

Wizardry V: Fa-La-La

It's like the game knew I was doing Christmas puns this week.

In today's episode of "It Pays to Read the Manual," we discover three major things about Wizardry V that would have made my dungeon exploration yesterday a little easier:

  • When shopping in Boltac's Trading Post (any chance Andrew "Werdna" Greenberg and Robert "Trebor" Woodhead had a friend named Catlob?), you have to hit (F)orward to see all the stuff he's got for sale. There's some reasonably cool stuff to buy; I was thinking that I'd be spending my money exclusively on resurrections.

And unlike Demon's Winter, they don't hide the existence of the "Forward" command. I just overlooked it.

  • Some of the items you can purchase are missile weapons. Just yesterday, I was chastising the game for not keeping current. Unfortunately, mages and bishops can't use them, but if I give one to my thief, that's a fourth guaranteed attack each round. Moreover, I could theoretically operate an all-fighter or all-thief party with the ability to shoot from rear ranks. I'll have to think about it.
  • I ran into five locked doors yesterday that I assumed needed keys. It turns out there's a (P)ick command that I overlooked when exploring dungeons.

These features made the game a little better, but the secret door thing is going to  kill me. I found two of them yesterday, both in somewhat non-obvious places, and I don't know how many more I've missed. I can see that I'm going to have to search pretty much every wall. There are a couple of spells that are supposed to help you find them, but neither of them automatically revealed them for me.

The secret doors and picked locks really opened up the game a bit, though. In short order, I had found the Orb of Llylgamyn, a silver key, and a brass key, which got me through (I think) the rest of Level 1 except for a single locked door my thief can't open. The level has turned out to be an oddly-sized 31 x 30, and if all 10 levels are the same size, this is going to be a long game (as some of you have intimated from your comments).

But that's not the exciting part. The exciting part is that I found three NPCs and, by god, they're true NPCs. I can type keywords and everything. You all promised me that Wizardry V introduced a few innovations, and Ultima IV-style dialogue is apparently one of them.

One NPC was, oddly enough, a talking kettle which, for 100, 500, 1,000, 2,500, and 5,000 gold pieces, gives various hints. I learned that HAIL works with every NPC (see below); I need to figure out why the "Mad Stomper" stomps; I should use the power of the demon to open the gate of the mocking face; and that beyond the Hall of Mirrors lies the Loon. I have no idea what the latter three items mean, and I still need to return with 5,000 gold for the last hint.

He'd better not be laughing at how much he's ripping me off.

A second was a merchant named Ironrose, who sold me a key.

The final NPC, the high priest G'Bli Gedook, had the most to say. I've transcribed my conversation below so you can get a sense of the depth they went into here:

  • HAIL: Welcome to the Temple of the Brotherhood. La-La be praised!
  • TEMPLE: What about the temple?
  • BROTHERHOOD: The brotherhood is an ancient order of disciples that follow the wisdom and teachings of the Gatekeeper. La-La be praised!
  • GATEKEEPER: The Gatekeeper is the high guardian of the Triaxial Gate. It is he that understands the true nature of the Triaxial Gate and the elemental forces that travel through it. Do you seek the Gatekeeper?
  • YES: La-La be praised! We have great need of thee. The Gatekeeper has vanished into the Triaxial Gate. It is there you must seek him out.
  • TRIAXIAL: The Triaxial Gate is the portal for the elemental forces, earth, water, fire, and air to enter our plane of existence. It is the Gatekeeper who maintains the eternal balance among these forces. La-La be praised!
  • LA-LA: La-La be praised!
  • BALANCE: Whenever the elemental forces become unstable, the balance is disturbed, and a powerful rift materializes in our world. The Gatekeeper enters into the nexus of this rift, known as the Heart, and therein performs the sacred rite, thus realigning the forces and restoring the balance.
  • RIFT: The elemental rift has appeared once again, caused by evil incantations originating from within this temple. These dark incantations were invoked by an archrival of the Gatekeeper, a demonic diety [sic] known as "The Sorn." La-La protect us!
  • SORN: The Sorn is the very essence of evil incarnate, a diabolical fiend whose source of power comes from spreading chaos and destruction in our world. Once the rift had appeared, the Sorn waited until the Gatekeeper entered into the nexus, and then trapped him there, within the very heart of the forces over which the Gatekeeper was the only source of control. La-La have mercy!"
  • ORB: The Divine Orb of Llylgamyn! Use the Orb to open the Triaxial Gate, and then descend into the fury, into the Heart of the Maelstrom!

I have no idea who "La-La" is. I don't remember the name coming up as the world's "diety" before; if it had, I can't believe I wouldn't have remarked on its lameness. (One suspects the developers had a friend named Al.) Of course, I didn't finish any of the previous games.

There was a riddle that stumped me for a while:

The answer was VAMPIRE, but it threw me because the statue is clearly not a vampire. Instead, it looks like a cat, and you have to admit that CAT sort-of goes with the first part of the riddle. Heck, it doesn't go bad with the second part, either. Beyond it was the toughest battle on the level, against a golem, which forced me to resurrect three of my characters. Because of the greedy kettle, I had to grind for a while to earn the cash.

At one point, I fell down a pit to Level 2 and I experienced that half-excited, half-terrified feeling that you get when you lose your tether and you carefully creep down the hallways, looking for a ladder or rope back to a familiar place.

I'm not sure what the bag of tokens is for, but I'm really hoping I get to go on a tilt-a-whirl.

As I prepare to explore Level 2 in earnest, I'm surprised at how much character development occurred on Level 1. My characters are all level 7 and my spellcasters have more than half their spell levels. But I haven't forgotten what franchise I'm playing, and I'm not going to let my guard down. There have been some interesting encounters and innovations so far, and I look forward to seeing what develops further down the dungeon.


  1. If they are naming it after Al I have to say that La would have been a better name then La-la. La has a monosylabic purity to it, La-la just sounds stupid.

    Also: First.

  2. It's probably meaningless. The Might and Magic games had temples of Baa and Moo.

  3. "Lose your tether" is the perfect phrase to use for that trapdoor into the unknown experience. Well scribed!

  4. Damn if I weren´t interested in starting up this game now!

  5. Can you imagine developers getting away with this stuff today? The Elder Scrolls VI - La La's Incredible Orb of Llylgamyn!

    Role playing games have to be serious in tone these days to sell, while adventure games are allowed to be utterly silly.

    I wonder if someone will try to break the mold!

  6. Well, JRPGs certainly _look_ silly...

  7. Maybe another possibility; La-La sounds similar to Allah in intonation.

  8. I know that the Wizardry series gets a lot better in the next game, both graphically and in content, but maybe there were some hints of them wanting to do a better game in this one. Perhaps I misjudged it and assumed it was just the same old game because the graphics didn't change much.

    Beware, friend. Beyond this point lies either gold or your death by hair-pulling and teeth-grinding.

  9. Perhaps you'll find cults dedicated to the other Teletubbies as well.

  10. Into the depths of the unknown. I know it well. ;)

    I wonder if you end up meeting (and perhaps fighting) this much-praised La-La by the end of the game?

    I hope they get rid of the wire-frame graphics in the next game. Not that I'm playing this or anything, but wow do I hate the wire-framed stuff.

  11. The Trickster, there are some tongue in cheek modern RPGs. Deathspank is the most recent one that comes to mind.

    World of Warcraft doesn't take itself too seriously, either. Although its been years since I've actually played, that's one of the things that I enjoyed about it. A personal favorite of mine was from one of the earliest dungeons, the Wailing Caverns. The boss of the dungeon, named Serpentis, turns into a snake when he attacks you and says, 'I am the serpent king. I can do anything.' a la Jim Morrison.

    As I've read these posts about Wizardry V I've realized that this blog is like RPG porn for me. I like to fantasize about playing all of these old games but, at the end of the day, I don't really feel like dealing with the mess. It's much more enjoyable to just watch someone else do it! Thanks!

  12. Those graphics were terrible way back in the late 80s when this game was released. They were nothing remotely near the state of the art, and hurt Wiz5 commercially.

    I myself started the franchise with Wiz6. I have fond memories of spinning in place to trigger random combats in difficult areas. Looking forward to you hitting Wiz6, hopefully in a couple months!

  13. "I know that the Wizardry series gets a lot better in the next game, both graphically and in content, but maybe there were some hints of them wanting to do a better game in this one."

    I believe the push for more ambitious gameplay came from D.W. Bradley joining the development team.

  14. Just want to say that I'm trying to get started with the first Wizardry game. You really need to read guides or the manual because if you choose poorly when making characters the game won't let you "skip" badly rolled characters (the ESC key only works at the end of a character). But with those aids, I will attempt to get started. Further discussion may take place way back on your older Wizardry posts as appropriate.

  15. I'm just joining here to mention it's wonderful to have again your spirited writing on funny (in their own absurd way) classics like this one.

    I loved Wiz7 which is in the top of my CRPG list (it's not as good as Skyrim but sti... ok, bad joke) but I've never played the earlier ones, so I'll definitely play with you when you get to Wiz6, looking forward to that.

    La-La to you until then.

  16. Petrus: That's the whole point. Games are not meant to be taken seriously. To this day with lots of fond memories of bygone days and the crazy iOS and Kindle-Fire apps my brother and mom (as well as my uncle for the Kindle), respectively, are into there is no limitation on how a game should look or act. Too bad there are many who have forgotten the times before gorn-play and "okay you can stop and masturbate" moments.

    This is not to be critical, just wishful thinking for the "simple times" (or atleast just this part).

    Glad you're back on track, CA, and as hilarious as ever. The tilt-a-whirl does puzzle me so, and I am surprised no one has queried or explained this yet.

  17. Steve, I think Canageek has it right. Imagine how more ridiculous those temples would have been if they'd been Baa-Baa and Moo-Moo.

    Amy, I feel like you're dropping spoilers!

    Good luck, Duskfire. Don't feel you need to adhere to my rules. I think modern players could be forgiven for backing up the save file before each expedition.

    Giauz, I'm not sure if you didn't get the bag or my caption joke. A tilt-a-whirl is a common carnival ride in the U.S., and I associate bags of tokens with going to amusement parks and spending them on the rides. I guess in some places, they use tickets instead of tokens, so my joke (which wasn't that good to begin with) may not ring universally. Anyway, in the game it turns out that you use them to activate a portal from Level 1 to a section of Level 2.

  18. Pretty sure I mentioned I live by Cedar Point (America's Rock'n Roller Coast TM) in Sandusky, OH, but who knows, might be moving to Wisconsin this spring. I get it now with the tokens (a carnival thing). I was overthinking it had something to do with an obscure reference in the picture you usually pick up on.

  19. I can't believe this game which was #5 in a well respected series and released in the year 1988 had only CGA graphics. Did it really not support EGA or do you only like ugly light blue and cyan when you play :)

  20. Have no fear, no spoilers here. I've never played this or any other Wizardry game. I was just wondering, is all. :)

  21. Okay, thanks. I was reading a wink-wink nudge-nudge in your posting that you clearly didn't intend.

    Blackbraun, that was some of the incredulity that I expressed when I first started playing. Nope, no EGA. Looks like 6 was the first.

  22. Oh well, I suspect this is one of the last games on your list that only supports CGA (thankfully). Keep up the fight!

  23. Legitimately laughed out loud at "friend named Catlob?" and decided my new plan to read CRPG Addict whenever I had a free moment at work might cause problems after all.


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