Saturday, August 6, 2022

The Return of Werdna: Things Remembered

I wonder how many people prank-called Roe Adams with this question.
      
This session mostly involved me running around and trying different things and/or replaying previously-experienced content under different conditions. MALOR was a big help. I begin by covering things I was able to do without a hint.
   
As I covered last time, I lost my first encounter with Hawkwind, who guards the Temple of Kadorto, where the Amulet is found. My attacks couldn't even touch him. But the Oracle had said, "Everyone has a weakness. What is his?" The answer was literally spelled out in the dungeon walls: DINK. I returned to the pentagram at Level 1 and summoned greater demons, a demon lord, and, paging back all the way to the Level 10 pentagram, a dink. If you're wondering what a dink is, he first shows up in The Knight of Diamonds as a "little old man." He has a weak physical attack and only a handful of hit points but--in this game, at least--high magic resistance. Only one is ever summoned.
      
The new party.
     
With the dink in the party, I returned to the castle and made my way to Hawkwind. I had to fight a fixed battle with the Walking Wounded. They're trivially easy, but of course they killed my dink, so I had to reload and try again. He survived the second battle. The Von Halstern Chivalry let me pass without incident because I had the Crystal Rose. We took the elevators up.
   
I wasn't looking forward to fighting the Softalk All-Stars again, but this time they went light on the TILTOWAITs, and I was lucky enough to decapitate the bishop during the first round. The rest of the combat was easy after that. A second battle with temple guards was over in seconds.
   
At last, we were in the temple and in battle with Hawkwind again. He had no particular reaction to the dink before battle. The dink missed his attack the first round, but nailed Hawkwind in the second: 1,313 hit points! Hawkwind died immediately.
     
The author's own avatar's greatest weakness is a dink. My 13-year-old self would have found that delightful.
    
The game has some commentary when the body hits the floor: "As mighty Achilles fell to Paris' arrow, so does Lord Hawkwind fall to the stab of a lowly dink [snicker]! Long will Skara Brae be mourning his passing!"   
    
Particularly the west side of Skara Brae, right? Nudge, nudge.
    
Is this what the Oracle's hints about Homer and The Iliad were about? There are a few problems with it. First, the analogy makes it sound like Paris's arrow is the hero's weakness when instead it's the place that the arrow struck his body. Second, Achilles doesn't die in The Iliad. Homer's account ends before his death, and although the death is foreshadowed, nothing appears in The Iliad about the warrior's famously-vulnerable heel. Nor is the manner of his death mentioned in The Odyssey. But the clues are superfluous anyway since the previous "everyone has a weakness" tells you in much more direct terms what to look for.
    
On I went to the temple beyond.
    
Before you looms the giant statue of the almighty Kadorto. You are not even as tall as his little toe! As you crane your neck backwards and look up, you see the object of your long search. The mystical amulet is dangling from the closed fist of the statue.
     
Just to be clear, the game is suggesting that the statue is over 200 feet tall. That would make the amulet in the accompanying image the size of King Arthur's round table.
         
If I'm not even as tall as his little toe, those braziers must be 50 feet tall. How do they keep them tended?
          
"At last!" you cry, but your joy is short-lived. There is no way that you can see to reach the amulet! Fighting back a growing feeling of desperation, you try everything you can think of to get to the amulet. Every spell you know is useless! You rummage through your items, trying each in turn, hoping that one will be of aid!
    
Sounds like Werdna is a veteran CRPG player. I'm glad the game just scripted that instead of requiring me to do it.
   
What luck! Your Holy Limp Wrist reliquary casts a DIALKO spell! With a feeling of triumph, you watch as the DIALKO takes effect. The hand of the statue softens and opens, freeing the Amulet. To your amazement, the DIALKO spreads out.
   
The newly awakened god yawns and peers down at you with a look of utter contempt. "Insect! So you want this pretty bauble? You have no idea what the powers of this amulet are, or what its real purpose is. Here! Catch it!"
       
Fan theory: The amulet is an infinity stone.
       
Kadorto throws the amulet at you with a disdainful flip of his huge wrist!
   
But is it a limp wrist?
           
You reach out and catch the amulet! You have it in your hand! The Mythril Gauntlet protects you from its raging energies!
   
"Hmmmm . . . ," intones Kadorto. "Think you're clever, don't you? Well, to keep the amulet, you will have to defeat me! Tell me, are you a god?"
     
Thinking quickly, you reply, "Yes!," which seems to be the right answer.
      
Better answer: "No, I am a god-slayer."
    
"Then die like a god!"
      
You draw your blue sword and begin the battle. Ancient forces are pulled into the battle, and your sword begins to glow fiercely. Kadorto lunges down at you, but you leap nimbly aside. His blow makes rubble of the marble floor! Faster and faster your spinning blade weaves a deadly pattern in your hands!

You leap high onto the foot of the throne. Kadorto is just recovering from his attack and is still bent over. On its own volition, the sword licks out and touches Kadorto's chest! The sword scores a critical hit! Kadorto utters a strange gurgle, somewhat like a laugh, then with a shimmer of distorting light, he vanishes!

The priests enter and proclaim you the new god! "What size and shape would you like, oh god?" they ask. "My own will be sufficient," you reply. The priests are not overly impressed. "How quaint," says one, glancing up at the empty throne. "At least Kadorto knew how to look like a god. Well, we will do the best with what we have. Wait until you see the new robes we will design for you, the ceremonies and processionals! We will take good care of you, oh Werdna! Your every wish is our command!"
               
Great. I wish for you to be tortured and executed for calling me "quaint."
           
The years pass quickly as you settle into the god business. Using the power of the amulet, you raise huge temples, spacious retreats, and luxurious monasteries for your loyal priests. Oh, the people grumble under the burden of their tithing. Perhaps you are pushing things a little. "But no," a priest whispers into your ear, "yours is the greater glory. The people love you for it, and you must guide them."

But yet, even though you are a god, now and then, you wonder . . . Have you forgotten something?
    
Again, I am proclaimed a "Wizardry Master Adventurer."

This guy sounds like he must have an interesting backstory.
         
I was surprised that this was an ending for a good-aligned character, so I wanted to see how it differed if I turned evil before going for the amulet. First, you can't get the ending I related last time if you turn evil. Bathing in the pool not only changes your alignment; it also causes your Crystal Rose and all of the trinkets you got from the four chivalric societies to disappear. As for the ending related above . . . nothing changes. I guess alignment doesn't matter if you go for the amulet.
          
Changing your alignment in the pool is a waste of time, since no ending seems to require you to be evil.
       
But I was pretty sure something would change if I had received a different sword from the temple on Level 7. Yes, commenters essentially told me this directly, but also the endgame narrative mentions my "blue sword," so I figured it must have different text for the other two swords. I was right, but I wasn't thinking big enough. Not only does the game have different texts, it has entirely different endings.
  
I discovered this by discarding my West Wind sword and warping to the temple. Seeing that I didn't have any sword, the god gave me the option to choose from among them again. I picked the green sword this time, which is called the East Wind Sword. It has a chance of turning enemies to stone, but I found that less useful than decapitation, and the battle against the Softalk All-Stars was much harder. I ultimately prevailed, killed Hawkwind with the dink, and went into the temple. The text was the same as before up to the point Kadorto told me to "die like a god." Then:
        
This is a surprisingly loaded choice.
       
You draw your green sword and begin the battle. Old forgotten powers awaken and the sword leaps to attack the pompous Kadorto. The sword parries thunderbolt after thunderbolt while you bide your time looking for an opening . . . There it is! A quick thrust to the ankle! Kadorto looks puzzled as a thread of green lightning snakes up his legs. In a flash, he becomes a towering statue of green stone!
     
I wouldn't exactly call that dramatic. I mean, he was a towering statue of stone-colored stone just a minute ago.
  
Fascinated beyond all caution, you reach out to feel the statue. The entire statue crumbles to dust when you touch it! The room is filled with choking dust. You try to run outside, but you can't hold your breath long enough. As you inhale the dust, you hear a smug laugh and Kadorto's voice whispers, "Gotcha!!" You feel yourself stretching and growing rapidly. You are very dizzy . . . The room is spinning around!! You sit down. Ah, that feels much better! You try to stand. What??? You can't move! You can see and hear, but you cannot move!
    
The frightened priests return in the morning and find that a miracle has happened! A somewhat different Kadorto, all green, sits on the throne, the amulet clutched in his fist! There you sit, playing god, aware of each slow second's passing, hoping that some greedy fool will come and try to steal the amulet, releasing you. Centuries pass, and you realize that you got what you always wanted, the adulation and worship of many people. How ironic . . . But you always have this nagging doubt . . . You always wonder . . . Have you forgotten something?
       
That isn't irony, Alanis.
        
So that kind of sucked--and all because I chose a green sword instead of a blue one. Let's try the amber sword, which is called Dragon's Claw. I'm not sure what its powers are. It doesn't seem to do anything special in combat. Accordingly, when I brandished it before Kadorto, he reacted with humor:
      
You draw your Dragon's Claw. It hums with anticipation. Kadorto laughs at you. "What will you do with that?" Actually, you're not quite sure, but it has sustained you through many trials, lending you its strength and energy. Kadorto sends down a pillar of flame . . . and the blade absorbs it! He throws a bolt of lightning, only to see the blade cleave it in half!
   
You feel filled with energy!! You let fly with a mighty blow, and your sword strikes true, slicing deep into the big toe of Kadorto! You feel his life force flowing into you through the sword. As it does, you begin to grow and he begins to shrink! Finally, you are the tall god and he is the puny mortal. "Thank you, free at last," he croaks as he expires!
   
You laugh as the priests scurry around removing the remains. Finally, they all assemble in front of you, abasing themselves and raising their voices upward in supplication: "All pray to you, oh great god Werdna. We rejoice that the weak pacifist Kadorto has been defeated! Take up the sacred amulet. Lead us, oh mighty one, into glorious battle. Make the world tremble at your every step! Let us fill the altars with sacrifices, and the temple with gold and slaves!"
   
The years pass by in a blur of fire, blood, and destruction. Large areas of the world lie desolate. Your priests bloat you with sacrifices and praise. After this, there are other planes to conquer, other planes whose energy can feed your lust for power! You have all your desires, all your dreams fulfilled! But yet . . . Every once in a long while, you wonder . . . Have you forgotten something?
           
This is like that personality test Batlin gives you in Ultima VII. "What is your favorite color?" "Red." "Ah, red, the color of blood and destruction!"
     
So the choice of blue made me a venal god; the choice of green made me an inert god; and the choice of red made me a bloodthirsty god. Where was the Oracle hint about that?
   
I spent another couple of hours answering a bunch of random questions:
   
  • What happens if you show up at the meetings of the chivalric orders without the items they want? They tell you to come back when you have those items (albeit cryptically) and then attack you. It's like they know they're all going to be resurrected when you leave the level and return.
    
If you don't have the Daub of Puce.
    
  • What if I stay good but drop any of the quest items before visiting the Council of Dukes? If you don't have the Arrow of Truth, Orb of Dreams, Crystal Rose, and chosen sword when you walk into the "donjon," the councils of captains, barons, and dukes just attack you, as they did the first time I entered.
  • Do HAMAN and MAHAMAN work after I've turned good? No, it appears they don't work at all in this game.
  • Will Boltac's Trading Post sell to me if I'm good? No. It appears that the encounters in Boltac's are identical no matter what.
  • Can I get the lych-gate if I'm evil? No. Someone tell me if you know differently, but it seems to me that the lych-gate is a huge red herring. You can't get it, nothing happens there, and you don't need to pass through this area at all.
  • What if you show up at Kadorto's statue without the Mythril Gloves? You catch the amulet in your bare hand, immediately die, and wake up in your tomb on Level 10 again.
       
Who are you calling a "poof"?
        
  • What if you show up at Kadorto's statue without the Holy Limp Wrist? You're unable to do anything. The priests laugh at you. One of them tells you to "Try again tomorrow," and you can leave the temple and go search for what you're lacking.
        
Why is there no ending in which I can kill all the priests?
     
  • What if you show up at Kadorto's statue without any of the three swords? Kadorto taunts you for coming before him "armed with mere toys." He says, "Back to your bier, old fool!" and you wake up in your tomb on Level 10.
     
This must not have sounded too bad when spoken.
     
Even with all that accomplished, I knew there was another end. I knew it because I'd been hearing for years about the "grandmaster" ending, but I also would have figured it out from the Oracle's clues. There are too many that don't apply to anything you experience getting to those four endings--the Qabalah, the Root of the World, the Nyin. I had that Void Transducer--what was it for? And, of course, all the other endings had ended with, "Have you forgotten something?"
   
I fixated on the Oracle clue that, "The cenotaph hides the secret way." I figured it had something to do with the lych-gate, battled my way through Boltac's again, and tried using the Void Transducer at the square where it said I found the lych gate. There was no effect. I re-explored the three levels of the castle, making sure there was no way into those "solid" areas and that there were no hidden paths and walkways on the upper floors. 
        
I got this message no matter where I tried to use the Void Transducer.
           
Thinking about the "cenotaph" again, I thought it might refer to Werdna's tomb in the dungeon. Cenotaph comes from the Greek kenos taphos, or "empty tomb." It generally refers to a tomb erected for someone whose actual body is missing or buried elsewhere, but I suppose it could apply to someone whose body has been moved from the original location. Usually that doesn't happen because the person got up and walked away, but these are extraordinary circumstances.

Thus, I MALORed back down to Level 10 of the dungeon and poked around the place where the game started. I tried using my various items (I was so sure the Void Transducer would do something) to no avail. It was time for a hint. I decrypted the ROT-13 hints that various commenters left on my "Mysteries of the Oracle" post and hit upon one from Adamant: "The roots of the world. The lowest floor. Below ten."
   
There's a floor below Level 10? That was an exciting revelation! I doubled my efforts to figure out what to do in the tomb, because for some reason I thought I'd find my way there by finding or creating a staircase down. I tried every ally from the pentagram again, thinking it might have something to do with their abilities or the spells they cast. After a while, it hit me to just try MALORing there. I stood on the pentagram, cast it, set the dial for Level -1 . . . and bounced back to where I was. I tried again aiming for coordinates (0,0) on the level and got the same result.
       
You have to remember where the game started to understand where the "cenotaph" is.
      
I was just about to capitulate and look up the answer when I decided to restart the game and verify where Werdna actually wakes up. It turns out that he wakes up not on the pentagram but in the square one step south of the pentagram. If this is where his cenotaph is, I reasoned, the spell might work here. I cast MALOR again for one level down, and goddamned if I didn't find myself at (10,0) in a brand new level. There was some fist-pumping in Chez Bolingbroke, let me tell you.
   
And then I realized that after this long, long game, I still had another level to map.
   
Time so far: 67 hours

80 comments:

  1. You tease, ending the post just as it was getting exciting.

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  2. Impressive that you managed to figure out most of that without any help. Finding the entrance to level 11 is one of the toughest puzzles in RPG history.

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    1. I needed a hint for the crucial part, unfortunately. It never would have occurred to me that there might be a level below Level 10. I think there's only one Oracle clue that even hints at it, and it's too vague.

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    2. There are hints for it, and it makes sense afterwards but even the existence of a level 11 in a series where there are 10 levels is a conceptual leap. I had to get help for this one — I applaud anyone who found it without help. The rest of the game is pretty easy (aside from looking things up or good guessing) but this is a hard puzzle.

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    3. The second and third Wizardry scenarios only had six levels, only the first had ten (though a few are skippable). Looking back, the dungeon is levels 1-10, but the ground level is one above, a level 0, so it could make sense that there's a level 11. Probably not obvious to anyone except in hindsight though.

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    4. The ground level is 0, but there's two more levels above that consisting of the upper floors of the various buildings and the top of the castle walls.

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    5. I know nothing of this game, this is just an evil thought but what if level 11 is just the *start* of the second half of the game! Bwahahaha!

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    6. I can see child me, discovering this by accident trying too look what happens when I teleport into my grave.

      But I guess child me wouldn't come as far in Wiz4...

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  3. Another level! This has to be one of the hardest, most obscure, yet coolest, secrets ever. I'm very tempted to read a FAQ about what's coming up, but I'd rather read your account. Looking forward to it.

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    1. I wonder what's at the top of people's list of hardest, most obscure puzzles. I gotta give it to Legends of Grimrock's secret ending. I was surprised to find out just that there was one, but what people had to go to solve it is just mind boggling.

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    2. Sorry, I was referring to LoG 2's secret ending (somewhat of an easter egg)

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    3. This entry reminded me a lot of Legend of Grimrock 2's ending(s)! That game is criminally underrated. I hope LOG 3 happens one day.

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    4. I wonder if Konami played this when they made Symphony of the Night. This sounds a lot like that game's true ending.

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    5. Sorry, but I can't think of any real connection between the two except for them both being hidden endings with obscure requirements.

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  4. For all it's early year weirdness, there are some fascinating stories being told. Have to give W4 more credit than I expected

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  5. I will confess I was really looking toward the end of your coverage of W4 (for reasons related to the game, not you), but now I am curious about level 11.

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    1. Don't worry, I'd guess we're looking at 1-2 more posts max, depending on whether he combines the final gameplay and rating posts. And it should be pretty interesting content.

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  6. And this is where Chet finally confirms that he has taken his place as the (reasonably wise in some regards) "elder stateman" of the genre (despite his denials). I can't imagine his younger self persevering with W4 to this degree. The Grandmaster Ending is very apt for him at this point.

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    1. Well, I'm about to turn 50. I'm certainly not "up-and-coming."

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    2. Ask your doctor if Viagra is right for you!

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    3. Audible laughter was produced.

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    4. Right there with you... but 50 doesn't seem nearly as old as I thought it would be!

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  7. "Tell me, are you a god?" - Thinking quickly, you[r] reply[,] "Yes!"

    Someone learned his lesson from "Ghostbusters". Though the resulting answer "Then die like a god!" doesn't promise a better fate and is quite similar to that of Gozer. Wonder if it's an intended nudge to the movie which came out only a couple years before.

    BTW nice reference to Alanis Morissette's "Ironic" in the captions.

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    1. I think it absolutely must be.

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    2. It just occurred to me that at some point in the last couple of months, I crossed the point where I had been writing this blog for more than one-quarter of my life.

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  8. "Back to your bier, old fool!" - "This must not have sounded too bad when spoken."

    In German, "bier" means "beer", so even without knowing the correct English pronounciation of the word, the written message may already have appeared funny to German-speaking players. Though by that stage they might have found out what a "bier" is in English since it already appeared right at the start of the game.

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    1. It doesn't exactly make sense in English. A bier is the thing you use to carry the coffin to the grave. You don't leave it there . It's hardly a common English word anyway, although players of this game were expected to know egress and cenotaph.

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    2. Surely, everyone who made it *this* far would have been well versed in Gygaxian Thesauritus, no?

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    3. @Chet: It wouldn't in real life. However, based on a screenshot (the third) in your first "Revisited" entry, it's established at the start of the game that Werdna was entombed/left on "[his] hidden bier" - without coffin, it seems from the previous screenshot. You relate he wakes up on a "stone slab" which matches the image. That indeed doesn't really sound like a bier with its temporary function you mention.

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    4. It used to be a trope in D&D games that there was always a secret passage or a cache under the main altar in a temple. Possibly Adams was playing off that trope. In this case, the bier is like an altar.

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    5. My favorite modern version of this is that there's always a secret passage behind a waterfall.

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  9. Despite the extremely outdated graphics, you can definitely tell they put a lot more effort into this than 2 or 3.

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    1. I think the wireform graphics actually help the game, because they let Adams' vivid and engrossing writing throughout the game shine through. With all the varied areas, encounters and puzzles, Werdna plays like a hybrid text adventure / CRPG, allowing the player to envison their own visions of the Dreapainter temple, descent into Hell, the cosmic cube, Werdna's encounters in the town, etc. I'm not sure 1986's EGA graphics would have done this game many favors.

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    2. Wiz1-3 came out in the span of 3 years, and then it was another 4 years before Wiz4 came out. From the information available, I kind of get the impression that Adams had a lot of time for design work but the project was starved of developer hours to actually implement his designs. Kind of the opposite of Wiz 1, where they spent a lot of time developing the engine but ended up with a pretty sparse and incomplete dungeon.

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    3. I don’t know what they had to modify in the engine for this game, but most of the design elements were present in one form or other in the earlier games, however he managed to push it into a completely different gam with a lot of interesting, and frustrating, ideas. I think it was a pretty interesting achievement — an early mod (with support from the company).

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    4. It's important to remember that W2 and W3 weren't conceived as full "sequels" but expansions to W1. So it's forgivable that they aren't quite as long or involved.

      I've said repeatedly that I prefer the stark wireframe graphics and blank backgrounds of Wizardry to many of the early textures (see my upcoming Tygus Horx as an example. I don't feel that Bane of the Cosmic Forge, with the same stone textures used for every environment, improves significantly on what we have here.

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    5. I feel the opposite; I'd call the textures in e.g. Cosmic Forge or Ultima 5 decent enough to replay those games even now, but I would never even consider a wireframe game.

      I agree that Tygus looks really bad though.

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    6. I'll admit that I've only heard this as hearsay from Jimmy Maher from The Digital Antiquarian, but I heard the reason that Wizardry's levels past the first few were so sparse was because they just plain ran out of disk space to store the "events" and had to just settle for the middle floors being boring eventless random encounter mazes - without teleporters, stairs, or spinners, even.

      Relatedly, he also said that Secret of the Silver Blades suffered from a similar problem - the Gold Box engine only has so much room for events on each map, and Secret of the Silver Blades used a lot more "invisible teleportation" events, both to new maps that looked identical and to identical-looking rooms on the same map, than the previous games' maps did, to create the illusion of non-square maps (when they were still technically square, you just winded through them non-linearly or secretly went to a second map so it appears to be a single taller/wider area as you map it). This meant that there was less event storage space on each map for other types of scripted encounters, something that Maher criticized the game for having a paucity of - so again, like Wizardry 1's middle levels, you just get maps with random encounter corridors that have the lamest of "walking-around-only" mazes and barely any scripted content.

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    7. To hear that someone "would never even consider a wireframe game" after all the time I've spent highlighting the qualities of the Wizardry series is a little discouraging.

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    8. I can forgive levels 5-8 being unnecessary (and it still leads to exactly six necessary levels like in KOD and LOL). The thing that disappointed me was the broken puzzle, at least in the DOS version, on level 1.

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    9. If anything these posts are making me want to go back and try these wireframe games. My earliest CRPGs were the Gold Box series, and seeing stuff like Alkalabeth just immediately put me off.

      Still probably wouldn't play Wiz 4 though!

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  10. I think putting a hidden final level under where you start is a genius move on RAIII's part. It messes with the fundamental expectations of players of the genre: you start at one end of a dungeon--the top or bottom--and work your way to the other end. That there might be content "behind" where the game starts might literally have never occurred to most players before they got to this puzzle. You don't spend a lot of time in e.g. Dungeon Master looking for hidden stairs up in the first level, do you?

    And like all strokes of genius, it looks obvious in hindsight. Now that I know it can be done, I'm rather shocked that it hasn't become a stock puzzle of the genre. Or maybe it has and I just don't know?

    TL;DR this post kind of blew my mind.

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    1. 2D sidescrolling platformers have something similar where you can hide something to the left of the start position, since players are used to always going right. I've seen it enough now, that I'm in the habit of trying left first, before I get going.

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    2. The Dark Spire on the Nintendo DS -- intentionally modelled as a Wizardry-style dungeon crawler, right down to the optional wireframe graphics -- has a difficult-to-find secret level, labelled literally the "??? floor". The graphics and music change dramatically for this secret level. In the very unlikely case that you ever play a Nintendo DS Wizardry-like...well, then you should play the Etrian Odyssey series. But if you finish THAT, then you should try The Dark Spire.

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    3. Seconded for The Dark Spire. Not as fiendish as Werdna, but it's a complete love letter to classic Wizardry and map making in general. I'm still amazed and delighted that game exists.

      Same with the Etrian Odyssey series, which have the additional fun of making great use of the DS touchscreen for in-game manual mapping.

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  11. "Let's try the amber sword, which is called Dragon's Claw. I'm not sure what its powers are. It doesn't seem to do anything special in combat."

    Oh yes it does: it heals you a little bit every turn. It also heals you outside of combat.

    Unrelatedly, you should note that if you don't specifically want to reach the one ending that requires you to be good-aligned, you don't actually need to change your initial evil alignment at all; in that case, you can also skip getting the special items that are only useful for that ending.

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    1. Unfortunately for Werdna, beheading your enemies before they can cast Tiltowait is a lot more useful than healing a fraction of the total damage from that Tiltowait - if you even survive it, that is! And it sure doesn't help against Lakanito.

      Looking up the name of Lakanito, I found out that it apparently only works against "undead" monsters. Poor Werdna.

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    2. I think the amber sword is also supposed to drain levels if Werdna hits things with it, which may or may not work in the PC port.

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  12. One thought on the scale of Kadorto… “you are not even as tall as his big toe” could include the plinth the statue seems to be sitting on. That means his big toe might be, say, the size of your head, not the size of your whole body. The statue would still be enormous, just not ridiculous.

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  13. I've spent many hours designing dungeons for tabletop D&D and I'm still astounded by the creativity of the puzzles and content packed into this game. The secret level is Ancient Aliens mind blowing.

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  14. Reading about this game has been one of my favourite series on this blog so far, so thanks for playing it through and so thoroughly! It's got so much creativity going on.

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  15. I had a copy of this for the Apple II, and my memory is that I bounced off it hard. This morning I realized I actually *still* had it, fished the box out of my closet, and was quite surprised to find maps in my handwriting of levels 10 through 4. Apparently I made it quite a bit farther into the game than I remember.

    An interesting and subtle piece of misdirection: the box contains a small pad of "Map Plotting Aid" graph paper. The pad contains exactly 10 sheets. The developer is implying that the game has 10 levels, which makes sticking the grandmaster ending behind an 11th level even more fiendish.

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    1. I forgot to mention: the envelope with the answer to the first puzzle is still sealed. I'm proud of you, teenage me.

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    2. Are the castle/courtyard levels level 1 or level 0? Reading the blog I for some reason thought they were _above_ level 1, so you'd at least have run out of graph paper before then.

      Delete
  16. "Paris' [sic]"

    If that's incorrect, it's a mistake I would make every time. I see AP and AMA allow it, while APA and MLA styles recommend against it. But then I still put two spaces after a period!

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    1. Yeah I was conflicted when I saw the [sic], I'm not going to naysay Chet who writes way more than I do and does it for a living, but that's a mistake I'm always going to make

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    2. I have an unresolved inner child injury from having my childhood trusted authority figures give me inconsistent guidance over this particular case.

      (Not a joke; my earliest memories of being upset by teachers giving me conflicting or incorrect information are how to handle possessives for singular nouns ending in "s" and whether or not Christopher Columbus came over on the Mayflower.)

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    3. The [sic] was probably a bit pedantic, but I get e-mails about typos, so I didn't want anyone to think it was mine. The rule I learned, which makes sense to me and forms the rule of the Bolingbroke Style (to which my blog conforms) is that if you would pronounce the extra syllable, you add the 's, and if you wouldn't, you use s'. Hence, "Paris's arrow" but "Achilles' heel."

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    4. (And to avoid any further confusion, we're talking specifically about the rules for possessive apostrophes when the subject is singular but ends in an s.)

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    5. I learned to *always* add the extra s, so "Paris's," "Achilles's," "Ken Williams's," etc. I also learned to use two spaces between sentences, and that commas in the above examples should go outside of the quotation mark because the text inside doesn't end a sentence.

      All of these rules have "officially" - i.e. in common usage - changed sometime in the last 20 or so years. Now we're told to *never* use 's after a singular name that ends in s; just use the apostrophe for possession. Comma always belongs inside quotation marks. Never use two spaces after a sentence.

      I don't have a source on these, but I've read them in seemingly authoritative Internet articles more than once.

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    6. The formal published rules remain exactly that - if a noun is singular, you always possessive-ize it with 's. This is true of most but not all of the major style guides.

      This is a rule that most people seem to forget, primarily because it isn't that common a situation unless you're a writer or your personal name ends in S (in which case it is going to be personal enough to be drilled in in school). It also looks wrong because of the repeated character, despite it being pretty universal to actually say the second S. When you see that that has been done, you can experience the same sort of cognitive dissonance we experience on the rare occasions that a word is repeated correctly.

      It is also something that neither creates confusion (nobody is going to think that "Paris' arrow" means an arrow that belongs to multiple Pari), or creates awkward phrasing (as both Paris' and Paris's are pronounced exactly the same). Therefore it is an utterly trivial distinction.

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    7. There is no one "formal published rules." There are a dozen different styles. APA style says use s's unless you don't pronounce the s in the name ("Descartes' theories"). Associated Press says only put an apostrophe in all cases. Strunk and White (which is probably where I got the idea) say do what I do. Another grammar book I have says, "it doesn't matter; just choose a style and stick to it."

      Nonetheless, there's enough confusion that I shouldn't [sic] anyone else's choice. I've removed it from the entry.

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    8. Your rule definitely makes sense though, so I see why you follow it

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  17. Just repeating other things people have said, but I not only loved the level 11 twist but I loved how you wrote about it (and cut off right at the cliffhanger!)

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  18. The bloodthirsty god was the amber sword. Yellow, not red.

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    1. Irene confirms that amber is not a shade of red. That feels like something it shouldn't have taken me 50 years to learn.

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    2. Amber the colour is yellow-orange, but amber the thing can be anything from pale yellow to a really dark red-brown, so you weren't all wrong.

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    3. Amber is the color of the light on the EVIL Knight Rider car, red is the color of the light on the GOOD Knight Rider car.

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    4. Thankfully, KARR also had a silvery bottom half while KITT was all black.

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    5. Yeah. In KARR's first appearance, the two cars were outwardly identical, though internally, KARR already had an amber-lit voice box (Also, KITT was still using the simpler voice box from the pilot, switching to the classic design only after the initial filming block; we actually see the classic voicebox in KARR first); for his second, the exterior light was changed to amber and he gets the two-tone paint job in the second act.

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  19. At some point please tell us your remaining KEYS for each ending. :)

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    1. Ah, I forgot to note it for the others. But my final count, just before the final ending, was 906549, meaning I used less than 10% of them. And i don't think I was conservative.

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  20. Good Lord *choke*! I think "Live the Qabalah" was actually supposed to be a clue to the hidden level. If so, it's one of the dumbest and most unhelpful clues possible!

    To oversimplify, in qabalah there are said to be ten sefirot between the transcendent reality of God and the physical universe, given names like "Wisdom" and "Beauty." For mystical reasons some writers include an eleventh corresponding to "Knowledge," though this is really considered a sort of reflection of the highest sefirah. I don't actually know if this lore is accepted in all schools of qabalah, and even if it is, it's only one qabalistic concept among literally thousands that the clue could refer to.

    I've been aware of this tradition for 25 years, and coincidentally have actually been reading a book about qabalah concurrently with your entries on Werdna(!), and until you actually found the 11th level, this solution would never have occurred to me!

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    1. I will be interested in your comments after you read about the 11th Level!

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    2. Just for the record, that was an earnest comment. I will genuinely be interested in your take on the level.

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    3. Yeah, Walter's going to enjoy the final entry. The "Qabalah" clue really comes into play there, but it didn't occur to me that it might be a clue to the dungeon having 11 levels.

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    4. Hm, that makes it sound like there's more to the clue than I assumed, so maybe I'm just projecting my own convoluted whim onto Mr. Adams. Either way, I am looking forward to reading that entry!

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