Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Clouds of Xeen: We Bought a Castle

 
Anyone know a good contractor?
        
Before I begin, I have to go back and cover something I forgot from last time: We bought a castle! A tax surveyor offered us the deed to a castle south of Nightshadow for 50,000 gold. It was so dilapidated that we couldn't enter it, but we bought it. The tax man said that the king's engineer could help us fix it up. I can't believe I forgot to mention that. 
     
We begin in Castle Basenji, which I have entered on a quest to destroy some wizards and retrieve a Scroll of Insight. The first level has mostly werewolves, who are capable of causing disease. Their straw beds yield a few treasures. There are four wizards--depicted as standing on flying carpets--in one chamber. They have a fire attack, but they're not too hard. Their chamber is full of scrolls that none of my characters have the language skills to read.
        
Does anyone else automatically picture a "wizard" in blue robes? Where does that come from?
    
Level 1 offers stairs to both the second floor and the basement. The basement has more scrolls that I can't read, more werewolves, and traps. This time there are peasants hidden in the straw beds, and releasing them nets 10,000 experience points each. One of them tells me that he heard a wizard use the passphrase THERE, WOLF. 
       
How do you know he wasn't saying "their wolf"?
        
This turns out to be the passphrase to get from the second level (which just has a few wizards and more unreadable scrolls) to one half of the third. There, I find the Scroll of Insight among even more scrolls I can't read (I suspect I'm lacking the "Linguist" skill). A stairway to another half of Level 3 brings me to the "cult leader," who dies in two buffed strikes. Making a note to return when we have "Linguist," we make our way out and back to Arie the Apprentice, who rewards us with the Jeweled Amulet of the Northern Sphinx and 750,000 experience. We return to the sphinx in A2, but this must not be the "northern sphinx" because it just tells us to get lost. So we get trained up to Level 13.
        
"Lookin' to train?" is a phrase I'll remember until I die.
      
The Northern Sphinx is, in fact, in B1, which we explore next. It's an oddly barren desert map; the sphinx is the only feature of note except for combats with sand worms, scorpions, and sand golems. "You may enter," the sphinx says as we approach, "but be warned: none shall leave alive."
    
We very nearly do not leave alive. The sphinx is full of traps that curse you, coffins that curse you when you open them, mummies that cause disease, and stone golems and earth golems who hit very hard. While exploring, I catch myself doing something stupid. Since you see items and enemies in the environment in this game, there's no reason to step on literally every square. If there was something there, you'd see it from an adjacent square. Nonetheless, the map doesn't feel "complete" unless I've filled all of it in. You know you have a problem when you deliberately step on a trapped square, inflicting your entire party with a curse that will cost almost 2,000 gold pieces to cure, just so you can have a complete map.
     
Mummies swing.
             
There are three thrones in the map, marked "king," "queen," and "thief," all of which just seem to damage me when I sit in them. I get the "Item to Gold" spell in one alcove--a spell that every game should have. It automatically "sells" your inventory items in case you get over-encumbered between stores. A few of the rooms have nice gem deposits.
   
There are hieroglyphics on the walls that we cannot read. These seem to have something to do with a riddle that will take me to the next level, so I have to leave in ignominy. I'll find that "Linguist" skill eventually.
    
Although no one has this skill, I keep blaming my orc sorcerer for not having it. Surely, an elf sorcerer would have come with the skill.
     
  
The Desert of the Sphinx continues into map C1. There, gargoyles join sand worms and scorpions. There is a well that gives a temporary +50 boost to endurance, but otherwise no other interesting features; the developers really embraced the "desert" concept. In its final columns, the map transitioned to mountainous terrain, and the final column offered a chest with a quest item called the Scarab of Imaging.
  
The northeast corner of the game map is dominated by volcanoes surrounded by a permanent lake of lava. We started to see this in D1, with a blasted, charred land surrounding pools of roiling lava. Lava golems attacked as I got too close. I was capable of killing them, but only barely, with buffs.
 
This is an intimidating sight.
     
None of the spells I've accumulated so far seem to offer any help with walking on lava ("Levitate" does nothing), so I abandon my exploration pattern at this point and simply skirt the active lava zone. It brings me briefly down into D2 and then back up to D1, where I am attacked by a great hydra. I'm only able to kill him with the +250 hit point and +50 might buffs.
     
We haven't met any regular hydras yet!
      
While trying to skirt a lava river, we pick up an Ever-Hot (but apparently not too hot) Lava Rock in E2. A couple more lava golems seem a lot harder than the first one. It is only when I try to shoot at one and nothing happens that I realize that the lava golems are capable of breaking weapons. How obnoxious.
   
The lava keeps us from exploring most of F1 and about half of F2. We know we're out of the worst of it when plain old orcs start attacking us again and we burn their little outposts. Pretty soon we're back in mountains and seeing Red Dwarf mine entrances to our south.
     
This is not going to go well for you, my little friend.
     
Having now explored the maps around the outer edge, I just need to do the middle four columns (B through E) of the middle two rows (2 and 3). Before doing so, I return to the Temple of Yak, thinking I still need to kill the Yak Master there. I forgot that I've already done that. But it's a good thing I return, because "Wizard Eye" reveals an area I haven't explored (I have to "Teleport" to get to it). In that area, I find 6 more King's Mega Credits and two pools that cause +5 increases in endurance and personality for some of the characters.
   
I also return to the Witch Tower because I want to explore the cloud layer above it. The first thing I come to is a statue. "You are unable to understand the strange runes," it says when I go to read it. Wow, this session is tough on the uneducated. There are some harpies to kill (and a nest to destroy) and some gems to pick up, but a second statue deters me from continued exploration until I get the "Linguist" skill.
  
Seeing these harpies is giving me a flash-forward to Might and Magic VI.
    
After a stop by Vertigo to refresh, I resume outdoor exploration in E3. It's an area of forests and waters, with easy stingers and orcs for enemies, and a dungeon I can't enter. A fountain offers +25 hit points; a shrine gives us +20 to resistances; a wagoner offers to teach us "Spot Secret Doors." A druid in a megalith says he will need the Last Snowflake of Winter before he can give us the Last Raindrop of Spring. There was another guy like this on the other side of the map.
   
I already half-explored mountainous D3 getting around the lava. Two Red Dwarf Mine entrances are here, plus several orc outposts. A +50 speed fountain is worth noting the location of.
     
Why did he fill me with a visceral terror?
        
D2 transitions from mountains in the north to forest and the lakeshore in the south. A guy in a hut teaches the "Merchant" skill for 6,000 gold. I don't have the patience to try to centralize my buying and selling, so I buy it for everyone. I start to encounter "jousters," who stir an immediate reaction of dread, but they aren't very hard. I must have had some kind of instinctive response to a similar monster in another game.
   
At long last, I find myself standing in front of Castle Burlock, on the shores of the unnamed central lake. So many things happen here that I have to bullet them out:
   
  • "Mad fools" are roaming the rooms and corridors, attacking us while juggling colored balls. I can mostly kill them at a distance with arrows. 
     
Good timing, Might and Magic. There was almost a danger that some sense of immersion might take hold.
    
  • Numerous suits of armor have motivational slogans on them: "Don't worry, be happy"; "Speak softly, but carry a large magic sword"; "Have a nice day."
  • The king's engineer, Emerson, is sitting at a desk. He offers to have a wall built around my castle for 5 King's Mega Credits. We say "go for it."
    
I'm not sure I accept your thesis.
     
  • Artemus, the king's advisor, tells us a little more about the backstory. Baron Darzog, the king's master sorcerer, grew jealous of the sway that Crodo had over the king. Then both Crodo and Darzog disappeared, and Artemus thinks that Darzog has imprisoned Crodo in his tower (which we already knew). The king is so obsessed with his search for the Sixth Mirror that he doesn't care.
  • In a nook, we find the "Book of Languages" and finally get the "Linguist" skill. Another book also grants the "Astronomer" skill.
  • King Burlock orders us to find the Sixth Mirror, last seen near a "great volcano."
         
I say we go collect the 16th mirror and scratch the "1" off.
    
  • Up in one of the turrets, Princess Roxanne asks us to retrieve her diamond tiara from a gang of thieves in Rivercity. We already have it. Returning it to her nets us 200,000 experience and some items.
  • I don't meet him, but there's apparently a "Prince Roland" because we see his armor.
  • On a floor above the king's throne room is an empty throne. When we sit on it, triumphant music plays, but I can't tell that it's done anything for us.
  • Two floors above the throne room is the king's bedroom. There are a couple of chests in nooks. Opening them is apparently the wrong thing to do because it unleashes dozens of castle guards and king's guards. I have no choice but to slash my way through them.
        
I feel like I'm back in Questron.
       
  • The basement has some monsters behind bars, including some mad fools, some ice trolls, and a dragon. The dragon's chamber has a bucket that increases might by 10 for one character.
     
After Castle Burlock, we return to our own castle and find that we can now enter it. (The tax man gives us something the workers found--a Stone of a Thousand Terrors, which is probably the entry stone to one of the nearby dungeons.) We spent some time wandering the empty interior map, which is a standard 16 x 16. Some of the piles of debris have treasure; some release wood golems.
   
It seems like a nice piece of land, but it looks to me like the king's engineers have built the castle wall outside the moat. That's an unusual approach.
        
Which one of you unimaginative dullards chose "Newcastle"?
      
At this point, I take stock of what we have to do. These are the various things I've left behind me:
   
  • Cave of illusion: return and pull the plug now that I know where to boost my strength.
  • Witches' Tower: return to explore clouds now that I can read.
  • Two dungeons in the southwest area: One of them must open to the Stone of a Thousand Terrors.
  • Southern sphinx: no idea.
  • Druids who have the last whatever of whatever: no idea.
  • Castle Basenji: return now that I can read.
  • Northern sphinx: ditto.
  • Figure out a way to survive on lava, or just wait until I'm strong enough to suck up the damage.
  • Dungeon in E3: no idea.
  • Return to Burlock and buy more upgrades for my castle if I can afford it.
    
Miscellaneous notes:
    
  • The damned bat queens respawned in Nightshadow again. Was I wrong all along? Does this game feature respawning?
  • One night when I slept, an image of Lord Xeen appeared and laughed at me.
      
He looks either futuristic or Japanese.
     
  • To give you a sense of the equipment variety, here are some of the things I sold at the last shop reckoning: iron battle axe, amber hand axe, maul, pyric short sword, amber short bow, freezing crossbow, silver broad sword, thermal grand axe, flashing spear, coral flail, bronze helm, brass helm, witch ring mail, incandescent cloak, sonic chain mail, wooden chain mail, glass plate armor, bronze boots, iron shield, gold gauntlets, thunder ring mail, fuming cloak. I don't have time to juggle all the statistics with these various items. I just assume the more expensive one is better and thus sell the cheaper ones.
  • If you look at the bed in the king's bedchamber from the direction of the footboard, you can see two eyes under the bed--likely a scared cat.
   
This is not the sort of detail I would usually notice.
     
  • I have some items that are supposed to cast "Town Portal." The menu shows a town called "Asp" that I haven't found yet.
    
The little I was fed on the main quest during this session doesn't do anything to dull my perception of Clouds of Xeen as a silly game with a silly plot. These mechanics would have been better served in a title more serious about its world. But as usual, the sheer frequency of stuff happening at least keeps it from being boring.
   
Time so far: 25 hours
 

100 comments:

  1. Gandalf wears a big blue hat, and many illustrators have opted to give him a matching cloak to go with it. Despite his title it's a major element of his color scheme.

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    1. ...Although the wizard in the captioned picture here is, in fact, wearing purple.

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    2. Why do I ever bother to mention color? I literally never get it right.

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    3. It is a purple that is very close to blue even for those of us without colourblindness. I guess it comes from Gandalf but it definitely is that first thing I think of too.

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    4. I thought you knew it was purple and were commenting on how it went contrary to your expectations. Very purple.

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    5. To me, a typical wizard is wearing a blue robe and a blue hat with yellow stars on it. He also has a long grey beard.

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    6. "To me, a typical wizard is wearing a blue robe and a blue hat with yellow stars on it. He also has a long grey beard. "

      You are basically describing Merlin from Disney's Sword in the Stone. Not sure if they originated the look or were copying it from somewhere else.

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    8. I just watched the sword in the stone and merlín wears a blue tunic and hat

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    9. Yes, Merlin in Sword in the Stone is what I immediately thought of when reading Chet's comment.

      He is probably one the first "stereotypical" wizards, with a robe and white beard, a kid in the 70s/80s would be exposed to, I guess.

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sword_in_the_Stone_(1963_film)#/media/File%3ASwordintheStonePoster.JPG

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    10. If not The Sword in the Stone, where do the wizard's yellow stars and possibly moons (on the blue robe and/or hat) come from? I also have this stereotype. A quick search didn't reveal anything.

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    11. In Norse myth, Odin often goes about in a blue hat and cloak. As the wisest god, who has given an eye for rune lore, he would qualify as an archetypal wizard role model.

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    12. You're thinking (as someone else in the comments remarked) about Yen Sid, the sorcerer from the Sorcerer's Apprentice sequence in Disney's Fantasia.

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    13. As far as I know, in the Ancient Ages (before the Middle Ages) wizards, mages and similar were mostly astrologists who studied the stars in order to predict the future. Therefore, they usually dressed in sky-blue robes with little golden stars. Magic and potion-making was the domain of the immortals (gods and human children of gods).

      Later, during the Middle Ages, astrologists were demonized and attributed many supernatural and satanic powers (because one book in the Jewish Bible/Christian New Testament condemns fortune tellers: if you live virtuously in the present, you should not worry about the future). Tradition kept their "dress code" color scheme.

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    14. Still, it is true the internet has no proof of what I just wrote. I am sure I read that before the Internet Era. Unfortunately, Google does not work on physical bookshelves.

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  2. That dream image is not Lord Xeen (who you've seen in the intro). Vg'f npghnyyl nynzne, gur ivyynva sebz qnexfvqr, jub vf frpergyl znxvat ybeq krraf jvgu uvf ybeq krra trarengvat znpuvar. Ab ernyyl.

    I note that Newcastle is already the name of the old ruin, even before you turn it into a new castle. That is weird.

    You are entirely correct that the more expensive equipment is better.

    You may have noticed that one of the dungeons is called the Tomb of Thousand Terrors. Guess how you open that...? Also, one of the roads just leads to Asp, I guess you just took a different fork. Alternatively, you can survive on lava by pnfgvat gur cebgrpgvba sebz ryrzragf fcryy, be qnl bs fbeprel.

    Some of the dungeons pnaabg or ragrerq va cneg sbhe, nf gurl ner cneg bs gur pbzovarq tnzr; lbh tb gurer nsgre orngvat obgu frcnengr cnegf. Gung vapyhqrf gur fbhgurea fcuvak naq gur qhatrba va rr guerr.

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    1. Expensiveness isn't a strict indicator for equipment quality. Some materials (crystal vs iron, lapis/pearl vs silver, amber/ebony vs steel, quartz vs gold/platinum) have a price multiplier larger than or equal to the next upgrade(s).

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    2. Also, equipment with elemental bonuses might not be preferrable to the general bonuses provided by non-elemental equipment, even though they cost more in the game. Likewise, with accessories, it might be preferrable to boost your attributes with a cheaper item rather than gain elemental protection with a more expensive item.

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    3. In theory, yes. In practice, bofvqvna vf whfg orggre guna nalguvat ryfr.

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    4. I've found with lava that Rira jvgu obgu fcryyf npgvir, V fgvyy gnxr qnzntr jura jnyxvat ba gur ynin

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    5. Another issue with going just by price is that it is determined by taking the base price for the weapon/armor and then multiplying it by a material multiplier. So a club with a base price of 2 or robes with a base price of 20 will always be relatively cheap no matter what it's made out of. But the material ends up being much more important than the equipment type itself.

      A flamberge does about 10 more damage than a club, will cost 200x as much, but osbisian gives a bonus of +50 damage. Plate armor gives 8 more AC than robes, will cost 1000x as much, but obsidian gives +20 AC. The material bonuses end up being much more important.

      So price might work well enough at the beginning, but once you start seeing the better materials then it starts to make more sense to focus on using the better materials even if they rate cheaper.

      I think this also means that two handed weapons become less useful as the extra base damage matters less and less. At some point it becomes better to use a shield if the class allows it.

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    6. All right, your case is well-made. I'll pay more attention to materials as I transition to the Darkside.

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    7. This is why I prefer Ludwig's mod as it fixes the slightly shoddy material and elemental implementations, and really buffs the elements up to something to be reckoned with. Just in the base game, elemental equipment are useful only at the lower levels then quickly sputter out after level 20 or so.

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  3. "Does anyone else automatically picture a "wizard" in blue robes? Where does that come from?"

    One Quorum poster attributes the traditional wizard outfit of pointy hat with blue robes covered in stars and moons to European knights confusedly recounting having encountered middle eastern apothecaries during the Crusades.

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    1. I'm not familiar with apothecaries who wore blue robes or pointy hats, but the pointy hat with stars and moons has a pretty obvious antecedent in the Late Bronze Age Berlin Gold Hat:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin_Gold_Hat

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    2. I read that anti-semitism (or possibly anti-quaker sentiment) is a possible source for 'pointy brimmed hat = witch'.

      Blue robe from the 13thC illustration accompanying the poem 'Merlin'.

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  4. Oh right, the Sixth Mirror is important because it can be moved. The game doesn't explain why the five mirrors in the towns (or the mirrors in the towns on Darkside) are immovable, nor why the king doesn't just cast Town Portal. You'll find it arire orpnhfr ybeq krra unf vg naq vg trgf qrfgeblrq jura svtugvat uvz; guvf vf abg npxabjyrqtrq va gur svsgu be pbzovarq tnzr.

    And yeah, the entire plot of the game is onfvpnyyl gb qb enaqbz fghss hagvy lbh fghzoyr npebff gur krra fynlre fjbeq, gura jnyx hc gb ybeq krra naq fynl uvz, nf ur vf vzzhar gb rirelguvat ryfr; gur raq.

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  5. My guess on the blue robes being the default image for a wizard would be Merlin from Disney's The Sword in the Stone.

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    1. Possibly reinforced by the wizard in The Last Unicorn.

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    2. I was also going to suggest Disney's Merlin.

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    3. I'd say those are all based on Odin. But yeah, Merlin is one of the earliest in a visual medium.

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    4. Even earlier — Fantasia’s sorcerer wears a blue robe, I think he and Merlin combined give me the association with blue, personally.

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    5. I bet it's the hat from Fantasia that makes this so iconic to me, with the stars and moon, too.

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  6. They say the two happiest days in a castle-owner's life are the day they buy the castle and the day they sell the castle. (Much better than being killed in a siege of said castle.)

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  7. At least an on-the-nose name like Newcastle fits in the dumb, goofy world of Might and Magic. Imagine if someone was actually unimaginative enough to call a place that in real life! Hah hah.

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    1. Or gave a hill a name that just means "hill" in three different languages. That would just be ridiculous. /s

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    2. I once read a novel that had a city in it named Delphtonopolisburg.

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    3. The cheesiness is not that the keep is called Newcastle, but that the keep is coincidentally destroyed just before the game, SO THAT the player can build a new castle in that spot.

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    4. Irene and I are always making fun of unimaginative names. I've always thought that the geographic center of them is Brookfield, Massachusetts, which is unimaginitive enough by itself. But then the three towns around it went and named themselves West Brookfield, North Brookfield, and East Brookfield.

      My favorite is the beach on Mt. Desert Island in Maine. I feel like it's the last thing the park designers named before lunch.

      "Okay, we've got Cadillac Mountain, Asticou Terrace, and Sieur-de-Mont Springs. What do you want to call the beach?"

      "I don't know. What does it have?"

      ". . . sand?"

      "Boom. 'Sand Beach.' Let's go. How about Indian?"

      "We live in Maine, Clyde."

      "Right. How about subs?"

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    5. I always laugh at the town not far from my parents place, River of Ponds because the river goes through several ponds, best part the river is called River of Ponds River.

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    6. The city I live in now, Aarhus, actually has the same issue. Its name comes from the Old Danish word for river mouth, but the river that flows through the city is now named after the city, Aarhus River - so, essentially, River Mouth River.

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    7. I want to get a job as someone who names kitchen appliances. Toaster, refrigerator, blender.... all you do is say what the shit does, and add "er". I wanna work for the Kitchen Appliance Naming Institute. Hey, what does that do? It keeps shit fresh. Well, that's a fresher....I'm going on break.

      Mitch Hedberg

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    8. I always wanted to tour all the cities that are called "New city" in the local language. Newcastle passes. Like Novigrad, Vila Nova, Nystad, Niuewstadt, Novo Mesto, Novgorod, Uusikaupunki, New City in New York state, Neapolis, Wiener Neustadt, Nyköping... Well, that was before covid.

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    9. Here in California, of course, we get a lot of Spanish names that if you actually translate them are... kind of bland.

      Like the La Brea tar pits. "La Brea" just means "the tar".

      And then there's the suburban tract housing where the planners clearly wanted to give the streets evocative Spanish names, but just as clearly didn't actually speak Spanish, so you get nonsensical names like "Vista Sierra", the street where I grew up. "Vista" of course means "view", and "sierra" means "mountain range", so presumably the builders meant for it to mean something like "mountain view", but it doesn't; it's just two words jammed together ungrammatically, and "Vista Sierra" makes about as much sense in Spanish as "View Mountain" does in English.

      Even some of the names that make sense grammatically are, well, inaccurate. A block northwest of Vista Sierra is Vista Del Mar, which of course means "view of the sea". You absolutely cannot see the sea from Vista Del Mar. You can't see anything from Vista Del Mar except rows of near-identical suburban houses, but even if the houses weren't in the way it's not close enough to the ocean for it to be visible from there.

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    10. Mount Desert Island is the only land you can tap for three different types of mana.

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    11. North of Phoenix is Table Mesa.

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    12. And intersecting Vista Sierra is Vista Mesa, which even if it were grammatically correct would be an underwhelming name. "Oh, look! You can see a table from here!"

      (Granted, the planners more likely meant "mesa" in the geographical sense, but in that case the name is even more inaccurate than "Vista Del Mar". No, you can't see the ocean from Vista Del Mar, but at least it's less than a half hour drive away. I don't think there are any mesas nearly that close.)

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    13. When I was in China I marveled at how generic half the province names were things like: 'North of the River' 'South of the River', 'North of the Lake' 'South of the Lake', 'East of the Mountains', 'West of the Mountains' and so on. I'll give them Heilongjiang, though, which translates 'Black Dragon River'.

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    14. I grew up in a town called Newchurch. The next town over is called, predictably, Oldchurch. Due to some renovation or building project, the church in Oldchurch is actually newer than the one in Newchurch.

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    15. I was born in Canberra, which is an anglicised form of the word for ‘cleavage’ in Ngunnawal.

      So called because the city lies on the floodplain between two mountains.

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    16. "Hey baby. Will you let me travel to your Canberra?"

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    17. Okay the Canberra one isn't even unimaginative, that actually rules. Some horny Aboriginal guy a thousand years ago decided the local mountains looked like boobs and everyone just agreed with him.

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    18. And get this: in school we were told that it meant ‘meeting place’ - implying that it was a place where people came together. Not technically wrong, but it wasn’t people that were coming together to meet.

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    19. That's a great story. It's like the Grant Tetons in the U.S. I want to know what starved-for-female-company Frenchman looked in the horizon, saw a bunch of rocky, pointed peaks, and thought they looked like breasts.

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    20. Oh hey, you're THAT Tristan - and we have a friend in common (Steve). Hi!

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    21. Hah, small world! Nice meeting you.

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    22. I used to live near Upper Dicker and Lower Dicker.

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    23. I grew up in Bears creek, the neigbhouring town was Vogt's Hill, later I lived in Little castle, lived a bit in Duke's Field but moved in direction of Hard Mountain. In my native language it doesn't sound so weird

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    24. I once drove through a German town called Altdorf (old village). The next town was called Neualtdorf (new old village). Pretty avantgarde.

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    25. I love the names of two neighbouring Carinthian Towns of "Äußere Einöde" and "Innere Einöde" which kinda sounds like Inner and Outer Wastelands.

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    26. Greetings fellow Austrian!

      Austria has multiple places called "Öd/Oed", meaning actually free landscapes, but as they are synonymous to wasteland/desolation, it is always funny passing them.

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  8. While exploring, I catch myself doing something stupid. Since you see items and enemies in the environment in this game, there's no reason to step on literally every square.

    Oh, but there is. I'm no fan of mapping to put it mildly, but I ended up doing largely the same. Since the automap is shown in a tilted perspective and only records the squares that you stepped on, it gets very confusing - if not outright unreadable - very quickly if you don't purposefully map out the rooms. Especially when you return to a dungeon and can't make heads or tails of where you've actually been to but just haven't mapped out and where you still need to explore.

    I wonder now what's the first game with an automap that records all the tiles your party can see and not just the ones they stepped upon.

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    1. Not all you can see, but Ultima Underworld? I think it does an 'area of effect' at least, instead of requiring you to walk over every little bit of ground.

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    2. Yes, I was thinking about it too. But I was wondering if there are earlier examples and/or examples from tile-based games.

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    3. Spiderweb Software's Exile is a tile-based game with an automap that records all the tiles your party can see. There may very well be earlier examples, though. (Exile dates to 1995.)

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    4. (Also, Exile is a purely 2D game, with no 3D graphics, so it may not be the kind of game you're thinking of.)

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    5. I think Bard's Tale 3's rudimentary automap recorded everything in line of sight, not just squares stepped on. It's probably been 15 years since I touched a Bard's Tale game though, so I may be misremembering. There was one dungeon crawler that did map that way though.

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    6. Ultima Underworld actually something very clever with the automap: hidden/secret doors are marked there if your search skill is high enough, even if you just passed them by.

      Wizardry 7 made your automap better/more complete the better your mapping skill was.

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  9. The Bat Queens were the only thing that I remember respawning, so I think it's a bug.

    I think the "right" way to play this game is to head west on the road from Vertigo much sooner to get to Castle Burlock (and get the Merchant and Secret Door skills), then proceed to Rivercity, etc. So it's cool that the game handled you going in a completely different order fairly well.

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  10. it looks to me like the king's engineers have built the castle wall outside the moat. That's an unusual approach.
    Might&Magic 9 proudly carries this tradition by having a castle with a drawbridge but no moat in sight.

    Which one of you unimaginative dullards chose "Newcastle"?
    To be fair, Newcastle is an actual city in UK. Named after an actual new castle. Well, relatively new - it was built in 1080.

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    1. Building the wall outside the most seems like a good idea, depending if cannons have been invented yet. Any attackers that manage to scale the wall will be caught on the narrow bit of land between the wall and the moat, being fired on by defenders in the main keep with no easy way to cross and lower the drawbridge.

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    2. Once you're on top of the wall, there are a number of methods you can employ to easily get yourself across the moat by using the assistance of gravity. The important thing about scaling the wall is that once you've done it, *you own the wall* and can take your time doing whatever the next step is—especially if the enemy can't get to you to take it back because of his own moat.

      If, instead, you have the moat outside, then you're not only stuck scaling the wall under enemy fire, you're also stuck trying to cross the moat that way, and without having a nice tall wall to use to help you get across.

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    3. In this case, the only reason to have a wall outside the moat is programmatic. The castle exists "inside," and not as part of the game world, so it has to have bounded edges. Later, when the actual castle is built, it's inside the walls.

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    4. Having a structure of outer wall-moat-inner wall would actually be pretty great. The enemy scales the first wall, now they gotta go down and cross the moat and scale the second wall... while your guys are on the second wall firing down on them.

      Multi-layered walls weren't uncommon. The Krak des Chevaliers is a good example. Lower outer wall, higher inner wall. Once it looks like the enemy is about to take the outer wall, you pull back to the inner wall and now they gotta do it all over again. Except this time there's a wall between their siege towers and the wall they actually wanna climb...

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  11. The Jousters in MM2 were nasty it could be them.

    The guy in the cage probably knows because he’s seen Young Frankenstein.

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    Replies
    1. I think Chet is having flashbacks to Cuisinart specifically.

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    2. Jousters in M&M3 were some of the tougher enemies.

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  12. If drinking from random wells, fountains and buckets confers superhuman ability more often than not, I'm curious how normal humans even exist in Might and Magic. If a town's only water source gives 50 free levels for 24 hours, why would that town ever feel threatened by goblins?

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    Replies
    1. 50 levels of farmer only helps you get the crops in faster and doesn’t help you fight off goblins?

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  13. I seem to recall Jousters in M&M3 being a nightmare. They infest the Dark Warrior's Keep, I believe?

    Newcastle is south of Rivercity. I think the ethereal void is south of Nightshadow.

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  14. The Jouster sprite is very similar to a very tough critter in Might and Magic 3 in the Dark Warrior's Keep. Though if you wander near their area too soon, they can easily wipe out a low level party in Xeen as well.

    The monster lairs you keep destroying are actually monster spawners IIRC. Leave them along long enough, and critters will respawn. Though Nightshadow is a special case, as the Queens always respawn. Many, if not most, areas lack a spawner however for all their enemies, so they never respawn.

    That isn't Lord Xeen laughing at you. Though IIRC if you have only Clouds installed, there is a random scene with him when you rest. The World of Xeen one is the same as Darkside of Xeen if it's installed separately.

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    1. So the bug is that those Queens are flagged as "respawn until the lair is destroyed" and the town doesn't have an actual lair to destroy.

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  15. For your eventual jaunt to the volcano, it may help to know that the lava fields deal actual factual fire damage, rather than generic punch-you-in-the-face damage.

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  16. "We bought a castle! It was so dilapidated that we couldn't enter it, but we bought it."

    Roleplaying British people from the year 2021.

    "The tax man said that the king's engineer could help us fix it up."

    But he didn't tell you that the Xeen Heritage Association would block any renovations that alter the castle's original profile.

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  17. Hellooo, traveler..

    "Opening them is apparently the wrong thing to do because it unleashes dozens of castle guards and king's guards."

    Opening. Doesn't the game inform you beforehand that you're STEALING?

    Your true reward is annoying castle guards that now respawn, forever.

    Goodbyyye..

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    Replies
    1. It's worth stealing from those chests. All it does is spawn castle guards, but it doesn't influence the dialogues with the king or any other NPCs at all.

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    2. I try to roleplay my characters for a bit of extra enjoyment, even in games like this. Stealing there is one of the few decisions that you have on this regard.
      "It's worth stealing as long as we don't repercussions" wasn't matching my chars style on this play

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  18. I just won the full World of Xeen while "working from home". :/ :) :/

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    1. You're why managers are suspicious of telecommuting.

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    2. Maybe if they think on working hours instead of performance... On my defense, I have been way ahead of the rest of the team this week and enjoyed this instead of asking for extra work. One perk of remote working

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  19. "Mummies swing."

    My immature manchild mind can't help looking at it and thinking he is doing something else with his right hand.

    "Although no one has this skill, I keep blaming my orc sorcerer for not having it"

    Now I picture your orc "sorcerer" in combat trying hard to read his spellbook, than say "fuck it" and start hitting enemis with it.

    "None of the spells I've accumulated so far seem to offer any help with walking on lava ("Levitate" does nothing)."

    And a fire golem shouted "McFly! Levitate does't work on lava!".

    (Low quality comment, but I'm in a funky mood)

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  20. About equipment - weapons and armor with magical prefixes are almost useless on levels 12+. They don't have any bonuses to Hit, to Damage and to AC like items with material prefixes. And elemental damage and defense bonuses aren't very good in a long run.

    Guards in Castle Burlock also respawned once on me. Don't know that triggered it.

    Since I'm playing only one game at a time, I got ahead of you and finished Clouds. Starting Darkside, I got a peculiar feeling, something I haven't noticed years ago. Darkside feels like a better game than Clouds. It's like Clouds is some kind of beta version and Darkside is a complete game.

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    1. Since we mentioned developer laziness in the last update, it seems that the entire equipment tables have been copied verbatim from MM3 - without checking if anything needs to be rebalanced. Like you say, elemental bonuses are largely useless (compared to higher pluses), but that was already the case in MM3 - and so you end the game with a full set of obsidian everything, because nothing else compares to that. They could have fixed it but they didn't.

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  21. Related to some conversations here. I didn't put any money into the banks when I played Worlds, and, even if I couldn't level up all the way at the end, that's no problem to fight all the battles in the game
    If someone wants to minmax, it's alright, but it's not needed at all anywhere. My characters were around level 100 when I won. Scorpia's were 108 on her review in CGW

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  22. If you look at the bed in the king's bedchamber from the direction of the footboard, you can see two eyes under the bed--likely a scared cat.

    If this had been an Ultima game that would've been the chambermaid with a quest that involves Lord British's refusal to name their child as heir to the kingdom.

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  23. "Good timing, Might and Magic. There was almost a danger that some sense of immersion might take hold."

    With this series, you have to at least appreciate that you are fighting jesters in their appropriate biome. It actually does make some sort of mechanical sense; if knights and court mages serve as an appropriate balance of enemy classes in a castle, who better than a jester to serve as the athletic/thief type of enemy?

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