Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Eye of the Beholder: Flayed and Quartered

Mind flayers are never fun.

Thanks to your help (in particular, Marco and Xrzf), I managed to get out of the mire. Marco pointed out that I'd overlooked an obvious stairway, which didn't lead to Level 10 or 11 but did lead to previously-unexplored and interconnected parts of Levels 7-9. More on Xrzf's hint in a bit.

Trying to map the small remaining areas of Levels 7-9 was an exercise in frustration, mostly because the stairways almost, but don't quite, line up between levels. They're generally in the same area, but they might be anywhere from 0 to 3 squares off in any direction. If you're trying to fill a hole in a previously-mapped level, it's hard to figure out where to plot the stairs. After a couple of frustrating episodes where I had to erase everything and start over, I learned to map the new areas external to the main map, then fill them in once I had a sense of the totality of the geography.

A section of Level 8 with numerous up and down staircases leading to small areas. This was a pain to map accurately.

At first, the extra effort didn't seem worth it. The treasures were extremely minor--a couple of arrows, a Scroll of Raise Dead, a Potion of Extra Healing--but eventually I got to one area in which I could trade gems for keys. I had several stray blue and green gems, so I used them to get a bunch of "jeweled keys"--more than I actually needed. Later, there was another area that traded keys for gems, and it turned out I had to do this at least once to keep progressing, because I had to "mount" a gem on the wall.

Around the same area (this was on Level 9) was a section of wall that read, "It is written, the key lies on the other side." I couldn't figure out what to do with this, but after mapping the rest of the area and noting a conspicuous void on the other side of the message, I determined to play with it some more. Eventually, I tossed something at the message, and it passed straight through and opened up a secret door. On the other side were three Orbs of Power! (So, Xrzf, you were right.) This was also the "special quest" for the level--the only one I've figured out after Level 6.

A secret area reveals a bunch of Orbs of Power. I'm not sure why I need more than one.

At last, I could return to Level 4 and identify my stuff. The small interconnected areas of Levels 7-9 eventually returned me to the teleporter hub, so I went from there to Level 4. I used an Orb in the slot next to the Oracle, and all of my items were named. I discovered that my highest "+" items are the "Severious" sword (+5) and the "Chieftain Halberd" (+5). I have several other +3 and +4 weapons. Based on my experience with other Dungeons & Dragons games, these weapons seem awfully advanced for my level, but then again so were some of the monsters I soon faced.

Other revelations: one of my dwarves had been using a -3 cursed sling all along; my paladin had been wearing cursed platemail (that was bush league on my part; I should have noticed the decrease in AC); and most of my rings and medallions were junk. A wand my mage had been carrying for four levels turned out to be a "Wand of Stick," which I'm guessing does nothing. Darker sling stones are +1 and moss-covered sling stones are +2. I think I missed the opportunity to pick up some more of these.

The party makes a pile of useless items now that everything's identified.
I was surprised that the Oracle didn't consume the Orb of Power. Later, I found a couple more, so I have like 5 of them. Do they do anything other than identify items? I can't seem to use them as weapons or anything.
Although all the above helped me progress in the levels I'd already explored, they didn't do anything about the rest of Level 10 or getting to Level 11. Xrzf insisted that the solution was in one of the rooms on Level 9 that I thought I'd exhaustively explored. I returned to the room and found absolutely nothing except the pressure plate I'd already stepped on to close the pits. I spent a while putting random items on the plate to see what happened. I checked the walls extensively for hidden buttons. I rammed my party into every wall to test for secret doors. Nothing. Eventually, in desperation (and perhaps remembering the trick that got me the original orbs), I started throwing things at the walls at random. What do you know, one of the objects sailed right through and caused a secret area to open up, leading to the down stairs. It's possible that this was clued somewhere else and I missed it (I never did figure out how to get through two doors on Level 9 that require "special keys"), but if not, that's a B.S. puzzle.

Do I have to go back through the levels and throw something at every wall now?

Level 10 turned out to be smaller than the other levels (22 x 30 instead of 30 x 30) unless I missed something. I had to kill a bunch of mantis warriors but otherwise there wasn't much to it. I eventually had to have my two clerics memorize nothing but "Remove Paralysis" in all their Level 3 slots (excepting a single "Create Food and Water") because I was getting stunned every turn.

Eventually, a series of easy lever puzzles led to a hole in the floor that dropped me to Level 11, a festival of levers and buttons. It took me a while to figure out the opening area's schtick: a zone of three concentric hallways. Each of the walls has a button that, when pressed, opens a secret corridor to the next hallway (but closes any open corridors in the same ring). A message that "alignment must be true" led me to figure out the solution: the secret hallways have to be open in the same direction in all three rings before the final one opens and you can get out of the area. That probably didn't make a lot of sense, but I don't know how else to explain it.

New enemies on this level were xorns and mind flayers--the latter immune to my protests that my characters had been only Level 3 a few days ago. I thought the mantis warriors were bad, but mind flayers are capable of paralyzing multiple party members with their "psychic blast" from several squares away. They were responsible for a good portion of this session's reloads. For the most part, I was able to take care of them with the combat waltz, but occasionally I'd meet them in a hallway and get blasted.

Xorns were easy in comparison. They hit hard, but didn't seem to have any special attacks.

I found two new stone portal items--an orb and the ankh--on this level, as well as a new stone portal. When I tried the orb on it, I found myself in a new-textured area with what looks like beholder symbols on the walls. It was too early for me to be here, so I beat a hasty retreat back through the portal.

This place looks freaky.

In a final room on Level 11, I found the "Dwarven Healing Potion" capable of curing King Teirgoh. I used the stone ankh to teleport back up to Level 5 and visited the dwarves again. King Teirgoh came out of his coma and gave me the Wand of Silvias, which will somehow help me against Xanathar.

At various points during this session, I resurrected three NPCs. Beohram the Paladin and Tyrra the Ranger duplicated skills I already had, so I let them go.

You think she'd be a little more grateful. Side question: why does everyone resurrect wearing robes?

But I decided to keep the last one, Kirath the Mage, and do a better job using magic on the final levels, especially now that my mage has Level 5 spells like "Hold Monster" and "Cone of Cold" (the animation for the latter takes so long I can practically take a lunch break waiting for it to finish). Unfortunately, I had to dump Keirgar, the dwarf warrior who's been with me for half the game.

The arrogant half-elf is "true neutral" in alignment.
As I close, Starling the Paladin is Level 8 and at least 150,000 experience points away from Level 9, when she'll finally get a Level 1 cleric spell. (As an aside, I only figured out how to use "lay on hands" towards the end of this session; I didn't even think it existed in this game.) Bugsy is Level 7 as a fighter and Level 8 as a thief and reasonably close to leveling up again in both. Marina is a Level 9 mage, Gaston at Level 7 at both ranger and cleric, and Ileria a Level 7 cleric. My new mage, Kirath, is at the beginning of Level 7. Everyone has 2-4 levels to go before they max out in the game.

Given that, I'm not sure if Level 12 is the final level or the beginning of the final section of levels. Nothing to do but return to the teleporters and find out!

Time so far: 36 hours
Reload count: 21


  1. I played along and also took Kirath in my group, the second addition was Keirgar.
    I had a ranger/cleric created as melee, but soon found out that's not the best idea: repeatedly casting Flame Sword is quite annoying, and carrying a holy symbol is quite hard for a two weapon fighter (what a ranger basically is). I also have a pure cleric, but that is quite overkill - after years of 3rd edition, I simply had forgotten how boring clerics used to be in AD&D 2nd. On the other hand, the two front row melees did most of the work anyways, so having 4 supporters is ok.

    About the robes: since you find the clothes/armor of possible companions next to their bones, one can assume they are ressurected naked and the friendly dwarf lends them robes after the ressurection.

    I did some more special quests, but I used spoilers. Most of them are quite random and without any hints on how to do them. After reading the solution, most times I thought "I might have tryed that as 11 yr-old when playing along" rather than "I could have solved that by thinking harder". Altogether, I think EoB could have done better with more wall texts or other clues. And more NPCs, this innovation is quite underused.

    1. I did most of the special quests fair and square when I played EOB. Not all though. Some of them require such specific actions that they seem only doable through sheer accident or calling the official hintline (insert a cash register noise here).

      Fair - 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12
      Unfair - 1, 10, 11
      Is this bugged or something - 4

      It's also regrettable how many of the rewards are just useless. The +5 Halberd is a good haul, some of the other rewards are good, but then you get ones that only give you food, or a few potions, or nothing, and it's just... why did you even bother?

    2. A less magnanimous motive for the dwarf cleric is that he has a blue robe fetish.

    3. I wouldn't necessarily call ALL those ones "fair," but I certainly agree that some are fairer than others. As you point out, the rewards aren't that good to fret about it.

      It looks like I solved Level 4 but still missed the reward ("Drow Cleaver") that I was supposed to get from solving it.

    4. It has nothing to do with the special quest.
      The room with carvings "Kruen - The fearless one" etc. open ONLY the middle door and enter the next room. The wall has opened and there lies your weapon. The second chain here will just remove one wall block in the previous room.

  2. >> A secret area reveals a bunch of Orbs of Power. I'm not sure why I need more than one.
    >> I was surprised that the Oracle didn't consume the Orb of Power
    There are two Oracles in-game. So congrats, you used the right one.

  3. I mentioned this in a Rot13'ed out hint earlier: the Oracle of Devouring does the same thing Oracle of Knowledge does, but consumes the orb in the process. Extra orbs are for that.

    Equipment balance is wonky in EOB1. It goes roughly like this in the series:
    EOB2 has several +3's and one +4
    EOB3 has several +4's and one +5
    EOB1 has several +5's.

    That's also why I recommended you keep Severious. Severious is the best sword you get in the entire series. And there it is, just lying on a corpse halfway through the first game. You can import it to later games.

    1. "Is this bugged or something - 4"
      The hint book says:
      "The courteous adventurer leaves things as they were, but also keeps the dungeon clean ."

      There's a lot of incorrect information about that. You must first "keep the dungeon clean" by picking up the key. If you leave straight after that you will not "leave things as they were" as the walls have already moved one block. That's why you have to go around the second time and then pull the chain.

      Oh I must say this:
      [Special quest alert!]
      On level 10 the kenku eggs strike back! The portal is so conveniently placed...
      [/Special quest alert!]

    2. So now that I've won, I took a look at the hints, and wow, I solved Level 4 entirely by accident. I wondered why solving the "Special Quest" was just a matter of pulling the chain. It just so happened that I'd done everything necessary and left the secret walls lined up in just the right configuration without meaning to do it.

    3. For the special quest on L4, I believe (after many, many years) that the clue is to leave things as they were. In the roundabout with moving wall, pick up the key, then leave from the non-stair side but make sure the walls are in the same place as when you came down the stairs, then pull the chain.

      Ken Brubaker

  4. Should of just kept going. You were already on the last level.

    1. I'm sure he appreciates you spoiling that.

    2. Honestly, I'm more bothered by "should of."

    3. The name of the game is "Eye of the Beholder" and the walls have a graphic depicting an eye of a Beholder. Not sure how much of a spoiler that one was.

    4. Because the rest of the game occurs in "sections": three levels of sewers, three levels of brickwork, three levels of dark stone, two levels of light stone. There was no reason for me not to think that the "beholder area" was several levels instead of just one. I said as much at the end of my posting.

      Nonetheless, I already suspected it was the last level, mostly because I already had all the teleporter items except one and I didn't think the game would suddenly revert to levels with no way to teleport around.

    5. I remember finding it very exciting when the walls changed.

    6. Just a heads-up, the last level contains hidden buttons too, even though it initially seems it doesn't. The button is incredibly difficult to see, about the size of one pixel, and located a little bit to the left and down from the center of the wall tiles with the eyeballs on them.

    7. Huh. I won the game last night but I don't remember finding any secret doors like that. I might have missed part of the final map, then.

    8. The final map has all the things that you love to hate in EoB: hidden teleporters, incomprehensible special quest, false walls, doors that open from the one side only, usually the other one; traps, permanent item loss, instant killing spells thrown at you. It's the only level of the game I have not a sense of, in my mind.
      That said, congratulation on completing the game with very little to no outside help!

  5. There are a ton of darts lying around the rooms where you need to throw an item to reveal the staircase. Not a very strong hint, though, and I didn't figure out the solution myself.

    I initially got stuck for a while on Level 11, missing those tiny switches. I remember doing figure-8s in the room with the plaque where you can hear movement through the wall, thinking you needed to run in some pattern to open the passage.

  6. I always hated the Mind Flayers (aka Illithid) in Baldur's Gate 2. There was almost no way to save against them, and in addition to paralysis they had charm and instant-death attacks.

  7. Chet, I must have missed it: did you found the stone ring already?

  8. I also remember the "Throw a thingy at a wall" Riddle as quite Random though I think stepping on the Plate also changes a few walls in the room so that MAY be a hint? Not sure ...

    1. They probably figured: "Well Dungeon Masters already featured walls, taht you can walk thorugh, so were uping the ante by craeting walls, that are _half_ solid, but were you can throw things through...

  9. If you hadn't closed the two pits by stepping on the pressure plate at 21, there is a quasi-logical solution to the puzzle. If you come to the room from the east (like I did) you see two pits to the south and the east which prevent access to the rest of the room, as well as the pressure plate at 21. If you try to throw an item across the pit to land on the pressure plate, it will instead turn back and hurl toward you. The first time it just hit me, but I did it once more and this time I evaded the item, which then went through the north wall, et voila. Try it, if you have a saved game before closing the two pits. I imagine that was the solution that the developers had in mind (oddly, it is not even mentioned in the official cluebook, where it prompts the player to "throw an item through the northern wall", just like you did).

    BTW speaking of pits, their depiction is another one in the list of small (or large) details that, for me, add up to make DM a better experience overall than EoB. In DM if you close a pit, or if it is blinking or otherwise moving, when you get to the lower level you will see it closed or moving in the exact pattern you saw it above. In EoB, even if you have closed the pit you will see it wide open above you, as if the two levels were completely separate (try looking in level 10 for the two pits you closed in level 9). A small detail this one, I know, but it does contribute to convey the feeling of an alive and coherent dungeon in DM.

    1. I guess. I mean, what does it really mean to "close" a pit? I think that logically, you could do something that covers its opening on the top level but still leaves the bottom open on the level below.

      What I like about DM and CSB is that the pits were always in the same location, coordinate-wise, on every level, so it made it a lot easier to map.

    2. Oh well, you could be right about the logical interpretation of the pits. Still, we are in magical dungeons and I like better the idea that pits appear and disappear in the same way that concrete walls do.
      Did you have the chance to try out the solution to the puzzle?

    3. No, I was already well past that by the time I read your comment. I won the game early this morning. I could load up one of my archived saves and try to get back there, but I trust you know what you're talking about. That does make the puzzle SLIGHTLY less unfair because, I agree, it would be natural to try to throw something across the pit to land on the plate.

  10. Beohram's actually just a Fighter, which always struck me as a mistake (like Ileria being male), since you find a paladin holy symbol next to his bones. He was also apparently the owner of Severious. You'd think he want a weapon like that back!

  11. Actually, the robes are for the resurrection ritual. Wearings all sorts of equipment, especially magical ones, will most probably f*** it up bad.

    Sort of like taking an X-Ray picture.

  12. You can leave the Orbs of Power at the Oracle, so as to free up inventory space. When you return they'll still be there. Maybe take one with you in case you want to use the Oracle of Devouring instead.

    "I eventually had to have my two clerics memorize nothing but "Remove Paralysis" in all their Level 3 slots (excepting a single "Create Food and Water") because I was getting stunned every turn."

    LOL should have just done 4x remove paralysis and stuff the create food & water. Food goes down so slowly, if you suddenly need the spell you can rest and memorize it. To say nothing of having TWO clerics with this spell at the same time. Now that's contingency planning. The good ol' RPG "but I might need this" mentality. ;)

    Oof, no lay on hands the whole game? It's not that great but it's something. Can't do anything else with that paladin holy symbol anyway. I love how the game hands out holy symbols as treasure in the dungeon. As if one of your clerics was going to lose one or something.

    1. IIRC you gain paladin spells at some level of experience.

    2. "You can leave the Orbs of Power at the Oracle, so as to free up inventory space."

      There's a second way to use the orbs at the final level.

  13. Why/when did you ditch that SMT rule?

    1. I don't know, about a week ago. Because it was a joke in the first place, but people without a sense of humor kept bringing it up. It actually seemed to generate MORE discussion about SMT.

      I honestly want people to discuss things freely on my blog. But it does slightly piss me off when someone comes along with an agenda, shoe-horning a discussion of unrelated games (and other subjects) into posts that have nothing to do with what they're talking about. I only outright ban it in the case of commercial advertising, but I wish everyone else could just be cool.

  14. Looking at your "upcoming" list, I can say with fair certainty that ICON: Quest For The Ring is not only not an RPG, but is broken. Unless I'm misremembering something from when I played it a few years ago (a brief look online backs me up), the only attribute is health, combat is purely action-based, and there are no NPCs, economy, or experience levels. Further, the game crashes after you complete the first level.

    1. The only attribute is health, but the game insists that it can increase during your adventures. Thin, but I figured it was enough to at least check it out. If it crashes after the first level, I guess it will at least be a short review.

  15. I wonder if this is the only crpg that has xorn in it- they have a special place in my heart.

    1. They are in Nethack (at least as of v 3.4.3)


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