Thursday, October 10, 2013

Game 120: Wizardry VI: Bane of the Cosmic Forge

I don't know if the definitive history of Sir-Tech has ever been written, but it must make for an interesting drama. From what we can see on the surface:

  • In 1981, Robert Woodhead and Andrew Greenberg wrote Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord by building upon Oubliette from the PLATO system. As we recently discussed, they appear not to have acknowledged any debt to Oubliette specifically, despite adapting elements of it wholesale.
  • For the next seven years, they kept making basically the same game.
  • David W. Bradley joined the team in 1988 for Wizardry V, the same year that Woodhead departed the company for Japan.
  • Andrew Greenberg left the company sometime after 1988 and later sued Sir-Tech for breach of contract, tying up so much of the company's resources that (at least according to Sir-Tech) it delayed publication of Wizardry VII.
  • Bradley is listed--repeatedly--as the sole designer on Wizardry VI and the game--sorry, fantasy role-playing simulation--radically changes the interface and game elements.
  • For their work in creating the series, the Wizardry VI documentation gives Greenberg and Woodhead the same acknowledgement that they gave Jim Schwaiger and Oubliette: none.

I'm not entirely sure who was responsible for Wizardry VI. Can anyone help?

In my post on Windwalker, I made fun of developer Greg Paul Malone's constant presence in the game materials, and I have to do the same here with David Bradley. His byline is on nearly every page or screen that mentions the game. There's a full dedication page to his mother. But even with that, I was going to leave it alone. So what? I thought. He's proud of the game. He should be. There's no reason an "author" of a game shouldn't be as proud as the author of a book.

Then one of my readers, JJ, mailed me the game's hint guide. Oh, my.

Did anyone tell David that the 90s had begun?

The guide begins with a little chronicle of David Bradley's arrival at Sir-Tech, insisting that he began programming Wizardry V back in the early 1980s, long before his employment at the company, thus completely hand-waving the fact that Wizardry V was almost entirely based on the programming that had gone into Wizardry I-IV. Seriously, check it out. After discussing the founding of Sir-Tech and the publication of the first few games, the guide, using glorious malapropisms, says:

At the same time and on opposite ends of the United States, David W. Bradley had begun to program what would become Wizardry V: Heart of the Malestrom. [Huh? He was in two places at once?] Being a fan of fantasy role playing and computers, David naturally mixed the two. [It was about time someone did!] In the office where he worked, the game passed from disk to disk and person to person. People who were supposed to be typing memos, planning corporate stratums [that's honestly the word it uses] and comparing financial sheets, were instead trouncing through dungeons [it really says that, too], battling dragons and collecting gold pieces. In 1984, David contacted Sir-Tech Software about his program, then called "Dragon's Breath" [given what Wizardry V ultimately looked like, one wonders why]. In just a few weeks, the game was a hit with Sir-Tech's office staff, too. Norm and Rob Sirotek decided it was just too good to pass on, and so set the production wheels in motion. After its release in 1988, Wizardry V won several gaming awards and increased the series' fame to even higher levels. And that's when it happened--David threw the entire system out the door on its ear.

Am I missing something? Wizardry V was basically the same game as Wizardry I-III, right? Same structure, same combat system, same spells, even the same names for the stores on the castle level. Is Bradley really claiming credit for developing it (let alone the CRPG genre in general)? Either he was passing around a completely different game to his co-workers who were supposed to be "planning corporate stratums" (pity those in the lowest caste) or he was passing around a game that plagiarized Wizardry. Either way, this little retconned history is mind-boggling.

But the centerpiece of the hint guide--remember, this is supposed to be a hint guide--is a four-page Q&A with Bradley that reads exactly like a Q&A that someone fantasized for himself while sitting in traffic. The guide's author is given as Brenda Garno, but I have trouble believing that Bradley didn't write both the "Q" and "A" part himself. Among such questions as "How did you become interested in computer programming?" and "What's a typical day while you're in the middle of game design?" and "Once you had finished Bane of the Cosmic Forge, did it turn out to be bigger than you had imagined?," we get this gem of an exchange:

Q: You know, I still remember you saying, "Bane of the Cosmic Larva."
A: I did not say "Bane of the Cosmic Larva."

Q: Yes, you did.
A: Unless we were joking around.

Q: We were going through the dictionary and you were saying "Bane of the Cosmic..." whatever. You were picking out all these names. Eventually, you came out with "Bane of the Cosmic Larva."

No "A" appears to that last "Q," so I guess the facts behind this shocking anecdote will have to remain unknown.

Thus, with a little help from interviewer and subject (all the quotes below, gods' truth, come from the hint guide), let's begin exploring this game.

Q: How did you get the idea for Bane's plot?
A: In a flash. Literally, just like that. Everything that I had thought of, all of my characters and sub-plots, fell into place.

The short back story tells of a thoroughly debauched king (a wizard) and queen. The king and one of his evil wizard allies waged war on all the "evil planes." During one of these wars, after the defeat of an arch-demon ruler, they discovered the "Cosmic Forge," a magical pen with which the wielder could write things into existence. With it, they "began to script such horrors for the universe that no man has since imagined." Ultimately, the two allies had a falling out, went to war, and were never heard from again. (This, of course, sounds absolutely nothing like the story of Trebor, Werdna, and the magic amulet.) Over a century later, the party of six adventurers kicks open the dusty doors to the castle...

Q: If you had to create a David Bradley to go pouncing [yes, "pouncing"] through the dungeon, what type of character would he be?
A: Well, actually, I am in Bane, but I'm all of the other creatures in the game. But just a single character? How about a Samurai scientist.

In addition to the humans, elves, dwarves, gnomes, and hobbits that have been with us since the beginning, Wizardry VI introduces six new races, all magical or bestial: Faeries, Lizardmen, Dracons (sort-of like Draconians from Krynn), Rawulfs (canine humanoids), Mooks (look like Wookies from Star Wars), and Felpurrs (cat people). I'm trying to guess how long it took to come up with "Felpurr" and whether it's any more or less lazy than "Katta."

The pre-game menu.

For classes, the game retains fighters, mages, priests, thieves, samurai, lords, bishops, and ninjas from its predecessors, then introduces rangers, bards, alchemists, psionics, valkyries, and monks. Alchemists and psionics have different spellbooks than mages and priests, and all classes come with a variety of special abilities and equipment.

I decided to try some new things with my party, partly based on some advice I've received in the last few posts, and partly just for fun. The party favors the new races and classes, has no male characters, and has no pure spellcasters. Bragging rights for the first person to figure out the theme.

  • Nysra, a Dwarf valkyrie
  • Selky, a Felpurr monk
  • Lashi, a Mook samurai
  • Paisley, a Dracon ninja
  • Harquin, a Faerie bard
  • Nofri, an Elf bishop

All of the characters have some spellcasting ability, and among the party members, I have access to all the spellbooks, but because none of them are pure, I'll gain spell levels very slowly. We'll see how it works out.

Creating this party, I should mention, took a number of hours. I don't love the character creation process, mostly because there's no way to cancel or back out of it if you realize you're getting a bad character. You have to finish creating her and then decline to keep her.

Q: How did you become interested in computer programming?
A: I didn't become interested. It was an accident and then I got addicted. Now I can't kick the habit. I sat down in front of a computer and started typing some stuff. And I haven't stopped yet.

Once you set the name, race, and sex, the game presents the standard attribute scores and gives you a pool of "bonus" points, ranging from around 5 to 18, and then lets you choose your class. Each class has a minimum for various attributes, and if the bonus points plus the default race/sex scores aren't enough, that class isn't available. If the class is available, and you choose it, the game automatically allocates your bonus points towards the class minimums, then lets you spend whatever is left over.

Some classes, like the ninja, essentially require the maximum number of bonus points, so it took dozens of "false starts" before I was able to create the character.

Creating a character. I needed a bonus roll this high to make the character a monk.

Character creation also involves the allocation of skill points--a first for the series--which I admit had me lost. There are ten weapon skills, six "physical" skills (including scouting, music, ninjutsu, and lockpicking), and eight "academia" skills (mostly magic). Some of them apparently increase with use, but others must have points allocated to them to increase. I did the best I could, putting a few of my monk's points into scouting and a few of my bard's points into lockpicking.

Finally, there's a "Karma" score, which the manual describes as a combination of luck and morality. I'm not sure how it affects gameplay. My random rolls include both high and low values, which the manual suggests is a good thing.

This game is one of the few of the era that allows you to choose your character portrait. There were some odd choices, and it didn't appear to me that Mooks and Dracons had any options (at least, none that looked like their portraits in the manual).

Equipping my starting items.

After I had the six characters rolled, I started the game and began exploring the castle. There's no "town" to visit as in the previous games, nor any long process of buying initial equipment. Instead, you simply begin with default equipment. There must be places to buy things later, because you do find gold at the end of combat.

My map so far of Level 1.

The first floor seems appropriately castle-shaped, with at least nine stairways up and seven stairways down. I say "at least," because there are six doors that I'm unable to open. This seems to be a consequence of choosing a party without a thief and in which no character has particularly high strength. No one can force or pick the locks, and if I try too hard, they "jam," which the manual suggests is bad. I think I'll keep playing and see if I can return to the doors when I have the "knock-knock" spell or a higher lockpicking skill level.

Lockpicking involves a little mini-game where you wait for green bars to appear above all tumblers and hit ENTER at the right moment.

There was one gate that, Dungeon Master-style, required pushing a button on a nearby wall, but I couldn't find a way to open a gate beyond that. Two chests held various potions and magic items, along with some cryptic messages.

I've fought half a dozen random combats against things like vines, rats, and bats. I'm going to hold off describing it until I have a better handle on it, except to say that it's a clear evolution from the previous games in the series. Each character has various attack, defense, and magic options every round, and you "line up" your attacks before executing them all at once. So far, the foes haven't been difficult at all--a big change from the first five titles, which throw you relentlessly into danger in the first hallway.

Q: Before Bane hit the market and all the positive feedback came, what were your initial instincts telling you about it?
A: Ah, you never know. I knew it was going to be a good game, I knew the story and all that went with it, and I loved it. I generally do stuff where it all feels right. But still, you never know.

So far, the graphics and sound seem okay. The sound, while supporting Sound Blaster, either has weird artifacts (intermittent static, pounding) or is supposed to be alerting me to nearby creatures or something. I disabled the mouse and am not having much trouble navigating with the keyboard.

A fountain in the main hall restores stamina.

I'm just getting started with this one, of course, so I can't offer much of an opinion yet. By my next post, I'll have an idea as to whether this party is going to make it. I mentioned having the physical hint guide that JJ sent, but my rules haven't really changed. I glanced at its advice for character creation, but I won't be using it for the maps or puzzles or anything. 

Let's close with some final inspirational words from DWB, which I hope inspired legions of prospective young doctors, crane operators, and jet pilots:

Q: What do you recommend to people who want to do what you're doing?
A: If you want to do something, you just do it. You'll learn all you need to know along the way.


  1. "In the office where he worked, the game passed from disk to disk and person to person. People who were supposed to be typing memos, planning corporate stratums and comparing financial sheets, were instead trouncing through dungeons, battling dragons and collecting gold pieces."

    So this game set the stage for the S&L Crisis?

    1. Sorry to necro-post, but that was the funniest thing you can have said about that interview. Good work.

    2. It's even funnier when you think that pirated copies of the first Leisure suit Larry almost did that in Europe in '89.

  2. Not a big fan of DW Bradley, eh?

    What do you think of his writing and level design?

    Personally I think the castle part of Wiz 6 is probably the best opening area of any CRPG I've played, and the whole backstory is darker and more atmospheric than most.
    And I must admit I like his pretentious pompous purple prose. The description of the King's throne room is a classic.

    1. I'm not a big fan of him in the manuals. I haven't gotten far enough in the game to assess that other stuff yet.

    2. I played this on the Amiga, though I lost interest around the Dwarven Mines area. I'm not sure why, it seemed a decent enough game especially in terms of combat.

      With regard to character development, I think you're supposed to start with the simpler characters such as priests and warriors, then promote them later to the more powerful classes such as bishops. Seems to minmax you should go in quite the round of promotions, and start with particular races.

      I liked Wizardry 8 much more because they got rid of this nonsense - you could change class but there was little benefit in it.

    3. The best Bradley prose comes in 7 with the Gorn king's speech. It is pathetic, long and moving all at once.

  3. Everything sounds so utterly damning about the first 4 or 5 'Wizardry's and how they should have but did not acknowledge the PLATO system and the games there. And then when the 2 big boys of Sir-Tech go (in a flash of bitterness no less) suddenly D.W. Bradley shows up and makes a big foofooraw. And ignores the 2 previous big boys. I used to look up to the 'Wizardry' series, now I feel little more than contempt for it and I know I shouldn't. Especially since *I* have never made a game. And it was very accurately pointed out, by the fellow that HAS made games in the past, making games is hard. So I shouldn't feel the contempt that I do, but I can't stop the feeling.

    On a better note, of sorts, I would never have been able to play the first 4 'Wizardry's at all. Not in my post-alcoholism, post-middle age, post-heavy duty pain med riddled brain state. Especially since the first couple after #1 required the characters from the first game. *twitch, twitch* Nuh uh, no matter how much I may hae wanted tae.

    On the other hand, I actually HAVE been playing #6! Using the mapper by Pierce (I've been using/testing it for ages now, in all my various abortive attempts to play retro games successfully) no less. Aside from the annoying sound effects that play CoNsTaNtLy and grind in your ears over and over like a worm it's been something that my p-a,p-ma, p-hdpmrb state can handle it. Hopefully our games will run similarly, Chet, in that we both play and finish. Well, I know YOU will anyway. The real question is WILL *I*? (Ans: No.)

    Thank you for having this blog. Thank you for actually not only reading my sometimes inane and annoying comments but replaying to some of them as well.

    1. It's hard not to have contempt for the stuff in the Q&A, but that shouldn't make you have contempt for the series. I have never played the ancient titles. VII was one of my first CPRGs and I loved it so much, that I even picked up a copy of VI a few years later.

      It is painful to go backwards in time. When you start at the beginning and go forwards, you see improvements and can appreciate those. When you go backwards you mainly see what is missing, that was once there, how everything gets more tedious and ugly. Still VI was a lot of fun, although the VGA graphics were really hard on the eye, when you were used to Super VGA. They actually look better on these pictures today than they felt to me almost 20 years ago.

      Maybe I am wrong here, but when comparing Wizardry VI to many of the titles that had been around just a few years earlier, then it seems like a real jump forward. This is something that you will not see any more with the last two titles of the series. However, at its core the Wizardry system is a good basis to make a great CPRG anyway, and although people have complained, that Wizardry VII is just a bigger Super VGA Wizardry VI, that criticism is besides the point in my opinion. VII refines a lot of the things VI did well, and redesigns a few things, that were not working so well any more. Wizardry VIII is different, but that's still a more than a decade in the future of VI...

    2. Small correction: Wiz6 was 16-color EGA and Wiz7 was 256-color VGA/MCGA.

      I know what you mean, though. I started with Wiz6 and have been unable to get interested in the earlier games in the series because Wiz6 was such a leap forward.

      I also agree about Wiz7 being bigger, although I've never managed to beat it as a result. I've actually finished Wiz6 twice and Wiz8 once too. Part of the problem with Wiz7 is that you have to chase non-hostile NPCs around and/or race them for map items and things, so there's no linear/predictable way to beat the game.

    3. The graphics sure don't LOOK like VGA, but oddly VGA is one of the options for graphics settings.

    4. It was definitely EGA and my huge disappointment about that aspect of the game is as fresh in my mind today as the moment I picked up the box on the store shelf and saw it (I remember the store and I can still see myself picking up the box in my hands) since basically all other games that year came out in VGA as far as I can remember. I was really eager and looking forward to having VGA graphics in that game, but it didn't happen.

  4. Reharding the sound in Wiz 6 I seem to recall it has something to do with the ambient sounds using too high frequency or too many cycles or something. But since I tend to play old turn based DOS games with sound and music off I didn't really pay attention.

  5. I think I would have had a harder time enjoying the game if I'd read those excerpts from the hint book first. There's still a lot of that goofiness that plagued W5 in this game, but I otherwise found it oddly compelling despite it still being somewhat behind the state of the art of the era. I eventually gave up at a difficult battle around two-thirds through, and I'm still not sure if my party composition should have been better or if I would have got through eventually with some persistence. I had Samurai, Valkyrie, Priest, Mage and I think probably a Thief. I remember that the thief and the other character I've forgotten (Bard or Ranger probably) didn't help me much in combat.

    This one still eats at me a little. I still have the save game sitting there. Maybe your playthrough will inspire me to have another crack, or maybe I'll be glad I quit when I did.

  6. I think you might have a hard time with your party at the beginning. If you don't it's probably because you are used to the Wizardry series being so frustrating. Ninjas, Monks, Bishops etc. they are a bit like academics: Not much good for anything at the beginning, but if you train them for a long time they are outstanding. I probably wouldn't go so far to use just the Fighter/Mage/Thief kind of classes, but having some of them in the mix doesn't hurt. At the beginning a Fighter is more effective than a Ninja, and he levels way faster, too.

    I remember reading here, that the more difficult classes were originally called honor classes, but that is not really what they are. One might consider them as being analogous to AD&D Dual classes. Samurai is Fighter/Mage, Bishop is Cleric/Mage, Ninja is Fighter/Thief/Alchemist and so forth.

    As to the skill points. As I remember it basically every skill improves with use. There are just a very few skills you cannot really use. For example in W7 Mapmaking won't ever improve automatically. Kirijutsu and that skill that allows you to identify found artifacts don't improve automatically I believe. However, most importantly the spellcasters' primary skills don't improve automatically if I remember correctly.

    Regarding vendors, there are a few. However, for good items in W6-8 you usually pay the iron price. In most cases vendors let you catch up in areas, where you haven't found anything in quite a while.

    1. Classes: It's fine to start out with prestige/honor/whatever class characters, as long as you have a couple of good front-line melee guys, a primary and secondary healer, someone with thief skills and preferably a primary offensive caster (mage/psionic/alchemist). Note also that you can change classes as another way to be able to mix-and-match skillsets.

      Personally I stay away from fighters and thieves, because lord/samurai/valkyrie are just as good as the former, while bard/ninja have much more to offer than the latter. The bard especially is almost overpowered as an early-game crowd controller.

      Skills:I think some secondary/passive skills like scouting may not increase with use. Some specialized skills like skullduggery increase with use but still need points dumped into them to be able to either get started and/or keep up with the challenge curve as the game progresses.

      There are definitely several vendors in the game, generally in areas that you'll spend a lot of time exploring around. There are two in the castle, which is the early game. Vendors' inventories are random (and reset between visits I think), although confined to a certain level range and selection of possible items.

      I would say that most of the best weapons are found or dropped by bosses, but vendors tend to be useful for filling in armor upgrades until the late game.

    2. So how do you improve them then? You just are stuck with what you have at creation?

    3. @Canageek: No, your characters get more points to spend (however you want) on skills every time they gain a level. I like this system because it simulates learning skills both on-the-job and through study.

      Your characters also get stat increases on level-up, but they are completely random. Apparently this leads some power-gamers to save before a level-up and re-load their game if they don't like the stat increases. I think this is a bit silly myself, though, because the game just isn't unforgiving enough to require that level of obsession over character growth.

    4. I did this reloading so that I could respec my guys into the prestige classes I wanted. I was so frustrated with the early game character creation not giving me enough bonus points that I had a lot of "generic" classes at the start.

    5. I'm replaying Wiz6 now and am almost at the end. My characters and progression are:
      Valkyrie (no class change)
      Thief>Ninja>Monk>Ninja (turns out starting with a thief is almost essential for starting with enough skulduggery to get by, and I ran her through monk to get kirijutsu to 100 and to boost alchemy when re-leveling ninja; gave up good starting gear for skulduggery)
      Mage>Samurai>Ninja>Samurai (gave up good starting equipment for better spells later on, and touring ninja and back gave her heal wounds plus 100 kirijutsu and theosophy)
      Ranger>Alchemist>Ranger (boosting alchemy made him less useless, and he turned out to be my best choice for Spear of Death mid-game)
      Priest>Bishop>Priest>Bishop (good way to reach 100 points in both theosophy and theology faster)
      Bard>Mage>Bard (lute is overpowered at the beginning, and now she's a great spellcaster with poor mana regeneration)

      I generally changed classes whenever I hit level 10, which in retrospect was probably a bit early. By the time I hit Isle of the Dead, at least 2 of my characters had nuke spells (i.e. nuclear blast, word of death, deadly air, etc), and I wiped the floor with the bosses. I did spend a fair amount of time grinding around the river Styx, as things like silencing+nuking sirens is a huge XP generator.

      Now I've just entered the Temple of Ramm, and my characters are in their 20's due to the fact that all but the ninja have nuke spells that make grinding large groups of monsters a cakewalk.

  7. Thoughts on Chet's post:


    That party is going to suffer from the fact that most of those characters excel at fighting with melee skills that cannot be used from the back row (party positions 4-6) without first wasting a round on hiding (and hoping it is successful the first time). Pure spellcasters are meant to be the main ranged/AoE attackers, especially in the early game.

    Actually, though, it could work like this: Samurai, ninja and monk up front, valkyrie and priest in back with polearms, bard in back with any combination of bow/sling/melee+hiding/instruments.

    Also, some power-gamer notes that I recently picked up include:
    1. You can apparently get a much more capable priest-mage character by leveling a mage and class-changing to a priest (or vice versa) than by leveling a bishop, as it takes as much experience to level a bishop from level 10 to level 11 as it would to level one of the other two classes from level 1 to level 10.
    2. Bards are extremely helpful in the early game due to their ability to cast sleep via the Lute, whose usage is limited only by the bard's stamina (which is much more easily replenished than magic points).

    One upside is that you'll have good staying power with 2/3 of the party able to cast Heal Wounds after a few levels!

    Mook & Dracon portraits:

    I can't explain what the Mook portrait looks like, but it's the upper-left one in this party:

    The Dragon portrait looks like a blackish reptilian or insect creature. I think it's just before the green Lizardman portrait.


    Both your Ninja and your Bard have skullduggery, which is the skill used for lockpicking doors and disarming trapped chests. Pick one of them as your skullduggery character and put several points into it to get started, then pick every locked door you can find (starting with the ones near the castle entrance). Make sure to save your game before lockpicking and re-load if a door gets jammed, as the only way to open it at that point is to find a key that works. Also, don't force doors open, as that wastes precious opportunities to increase skullduggery through use.


    The scratches and bumps are supposed to be the ambient noise of the dungeon. Note that you can make it quiet or muted without losing normal sounds, by going into Disk -> Game Configuration and choosing FULL/SOFT or FULL/OFF for the sound setting.


    I was going to suggest disabling the mouse and using the keyboard controls, but I see you already did this. The version I actually have original floppies for is apparently an older version that doesn't have mouse support or the fancy title screen. Fortunately I now own the GOG version so I can experience it both ways.

    Wizardry 6 is really the first first-person dungeon crawler that really grabbed my attention in the 16-bit DOS area, and it ended up offering a really good mix of gameplay elements that kept me from being able to get into a lot of other dungeon crawlers (e.g. earlier Wizardry games, Dungeon Master, Bard's Tale, etc.). I especially like the skill/magic/equipment systems (dual wielding is especially nice, especially since it extends to thrown weapons - which I was disappointed to see lacking in Wiz 8).

    The story in Wizardry 6 is probably its biggest weakness, though, as it feels pretty thin and ad hoc. They ultimately make up for this a bit, though, by letting you import your party into Wiz 7 (which has more story and is a LOT more open and non-linear but also less forgiving) and then from there into Wiz 8 (even more story!) to make a trilogy of sorts. It's also a bit less campy than Might & Magic 4+5 (World of Xeen), which I really want to like but keep cringing at (how can you take a CRPG seriously when a guy pops up in front of the first dungeon entrance and says "step right up!" like a carnival barker?).

    1. Really? I find the plot twists at the end of Wiz 6 one of the best in the history of RPGs.

    2. LOL at your description of World of Xeen. I know exactly what you mean, of course, but I actually find Xeen's campiness to be charming. :^)

    3. The game turned out to be quite hard at the beginning, but it's getting easier now that, as you say, multiple characters have the ability to cast "heal wounds." Thank you for the tip on the sound. Ultimately, I think I'm going to turn it all off. The scratches are very annoying, particularly during NPC dialogue and trading.

      On the portraits, I appreciate the clarification. They don't really look like the portraits in the game manual, though.

    4. Due to a nonstandard sound implementation, the PC Speaker option generally sounds significantly better than the Sound Blaster option (at least in DOSBox at a reasonable speed). I never got anything recognizable with Sound Blaster, but everything was relatively clear with PC Speaker (though I ultimately still turned off the background sounds and just left the foreground sounds, as they got rather annoying). YMMV though.

    5. ...Same is true in Wizardry VII BTW, if you play the DOS version.

    6. I love how M&M doesn't take itself so seriously. Though on the converse I love how Ultima takes itself super seriously. Either one works as long as its done well. M&M knows that it's just a computer RPG. Ultima however is an attempt by origin to "create worlds" and both succeeded. They are my 2 favorite RPG series.

  8. I'm a fan of the Wizardry games... specifically 4 through 8... but this is probably my favorite post that you've written so far! You had me laughing out loud in this one while talking about DW, his statements, and all the history of it. Truly a gem of a read. It's hilarious how some developers (and the same goes for stars, actors, writers, doctors, ditch diggers) can take themselves so seriously, and actually believe the crap they say. Classic!

    1. Yeah. I was especially taken aback about the Wiz V claims, as it's pretty much just a new scenario for the Wiz IV engine as far as I've seen.

      Wiz6 was definitely a much-needed step forward for the series, though, even if it wasn't quite cutting-edge in terms of graphics and sound when it was released.

  9. Oh my. That use of colour is painful. Pink text? Really? Who thought that was a good idea. That is hard to read as heck. Also why is everything pixelly and fuzzy? An early attempt at a texture?

    1. It looked pretty good on CRT monitors. The sharpness of LCDs is not as kind on dithering/noise.

      I think they were going for a grittier version of the Dungeon Master look. The real bummer is that those same stone wall/floor textures are used throughout most of the game, and you have to rely on textual descriptions of your surroundings to realize that you're supposed to be in a castle, swamp, cave, tomb, mine, etc.

  10. That is some comedy gold right there. Your dry-as-sandpaper humor fills my German Soul with joy, oh dear Addict :D

    Anyway, I really, really love this game, warts (or rather: butt-ugly EGA graphics, crackling cacophonies emitted by the PC speaker and hilariously overwrought purple prose) and all. It was one of the very first games I actually paid money for back in '91, and thanks to a surprisingly good translation and a comprehensive walkthrough found in my PC gaming mag of choice (hey, I was *ten*!), I was actually able to *finish it*.

    It stayed with me ever since. That's why I can't really, "objectively", asses how "good" a game it actually is - I have to be recused due to a conflict of interests, your honor. Consequently, I'm *really* curious to see how well you'll like Wizardry 6. I've heard it's really good, though :D

  11. I'll ask Brenda if she doesn't mind visiting this blog and telling us more about that interview.

    Regarding the game, you should definitely have a Faerie Ninja!

    1. SECONDED!

      Faerie Ninja = √úberchar!

    2. The Cane of Corpus does not exist in Wizardry VI so you don't need a Fairie Ninja for the best weapon. If he wants to get it in 7, which would require knowledge where to get it as a random drop, he could retrain his Fairie char, since getting a Fairie Ninja without adjustment of the games stats algorithm (for character creation) would be quite tiresome. I tried it once for several days in Wiz 7 and then found the "cheat" online which saved quite some time.

    3. It was apparently to early in the morning to spell Faerie correctly... -_-

    4. But bear in mind, he can transfer his characters from 6 to 7 to 8. So if he can get a faerie ninja started up now, that's be sweet.

  12. I belive the same thing happened to Wiz 8 - while being a direct sequel to 7 and featuring some of its characters, it's been produced by that very Brenda Garno and IIRC fails to acknoledge Bradley in any way. Must be aome staple of Sir-Tech corporate culture.
    Didn't stop them from making/publishing some real gems tho.

  13. Few tips, if noone told: (ofcourse skip it if someone was faster)
    -You don't need to class change, if you don't want, on normal difficulty it's doable.
    -Try to learn from all type of magic early on (fire, earth etc.), and the most important spells are "cure","remove" etc.
    -What I like about this game, the magic system is very useful, disabling, irritating, paralyzing, sleeping etc. monsters is a very good idea, and it's working.
    -For grinding, and/or resting in a square, just turn around, put something on the right or left arrow. (the game counts turning like moving aciton) :)

  14. "Did anyone tell David that the 90s had begun?"

    Actually, you gotta kind of admire that Ron Swanson style 'stache.

  15. Brenda Garno aka Brenda Brathwaite aka Brenda Romero is a real person. She is currently married to John Romero (of Castle Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Quake, and Daikatana fame) and runs a game company (Loot Drop) in San Francisco.

    Brenda started playtesting and technical writing for Sir-Tech as a teenager, including for all of the Woodhead & Greenberg Wizardry games. As I understand it, she did some game writing as well as the manuals on the David W. Bradley ones. Lori and I talked to her about having us design Wizardry 8, but we decided to pass on it after talking with Andrew, Robert, and David. We also didn't want to move to upstate New York. :-)

    According to RPGCodex, there's a guy named Cleve Blackmore who claims to have started on Wizardry 8 under contract to Sir-Tech, but that the project was a mess. Eventually Brenda designed Wizardry 8 herself, and it reportedly turned out well. (I haven't played it.)

    The Cleve stuff is really strange and somewhat amusing. I'm afraid it goes in the "hearsay" category, but Cleve's posts talked about some crazy stuff. He has been working on a Wizardry-like game called Grimoire for pretty much forever, still not out.

    1. Funny - given that the main designers of Wiz 8 (apart from Brenda herself) were Ian and Linda Currie, she seems to have had a thing for designer couples ;)

    2. For many years Cleve was ridiculed for his stories about the fate of Sir-Tech and and his own role in it all, but apparantly he produced some actual evidence to back up his stories. He's also a hilarious guy; as Chet he's got a way with words, but unlike Chet he's not held back by political correctness, and modesty is an alien concept to him.

      Check out this monster thread for the whole story:

    3. As a note Brenda was one of the people behind that big failed Old School RPG KickStarter. I didn't recognize the name as she uses a different last name on Twitter.

    4. I wasn't really clear in my post. I didn't doubt that Brenda is a real person--I looked up her Wikipedia profile--just that she wrote that particular Q&A.

      That is a bizarre thread. I'm sure we'll talk about it when I get to W8. Has anyone actually confirmed to have been working at Sir-Tech backed up Blackmore's claims of having been employed there?

    5. Brenda Garno also plays a prominent role in the first Jagged Alliance. As in, she's an NPC in that game.

    6. Also, too? Cleveland Mark Blakemore's single greatest achievement, without a doubt, is making Derek Smart look *sane* in comparison.
      That's a monumental feat, so props where props are due.

    7. Robert Sirotek and Cleve exchanged a few words about the disastrous Wizardry 8 project here on usenet a few years ago:!search/cleve$20blakemore$20robert$20sirotek/

      Cleve's putdown of Sir Tech was epic and cathartic. A must read.

    8. "Cleve's" response seems vile and delusional to me. He calls himself "the best RPG designer in the history of the Earth," and I don't think he's being sarcastic. Add to that the horribly homophobic statements above and I think Sirotek comes across as the more credible source.

    9. That RPG Codex thread! Having been made aware of it last summer, and reading through all of it in a single feverish sitting, I was immediately reminded of it when you started talking about the story of Sir-Tech and the "personalities" that worked there. I truly recommend reading it, because it's like an amazing, real-life epic full of suspense, mad claims and incredibly surprising twists that spans several years. I really, really encourage you to read it wholly (skip the long and boring political digressions that happen at several points, though), but I'll make a quick summary here:

      Someone starts the thread with a candid question about the reason Sir-Tech, a company that had huge successes under its belt (like the Wizardry series) ended in bankrupcy. Soon enough, Cleveland Mark Blakemore - who for almost 20 years has been developing a Wirzardry-like RPG called Grimoire - crashes into the thread with his abrasive opinions about most of the people that worked there and some comments about how "his" Wizardry 8: Stones of Arnhem would have been the best Wizardry ever, greatly surpassing the released Wizardry 8. People mock him, ask him where in W8's credits his name is, and basically take him for a fool with delusions of grandeur. Cleve then starts to recall details of the production of W8:SoA, a story so full of weird and crazy stuff (SPOILER: you'll never forget the "penisaurus" once you've been told about it) that even the people that were more sympathetic towards him at first can't really believe he's not making everything up. After a while, the thread mostly wanes and dies...

      And then, almost two years after the first post, someone appears on the thread claiming to be an antiques dealer from upstate NY, not far from where Sir-Tech was located, and that he has purchased all of the Sir-Tech Company's old belongings. He's found the thread while googling about Sir-Tech, trying to gauge the value of the stuff he has bought, including "1000's and 1000's of paper documents, literally every paper file Sir-Tech ever had, ledgers, signed licensing agreements with Nintendo, sales reports, concept and storylines for their games and more, paperwork regarding their legal cases, information on every meeting they ever had", and also "three professional sketch books filled with concept art for Stones of Arnhem").

      I won't spoil what happens next... ;-)

    10. Well, vile and delusional sums up Cleve pretty well (from what I've read from him).

      On a positive, he did actually release a demo of Grimoire after working on it for more than 17 years ... perhaps even the full game will be released witihin my lifetime.

    11. Well, he already released one demo before, sometime in the early 2000s, so I wouldn't be so optimistic.

    12. @Korthe:
      I sincerely hope you don't take anything from that thread all too seriously. Cleve is quite obviously a sociopath and pathological liar, the kernel of truth in his stories about Sir-Tech notwithstanding.
      Seriously. Please don't take that one drawing of "penisaurus" (which should rather be called "spermisaurus", btw) as any kind of redemption for anything that sociopath said. The basic outlines of the story were never in doubt, after all, even right at the beginning.

    13. In the end, the most accurate distillation of Cleveland Blakemore has always been Calvin Barkmore:
      "Here's the thing. Other miners? They think they're better than me. Point is, I'm an innovative genius. Eventually, the Queen will recognize that, and I;ll become Head of Head Miners."

      P.S.: Oh, what I would give for an edit function. Y U keep busting my balls, blogspot?

    14. I liked Cleve's recent comment about Clavin Blakemore:

      "The irony is that Calvin Barkmore looks like Ian, not like me. I don't suffer from premature baldness or a receding chin. That looks like Ian posted his own portrait for that character. I saw a picture of Ian recently, dude looks 150. He aged so rapidly it is like he is suffering from Methuselah syndrome. Poor Sapiens, mature at 18, middle aged at 25, ready for a Ziff Frame by 50. The light that burns brightest and what have you. Or not at all. Remember kids, you don't need as much time to reach maturity as we move down the primate chain. Cold temperatures promote a longer development cycle to control both reproductive capacity and manage calorie requirements. Being a spear chucking rhesus monkey who is essentially a life support system for a pair of testicles, Sapiens is ready to breed by 12 and ready to die by 25, sort of like replicants. "

      Cleve reminds me of Odd John of the old SF novel "Odd John" by Olaf Stapledon. Odd John, the mutated super human, too looked down on the poor Sapiens, but while Cleve thinks of himself as a Neanderthal, Odd John considered himself a "Homo Superior".

    15. Do we know that he didn't just make up an account, claim to have a bunch of stuff and post pictures of fake books? Or are they actually for-sure real?

    16. @Petrus: I've never read that novel. But if the prevalent emotion it invokes towards that character is "worn-out pity", I'm right with you.

    17. Usenet legend Cleveland Blakemore. A good search of will turn up lotsa classic Cleve. Remember this is the guy who moved to an underground bunker in Australia to escape the coming race war in North America.

    18. There's no doubt that Cleve holds unpopular points of view. But whatever abrasive qualities he may have, that doesn't negate whether or not the experiences he related actually happened. When you get to about page 30 in that thread, he tells the non-hyperbolic version of the story, and it's a pretty fascinating read. Then somewhere after page 40, hotalibi and his eBay auction lots pretty much verify most (if not all?) of what Cleve said. There's even a sketch that verifies some of the furry stuff he was talking about. The drama of watching that thread unfold is incredible almost to the point of defying belief.

      No, that doesn't mean I'm condoning the way Cleve expressed himself at times, but it does make for an extremely fascinating tale.

    19. @InnerPartisan: My answer would have been what Gamma Leak above has already said.

      Don't be afraid, I have enough common sense to separate the truth from the fiction (i.e. Cleve basically accuses one of the project leaders of hosting a paedophilia ring of homeless teens in his own home, which is clearly a fabrication of Cleve's homophobic views).

      You say "The basic outlines of the story were never in doubt, after all, even right at the beginning", but that's not the impression I got, at all, from reading the thread. No one believed anything Cleve had said until someone tracked down one of the project leaders and he confirmed that, yes, a project called Stones of Arnhem had existed at some point and that, yes, Cleveland Blackmore had worked on it. And then the eBay auction happens and all the info showed from it confirmes that the game itself was as "weird" as Cleve had been claiming.

      I forgot to say one thing in my original post: the fascination of reading through that thread is not too unlike watching a trainwreck. It's horryfing at times, but for some reason you (I) can't take your (my) eyes off it.

    20. @Korthe:
      OK, my bad. I thought the existence of "Stones of Arnhem" hadn't been in dispute from the start. It's been a few months since I've read that thread (and yeah, I can't deny a certain... fascination), and I'm most certainly *not* diving back into that hive of scum and villainy.
      RPG Codex is a very... unpleasant place.

    21. I downloaded the demo, and all I can say of what little I saw of it is that it's weird and ugly.

    22. ""Cleve's" response seems vile and delusional to me."
      Oh, very clever, "Chet". Or should I say...Cleve!

      That's right, your cover is blown. DId you think we wouldn't figure it out:
      Chester Bolingbroke = CB = Cleve Blakemore!

      Add to it the observed facts:
      - both have wives
      - both are obsessed beyond reason with RPGs
      - both are stuck in the past, about 1991

      I think it's time to come clean with your readers.

    23. Ha ha, no wonder he can never finish Grimoire when he's too busy playing and blogging.

    24. "No one believed anything Cleve had said until *SOMEONE* tracked down one of the project leaders and he confirmed that, yes, a project called Stones of Arnhem had existed at some point and that, yes, Cleveland Blackmore had worked on it."


    25. O...M...G... I can't believe what I just read. I usually avoid the codex for reasons already mentioned/hinted a lot around here and in other places. But this was pure comedy gold....and also sad, very sad. I think in summary what's said about the competence of Sir-Tech all but true and confirmed by other stories I've read about them. Also confirmed by the very fact they did hire a guy like Cleve and this australian company...

    26. Of course I wanted to say INcompetence. Also I'm really missing the EDIT function, too ;-)

    27. Everything I read about the Wizardry series is insane... The people, the difficulty, the always-behind-the-times look, the copyright issues...

    28. @PetrusOctavianus, Sadly, that RPG codex blog has been placed under cover, but scraps remain to tempt and tantalize.

      What can be seen is truly like a train wreck, horrifying and delightful at the same time. However, the truth unfolding has been removed from view.

    29. Apparently at Cleve's request the thread was moved to the sub-forum "Retardo Land", so I guess you need to register to read the whole thing now.

  16. I´ve played all the Wizardry games (never finished one though) but it seems to me there´s a huge improvement in quality from Wizardry V to VI.

  17. As someone who finished W6-8 on hard mode, I can attest that class changing makes your characters far more powerful in the long run. I usually went from L1->10 and then cycled back to 1 in a different class, since as someone else mentioned, the experience from 1 to 10 is equal to the experience from 10 to 11. You only get 1 HP per level gain and all your stats drop to the minimums for class + race, but you get 9 level gains instead of 1 for the same XP, which results in a huge amount of mana and spells. In the endgame you stop the cycling and then it's pretty neat to have characters capable of doing practically everything.

    1. Well, it's ok, but if you unlucky, you won't get enough attribute points to advance in the class you want to choose. Not problem if you just reload before level up ofcourse, and just keep doing it until you get 4-5 points and in correct stats, but if i am correct that's against the mentality of CPRAddict.:)

    2. @Eugene, That's certainly true on WI Proving Grounds. My Mage/Clerics and Cleric/Mages are so much better than any (non-cheated) Bishop for the same total XP.

  18. I should mention that Elanarae has a good Let's Play playlist of this game on YouTube:

    One of the many useful things he mentioned is that there's a utility that can patch the game to give a higher chance of high bonus rolls when creating characters, to save on the drudgery of rolling over and over:

    1. Thanks for the mention, though I guess you haven´t reached the mid part of my LP yet where I just take the pi** out of the game xD ... it gets better though, after I used the tool to "fix" the regeneration rates.

      I USUALLY love Dungeon Crawler but for some reason I totally loathed this game, it hated me and showed it.

      The best thing about this LP is that one of my Fans made some Fanarts of my party, both of which hang on my Hallway Wall now :P

      No spoilers so ok to look at ^.^

  19. As a note, since I have never had the chance to exploit the second part of rule one: the full Wizardry series is on sale on Great Old Games.

    1. GOG has Wiz 6+7 and Wiz 8 *for* sale, but they don't seem to be *on* sale at the moment. Or are you talking about another site?

      They were on sale on GOG a while ago, so I picked them up. Wiz6 was the only one I owned a legitimate copy of as a teen / poor college student, so I figured it was worth picking them up again since I eventually want to run a party through the whole trilogy.

      Steam also has these for sale, but I strongly recommend getting them from GOG instead, because GOG probably did the legwork of integrating with DOSBox, collecting manuals, hint books and other extras, and then the IP owner threw them up on Steam to make an extra buck without rewarding GOG for their efforts.

    2. Errr. It also seems that I can't tell the difference between the words Wizardry and Ultima. Ultima is the one on sale. Sorry about that.

      Sorry about breaking the rules by accident.

    3. I show GOG selling W6&7 for $5.99. What would "on sale" look like if that's not it?

    4. Less then that. $5.99 is the normal price. The Ultima 1-3 and 4-6 collections are currently $2.39 each, as is the stand alone copy of Ultima 8.

    5. I believe I paid $2.39 each for Wiz6+7 and Wiz8. I already own a good chunk of the games from the current sale as well, including all of the Ultima games. I'm trying to be good and not buy any more, since I already have way too many games that I'll probably never get around to playing.

  20. And I suppose that lightning bolt is to illustrate how the backstory of the game to him, you know, in a flash.

    1. backstory of the game *came to him... argh uneditable comment system

  21. I have read your interviews, and you've said plenty of thinks equally as dumb as you are making fun of David Bradley for saying.

    1. The difference is people visit my blog to read my perspectives on these games, and the interviews are an extension of that. People don't buy hint guides to read a developer's vainglorious comments about himself or his vapid world views.

      Anyway, I reject your premise. Sure, I've said some dumb things in interviews. But I challenge you to produce anything I've said that's AS DUMB as the quotes from Bradley's Q&A.

    2. Skyrim is the best RPG ever.

    3. It's times like this that you ask yourself - does the world really need Anonymous commenters?

    4. Well I hate to be the "devils advocate", but some things that Bradley says are not as dumb as you make it out to be, at least this last quote:

      'Let's close with some final inspirational words from DWB, which I hope inspired legions of prospective young doctors, crane operators, and jet pilots:

      Q: What do you recommend to people who want to do what you're doing?
      A: If you want to do something, you just do it. You'll learn all you need to know along the way.'

      Programming is something you can learn by just practicing it, it's not the same as those other things.

      That said I don't agree with the premise that anyone here has said anything dumb. I'm just pointing out that not everything Bradley has said is dumb. Maybe Bradley was just trying to build his trademark, become the Sid Meier of rpgs or something. Then again, the Civilization strategy guide had not a word about Sid Meier on it, other than maybe author listing/credit.

    5. It would be interesting if you could ban anonymous comments, but still let people comment just filling in a name.

    6. Just because it is Bradley that is featured in the interview etc. doesn't mean he actually wanted to do it all. It could be a move by the Siroteks to distance the Wizardry franchise from Woodhead / Greenberg.

    7. It is comically egotistical to put a staged interview with yourself into a hint guide. "Not everything he said was dumb" is certainly a rousing endorsement.

      I wouldn't recommend banning anonymous comments. That will lead to an increase in comments posted under insulting names.

    8. @Ragnar, I agree, your insight seems quite likely given the franchise history.

      I am really too ignorant to comment, yet characteristically, I won't let that stop me: it really seems a shame whenever labor has brought in millions, but is then treated shamefully for pennies on the dollar. The revolving door seems to tell the tale.

  22. Huh, no-one's mentioned the theme yet? I'm not sure about the first one, admittedly, but the rest seem pretty clear (and Harquin was a bit of a giveaway):

    1. Nyssa Raatko
    2. Selina Kyle
    3. Lady Shiva
    4. Pamela Isley (nice contraction!)
    5. Harleen Quinzel
    6. Nora Fries

    1. Somehow I missed this comment when you posted it. You got it! I was led down that path by "Bane."

  23. This history of dirt and backstabbing related to the wizardry series makes for an interesting read. But it has taken a bit of the fun out of it. I was making good progress, but now.. I know it makes no sense, but I've kind of lost my appetite for the game.

  24. I started playing Wizardry VI earlier in the week and I'm about 20 hours deep. My guys are level 8 and 9 currently. Here is my take on it:

    1. I made a Faerie Samurai - this was a HUGE mistake. I have found AMAZING Samurai weapons, but if you check the list of who can use them, 90% of the time it is EVERY race EXCEPT the Faerie. Very annoying. Almost thought about re-rolling him because he could be SO much more effective.

    2. I have a physical copy of the Clue Book (I have the receipt from when my brother purchased the game and the clue book from Electronic's Boutique at Richmond Mall in Cleveland Ohio on 10/26/1991 at 2:44 pm. The game was $39.99 and the hint book was $9.99). I had read that interview you tore to shreds earlier this week and I thought the same thing - wow, this guy loves himself; which is fine with me because there is NO WAY I could do what he did. Anywho, you'd be crazy not to use the clue book for the Weapon and Item List at the end. This game has 13 pages of Weapons and Items. I spend a great deal of time looking things up to see what is better and who can use said weapon/item. I purchased this and all my brother's games years ago for something like $5 a piece.

    3. Since I know you love mapping, wait until you get to the mines. 6 hours later and my head is spinning!!!

    4. I hate all the stupid iron gates. I don't even think they're all supposed to open. I was stuck in the castle for a while and it was pretty annoying.

    5. I like the magic system in the game. I might want to suggest to you that you have your pure magicians (if you have any) try to select a spell from each class. Doing so ensures that you will gain spell points in that class each time you make a level. This may be easier said than done though, as some of the spells are no brainers to pick. My only complaint with the spells so far is that I didn't get a CURE POISON spell until level 7 or something crazy like that. There are quite a few times before that when getting poisoned equates to a death sentence (Queequeg sells CURE POISON potions for a couple hundred bucks a piece).

    6. Very interesting way of disarming traps and opening chests. I haven't really seen this before where it almost takes thinking on the player's part to disarm a chest! I'll let you explain it better when you discuss that aspect.

    So far the game has been pretty straight forward and not nearly as difficult as scenarios I-V were (sans the mapping hell)... at least in the beginning stages.

    One major complaint is that the buffing/protection spells (Enhanced Blade, Direction, Levitation etc) don't last that long, even if cast at the highest level. Also, not sure if you've noticed it yet, but you may want to talk to NPC's several times as their inventory on items to sell you changes slightly each time.

    I'm playing with a figher, ninja, samurai, monk, priest and a mage. My monk is pretty efficient with critical hits and I equip my ninja. I never believed that bare hands could touch damage done with weapons; in any of the Wizardry games.

    Anyways, I just put in 7 hours and my head hurts. Can't wait to see your next post...

    1. 1. Yeah, faerie equipment is extremely limited. This makes them only useful for bare-hand fighting (ninja/monk) or spellcasting. The best weapon in Wiz7 is apparently *only* usable by faerie ninjas, though.

      2. Fortunately, this is the only pre-Windows game of its kind that I have *ever* come across that lets you: (1) see which items in a shop are equippable by whoever is browsing, before buying, and (2) see what the actual stats are of equipment in-game by casting identify on them.

      5. You can often rest through poison in the early game by casting Heal Wounds on an affected character whenever their health gets low. Using a Psionic or Alchemist as your primary offensive spellcaster (versus a Mage) at the beginning is an advantage here, too, as that gives you a second healer.

      6. It's an interesting minigame approach, although I don't think they balanced it well. Too many trap spells have similar letters, making trap inspection start out pretty difficult even when there are only a couple possible spells.

      Your party is good, except I think the monk is fairly redundant to the ninja. You would likely have a smoother experience in the early game by swapping the monk with a psionic, alchemist or mage.

      Also, unarmed combat is viable for ninjas/monks mainly because they build up to having a ridiculous number of attacks per round. I'm not sure if they get as many attacks with weapons or not. I think sword/polearm ninjas are meant to be viable, though, as there are some decent weapons for them (most of which are primarily meant for samurai, though).

    2. Very disappointed in my Samurai. My Monk, while an OK fighter, has a vitality of 7 and low hit points. I do like that in game it tells the player who is looking to buy if an item is usable or not. When the NES did the Wizardry games they had this information available at Boltac's, which was very nice.

      I don't even have the INSPECT spell yet. I liked in the old Wizardry games when you'd pick items up and you didn't know what they were (denoted by the ?). In this game every time I pick up a dagger, I think "maybe it's a Dagger +4!" Nope, it's just a dagger.

      I agree with too many letters being the same upon inspection of a chest, but sometimes if you get a "V" or an "F" or a "C" or something like that, it makes it a little more obvious as to what the trap is. Still, it's just so rare that a game makes you think!

      If I change classes, what changes and what stays the same? I know stats go down to a minimum for that class, but do spell points and skill points go down? I've seen a lot of people talking about changing classes regularly after level 9 or 10. This was pretty unheard of in the original Wizardrys, mainly because after changing classes you only get 1 hit point per level.

      The leveling process in this game is classic Wizardry... you do a lot of work to make a level and it just ends up screwing you. Out of the 48 levels or so I've made (6 guys X level 8) I've only thought maybe 3 times, "Wow, that was a good level." I suppose if I wasn't playing it on my 386 and if it didn't have the annoying MAGIC WORD protection maybe I'd keep resetting each time in hopes for a better level... but that seems too tedious even for me.

      Back to the mines!!!!!!

    3. I believe you get to keep all your skills and skill levels after a class change. You gain only 1 HP per level until your new class level exceeds your old one (which is fair, since it will still likely add up to a decent overall increase for most classes) and maybe fewer SP per level (also fair).

      I don't think you get to keep using any items/equipment that would normally not be allowed by your new class, so it would not be advantageous (for example) to change a bard into a ninja if you want to keep using those musical instruments.

      I've been messing around with the game again a bit, and I'm stumped as to why my ninja never seems to gain any skill points when reaching level 2. This led to me hex-editing my ninja to have a skullduggery of 5 instead of 3 so that he actually has a chance to pick the early locks.

      Here's my party, in case anyone is curious:
      Male Rawulf Lord
      Male Felpurr Samurai
      Male Faerie Ninja
      Female Elf Bard
      Male Mook Psionic -> Alchemist
      Female Gnome Priest -> Bishop

      The races were chosen because they have lowest (or close to it) bonus roll requirements for being able to choose the desired class at time of creation. I did end up using Mad God's Cosmic Forge editor to patch the game for a higher chance of high bonus rolls after unsuccessfully rolling a dozen times on a couple of the characters. I probably could have started out with non-prestige/elite/whatever classes and changed them later, but I wouldn't recommend this for a ninja since they come with special armor that is hard to obtain during regular gameplay (with upgrades that come quite a ways in).

    4. @HunterZ:
      I don't know if it's been mentioned here before, but all classes (except Fighters, I think) have "primary" skills, to which a random number of the SPs gained during levelup is automatically assigned, up until they reach 51. That's probably why your Ninja never gets any "free" SPs to spend.

    5. >Delmoko (and others):
      quote: "One major complaint is that the buffing/protection spells (Enhanced Blade, Direction, Levitation etc) don't last that long, even if cast at the highest level."

      The trick is to cast those spells repeatedly, the expiration period is cumulated (multiplied)


  25. Another great post CRPG addict. I love how you not only blog the games but also provide context and commentary. I'm looking forward to how this one stacks up to the previous Wizardries (though it seems like it stacks up pretty well so far).

  26. You mentioned that you created your characters partly based on some advice you've received in the last few posts and glanced at the advice for character creation in the hint book, what did you change because of that and how would your party have looked like with nothing but the manual ?

    1. Speaking of characters, does this edition of Wizardry break the ability to import characters? I can't recall if V already did that or not.

    2. Yes. You can't import your Wiz5 characters into Wiz6. You can, however, import your Wiz6 party into Wiz7, and your Wiz7 party into Wiz8.

    3. Cure888:

      1. InnerPartisan told me that the starting party needed a bard, so I went with that over a thief. I assume it was because of the sleep-inducing instrument playing because I haven't found any puzzles that absolutely require a bard.

      2. He or she also said that I shouldn't have more than one male character. I decided to go with none.

      3. An anonymous commenter said I should have a Faerie and a Mook for W7, so I decided to favor the new races.

    4. 1. Bards and Ninjas have all of the abilities of a Thief, but with extra abilities (Bards can use instruments and learn mage spells, while Ninjas have exceptional hand-to-hand combat skills, kirijutsu and alchemy spells). The Bard's ability to cast Sleep via the lute is very helpful in the early game.

      2. As far as I know, this is only because there are a couple of female-only items in the game, but only one male-only item. The downside is that most classes require slightly higher bonus rolls for female characters.

      3. Good to hear that you may be importing your Wiz6 party into Wiz7. Note that with 6->7 and 7->8, which ending you pick has a bearing on where you start in the next game.

    5. 1. In the beginning bards are for easier combat while thieves are for easier locks.

      2. For all of your characters except the Valkyrie the +2 str for males would be considerably more useful than the female bonuses, it's just an incorrect often told myth that females are better.

      3. Races don't make a big difference.

      The party creating advice you got didn't make your game easier.

    6. If I really cared as to whether the advice was accurate, I would have gotten more opinions. My goal in character creation isn't to make the game "easier" so much as to make it interesting. The advice, flawed or not, led me on a path that made it interesting, so I figured why not.

      Very few games are unwinnable based on the character choices you make at the outset, especially a game that allows liberal changing of classes.

    7. I guess in my intention to avoid spoilers, my advice was a bit *too* cryptic :D
      Hunter and Cure are correct, I recommended a bard for your starting party primarily because the lute is such a giant boost for early combat; and I suggested to go with mostly female party members for the better, female-only equipment. The stats malus didn't actually enter my mind, as I'm - and shame on me for beings such a dirty cheater ;) - using mad god's editor for character creation, instead of rerolling for hours on end.

      But I'm glad to hear that those choices at least made your game more interesting. BTW: The Faerie Ninja is arguably the strongest class in Wiz7 (due to one race-exclusive item), and having a Mook in your party opens up some storyline options in Wiz8, AFAIK.

  27. And here is another new reader thanks to the Spiegel Online article...

    First of all thank you for this amazing blog, I read to the most of it and it has been really fun. It inspired me to buy Wizardry 6,7 and 8 on steam and i used my free time to win Wizardry 6 today with playing 32 hours in total.

    My party (including job changes):

    F - Rawulf Lord -> Valkyrie -> Ninja
    M - Felpurr Samurai
    M - Faerie Thief -> Ninja
    F - Dwarf Valkyrie -> Monk -> Ninja -> Valkyrie
    M - Felpurr Monk -> Samurai -> Ninja -> Lord
    M - Mook Bishop -> Mage

    Didn't get any approriate job choices for my samurai or mage (the poor guy good fighter as only possibility)...

    The game seemed tougher than I rembered it from winning 10 years or so ago. I used the Clue Book, since I didn't have much time for playing and to be honest would never have solved some of the item-based puzzles in this game. I really missed a option to abort fights, when one of my characters died. So i had to close / restart the game quite often. Really much trial and error... but still a great game, which was a step of other crpg's at the time of it's release.

    Allready transferred my winning party to Wizardry 7, but I'm not sure if I will play it now or maybe take a break for some months and wait for the addict to catch up.

    It's quite sad to see, that the addict will not play my alltime-favorite crpg Ambermoon, which only got a german release for the amiga (1200?). Especially since the addict will play the predecessor Ambersun and the sort of succesor Albion ...

    Now I'm really excited to read more about your adventures in Bane of the Cosmic Forge.

    (Sorry for my poor english btw)

    1. There is a vote for CPRAddict playing games that is not on PC/DOS. I hope he will make exception for Ambermoon for example, arguable that is one of the best crpg ever made, sadly lost in the "space" because only released on Amiga. Truly an amazing experience, and unique gem.

    2. If you don't know there is english version, playable in emulator, it's perfect, only 2 place where you need to replace german files with english files, because of bugs. But beside that it's perfect. Finished it a month ago.

    3. I didn't know about an english version. Let's hope the addict will make an exception for this amazing game.

  28. I recently started a game of WIzardry 6 with the following party: Dwarf Valkyrie, Dracon Ninja, Felpurr Monk, Mook Bard, Rawulf Priest, and Faerie Mage. I wanted to use several of the new classes and races, but also cover all of the major components of the game, and have at least 2 pure spellcasters. (I actually have 2 priest characters, since the Valkyrie can also cast Priest spells, but I figured that wouldn't hurt since I have heard how punishing the game can be.) It may be a bit redundant due to the Ninja and Monk, but they cover spell books that I don't otherwise have covered, and I want to experience at least some of each spell book.

    I think from what I've heard, one of the drawbacks you will find is that spell point regeneration is slower if you didn't pick a pure spellcaster class (faeries also have faster spell point regeneration). I have never gotten very far in Wizardry 6, as this is my first time playing it and I'm still in the starting castle not much further than it sounds like you are, but that would be my biggest concern with your party...just getting spell access later isn't the only issue, spell point regeneration also could become an issue. I'll let the experts opine on whether it is a showstopper for someone as skilled with RPGs (but yet new to Wiz6) as you are.

    1. The thing to keep in mind regarding mana regeneration is that it's set at the moment you create the character. So a character starting its career as a Dwarf Priest will always have better regen than a character starting as a Dwarf Valkyrie. That's why it can be good idea to start with a Priest and then immediately switch to Valkyrie, for example.

      In my experience Wiz 6, is not so difficult that you need to switch classes all the time to get more skill points. I found Wiz 7 much more difficult, even with imported characters. The problem with Wiz 7 is that you can't freely choose how to spend your skill points, but have to divide them between the 3-4 skill categories, so it takes 3-4 times longer to get the high level spells, and you are virtually "forced" to switch classes to get enough skill points to get access to vital spells like Cure Poison.

      In the end game of Wiz 6 single class characters may actually do better than multi classed lower level characters against the most dangerous enemies since the higher the character's class level the better the chance of resisting spells.

      Characters get enough skill points in Wiz 6 that they will reach 100 in their primary magic skill well before the end game.
      Multi classing is mainly useful to get Ninjutsu and Kirijutsu, but the game is not so hard that you really need to pump up these skills, and against the most dangerous, high level enemies they will usually fail anyway if your character is too low level.

    2. Yes, I saw someone who recommended starting all as Priest/Mage characters then switching immediately to the classes you actually want, but that seemed way to gamey to may allow you to squeeze the most out, but I decided I am going to try to play Wiz6 without switching classes...or at least, not frequently (I may switch a couple of them once partway through if I think they aren't pulling their weight). I did use the mod to give better rolls so I didn't have to wait forever to generate characters, but to me that is just saving time, I could sit there and reroll forever or I could just get a roll that was a bit higher to begin with. To me, for a first play where I didn't really know the game too well, I decided not to be too powergamey about it, although the advice you give is what I have heard elsewhere as well if you want to maximize your mana regeneration rate.

  29. The self promotion actually worked. David Bradley is one of the very few designer names that I remember from the 90s. Just like Sid Meier and Al Lowe who weren't too shy either.

    Probably this was Bradley's method to keep a distance to Sirtech and create his own brand.

  30. I may be completely wrong on this, but I believe that I remember the claims of Wizardry V being an update and a rewrite of the engine are actually correct, but really only apply to the Apple versions. The PC versions of 1-4 either already were based on this updated version of the engine or were re-released as such. The update would be more like the updated version of Ultima 1 or the graphics patches for Ultima 5 - mostly cosmetic and bugfix changes rather than a complete rewrite.

    However, I may be hallucinating the whole thing.

  31. Something I only read about recently in the history of Wizardry. Apparently there was a version which predates Wizardry I. It was called Dungeons of Despair and was sold at the Boston Applefest. I wonder if anyone has a copy still?

  32. Wizardry VI's entire sound library just sits in its install directory in uncompressed format, which once inspired me to make a track exclusively using its sound effects as my instruments. It was bad, mostly intentionally so, yet seemingly was one of the most popular songs I ever wrote if its proliferation across the Internet was any indication. Go figure.

    Wizardry VI is also one of only two Wizardrys I have ever beaten (VIII being the other) so I do have a big soft spot for this game, even though it feels utterly unfinished by halfway through (unless the brilliant auteur D. W. Bradley thought it would really enhance the experience of using your imagination to pretend the same boring dungeon textures were now a beautiful mountainside path).

  33. For the record, I just covered David Bradley's first game [the 1983 strategy game Parthian Kings, published by Avalon Hill] here :

    It is a well-designed game, and not verbose at all. The box art did not pass the test of time. At all. Boy.

    1. Congratulations on hitting 100 games. I looked over your coverage; it's amazing to me how different it is from his later work.

    2. I was wondering how bad the covers could be, and yikes, that is far worse then I expected.


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