Thursday, July 20, 2017

Conan: The Valedictorian!

I think this "troubled brow" bit is lifted from the films, albeit less poetically here.
The rest of the plot of Conan unfolded much as the part I've already related, in a series of short, linear episodes with light inventory puzzles. In between, I sold my accumulated riches and used the gold for healing potions and training to increase my skills. But other than having to frequently backtrack to obtain a missing item, the game never posed much of a challenge.

As I closed the last time, I was heading for Zamboula to rescue Princess Zosara and thus get the support of the Kuigar nomads, whose king was set to marry the princess. I had to sneak into the city via a four-level maze of catacombs swarming with rats and spiders. There were some nice treasures to pick up along the way, including a Horn of Valhalla, which I never used.

The princess was held captive by a wizard who turned himself invisible the moment I entered the chamber. I couldn't kill him with regular sword blows, so I started going through my inventory to see if anything would help. When I used my staff, it somehow slid into a hole on the floor and activated a trap door, sending the wizard plummeting to his demise. Good thing I kept that staff, I guess. I don't think I would have figured out the puzzle otherwise.
Why did he even have a trap door in his chambers?
The denouement to the episode related that Conan led the Khan's forces in battle against Thoth Amon's armies and won a bunch of victories before Conan returned to Shadizar.

Back at the Red Dog, a wizard named Akada approached Conan with intelligence about Thoth Amon: specifically that the evil priest had lost his Ring of Power. He said if I could recover the ring, I could wield it against the villain. A nearby sage told me that the location of the ring was unknown, but some thieves had hidden a map to the ring in the ruins of Larsha.

Before I continued on this quest, I returned to the jungle ruins and looted the pyramid, obtaining a bunch of gems and an Enchanted Sword, the best sword in the game, doing +100 damage.
A treasure chamber looking appropriately treasure-y.
Larsha was another jungle ruin, populated by lizard men. I had killed a score of them before I found a Lizard Sword, which is supposed to do more damage to them than the Enchanted Sword. I frankly didn't notice any difference. 
Fighting a Gorn.
Ultimately, I found the map to Thoth Amon's ring. It showed it back at the Governor's Palace in Shadizar. Fortunately, I also found a Marble Key to access the doors inside the palace. I returned to the city, crept into the Inner City, evaded the guards, and entered the palace.

I had to kill a couple of guards, but there were numerous rooms with treasures in gems and gold, a Skeleton Key, and of course Thoth Amon's ring. At one point, I blundered into the chambers of the Governor and his wife or mistress.
They weren't happy to see me.
Finding the ring concluded that episode. The next one began with Akada telling me that I would need to find the Scrolls of Skelos to interpret the Ring of Power. They were supposedly back in Larsha, protected by an "indestructible demon made of iron."
Talkative for a demon made of iron.
The iron golem attacked me the moment I entered the ruins and he was immune to damage from anything that I had in my possession. When I fled from the battle, he followed me, appearing even on other maps. This provided me the solution. I led him back to the jungle ruins to be snared by the monolith (which draws in all metal).
Sucks to be you!
After that, I was able to explore Larsha unmolested. The Skeleton Key opened the way to the chamber with the Scrolls. I retrieved them and the final episode began.
Text related how Conan and his allies moved on Thoth Amon's fortress of Tarantia. The Great Khan, Taurus, and Belit all engaged various forces while Conan sneaked into the fortress itself.
You wonder why Synergistic didn't incorporate the army combats from the two Excalibur games into this one. It would have been more fun than just reading about it.
Inside, I faced several of the enemies previously encountered in the game, including mummies, lizard men, giant snakes, and priests of Set. I guess if I'd kept the Snake Sword and Lizard Sword, I would have had an easier time, but as it was, I didn't have many problems with just my regular Enchanted Sword and my potions.
Killing giant snakes is like a Tuesday these days.
The fortress consisted of about 20 rooms. I had to run around finding a series of keys to open new areas. I was blocked from a few areas by more iron golems; if there was any way to defeat them, I never found it, but it was easy enough just to skirt around them.

The only problem I had was this living statue. It killed me the moment I approached it and didn't respond to any of my magic items. (My Horn of Valhalla summoned a berserker, who the statue instantly killed.) After exhausting everything I could think of, I Googled a quick hint and found that I needed a Freeze Amulet (which I'd completely forgotten about). I don't know if there was a place in the game to find one, so I had to buy it back in Shadizar for 1,600 gold pieces, which required me to sell a few excess magic items to raise the amount.

Back in Thoth Amon's fortress, I froze the statue and continued past him to Thoth Amon's private chambers. Like so many other enemies in the game, he was immune to damage in combat.
That statue sure doesn't look like Set. Who are you worshipping on the side, Thoth?
I had to push past him to his chambers and shatter the jar containing his heart. When it was destroyed, Thoth turned into a skeleton and died, and the endgame screen above immediately appeared.

Thoth-Amon suffers a grisly fate as I smash his heart. He might have thought about hiding it instead of leaving it sitting on his desk.
A few miscellaneous notes:
  • The city has a handful of "seers" who never did anything at all. They would take my coins, fiddle around with their crystal balls, and never say anything.
  • After the first scenario, there wasn't much NPC dialogue. Most of them simply said they couldn't help me.
  • I never made use of several items I carried the entire game, including two Staves of Power and the Horn of Valhalla. I guess these items would have allowed me to instantly win some of the tougher combats, but I didn't find any of the combats particularly hard.
  • I didn't mention it above, but the rope was necessary to climb out of some pits in the Zamboula catacombs and Thoth Amon's fortress.
  • According to a spoiler site that I looked at after winning, I missed several side quests. I could have given the ruby Amulet of the Undead to a tavern owner; there was a fortune in gold hidden in the Shadizar underground in an area accessible only by teleport; the priests of the Temple of Adonis would have rewarded me for one of the Staves of Power; and there was a way into a secret Thieves' Guild vault under the city. I apparently need to invest more in bribing people.
In the end, Synergistic did a good job adapting the linear, "chapter" approach from the two Excalibur games, ensuring this time that things undone in early chapters wouldn't leave the player in a "walking dead" state for later chapters. It still isn't a great game, and particularly not a great RPG, but it was fun and undemanding, and it led me to fill in some gaps in my knowledge. More on that in the final entry.

Final time: 24 hours


  1. An interesting game. I like (but don't love) the old Conan stories, but I love the Dark Horse comic series about him, which are some of the best comics I've ever read.

    I don't think this is a game I'd ever need to play--sounds a bit too much like an adventure game with some mediocre combat mechanics--but it's been good to read about.

    It doesn't seem like it took you very long to beat this, but your timer is at 24 hours. Since you're tracking all this, do you have an average of how much gaming you're able to do each night? I've been tracking mine for about a year and find that I tend to average about 45 minutes, although that's usually 1-2 hour sessions interrupted by missing a day once in a while. Unfortunately, tendinitis means that playing longer than that is uncomfortable for me.

    1. It's probably an average of an hour a day but with an incredible variance depending on where I am and what else I have to do. A lot of days, I can't play at all, and others I'm able to devote 8-10 hours.

  2. I wonder how Synergistc's last RPG in this engine, Warriors of Legend, will fare. From what I remember, it keeps Conan's engine improvements and city hub, but gives you a full party of four and a meatier character system. I could never figure out the combat controls though.

  3. I'm strangely impressed by how much random Conan lore they managed to shove into this game.

  4. The method of dealing with the invincible iron demon is really clever.

  5. Hmm megatraveller 2 is coming up, some things to know. The introduction is very very long, so a consistent way to skip it or a savestate after it would be handy. Character generation is usable for the pen and paper version, in eseence this means many of the skills never ever appear in the game. Beyond even that most of the skills that are in the game are pointless beyond 1 rank.
    The one skill I cared about,
    Gb trg jrncbaf cnfg phfgbzf, fgrnygu
    Couple other minor things, save often becuase the game is very buggy. There are a few planets in different sectors that share a name, so hopefully you will have a map :)

    1. IIRC, never used skills were marked in different color at character creation, or at least listed in the manual. It's probably a more honest approach than Realms of Arkania, where all skills and spells got at least one use across the trilogy, but many of them only resulted in some flavor text or a negligible sum of money.

    2. The skills that aren't used in the game are marked in orange during character creation, if I'm remembering correctly. The manual doesn't list what is and isn't used, but does point out why some skills are orange and others aren't.

    3. I should have checked before posting, but the manual does indicate which skills and character classes go unused throughout the game. It looks like nearly half the skills in the game go unused.

    4. Megatraveller 2 is the most boring RPG I have ever played. They managed to start with MT1 and make it worse, which is no mean feat.

      The only good part of both Megatravellers is the character creation system, a cute push-your-luck minigame that kept me entertained for hours. I wish the gameplay that follows were half as good.

      CRPGaddict: Your heroism in playing through these dogs and give us some more insight exactly why they are so bad is greatly appreciated! I also enjoy your writing style. Wonderful blog.

  6. "The city has a handful of "seers" who never did anything at all."
    I forget the detail, but in my case, about 50% of the time, the seer provided some pretty vague Nostradamus-type assistance. You're not missing anything.

  7. I confess I was sort of hoping we'd get either "Conan: Vegetarian?" or "Conan: Contrarian" before this was over.

    1. I actually sat down and made a list of words that I might be able to use. They were both on it, as were agrarian, grammarian, historian, veterinarian, libertarian, culinarian, and of course antidisestablishmentarian. Regrettably, I couldn't find a plot reason to use any of them.

    2. There is a Conan the Librarian too in an al yankovich movie. It did i miss the reference to this?

    3. Then there's Conan the Valetudinarian, who's seeing his (witch) doctor for the third time this week...

    4. I feel like he put down enough pet snakes that you could have used the veterinarian one ;-)

    5. Given the sheer number of Conan stories, I'd say it's a sure bet he was an octogenarian in the later ones.

    6. I would pay money to see a game in which Conan the Antidisestablishmentarian was an appropriate title.

    7. If you replace the Church of England with the Church of Set, he could at least be a disestablishmentarian.

    8. You however forget the best Conan the librarian:

    9. Thank you. That scene was a thing of beauty.

    10. That's a riot. I feel like I recognize the animation style, but I can't quite place it.

  8. It sounds like it was an action rpg, a bit like Y´s on Sega, all the years ago. Some people like rpg "lite" games, so this sub genre had its place.

    1. The YS titles are STILL going strong, with them set to bring ANOTHER game in the series to PC soon!


    Was the princess wearing this at the beach when she got kidnapped?


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