Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Eye of the Beholder III: The Great Mysterie of Godliness

 
"For instance, without the exile of the Dark God, rakshasas cannot return to these ruins to try to resurrect Tyranthraxus."
         
I'm narrating this entry in real-time, describing in detail what I encounter as I go through the first level of the Temple of Lathander. I like to do one entry like this for a long game, usually somewhere in the middle. I'm writing everything as it happens, so none of my paragraphs are tempered with knowledge of future events.
         
The level we're exploring.
         
The title card tells us that the temple was once an "icon of light, goodness, and purity," but it now lies in a shadowed ruin, with no trace of its former holiness. We enter the foyer, a single square with alcoves to the east and west. Down a short hallway to the north is a 3 x 3 room with what looks like a baptismal font in the center. Clicking on it leads Gaston (ranger/cleric) to murmur sadly: "This fountain has been vandalized. Doubtless its holy waters once held the very power of prayer."
      
Are we sure it isn't a bird bath?
       
As we contemplate the font, an enemy wanders in from the north. It looks like a black pudding, so I pause the game and open the manual to verify that's what it is. It isn't a black pudding but rather a "living muck," for which authors lazily re-used the torso of the previously-encountered slithermorph. The manual indicates that it's appearing for the first time in a Forgotten Realms CRPG, so it's described in full. It's a non-intelligent, amorphous blob that attacks living beings on sight, has 11 hit dice--so I guess 6 to 66 hit points? I never really understand how hit dice work. How do you know what type of dice to roll? Anyway, the number of hit points isn't the hardest part. They're immune to acid, lightning, and poison, and fire only does half damage. Worse, there's a chance that they can destroy any weapon that touches them, and they can paralyze. This needs to be an all-spell, all-range battle, and (as per the last entry), I've just given up most of my offensive spells.
  
Fortunately, the font gives us something to lead it around. We backpedal in circles around the font while Marina tosses off three "Ice Storms," accidentally catching the party in the blast of one of them. The beast is still alive. A "Fireball" cast from a scroll passes through the creature. Suddenly, a shadowy enemy steps in from a side corridor and blocks our path. This appears to be a shade. The manual is light on details (it's been in Forgotten Realms games before), but nothing about the description indicates that I need worry about attacking it with weapons. I execute an "All Attack," and it dies in one hit, allowing us to continue the chase around the fountain. I imagine "Yakety Sax" playing in the background.
   
I equip Marina (mage) with a Wand of Cone of Cold, which I hate because the animation takes about half an hour. The beast dies on the fourth salvo. I turn and find another one right behind me. I instinctively hit "All Attack" and watch as most of my character's weapons disappear. This is not a situation I'm interested in trying to recover from, and I reload. 
      
Do any of you have the role-playing will to continue after such a mistake?
   
This time, knowing what we face, I dump the buffing spells I memorized last time and load up with hot and cold-based offensive magic and buff with "Haste" before entering the building.
  
There are exits from the font chamber in all cardinal directions. My near-overwhelming urge is to follow the right hallway, but I'm trying to train myself to take the leftmost path these days instead of the rightmost. It makes more sense, as things that are meant to be encountered in an order, like signs or plaques, are almost always arranged left-to-right, or clockwise. It's really tough to break the habit, though, and feels very wrong, like writing with my left hand.
     
The "shade" just seems to be the blackened re-use of some other monster, but I can't identify it.
    
I'm mapping in Excel as usual. I denote the font with a bullet--my usual symbol for something that blocks movement but is not interactable. At least, I don't think it is. Maybe some later puzzle will require me to bless something. 

We head back in and go west from the entrance chamber. It ends in a T-junction, and we turn south. The corridor ends in a room with a pillar in the middle and three alcoves on the sides. The south alcove is empty. The east one has a plaque that says, "War is averted by forsaking the sword." The west one has an elaborate altar with ankh and caduceus symbols and an alien but friendly face. I don't know what puzzle I'm solving, but I imagine the solution is to put a sword on the altar. I toss an extra longsword in there, and the face's eyes open.
      
"Awake again! Now get me two scoops and a tub of raisins!"
     
A shade is entering the room as we go to leave. We return to the T-junction and go north. Here, we meet a setup that's a mirror to the south. The plaque reads, "Drought is dispelled with a drink of clear water." That's a problem. I don't have any water and haven't seen any water in the game. I also do not have, and have not seen, empty flasks. (When you drink potions, they just disappear.) 

A muck is in the font chamber when I return, and I kill it with spells. A couple of shades wander in during the combat. I kill them, too. These are depicted as armored men, while the previous ones looked like women in gowns. The manual does indicate that both depictions are the same creature.
   
We kill two or three more shades as we head north from the font chamber. The short corridor ends at a metal door with a sun symbol on it. The corridor splits east and west. We head west, still following the pattern, but soon it becomes clear I've made a mistake with the map. While I backtrack to figure out where I went wrong, I notice that at some point, a wall opened at the place where there had been the T-junction before. I follow it west into a large chamber with several items on the floor: three bags of incense and a long sword. Marina identifies the long sword as a long sword +4, which is what we had put on the altar (and it remains there). I don't know whether this is a coincidence or the game has duplicated my offering.
      
When I refer to the "sun door" several times below, this is what I'm talking about.
      
A west alcove has a nude statue of Lathander, and a south one has--aha!--a goblet full of water. I take that to the northern altar. Again, the eyes open, and this time we hear the sound of something unlocking. More shades and mucks are around us as we turn around; they must be spawning in rooms we've already cleared.
       
It makes sense that Lathander is the god of spring, because he's definitely a "grower."
     
I can't find anything that changed in the immediate area, so I return to the area north of the font chamber, then take the corridor west again. A hallway branches off to the north and has stairs down. A room past it has a button, which opens a secret door in a western alcove. The hallway beyond dead-ends at a niche with a key called the Fire Key.
   
A hallway south of the button leads to another stairway, which I'm not ready to take yet, so I return to the sun door. There's a muck blocking the way, and I'm running out of spells. I've noted that missile weapons don't seem to get destroyed by the monster, so I quickly unequip melee weapons and make the party an all-missile party. We kill the blob, then head back outside to rest and memorize more offensive spells.
     
Father Jon's hammer streaks away from him while Marina's dagger returns to her.
      
Back inside, the sun door yields to a single click. Beyond, a corridor splits into east and west branches. At the point of split is a plaque reading, "SURELY GOODNESS SHALL REPLACE THE EVIL WHICH LURKS IN OUR MIDST." Enemies suddenly attack from both sides--shades from the left and a living muck from the right. I use the "Camp" menu to re-equip melee weapons, take out the shades, and then get the mucks with a combination of missile weapons and spells. Constantly having to worry about my melee weapons is getting tiresome already, and I won't mind when this level is over.
    
The area I'm in turns out to be shaped like a double-barred cross. Each lateral protrusion--the parts of the cross that stick out to the left and right--has a message. On the lower bar, the messages on both sides are the same: "INTO THE PIT OF DESPAIR YOU ARE CAST WHILE THE CURSE OF THE NIGHT STILL LASTS." At both ends of the lower bar are stairways down.
        
You'd think that engraving a golden plaque and affixing it to a stone wall in a monster-filled dungeon would take more effort than just putting a few holy symbols in a few alcoves.
      
The two ends of the upper bar also have the same message: "THE VIRTUOUS LIGHT OF THE DAWN DRIVES BACK THE NIGHT." Near these messages are two altars with "black crosses" on them, represented as upside-down ankhs. The northern apex of the cross has a third, identical altar. 
   
I think I know what's happening. The black crosses need to be cleansed and blessed, then returned to their altars, at which point I'll be able to take the stairs down to something productive. In the meantime, the stairs will take me to something bad. To test out my theory, I save and go down the stairs, and sure enough, I find myself in a featureless, endless room with no way forward, back, or out. 
        
So, we're talking about one of those literal Pits of Despair.
      
I suspect the way to cleanse the crosses is to bathe them in the font in the first room, and I suspect the puzzles I solved to the east of that room are part of the solution in returning water to the font. I have yet to explore the area to the east of that room, so I return to do that now.

I am attacked by multiple shades and mucks while exploring the cross area, and it becomes clear that enemies on this level are respawning. Because the only thing everyone loves more than enemies who eat their weapons are enemies who eat their weapons and cannot be cleared out.

The rooms east of the font are a mirror of those to the west. The northern room has an incense burner and a sign: "PESTILENCE IS SUBDUED WITH A WAFT OF SWEET AIR." I put a packet of incense that we previously found in the burner, and a pleasant aroma fills the air.
    
I have stared at this for five minutes and can think of no caption that is amusing or informative.
        
The southern one has an altar and a sign: "FAMINE IS DRIVEN AWAY BY THE GENEROUS." I curse. I suspect the altar is looking for food, but I don't carry extra rations since "Create Food & Water" is so easy to cast. I remember some apple trees in city ruins outside the temple, so I head back there, grab a couple, bring them back, and place them on the altar. The eyes open, indicating success, and the third room opens to the east.

Like its mirror to the west, the room has a statue of Lathander in the far east. Its right arm is broken off and lying on the floor. I pick it up and restore it to the statue. A blinding flash erupts, and a "supernatural presence" rises before us, speaking: "I would thank you for your efforts to restore both this temple and this city." The apparition goes on to explain that he is Lathander, Bringer of the Dawn, Lord of Birth and Renewal, Patron to Spring and Eternal Youth, and Mentor of Self-Perfection. He says that he is also working to banish the Dark God, and he tells us that to banish him, we will need to defeat his "physical manifestation" at the top of the temple. He says that he'll heal us whenever we need it (we just need to touch a statue), and that he might be able to do more if we finish cleansing the temple. "Many changes lie in store for your world," he says, a bit ominously "Changes that if the Dark God were to control would bring about utter chaos and decay for generations to come." He finishes by giving us the spout to the fountain.
       
Does this Dark God have a name? Have we heard of him before?
     
Cutting through more mucks, we return to the font chamber and put the spout in place. This provides a huge boost in experience to the person who does it, in this case Marina. There are a few places in the game in which this happens, and I'm not sure why the experience isn't shared. While the font casts the "Prayer" spell on the party, it does nothing to restore the black crosses. Meanwhile, the mucks are getting thick in this area and we're almost out of spells again, so we flee the temple to rest and heal.
        
Returning the spout.
       
When I return, I find a new hallway has now opened east of the sun door--which as you'll see from the map is necessary to complete the symmetry of the level. There's nothing in the new area but two more stairways down. I take the second one I find. As expected, it leads not to an actual lower level, but just a lower area of the same level--specifically, a corridor that dead-ends at a keyhole. There are doors to the left and right. I try the Fire Key in the keyhole, and both doors open. Each opens to a chamber with a pile of treasure. The west room has four regular shields, and the right room has a mace +4, an arrow +2, and two more bags of incense. That seems like the waste of a key.

We return upstairs and try the second stairway. It leads down into a skull-shaped chamber with incense censers in alcoves on the walls. In the middle of the chamber. we stumble across the "battered and broken frame" of a paladin of Lathander. In pained, halting speech, she introduces herself as Tabitha. She offers to join the party, noting that she'll need healing almost immediately. I'm tempted, but the party doesn't really need another front-line fighter. Since I saved recently, I say yes just to check out her statistics: she's a Level 10 paladin with high strength (18/65) and charisma (18). Reloading, I offer the second option: "Stay here and rest, Lady. We will finish your work."
      
So, we're just forgetting that party members can be evil?
     
There are a number of burial drawers in the area, but fooling with them doesn't seem to accomplish anything. (They're all closed by default, unlike the ones in the mausoleum.) We put incense in the censers, and a holy symbol appears in the middle of the room.
   
Back upstairs, we go back to the sun door and then west to the staircases we had previously mapped. The first one takes us to a skull-shaped chamber that's a mirror of the last one. There are no braziers in this one, and no encounter in the middle of the room. There are only six drawers, all open. Closing them makes a second holy symbol appear. 
      
Dealing with another muck.
     
We head to the last staircase that we haven't taken (except for the two that lead to the eternal prison). We have to kill two living mucks along the way. I expect it to take me to a mirror of the hallway with the two treasure rooms, but instead it's another double-barred cross. Plaques on either side of the hallway at the bottom of the stairs read: "THE MORNINGLORDS SHIELD YOU FROM THE NIGHT." The ends of both bars have pressure plates with holes in the walls above them, and I confirm after saving that stepping on the plates launches fireballs at the party. There's an empty niche on the south wall.
  
It's immediately obvious what I need to do. I return to the treasure room on the other side--two more mucks along the way--and gather the four plain shields. I bring them back and put them on the plates. A bell rings and a third holy symbol appears in the formerly empty niche.
        
When four regular shields showed up this late in the series, I should have realized they were quest items.
    
With three new holy symbols, we return to the northern part of the level (killing three shades along the way) and replace the three black crosses. I note in doing so that the regular holy symbols I use for casting spells also work, so theoretically we could have skipped a lot of this level if we'd brought the extra holy symbols we'd found at various points in the first two games. I dumped them somewhere thinking they were useless.

As we put the third holy symbol in place, there's a rumbling somewhere, and we find that the two "down" staircases in this area (the ones that led to that weird limbo) are now "up" staircases. Living mucks are closing in, so we dodge them, take the closest, and find ourselves face-to-face with a shambling mound. At least we don't have to worry about destroying our weapons when we attack him.
     
Is it just me, or does that shambler look taken aback?
      
I suppose this wasn't the most exciting level on which to do this detailed blow-by-blow, but it illustrates how the game tries to create interesting puzzles but ultimately makes them too easy.

Time so far: 24 hours

 

66 comments:

  1. Living Mucks only destroy weapons made out of metal. So you can kill them in melee if you equip your Fighters with staffs or wooden clubs.

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    1. Or the claws of that werewolf in your party.

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    2. Ah, well. It was a good excuse to use spells for a while.

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    3. If you still have the +5 sword "Severious" from EOB1, that's another weapon that the Mucks can't eat (or at least never did for me). I have a theory why that's an exception, but it would be a mild spoiler now so I'll hold onto it for a while.

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    4. I think that's the one that the thief stole when he left the party.

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  2. hit dice are d8 for whatever reason, so those mucks are 11-88 hp

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    1. Thanks. Just to clarify--are hit dice ALWAYS 1d8 for all characters and enemies?

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    2. The default is d8. NPCs/enemies with character classes would have the hit die of the character class.
      So unless there's a particular reason to assume otherwise, d8 it is.
      I think d8 simply represents the "medium" hit die (wizards and rogues have less, fighters have more, clerics have d8 too)

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    3. I don't know why the previous comment came out as Anonymous!

      The default is d8. NPCs/enemies with character classes would have the hit die of the character class.
      So unless there's a particular reason to assume otherwise, d8 it is.
      I think d8 simply represents the "medium" hit die (wizards and rogues have less, fighters have more, clerics have d8 too)

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    4. Uh-oh, with all the experts reading this blog, I guess you're in for some extended exposition (and discussion) on hit dice, which dice (and multipliers and boni/penalties) apply to which character or monster types, their historic evolution since the stone age to 426th edition and all the exceptions... ;-).

      If you'd like to increase comment count, that might do the trick, though.

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    5. "Hit dice" are simply the dice you roll to get hit points. For instance, a wizard has d4 as hit dice, so he gets 1d4 hit points per level.

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    6. In 1st and 2nd edition Ad&d (so dealing with everything you've played up until Icewind Dale 2) hit dice are d8. In 3rd edition onward hit dice change to reflect the type of creature. So a 3rd edition dragon will have d12's, while a sprite will have d6's.

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    7. Just to specify what many people said: in AD&D, *monster* hit dice is always d8.

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    8. Actually... in 5th edition they went back to going by creature size. To sum everything up:

      OD&D: always d6.
      AD&D (1st and 2nd): Characters by class, monsters always d8.
      3.X and derivatives: Characters by class, monsters by zoological type
      4E D&D: Characters by class, monsters by tactical niche
      5E D&D: Characters by class, monsters by size

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    9. There exists a pdf somewhere on the internet that lays out the rules of D&D, as used in the Gold Box games. I'll post a link when I can find it.

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    10. The most important thing about hit dice is that they're something of a proxy for levels. A lot of spells and effects in the tabletop editions of D&D affected "X Hit Dice" of creatures, or scaled on a "XdY damage per hit die" basis.

      To the extent that the system was balanced at all, there was an assumption that a X hit die monster was in a similar power range to a X level Player Character.

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    11. Am I remembering wrong that special attacks and abilities were factored into the hit dice of a monster? Like, a monster might have 8 hit dice for HP, plus one for its breath attack?

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    12. Iffy, you may be thinking of special abilities in B/X D&D. If a monster had special abilities, like poison breath or charming, they would get an asterisk next to their hit dice in their statistics, one asterisk per ability.

      The asterisks would count for bonus experience points, enough of which would bump the monster up to the "next" hit dice, but only in terms of xp value, not actual hit dice. In other words, you could have an 8HD creature with enough abilities to make it equal in xp terms to a 9HD monster, but it would still only have 8HD.

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  3. When I played this years ago, I went down those stairs into the infinite black room, and thought that it was a bug that kept me from completing the game. So I quit.

    I feel they could have indicated this better; at least the inescapable rooms in EotB2 look as such, and have a party member say "we're trapped now".

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    1. Oh, god. You just gave me the most powerful sense of deja vu. I suddenly remembered some movie that I rented as a teenager that intentionally gets warped or blurry in the middle thanks to a dream sequence or something. I assumed I had a bad copy, returned it, and got a replacement. When THAT version also got messed up, I gave up and returned it. I can't remember for the life of me what movie it was.

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    2. Gremlins 2's video is warped in the middle when it breaks the fourth wall... Can't imagine anyone being fooled by it, though.

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    3. They changed it for the home video release. In the theatrical cut, they simulate the film breaking.
      I wonder if anyone's done fourth-wall-break in the streaming era by using a "buffering" visual effect.

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    4. Not a film but the Gamecube game Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, which is a cthulhuesque horror game has some great psych outs when you're low on sanity. Some are in game like your characters head flying off, or you starting to recite Shakespeare. Some are in game like a splash screen showing up saying "Thanks for playing the demo" or a fake blue screen of death.

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    5. Trystan, I seem to remember one (deliberate) glitch that made it look like the game had turned off and the TV had gone to standby mode.

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    6. Fun anecdote: my gamecube actually DID crash once while I was playing Eternal Darkness. I sat there and stared at it for a good ten minutes waiting for it to turn out to be an insanity effect and revert back.

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  4. I think the shade is a reuse of the mage NPC graphic from EOB1, which the party encounters on the Kenku level (level 6). He gives a long speech, in which he discussed Xanathar's plans, and then attacks the party solo.

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    1. Exactly what I was about to post. When I saw the shade, first thing that came to mind was that mage from EOB1

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    2. I thought it was a Darkmoon priest.

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  5. Except for the shambler, this level had very poor monster design, as you noted above.

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  6. "A bell rings and a third holy symbol appears..."

    So, you're playing with the sound effects on, or was this a simple message in the text window?

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    1. I never turned off the sound effects for long. You really need them to help determine when enemies are sneaking up behind you.

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  7. Wow, this writing is awful. No, that "dark god" does not have a name, despite the FR pantheon having numerous dark gods in it. No, the good gods in FR don't have the power to "exile" their dark gods forever. And no, 13th-level adventurers have nowhere near the power to defeat an actual god or its avatar.

    This feels like a rush job by someone wildly unfamiliar with how the FR setting works.

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    1. Wow, did someone let door to that RPG forum open again by mistake?

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    2. @Andreas: My understanding is these comments refer to the game and its developers/authors, not Chet's blog entry about it.

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    3. Ha. Yeah, when I read the first sentence of the comment, I thought it was the same commenter who created unnecessary trouble in my last Werdna entry, but it's clear this one is referring to the writing in the game.

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    4. Let me introduce you to my friend Thedas, the Dragon Age setting...

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  8. Also, I wanted to add that by not using every square of the map, this level achieves an interesting and thematic dungeon layout.

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    1. It does for sure, but level layouts like this kind of annoy me. Isn't this supposed to be a temple? Shouldn't the layout include normal temple areas (priests' quarters; worship halls)? I always get annoyed with RPG levels that look like they were designed around puzzles instead of the opposite. -

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    2. Keep in mind that the positioning of the "sub-level" areas is my own choice. I have no idea where the game would put them officially, since there are no coordinates.

      As for realism, that's part and parcel with DM-style RPGs. I've never played one, going back to DM, that seemed to take place in any kind of realistic setting.

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    3. Lands of Lore came closest, I should add.

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    4. I mean, most of the city or castle layouts in e.g. Bard's Tale or Might & Magic don't particularly make sense, either.

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    5. I think the overlap between "realistic maps" and "fun to play" is much narrower for first-person turn-based games than for other styles of RPG. By necessity a realistic map is going to have areas that are useless to gameplay, and exploring them tile by tile is just way slower.

      My gold standard for good + realistic map layouts is the Exile series (top down + tiled + turn-based, like Ultima V), where every settlement (friendly or hostile) will generally have sleeping areas, kitchens, work areas, storage areas, latrines, livestock pens, garbage heaps, etc. You pretty quickly learn how to identify these by sight and figure out the risk/reward of exploring them in depth. Also, because combat is "on-map" and tactical, interiors tend to be more spacious, with more "uninteresting" tiles kept clear for positioning.

      These maps would be absolutely excruciating to play in a first-person engine. So much pointless mapping. So I think first-person games have to take a different approach for verisimilitude in-game and hope that people don't take the overhead maps too literally.

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    6. Not to mention that in 3D blobbers of this era you can only look a few squares ahead - increasing the depth would have involved significant overhead for many systems. So 10 x 10 rooms would probably have been impractical for this reason. (As well as being hard to map - though automapping could work. And losing their beloved spinners.)

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    7. Part of the fun of a good blobber is the mapping challenges. Too much realism would take away that fun.

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    8. I very strongly prefer games which attempt to build an internally consistent world rather than simply designing game levels (see Deus Ex vs the modern sequels), but that's a good point about the conventions and limitations of first-person dungeon crawlers. It's probably one reason why the genre doesn't quite work for me.

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    9. I agree with you, Till, and for that reason, DM-style games will never be among my favorites. I appreciate them for what they do and have learned to recognize good and bad examples of the sub-genre, but give me Ultima Underworld any day.

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  9. Did the levelmaker get bored and doodled a pe**s and they let it stay in the game?

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    1. My first associations were the level giving the player the middle finger or (makes even less sense) a computer joystick.

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    2. I thought crosses and skulls (probably what was intended.)

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    3. Space Invaders!

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    4. Or it's a prank on people mapping especially if you map each sublevel alone and end up staring on the middle finger on your paper

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  10. LATHANDER: We, the immortal protectors of this world and plane, are attempting to banish the Dark God forever. And with your help, we will all succeed.

    BUGSY: Cool. Does this Dark God have a name.

    LATHANDER: (eventually) Um... er... ....yes. It's... uh... .....*Darko.* Dark... God... of the, umm... .....dark. Yes, that is it.

    MARINA: Now you're just making things up.

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  11. The Living Muck does not appear in any D&D material before this game. It seems unfair compared to pre-existing equipment eating monsters, because those require a roll to be succesful (as in EOB1 and 2).

    The grave mist, ogre slug, and undead beast are also made up for this game. As they're not particularly special or innovative, and D&D has a huge bestiary, this feels like an unnecessary change to the setting: why get an expensive FR license if you're not trying to fit in with the FR world? I suppose to a FR fan, that feels similarly "wrong" as retconning that Ultima 2 takes place in Britannia.

    EOB1 and 2 (and the Gold Box series) do appear to take their monsters faithfully from the setting material.

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    1. Are you sure that grave mists originated in this game? I recall them being in the first Wizardry. (Though I did play the Famicom version from '87...)

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    2. Monsters by that name may have been in Wizardry or other games, but D&D usually uses a self-contained bestiary drawn from its own tabletop rules. It's odd for a CRPG to introduce a new monster to D&D canon, let alone so many. When Radiant says "made up for this game," he means brought into D&D rules and with the standard D&D descriptions of things like "hit dice."

      I agree that it's weird. It's not like there weren't already plenty of monsters in the D&D Monster Manual they could have chosen. Do you imagine it was just a matter of wanting to re-use graphical assets but not having existing D&D monsters to go with them?

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    3. It’s not unusual for a D&D module to have a few creatures created specifically for the game. It sounds like a specific play tester is credited for this instance — perhaps inspired by a creature from Wizardry? https://forgottenrealms.fandom.com/wiki/Grave_mist

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    4. From a licensing perspective, they already had the agreement, though I'm sure TSR took a healthy cut. But, really, regardless of the content, the license will lead to more sales. Longer-term, doing injustice to the brand is bad business, but I think SSI was pretty desperate at this point.

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    5. It's not unusual for *modules* but it's highly unusual for *CRPGs*; almost as if the license forbids it - e.g. Planescape Torment goes out of its way to find bizarre spells from unusual sourcebooks, but they still don't make up new ones. Note that EOB3 was written at a time when SSI was going to lose the license anyway, so I agree they were pretty desperate.

      I concur with Chet that likely the artist drew something and they had to use it. EOB3 appears to have a surplus of artists for fullscreen setpieces, and a shortage of artists that do sprites and animation (a rather different skill). This explains why so much art is reused; e.g. the temple walls and forest from EOB2, several monster sprites, and *weird* things like Insal the Thief on walls, or the EOB1 portal with simplistic pink rectangles on it.

      Also, it's probable that SSI's best people were working on Dark Sun instead, which was intended to be their New Direction.

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    6. Undead Beasts were also in Death Knights of Krynn, so at best, this is their first appearance in the Forgotten Realms.

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    7. Looking over their respective mechanics, these appear to be unrelated creatures that happen to share the same name.

      Delete
  12. I think that that's as good a level as any to do this step by step description and it indeed gives out a quite accurate description of the game experience, its "puzzle attempts" and its general feel. It was a fun read in any case.

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  13. "I have stared at this for five minutes and can think of no caption that is amusing or informative." I wanted to write something smart, but didn't want to leave you incense-d, nor appear to incense-itive... (don't worry, I'm groaning at myself right now)

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  14. "So, we're just forgetting that party members can be evil?"
    Interestingly enough, this level is the only one in the trilogy that actually makes that consideration. Those black holy symbols are usable like normal ones by evil clerics, but instant death to anybody else. Tabitha does join a party that has evil characters, without at all noticing their presence.

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