Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Quest for Glory III: Open Savanna

A giant ant rushes my character as I admire the scenery.
As I closed last time, Rakeesh and I were leaving Tarna for the Simbani village. This was in the midst of a very long set of scripted events in which the most I could do was ask a few dialogue questions.

The journey to the Simbani village happened on a couple of small-scale maps of the savanna, crossed with rivers and mountain ranges, dotted with cities, villages, and environmental features. Rakeesh led the way on the first expedition, but later I was able to explore openly.

During the journey, Rakeesh told me a bit about the flora and fauna of Fricana. (In Alex's game, Rakeesh used this time to outline his growing powers as a paladin.) As we approached the Simbani village, he warned me that they're afraid of magic and that I shouldn't cast spells in the village or even tell them that I'm a mage (honestly, can I use magic anywhere in this game?). Part of the reason that the Simbani distrust the Leopardmen is that the latter are magic users. We camped once on the way, with Rakeesh warning me that if I didn't already have a tinderbox, I should buy one back in Tarna. This was the first indication that the game isn't linear, and that I would later be able to explore Tarna and the rest of Fricana at my leisure.
Rakeesh liontaur-splains the plot.
We arrived at the village and met Uhura, who took us to the leader, Laibon Mkubwa. Unfortunately, he had even less wisdom than Rajah about the Leopardmen. He was convinced that the evil magic-using creatures were behind the recent theft of the Spear of Death, a holy relic for the Simbani. He refused Rakeesh's plan to bring both the Simbani and Leopardmen before the Hall of Judgement, then kicked us out of his tent abruptly. In Uhura's tent, Rakeesh expressed surprise at the leader's attitude, which Uhura explained as the shame caused by losing the Spear.
That sounds a bit like "magic" to me, but what do I know?
Then, Rakeesh dropped a bombshell: his leg was hurting, so he was going back to Tarna in the morning. He suggested I continue my search for the hidden Leopardmen village in the jungles to the east. I mean, I guess I understand, Rakeesh, if your leg is bothering you. On the other hand, you did pledge, on pain of exile from Tarna, to bring peace between the Simbani and the Leopardmen--so, I don't know, it seems like maybe more than just one unproductive conversation with the Simbani chief is in order?
You're really comfortable just leaving this to me?
In any event, he was gone the next morning, and I had the run of the Simbani village. To the west was a place where I could practice throwing spears at a target. Uhura popped up to give some advice about watching the wind. My "Throwing" skill was pretty bad (it's not a very useful skill for a mage anyway), but later I improved it.
Tossing spears at a target.
On the north end of the village was a guy named Yesufu playing a mancala variant called awari, which is the second time we've see one of these types of games (the first was in The Legend of Blacksilver). It's a reasonably easy game to master, and a few wins increased my intelligence. He had a magic cage nearby that he said could be used to imprison Leopardmen (since no magic affects it) but it was empty.
Haven't you been playing this all your life?
Finally, to the east there was an elevated plank where I could practice climbing and balance. Uhura again appeared to offer some advice. Later, she challenged me to a balancing match, which brought up a little minigame in which the two characters trade moves intended to unbalance the other character. I defeated her handily. She mentioned an "initiation" for Simbani warriors. I didn't get a chance to go through that process, but I suspect the fighter classes do.
I'm glad I spent all that time on the tightrope in Shapeir.
A final visit to the village leader led to an interesting revelation: a drum sitting by his side was actually a magic drum, stolen from the Leopardmen. The Simbani had found it in the hands of one of their warriors, Mbuzi, dead outside the village gate. It's pretty obvious that someone is setting up both the Simbani and Leopardmen, but the plot requires everyone but me and Rakeesh to be morons.
"This did not strike us as suspicious at all."
After I explored the village, it was time to hit the open savanna. The game world ends up consisting of four screens laid east to west, with Tarna in the far west. I explored and accomplished quite a bit, but I'm going to relate it in a slightly non-linear order. Alex and I said we were going to try to "leapfrog" each other in our entries, but the truth is, after you visit the Simbani village the game stops being linear for a while, with no set order in which to do things. So I'll describe combat here, plus the one thing I know that Alex didn't do because he's not a mage.
The farthest-east game map.
Combat takes place frequently as you cross the savanna. I encountered hostile Leopardmen, giant ants, dinosaurs, flying cobras, crocs, and demon worms. When they engage you, you get a fighting mini-game similar to the first two titles. The controls in the lower right are duplicated on the keypad. The mage gets two control pads, toggled with the middle button, and I assume the paladin's abilities are on a second pad for that class. Options include swing, thrust, dodge, parry, flee, and for the mage, the ability to cast "Zap," "Force Bolt," "Flame Dart," "Dazzle," or "Lightning Ball," the latter of which I don't yet have.
Fighting a demon worm with my magic options active.
Despite the similar controls, it feels like combat was improved a bit for this game. First, the mage has a much more difficult time in physical combat than in the first games. I haven't been able to win any of the fights with my dagger alone. Second, the spells actually work as advertised. You can cast "Calm" before an enemy approaches and stop him in his tracks. In combat, "Dazzle" stuns the enemy for a couple of rounds. As a result, combat is more challenging and makes better uses of the mage's strengths.
Fighting a croc with martial options active.
One battle is a bit too easy for the mage. Leopardmen don't advance on you and engage combat; they stand to the side and cast spells. This would be dangerous if not for "Reversal," which makes you immune to their magic. Unfortunately, their bounced spells don't hurt them, either, but while they're futilely casting magic at you, you can calmly throw your own spells, daggers, or even rocks at them. (Rocks can be picked up on any screen and are endless.) I got my throwing skill from 75 to 180 just by stoning Leopardmen.
The Leopardman's spells hurt neither of us, but mine still hurt him.
Giant ants and flying cobras are thankless monsters. They leave no treasure and have a decent chance of poisoning you. Poison-cure pills are very expensive. I don't think it makes sense to fight them.
I'm pretty rich, but getting poisoned half a dozen times will have me begging on the street.
The toughest physical monsters so far are "dinosaurs," an oddly generic name for a beast that looks only a little like a dinosaur. You can loot horns from them when they die, but I don't know what to do with them.

I spent most of this session (the bulk of which I'll relate next time) looking for interesting physical features on the game map--big rocks, pools of water, structures, copses of trees--and traveling to them to see if anything was there.

Rakeesh had suggested that I prioritize the creation of my mage's staff, reasoning that "to restore peace in the land," I will need "all the magic [I] can get." I had no idea where to find the "magic wood" that I would need for the staff ritual, but I stumbled upon it accidentally while visiting a giant tree, based on the "world tree" of various mythologies.
The base of the Tree of Life.
The tree had a series of ramps that led me to a lush garden at its top. Visiting this place fully restores your health, stamina, and mana, which makes up for the slight annoyance of navigating to the top. I also found a fruit--the "gift from the heart of the world" that the pill-seller wanted for a dispel potion.
The Heart of the World.

About halfway up the tree was a cave where I encountered a group of lights. It called itself "the Guardian." When I asked it about magic wood, it told me to find a blue orchid in the jungle, to bathe it in the "essence of the Pool of Peace when the moon shines upon its waters," and to plant it on the stand at the top of the world. The Guardian also, when asked, gave me the gem that the statue of Sekhmet had told me to find, but I'll talk about that next time.
Some of the options when talking to the Guardian.
It took a little wandering to find the blue orchid, but once I found it, a simple "Fetch" spell put it in my hand.
I nearly subtitled this entry The Orchid Thief but it wasn't that big a part of the session.
The Pool of Peace was an obvious physical feature I'd already found. I wondered if it had anything to do with Erana. I had filled up a water skin there, since that was another ingredient of the dispel potion. When I visited a second time, I bathed the orchid in its waters at night.
Screenshots captured at night are really hard to interpret.
Returning the orchid to the Heart of the World, I was rewarded with some magic wood growing from the tree.
I' m glad I didn't have to saw it with my knife. That would have felt wrong.
I took this back to Kreesha in Tarna, and we enacted a little ritual that turned the magic wood into a wizard's staff. It involved casting all my existing spells upon it, but the game did that for me automatically. I summon the staff as a spell, but it doesn't require any magic points. Once it's in my hand, I can't move, but none of the spells I cast with it cost any mana. They're also supposedly more powerful. This is going to make those Leopardmen fights even easier.
This was a pretty cool cut scene.
Incidentally, I had found the third element of the dispel potion much earlier--the fruit of poisonous vines that grow in a small alcove. Again, getting it was just a matter of a simple "Fetch" spell. But there were some cute meerbats (cross between meerkats and bats) hanging out nearby, and I suspect the thief or fighter solution employs them in some way.
Snagging a fruit as meerbats look on.
I had also found the feather of the honeybird that the pill-seller needed for more healing potions. It was a random encounter while wandering near Tarna. I followed the bird for a couple of screens until it busied itself with a bee's nest. I poured the honey from the bazaar on the ground. The bird alighted upon it. I knew I didn't want to hurt or hassle him, because he had to be happy when I collected the feather, but the obvious "Fetch" didn't work. The solution turned out to be simpler than that: you walk towards him and he flies away, leaving a feather behind.

With all of these ingredients, I satisfied all of the sub-quests that the pill-seller had. To thank me for telling him about Julanar, he gave me two dispel potions for free.
Aren't you jumping the gun a bit? What if Julanar doesn't like you?
Miscellaneous notes:

  • I've been constantly curious throughout the game which of these encounters are class or experience-dependent. Can someone who creates a new character in this game (or didn't help Julanar in the last) still tell Salim about Julanar? Can a fighter or thief with magic skill get a wizard's staff? Can I participate in the initiation ritual somehow? I guess I'll experiment later.
  • You occasionally come across silly signs in the forest. In addition to the one below, another directed me to "Spielburg Castle: two games back and one revision over."
  • The game is quite insistent that you sleep at least once a day regardless of your stamina level. The inn at Tarna, the Simbani village, the Heart of the World, and the Pool of Peace all seem to be safe places.
  • Just another mention that every potential object has a response to the "eye" icon. I probably haven't even seen 50% of these messages.
My hut in the Simbani village.
  • Time passes and food depletes rapidly as you wander the savanna. I nearly ran out of food. I ended up loading up in the bazaar towards the end of the session.
  • My "parry" skill isn't going up at all. I guess maybe you need a shield for it? But somehow I got it to 175 without having a shield in the previous games.
As with the previous titles, Quest for Glory III is pretty fast-paced, always with something to do. But I can already tell that re-plays, once you know where things are, will be very short. I probably won't bother with the paladin experience, since Alex is handling that, but I definitely want to figure out how a thief handles this game.

Next time, I'll talk more about what's happening back in Tarna.

Time so far: 6 hours


  1. One note on the magic staff--I think you don't increase your skills in the various spells when casting them through the staff. Probably meant to balance out the free casting, but it basically led to me never using it (except in certain story fights)

    1. Oh, yeah. That sucks. I guess I could see using it in an emergency, or maybe after the skills are fully developed.

    2. Also classes get the staff since it's necessary for the story to advance.

  2. Oh, just noticed these questions from your post:

    "Can someone who creates a new character in this game (or didn't help Julanar in the last) still tell Salim about Julanar."

    Yes, the game doesn't keep track, and there are almost no differences when creating a new character.

    Actually, the biggest continuity problem will be in QFG4--it is possible to beat QFG1 without defeating Baba Yaga, but QFG4 will assume you did defeat her even if your imported character had not done so.

    "Can a fighter or thief with magic skill get a wizard's staff?"

    Nope. Moreover, Paladins are guranteed to get magic skill in QFG3 if they pursue honor, but never get the staff quest.

    QFG3 marks the point at which the series started not allowing a lot of the cross class potential.

    In QFG2, you could become a Paladin at game end as any class (even thief). In QFG3, only fighters can become paladins (happens mid game if they play right). In QFG2, any class can be initiated as a wizard. In QFG3, the staff is only for mage class.

    "Can I participate in the initiation ritual somehow?"

    Simbani warrior initiation is only for fighters and paladins.

    1. So there are really 5 paths through this game instead of the original three:

      1. Mage
      2. Thief
      3. Paladin
      4. Fighter who becomes a paladin
      5. Fighter who stays a fighter.

    2. And thank you for clearing up those questions.

  3. Regarding the origin of the Pool of Peace and whether it is related to Erana or not, pnfgvat Qrgrpg Zntvp juvyr lbh'er gurer znl cebivqr n pyhr.

    1. Yeah, damn. I keep forgetting about that spell.

  4. I've just finished the game, and I never came across that honeybird. That might explain why I wasn't able to tell Salim about Julanar. He still made the dispel potion when I finished that quest, but I had to buy it for 30 royals. I'm surprised I never found the bird because I did a lot of wandering around near Tarna, ironically because I was looking for croc men to grind for money to buy potions.

    (Side note for language nerds: do you object to "ironic" used in that way? Is there any other word I can use there?)

    There's an IRL character test in the game when you return to Kreesha: Can you suppress a reaction when Kreesha announces "I sense the presence of magical wood"?

    Reader, I snorted.

    1. There's something juvenile in all of us.

      I was able to tell Salim about Julanar in our first conversation. I can't imagine what would have been blocking you.

      As someone who write professionally, I've come to abhor pedantry of all types. I would never get on someone's case for a use of "ironically," even one as patently incorrect as yours.

    2. I don't use the word irony like that, but I don't think English possesses a 1-for-1 replacement for that [mis]use of the word. 'Funnily enough' usually fits, but often the sense of wry misfortune can be implied through use of an exclamation mark.

    3. If you couldn't tell Salim, you probably missed that you can click the mouth icon on YOURSELF to tell things to people. Many people appear to have missed that, it's not exactly intuitive and I'm not aware of any other game that uses this method.

    4. I knew about the mouth thing - I believe you eventually have to figure that out in order to buy anything. I did have to restart more than once - the first time was to redo all the conversations properly and the second time was when it occurred to me I could have used the run key to try to catch the thief early on. This didn't change what happened very much but I did get a "bling" sound for it so I kept going from there.

      I'm guessing now that the reason I couldn't tell Salim was because I only tried *after* his conversation options changed - I could "tell about Pool" but nothing else. I think I had a proper conversation with him in one of the earlier run-throughs and didn't tell him then - then in the later game I'd forgotten to have the full conversation and I no longer had the option to start it.

  5. I remember back in the day I managed to break this game...

    As a youngster I was determined to attain the coolest thing imagineable--a paladin capable of casting zap! Because who wouldn't want a lightning sword if they could have one?

    So I did.

    I labored through Hero's Quest 1 and 2 yet another time(both were an absolute pleasure to play so it wasn't a task at all) until I did it, a magician that attained the rank of paladin!

    Gleefully I entered QFG 3 with my sparkling sword, vanquishing beasties on the savannah plains, until one day I stumbled upon a bunch of nasty savages that took me prisoner and locked me in a bamboo cage. And there I sat.

    And sat...

    And sat.

    Staring at flickering flames with no way to escape. There I met my shriveled, starving doom.

    Sadly, I came to learn(perhaps I'm mistaken?) that there was a bug in the game that expected me to be able to perform a particular feat of escape if I was a paladin, yet because I had zap, it assumed I was one thing yet I was another and... nope. No escape. I met my surrender. :(

  6. I nearly ran out of food.

    The devs anticipated this possibility, and implemented a ridiculous and memorable encounter to soften its blow.

    1. ... which originated from overwork and lack of sleep (and perhaps hunger). One of the artists misread the word "ego" - Sierra's standard term for the player character - on an animation request for an "ego walker", and started daydreaming about Eggo frozen waffles. Next thing you know, the Awful Waffle Walker was born.

      It was so cute, Lori had to incorporate it in the game, so she decided it would appear randomly if the player was starving. Slay one to get a nice meal.

    2. Of course, that was in the days before we learned that Carbohydrates Are Evil. Fortunately, we still manage to suppress that knowledge on (too frequent) occasion.

    3. (Sorry about all the replies in a row - need an edit key)... Lori says using the Awful Waffle Walker when the Hero is hungry was my idea. I'll happily take credit. :-)

    4. I really love that encounter and the story of its origin! It always makes me really hungry for waffles.

  7. If memory serves you can wait poison out, eventually your health bar changes color again. Or is that QfG4?


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