Tuesday, July 19, 2022

The Return of Werdna: Burning Hell

 
The game has a very medieval interpretation of "Hell."
          
This session was mostly about loose ends. When I wrapped up last time, I had MALORed (teleported) back down to Level 9, one of the few places accessible via MALOR. While there, I returned to the Gates of Hell--fighting a trivial combat with the hell puppy along the way.
   
Standing at the gate, I juggled my inventory to make the bell, book, and candle accessible, then started the ritual. The game had some fun text at each stage.

After using the Demonic Chimes: "A hideous wail of many tormented souls screams forth from the chimes, shaking the very foundations of the gates!"
     
Enacting the bell, book, and candle ritual.
        
After the Arabic Diary: "Each gutteral [sic] word you utter from the diary takes form and hurls itself upon the gates like a battering ram!"
   
The candle--goddamn it. I had used it to cast LOMILWA to find the secret door on this level, and apparently that use was the final use. I reloaded, made sure the candle didn't disappear this time, and repeated the above.
   
After using the Black Candle: "A brilliant light, like a small nova, issues forth from the Black Candle and melts the weakened gates. They slowly slump to the ground to form a pool of glowing metal! The gates of Hell are open! Do you dare to enter?"
           
Pro tip: If you ever face this choice in real life, say no.
        
That's not good news. I've permanently destroyed the Gates of Hell. Will its denizens now climb into the dungeon?

I said yes and entered the gates. "You enter and fall into the abyss!" Werdna let out a scream. "It burns, by the gods, it burns!!! The fires of Hell lick and scorch your flesh for what seems to be an eternity. Finally, the torment is at an end. You begin to sink into oblivion, grateful to whatever god still listens to your prayers."
      
This might be the most terrifying death in CRPG history.
         
Yikes, that was gruesome. But it continues: "As your eyes close for the last time, you see a jeweled fruit hanging from a tree of liquid fire. Then all is black. Perhaps this is the true death. The giver of peace?" 
   
Well, of course it wasn't. "Wrong again!" the game crowed, and I woke up on Level 10 of the dungeon. 
  
As I reloaded, I read over the text in the screen shots. If I want to avoid falling into the abyss, I reasoned, I should wear the winged boots. I put them on and repeated the ritual. This time started better: "You plummet into Hell, and the flames lick towards you. Slowly, your fall begins to check itself as your Boots of Levitation begin to arrest the powerful attraction of the infernal regions! The heat from the flames becomes more intense, until it is almost unendurable! Just as your fall is arrested, and you begin to rise again, you are able to reach out and pluck the jeweled fruit from the tree of liquid fire!"
   
Apparently, the whole reason to enter Hell is to get this fruit. Well, I've got it. "Upwards you rise, until the shattered Gates of Hell are once again visible through the flames and smoke!" Alas, the game had another surprise. A voice cried out from below, "You are getting warmer, but you aren't nearly hot enough for my tastes! Hahahah!" I didn't have long to be offended: "Suddenly, a huge jet of flame washes up and over you, immolating you in an instant! There is an instant of pure agony, and then you feel no more!"
     
That's just dirty pool.
      
All right, in addition to something that helps me avoid falling into the abyss, I clearly needed something to protect myself from the heat. I made three more tries, each corresponding with a different cloak I was carrying in the Black Box, but none of them helped.
   
I went back through the hints. I didn't see how Kabbalism could help, although parts of it deal with the afterlife. "Everyone has a weakness. What is his?" one hint asks. Could the pronoun refer to Satan himself? "Get a handle on the forbidden fruit!" That seemed directly related, but getting hold of it wasn't my problem. "Homer will show you the way." Damn it, was it time to read The Iliad? The problem with all of the hints is that there really aren't that many ways to manipulate the interface. The only options I had at the Gates of Hell were to use items in my inventory, and I had tried just about all of them.
  
Despondent, I climbed up to Level 8. I started wishing that this game were Ultima Underworld so that I could just cast "Fly" and levitate over the minefield, and it occurred to me that my boots would probably allow me to do just that. They did!
       
Nice.
        
Level 7 was the ziggurat level, and I set my mind to finding my way to the secret area. I began by exploring the outer "air" spaces while wearing the Winged Boots. Amusingly, I kept encountering regular enemies while flying high above the structure.
          
One wonders how a carrot ended up hovering in the sky in the first place.
        
On the west side, there was only one encounter. I plucked an "orange rod" from the sky, which was identified in my inventory as a "Hopalong Carrot." The term refers to Hopalong Cassidy, the hero of turn-of-the-20th-century western stories and films, created by Clarence Mulford, who I am obligated to say was from Maine. Anyway, I didn't imagine that the game was trying to evoke Cassidy but rather to reinforce the association between carrots and rabbits. I had several hints from the Oracle that seemed to be pointing to the same thing:
      
  • "Chomp, chomp . . . eh, what's east, Doc?"
  • "The temple holds an ancient secret."
  • "Hop high to enter."
  • "Rabbits are sacred to the Dreampainter."
  • "Seek the Dreampainter's soul."
  • "Take a step to the left, and a hop to the right."
       
Clearly, finding the Dreampainter's secret was going to involve emulating a rabbit, and somehow that was going to involve the carrot, but I didn't know exactly how. I took a save and then tried using the carrot, but nothing happened. I tried equipping it--it turns out that it equips as a weapon--and I was asked if I wanted to "invoke" it. "You hop high into the air!" the game said, but nothing new happened.
       
In this game, apparently, hopping > flying.
          
I decided the first clue must have the answer. "Chomp, chomp" is about eating the carrot, so I must have to stand to the east of the area that I wanted to find. There were two squares east of the hidden area, but neither worked. But then I realized I might want to put the hidden area to my east, which would better go with the last hint to start from the left of the hidden area and then eat the carrot and hop to the right (east).

This worked, amazingly, and I found myself in the "secret inner chamber of the temple." It contained a large stone statue of the Dreampainter (described only in text, of course). When I stepped on it, I got the message: "You are about to battle a god's ushabti!" Wikipedia educated me that an ushabti is a funerary figurine, which didn't sound so dangerous, and sure enough the thing was a pushover (it was a fighter).
         
A god--killed by a regular wight.
        
The unique item on his body was described as "a feather" on the loot screen and "Dreampainter Ka." Ka is the ancient Egyptian conception of "soul," so I had the Dreampainter's soul.
   
I returned to the Gates of Hell but not because I thought the Dreampainter's Ka would help. I was still wrapped up in the idea that I simply needed something to protect me from fire. While fighting random combats on Level 7, I had defeated a miscellaneous ninja named Killer who I hadn't logged the first time. He dropped an item called a Shadow Cloak, and I figured I should try it in the name of comprehensiveness. This trip was successful, but it wasn't the cloak that saved me.
       
Success!
     
"Wait!" the game said. "The fires of Hell are not burning you, and your fall is slowing down! Searching through your gear, you see that the Dreampainter's Ka is absorbing the terrific heat and shielding you, and your Boots of Levitation are checking your descent."  The rest of the encounter proceeded as before. I grabbed the jeweled fruit. But this time, I levitated out of Hell as a mocking voice called after me, "Have you forgotten something? Hahahahaha!" I wish the game would stop asking me that. Have I? I don't know. ROT-13 me something if I was supposed to find something else in Hell.
         
The Oracle later rubs it in.
        
"Slowly, the Gates of Hell reform from the puddle of slag," the game offered, erasing my earlier worry. What was this jeweled fruit? I opened my inventory and saw that it was identified as "HHG of Aunty Ock." I scratched my head for a second and then realized I was looking at another goddamned Monty Python reference. That's what I went through all of this for. And I had thought David Bradley was to blame for turning the series into a bunch of goofy nonsense.
   
Trusting that the thing would become important later, I made my way back up to Level 7. About six steps into the level, Trebor's ghost caught me and I died. I hadn't saved since the Gates of Hell, so I had to go through the entire thing a third time.
   
Back up on Level 7 again, I went through the stone ritual and chose the blue sword. In my inventory, it was called the West Wind Sword. It doesn't do much damage, but it often decapitates enemies. 
       
The price you pay for bringing up my past reign of villainy and terror as a negative is, I collect your @#*&ing head.
       
Levels 6 and 5 were easy with my maps. Level 4 remained a nightmare, and I found a number of mistakes on my map as I tried to get around. I visited the witch again, but the Holy Hand Grenade didn't have anything to do with the Spanish unguent or blender I needed.
   
I took a dip in the cleansing pool and "somewhat cleansed" my soul, assuming a neutral alignment. Alas, the HAMAN and MAHAMAN spells still didn't work. Once I was done, I made my way to the stairway to Level 3, took a second backup save, then took the stairway. I don't know if the witch's "Blue Blood Special" is something I absolutely need, but if it is--please let me know in the comments--I'll just reload from the save before the stairway and--ugh--re-explore the levels until I find what I missed.
      
It's the straight-and-narrow from here on out, and heaven everlasting's my reward.
       
This entry didn't seem to have enough material to post as it was, so I decided to spend some time mapping Level 3. Even if I have to reload from Level 4, time spent mapping is never wasted. When I got to the top of the stairs (which vanished behind me), I cast DUMAPIC and was surprised to see that I was not on Level 3, but rather Level 1. As I stepped forward, a message welcomed me to the "Cosmic Cube," a place that a message on Level 6 had warned me about.
           
This seems to emphasize that there's no way back to the lower dungeon.
         
"Ponder the ancient mystery of the lady or the tigers if you wish to tread the hidden ways of the cube." This seems to link to hint #29 about finding the "paths of the true way." I'm not aware of any mystery regarding the lady or the tigers, plural, but "The Lady, or the Tiger?" is a famous short story by Frank Stockton, published in 1882, which has appeared in countless English anthologies. I probably read it for the first time in fourth grade. The story concerns a convicted man who, in the custom of the land, has been sentenced to an arena. There, he must choose two doors. Behind one is a beautiful lady whom he will immediately marry. Behind the other is a tiger who will devour the man. Every criminal faces this 50/50 chance, but the twist here is that the man has been convicted of consorting with the princess. The princess has used her influence to determine what is behind each door, and she subtly indicates one of the doors to her imperiled lover. The question--unresolved by the story--is whether she has truly aided him or, unable to see him marry another woman, sent him to his doom. A related question is whether his interpretation of her motives will lead him to choose the door she indicated or the opposite.
          
As I read the message, I wondered about the relevance of the story for the game. I figured that it may be referring to a simple choice of two doors that I'd have to make, one leading to success and the other to failure. Or, I thought, maybe there will be a complexity thrown into the decision. For instance, maybe Trebor's ghost shows up to indicate one door, and I have to figure out his motivations. That would be intriguing.
       
Alas, it's just a logic puzzle.
         
I needn't have bothered. Instantly, there was another message that completely changed the nature of the problem. "Before you are three doors," it began, before launching into a classic logic puzzle. "No room is empty, but only one door tells the truth," the game established. "Find the lady, and you will take the first step on the Golden Path. Choose falsely, and you will roam the Cosmic Cube for all eternity!" The doors read as follows:
      
  • Left door: A tiger is in the right room.
  • Middle door: A tiger is in this room.
  • Right door: A lady is in this room.
       
The rules had established there is only one "right" path, so only one door has the lady. Right away, it's clear that the left and right cannot both be lying. One has to be telling the truth. That means the middle door cannot be telling the truth, which means there isn't a tiger behind it. [Ed. As commenter VK points out below, the parable had already been turned into a series of logic puzzles by American mathematician Raymond Smullyan and published in The Lady or the Tiger? (1982), clearly the source of this riddle.]
   
Having so established that the central door was the answer, I took the right door and found myself in a one-square room with a stairway down. The left door took me to a room with an "up" staircase that just brought me to another section of the same level. Thus, it appears that the game doesn't tell you that you've made the correct choice right away--which, I guess, means that the very rules of the game were lying. There are no ladies or tigers behind the doors. If the rules are not also lying that the wrong choices put you in a "walking dead" scenario, it appears there's still a lot of the levels to map while walking dead, and naturally I have to do it. Since I may be "walking dead" anyway (from not having completed the witch's brew on Level 4), that suits me okay.
    
From what I've experienced so far, Levels 1-3 are more interconnected than the previous levels, and to some extent, I'm mapping all at once. I know it doesn't really save any time to do it this way, but somehow I always feel like I'm making faster progress when I map multiple levels at the same time. Anyway, I'll cover my discoveries on these levels next time.
   
I met the Oracle a bunch of times during the session. I decided to create a special entry just on the Oracle's hints (it published just before this one). For some reason, I want to end this experience knowing exactly what he was talking about for each hint. The entry has my current guesses, and at the end of the game, it will have our final conclusions. 
          
Well, that's just mean.
      
This session exemplified everything I love and hate about the Wizardry series. The text is generally fantastic, and it raises all kinds of questions of lore and theology that I'd spend more time pondering if I had any faith that the creators had worked them out for themselves. But then it sacrifices all the good will that it's accumulated with its worldbuilding with nonsense like the Hopalong Carrot and the Holy Hand Grenade. Certainly, the creators could have come up with more realistic puzzles that draw from the game's actual setting. Emulating a rabbit by eating a carrot, which then allows me to hop high over a wall, reminds me of the old stupid riddle about a locked room with a mirror and a table where the solution is to look in the mirror, at which point you "see what you saw," and then you take the saw and cut a hole in the table and escape through the hole. The riddle works as neither a logic puzzle nor a semantic game, and yet kids continue to tell it with sly grins on their faces as if they've really outsmarted you when really the whole thing just makes no sense. I always envision a similar grin on Roe Adams's and David Bradley's faces when they designed these games.
   
Time so far: 37 hours

86 comments:

  1. "Burning Hell" - I see what you did there Chet, and it's even better than my R.E.M. suggestion was. Bravo!

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    1. Burning Hell was truly one of the all time REM greats! And definitely not a drunken mistake that should have been left in the closet...

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    2. It has a nice riff. As long as we don't end the game with Shiny Happy People, I think we're fine.

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  2. My take on the silliness is that Adams, Bradley, and to a lesser extent Greenberg and Woodhead, wanted a more or less hardcore RPG experience, DND style, with the stats and weapons and encounters, while keeping the puzzles lighter and less intense. This is still the early 1980's, before RPGs and even adventure/RPGs like this one got overly serious (bearing in mind this game was supposed to be released in 1984, before Ultima IV - it got delayed due engine limitations on the equipment of the day, IIRC).

    Concerning the witch's Blue Blood Special, I'd say don't worry about it too much, but in ROT13: Bapr lbh gnxr gur ynqqre hc gb yriry guerr, lbh'er va gur pbfzvp phor. Bapr va gur phor, lbh'er fghpx gurer, ab jnl onpx qbja, hagvy lbh rfpncr gur qhatrba. Ohg bapr lbh qb rfpncr, lbh pna nyjnlf znybe onpx qbja gb gur jvgpu be naljurer ryfr lbh'ir cerivbhfyl orra (vapyhqvat gur phor, V guvax). Fb ab jbeevrf. Lbh'er abg va qnatre bs nal cbvagf bs ab erghea.

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  3. See if you can still use Malor. I was under the impression you can still use Malor to return to the earliest floors, and that Let's Play linked in the comment section a few posts back says you can, but another commenter told me you apparently can't. Either someone is mistaken or there are differences between versions.

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    1. No, MALOR doesn't work after you ascend from Level 4.

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    2. Huh, that's unnecessarily mean game design.
      Yes, I realize the irony of saying that about Wizardry 4 of all games, but it doesn't really do anything like this at any other point.

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  4. Good job figuring out these two puzzles! I was looking forward to seeing this post. The death you get for jumping into Hell with just the Dreampainter's Ka and not the Winged Boots is even creepier (but it's covered in Crooked Bee's Let's Play, so I wouldn't bother going out of your way to check it out).

    You're on the right track and shouldn't need to load that backup save.

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    1. Oh, I should have tried that one. I can drop the grenade and go back, right? I think I'll give it a try before the next entry.

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  5. Monty Python references aside, I just find it extremely stupid that they write "aunty ock" instead of "Antioch".

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    1. It's a classic example of two failure modes of nerd humor: the not-really-a-pun and the obvious reference. The combination of these two half-jokes is supposed to result in one new actual joke, but if anything they cancel each other out.

      Wiz 4 is a pretty creative game and I appreciate some of its dumb jokes, but the inclusion of the HHG is just groanworthy. They could have at least made the joke part of a puzzle by calling it "an Imperial Orb" or something:

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

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    2. A good pun is good, but usually requires some sort of set up or context, such that the pun is a surprise. Simply forcing homonyms is groan-inducing.


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    3. In this case, they might well have had no actual idea how to spell it.

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    4. Indeed! Gotta think back then the only way they saw this film was either by it being on TV out watching it at a cinema. It would have all been just from memory and audible comprehension. Knowing Python, many people might have thought they said Aunty Och whilst just being random.

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  6. Why do you let Trebor's ghost kill you? IIRC you get several warnings when he gets closer, so that you can save and reload. Of course, this resets the game, but being a very "meta" game it seems what is intended.

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    1. Why would you reload when you're not sure yet if he's going to catch you, when you can instead reload after he actually did catch you?

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    2. Because getting killed feels like a game over situation, while saving and reloading is a clever prophylactic move denying Trebor his fun. After all, Trebor sux.

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    3. Saving respawns all the do-gooders. Not worth it usually. I only would ever save upon reaching the start of the level, the level-up pentagram, and right before entering the next level.There may have been some occasional exceptions, but Trebor was never one.

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    4. I don't normally let him kill me, but every once in a while he sneaks up on me. Yes, you get warnings, and I usually save on the third one, but sometimes I'll be close to the stairs or to a pentagram and think that I can evade him.

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  7. I always envision a similar grin on Roe Adams's and David Bradley's faces when they designed these games.

    Yeah, one thing in life I've learned is that there are people out there who just love this kind of thing. It's infuriating for the rest of us, but it just plain makes them feel good inside, and who the hell are we to tell them to stop feeling good?

    It's like the entry on the Gold Box series that detailed the original Monty Haul DM. He ruined the games he ran, but he said "I just love seeing that twinkle in the eyes of players when they get treasure." How do you argue with that? Oh, you want a dry logic puzzle or boring semantic game? GTFO. Watching players solve those doesn't give him that great feeling.

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    1. Well, that's a valid take I suppose. I guess it's a cousin to this: https://xkcd.com/359/

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    2. Harland, I think Critical Role is banal and unfunny. It reminds me of people I don’t care to be reminded of.

      That’s not the same as me saying that they shouldn’t get together and have fun playing D&D, or even that they shouldn’t turn their D&D sessions into a webseries.

      I’m just offering my critique, and saying what it reminds me of.

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    3. As far as I'm concerned, if everyone involved in the campaign, DM and players alike, is engaged and having fun, you're playing the game "correctly," however it is you are in fact playing it.

      For some groups that's gonna be a hardcore simulationist experience with punishingly hard encounters and lots of dead and rerolled characters, and for other groups that's gonna be some loot pinatas. And IMO, that's fine.

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    4. As long as everyone involved is enjoying themselves, I don't really see the point in criticizing how they enjoy themselves, whether it's a D&D group doing monty haul campaigns or someone breaking out the cheats to get through a hard part of a game. As long as no one's hurt who am I to decide your means of enjoyment are worse just because I wouldn't like them?

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    5. But we're not talking about a live D&D campaign. If a tabletop campaign starts quoting Monty Python and giggling, we can leave. This is a computer game where there is no choice of DM, and no escape from the destruction of worldbuilding with nonsense like the "HHG of Aunty Ock" or "Adbul's Taxi Service".

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    6. It's easy enough to escape, just stop playing the Wizardry series. There's plenty of RPGs out there with more coherent worldbuilding.

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    7. Destruction of wordbuilding? Wiz 4 is not about wordbuilding. It's an abstract, quite "meta" game that does not take itself too seriously, but dares to be different.

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    8. Worldbuilding, not "wordbuilding".

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    9. I feel like if you want worldbuilding you're not going to be playing an early Wizardry game. Personally I'd argue they're similar to something like a Mario game where any sort of worldbuilding is more incidental from making the game they want, rather than anything deliberate.

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    10. "It's easy enough to escape, just stop playing the Wizardry series. There's plenty of RPGs out there with more coherent worldbuilding."

      Yes, this. If you're put off by the tone of the game, it's not impossible but rather much easier to walk away when it's a computer game, with no explanations needing to be offered to anyone else.

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    11. The thing to bear in mind is that, at this time, the developers are making games that they would want to play primarily. And most devs are massive nerds who love these kinds of references. Particularly at a time when showing your love of these franchises was much harder in real life, so seeing a reference was fun no matter how clunky it was used. Now, it’s just cringey, but back then it was how stuff was.

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  8. "The Lady or the Tiger" puzzle is taken from a fairly popular (or at least popular enough to get translated into Russian) puzzle collection of the same name by mathematician Raymond Smullyan. Which, in turn, references the Stockton story.
    Smullyan had a lot more fun with the setup though. There were versions with, like, 15 doors or so. Going by his wikipedia entry, he was quite a colorful character too.

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    1. Variants on this puzzle are common in riddle collections and computer games in general. The computer game Door and its sequel Door 2: Key are entirely designed around "find the correct door" puzzles, and you'll find the basic "all statements but one is lying" riddle several times in them alongside a multitude of variants.

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    2. Sure, but I mean 1) this specific framing, with ladies and tigers; 2) this specific puzzle in (almost) precise wording appears in Smullyan's book.

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    3. Smullyan's books are great. As a logic fan and Chess enthusiast, his "Chess Mysteries" series is great. Problems like "Look at this position. Knowing that white's last move was this, where was the Black's dark squared bishop captured?"

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    4. His book "The Lady or the Tiger" was given to me when I was a kid and I loved it and still have my copy.

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    5. XKCD had the best of those puzzles :

      "There we have the labyrinth guards. One always lies, one always tells the truth, and one stabs people who ask tricky questions".

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    6. Considering where we are, I feel obliged to point out that the old 2005 puzzle in Kingdom of Loathing with a very similar joke actually predates XKCD #246 (April 9, 2007), and for that matter also Order of the Stick #327 (June 26, 2006).

      No, I don't know why it was popular for a few years to make this joke in media with stick-figure graphics.

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    7. Don't know about Kingdom of Loathing, but the Order of the Stick showcase is the exact opposite of the XKCD one.

      The XKCD joke is a third guard who stabs anybody that tries to solve the puzzle with clever questions.

      The OOTS joke only has two guards, and the puzzle is solved by shooting one guard. Then determining which one is the liar by their reaction.

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    8. Yeah, OOTS goes in the other direction when it comes to violence. (KOL is similar to the XKCD joke: there are 4 guards, you're told one of them craves human flesh, and the other 3 behave as you'd expect for the class of puzzle.)

      When you see this puzzle in a computer game, any actual puzzle is almost invariably played straight, as here, even if the game atmosphere isn't serious, also as here.

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    9. Thanks to alerting me about the Smullyan book, VK. I had never heard of that. That is clearly the source for W4's use of the riddle.

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  9. Maybe something changes if you visit hell while neutral or good?

    (Just a guess, i haven't played the game myself)

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  10. West Wind Sword: Lbh ybpxrq lbhefrys bhg bs nyy raqvatf. Lbh orggre cvpx vg hc nsgre lbh ner qbar jvgu gur phor.

    HHG: Lbh pna'g fbyir gur phor jvgubhg vg.

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    1. Qebccvat na vgrz va guvf tnzr jvyy znxr vg erfcnja va vgf bevtvany ybpngvba, naq fvapr gur bevtvany ybpngvba bs gur fjbeq jnf n "cvpx bar bs gurfr guerr vgrzf" rirag, qebccvat vg jvyy znxr gung rirag nf n jubyr erfcnja naq yrg lbh pubbfr n qvssrerag fjbeq. Purg jnf nyernql gbyq guvf naq unf irevsvrq vg.

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  11. What if there's an elephant in the middle room and a tiger in the right room?

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    1. Well, then we'd have to address the elephant in the room...

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  12. Reading about this game is quite fun. I guess because we don't have to experience the annoying parts, like reloads and combats that have no benefit.

    I wonder if there are similar games that feature adventure style and mapping puzzles, with no combat or only few, meaningful battles.

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    1. Disco Elysium is some sort of adventure/RPG hybrid. No combat at all. Everything happens via dialogue or solving puzzles. Probably my all-time fav game...

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    2. The cool part being that sometimes the dialogue IS combat as failing/doing poorly during it can kill/disable your character

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    3. MadMaze is pretty much that.

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    4. Text adventure games are like that

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    5. Gamedec is another RPG-adventure hybrid: it looks like an isometric RPG and you have skills that you level up, but there's no combat and advancement is through dialog and puzzle-solving.

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  13. I'll say it "Club Dead" doesn't have the same ring to it that "Disco Inferno" has

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    1. There's a "Club Dead" in Might and Magic I somewhere, too. I wonder ... (of course it is just an obvious pun ...)

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    1. That makes so much more sense.
      It also makes me realize I didn't tought about Club meds in years.

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    2. Right? It was all the rage in the 1980s. I'm surprised to hear the company is still around.

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  15. It's rare for an English-language CRPG series to *not* have any Monty Python reference. Ultima, Might and Magic, Bard's Tale, Gold Box, and Quest for Glory all also do.

    Nor is this the first time a Monty Python reference has appeared in Wizardry. That goes all the way back to the original. The Wizardry term "vorpal bunny" has also now become more common than the Monty Python term "rabbit of Caerbannog" -- you've fought "vorpal bunnies" in multiple non-Wizardry games by now.

    Also, you have all required items to proceed into the Cosmic Cube. Emphasis on "required", in multiple senses of that word.

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  16. "cut a hole in the table and escape through the hole"

    It's worse than that -- you cut the table in half, use the two halves to make a whole and then escape through the (w)hole. It offended me on a profound, fundamental level as a kid and no less so today.

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    1. Ugh. I had forgotten about that. I know what you mean. Riddles are supposed to help you build lateral thinking skills. That one just teaches you that the world is unjust and arbitrary.

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    2. I've never really seen it as a riddle so much as just a exercise in wordplay. I can understand why some find it pun-ishing.

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  17. Isn't there a text adventure game where the room description tells you of a window that's ajar, and you have to write the command "get jar"?

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    1. Nord and Bert couldn't make head or tail of it. I'm pretty sure that's it, the whole point of this text adventure game is wordplay. A non-native English speaker I liked it pretty much and learned a lot from it.

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    2. Skimmed a walkthrough and yeah, that seems to be the one, though I misremembered the puzzle slightly.

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    3. There's a similar puzzle in Companions of Xanth. At one point you're in a room with 'a door ajar'. You have to pick up the door, and when you do it turns in a jar that you need for some other puzzle. Solved that puzzle through trial and error. At least I learned a new word from it ('jar').

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    4. @Didier THAT has to be the one I remember, that sounds very familiar.

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    5. There's a late game puzzle in Monkey Island 2 based off of a really bad pun. There's a river that you need to traverse, and you see what appears to be a mechanism to close a dam. But the mechanism lacks a handle, just a point where a handle would attach. The solution is to pick up a monkey from the background many screens away and use it on the attach point, as a monkey wrench.

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  18. I really hate The Lady or the Tiger. I can't stand a story without a proper ending. It's sad that most will only know Stockton from his worst story- he has several very good ones.

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    1. Well...I get what you're saying, but the entire purpose of the story is to leave the reader analyzing the complexities of human motivations and emotions. It also serves as an introduction to game theory. Imaging the different ways the scenario could play out builds both logical and emotional intelligence. A defined ending would ruin all of that.

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    2. If he intended it to portray game theory, that does make more sense. That is not how it was taught at my school. From what I remember, we just had some arguments about which we thought she would choose. However, as an exploration of human motivations and emotions it fails. If it wants to truly explore that, I think it needs way more information about the characters. As it is, it seems to me to be more of a trolling move. It has a vague outline of a situation so general no proper answer could be given, and no real exploration of those themes can realistically happen, because everything is just too general. I think all it does is reveal what the reader thinks about humanity already without really providing food for thought, in the same way trolls seek to force people to express their views, because the targets reactions are the point. I just don’t see much value in that methodology of exploration.

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    3. If it reveals something about the reader to the reader, I'm going to say "Mission Accomplished". Perhaps not everyone has the necessary amount of barbaric idealism to appreciate it.

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  19. In some ways, this is similar to my experience right now. I'm replaying the original Baldur's Gate, and there seems to be no way to play the game without dying. After several such events, you give up and start scum-saving. And, that's no way to play an RPG. Any 6-year-old can scum save and do just as well as I can.

    The random deaths destroy some of the value of the RPG genre, as it forces you into a scum-save mentality. Where's the joy in that?

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    1. In the IE games you can scout ahead and avoid or be prepared for most of these fights.

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    2. You can most certainly get through the BG games without dying. I've done so with every possible class for the Bhaalspawn.

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    3. If you think Baldur's Gate is anywhere near the level of difficulty and lethality of Wizardry 4, then you clearly have never played Wizardry 4!

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    4. Oh, give Rangerous a break. BG1 starts the character off at Level 1, and there aren't many tactics available to him. You could stay alive by constantly running away, but I agree with him that many of the early battles come down to nothing but luck.

      W4 is obviously a more difficult game, but it also has a lot fewer variables, and I think a player with maps in hand has a decent chance of making it to the surface of the dungeon without dying. If he DOES die, he's only invested a couple of hours and could try again; he's bound to get lucky eventually. BG is "easier" from an absolute standpoint, but there are a lot more variables to juggle, and it's a lot longer, and thus there are a lot more opportunities for things to go wrong. Getting through BG without dying would be to me a more significant accomplishment than getting through W4 without dying.

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    5. The issue with BG is that it misleads the player. One of the first things the game teaches you is how to attack something with a melee weapon, yet actually doing that will result in a lot of reloads and frustration. In my opinion it’s easily the biggest mark against the game. You should be able to play in a way that ‘makes sense’ without having the experience Rangerous is having.

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    6. First time I played BG1 I found it too easy, since the AI had no call-for-help scripts, so I could just snipe off one enemy at a time. So I started activating whole groups of enemies to make it more challenging.
      But sure, individual assassins could be a pain and require a few reloads if CHARNAME died, but nothing like the one step forward and two back of the Ziggurat in Wiz 4.

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    7. yeah, BG1 isn't that hard once you understood the AD&D2.5 rules and the games AI. but if you new to AD&D and came from more forgiving games (like me when I played it the first time) it's quite hard and has many "surprise" deaths

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    9. It's true, I've never played any Wizardry except the first. Thanks for the sympathy and recommendations! I try to play conservatively and flee when overmatched, but one challenge I seem unable to master is the ambushes when travelling between areas. In those circumstances, I often start out surrounded, and the death of at least one party member can be difficult to avoid. The low-level clerics has two heal light wounds, and I guess I'm just unable to play those cards well.

      Anyway, thanks for letting me hijack an unrelated post to grouse about my poor CRPG playing skills :)

      And, as always, thanks so much for maintaining such a great community and a great forum!

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    10. This feels a bit like getting back to the final fantasy argument of people saying “well I find it easy to do so without doing so anyone who did die obviously was just playing it wrong”…

      I love BG to bits but the game is extremely unfair in places, especially if you’re playing certain classes. The AD&D system, without a DM to moderate, is very, very random especially on lower classes. Having a group mitigates this but BG has you alone during the first few levels, and with auto-death if the main character dies. It does make it unfair at the start.

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    11. Some of the ambushes early game are brutal. The dogs, and the archers can both occasion a reload even for experienced players.

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    12. Ah yes, I had forgotten the ambushes by those large bands of archers/bandits in the vanilla game, that no amount of scouting could prevent.

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    13. BG1 also has a trap in that all of the party members are found in the world, and you have no way of knowing what classes, alignments, or links you're going to be having to juggle.

      Not going to go into great detail because the Addict will be getting there eventually and is probably hoping to forget everything by then, but this makes the ideal choice of PC class not be the most obvious.

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    14. At least with BG:EE you no longer have to save anytime you do *anything* since there was always a crash waiting around the corner. I figured out that the weather effects caused it to crash more often, but every time you went through a scene transition there was a half decent chance it would never finish loading the next area....

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