Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ultima VI: Won!

Ultima VI ended up consisting of three major "acts":

1. Visiting each town, getting the runes, and liberating the shrines

2. Collecting the pieces of the treasure map to find the silver tablet and translate the Book of Prophecies

3. Going to the gargoyle world, learning about them, and finding a way to "sacrifice" the Codex back to the void

The game, however, is far from linear. You could do the pieces of #1 at any point, and as we've seen, #2 is almost entirely optional.

You do have to hit the gargoyle world in the right order, though. If you just blunder into it (such as with the Orb of Moons), you just get into fights where you end up killing important NPCs. You have to learn Gargish, have a garogyle in your party, and agree to wear the Amulet of Submission (in that order) to survive.

I'm afraid this is going to be a bit long.

Stranger in a Strange Land

The gargoyle world is accessed through the dungeon Hythloth on the Isle of the Avatar. Like most other dungeons, it's four levels, reasonably hard, with a dragon or two before the exit. There were also several areas where the entire party was forced to walk across lava.

I never said it would be easy, men.

At the bottom level, I ran into Captain John, who the gypsies had told me about. He's been living there for a while, studying the gargoyles and befriending a young gargoyle named Beh Lem. He was distressed that the silver tablet had reached Mariah via a round-about route, but he was happy that I had come. He related that the gargoyle world has been slowly disintegrating and only one city (conveniently containing all of the shrines) remains.

It would be nice if people would stop blaming me for everything.

John gave me a scroll that "contains a basic vocabulary of the Gargoyle language." All I had to do was (U)se it, and suddenly I was fluent in Gargish.

I wish Italian was this easy.

Hythloth exited near John's house, and right outside, I encountered his friend Beh Lem, a winged gargoyle who hadn't developed his wings yet. Without him in my party, the gargoyles in the city would turn hostile and attack, so using my new Gargish vocabulary, I added him to the group. Oddly, when I returned to Britannia, no one--not even Lord British--cared to comment on my new party member.

I hope Captain America never finds this place.

There are about a dozen gargoyles to talk with in the city, and only a couple of them are key. Early on, Beh Lem's father, Valkadesh, suggested that I visit the gargoyle king, Draxinusom, to surrender myself.

Draxinusom made me wear an Amulet of Submission to prove I was willing to sacrifice myself to save the gargoyles. He assured me he wouldn't call me back for the sacrificial ritual for several months. I wonder if anything happens if you "wait out" this time period. It's quite difficult to make time pass in this game, so I declined to try.

With the Amulet on, all the gargoyles became particularly friendly, flattered that I'd give up my life to save them. But the gargoyle scholar, Naxatilor, didn't seem to think that was necessary. He indicated that "sacrifice" isn't exactly clear in Gargish, and it could easily mean that I needed to sacrifice something of value or sacrifice another person. He wasn't happy when I explored that second option.

How many times do I have to say it? It wasn't my "misdeed."

What we settled on was that I would have to sacrifice the Codex back to the void (the gargoyles had originally taken it from the void before the Great Council took it from the gargoyles). Naxitilor had this plan by which with a couple of specially-crafted lenses, creatures on both sides of the world would be able to see the Codex in the void. He had me take a broken one in the gargoyle Hall of Knowledge for repair and then get a Britannian glassmaker to craft a concave one. I knew from my notes that Ephemerides, north of Moonglow, was the man to ask.

He required a glass sword. Fortunately, I had several.

The "repair the broken lens" quest seems so unnecessary that you wonder why the creators had the lens broken in the first place. Later, I realized that if the lens had been intact, the Avatar wouldn't need to speak to any gargoyle to win the game. Making him take the lens to the lensmaker requires him to first learn Gargish, get Beh Lem in the party, submit to the Amulet, and so forth.

Speaking of sacrifice: you know that slab where they tried to plunge a dagger in my heart at the beginning of the game? Well, it's in a pretty prominent place, surrounded by a circle of stones. It looks like a permanent fixture. It makes you wonder what they're using it for when they're not trying to avert prophecies by sacrificing Avatars. This suggests a dark side to gargoyle society, which we need to explore a little further.

The Peculiar Institution

Gargoyle society is odd. On one hand, it seems socialistic, with its lack of money and shops. Craftsmen make goods, weapons, and armor, and then just leave them in their businesses for anyone to come and take as they need them. Only a few gargoyles--even winged ones--get actual names; the rest are just named after their professions, like "farmer" or "lensmaker." On the other hand, their version of the virtues is extremely goal-driven and individualistic, as if the model had been created by Tony Robbins.

"Control, Passion, Diligence: Towards a New Singularity in Personal Achievement"--on sale at booksellers everywhere.

This particular virtue set isn't very well thought-out (how is "singularity" a virtue? And why does "order" exist outside of the three principles?) but it doesn't need to be, as it doesn't have much impact on gameplay. It would have been fun if the Avatar had been forced to live for a while in the gargoyle world, performing acts and deeds that exemplified their virtues, becoming their Avatar of Virtue, before proceeding. As we'll see, the game doesn't ignore the virtues, but it doesn't do anything quite that clever, either.

There is a weird vibe going on in the gargoyle world when it comes to wingless gargoyles. Sin'Vraal had already told me that only the winged ones are intelligent, can cast spells, can speak, and are fit for leadership. John confirmed this, but read his specific words:

At first, it seemed as if the wingless ones were slaves. But now I know that the wingless ones are beloved and valued family members. They must be told what to do, because they are not truly intelligent.

Already, that ought to be ringing some alarm bells. Later, we encounter a friendly gargoyle farmer named Nash, who says that he is "far kinder to the wingless ones than most of my kind" and indicates that he feels that "the wingless ones should not be enslaved simply because they lack our intelligence." Wait a second--I thought they weren't slaves? But it gets even better when he talks about his neighbor, Farmer Krill: "To be ashamed that Farmer Krill treats his workers so harshly. To be appalled by his lack of concern for their thoughts and feelings."

Krill, meanwhile, justifies his treatment of his "workers": "To be forced by necessity to give the wingless ones no room for choice or freedom. To acknowledge that it may seem harsh, but to assure you that there is no other way to treat the wingless ones. To receive good harvests only through firm control and clear direction."

Thus, we have a society of happy little plantation gargoyles, "beloved" by their masters, who nonetheless insist on "firm control and clear direction" because the wingless ones are too dumb to make decisions on their own.

What really puts the nail in the coffin is that we encounter plenty of wingless gargoyles in Ultima VII who are fully capable of speech and even spellcasting ability. Maybe the intervening 200 years saw a lot of miscegenation.

Downloading the Proper Codex

The exact nature of the Codex has always been a bit of a mystery, and it changes from game to game. Obviously, finding my way to it was my main quest in Ultima IV, and in Ultima V, I had to visit it frequently to read about the virtues. But suddenly in Ultima VI, you're unable to pass through its guardians unless you're on a "sacred quest." You'd think this would severely limit its utility to the Britannians--particularly since, according to this game, the only way to get a "sacred quest" is to visit the Temple of Singularity on the gargoyle side of the world. This is another area where the developers really didn't think things through.

Trying to save the world isn't enough?

In the gargoyle Hall of Knowledge, we learn that the Codex originally floated in the void, but Lord Draxinusom got the lensmaker to create a "vortex lens" by which he could see the tome. He then created the "vortex cube, to focus the power of the moonstones and draw the [Codex] down to the world." The gargoyles enshrined the Codex in the Temple of Singularity and began a "great time of prosperity." It's left a mystery where the Codex came from in the first place, and how it came to be floating in space.

Part of Draxinusom's account.

The Codex's abilities are not insignificant. When you open it, it will automatically take you to a page that has the answer to whatever question is on your mind at the time, which sounds awesome in 1990, but today can be accomplished with a combination of eHow and Wikipedia. It amuses me to think that the Codex is basically an iPad with the Safari homepage set to Google.

To make all of this fit with Ultima IV, you have to assume that the Stygian Abyss somehow connected to the gargoyle's Temple of Singularity. When my Avatar reached the bottom and found the Codex chamber, he didn't realize he was in a temple on the other side of the world. Maybe he didn't see the doors. Similarly, in "raising" the Codex, the Great Council somehow overlooked all the gargoyles, or perhaps thought they were daemons and just slaughtered them. Either way, it wasn't me.

It. Wasn't. Me.

The goal now was to "sacrifice" the Codex back to the void and let both races benefit from its knowledge, although I'm not entirely sure why we couldn't have just built a chamber halfway through Hythloth instead. Or just kept it on the Britannian side of the world, since all the gargoyles would be moving there soon anyway.

No one knew exactly how to send the Codex back whence it came, but as Naxatilor pointed out, the Codex itself would know. I just needed to get a "sacred quest" and ask it. This required visiting the Temple of Singularity, which was just over the mountains from the gargoyle city--not a problem for any of them, because they can all fly. Or, at least, the Special Ones can.

Up, Up, and Away

The quest to make the balloon was long and not very interesting. The hardest part was getting the plans for the balloon, which you ultimately have to (U)se to craft it. I asked the NPCs at Minoc about it, and Selganor told me that the balloon's inventor had flown it to Sutek's castle.

Sutek had appeared in Ultima V as a "young, solemn mage" who imparted the key information about where the Shadowlords' shards had come from and how to destroy them. Sometime between that game and this one, he re-located to Blackthorn's former fortress (couldn't Lord British think of anything useful to do with that?), went mad, and started creating abominations like hostile rabbits and two-headed cows. The guy keeps a meat cleaver in a magically-locked chest next to his bed.

Getting into Sutek's fortress involved blowing up the main door, then using "Telekinesis" on the winch to lower the drawbridge. Note the two-headed cow off to the side.

I had to solve some lever puzzles, find some secret doors, dispel some fields, and whatnot before descending into the catacombs. An NPC named Gorn had been a prisoner in Blackthorn's dungeon in Ultima V, and I guess he didn't go far after that game, because he was still milling about the catacombs. Like Seggallion, Gorn had accidentally been transplanted to Britannia when he stumbled through a moongate on his home world of Balema. (Both the character and the land appear in The Quest and Ring Quest, adventure games from Origin.) He offered to join my party, but I was already full.

The plans were on the poor balloonist's body, near a dead-end in the dungeon.

The plans required me to get a huge wicker basket, a cauldron, a silk bag, and an anchor. Actually, I think the anchor was optional, since the thing never used it. Obtaining these things mostly just meant showing the plans to the right craftsmen. There was an annoying part where I had to go to Paws to get the silk thread, then to New Magincia to have Charlotte make the cloth, then back to Paws to have the cloth made into a bag, but for the most part, obtaining the items was easy. Once I had the plans, I used them, and the various parts automatically assembled into a balloon.

The rest of the enterprise was pretty pathetic. The balloon is needed to cross exactly three squares of mountain, so all you have to do is cast "Wind Change" to get the wind coming from the south, or use the magic fan, or just wait for it to blow from the south--and in a few moments, you're across.

I was looking forward to drifting all over Britannia with it, but it turns out it won't go over buildings or the tops of high mountains, so that's pretty useless. I did use it for one other fun thing that I'll talk about next time.

Axis of Evil

The Temple of Singularity featured an intelligent altar that asked me for whom I sought the Codex. After trying LORD BRITISH, DRAXINUSOM, OBAMA, and YOUR MOM and getting nowhere, I thought to say "EVERYONE," which the altar liked.

"Thy twenty-fifth answer is wise."

But it went on to suggest that I needed to really understand the gargoyles if I was going to condescend to help them, and it told me to visit the shrines of Control, Passion, and Diligence on the island. "In each," it said, "wilt thou find the final resting place of the being who most exemplifies that principle."

Now, at this point, the altar is just looking for the mantra of Singularity, which is composed of the mantras of Control, Passion, and Diligence: UNORUS. A player with this knowledge could avoid the shrine quests. But they're really the last challenges in the game, so it makes sense to get through them.

The Shrine of Control was a brief dungeon with no combats and an uncomplicated lever puzzle. Different levers in the opening room controlled different gates along the way, and I had to keep switching between my Avatar and another character to pull the levers and view the results. It wasn't very hard. Within a few minutes, the Avatar was standing in front of the shrine and the being that "most exemplifies" Control, and of course it was . . . Mondain!

Ultima VI was the first game to retcon Ultimas I-III so that the Avatar was the hero of those games. It's stupid for a lot of reasons (you could be of non-human races in those games, you had four heroes in the third game, etc.) and I've always preferred to ignore it or treat it as manual errata, but I had forgotten that when you encounter Mondain in the shrine, the game makes it clear that you remember defeating him.

It wasn't "Britannia!"

The game also makes it clear that it's really Mondain's spirit in the statue, and not just something that's supposed to represent him. One wonders how the gargoyles managed to capture it, or why they don't really know what "humans" are when they have statues of them embodying their most sacred virtues, or how old their virtue system really is. Anyway, Mondain relates that he's harmless, and his time in the statue has caused him to re-think his life a bit. He muses that "desire for  more control overcame me" and "I forsook my self-control in  my hunger for conquest." He realizes now that "the strong must lead--but to be strong one must control oneself first." He admires the gargoyle view: "their society is based on the strong guiding the weak." Yet another red flag, in my opinion.

Mondain had me recite the mantra of Control with him (UN) and sent me off, saying that "I admire thy deeds and thy control."

The Shrine of Passion was very easy except that I had to walk through fire and lava at a number of places. I just left my party behind and had Gideon do it. The shrine was occupied by the spirit of Minax--probably the most poorly-defined character in the original trilogy--and she also had come to an epiphany about how unrestrained passion had been bad for her.

Here we have to note that the gargoyle principles of virtue are a little bit different than the Britannian ones. Theirs seem to suggest that Control, Passion, and Diligence work to check and balance each other; that too much of one is a bad thing. You don't find the same philosophy in Britannia. Sure, if you balance Love and Courage, you get Sacrifice, but no one argues that you have to do this. There are professions and individuals that exist entirely (and happily) within a single principle of virtue.

The Shrine of Diligence was the toughest. First, I had to navigate a maze of rooms to find a barely-visible secret door in one of the many walls. Diligence, indeed.

It's just to my south.

The shrine itself was in a room full of daemons, making it one of the most difficult combat areas of the game. Since there's very little afterwards (unless you deliberately go looking for it), this serves as the "final battle" of the game.

My Avatar nearly exhausted himself casting "Reveal," "Dispel Magic," and "Great Heal" to deal with their invisibility, charms, and powerful attacks, respectively. Ultimately, I either killed them or caused them to flee, and I was able to approach the shrine. Hard as it was, it wasn't anything that I particularly needed to grind for. An Avatar in solo mode could probably have slipped by them with a Ring of Invisibility or otherwise just run up to the shrine, gotten the mantra, and gated out.

Diligence was, of course, exemplified by Exodus, presented as a sort-of demonic figure, although the game does call him an "accursed machine." Like the others, he provides the mantra and sends you on your way with good wishes.

Is the game honestly suggesting that Exodus's original goals were benevolent?


With the three-part mantra, the Shrine of Singularity was happy to give me the "holy quest" to seek out the Codex:

The Codex's instructions required the two lenses, the vortex cube, and all of the moonstones I'd collected from freeing the shrines--better not plant any of them in the ground! I had the lenses already. Of the vortex cube, the caretaker of the Hall of Knowledge said: "To regret that that item is lost, stolen by human thieves years ago. To have heard the humans mention the name Stonegate as they fled. To have heard them say they would sail through Lost Hope Bay."

The creators aren't even trying at this point. Stonegate was the Shadowlords' fortress in Britannia, but why would "human thieves" steal the cube and bring it there? While "fleeing," why would they offer detailed instructions about where they were going and how to get there? For that matter, gargoyles don't speak English or know that humans are called "humans."

I remembered where Stonegate was, and I found it occupied by two friendly cyclopes and their adopted human child.

The male cyclops was happy to give me the key to the dungeon beneath the fortress in exchange for a fish, which I caught quickly using his convenient fishing rod. I'm sure I could have also pickpocketed or killed him for the key, or for that matter just blown up the door in the basement.

But I did it the Avatar Way.

The cube was surrounded by force fields, and I had to dispel one to get to it. Otherwise, not a very difficult quest.

I made one last visit to Lord British before visiting the Codex, to see if he cared at all about DRAXINUSOM, VORTEX, CODEX, CUBE, BEH LEM, or any of the other things that had transpired lately, but he didn't have any dialogue about them, so I headed for the Isle of the Avatar and proceeded to the Codex.

Following the instructions, I put one lens on one side, one on the other, moved all of the moonstones into the vortex cube, put the cube on the ground in front of the codex, and (U)sed it. The Codex promptly vanished.

This cued the endgame text, which read as follows:

A glowing portal springs from the floor!

From its crimson depths, Lord British emerges, trailed by the mage Nystul. Anguish and disbelief prevail on the royal seer's face, but Lord British directs his stony gaze at you and speaks as if to a wayward child.

"Thou didst have just cause to burgle our Codex, I trust," His Majesty says. "But for Virtue's sake . . . WHAT HAST THOU DONE WITH IT?"

Perhaps Lord British's least regal moment in the entire series.

You pick up the concave lens and pass it to the King. "Was the book ever truly ours, Your Majesty? Was it written for Britannia alone? Thou dost no longer hold the Codex, but is its wisdom indeed lost? Look into the Vortex, and let the Codex answer for itself!"

As Lord British holds the glass before the wall, the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom wavers into view against a myriad of swimming stars!

Yet the book remains closed.

And waves of heat shimmer in the air, heralding the birth of another red gate!

King Draxinusom of the Gargoyles strides forward, flanked by a small army of wingless attendants. Like Lord British, he seems to suppress his rage only through a heroic effort of will. His scaly hand grasps your shoulder, and your Amulet of Submission grows very warm.

"Thy time hath come, Thief," he says.

Quickly, you reach down to seize the convex lens and you press it into the hand of the towering Gargoyle king, meeting his sunken eyes. "Join my Lord in his search for peace. I beg thee."

At your urging, King Draxinusom reluctantly raises his lens to catch the light. As Lord British holds up his own lens, every eye in the room, human and Gargoyle alike, fixes upon the image of the Codex which shines upon the wall.

The ancient book opens. Both kings gaze upon its pages in spellbound silence, as the eloquence of Ultimate Wisdom is revealed in the tongues of each lord's domain. You, too, can read the answers the Codex gives. And when wisdom is gleaned, when Lord British and King Draxinusom turn to each other as friends, hating no longer, fearing no more, you know that your mission in Brtannia has ended at last.

Boom. End of game. No word about me returning to Earth or any celebrations or whatnot. Based on his past behavior, I'm sure Lord British turned around, hucked his Orb of Moons on the ground, pointed to the gate, and said, "See you next time." But it's rather nice to assume he didn't.

A couple of notes on the endgame:

1. It's kind of silly that you can't warn Lord British what you're about to do before you go do it.

2. Lord British's orb can take him directly to this room? Do you know how much time he could have saved me?

3. Lord British again shows that he's not exactly King Solomon. If I were Richard Garriott, I'd like that line about as much as I'd like "But I was going into Tosche Station to pick up some power converters!" if I were Mark Hamill. The difference being Mark Hamill wasn't the director of the film.

4. I believe this is the first time in the series that the game puts specific words in the Avatar's mouth

5. All of the "thous" and "thees" just sound moronic. We're both from Earth, Lord British. Drop the act.

6. Similarly, I'm not crazy about calling him "My Lord." Note, too, the capital "L" when I'm referring to him in generic terms to the gargoyle king. God complex much?

7. Speaking of gods, we had a brief discussion about the Ultima series' treatment (or non-treatment) of them in some recent comments. Note that even at the height of emotion, Lord British says, "For Virtue's sake" (with a capital "V," no less). I think that demonstrates what side of "theism" his "a" is on.

8. I do like the final message here, though: that wisdom and truth can instantly change one's thinking to the extent that mortal enemies become friends. If I wasn't an atheist, this is what I'd like to think the afterlife is like: two people who hate each other meeting and saying, "Oh! That's why you felt the way you did and acted as you did!" and the other saying, "And that's why you felt the way you did!" and everyone just, at last, understanding. Wisdom conquers all. That kind of thing.

Finally, it's worth noting that while sending the Codex to the void may have satisfied another definition of "sacrifice," I didn't exactly avert the prophecy. The gargoyle world finishes collapsing, and the remnants of the dying civilization have to move to Britannia for Ultima VII. Maybe they really did need to sacrifice me on the slab.

I don't know. I'm not quite ready for the end just yet. Are you? Let's have one more post of messing around a bit before the final rating. What do you do just to have fun in Ultima VI that I haven't already covered?


  1. I enjoyed reading your take on Ultima 6. This was my favorite of the Ultima engines - lots of options for character customization, manipulating items in the interface etc, without Ultima 7's digging through bags to find the food. I was thrilled when they re-used this engine for Martian Dreams (not so much for Savage Empire)

    I did want to relate one story about Ultima 6, once you had posted the win:

    I got the purple lens (I think, it was one of them), went in to the most sacred area in the world that nobody but the Avatar could enter, because I was on a sacred quest, and placed the lens upon the pedestal. Then I left to get the rest of the stuff done.

    Apparently some thieves were on a sacred quest too, because the code that causes items you leave behind to vanish, caused my lens to vanish, leaving me in a "Walking Dead" state, with a very old saved game by the time I spotted the problem.

    Thankfully, I heard rumors(in real life) that if you talked to Iolo with some combination of "Spam" "Bah Humbug" and "Humbug" in conversation, he'd open a cheat menu. I eventually found the combo and was able to clone myself a new purple lens and not have to reload a super old save.

    1. I never could peg down why some items would disappear when I dropped them and others wouldn't. I marked some of the stone circles (where the Orb takes you) with certain objects so I could remember where I was (I kept mixing up Trinsic and Minoc) and they stayed the entire game. Other things would disappear the moment I left the screen.

    2. I'm pretty sure any item that has been spawned will disappear - this means random drops from monsters, gold given by wisps or for sold items, throwing axes from dead gargoyles, etc...

      I could be wrong though. It's been a while since I played the game.

    3. Basically due to memory limitations back then, you have "temporary objects" and "fixed objects" and items generated from interactions (e.g. lenses) belong to the former category thus can vanish because it is put in the RAM, and not permanently saved. The fixed objects, in turn, would be saved on disk, including the NPC's unique quest flag.

      This is also why, back then, when I got the dictionary (and used it) from Johne, then stupidly decided to reload (because my party was decimated in Hythloth), I could no longer get the dictionary again from Johne -- and had to restart the game -- though in the end, I cheated by skipping the second part entirely.

    4. Just drop important items in Moonglow. There are no Thieves and Liars there.

  2. "It amuses me to think that the Codex is basically an iPad with the Safari homepage set to Google." LOL I never thought about it like that.

    Also, LB is a bit of a racist.

    Also, the song that plays during the ending after both lords view the codex is a mix of "Rule Britannia" and the Gargoyle theme.

    Also, in terms of retconning Exodus, if you read the manual to Ultima VII, written by Batlin, he has an interesting revisionist take on Ultima history.

    And as I said before, I do agree that the strangers from the first 3 games were not the Avatar and I think implied to be completely different people each time.

    Anyway, glad you enjoyed it. This is probably my favorite RPG of all time.

  3. I don't trust the gargoyles at all. The first suspicions were cast by the red flags Chet himself noticed. This is a slave-owning society using some disturbingly familiar rhetoric to justify it. Some of them are harsh, cruel masters, but which gargoyle virtue are they violating? Mondain's speech implies that they might be violating "control" because they lack self-control, but self-control just means having the option to be nice or cruel. So the gargoyles certainly believe you should not lose yourself to your anger and beat your slaves in an out-of-control rage, but if you're reasonably calm and decide you want to beat your slaves anyway to motivate them, for stress relief, or just for the Hell of it, gargoyle virtue is a-okay with that. And let's not forget that they have a human-sized sacrificial slab as a piece of permanent infrastructure. This is a society we should clearly be suspicious of.

    That they revere the axis of evil is pretty concerning too. Sure, each of them talks about how they did not balance their respective virtues with the others, but Mondain's explanation there doesn't even make sense. He, the absolute embodiment of the virtue of control, apparently lacked control? Mondain didn't lack self-control. Hell, he didn't lack diligence or passion, either. He wanted to take over the world and was willing to hurt as many people as it took to do it, and there is nothing about any of the gargoyle virtues that says he was wrong to do so.

    And I don't buy Exodus' claims of having had good intentions, either. There's no evidence that Exodus ever wanted to do anything except rule or maybe destroy Sosaria. He was created by Mondain and Minax, for Virtue's sake. Of course he was programmed to take over or else destroy the world! And he pursued that goal with unwavering mechanical diligence!

    Likewise, is Minax's story really consistent with being the embodiment of passion? Especially since it's basically identical to Mondain's, who is the embodiment of a completely different virtue? Or is it more likely that she went on a revenge-fueled rampage through the homeworld of the Avatar and Lord British to avenge the death of Mondain, who was both her teacher and her lover?

    The first time we saw a red moongate is when Lord Blackthorn, a man who specializes in perverting the Eight Virtues, was exiled, and the only non-Brittanian locations accessible by red moongate are gargoyle locations. I don't consider it extremely likely that Lord Blackthorn has had much influence on gargoyle society, but it's worth noting that their religion appears to be very recent, since the only time any game could have a gap of more than a few years between it and the next is between Ultima II and Ultima III. The rest have recurring mortal characters who make it obvious that it hasn't been too long. So is any religion that reveres Mondain, Minax, and Exodus capable of being more than about a decade old? Given how recent the gargoyle virtues likely are, is it that much of a stretch that Lord Blackthorn may have invented them?

    And are we positive the gargoyles aren't daemons to begin with? We know they're horribly racist, so maybe they consider daemons to be a different class of creature who don't count as "true" gargoyles the same way wingless gargoyles don't count. Or maybe they're just lying because they're on the brink of extermination and wish to distance themselves from previous actions to get the Avatar to help them. Or maybe there's a genuine misunderstanding because they call themselves "gargoyles" but are called "daemons" by Brittanians. Either way, it is certainly true that no daemons were ever seen in Sosaria before the arrival of Mondain, who is also the most ancient figure of reverence in the gargoyle religion.

    I really don't buy this "they were just misunderstood all along" narrative. Not after seeing what gargoyle society is actually like.

    1. This is one of the best comments I've ever had on my blog. Fantastic analysis, and I agree 100%. The gargoyles had no more right to the Codex to the Britannians, and if Draxwhatever hadn't yanked it out of the cosmos in the first place, he would have been fine. It's also worth noting that they INVADED Britannia. I mean, even if they really thought they needed to sacrifice the Avatar, why did they need to occupy all the shrines?

      Screw the gargoyles.

    2. Exactly! And consider the fact that the Avatar's sacrificing of the codex did not, in fact, stop the destruction of their world. This implies that had the gargoyles sacrificed the Avatar as they originally wanted, their world still would have self-destructed and they all would have died anyway. This puts the lie to their Book of Prophecies - a central piece of their religion.

      The Gargoyles are clearly evil in the sense of the word established in Ultimas IV and V. They believe in an illogical, self-evidently false, poorly constructed religion that lionizes the worst villains in Britannian history. Their society is founded on slavery and inequality. Rather than seeking dialogue with humans, they invade Britannia with the aim of destroying its holy sites and murdering its heroes.

      The Avatar would be right to slaughter all of them.

      And lest anyone argue that this would be wrong because the gargoyles are sentient beings, I suggest thinking about how Ultima IV operationalizes evil. In IV, you gain courage by fighting when you are attacked, but you gain honor and compassion by allowing non-evil creatures to flee. So which creatures qualify as non-evil? The non-sentient ones: rats, snakes, bats, etc. Ultima VI's internal alignment system even classifies gargoyles as "evil" (albeit for purposes of determining which NPCs they will and won't attack).

      So what did I do for fun last time I played Ultima VI? I set my own victory conditions. I killed all the gargoyles in the world (liberated the shrines so they would stop respawning) and announced the war ended and our side victorious. To celebrate, I took Sherry to the gypsies outside Trinsic and bought her a little birthday present...

      And by the way, how does Draxinusom's story about how the gargoyles got the codex out of the void in the first place make any sense? We're supposed to believe that the gargoyles secretly came to Britannia between Ulitmas III and IV, stole the moonstones, used them to take the codex from the void, and then returned them to their original places in Britannia? Why would they put the moonstones back, but hang onto the vortex cube?

      ARRGHH! ...filling with rage... must... slap Richard Garriott...

    3. We are the 99%... OCCUPY SHRINES!...

      ...oh wait! ;)

    4. Okay, here's a random juxtaposition; Britannia and Great Britain, Gargoyle Land and Americas (both in the 18th & 19th Century).

      Also, ARMAGEDDON!

    5. I am a little disturbed by this gung-ho enthusiasm to classify Gargoyles as pure "evil" and justify genocide against them. The Gargoyles have their questionable moral aspects, sure, but so does all of humanity (as recorded in World History, from the dawn of writing to any present-day newspaper).

      Ultimat VI dared to attempt something more complex than a strict good-versus-evil narrative, yet it seems that the more cliche "There's a wicked Overlord/monster race/alien empire, go and destroy them all" of other games remains so popular because it resonates with a primal evolutionary chord: the need to kill or drive off all competitors, and therefore secure more resources for personal survival.

    6. I think everyone's kidding--mostly. It's only because the game DID do such a good job with a nontraditional plot and a less clear-cut morality that we're able to have fun with it this way.

    7. I wasn't really kidding. I mean, I never advocated genocide either, but considering that the mechanics of the game are such that you only really have two options, and those options are "slaughter all gargoyles" or "help gargoyles perpetuate a system of slavery and inequality," well...There aren't really any good options, are there? You could just kill all the gargoyles in the shrines and leave the ones in the gargoyle lands alone, thus repelling the invasion without touching their homeland (which is more courtesy than they showed to Brittania). I don't think that people are advocating genocide because they think that's the appropriate way to respond to a cruel and inequal culture, but because it's the only option that doesn't involve actively aiding a cruel and inequal culture. Toppling the gargoyle regime and evacuating the wingless gargoyles to Brittanian refugee camps, then leaving the masters to sort out what to do now that they need to perform their own labor, is probably the best option (certainly the best one I can think of off the top of my head), but you can't actually do that. I don't blame people for falling back on traditional good vs. evil narratives when the game does not, despite its claims, actually support a nuanced approach to conflict.

    8. @Kenny - I was thinking the Gargoyles & Britannia parallel the worlds of Urras and Anarres in "The Dispossessed" by Ursula K Leguin. The gargoyle craftsmen making stuff and then just leaving it out for whomever needs it to take fits with the anarcho-syndicalist Urrasti.

    9. I was thinking of Britannia, acting like Great Britain, going around- colonizing shit around like they own everything (no offense to the Brits here). Also, tends to leave more troubles around the colonies than before they were colonized.

      The Gargoyle Underworld, like the Americas, is on the other side of the planet, advocates human sacrifices and slavery, with red-skinned inhabitants who are mostly naked and have wings. Wait... that was stupid. The native Americans do NOT, repeat, NOT... have red skin. Sunkissed brown is more like it.

    10. U6 has such a bizarre approach to its story. It expects us to come to the realization that the gargoyles aren't bad guys after all and sympathize with their plea to the point of setting out to save them and agreeing to submiss to them, yet it does little to paint them in a sympathetic, positive light.

      We learn that they treat the members of their society as pawns rather than individuals, naming them after their profession. Only a select few ones get their own, proper name.

      We also find out that they worship the worst three villains Sosaria has ever seen. And for what? For best exemplifying the three "virtues" the gargoyles value the most... despite said villains admitting that they mishandled said virtues? Why would anyone worship them? The mind boggles.

      And of course, there is the whole fact that their society is pretty much based around slavery and plantation work, which was already covered extensively here. That's awfully ironic for a game that people have long claimed is about racism and xenophobia. The worst racism we see in the game comes from the gargoyles, not the Britannians.

  4. Once, I liked this game, but in the end, it was always the same.
    Avatar this and Avatar that
    This is a game, where you can never change your hat.

    The Gargoyles are interesting, but also a retcon as you say
    And that makes it all less fun to play.

    To end the tedium, I bombarded the Buccaneer's den
    But that got boring, and so the game had to end.

    Ultima 6 is charming, silly, yet I play it no more
    Nevertheless I still return to Ultima -4.

    Now that was a good game.

    1. Is this going to be a new thing for you?

    2. Sometimes poetry just comes to me. Sorry. It won't happen again.

    3. Also, Horance is my favorite character in Ultima 6.

    4. Rhyme as much as you like! You might think about giving equal attention to meter, though. Maybe iambic octameter in your case:

      There was a time I liked this game
      But in the end it was the same

      The gargoyles, retconned as you say--
      They make the game less fun to play

      'Midst yawns, I shelled the pirate's den
      Yet bored, I brought it to an end

      Though charming I will play no more
      Return I shall to Ult'ma 4!

    5. In my case:

      The Lords of Doom came next for me
      The game was not an RPG
      Seek I did The Missing Ring
      But was not a stable thing

      A game called Silmar came up next
      But MobyGames was incorrect

      I wrote a post on tubes of Doom
      And it will be published soon

      Now well ahead of published goals
      I find myself 'midst caves and trolls!

    6. Ha!

      I find that when I start to rhyme,
      They come to mind in double-time.

      For is the Addict on a roll?
      I go, lest I be called a troll.

    7. Dear Addict - I marvel at your verse.
      You make mine seem much worse.

      Forgive my lack of rythm and meter
      I have no training as a poet/
      I cannot reach the ether.

      Ultima 4> Ultima 5>Ulitima 6>Ultima 7

    8. Indeed, this blog is a heaven
      But when on the list comes Ultima VII?

  5. I liked what they did with the music in the endgame. Lord British has used "Rule Britannia" as his theme for multiple games. The gargoyles have their own new, original theme in Ultima VI. In the endgame, when Lord British shows up, "Rule Britannia" plays. When Draxinusom shows up, the music switches to the gargoyle theme. And then, when the two rulers gain wisdom from the Codex, both themes play at once and you realize they counterpoint each other -- they're designed to integrate into a single unified song!

    It's a clever and well-executed use of music to illustrate the meaning of the game. I'm not sure I can think of anything else quite like it.

    1. I can't believe you all kept the music on during the entire game so you could hear it during the endgame. It wasn't bad, but with no way to toggle it independently of the regular sound, I grew tired of it very quickly and disabled it in the setup.

      That said, it does sound very cool. I'm sorry I missed it.

    2. You gotta remember that I played this back in 1990, when the very idea of a game playing music that went beyond bleeps and boops was still exciting and new.

      You can probably find a video of the U6 endgame on Youtube that includes the music tracks if you want to check it out.

    3. It's also quite good if you are using a roland mt32.
      If you haven't yet I would really suggest figuring out mt32 emulation in dos box a lot of games have really great music when you use it.

    4. Yes, a reader clued me in about that a while ago. The problem is that I don't care how "great" the music is--I don't want to hear it constantly while I play a game.

    5. For this game and the Ultima Worlds of Adventure spinoffs, I turned off sound after a few hours, but would usually turn it on again before doing anything important, just in case.

    6. Well, if you've played the old Ultima 3 and 4 in a Commodore you'll love to have the music playing in the background. I didn't even own a soundcard for U6, so I'm sure I would have enjoyed it, like in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hO1XVRoGNV4

    7. @CRPG Addict

      You can't stand listening to music in games while playing them? So you can't stand 99.99% of games?

    8. I can if I turn the music off, as I did here.

    9. Same here. There's only 00.01% of games where you can't turn off music while keeping the sound effects.

    10. @PetrusOctavianus

      You kidding? Most games don't let you do that, especially pre-2010 console games.

    11. Maybe I should have specified computer games. I have very little experience with console games.

  6. "Is the game honestly suggesting that Exodus's original goals were benevolent?"

    A historian can simply relate what happened and who said what without necessarily condoning those actions.

    It's hard to know what pieces of information in the game are considered Truth by its creators and which pieces of information are simply what the individual characters believed, said, and did.

    Perhaps Exodus has convinced himself (and/or was convinced all along) that his original goals were benevolent. To a lesser degree, Mondain and Minax also may be personally convinced that they are upholding some kind of worthy "virtue." But simply because they believe it does not make it True.

  7. You also need to be on a sacred quest in Ultima V. The Shrines Quests are sacred quests.

    About the society of the gargoyles being a bit weird and not a good one, that's the point. It's a society that is very different to Britannia, and their ways may seem wrong or even evil, but the point is that they believe in that and there is no reason to make them be like the Britannians. As long as there is understanding and no race tries to hurt the other there should be no problem at all.

    1. It's not a message I think should be subscribed to in all cases. Or else I'd have yet another reason not to be living in the American South today.

    2. What about the wingless gargoyles? How come the obvious abuses they're suffering at the hands of the winged gargoyles don't count as a race trying to hurt another race?

    3. To be fair, they eventually stop doing that.

  8. Please, cast Armageddon. Some of us really want to see it in action.

    1. I have a "screwing around" post planned for next time. It's in there.

    2. It's the mark of a really good RPG to be able to screw around. Bonus points if it's literal... like The Witcher.

  9. Makes me think of Leon (The Professional):

    For whom dost thou seek the codex?




    1. I wonder if the parser only recognizes only the first four letters.

      So perhaps these answers could satisfy the Codex as well:

      "Everyone, except people I don't agree with."

      "Ever thought of asking another question?"

    2. If you didn't notice in the next post, I tried "Everyone except the gargoyles. Screw those guys" and it worked just fine.

  10. This has nothing to do with anything and yet I feel the urge to tell everyone. Mostly because I have been a semi-posting "member" of the comments of this blog for some years now. I have watched and read other posters. Some of you other comment posters have read MY comments :) And I have mentioned some, in the past, of my Real Life.

    Here's more :)

    I have mentioned that my wife is terminally ill and has been for some years now. Well, finally, everything has run out, she is tired of fighting, systems are failing. She has come home from her latest hospitalization on Hospice.

    She has come home to die. To spend the last of her life at home with family.

    To go away and leave me alone, lonely and broken, for the rest of my life.

    But hey, at least I always have CRPG's to fill the screaming void, eh?

    1. I'm sorry, William.

      The void exists so we may take our turns filling it as best we can.

    2. William,

      You have my deepest condolences. I wish that my blog, occupied as it is with such a trivial topic, was better equipped to help with issues of such weight and grief.

      I hope everything goes as best as it can, under the circumstances.

      Best wishes,


    3. I'm very very sorry to hear that William.

      As someone who went through the same years ago: some times life can be cruel, but other times it does bring you unexpectedly good things. Feeling lonely and broken didn't last forever for me - hopefully it won't for you either.

      All the best.

    4. My heartfelt condolences to you and your family, William. Words are so paltry. A tree asking what is not well, why is emptiness leaden, not saying a thing.

      I wish you all the strength.

    5. Maybe taking a stab at resuming your blog may help things a little. When my then-girlfriend (now wife) was hit by a car years ago and put into a coma, I took up creative writing. Fortunately, she pulled through and my urge to write pretty much disappeared until my daughter was born two years ago, which pretty much resulted in the Elder Scrolls blog I've been writing ever since.

      Though it does not sound like much consolation, I hope you realize you at least have us anonymous folk here to talk with.

    6. Hey William, you have my condolences as well. I just want to echo the sentiments of the other replies, that I hope you'll be able to make the best (even though that word sounds so completely inappropriate in this context) of your circumstances. And that eventually the pain may be more bearable, even if the loss remains as large.

    7. I'm sorry to hear it as well, william.

    8. My condolences William! May God bless you and yours today and everyday.

    9. You probably won't read thsi since it is a few days old now, but I remember your earlier posts and would like to give my condolences.

      I would like to extend the advice of trying to keep busy. Having a loved one in that situation is sad(I speak from personal experience), and I am sorry for you, but I do hope you feel lucky that the woman you love decided to spend her last days with you.

      Good luck to you all

    10. i know it's been a long, long time, but my thoughts are with you, william, wherever you are, now.

  11. Nice run all the way through. :) FWIW you can actually talk to the gargoyles who have dialogue *before* acquiring the babelfish, which results in all their speech being in bastardised latin -- except for Beh Lem, who has rudimentary English skills.

    In your forthcoming mucking around play...would you mind attempting to cast Vanish on the Codex to see if it works? Just for lulz...

    You might also like to check out Doug the Eagle's website for some fun tricks to try out... http://www.it-he.org/u6_main.htm

    1. Alas, you cannot "Vanish" the Codex. That would have been a fun scene to juxtapose with "WHAT HAS THOU DONE WITH IT!" Neither can you blow it up with powder kegs.

    2. Well, dang XD Thanks for trying to troll ol' LB though!

    3. How about Cloning the Codex? :P

    4. Good question. You can only "Clone" things you can "Animate," and you can't "Animate" the Codex.

  12. I figured that the Codex along with the shrines essentially prevented the land from evaporating into the void. When the codex was taken (by the Council damn it) the Gargoyle world started fading into the Aether. The reason the Gargoyles occupied the shrines was to redirect the energy to stop their land from dissolving.

  13. Do I remember correctly that the shards of Mondain's gem contained the fragments of his soul, which then spawned the Shadowlords? And which you vanquished by casting the shards into the eternal flames of truth, love, and courage? So what is his soul now doing in a statue in a gargoyle shrine? (Or maybe I'm conflating Mondain and Voldemort with the fragments of the soul...)

    1. I'd have to review the dialogue from U5, but I don't think that's quite it. The gem housed its own evil, not directly tied to Mondain's spirit.

  14. Y'know, I always thought that the Mantras were in Gargish and Beh Lem means Honest Fellow. Or some shit like that.

    Shamino says: "I hear something to the East!"
    Iolo says: "Yes. It's The Impending Doom of Boiling Lava."

    1. I believe Beh Lem says his name means 'just one'. Which I would have taken to mean like 'only child' or 'still insignificant member of society' . Until I noticed 'beh' is the mantra of Justice, so I figured they were going after the other meaning of 'just'. I remember then noticing other bits of the gargoyle speech having correspondence with Britannian mantras and magic syllables and such but I forget what.

      I suppose an Anglicized version of Beh Lem's name would be.... Justin?

    2. This depends on dual meanings of "just," though. When he says his name means "just one," perhaps he literally means "fair."

      If the mantras are supposed to be Gargish, this isn't something that's really explored with other cognates.

      On a related note, I just realized that UN-OR-US is in the "Lost Book of Mantras," so a player who guessed mantras from the book at the Shrine of Singularity could bypass the final three shrine quests "honestly," without any foreknowledge of the mantras.

    3. I think the name "Just One" is in Indian...


  15. I've been really impressed by the variety of NPC portraits in this one - I don't think I've noticed any repeats, even for minor characters. Does *every* character in the game actually have a unique portrait? That is pretty remarkable if so!
    - Pie

    1. If you don't count Guards and wingless gargoyles, then yes. Everyone has his/her own portrait.

      All guards are generic and share the same portrait and conversation. Wingless Gargoyles also have a portrait shared but no conversation.

    2. There was a contest in U5 where players who completed the game in record time (remember the "Report Your Deeds To Lord British" message?) will be immortalized as NPCs in U6.

      Similarly done in U7. In fact, the 1st recruitable NPC is one such winner.

    3. And all Chet got is a Facebook recognition? Not bad for finishing this late.

    4. I actually just noticed today that Myles, the boy who was adopted by the cyclops(es?) looked like Lyssandra, the serving girl from Jhelom. Most likely that's just how the artist happened to draw kids, but was there any story to suggest they could have been related?

    5. Kenny: Did you mean Spark in U7? He's the son of Raymond Benson, U7's lead writer. You can find a list of Immortality Contest winners here:


      I haven't heard of any such contest for U6 NPCs, though. Is there a source for that info?

    6. SPOILER!

      I can't recall. But I think I saw something like a contest with a phrase from LB in the U5 box saying that there will be a surprise for players who:
      1) Be the first to report their winning.
      2) Found some Easter Eggs
      3) Obtained a special Codex Coin
      and a few other things.

      That's all I know. Did I dreamt about it or something, though?

  16. I see Tunnels and Trolls is coming up. its an interesting game but very buggy. Talks about quests that dont exist etc... ooh man, you may be in for a time if you decide to try and finish TnT. its another game that 'could have been' with some better QA and such.

    1. I've already gotten into it. It's not bad, but when I saw the names attached, I expected it to be much better.

    2. yeah... it COULD have been. outsourced to a japanese company, poor english translation. not finished quests, missing quests. some game breaking bugs. but I wanted to like it so much. something about it just sets it apart (back then anyway). I love TnT, I have several box sets of the tabletop rpg, its whacky spell system etc...

  17. Mr CRPG Addict, if you haven't been made aware already, an Ultima Dragon posted about your U6 blog completion on the UDIC Facebook page and Richard Garriott himself made a reply with this to say:

    "As Sovereign of Britannia, I thank you for your service to Britannia and applaud your amazing achievement!"

    (Ultima Dragons Internet Chapter is an open group, so if you have Facebook you can check it out yourself if you like. :))

    1. That would have been me - I actually posted a comment about linking that here but it appears exactly that one got eaten :/.

      So, here we go again:

      Mr Addict,
      with properly citing and linking, I posted the Codex to Ipad Comparison to the Ultima Dragons face book group.

      It appears my fellow dragons (and some other people ;)) liked that a lot.
      Hope this will bring some more people into the fray!

    2. https://www.facebook.com/groups/UltimaDragons/

    3. It doth appear someone hath reported thy feats to Lord British, Chet! XD

    4. That's nice and all, but what I'd really like is for him to show up HERE and comment on some of those issues of plot and geography. Love to hear what he'd think about Maldeus's gargoyle rant above, for instance.

    5. Probably hoping a bit too much, but I get your meaning. ;)

  18. So, did you ever find the triple crossbows in this game? There's one hidden behind a secret door in Serpent's Hold, and you can get another if you ask the bowyer in Britain. Not the most practical weapon, but excellent for going on a rampage. ;)

    1. No, I never got one, even though it was part of the regular dialogue for Gwenneth. This was another area in which combats just weren't challenging enough for me to bother to explore all the equipment.

    2. I remember having the triple crossbow but I don't remember it being useful. You couldn't target 3 enemies with it, so one bolt would fly and hit the target, and the other 2 would just fly off at different angles, usually hitting nothing. So it was like a regular crossbow that used up the bolts at triple-speed. I liked the magic bow better, for the sake of better damage and range.

    3. No! That's not- Have you seen shotguns being used for sniping?

      That's right. Bring that bad boy up close and comfortable with the person you want DEAD! DEAD! DEAD! and pull the trigger.

  19. Oddly enough, what I had a lot of fun doing in Ultima VI was mapping the world, which might be one of the most OCD pastimes of my life to date. I counted each "square" on the grid that the Avatar travels on as one pixel and coloured them according to terrain. Done this way, the entire world is built out of 8x8 squares, so as you go you can build up a library of these templates to bolt together. The best part was suddenly realising that all the dungeon maps fit together, which I think happened at one point when I could see the combat results of a battle that was happening in a lake from another dungeon and suddenly realised the dungeons' edges matched. It was my own personal Pangaea. I spent some happy hours moving the dungeons into different layers in Paint.NET and slotting them together like a jigsaw puzzle. There were some gaps left over at the end which I later found out were either lower levels of buildings I hadn't thought to map, or inaccessible dungeon sections that were removed from the game.

    The underworld all fit together in the same way in Ultima 5, as well, so I should probably have guessed it sooner. I've now got nice world maps from games 4-6 to compare, though I unfortunately lost my dungeon maps from 4. Sadly I haven't been even slightly tempted to map VII although I'm sure there's some similar tiling principles used.

    1. Does the Ultima 7 world have multiple 'levels'? I remember some buildings had stairs where you would go up to a second story. But none of the dungeons that I can recall had more than one level. I remember having the impression that the dungeons were all on the same plane as the "outside" world of Britannia, except under mountains. So it would be like you went into a house, but instead of being under a roof you were under a mountain. Not sure about that. The lack of multi-level dungeons to me made the U7 world feel smaller to me, although compensated with greater detail.

    2. Wow. That certainly was a lot of effort. You would have had to color in more than a million pixels just for the surface world alone.

      It's always much tougher to map games like U7 with contrinuously-scrolling worlds. Obviously, everything is made up of discrete cells at some level,but it's always easier when those cells correspond to the squares in which the party moves. I don't know how I'd map U7.

    3. I think U7 only has 2 levels (ground and 1st floor), which always amused me with the magic carpet as you could fly over ground storey houses and low mountains but nothing with a first floor bedroom.

      All the dungeon staircases functioned like teleporters; Instead of going down a 'level' you'd be teleported off to where the level designers made the dungeon map, somewhere in the black void of the edges of the map or within a mountain range (the snow-capped peaks functioning as a 'roof' like a house, I guess).

    4. U7 doesn't have multiple maps at all, yes dungeons are crammed into mountains (sometimes random mountains for separate levels of a dungeon). Serpent Isle has it a bit easier since there are parts of the map that you can't access normally, so a lot of crammed mountainy stuff is completely off limits on the overland map.

      "ground" and "1st floor" aren't really levels, the game tiles are 3D, so you in theory each step in a stair is a different "level" and you can go really high.

  20. There are no inaccessible dungeon levels, Check the maps here:


    I once used these maps to make sure I had visited every single corner of the Britannian underground. It's all there - though I had never found the Swamp Cave in my earlier years of playing U6.

  21. So... just beat Ultima 6!

    Did this game have a sense of finality to you? Like this was really intended to be "The End"? It does close the Age of Enlightenment trilogy, but it also nicely wraps up all six games. The world is at peace, the Avatar goes home, our work here is done.

    In my playthrough, I never bothered with the wisps, but I think I found most everything else. My balloon also had no anchor and there were some subquests that I did not get to the end of-- was there a way to cure the deaf guy? What the heck was Iolo's story that he never got to tell me?

    From my notes, here are the rest of my "unsolved mysteries", apparent subquests that were either red herrings, or I just didn't figure them out:

    - Anything up with the unicorn horn and klein bottle supposedly on the road from Trinsic? And how about the in-progress models of the solar system?
    - Can you find the secret recipe for roast boar? Does it matter?
    - Do you ever need to use the panpipes to attract rats anyplace? Or blow the snake horn to attract the big snakes?
    - Almost every shopkeep has a function, except the bakers. They buy flour! Was there a dropped subquest around Magincian Pastry here? I gave Sandy the eggs and just got gold in return.
    - Lots about three shipwrecks-- and I found the plot-relevant one-- but why bother with the others? I couldn't find anything to do with any of them, or even tell which ship was which. One was supposed to have wrecked in Loch Lake, but I could never find it.
    - What the heck is flippits? I spent the whole game looking out for peas, dog bones, and hats.
    - What's up with the bloody locked house near the Lycenaeum?
    - How do you get the fan from Utomo? I found another one in a dungeon and there's a spell you can use, but is it just there to steal if you want to go that route?
    - Can you recover Zoltan's earring?
    - Can you help Seggalion to go home?

    All in all, it was a ton of fun-- if a bit fetch-questy in the end. I am looking forward to Savage Empire next--- but I need an Ultima break. The game is good, but I don't have that same "WANT MORE" feeling that I did after winning U5.

    1. Congratulations on winning! As for the sense of finality, I never really felt anything was open-ended after the previous games in the series. It's not until VII that the need for a sequel becomes obvious.

      Most of the mysteries you mention remain mysteries to me, too. I believe most of them were just dialogue throw-aways and not anythin that you can find or do in the game.

    2. It took some searching, but I found the reference to the real story Iolo wouldn't tell in Ultima VI. Here is the link:


    3. It had undoubtedly not been announced yet but Seggallion being trapped and unable to return home seems entirely appropriately bittersweet after Origin cancelled the planned expansions for Knights of Legend.

  22. It occurs to me -- reading this almost three years after the fact -- that all that technobabble from the wisps about reflections and transforming matter to energy was perhaps a reference to what you have to do to sacrifice the Codex.

  23. "What the heck was Iolo's story that he never got to tell me?" I can't find the reference on-line, but the story I heard was that this was in reference to a real-life incident at an SCA event (Society for Creative Anachronisms). Several of the Ultima characters, including Iolo are based on the SCA personas of real people.

    The 'story' goes like this:
    Person A was in a tent, and would not get out
    Person B said "I will relieve myself on thee if thou does not exit thy tent" (or something like that)
    Person A refused to budge
    Person B opened their water skin and began spraying it on the tent
    Person A, in a panic and thinking that Person B was making good on the threat, came flying out of the tent

    Years ago I was invited to an SCA event in Richard Garriott's backyard. I couldn't pass an opportunity like that up. He had a large wooden fort, pirate ship, and replica of the globe theater. Richard himself was out of town, so I didn't meet him. I understand he has since sold his house (er castle).

    1. Well, thanks for clearing up that mystery. That sounds like a cool experience.

  24. There are a lot of things I like about Ultima VI (graphics, robust items inventory, lightning wands, etc) but I agree with Chet that the balloon experience was underwhelming.

    In Ultima IV and V, the balloon gave me much more a feeling of flying because it turned off the line-of-sight algorithm that creates darkness behind walls and mountains.

    In Ultima VI, mountains don't create line-of-sight darkness, they are laid out in a way artistically so that you don't feel like you can see "over" them but without actually generating any line-of-sight "darkness" on the map.

    It's really pretty cool from an art standpoint, but I think the devs probably painted themselves into a corner when it came to the balloon as there was no line-of-sight algorithm for mountains to turn off.

    For the buildings, were was line-of-sight blocking going on, but I think the problem here was that to turn the line-of-sight blocking off when flying in the balloon, they would have had to have replaced the darkness with roof tiles, and I bet they were out of tiles or out of time.

    In Ultima IV and V, there were no buildings on the Britannia map and the balloon wasn't permitted inside the town/castle maps, so this would have been a new problems created by the single scale map design of Ultima VI.

    Then of course there was the business of the sole purpose of the balloon being to fly 3 tiles or so.

    1. Ultima 5 doesn't have a balloon. Its flying carpet doesn't change line-of-sight effects though, https://lparchive.org/Ultima-4-5-and-6/Update%2029/U5_09_16.png

    2. I remember (and loved) the magic carpet!

      I thought I had used a balloon in Ultima V to land in the small clearing in the Serpent's Spine to get the glass sword, but maybe I used the mountain climbing gear as I can't seem to find any reference online to a balloon in Ultima V.

  25. "Ultima VI was the first game to retcon Ultimas I-III so that the Avatar was the hero of those games. It's stupid for a lot of reasons (you could be of non-human races in those games, you had four heroes in the third game, etc.) and I've always preferred to ignore it or treat it as manual errata, but I had forgotten that when you encounter Mondain in the shrine, the game makes it clear that you remember defeating him."

    I honestly don't see what's so offensive about that retcon? The Avatar could easily have been one of the four heroes, and I'm pretty sure most U3 players had at least one human in their party. Even if you had not humans in your save, it's simply a case of cutting off the branches. Something that is pretty common for sequels to games with multiple possible canons to do.

  26. Seven years late on this one, but I just realized Draxinusom is an anagram of "Mordain Sux" and I can't decide if it's deliberate.

    1. Considering the big bad from the first game is Mo_n_dain with an N, not Mo_r_dain, clearly not :)

      Try seeing the name as Drax-In-Us-Om and see if that means anything to you in the runic/magical/gargish language.

    2. Why would it be intentional? Who is Mordain?

    3. He's thinking of Mondain. Alas, it doesn't work with the proper spelling.

  27. It absolutely BLEW MY MIND at the end when the game played both Rule Britannia and the Gargoyle theme song at the same time and they fit together perfectly. Not that my aspiring game music career ever went anywhere beyond entertaining myself in the Demoscene, but that moment absolutely pushed me towards wanting to write digital music and I started doing so not long after.


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