Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Legends of Valour: Ragged Chet

 
I just learned to cast my first spell like four days ago.
       
I began this entry sleeping in hovels. I ended as the leader of two guilds, my room and board covered by the organizations. I'm still broke--this game has the stingiest economy of any game I've ever played--but otherwise, Legends of Valour could have been written by Horatio Alger.
    
What makes the economy particularly insidious is that you have to pay for quests. So even if you've worked out your living expenses, you still have to make anywhere from 40 to 160 gold pieces on top of that to level up in the guilds. Failing a quest means having to pay again. While I generally enjoy games in which economies are tough and in which there are many ways to make and spend money, I have to admit that it's getting pretty boring here. I've shuffled dozens of parcels from one end of town to another, sold rocks and weeds (which, of course, is better than selling rock and weed), tried every possible angle at gambling, and even created a spreadsheet to track commodity-trading options and times. I can't find any way to "get rich quick." You have to put in an honest day's labor in this game.
       
Step by step.
      
I ended the last session trying to save up enough money for the next week's lodgings. Eventually, I had enough money for the next quest. I don't remember why, but I decided to keep going with the Guild of the Men at Arms. Their next quest required me to "collect a bottle of Universal Beastbite Antidote from the Institute of Zoolatry" and return within five days. Finding the zoo involved the usual process of asking for directions. It was south of the entry gate.
   
There was a scroll on a table in the foyer of the Institute. It said that they had run out of the key ingredient for the antidote, which was venom from a red vampire bat. To get a bottle of antidote, I would need to return to the Institute with a live specimen. A special ball called a "bat stunner" was on the table for that purpose.
   
I spent some time poking around the Institute, and I'm glad I did. In the last entry, I had noted that a lot of the buildings have interesting names but absolutely nothing in them. The Institute was an exception, and I found a few more exceptions during this session. The Institute actually houses a zoo in its basement. There are exhibits on "rare crimson pygmy-trolls," red vampire bats, brown bears, minotaurs, and lizard men. Some of them are in cages formed by stalagmites; others are in more secure structures and can only be viewed through windows.
       
Windows are opaque from a distance.
      
That brings up an interface element that I didn't notice until this session. It's quite wonderful. If you walk up to any window in the game and press yourself against it, it becomes transparent (there's a brief disk access), and you can see what's happening on the other side. This works in the main town map for regular buildings, and it works in dungeons for these grate-like windows. I guess thieves even have a skill by which they can pass through windows this way. It's an impressive feat of programming; I can't even think of a modern game that does it, at least not when (as here) there's a disk transition from outside to inside.
          
Pressing against the grating gives me a view of the minotaur on the other side.
        
No NPCs I consulted gave information on where to find bats, but a building called the "Belfry" is listed on the map, and I had fortunately already stumbled across it while I was poking my head into random buildings. There were regular bats and red bats flying all around a room called "the gallery." Killing bats produces a corpse called a "bat snack" that you can eat. I needed one alive. It took a bit of practice with the "stunner" to nail one, but I eventually got it and returned to the Institute.
    
I had no clue what to do with it, but fortunately an NPC wandered up and initiated a conversation in which she took it off my hands. There are a lot of moments like that in this game--moments where you don't know exactly how the next plot point is going to progress. If someone tells you "go to the Mermaid's Rest and collect a pouch from a guy named Lars," anything could happen. Lars could be standing in the room and hand you the pouch. You could get to the Mermaid's Rest, find no one, but find a message on the notice board from Lars with your next destination. You could find the pouch on the floor of the main room or some hidden side room on the second floor. Some random NPC outside the tavern could have some dialogue relating to Lars. You really have to look around. And as we'll see in the rest of this entry, the clues aren't always that precise.
        
A helpful NPC.
     
In this case, making the trade caused a bottle of antidote to appear on a nearby table. I took it back to the guild and was promoted to "Weaponsmith."
   
Shortly after this event, I was treated to my first arrest. Some guard just randomly grabbed me on the street and said that I was under arrest for "acting suspiciously." Throughout this session, I would face several other arrests for charges like "excessive snooping," "being drunk and disorderly," and "handling stolen goods." I honestly don't know if something I'm doing is resulting in these charges or if it's just a sign of the corruption of the city. When arrested, you're hauled in front of a judge at the Hall of Justice who either assesses a fine (so far, no more than 20 gold pieces) or a couple days in jail. Almost always, these arrests have happened when I haven't saved for a while, so I've generally gone along with them rather than reload. It has made me avoid guards on the street, however.
         
This might be a fair charge.

"Found guilty"? I don't even remember a trial.
          
The next quest for the Men at Arms is to become champion of the Pit of Death at the Mercenaries' Guild. I had no idea what that meant and no one would tell me. Much later, I found that while the quest is active, the noticeboards of taverns and shops change to show notices about the Pit of Death and the monsters that you face there. The notices indicated that to become champion, you have to kill "all three beasts": a bear on the Day of the Moon (Monday), a troll on Woden's Day (Wednesday), and a minotaur on Freya's Day (Friday). The problem is that the guild only gave me one week to return with the laurels, so you really have to hustle to get over there and win all three in the same week.
           
         
The notices said that the Pit was "under" the guild. I couldn't find any stairs down in the guild or the arena next door. Both had locked doors at their rears, but I had no way to open locked doors, having not progressed in either the Thieves' Guild (which teaches lockpicking) or any of the spellcasting guilds. I spent a lot of time trying to find a way to get into the guilds legitimately before enough days had passed that there was no way for me to complete the quest. Much, much later, I discovered that there is a way into the Pit that doesn't involve a locked door. It's through an unobtrusive building west of the Mercenaries' Guild. I should have poked around more.
    
No guild will give you a new quest while another is still active, so I spent the rest of the week just making money. I discovered that the area of the Mercenaries' Guild is a violent place. Lots of NPCs--particularly women--want to pick fights when you're hanging out in front of it. So it was a good place to collect a few gold pieces at a time through combat. I also upgraded (I think) my primary weapon to an "ornate axe." This would be a good time to mention that combat has not once been a problem in this game--not even when I finally got into the Pit of Death. I don't know if it's related to my high initial statistics or if it's just fundamentally easy, but enemies die in a couple of hits and have never been in danger of killing me. It's easy even when I forget to keep my weapon equipped and thus have to fight with my hands.
           
Does every man-at-arms who wants this promotion in the future have to fight me?
            
I thought maybe one of the reasons I couldn't get into the Pit was that you had to be a certain level of fighter, so I ended up spending the money I made to get trained up to the "Fourth Dann" in weapons skills. You just have to trust the game that anything is actually improving. I really didn't notice any difference.
   
When the week was over, I returned to the Fellowship of the Asegeir for their next quest, which was to find Forseti, "the patron god of the Asegeir," and return with the Scroll of Truth. The first NPC I spoke with said that Forseti is usually at the Halls of Justice--a building with which I was becoming intimately familiar. At the Halls of Justice, an NPC named Denby of Akhbar told me that Forseti had gone to the Casino, and that when I found him, I should tell him that "it's my scroll you want." At the Casino, Forseti wasn't there, but there was a notice on the notice board that listed three scrolls. "Denby's scroll is downstairs at the Halls of Justice," it offered.
        
This is a weird way to advance the plot. Does everyone in the tavern need to know this?
     
Back I went to the Halls, and here I got into trouble for a while. I interpreted "downstairs" as being in the basement. I found a stairway down. It led to a series of caverns mostly occupied by goblins, who are infuriating. They have a way of picking your pocket for a few gold pieces every time they touch you. They're otherwise not hostile, so if you want to kill them and get your gold back, you have to chase them down, swinging your fists, until they agree to fight. Even then, you never loot as much gold as they stole in the first place. I couldn't find the scroll anywhere, so I ended up slaughtering all of the goblins to see if any of them had it. When it turns out they didn't, I reloaded because I wanted my gold back.
            
These guys are little bastards.
       
Anyway, it turns out that "downstairs" just means on the first floor rather than the second. I eventually found the scroll in a side room, returned it to the guild, and received my promotion to "Scribe."
    
This promotion finally got me access to the game's mage spells: "Portal," "Fireball," "Create Food," "Create Drink," "Warp," "Heal," "Power," and "Protection." I might have had access to some of these at a lower level, but I didn't really experiment. It was "Portal" that I was waiting for. This spell moves you through locked doors. I'll experiment more with spells for the next entry.
      
The mage's spellbook. I love how "Create Food" and "Create Drink" give you a cheeseburger and a cocktail.
          
Before testing it at the Mercenaries' Guild, I decided to finish the Asegeir questline. The next promotion asked me to retrieve a "mystic tablet" from a mummy's tomb. It took me a while to find the tomb, because although NPCs gave me directions, they seemed to converge on a building that was only labeled "dwelling" when I entered. It was only by going downstairs that I found the tomb, which I guess makes sense.
            
It's nice when the game confirms you're in the right place.
      
After fighting my way through ghosts and zombies--again, no real danger at all--I found the tomb door locked. A nearby goblin, I guess some kind of caretaker, told me that to get into the tomb, I would need to place two identical pyramids "forged from secret metals" on two pillars on either side of the entrance. Unfortunately, one pyramid had been destroyed a long time ago. I found the other one.
   
I wasn't sure how to progress, but the game gave me a clue. Notice boards in shops and taverns suddenly had a poster about "Lefty Knuddson," a convicted forger recently escaped from prison. He was last seen at the Snakes tavern. According to the faux newspaper in the game manual, the Snakes is supposed to be near the guild's secret entrance. I poked around until I found an underground tunnel that led me to the guild, where Mr. Knuddson was manning the front counter. He took my pyramid and told me to come back tomorrow for its copy. When I returned the next day, he was gone, but the two pyramids were on a nearby table.
           
I love the idea that an ancient mystic talisman can simply be forged.
        
Back I went to the tomb, opened the way, killed about four mummies, and retrieved the tablet. The guild promoted me to "Spellcaster."
           
I was disappointed to encounter no living mummies in Assassin's Creed: Origins, which I have been playing on the console this month.
       
The "Wizard" promotion required me to pick up a barrel of tar at the Boatyard, take it to the Temple of Loki (apparently, the Asegeirs' main rivals), and use it to defile the inner sanctum. That seems like a bad idea, but I did it.
   
To give me the final promotion quest to "Master Wizard," the guild wanted all my gold. I had a fair amount at the time, so I decided to spend a bit first by completing a couple of Men at Arms quests. With the "Portal" spell, I was able to force my way through the doors at the Mercenaries' Guild and make it down to the Pits of Death. On three different days, I won three cage matches against the three beasts, got the laurel crown, and was promoted to Captain. I re-upped at my current lodgings, which dropped my holdings down to 33 gold pieces before I returned to the Asegeir and handed them over.
       
Killing the troll in the Pit of Death.
      
The last quest for the Asegeir was an odd one. The guildmaster told me that I had to "absorb the wisdom of the Twelve by touching the Heligo Goblet, one of three goblets kept upstairs. She warned me that touching the wrong goblet would mean instant death. A lamp kept with the goblets would somehow help me out.
         
Two of the three goblets.
        
The room indeed had three goblets and a lamp. When I rubbed the lamp, I met a genie calling himself the "Spirit of the Asegeir." To know the right goblet, he said, I would have to "look into the eye of the Great Sea Monster." To do this, I would have to bait the monster with the corpse of a bat. I had to go back to the Belfry and kill a bat for a "bat snack" before the genie would continue. His directions to the Sea Monster seemed clear: "Enter Nidavellir, through the doorway at the south of Twinoaks. Take in the view through the south wharf door. Then place the bat's remains on a table by the door to attract the monster."
            
Digitizing Barbara Eden would have killed you?
        
Actually finding the proper place took forever. "Nidavellir" is the dwarven section of the city, but its label on the map is far north of where the correct building turned out to be. I couldn't find anything labeled "Twinoaks." I had to explore every building in the area before finding one that had a south-facing door with a table next to it. Looking through the door without placing the bat corpse offered a nice image of the river south of Mitteldorf. Looking after placing the snack revealed a giant one-eyed octopus.
          
I can't tell if that's a pupil and iris without a sclera or an iris and sclera without a pupil.
        
With help from Irene, I determined that his eye (the outer part, at least) was yellow, and that one of the goblets had a yellow gem. I touched it and returned to the guildmaster for my final promotion.
     
There was a nice cut scene, but with both good and bad news:
    
As leader of the Fellowship of the Asegeir, you have free access to all the rooms and chambers. Your new position is an honorary one, and as such, you receive no wage, although whilst you hold office, you need pay no rent at your current hostel.
      
It's been a long-running joke among Elder Scrolls players that you can show up new in town, perform six quests, and become the head of a guild. It looks like Legends started that trope, but at least this game makes it clear that the position is only "honorary." Still, it makes you wonder why the creators of both games didn't halt the character's progress at a high-but-still-not-ultimate position. It's not like becoming head of the guild means that I get to assign quests or manage guild funds or do anything that such a position would suggest.
    
At this point, I had to spend some time building up 175 gold pieces to pay for the final promotion in the Men at Arms guild. That involved a couple of days of random questing. At one point during the process, I developed lycanthropy after fighting a werewolf at night. You can also contract vampirism in this game. I don't know if either has any benefits or plot points associated with the disease like the Elder Scrolls would later develop, but I didn't want to spend time on figuring it out. I went to the Temple of Aegir for healing. To minimize the cost, I joined the temple and did their first quest--a simple quest to fetch a scroll from a building called the Shrine of Mjord. 
      
It's nice when it's this easy.
        
The final quest for the Men at Arms was to bring back the head of the Gorgon. A random NPC told me that Zorgoth the Slayer would know where to find it. Through the usual process, I found my way to Zorgoth's house and found him in the dungeon beneath it. He said I would need two things to kill the Gorgon: the magic Axe of Gorn and luck, as touching any part of the Gorgon would turn me to stone. I interpreted "luck" as being a random thing and not something I could actually find or plan for. As to the location, he would only say that "the followers of Set and Asegeir have links to the Gorgon." As leader of the Fellowship of Asegeir, this was news to me. He also said I could find it by going through the door behind him, but he would lock it behind me. I tried that way first but got lost in the dungeon and had to cast "Warp" to get back to town (the spell brings you to the Stone Circle on the surface).
          
I'm not a fan of dialogue by scrolling text.
        
The Temple of Set and the Fellowship of Asegeir are close to each other, so I figured the "link" must be a shared dungeon entrance. I was right, but it still took me a long time to find the Gorgon. The dungeon goes under the entire city, and it was thus easy to be led along fruitless paths, wasting my energy on trolls or mummies and losing half my gold to goblins. Eventually, I found the lair by concentrating on places near the two guilds.
    
The Gorgon, looking a lot like Medusa, wandered her room alone. I couldn't find the Axe of Gorn at first, but the lair turned out to have a couple of secret exits behind waterfalls. One led to an area with a bunch of infuriating goblins but also the Axe.
          
If you were a medusa, I think it would be self-defeating to show so much cleavage.
          
I returned with it and killed the Gorgon in a short combat. I was hoping I'd be able to keep the axe, but it disappeared as soon as she died. Afterwards, I stupidly tried to pick up her head and was instantly killed. Reloading from the last inn, I had to do the entire dungeon again, this time continuing my search of the Gorgon's lair long enough to find a hessian sack (what we call "burlap" in the U.S.) in which to store the head. This required me to equip the sack and then "use" it while standing over the head. I tried it first by equipping the sack, standing over the head, and trying to pick up the head--which killed me again and required a third trip through the dungeon. On the final attempt, I got it right.
        
My only death so far.
      
My promotion to Templar in the Guild of Men at Arms was accompanied by the same type of ceremony as the Asegeir guild, along with the same notice that I would no longer be receiving a weekly wage. Sven's note said that I would need to rise to the head of a guild and a temple. I don't think the Asegeir fellowship counts as a "temple," so I'm going to have to finish the questline in the Temple of Aegir.
      
Random notes:
      
  • I'm no closer to finding out what happened to Sven. I found his diary for sale in one of the shops. It's from early in his visit to the city, describing how he got settled, joined the Guild of Men at Arms, and completed his first quest.
        
     
  • You occasionally find bottles of water for sale (or on the ground), but most of your resources for making the thirst meter go down are alcoholic, such as ales or gin-and-tonics. The problem is, if you drink too many of them, the graphics go all woozy for a while and it's hard to walk.
        
This being a British game, I'm surprised the image doesn't show a glass of gin, a separate bottle of tonic, and a separate bucket of ice cubs with a pair of tongs.
         
  • "Ox blood" is a drink that does nothing for your thirst. Instead, it restores your hunger meter, and quite quickly and cheaply, too. Sven mentions it in his diary. 
  • Robed guys keep approaching me on the street at night and asking if I want to buy insurance. I have no idea what this does.
  • New insults from random NPCs: "You walk like a squashed tomato"; "I'd rather talk to a halfwit bog elf"; "You look like a geriatric dung beetle."
        
I missed the beginning of this one. He's either referring to me or my mother.
        
  • A lot of buildings are connected by dungeons, which makes sense. But others are connected by their second stories, which makes less sense, as you don't see bridges between them when you're outdoors.
            
I might have found a bead on the main quest. While I was searching for the dungeon entrance from the Fellowship of Asegeir, I discovered a "Master Wizard's room" that they hadn't bothered to tell me about when I was promoted to Master Wizard. It had several tables, one of which held a skull called the Skull of the South. A nearby scroll told me the following: "Becoming leader of our group is not the pinnacle of your achievement. You must gather the four skulls in order to balance power in the city. The other three skulls are kept by Mitteldorf's other societies--one to each type." 
          
Walt Disney pictures presents a Wes Craven film . . .
          
I'm not sure what "one to each type" means, exactly. The map shows only two types of organizations: guilds and temples. If you split the Fellowship of Asegeir and the Brotherhood of Loki off into their own grouping of magic users, that's still only three. Maybe four means fighters, thieves, mages, and priests.
  
Once I became head of the Templars, I poked around and sure enough, there was similar room with the Skull of the North. "The second skull is yours," the scroll read. "On your travels, you must also find the Orb of Vision, a very precious object, to direct you once you have the four skulls." (Ironically, I just found a Gem of Vision in Secrets of Bharas.) Since this message refers quite literally to the "second skull," and it happened to be the second one I obtained, I assume this isn't a coincidence. Rather, you find the skulls in the guild rooms that you happen to become head of. Since these rooms are "secured" (not just locked) until you become head of the guilds, I assume you can't obtain them through burglary. That suggests that it's not just one guild and one temple that I must master, but at least four.
   
I'm compiling a lot of thoughts about the game for the final entry. I'll say two things here: First, I think this is one of the earliest examples of a game that separates events from geography. Most early RPGs conflate the two, so that to progress geographically is to progress narratively. Here, the two factors are independent, or mostly so, which allows the game to re-use much of the same physical space. It gives the sense of a "living town" in a way that most early RPGs don't, although there's still a long way to go. Second, I like that the nature, length, and difficulty of the guild quests are varied. It keeps them from getting boring even though there's little exciting happening with game mechanics.
 
Time so far: 22 hours

62 comments:

  1. I wonder if the outside world (the world on your side of the window) freezes while looking through one?

    It's cheesy, but I really like Death on the game over screen. I love the classic "skeleton in a robe" version of Death, it's a shame that it's not used very often in contemporary fantasy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can't turn while looking in windows, so in that sense, I guess the world does "freeze." I think it literally loads the interior for a second and then reloads the exterior when you step away.

      Delete
  2. Sounds like Sven became a vampire. Very typical for newcomers to any city

    ReplyDelete
  3. Perhaps the guys offering "insurance" are offering you protection against being attacked by thugs or arrested by guards?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As I remember it, if you die having bought insurance, you come back to life.

      Really pleased you're persevering with this one despite its manifold flaws as it's one of my favourite games. Did you know Charles Hoskinson has bought the rights and is planning a remake?

      Delete
    2. I didn't know that. I honestly don't see the need for it. The game did some good things for its time, but now we have better games that do the same things better. The narrative and setting are not so unique here that the game must be remade.

      Delete
  4. “ A special ball called a "bat stunner" was on the table for that purpose.”

    I want to be the very best,
    Like no one ever was.
    To catch them is my real test,
    To train them is my cause!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Although the term "gotta catch 'em all" is more suitable to the first Witcher game, also noticed by AngryJoe...

      Delete
    2. Part of the reason I have yet to finish the Witcher is the level of ‘adolescent male cringe‘ in the game.

      Delete
    3. But the cards are such a small part of the game and completely optional.

      Delete
  5. Really interesting game and great writing. I had never heard of the game but indeed as you and everyone says that's clearly TES inspiration.

    It also feels like one of those game that had a real vision and was real innovative, but came too early for the technology and was crippled by not enough attention paid to what should have been a side issue, in this case economy. Though free lodging should be comfortable from now on.
    To some extent, this game is to TES RPG what Strife is to story-based FPS : it had everything future games would have, but too soon, it got forgotten and another game doing the same thing got the "innovative" tag :).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So, same as I have been saying in every mail list, every forum, every IRC chat, later every phpbb discussion board... before Strife there was System Shock 1, which is basically a FPS with some puzzles. The guys at Origin did really create genres.

      Delete
    2. I'm not sure that the problem is that it came too early for the technology. I think the problem is that it was developed by the British, who at this point simply do not understand standard leveling and character development. The only UK games that make any concessions in these areas have been Dungeon Master clones.

      Delete
    3. That's something I find fascinating and simultaneously disappointing about the Amiga and Atari ST. Since most of the games are British, they are simultaneously different from the usual standouts in their genres but usually not as good as the best. I'd say that this would be due to disk-based games selling for cheaper and not getting as much budget as console games... but if I'm being honest, the worst Nintendo/SEGA and Amiga/Atari ST games are of equal quality. So for the consoles, while you could get a gem for $60, you could also get a rotten game for that same price. Nintendo Seal of Quality my ass. Even if the computers' triumphs are lower, the cheaper price is a fair trade-off!

      Delete
    4. To Risingson : I had not realized that System Shock was so old, older than Dark Forces and way older than Strife.
      Though to be fair, Strife DID a few things that Strife did first to my knowledge than that SS1 did not do : there are missions where you are disguised as the other guys, there are battles with soldiers on your side, there is (very limited) character development, there is a "faction choice". Strife is not a RPG, but it would score better in "RPGishness" than SS1. Of course, SS2 is definitely more RPG than Strife.

      Delete
  6. "I think this is one of the earliest examples of a game that separates events from geography" - well, Quest for Glory had this at least since Trial by Fire, not sure if it was that pronounced in the first one. Come to think of it, there's quite a bit of similarity between the two games: both have you navigate a sprawling city, and both have guilds for you to join. Of course, the difference being that QfG is actually fun to play.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good point. QfG comes partly from an adventure game tradition, and up to this point adventure games had done a lot more with re-using the same physical spaces for new events.

      Delete
  7. "Institute of Zoolatry" Do they study the worship of zoos?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My understanding is that "zoolatry" means the worship of animals, but either way, it's the wrong word to use here. "Zoology" would make more sense.

      There are a lot of words-not-quite right in the game's listing of places, incluidng "Sablegoose Chine," "Chimerics Retreat," "Wanlock Tombs," and a standard store called a "delicatessen." I don't know whether to chalk it up to fantasy world weirdness or if the developers were really just picking the wrong words.

      Delete
    2. The chine is a backbone which is attached to the rib roast. I learned this from getting good at barbecue!

      Delete
    3. In geographical terms, a chine is a steep narrow valley carved out by a stream going to the sea. There are quite a few in the south of England.

      Delete
    4. So larger than a ravine, wider than a gorge?

      Delete
    5. A retreat is basically a place you go to for relaxation, and a delicatessen is basically a fancier food store. All kinda common in southern England.

      Delete
    6. Yeah, but why would you call a standard store a delicatessen? The name implies delicacies are available there, not just the usual crap.

      Wanlock sounds like some crappy wireless software product that doesn't work as advertised.

      Delete
    7. “Delicatessen” in the UK just means a shop where you can buy ready-to-eat food, like made-to-order sandwiches, cold meats, cheese, bread, etc. It doesn’t imply exotic or high-end food, although it’s generally a bit nicer than supermarket food.

      Delete
    8. Funny, Delikatessen is the German word for delicacies.

      Delete
    9. Evolution of meaning Harland. In some areas it still means high end and harder to find stuff. But in the US it evolved from immigrant populations wanting stuff from the "old country" as it were or specially prepared items. Thus they wanted "delicacies" kosher or italian being the most common. Though I think originally it was mostly kosher and of course german delis. So in the US their now usually small groceries/restaurants. I presume the UK version floated over from us in concept. Though it might of hit there in the 1800's like us. Originally the word was specifically for rare stuff from overseas in the 1700's Though that is direct from wiki sooooo.... who knows if its really accurate.

      Delete
    10. Okay, I think we've beat this one to death. I accept that this game being a British game, "delicatessen" has a broader meaning and is thus a fine name for a general store.

      And Deano, I know what a "retreat" is. It's the "chimerics" part that I thought was odd, since "chimeric" isn't a noun.

      Delete
    11. I can see “Chimeric's Retreat” being the kind of name you’d give to a pub in a fantasy world. It follows the pattern of archaic, meaningless names that pubs sometimes have.

      Delete
  8. "If you walk up to any window in the game and press yourself against it, it becomes transparent (there's a brief disk access), and you can see what's happening on the other side." "It's an impressive feat of programming; I can't even think of a modern game that does it, at least not when (as here) there's a disk transition from outside to inside."

    Surely this can't be the first DOS game that's windows-compatible?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't overstate how good it's been to have multitasking be a standard from since I was born. The idea of having to boot into a game and not being able to pause it or get other work done sounds like a nightmare ripe for the same kind of parental gripes as the old "you can't use the phone and Internet at the same time" concept.

      Delete
  9. Even then, you never loot as much gold as they stole in the first place.

    Ah man, I freaking haaaaate that. When a thief steals your item, he still has your item! That's kind of the whole idea behind stealing! When you chase him down and kill him, you get your item back! That's one of the things that made me quit playing Moria.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Speaking of assassin's creed, i think we might See the odd title of the series on this Blog. I have seen valhalla being called an rpg, and the series has been heading in this direction for some time. The recent titles have stronger claims to being rpgs than some early games on this Blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure, I can't see any reason that Origins isn't an RPG; it's basically The Witcher 3 with assassinations.

      Delete
    2. By the time we get to them, we'll all be ai recreations of our mortal selves tho

      Delete
  11. On the matter of the Gorgon, Medusa was actually one of three Gorgons of the Greek mythology. As the better known one though, she seems to have named the foe in games, including Dungeons & Dragons. In D&D though, Gorgon seems to be a different kind of beast. It is a metallic bull, whose breath can still petrify though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In Might and Magic 6, the Gorgon monster type is simply a stronger version of the Medusa. I guess Jon van Caneghem know his Greek mythology.

      In Heroes of Might and Magic 3 the Gorgon is a bull like creature with an insta-kill gaze. Whoever developed that game seems to have been inspired by D&D, unless there's a common older reference.

      Delete
    2. That version of the gorgon comes from a 17thC bestiary written by an english cleric.

      Delete
    3. And to make that even more confusing, the bestiary's gorgon seems to be based on the Catoblepas mythical beast, which I see now has its own, separate D&D bestiary entry.

      Delete
    4. If JVC is using medusa as a species instead of a single character, then he clearly does NOT know his Greek mythology.

      Delete
    5. What about the Demogorgon? Just a trial offer to have a glimpse at the Gorgon or what

      Delete
  12. I loved this game. Was given it as a present when it was first published and played it loads. I was terrible at it, really terrible, and I never got very far in any of the quests, but like you I remember being struck by how lifelike the city felt. For its time, there were few experiences as immersive. Elite is the only other example that springs to mind.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hey everyone - have you seen this article yet?

    https://www-pcgamer-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/www.pcgamer.com/amp/the-impossible-quest-to-finish-every-crpg-in-chronological-order

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just read it. Nice to see him getting some recognition

      Delete
    2. It makes Chet sound like CRPG Batman, which he basically is

      Delete
  14. Its great to read about this game. It was one of my favourites back in the the day and one of the few RPGs I completed. And I played it on Amiga, which came with 4 or so disks and lots of swapping, and you had to play in a postage stamp sized window to get any sort of playable frame rate. What format are you playing on?
    One weird thing I remember is that you can kill anyone when you're in "walking mode" (i.e not combat or dialogue mode) by throwing any item at them, in one shot. Even something like a loaf of bread.
    There's something I'm really looking forward to you covering in the next article -something I've never understood about the game, that you will come up against it you're going to finish it. I won't say any more, but I'll talk about it once you get there!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Congrats on the PC Games article man!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And a comment to this, I love the Gimlet because it is a good measurement fitting this blog. It should not be taken in with other gaming papers/websites measure, the Gimlet is unique to this blog and an appropriate and welcome part of it.

      Delete
    2. Thanks. I didn't know that was going to post online today or that it ever was. It was in the print magazine back in October or something. I didn't mention it then because there was nothing to link to.

      Delete
    3. I don't like that the article has me speaking a comma splice in the second paragraph under "History Lesson." I'm pretty sure I spoke a full stop there. Maybe a semicolon.

      Delete
    4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

      Delete
    5. Jealous anon troll is jealous, now gb2rpgcodex.

      Delete
    6. I deleted anonymous's comment for language, but his point was that the article comes across as something of a "puff piece." That's a valid criticism--of the article. I can't control what another writer writes. If anyone ever wants to write a more critical article with harder questions about my work, I'll be happy to cooperate.

      Delete
    7. What's the hard journalistic take on the CRPGAddict? It's PC Gamer, not an exposé from Ronan Farrow.

      Delete
    8. I don't know. Someone must feel like there's a harder take or they wouldn't come and complain about it.

      Delete
    9. What do you think I'd have to do to get Ronan Farrow's attention?

      Delete
    10. Honestly, I'd assume that particular anon was just a troll. But OTOH it's equally likely nowadays for some HARDCORE GAMER(tm) to be utterly enraged by something that doesn't matter even a little bit, like a fluff piece about a blogger on PC Gamer.

      Delete
    11. Alex, I assume the outrage is about ethics in CRPG blogging and how big RPG is forcing diversity down our throats and how GAMERS are the most persecuted minority and how Joker really represents how they feel everyday...

      Delete
    12. Did anyone actually argue that? All I remember is how the media appeared to be absolutely desperate for Joker to either fail or inspire mass tragedy. The view was that it was a dangerous film that had a very real chance of inciting violence. The funny thing is, the more they tried to make Joker look bad; incel, mass shooter etc. etc. the whole thing, they just furthered Joker's point about the media today. It received an 8 minute standing ovation from the audience at the Venice Film Festival, that is before the left realized it was about them as the director later stated. I really appreciated how Joker serves as a two-sided warning: it warns the individual of the danger to their soul that turning to brutality poses, and it warns society to not create brutal individuals. Here's what an expert on semiotics (the study of symbolism) had to say on the film. The Joker is also a jester. The jester is the only one who is allowed to tell the truth because he is held in contempt by society.

      Joker is a heartbreaking film. Phoenix is so talented. The violence is not glorified. If anything, the message of this film is to be kind to one another... not because someone might kill you, but because people are in pain and need kindness.

      Ironically the only scene people recreated from the movie was the dancing - and none of other violent acts, unlike what the media said.

      Delete
    13. For Ronan Farrow you'd have to do something life-destroying, I think. Maybe if the blog was really a Garriot-paid character assassination of Woodhead and Greenberg.

      Delete
  16. Bah. It isn't a real 'living town' if you can't put a bucket on a shop owner's head and then rob him blind. So to speak.

    ReplyDelete

I welcome all comments about the material in this blog, and I generally do not censor them. However, please follow these rules:

1. Do not link to any commercial entities, including Kickstarter campaigns, unless they're directly relevant to the material in the associated blog posting. (For instance, that GOG is selling the particular game I'm playing is relevant; that Steam is having a sale this week on other games is not.) This also includes user names that link to advertising.

2. Please avoid profanity and vulgar language. I don't want my blog flagged by too many filters.

3. Please don't comment anonymously. It makes it impossible to tell who's who in a thread. Choose the "Name/URL" option, pick a name for yourself, and just leave the URL blank.

4. I appreciate if you use ROT13 for explicit spoilers for the current game and upcoming games. Please at least mention "ROT13" in the comment so we don't get a lot of replies saying "what is that gibberish?"

Also, Blogger has a way of "eating" comments, so I highly recommend that you copy your words to the clipboard before submitting, just in case.

I read all comments, no matter how old the entry. So do many of my subscribers. Reader comments on "old" games continue to supplement our understanding of them. As such, all comment threads on this blog are live and active unless I specifically turn them off. There is no such thing as "necro-posting" on this blog, and thus no need to use that term.

I will delete any comments that simply point out typos. If you want to use the commenting system to alert me to them, great, I appreciate it, but there's no reason to leave such comments preserved for posterity.

I'm sorry for any difficulty commenting. I turn moderation on and off and "word verification" on and off frequently depending on the volume of spam I'm receiving. I only use either when spam gets out of control, so I appreciate your patience with both moderation tools.