Friday, July 1, 2022

The Return of Werdna: Spin the Black Circle

The "Locate" spell was key to this level.
Level 6, titled "The Realm of the Whirling Dervish," would have been a modestly hard level in a typical dungeon crawler. By Werdna standards, it was easy. I spent most of it paranoid that I was being lulled into a sense of ease, that some huge obstacle was going to come out of nowhere and gob-smack me. I'm still a little paranoid that I missed something, to be honest. It was too simple and, at only about three hours, too fast. 
The level consists of 16 rooms of 4 x 4 each with corridors in between. The level's one gimmick is that every intersection in the corridor is a spinner that turns and faces you in a random direction. Spinners are annoying, sure, but DUMAPIC ("Locate") isn't suppressed on the level, plus you find several enemies carrying Jeweled Amulets, which cast the spell.
My map of Level 6.
Each of the 4 x 4 rooms can be entered only from a west-facing door in the southwest section. So that the player won't know what direction he's facing simply by studying the wall patterns, the developers put false doors on every "first" wall square to the right when facing any corridor from any intersection in any direction.
Trying to enter a fake door.
I started to annotate the false doors on the map but stopped bothering once the gimmick became clear. But look at the close-up below of one area in which I've annotated false doors with double lines and real doors with dashed lines. Whichever way you face from this intersection, you're going to see a "door" in the first square on your right. If it turns out to be real, you've gone north. If it's false, but the door further down the corridor on the left is real, you've gone south. If both doors are false, I suppose there's no way to tell whether you've gone east or west, but you can get pretty far with nine DUMAPICs, and it's not like you're saving those slots for KATINO.
A close-up of one of the intersections.
There's more: every room in each row has the same wall pattern, although you may find different things within them. Three of the "final rooms" in these wall squares have encounters with "He Who Awaits," a sentinel with 335 hit points. They're purely physical attackers, though, and not hard to beat. Defeating any of them teleports you to (3,6), which is just a couple steps from one of the level's three pentagrams (this is the first level in the dungeon with more than one). I found one of these sentinels early in the level and thus found the pentagram relatively early.
This sounds more ominous than the following encounter deserved.
If the author thought that finding the exit stairway was hard, I think he forgot what game he was writing for. The exit stairs at (17,4) are in the middle of a regular east-west corridor. There are teleporters on both sides which move you five squares, or one corridor, to the north without any kind of visual warning. To get to the stairs, you have to be teleported right on top of them, and you get that from the square at (13,2), after you defeat a "Chepacet Druid" (I guess she's from Rhode Island) called Jesse the Smith. What's supposed to be hard is that Jesse is behind a secret door that doesn't show up even with LOMILWA ("Light") on the board. Any player not mapping would be screwed for sure. But if you're making maps and you end up walling off a square, what are you going to do? Bump into every wall, of course, just to check--especially if every other room in the same row has a door leading into that final square.
Wights are so awesome.
Finding your way through the level thus becomes a simple exercise in pattern recognition. That's what regular games do. What I would have expected Werdna to do is subvert pattern recognition--to do something like keep the idea of the secret door that doesn't show up with LOMILWA, but place it at (17,5) or (17,3)--north or south of stairs. That would force the player to:

  • Search every hallway segment on a map that trains you to think of the hallway segments as interchangeable paths between intersections and rooms.
  • Notice that he'd been teleported one hallway north on a map where all hallways look the same and it would be easy to assume that you'd just gotten confused at the last set of spinners.
  • Realize that because of those teleporters, there was a single square he'd been unable to visit in what looks like a blank hallway.
  • Intuit the existence of an invisible secret door in a place where no doors have appeared on any other square.
That would have impressed me. It would have pissed me off, but it would have impressed me. But I suppose the game is difficult enough that I don't need to complain about a relatively easy level.
With "Light" active, there should be a door to my left, but there isn't.
Enemies were a minor part of the level. They're getting tougher, of course. Single fighters and thieves are so outclassed that it's a joke when I run into them, but some of the mages and bishops have LAKANITO ("Vacuum"), which suffocates anything that breathes air, including Werdna. I think I saved against it once, but it almost always kills me when it targets me. Ninjas are capable of instant decapitation on a critical hit. One roaming foe is an evil bishop named TILTOWAIT who, predictably, casts TILTOWAIT ("Ka-Blam!"), which does 10-100 damage to all enemies in all groups. 

The thing is, these three types of attacks are so deadly that facing one of them is essentially an instant reload. It all comes down to who goes first. Werdna almost never goes first, so anything I try to do is only useful for mop-up. It's a roll of the dice whether my allies act before my enemies and, if so, what my allies choose to do. There are no "tactics" that will protect you from a TILTOWAIT.
The level has, as usual, two enemy parties: Myriad's Marauders ("You are burgerbits, fellow!") and Gomez's Gorillas ("Ugga bugga!"). Of the two, the Marauders are the hardest, with two bishops, a mage, and a priest in addition to a trivial samurai and thief. The Gorillas have fewer spellcasters, but they do have a ninja with almost 300 hit points. 
Myriad has a lot of spellcasters, but so do I.
The Marauders don't drop anything interesting, but the Gorillas have an object labeled a "holy reliquary" when unidentified in the post-combat loot list and "St. Rimbo Digit" when identified. They equip as gauntlets but don't "invoke." I'm not sure what to make of them.
Hot Dagady.
As for random single encounters: 
  • Arial, a neutral thief.
  • Armando, a good lord.
  • Ascii, a neutral fighter.
  • Blackstone, an evil bishop.
  • Boz, a neutral thief. He carries a Darkness Cloak. I'm not sure if it's better than my Twilight Cloak, but both seem to be beaten by the Cape of Good Hope that I found on the same level.
  • Cadidelhop, a good fighter.
  • Chiquita, a neutral mage.
  • Chico, a good fighter.
  • Elrik, an evil fighter. He carries a sword called Were Slayer, just one of many special weapons that are useless to Werdna.
  • Fearless Farley, a good fighter.
  • Gor-y, an evil samurai.
  • Little Conan, a neutral fighter.
  • Pedro, a good ninja.
  • Tharagorn, a good mage. Can cast LAKANITO, which almost always kills Werdna. Drops a Staff of Mogref.
  • Tiltowait, an evil bishop. True to his name, he's fond of the TILTOWAIT spell, which essentially kills every living thing. 
Try to be less obvious, Tiltowait.
  • Wacker, a good fighter.
  • Winder, a neutral thief.
  • Xavier, a good bishop. He's got a Jeweled Amulet, which casts DUMAPIC ("Location"), which is vital on this level.
  • Zyxxus, a neutral fighter
He just likes for his name to appear last on lists.
Against the enemies, you have some pretty awesome allies. I've been trying to make careful notes about the strengths, weaknesses, special attacks, and special defenses of all my allies since I noticed--very late in the game--that you can summon allies from previous levels' pentagrams at each pentagram. The option was staring me in the face, but I didn't see it. Now I'm paranoid that there's going to be some encounter for which I absolutely need a goblin from Level 2 or something.
It didn't take me long to find the best combination on this level, all conveniently grouped together: wights, master ninjas, and bishops. Wights are so good that I'd take two groups of them if I could. They can cast up to Level 4 mage spells, including MAHALITO, and their physical attacks both level drain and paralyze. Bishops can also cast mass-damage mage spells along with the healing spells that Werdna occasionally needs. Master ninjas have a rare but unbelievably satisfying chance of decapitating in one hit. Lifestealers are worth a mention, and I suppose they could take the place of master ninjas, as they can cast both priest and mage spells up to, I think, Level 4. The paralysis of grave mists and the life-draining of nightstalkers would have been useful on other levels, but here they're outclassed by wights. Everything else is just a lame melee attacker or a low-level spellcaster. In saying such things, I'm aware that it's possible I might be missing some major advantage to some of these allies. No one has commented on this aspect of gameplay in previous comments, so feel free to let me know if you think I'm overlooking something.
Allies for this level. Note that the "P)rev Page" option lets me choose allies from earlier pentagrams.
When I hit the pentagram on this level, I went up to 13 in all attributes and acquired three new spells: MAMORLIS ("Terror"), MAKANITO ("Deadly Air"), and MADALTO ("Frost King"). MAMORLIS is one of those spells that might be effective, but you don't see the effects directly, and thus it seems like a poor use of the slot instead of something like MAKANITO, which has a chance of killing everyone (based on their current hit points) or MADALTO, which damages everyone. It occurred to me for the first time that the way you face enemies in this game--a maximum of six, all in one group--means that there's no difference between spells that affect "one group" and spells that affect everyone. I spent most of the Level 5 slots on MADALTO with the occasional MAKANITO when enemies' hit points were low.

There are a few items to gather on the level. At (13,13) is an encounter with a disembodied voice who asks, "What do you seek the most, pilgrim?" The answer is, of course, AMULET, which gets you a cape called the Good Hope Cape. Cute. It lowers AC by 2. 

The aforementioned Jessie the Smith drops two artifacts. I only had room for one the first time I faced her, so I had to save, reload, and do it a second time. The first object is a "conical hat" that turns out to be an "Initiate Turban." I assume that's better than my previous "Novice's Cap." The second is a "Tale of Madness" that resolves as an "Arabic Diary." (Dervish, turban, Arabic diary . . . interesting Middle-Eastern theme in this area.) I assume this is a reference to Lovecraft's Necronomicon, though I briefly amused myself by imagining a book that started, "Dear Diary: OMG I love Ahmad so much!!!" Anyway, I'm guessing this is the "book" I need at the Gates of Hell, so I may head back down there to give it a try at some point. It should only be two more levels before I get MALOR, but I suspect it won't be that easy to use MALOR in this game.
Looting Jesse the Smith's body.
Incidentally, as I went up from Level 6 to Level 5, I caught a flash of something. I repeated the transition just so I could capture it. It provides proof that the original PC version of the game did have the same copy protection as the Apple II version, so it must have come with sheets of printed codes.
This is one thing it's nice not to have to worry about.
The Oracle was everywhere on this level. I intercepted him 11 times. I'm going to list the new clues along with the old ones--it helps to have them all in one place--and include any current thinking on the subjects [Ed. I later created a special entry just to record and analyze Oracle hints].
1. "The egress will set you free." We just had a long discussion about this. The consensus seems to be that it's a vocabulary lesson that will come in handy later. Eugene pointed out that it's probably a reference to a legend about P.T. Barnum and how he would trick visitors into leaving his exhibits (and having to repay to enter) by posting signs that said, "This way to the egress."

2. "Your future is black; you feel boxed in!" My working theory is that this emphasizes the importance of the Black Box, which I already have. I suppose it could also refer to the puzzle on Level 10 that requires a light spell to get out of the initial "box."

3. "Read The Iliad lately?" No idea so far.

4. "Chomp, chomp . . . eh, what's east, Doc?" Again, a Bugs Bunny reference. It may be connected to the later clue about rabbits. I'm still looking for places in which "east" might be substituted for "up."

5. "Secrets abound all around you! Psst! Have you met Glum yet?" I killed Glum and got the Black Box from him. No idea otherwise.

6. "Live the Qabalah!" The Qabalah is a school of Jewish mysticism, and I have no idea how to connect it to Werdna

7. "The answer is carved in stone! It's right before your nose!" I still haven't encountered anything carved in stone. Maybe this is referring to the invisible secret door on this level?

8. "The temple holds an ancient secret." The only temple I've found so far is the Temple of the Dreampainter on the last level. The "ancient secret" might be in the one room that I couldn't enter.

9. "Hop high to enter." I fell down both sides of the ziggurat from the apex room, all the way to the bottoms. But you know what I didn't do? Jump upward (by going north) from each of the "ledges." I didn't do it because it would have been an extra 4 hit points of damage per ledge and I was trying to conserve hit points. Now I'm wondering whether this clue doesn't go with the previous one, and whether jumping up from one of those ledges activates a teleporter that takes you to the secret room. If so, it would be the only instance in Wizardry of a teleporter requiring you to enter its square from a particular direction.

10. "Rabbits are sacred to the Dreampainter." This clearly refers to the same level. Hint #4 is also about a rabbit. Rabbits hop (Hint #9). I feel like there must be some way to put these together that I'm not seeing, unless (again) it's just to jump up from one of the ledges. Hint #13 suggests maybe it's more complex.
Even cartoon ones?
11. "Seek the Dreampainter's soul." Other than finding the way into that room and exploring the "air" squares around the ziggurat, I'm not sure how to do that.

12. "Everyone has a weakness. What is his?" Whose? I'll look for an enemy I can't seem to kill, I guess. 

13. "Take a step to the left, and a hop to the right!" This is a lyric from the Rocky Horror song "Time Warp," but with the step and jump (hop) reversed. Again, something about hopping. Rabbits. I feel like I'm losing it.

14. "Gone trolling!" The game, its author, and the Oracle specifically are all trolling. No idea otherwise.
Werdna at the end of this level. I guess I'm not worried about running out of "keys."
15. "Beware the gifts of Lord Maya!" I don't believe I've met Lord Maya yet.

16. "Get a handle on the forbidden fruit!" No idea. 

17. "Rocks. Multilayered rocks." No idea.

18. "Homer will show you the way." Homer wrote The Iliad, so it could be another clue to consult that book for the answer to something. The game is too early for this to refer to Homer Simpson.

Honestly, the Oracle's hints are freaking me out more than anything else in the game. They're making me feel I'm missing something even as I comprehensively map each level and theoretically uncover each encounter. Gone trolling, indeed.
Time so far: 23 hours


  1. Is this the first Pearl Jam reference on this blog?

    This level is definitely a bit of a breather. I wouldn't worry too much about the Oracle. Most of the important clues will be very clear once you get to the place they are relevant. The game will also give you a very clear warning when you're at a point where you need to make sure you haven't missed anything.

    1. I'm 100% sure I have made no previous deliberate Pearl Jam references on my blog.

    2. @stepped: "This level is definitely a bit of a breather."

      Why go to the trouble of mentioning that with Werdna still alive and on the next level? Off he goes, and once he gets to the first pentagram, he'll truly test out his immortality, and see whether he's a better man than his enemies, or if it's his last exit.

      Ryqreyl jbzna oruvaq gur pbhagre va n fznyy gbja

    3. Hah, I thought 'Spin the Black Circle' must be a phrase I'd never heard of, because otherwise Chet's referencing grunge!

      Funnily enough, Vitalogy was my first album. Holds up imo, unlike most of the other albums I bought in high school =D

    4. Closer reading of judd's comment reveals some sly referencing. Nice one.

  2. "But I suppose the game is difficult enough that I don't need to complain about a relatively easy level."

    That sentence made me chuckle, true and beautiful.

  3. You are absolutely correct that nofbyhgryl arrq n tboyva sebz yriry gjb be fbzrguvat, naq gung vg jba'g or gung rnfl gb hfr znybe va guvf tnzr.

  4. "I'm aware that it's possible I might be missing some major advantage to some of these allies. No one has commented on this aspect of gameplay in previous comments, so feel free to let me know if you think I'm overlooking something."

    What you're overlooking is that these monsters are all taken from the first 3 Wizardries. The intent is not for you to experiment with them to figure out what they can do, but for you to apply your knowledge from those games to know what they can do just by looking at their names, and thus be able to identify which of them are going to be helpful and which of them are just going to be a waste. The game was aimed at an audience that knew their Wizardry.

    1. Well, congratulations if you've managed to memorize dozens of monsters from three games that you haven't played in 7 years. I'm still happy to take opinions from readers, as much as it bares my deficiencies to do so.

    2. I think you misinterpreted my comment - what monsters are useful and what monsters are not is pretty straight forward, and you're not really missing anything by writing off the ones that seem useless. Those monsters ARE useless, the reason you can summon them is intended as a memory test to check if you actually remembered if they were useless or if you had to summon them and try them out in battle to find out.

    3. Remember, this isn't just a very hard game, it's a game made for people that mastered the first 3. It's going to assume you know them inside and out and test you on that knowledge.

    4. I think we all know what spot Chet is going to get completely stuck at. And how angry he's going to get at what the solution is.

    5. If it's the part I think it is, ur nyernql zragvbarq gung ur unq gb ybbx vg hc va uvf cbfgf gur svefg gvzr ur gevrq guvf tnzr, ohg ur frrzf gb unir sbetbggra vg. V'z ubarfgyl xvaq bs ubcvat gung ur bcraf guvf fcbvyre fb ur qbrfa'g trg *gbb* znq nobhg vg.

    6. hold on...V whfg ybbxrq ng n ovg bs n ivqrb bs cebivat tebhaqf bs gur znq bireybeq naq gur cnffjbeq Purg arrqf vfa'g pneirq va fgbar gurer. Gur pneirq va fgbar guvat nccneragyl ersref gb zncf, juvpu vf n snve ohg ubeevoyl hasnve chmmyr, naq gurer xvaq bs vfa'g n pyhr gung gur cnffjbeq vf gur cnegvphyne cuenfr sebz jvmneqel V gung ur arrqf? Lvxrf.

    7. Nterrq ernyyl gur bayl gbgnyyl hasnve guvat vf gur cnffjbeq gb gur pnfgyr
      Juvpu erdhverf bofpher gevivn sebz jvmneqel bar. Rirelguvat ryfr vf bofpher ohg unf pyhrf va gur npghny tnzr. V npghnyyl sbhaq gur fbyhgvba gb gung cnffjbeq hfvat n urk rqvgbe.

    8. Ab, gurer ner pyhrf. Gur benpyr gryyf lbh "Cnffjbeq vf lbhe napvrag onggyrpel" naq "Frrx nzbatfg gur uvfgbevpny jevgvatf bs Gerobe'f sbrf sbe gur cnffjbeq", fb lbh xabj vg'f n onggyrpel bs Jreqan'f gung lbh pna svaq va fbzrguvat ur jebgr va gur cnfg. Gur pbeerpg nafjre vf fb vaperqvoyl vpbavp naq zrzbenoyr gurer'f ab jnl gur vagraqrq nhqvrapr bs pbybffny Jvmneqel areqf qvqa'g erzrzore vg, fb V guvax vg'f n cerggl snve chmmyr. V'z nyfb jvyyvat gb org fhofgnagvny zbarl Purg jvyy qvfnterr jvgu zr ba gung bar.

    9. Yeah, I found that particular puzzle to be one of the easier ones. I had to look up some of the other ones.

    10. Bu, gung svefg uvag lbh tnir ernyyl znxrf vg zhpu zber ernfbanoyr. Na rkcyvpvg zragvba gung gur pyhr vf nobhg gur cnffjbeq ernyyl phgf guvatf qbja; frrzf yvxr gur sehfgengvat barf ner gur barf jurer lbh unir gb znxr n yrnc bs ybtvp obgu gb svther bhg juvpu chmmyr gurl'er gnyxvat nobhg naq gb svther bhg gur nafjre. Vg ybbxf yvxr ur whfg unfa'g rapbhagrerq gung pyhr lrg, znlor vg pbzrf hc ba hccre yriryf?

      V ybbxrq ng gur nqqvpg'f byq cbfg ntnva naq vg frrzrq yvxr ur tbg gur jebat raq bs gur fgvpx ba guvf; gur jnyxguebhtu fnvq lbh unq gb or snzvyvne jvgu gur bevtvany Jvmneqel naq Purfgre znqr gur yrnc gb guvaxvat gung gur pyhr ersreerq gb jnf "pneirq va fgbar." Znlor gurer'yy or fbzr ubcr jura ur trgf n uvag gung gryyf uvz gung vg'f rkcyvpvgyl nobhg gur cnffjbeq?

      In case it's not apparent, I'm not a Wizardry-head at all, just a fascinated and somewhat horrified spectator.

    11. Gur benpyr'f pyhrf ner tvira bhg va fgevpg frdhragvny beqre, fb juvpu yriry lbh'er ba qbrfa'g znggre. Naq lrnu, gur "pneirq va fgbar" pyhr eryngrf gb n qvssrerag chmmyr.

  5. The oracle's hint #5 I believe is meant to clue you in to the fact that there are some hidden items in the minefield, which is "around" where you met Glum.

    Aside from the ones pointing you to the fact that there's SOMETHING in the Dreampainter temple, everything else is mostly referencing puzzles you haven't really encountered yet. But it's absolutely a good idea to keep track of the clues and what you assume they refer to like you're doing. You're on the right track with some of them.

  6. Regarding:

    "Werdna at the end of this level. I guess I'm not worried about running out of "keys.""

    I'd think that "keys" are your remaining keypresses (aren't you limited to 1M?)

    1. Yes. As someone commented on the previous entry, this is really just a psychological threat put there to make you more tense ("I need to play really carefully because I'll get an instant game over if I use too many keystrokes"). Chet already figured out that he's never actually going to run out of them no matter what he does and can just ignore the big scary number looming over his head. It's one less thing to worry about.

    2. A million keys at 4 keys per second constantly with no thinking time in between gives you about 70 hours of play time. So I imagine more of a score than a threat. :)

      Or a challenge to anyone who wants to see what happens when you run out. Poor Werdna's lugging that sack of keys all through this place.

    3. If you decided to play like an RTS doing 300+ actions per minute that would still 55 hours or so!

  7. I'm not 100% sure, but I think this is too early for the use of "trolling" in the internet sense. Oxford University Press places the first use in 1992, but there are several accounts of people using it earlier. Either way, would a game have expected it's players to be familiar with Usenet slang?

    "Trolling" is also a kind of fishing. You may literally have to fish up an object (possibly a literal troll).

    1. "Trolling" means to drag a baited line through an area and hoping fish will grab the bait, which is also where the internet slang term came from - you'd post bait on an online bulletin board and hope someone came along and "took the bait" by responding to it as if you were serious. The later usage of "trolling" to refer to being obnoxious on the Internet in general came later, as a result of people misinterpreting exactly what kind of behavior was considered internet trolling.

      Return of Werdna is from 1987, and while the term trolling was quite possibly in use as referring to posting bait on the Internet at the time, I really really doubt the later misinterpretation was. Chances are it's just a coincidence.

    2. I'm pretty sure it's just a cheeky way of saying "gone fishing", but if anyone would be familiar with very early online message board jargon it would be Roe Adams. He was Extremely Online, as the kids say today, creating probably the first online community for documenting a game (Sierra's 1982 game Time Zone).

    3. It's also too early, as already observed, for the reference to Homer to be about the Simpsons (it's obviously an Iliad reference). But this game made me say "D'oh!" plenty of times.

  8. You should be able to ‘use’ the St Rimbo Digit in combat if you have them equipped.

  9. 17. "Rocks. Multilayered rocks."

    (rot13) "frqvzragnel, zl qrne jngfba"

  10. Clue 16 is interesting and it took me forever to figure out what it's ACTUALLY referring to. The ingame meaning is obvious enough (and refers to something Chet hasn't encountered yet), but gurer'f ab fhpu guvat nf n "Ybeq Znln", gubhtu gur perngbef frrz gb or haqre gur vzcerffvba vg vf qhr gb fbzr zvpbzzhavpngvba fbzrjurer. "Znln" vf npghnyyl gur uvaqh grez sbe "vyyhfvba", fcrpvsvpnyyl "gur vyyhfvba gung gur rneguyl vf jbegu chefhvat bire gur fcvevghny". Gur serrqbz gb znxr gur jebat pubvpr.

    Obvious spoilers, but if you've beaten the game you know exactly what true significance of this is.

    1. ROT13 responding to the spoilers:

      Gur tnzr'f vagrecergngvba bs Xnoonynu vf qrevirq sebz Jrfgrea bpphyg/arj ntr fbheprf, fb V jbhyqa'g or fhecevfrq vs vgf bgure fbheprf ner fvzvyneyl fxrgpul. Vg frrzf yvxryl gb or n tneoyrq ersrerapr gb Znen, jub grzcgrq gur Ohqqun jvgu guerr qnhtugref -- juvpu jbhyq znxr gur "tvsgf bs Zn[e]n" va guvf tnzr gur guerr fjbeqf, juvpu ner n qvfgenpgvba sebz gur "rayvtugrazrag" bs gur tenaqznfgre raqvat.

    2. Gur tnzr irel fcrpvsvpnyyl fnlf gung, dhbgr, "serrqbz bs pubvpr vf bar bs gur terng tvsgf bs Ybeq Znln", fb V'z cerggl fher gurl xarj jung znln jnf, ohg whfg zvfvagrcergrq vg nf gur anzr bs n tbq engure guna gur anzr bs gur tvsg vgfrys.

    3. Ah, I forgot that line. It's been a while. In that case my assumption is Ebr Nqnzf tbg vg sebz gur fnzr xvaq bs pehapul-tenabyn frpbaqnel fbhepr ur tbg gur Xnoonynu fghss sebz.

    4. Probably. I'm pretty certain ur whfg ernq gur cuenfr "gur tvsg bs znln" naq zvfvagrecergrq vg nf "n tvsg sebz fbzrbar anzrq Znln" engure guna "n tvsg pnyyrq znln".

  11. How fun it's being to read about a game I have not played but I absolutely hate.

    1. Yeah, some games are good popcorn material and this is one for sure.

  12. "Wights are so good that I'd take two groups of them if I could."

    "The paralysis of grave mists and the life-draining of nightstalkers would have been useful on other levels, but here they're outclassed by wights. "

    The combination of these two is a good justification for summoning previous-level monsters - you can't double wights, but you can get the next best thing instead of a dumb fighter.

  13. "Wights are so awesome."

    For a moment I thought you were bitterly sarcastic, because I guess every (C)RPGer hates level-draining creatures with a deep and fiery passion, until I remembered this is Wizardry IV :)

    1. Level-draining monsters are some of the biggest BS game designers ever came up with. Even Zelda 2 had that nonsense in it.

    2. I'm beginning to hate Angband for this very reason. After a certain level, about 50% of enemies are capable of draining something.

    3. I've heard discussion of this design decision on Roguelike Radio: As I understand it, lbh ner fhccbfrq gb fcraq lbhe gvzr ohvyqvat hc vzzhavgl gb inevbhf fcrpvny nggnpxf. Ng yrnfg vs V'z erzrzorevat jung V'ir ernq pbeerpgyl. Also, I think this is the first time I've been able to be helpful, at least, if I'm even close to correct about this.

    4. In a pure turn-based environment with limited strategy options, it can be quite difficult to add meaningful variety to enemies. It is, however, quite important to add that variety because not doing so makes the game very boring.

      Among the limited options, doing damage to something besides hit points is the easiest. Hence, experience or attribute drain.

  14. Heh, heh, heh...Tiltowait. Always loved that spell.

    No problem with the ghost of Trebor lately? Haven't mentioned him in a while.

    1. I die because of him once or twice per level. It's not nearly as bad as random LAKANITOs from regular enemies.

    2. A minor hint if Lakanitos become too annoying. Znxr fher lbh ernq gur qrfpevcgvba bs gur fcryy ynxnavgb, xabjvat jung vg ercerfragf pna uryc lbh. Vg’f abg hfrshy lrg ohg jvyy or fbba.

  15. Some comments on Wizardry mechanics:

    MAKANITO's instant-kill effect also depends on enemy level in addition to enemy hit points. (I think in Wizardry 1/2/3/5, it doesn't depend on hit points at all.) It's a 100% certain kill against random encounters earlier in the game, but you've already far enough that hit points are now more of a consideration.

    TILTOWAIT actually does 10d15 damage; the documentation is incorrect.

    The only way I know of to get better initiative for yourself is high Agility; you need 15+ to start to get bonuses, and you don't currently have access to the higher-level pentagrams that will grant that. Initiative in Wizardry is also rolled on a d10 like AD&D 2nd Edition, not the d6 of earlier editions.

    I don't know how initiative ties are resolved here ... in other Wizardry games, Gold Box, and Phantasie, ties always are resolved in favor of the adventuring party ... which you aren't.

  16. Chet: Did you see that your blog is now listed as a resource on The Obscuritory?

    1. I did not, although someone mentioned having come from there. I'm afraid I've never looked at that site.

  17. Read The aceMagazine Mar 88 , a guide to crpgs

  18. I love that what should be a sort of olive branch in such a hard game, the hints, are causing you such stress. Even the oases in this desert are deceptive!

  19. I'm no expert in Indian or Japanese Buddhism and I'm about to make some mistakes, however I have heard Maya is one of the twenty secondary unwholesome factors in Buddhism, in this case pretense and deceit.

    The Gifts of Maya are the duality of mind and body and the illusory pleasures of the material world, which the universal mother Mahamaya gives us to keep us isolated from Krishna, the universal self. There's a sort of Catholic Trinity dogmatic issue with whether Maya the goddess is the same as Maya the mother of Siddartha/Gautama Buddha.

    Again, this comment is surely full of mistakes.

    Anyway, the Japanese developers of this era must have been familiar with Buddhism, it will be interesting to see if any of that stuff comes in or if it's just, like, an illusory door or a cursed sword or something.

    1. I'm not sure if this is what you were implying, but this isn't one of the Japanese Wizardry games.

      Adamant and I had a long ROT-13 conversation about this above that you might be interested in.

    2. Gubhtu vs gur "tvsgf bs Znln" jrer tvira gb uhznaf ol Znunznln, gura "gur tvsgf bs Ybeq Znln" jbhyqa'g or vanpphengr nsgre nyy.


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