Sunday, November 6, 2022

Game 473: Die Odyssee (1993)

Die Odyssee
"The Odyssey"
Independently developed; OASE Software (publisher)
Released in 1993 for Amiga
Date Started: 1 November 2022
Martin Auer certainly has a sense of elan. He published Die Odyssee on four disks, and the first one has nothing but a text introduction over the strains of Strauss's "Also Sprach Zarathustra"--not some half-assed midi version, either, but a digitized recording from a proper orchestra. All I can say is, opening your game with "Sonnenaufgang" makes an epic promise. You'd better have an epic game to match.
[Ed. I was wrong. The first disk also has a character creator.]
I'm going into this one completely blind. I can't find any instructions for the game, and while I've been able to reach Mr. Auer by e-mail (thanks to Busca for help finding the right person), he hadn't responded to my latest message as of press time.
A few random images pop up during the introduction.
The text screens indicate that Die Odyssee is going to be about the The Odyssey--that is, the story of Odysseus and his journey home after the Trojan War. The prologue actually sets the beginning of the game during the part of the story related in The Iliad:
Odysseus, probably the greatest hero at the gates of Troy, is at the end of his strength. For more than ten years, he has tried to take Troy, but all his efforts have failed. He has come to realize that the walls of the royal stronghold are too strong for the Achaeans, and that more and more of his comrades-in-arms are getting old and war-weary. Odysseus's strength alone is not enough to free Helen, and the Greeks have long ago given up all hope. So the desperate Odysseus has devoted himself more and more to wine and lethargy. But now let the adventure begin!
When we boot up the second disk, we find Odysseus in a tavern. The landlord has told Odysseus about some kind of dungeon beneath the tavern. "There are rumors of cruel monsters, vendettas, mazes, fratricide, and a cursed princess. In any case, the oracle that is said to still exist underground is the only way to end this never-ending war."
Odysseus has three other characters in his party: Amphia the Amazon, Ino the Nymph, and Pheres the Butterfly. (It is, by portrait, an actual butterfly.) Each has statistics for health, mana, magic ability, and strength, plus a bunch of other statistics on their character sheets identified only by single letters. They could be a lot of things. Maybe G for geschicklichkeit ("dexterity") and S for stärke ("strength"), for instance, but there are lots of other possibilities. Each character has an inventory, though the characters start with nothing. They also seem to have hunger and thirst bars.
Odysseus and his mysterious statistics.
The interface has a clock and three meters on the left side. I'm not sure what the meters do, but the clock measures the passage of time. The game is turn-based, so the clock doesn't advance unless you move, but you can also click on it to force time to pass. 
There are two buttons at the bottom of the screen. The left one brings up a menu in which there are a number of actions along with the active character's associated skill with that action. Combining commands and skills is an interesting idea. The options include a bunch that are self-explanatory, like zaubern ("cast a spell"), jagen ("hunt"), and kochen ("cook"); plus a bunch that I can technically translate but don't know how they play out in the game, like opfern ("sacrifice"), sterne deuten ("interpret the stars"), and puls beruhigen. Each character has different strengths among these skills.
Skills, commands, or both.
The right button seems to do the same thing as if you chose zaubern from the left one: it brings up a spellcasting menu, but I can't figure it out for the life of me. There are names that seem like spells up on top and a bunch of color coded dots next to them that you can select. A bunch of slots on the bottom all say "free spell." 
The casting screen. I just realized I don't know what the buttons to the left of the spell list do, either.
There are two buttons in the right panel. One looks like a torch and does nothing when I click on it. The other looks like an eye. It becomes active when I move the party icon over an object. Left-clicking on it does nothing even then, but right-clicking takes the object. I would have thought it would examine it. 
The main view window is clearly aiming for an Ultima VII-style presentation, but the emulation stops at the view. You can click in the window to move around, nothing is interactive otherwise; clicking on objects doesn't pick them up. There's also no Ultima-style interactivity with the world. Doors don't open and close to clicks. When you step on a chair, the icon doesn't show the party sitting down. You can walk freely across most obstacles, including tables (it's the only way to pick up items on those tables), and you can even stand directly on top of NPCs. 

The game's opening moments.
If you click the "eye" button while standing on an NPC, the game loads an image of the NPC along with some dialogue. For instance, clicking on the NPC in the tavern reveals him as Antoklos:
Antoklos, the innkeeper, tears his hair. He's probably wondering how he could confide in you the secret. "Be careful--evil figures are lurking around down there! The Oracle is not unguarded . . .  But the worst thing is that the gods have cursed this place! A CURSE! This is no joke--I'll tell you again: beware!"
I'm going to go out on a limb and say this probably isn't original artwork.

You then are able to enter your own keywords to talk to the NPC. I tried the old Ultima prompts (hallo, name, arbeit, gesundheit) to no avail, but I got a few hits based on the keywords in his speech:
Orakel: "The oracle is the word of truth. It can bring power and wisdom, but also poverty and damnation. And be careful! It is well-guarded. And the gods are not particularly kind to those who want to have an answer for everything . . . In addition, the dark corridors are teeming with monsters." He then said something that the translator rendered as: "Without the oracle, you can stand in front of Troy with your legs in your stomach." Is that some kind of saying in German?
Fluch ("Curse"): "In the palaces under my inn there were bloody disputes over the throne--and the king's power-hungry heirs paid dearly for their greed. A beastly thunderstorm broke over the whole country--for days nobody saw the sun. The gods punish heartlessly if you lose your respect for them. It is said that all those who want to visit the oracle come from the gods." Here the landlord falters. He has to swallow deeply before he can continue. "Being hunted on endless and arduous journeys. Nobody comes home anymore." After a pause, Antoklos continues. "My brother tried it too. He was so young and so curious. I haven't seen him since his torch took off into the catacombs . . . eighteen years ago. My brother . . . it seems like it was yesterday."
Bruder: "His name was Amphyloon."
Amphyloon: "My brother was young and much too curious. He wasn't looking for power or fame. He just wanted to go to the oracle and find out what life is all about. I tried to reason with him but he was irrepressible. He said, Anto, he said I have to do it. Don't hold me back. Those were Amphyloon's last words. Where can he be now?"
At this point, I gave up asking more keywords because my fingers were sore. Between the introduction, the commands, and the NPC dialogue, there's a lot to translate in this game. When I established a rule that I would play non-English games as long as I could type the text into a translator, I don't think I was anticipating quite this level of volume. LanHawk has since extracted the text for me, so next time I fire up the game, I'll just have to copy and paste.
Equipping some clothing.
I wandered around the tavern, picking up food. I found some clothing in one room and had my characters equip it. I found a book on a nightstand and read it; it had about 50 screens of text that I couldn't bring myself to translate. There were a few chests I couldn't get open and a door I couldn't unlock. Pheres became "exhausted" at some point, but I can't figure out how to rest to restore him.
That's about as far as I could get. The way down to the catacombs must be behind one of these locked doors, but I'm not sure what the secret is to opening them. I'm hoping Mr. Auer can give me some tips; if not, I'll continue bumbling about and see if can't at least experience combat.
Time so far: 2 hours.


  1. "Without the oracle, you can stand in front of Troy with your legs in your stomach." Is that some kind of saying in German?

    "Sich die Beine in den Bauch stehen" is indeed a German idiom, basically meaning "waiting for an eternity" or "waiting forever". In other words, you will never progress in the game unless you've talked to the Oracle.

    1. Right. A more literal translation would be "to stand [around until] one's legs [become embedded] into one's stomach". The expression always made intuitive sense to me, although it is a bit weird when you think about it.

    2. I know it with "one's feet" instead of "one's legs", which I guess is even worse.

    3. I always parsed "Füße in den Bauch stehen" as 'the wait will be long enough that even the legs are gone'. Still weird and not self-explanatory, though.

    4. I am interpreting it as "standing around until gravity compresses your body down so long and so much that your legs have crumpled into your stomach". It reminds me of the English imagery/idioms of standing around like a statue, getting "rooted" to the ground (i.e. implying that you literally cannot move, as your feet have grown roots into the groind where you stans) or until one is covered in moss or spiderwebs due to their inactivity allowing for such things to grow on them. It might also be a reference to osteoporosis, implying that you will stand around until you grow old and your bones shrink, your stooping giving you the appearance of your stomach touching your legs. It also could be a reference to you standing there so much that you starve and grow gaunt, producing a similar result.

      If Martin Auer was indeed trying to make a poetic game, I hope that my literature class-esque analysis has made him happy! Then again, the game IS based on an epic poem... so I suppose the pomp and circumstance is just his way of being true to the source material.

  2. So the game calls itself the Odyssey, then the plot starts in the Aeneid instead (since the war isn't over yet), and the gameplay is about a dungeon under a tavern? I was hoping for this game to be better-versed in Greek mythology.

    Ino is a sea goddess and former queen of Thebes, not a nymph. There are several characters named Pheres, none of which is a butterfly. Odysseus did have a companion called Amphialos, but he was not an amazon. Anticlus is one of the warriors in the famous Trojan Horse, not an innkeeper. And the name Amphyloon doesn't appear to be from mythology.

    1. You mean the Iliad, not the Aeneid! The Aeneid is Virgil's Roman Odyssey rip-off.

    2. He probably does mean the Aeneid, which tells the story of the fall of Troy told in flashback as Aeneas recounts it to Dido. The Iliad ends after the death of Hector and does not contain the story of the Trojan Horse, although the Odyssey does briefly mention it. There probably is no lost Homeric epic telling the story of the Trojan Horse and the fall of Troy, but everyone hearing the Iliad or the Odyssey would have known the general shape of events.

    3. It was not a Trojan Horse, it was a Greek Horse. So cunning was the cunning Odessus that people still call it the Trojan Horse, and call a certain strain of computer virus for "Trojans". Surely it's problematic that an ethnic group is stigmatized this way?

    4. Odysseus, not "Odessus".

    5. It would probably be of more concern if there were any Trojans still running around. I think they all call themselves Turkish these days.

    6. On some level, we could say that any endeavor Odysseus embarks on is an odyssey just by virtue of him doing it. Penelope must roll her eyes when he says "I'm off on another ODYSSEY" then goes on a wine run.

    7. The question of what is and is not in various iterations of Greek mythology has come up surprisingly often lately.

    8. Inaccurate to the sources as it may be, I will never discourage a game author from making a butterfly as a playable character. This game was making Planescape: Torment-style character race + class choices before it was cool; mad respect from me!

  3. "I'm going to go out on a limb and say this probably isn't original artwork."

    At least it's era-appropriate.

    1. Um, nope: It depicts a commoner of the Renaissance era - while there had been plenty of paintings with an ancient or mythological theme during the Renaissance, this wasn't it.

    2. The picture is "Allegory of taste" by Jusepe de Ribera, so at least it's tavern-appropriate.

    3. I thought it should be obvious I was joking. Clearly, that guy can't be an Ancient Greek - no epic beard.

    4. Sorry, Atantuo, I realized that about three hours later. Emoticons do help in that regard ;)

    5. But it is era-appropriate, that is, mid-nineties video games-era appropriate.

    6. Public-domain story, public-domain artwork... it's cohesive, in its own quaint little way.

  4. From screenshots of old reviews, the letters should mean R(eaktion), (G)eschwindigkeit - Speed, S(tärke) - Strength, C(harisma), A(usdauer) - Endurance, K(älteresistenz) - Cold Resistence, (B)eweglichkeit - Dexterity/Agility, I(ntelligenz).

    The Amiga games review ( also seems to imply that there is a character generation, where you pick a race, line of work, sprititual orientation, and answer two questions. Maybe you got a copy with a pregenerated charater. Amphia, Ino and Pheres appear in the review, too, so at least the names are fixed.

    No details on the magic system in either review on kultboy, but the Amiga Joker review mentions that the magic system will drive even experienced RPG players crazy without reading the manual, so hopefully Mr. Auer can help you out there.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. The Amiga Joker review also mentions cumbersome inventory management and having to constantly provide food for your companions. Reading that particular review isn't very encouraging... The game scores only 46%, and Amiga Joker was, aside from a more jokular writing style, usually known for rather inflated scores (and there also generally was a goodwill bias towards local developers as well). If the game didn't even manage to score 50% despite all that, it doesn't bode well...

    3. "Cold resistance" seems like an unusual stat for a game set in the Mediterranean :)

    4. Glad I could help. I see Buck and El despertando already commented on things that can be gleaned from the reviews.

      There are other basic aspects in there which I had ROT13'd (sent you an email earlier) regarding the entrance to the dungeon and opening chests, though they should either be in the manual as well or (soon become) obvious. Same regarding exhaustion and mana (which I did not ROT13).

    5. It certainly has its own interface conventions... I took a short peek, the three bars at the left represent hunger, lazyness and cold (averages for the party). I also managed to cast a light and a map spell. I selected the spell (Karte, Licht, ...) and left clicked on the text box "Ein Spruch..." - not sure what the icon and colour buttons did. That cast the spell.

      You can also right click on the text box and enter a name for the spell, then klick the down arrow to store it in one of the spell slots below. I got stuck entering a spell once, though, when the keyboard only produced zeros and I couldn't leave the textbox anymore.

    6. Re the magic system - just wildly guessing here based on the screenshot and maybe it'll soon be moot if the manual turns up, I'll ROT13 some parts just in case you prefer to experiment around and discover it yourself:

      - "Free spell" should be placeholders for spells yet to be learned / created.

      - The three images to the left (below the "Z" of "Zauberspruch") seem to depict top to bottom gur trareny punenpgre bs n fcryy: nggnpx, qrsrafr, pnhfr rssrpg.

      - The two windows in the center below "Zauberspruch" containing nouns could mean lbh unir gb pbzovar bar bs rnpu. Ohg vg engure ybbxf yvxr gurfr ner gjb pngrtbevrf bs fcryyf. Gur hccre nccrne gb or "hgvyvgl" fcryyf nccylvat gb gur jubyr cnegl (znc, yvtug, urnyvat nhen), gur ybjre bar gubfr gnetrgrq ng vaqvivqhny cnegl be rarzl punenpgref (urnygu, irabz, znqarff).
      Maybe you can check the plausibility by scrolling through the respective other options.

      - The coloured dots on the right: Znlor gurl ercerfrag ryrzragf gb pbzovar jvgu gur abhaf, znlor vaterqvragf/erntragf, znlor vagrafvgl?

    7. AlphabeticalAnonymousNovember 6, 2022 at 6:56 AM

      I wondered whether this was the first RPG we've seen to have a dedicated statistic for Laziness -- but a quick search shows that Moraff's Revenge also had this. I wonder whether it will prove to be more useful here than there.

      Seems appropriate to be reading about this game right now, since I'm currently riding a regional train through southern Bavarian on a work trip.

    8. Amiga Joker was known for inflated scores? Like for the continent? I always assumed they took more nuanced views of games based on the reviews I've seen, admittedly as a non-German speaker.

    9. @Morpheus: let me put it this way: the Joker originally gave the Amiga 1200 Version of "Rise of the Robots" a score of 91%. More than half a year later they kind of backpaddled a bit on that by including the review submitted by a reader, which gave a way more sensible (by some accounts still overrated) 40%. Around here, it wasn't exactly the most reputable magazine... 😉

    10. The 'Amiga Games' review indeed also shows a screenshot of Odysseus' skills all still beng zero (except for 2 points in "repair clothing" which seem to have been just allocated based on the cursor position) as opposed to your screenshot with a number of skills having points, so yes, you appear to have a version with already created character(s).

      If no other version can be found on the net, maybe Martin Auer could provide you with the adf files he says below he found last year? (And of course a manual would be great... .)

    11. In addition to what Busca said about the magic screen, still speculating, I would guess the center text "Ein Sprauch..." looks to be a placeholder to input the created spell name.

      And the down arrow could be the "Create Spell" command, which transfer your selection above to the selected free slot below, with the name you have chosen.

    12. The disk boots directly to the last saved game. I can't seem to find any way around this. Presumably, there's a way to interrupt loading the saved game and go to a character creation process, but if so, it involves doing something unintuitive at an uncertain time. I've tried both left- and right-clicking at various points in the load process.

    13. The character creation process is on Disk1 after the intro. I will send details.

  5. Wait a second. The butterfly character has massive amounts of mana and a high casting stat. Is this a reference to the Quantum Butterfly ("Does the Flap of a Butterfly's Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas") seen in books by, among others, Terry Pratchett?

    1. Hmm, seems like a tenuous connection at best... unless they're specialized in Air Magic, of course.

    2. It's probably weak in melee, though.

    3. Wizardry series has a Pixie race, who are tiny people with large butterfly wings and powerful magic abilities. (Which is good, since they can't wear armor.) That seems a more likely reference, if it's a reference at all.

    4. "Wizardry series has a Pixie race, who are tiny people with large butterfly wings and powerful magic abilities. (Which is good, since they can't wear armor.)"

      Wizardry? Did you mean "Phantasie?"

    5. Pixies were also in Wizardry, starting maybe at VI?

    6. Wizardry 6-8 called them fairies, not pixies. Some basic idea, though.

    7. "It's probably weak in melee, though."

      Oh, I can tell that someone hasn't seen that SpongeBob episode. Even the merest touch of a butterfly is like that of the ghost of King Trebor - "IT IS CHILLING UNTO DEATH"!

    8. There's a fairly notable sci-fi story I read as a child where mankind is wiped out by a species of butterfly with a caustic touch. (It's created by the grandfather paradox. A time machine probes the future, and the first time, it reveals a Crystal-Spires-and-togas paradise, but the second time, it shows a world ravaged by war. All subsequent times, it shows a peaceful, undamaged contemporary-looking world but with no visible animal life. So they send a human forward in time to investigate, and he narrowly survives the acid butterflies, but one of them lays eggs in his timeship.)

  6. I have very, very fond memories of this game -- not, of course, of playing it, but of writing it (still don't know how Chet was able to track me down).

    Now, as author I am allowed to say that this game is, well, bad. I had written it during high school afternoons, and I loved setting it all up on the Amiga, the best computer there ever was: crafting the tiles pixel by pixel in Deluxe Paint II, making a world editor, scanning (or "digitizing," as well'd call it) graphics for monsters out of animal guidebooks and museum flyers, sampling audio, writing the background lore, programming and compiling in the superb GFA Basic, creating an intro, and sending benign greetings to like-wisely influential auteurs like Pink Floyd in the acknowledgements.

    I did learn a lot. A previous game of mine ("EGOS: Europe -- the Game of Strategy", a bit like the great "Lords of Conquest" on the C64) was far worse. I vividly recall two things about it: I had copy/pasted a code snippet from a magazine (no internet back then) and was able to load an image of a map of Europe -- but just once, and not again after the result/victory screen had to be drawn. So players simply had to restart the computer for the next game. And second, I was too lazy to learn about this "array" concept in Basic, so the code consists of many blocks of 17 lines of code each (there were 17 European countries), each line with the variable for a country. So at least, I guess, Odyssee is better than EGOS.

    I should feel sorry, though, for the kid that maybe got this as his only birthday present. I got tired; exams and graduation were coming up; I had cashed in the fortune of 600 (!) Deutsche Mark for the game from OASE.. So I guess I nonchalantly skipped on minor tediums like balancing or even play-testing the game (probably a Herculean task to start with).

    Last year I found the adf images of the game and tried to escape the first few rooms; didn't manage yet. I fear the game on the disk is already compiled, and without source code access it will be tricky to figure out.. I might try again, though, to learn more about my past self.

    (There are a few thing I am not completely ashamed of: the marble feel of the main screen; the user interface being quite efficient due to the use of left and right mouse button shortcuts; some pixel tiles, especially the later, lava ones..)

    It also just feels nice that it was possible back then -- without internet and Stack Overflow and package managers and third-party frameworks and software updates -- to create, in principle, something tangible from scratch, just using a bare machine, some magazines, and too much spare time.

    Thanks, Chet, for unearthing this gem -- well, at least it is one to me!


    1. Thanks for commenting, Martin, and for getting back to me so quickly on the instructions.

    2. Congrats on your highschool project! A question: was the gane published in a box? A magazine? Never seen a copy of it. If you have any any idea on hoe i can track down a physical copy of thr game, i'm all ears!!

    3. It was a box (massive by today's standards, with the printed manual), released by OASE software; but should be quite tricky to still find today..

    4. I think what was once OASE has turned into a large Apple retailer called Arktis (not linking directly as it's a store). At least it's the same managing director and they have blogged about their Amiga roots in the past. It would be a long shot, but if I wanted to obtain a physical copy I'd send them a mail.

  7. While I haven't played this, and probably won't, something I find funny is the number of RPGs based off The Odyssey. Well, loosely in this case. This one, and two unrelated titles on the Macintosh. All presumably by people who had never heard of each other. (I only think the two Mac guys could have anyway) Its funny that it seems like Greek Mythology, at this time, was only mined for one specific incident.

    1. I could imagine that some developers wanted to do something "different" than the standard D&D/Tolkien based fantasy RPG, and while looking around for inspiration found the Odyssey great source of inspiration (descriptions of magic and sorceresses, divine wrath, fantastic creatures...). It's interesting that they based their work on the Odyssey specifically rather than Greek mythology in general, but I suppose it was easier to research and realize to base your game on a single literary work (or more likely some sort of Cliff's Notes version of Illiad and Odyssee) than to go and dig through the huge (and often contradictory) variety the various Greek legends have to offer. (I think the Greek pantheon and various legends are really fascinating, but many details are vastly different depending on from what era and region the description is from - by comparison, the works of Homer are simple neat, standardized packages).

    2. If you take the Odyssey's story and follow it at least somewhat, you end up with a decent RPG. Travel the Mediterranean, encounter monsters, escape a sorceress, and drive some guys out of your home once you return. Very good RPG mater.

  8. I'm pretty impressed with that NPC dialog. Even translated it seems pretty compelling.

  9. Mr. Auer hasn't had a chance to scan the entire instruction manual, but he did share some select shots:

    I would appreciate if any of my German-speaking commenters could take a look. I don't need a full translation, just any information from it that might clear up any points of confusion above.

    1. Unfortunately the photos do not describe the stats. They at least say that the three buttons on the left of the spell panel allow to select you the target of the spell between 1. all enemies, 2. a ”corresponding” enemy 3. an enemy.

      There is no explanation about the meaning of “corresponding”. It is said that option 1 is “unlikely” to hit but it affect many opponents, option 2 is quite likely to hit and option 3 is “very effective, but it might miss the target.

      There is also an explanation about the skills. No time to translate them all, but I'll mention those you found confusing

      * ”opfern” (sacrifice) unlikely the photo is cut. It seems to have something to do with propitiating the Gods
      * “puls beruhigen” (calm heartbeat) important to use missile weapons
      * “sterne deuten” only possible at night (duh). It should give some auspices about the future

    2. (sorry for the many typos)

    3. *ouch, my neck*

      The last scan has interesting information about leveling. You level by calling out certain mythical regions after gathering enough experience (how this is done and when this should be done it doesn't say). The region called out determines your area of improvement.

      Hades: Negative skills and physical attributes
      Sunion: Magic and calming skills
      Zephyros: Piety (?) and musical skills
      Marathon: All endurance-based activities
      Pleiaden: Intelligence and magic
      Olymp: Practical skills
      Elysion: Social skills

      Certain spells like Einfrieren (Freezing) work better when it's cold.

    4. Maybe levelling up relates to sacrifice? Sacrifying XP points to one of the mythical figures to upgrade their respctive skills

    5. Page 3 in that PDF (so the first of the manual proper) Relates to character creation. Mostly cut off unfortunately, but basically it says that you can replace every character (except for Odysseus) with one of your own choosing. You can also select a character portrait out of 16 suggestions that don't necessarily have to relate to the character class - so that butterfly of yours doesn't really have to be a butterfly!

      The following page also states that you can scrutinize every character in your party though "Spieler anschauen" (View Player). All in all, there are 16 different races and 23 Jobs to choose from.

    6. Page 4 in the PDF shows pages 22 and 23 of the manual (the latter is unfortunately cut off and incomplete) and is explaining some of the in-game skills.

      "Gegner mustern" (examine enemy): only viable in combat. Every enemy that is viewed during combat (by clicking on him with the right mouse button) is being examined more closely. That way you can adapt your strategy to that enemy and exploit his weaknesses.

      "Sterne deuten" (Reading the stars): only possible at night. The stars inform you about your future and its dangers.

      "Entziffern" (can have multiple translations, but here it means "decrypt"): some texts are encrypted and need to be decrypted.

      "Gruppe formieren" (Assemble party): for combat. The party can be set up in one out of eight possible formations. The different lineups are self-explanatory. You need to provide cover for fallen party members, or keep your magic users in the back, because they are weak but their spells work over a distance.

      "Wunden heilen" (heal wounds): ease injuries

      "Jagen" (Hunting): possible at certain times. You can gather food that way.

      "Puls beruhigen" (calm pulse): important for marksmen (possibly archers?). A calm and steady hand improves the accuracy during combat.

      (The following page 23 is incomplete, I'm paraphrasing and trying to make sense of what I can make out. I put guesses of mine in square brackets):

      "Fährten lesen" (read tracks): you can determine that way, how many [animals? Enemies?) are roaming the area [...] [If you are in?] Unknown terrain it's possible to determine that way, how dangerous it's [probably going to be].

      "Schmieden" (smithing). The durability of a weapon will [...] of that [...] that is chosen next. [My best guess would be that means weapons degrade and you can sort of repair them with that skill]

      "Kleidung flicken" (stitch up clothes). [Too mangled, but my guess would be you use this for clothing and armor the same way "smithing" applies to weapons].

      "Kochen" (cooking): before eating you can prepare a [meal?] which can [provide more...?] [I suppose that means cooked food provides more nourishment for the party]

      "Fasten, opfern" (fast [like, during lent], sacrifice): [too mangled, but I guess it reads "damit stimmt man die Götter gnädig", so the translation would be: "Appeases the gods".]

      "Meditieren" (meditate). [Something to do with magic points - my guess is that restores them?]

      "Witz erzählen" (tell a joke): A joke raises the morale [...]

    7. Page 5 of the PDF (page 27 in the manual) addresses magic spells.

      8.2 Die Zaubersprüche (the magic spells)

      The factors that determine a magic spell are:

      Stärke (strength, power). Strength can be determined with the left mouse button [it says stufenlos, which translates to "without steps" or "smoothly"] at the meter on the far left of the magic menu. The higher the red bar is set, the more powerful the spell is going to be. But more power also demands more magic points, and you should use those carefully. Next to the red power bar a green bar shows, how strong a spell can potentially be at most, which is dependent of the magic points of the current leader.

      Zielgruppe (target group).
      Right next to the power bar is an area with three symbols depicted above one another. Those influence combat spells and stand for (from top to bottom):

      a) spell against all enemies (unlikely, but it damages all enemies).
      b) Cast a spell against one appropriate enemy, which is then very likely to be hit. [I have no idea what "appropriate" means in context, but that's what it translates to. I suppose it means you attack a single enemy, but you don't get to choose which one is going to be hit. Has the highest likelihood to succeed out of the three options.]
      c) Cast a spell against an enemy [I suppose this means you can choose a specific one]. I hit using this method is very effective, but it will probably miss the target.

    8. (Page 6 of the PDF is apparently empty, I only see a white page, so I'll proceed with page 7, which covers pages 30 and 31 of the manual. I start with page 30).

      8.2.2. Wirkungen eines Spruches (spell effects).

      There are many forms of spells, and not for all of them the effects can be determined. The known ones are described here:

      "KARTE" (map): a map of the surrounding area appears

      "LICHT" (light): a light spell provides luminance at night and in dungeons

      "HEILAURA" (healing aura): a subcategory defines here what needs to be healed: health, poison, madness or paralysis.

      "MANA, MORAL, SCHALF[???]" (Mana, morale and... "SCHALF" isn't a word. I suppose that's a type and should read "SCHLAF", which would mean "sleep"): simply improves the corresponding stats of your party members.

      "KLIMA" (climate): through the subcategories "warm" (warm) and kalt (cold) the temperature can be raised or lowered. In general, enemies are more likely to be paralyzed in cold, but cold also drains your party's health. A heat shock is stronger in cold. Vice versa applies to a cold shock.

      "TRINKEN, ESSEN" (drink, eat): ease hunger and thirst.

    9. Page 31

      "ÖFFNEN" (open): in subcategories "aufbrechen" (break) or "Dietrich" (lockpick), this spell tries to open a lock either by breaking it or smoothly.

      "NORMALES, KAMPF-, MAGIESCHILD" (normal combat or magic shield): different kinds of protection from attacks. The subcategories "über mich" (for me) or "über alle" (for all) determine whether the spell is only for the caster or the entire party.

      "EINFRIEREN" (freeze): enemies are paralyzed for some time (easier when it's cold).

      "NORMALER, HEISSER, KALTER ANGRIFF" (normal, hot, cold attack): different kinds of offensive spells. The subcategories from "brutal" to "exakt" determine, whether they should be cast more exactly (high chance to hit) or rather hasty but harder.

      "HIRNSCHOCK, DUMMANGRIFF" (brain shock, "dumb attack"): especially effective against smart or dumb enemies, respectively. A brain shock is very unlikely to be effective on a stupid thracian hole digger (what would the brain shock target there anyway?)

      "KAMIKAZE": strong attack, resulting from disregard for life. In clearer terms: the attacker hits with full force, but will be exhausted afterwards.

      [I have to leave now, maybe I can translate the final page later)

  10. Alright, let's tackle that final photograph:

    "ERMÜDEN" (fatigue): an enemy gets tired out, so that he loses strength every round.

    "VERDUMMEN" (lower intelligence): dangerous intelligent enemies can be defused that way.

    "VERSTECKEN" (hide): That way you can turn yourself invisible and catch a second breath.

    "TELEPORT": If combat turns sour, you can get your neck or everyone's (subcategory (on me) (on all)) out of the noose. You can cover a small distance across the battlefield and reappear wherever the gods choose.

    "HADES, SUNION, ZEPHYROS, MARATHON, PLEIADES, OLYMP, ELYSION": by calling upon these mythical areas and casting yourself into deep concentration a characters attributes can be improved. That concentration can only be called upon after gathering lots of experience. Said experience you receive throughout the game, mostly through combat. Thus, once a player gathers enough experience, he gains a level and improves his attributes.

    The seven areas differ in their effects:

    - Hades: negative skills and physical attributes are improved.
    - Sunion: magical and calming skills are improved here
    - Zephyros: "Götterergebenheit" (I would translate that as "piety") and musical skills are improved.
    - Marathon: all endurance activities receive a boost.
    - Pleiades: intelligence and magic improve
    - Olymp: practical skills are trained
    - Elysion: Social scores for [social] coexistence change.

    I hope that helps with further endeavors. Too bad there's a blank page, as that means an entire sub-chapter on magic (whatever chapter 8.2.1 entails) is still missing here. I've read in reviews that the magic system is particularly finicky. And from what I've read, it really sounds rather complicated to handle.

    1. The game sounds like it has a lot of interesting and unique systems which then turn out to be unrefined and unbalanced, making it a chore to play but very interesting to read about.

    2. Thanks for translating, El despertando. I was holding back on that, waiting to see if it will be possible to have complete pictures / a full scan. Some essential things like the coloured dots are still unclear, so if there is any chance the author may be able to provide the missing information in the near future, I'd put it "on hold" until then - of course Chet might decide to experiment around instead.

  11. What I want to know is whether the game creator used a scanned photo of himself as the model (pre-Deluxe-Paint-touchups for facial hair) for the portrait of Odysseus present in nearly every screenshot?

  12. So I managed to retry escaping the first rooms.. successfully!

    (Btw, disk 1 is intro & character/party creation; disk 2 is the proper game startup disk; disks 3 and 4 are data = "Daten 1" and "Daten 2"; party is stored on "Daten 1". After intro & party creation, restart from disk 2 is required, alas.)

    In the barkeeper's (2-bed) bedroom there's a chest that can be opened to get a key. (Also, pick up the rose near the fountain on the blue marble.) In front of the locked door on the lower left, go to the inventory and click on the key -- the door opens, and in the next area you meet a veiled lady ("Daphne") sitting on a divan; next/on her, you can click on the rose; she falls in love with you and leads you to the next area, an earthy underground dungeon. The whole interface darkened (hmm, could be using the Amiga Halfbrite graphics mode), but I did not quite manage to get a light going. Then, the game crashed on me when I tried to read the inscription on a stone tablet.. I'll send some screenshots of this formidable exploit to Chet.

    A word about the "magic system" -- I think I wanted the spells to be combinable (color x type x ..); users should then name and store this combination in the list below, a bit like the Putty terminal tool stores connections.

    (And I hope to get to scanning the manual later this week..)

    1. Thanks for checking this out. This is probably the first game I've covered where the author has helped out by playing his own game.

      I'll give Disk 1 another try, but I'm pretty sure that last time, it just went directly to Disk 2 after the introduction. I'm not sure how I actually start the character creator.

  13. The community contributions to this entry have been fantastic. Thank you, Martin, for responding to my e-mail; thank you, all my German readers, for helping with translation. Thanks to LanHawk for helping me get the disks going in the first place. I have a lot of new information here and could probably take another stab at it, but I think I'll wait and see if Martin has time to do that manual scan this weekend.

  14. Okay, Martin has scanned the entire manual:

    I don't have access to a full version of Adobe Acrobat right now, and I don't know what other software might turn the image into selectable text. By mid-week, I should be able to get the software, but if in the meantime anyone wants to do anything productive with it (OCR it or translate any key text), I will be grateful.

    1. Summary pages 5-8: The main menu comes up after an intro when you start with disk 1. It‘s recommended to choose the options in the order they appear on page 6: Introduction, instructions, (greetings,) character editor and begin.

      Once you’ve created the characters, to start the game you need to reset / restart by booting the main disk (disk 2?) and then changing to the data disk when prompted to do so.

    2. Some interesting points:
      * Clothes also protect against cold
      * Characters get tired quicker if they carry a lot, so you should distribute items equally, with the stronger characters getting a few more items
      * The color of the spell increases the effect if the enemy believes in that color. You can find out what color an enemy believes in by using "Untersuchen" (examine). The right color for the right spell also increases its effect, e.g. Light lasts longer if cast with the color yellow.
      * Conversation: Start with asking people about themselves. A character with high charisma might get more information.

      Combat sounds straightforward. It's on a 9x9 grid and characters with high attributes act more often. You can't walk past (I guess that means "over" in this game?) enemies without killing them first. You can move, make a safe attack, a full attack, full defense, or cast/use skills.

    3. I have created a couple OCR versions for you to check out. Details coming via email.

    4. Also had sent Chet an OCR version with a couple German edits/corrections, but I am no expert in the matter, just used the default program I had available (Kofax Power PDF) switched to German word recognition, so not sure how good it is. In any case there are some German speakers around who'd help with any rough edges of the OCR, I assume.

    5. Some aspects on character creation:
      - Not all sexes, races and occupations "harmonize with each other" (i.e. can be combined, I assume), the program apparently tells you about it.
      - Besides an occupation, you also select a "hobby" (!).
      - You also choose a "belief". There are four with different effects:
      #elements -> reinforce weapons;
      #colours -> strengthen magic spells;
      #symbols -> improve (the belief in) defense;
      #gods -> speed up learning new abilities.

      Elements of the magic system and gameplay:
      - Spells are composed of type, subptype, strength, colour (see comments by Buck above) and (for battle) target.
      - On page 30 it says about one spell: "Mana, Moral, Schalf" -> the last is supposed to say "Schlaf" (sleep/fatigue) instead, the spell improves the current values in these three categories.
      - The better a character's stats, the more often it gets to act in combat.
      - You ask NPCs about themselves by using its respective own name as keyword.
      - You can't change the group leader during combat.
      - There is a day/night cycle, at night the screen gets darker and darker unless you have an activated torch or are inside a building. It's recommended to sleep at night instead of bumbling around and potentially missing much.
      - It's not really clear to me how you go to sleep. The manual says: "As long as you want to sleep, just click [keep the mouse button pressed?] the clock. If it's too dark for that [?], press the key once and again to wake up."

    6. Edit: Sorry, in the last line that should have said "press the 'Help' key once and again to wake up."

  15. Kudos to LanHawk from us in the stands for his assistance yet again. I guess we'd have less coverage of these obscure games without him.


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