Friday, June 30, 2023

Serpent Isle: Aftermath

Usually when things are this bad, it's because I cast the "Armageddon" spell.
        
As this session begins, I have rarely felt a greater gulf between character and player. My Avatar has doubtless spent the intervening period on his knees, sifting through the debris left by his friends, cursing Batlin and screaming, "Why?!" at the heavens. As a player, I'm just glad to have the freedom not to have to micromanage a party and their never-full stomachs. 
   
Before we continue, some discussion on the last entry answered some obvious questions. No, you can't prevent your friends from being taken over by the Banes of Chaos by dismissing them from the party. If you try, when you reach the door to the chamber with the Wall of Light, Thoxa (the Monk of Xenka) appears and says that you can't enter the room without your companions. She teleports them to you, resurrecting them if necessary. If you dismiss them after you walk through the door, they still show up when you confront Batlin and shout "surround Batlin!"
       
"The overly-scripted plot requires it!"
       
Okay, but what if you kill them on the other side of the door, after Thoxa shows up? The game seems to get confused by this because it freezes several times during Batlin's ritual, but it otherwise doesn't stop the cut scene from proceeding as before. Even with their bodies scattered dead around the room, the portraits of Dupre, Iolo, and Shamino still appear, announcing their new names. The bodies remain on the floor after they depart.
   
You can save Boydon, but I couldn't think of an organic reason to dismiss him from the party before the big battle (or what we assumed would be a big battle), and like I said, I was looking forward to adventuring alone.
      
The Avatar is either talking to Dupre's body or himself.
      
But sure, my poor Avatar is a little devastated. More than anything, he wants to know what the hell just happened. So he circles the city again, re-reading books and scrolls, as I take notes to try to put it all together. This is what I come up with. I apologize that some of it repeats previous entries.
   
  • The island was known as the Lands of Danger and Despair in the original Ultima. It was jointly ruled by Shamino and the King of the White Dragon.
  • When the Hero from Another World defeated Mondain in Ultima, the resulting cataclysm somehow separated the Lands of Danger and Despair from the rest of the world. Shamino was off the island at the time, and the King of the White Dragon went mad.
  • The Great Earth Serpent spoke to the people and told them to build cities underground presumably to protect them from more cataclysms.
  • The forces of Order settled in Spinebreaker, Chaos in Skullcrusher, and Balance in Furnace. 
  • Each force worshiped a serpent that lived in the void. The Order serpent was symbolized by a blue serpent of ice. The Chaos serpent was symbolized by a red serpent of fire.
  • Each sect had its own Hierophant. Each had a great shrine. Each had three temples dedicated to the three principles of virtue held by that sect. Each had its own Wall of Lights. The blackrock serpents--I don't know where they came from--had something to do with opening the Walls of Lights.
  • Exodus somehow kidnapped the Great Earth Serpent.
  • Without balance, no one was left to mediate between Order and Chaos.
  • The two factions went to war.
  • Chaos killed the Great Hierophant of Balance and plundered Furnace.
  • Order got the upper hand and destroyed Chaos, maybe because Chaos had wasted some of its resources attacking Balance. Honestly, who attacks Balance?
  • Order kidnapped the Chaos Serpent from the void, split it into three forces, and imprisoned each in the three Temples of Order.
  • The results of the war were more volcanoes, earthquakes, storms, etc. 
  • The Order folks decided to flee the land by going through the Wall of Lights to the void, which is also some kind of nexus between worlds. Their fate after that is unknown.
     
I'm still confused where the serpents came from in the first place, whether they were around pre-Mondain, and why they waited until after Serpent Isle was sundered to speak to the people. Or did Lord British know about them back in the old days? Is that why he uses a serpent symbol?
   
The three Banes, possessing my three companions, announced themselves as Insanity, Anarchy, and Wantonness. I gather that these are the "dark sides" of the three principles of chaos--emotion, tolerance, and enthusiasm--when not balanced by their parallel virtues in Order.
   
I don't quite get where the three Banes were imprisoned, how Batlin got them out, or what happened to them after that. I went looking around the three temples again, but there were no obvious shattered gems or anything. Moreover, I don't understand how one of them got mixed up with Cantra, why Batlin killed her, or what happened to the Bane that possessed her after her death. I check my screen shots for the original conversation between Batlin and Cantra that I saw in the crystal ball:
    
  • Cantra: "Leave me alone, mage. I am but a little girl."
  • Batlin: "I know what thou art, Bane of Chaos. That body is but a shell that thou dost wear."
  • Cantra: "I can escape thee! My powers dwarf thine."
  • Batlin: "Thy powers have dwindled due to thine imprisonment. Thou art no match for me, now."
   
This suggests that somehow the Bane (I don't know which one) was freed from the associated temple, then possessed Cantra. Did Batlin free him in the first place? If so, did the other two also possess random people? If Batlin had a method of capturing them, why didn't he do so when he originally freed them (assuming it was he that did)?
   
We know now that there were three blackrock serpents. The Chaos and Order ones are curled and the Balance one is perfectly straight. The Chaos serpent faces to the right. This is the one that Batlin stole from Andral in Monitor. The Order serpent faces to the left. It's the one that the goblins gave me in Ultima Underworld II (or were supposed to). The lightning storm replaced it with Columna's stockings, and I'm not sure what happened to it after that. The Balance serpent somehow found its way into Silverpate's treasure hoard, from which I liberated it.
   
So here's the thing: Batlin had the Chaos serpent, but he was trying to open the Wall of Lights in the Great Shrine of Order. Is this why the spell went awry? Batlin mentioned during the ceremony that he had been "tricked." By who? Did the Banes (again, where did he have them?) mislead him? Why did Batlin think that by entering the void he would become immortal? Was that more lies from the Banes?
       
Batlin's serpent was facing the wrong way.
       
That's the best I can do for now. I would love your take unless I'm supposed to just PAFO.
   
Meanwhile, I've got lots to do. First up: Getting all my companions' stuff somewhere more accessible. To do that, I'm going to need some help. I return to the city's entrance, where there are several dead automatons, and I revive them with the "Create Automaton" spell. Twice during this process, I accidentally cast "Create Ammo," which is right above it in the spellbook, and thus leave piles of arrows on the floor. 
       
I also have to rest to restore spell points during this process. Since I don't have any party members to wake me up, I wake myself up.
       
The automatons aren't very good. They're all Level 1, with a strength of 20 and dexterity and intelligence of 10. They can gain experience, though I'm not sure if they can train to level up. I don't plan to keep them long, anyway. I take them back to the shrine and load them up with my departed allies' equipment. I should note here that I still don't know how to unlock the door south of the shrine, so I have to go around the long way. There's another locked door in a northern corridor. It's possible that I have the keys for both, but I've lost track of which keys I picked up where, and I'm certainly not trying all of them.
   
For some annoying reason, when my allies dropped all their stuff on the ground, all of their individual items came out of their backpacks. It thus takes an unnecessarily long time to clean everything up and assign it to the right automaton. One gets the money, one the potions, one the scrolls, and one the extra equipment. As we'll see, this careful division was a waste of time. I assume automatons are immune to cold, so I clad them in regular armor. 
       
Loading up my new friends.
       
Another weird thing: All my party members had magic axes. The axes are all gone.
   
After getting everything sorted, we head out to the serpent gate in the center of town. In the gate hub, I dismiss the automatons, hoping they'll stay there and keep their stuff. Instead, they dump everything on the ground in one huge pile. I also remove a few things from my own backpack, which is getting quite full.
      
That's going to be fun to sort out later.
        
My next priority is to set about mapping where my new serpents' teeth (the ones I retrieved from Batlin's jaw) will take me. The first one I try takes me somewhere I know I've never been before--some dungeon with many locked doors and plaques that read things like "ENTRY FORBIDDEN" and "MIND TRANSFERENCE CHAMBER." A prominent blue serpent suggests that the area has something to do with Order. I head outside and find that I'm in the same mountain range as the City of Order.
   
The other gates lead to places I've already been, and when my explorations are done, this is what I have:
           
     
I have a few things on my "to do" list, principally getting the Gwani Horn, but I decide to hit the towns and see what's new. I start with Monk Isle, but the monks have nothing new to say. Cantra is still here, and still messed up ("I hunger for flesh!"), which makes no sense if the Bane has left her.
    
I then go to Monitor, and that's where things get messed up.
   
My first clue that something is wrong is that I get attacked by goblins the moment I leave the crematorium. What are they doing in the city? Weirder, they have a snow leopard with them. I kill them and move on into the city, where there are bodies and fires burning in the streets. The first live person I find is Harrna, and she has no new dialogue, as if nothing weird is going on.
   
In the tavern, Lucilla--beloved Lucilla--and Templar are dead on the ground. Lucilla's bedroom is on fire. Standarr is dead at the foot of the stairs to the training grounds. In the jail, Spektor and Marsten are dead in their cells. Krayg and Luther are dead by the town well. Caladin is dead in the park, and Cellia is dead in town hall. There are generic dead pikemen in other buildings. There are packs of goblins, wolves, leopards, and dogs everywhere (oddly, the wolves and leopards are mostly non-hostile and seem to be attacking the goblins).
        
If a cop showed up right now, this would look bad.
      
I run out the north gate and head for the Sleeping Bull. Bloodstains on the ground as I approach are a bad sign. Bears, wolves, and leopards roaming the grounds is another one. Argus is dead in the entry hall, Ensorcio by the back door, Devra behind the front desk, Byrin by the stairs to the basement.
   
But the arrogant Wilfred is alive and wandering around. He asks if I've taken vengeance on Batlin, and I say yes. He's happy about that and offers to join me. "What the #$@# happened here!" I want to ask, but the game gives no such dialogue options, and Wilfred isn't forthcoming. He speaks of Argus--dead literally feet from him--as if he's still alive.  
       
Priorities, man! Your brother and mother are both dead and rotting in your line of sight!
     
The Fellowship camp northeast of Fawn is deserted. As I enter Fawn, the guardsman approaches and gives the same warning about staying out of trouble, which is encouraging, until I see the bodies in the streets. Kylista is dead right at the city's entrance, Scot a few yards behind her, and Zulith in a nearby guard tower. Garth is dead in front of the palace, and Jendon and Delin inside. The streets are swarming with rats, and tentacle monsters patrol the canals. The only person I find alive is Ruggs, and I accidentally kill him when I go to talk to him; apparently, using the T)alk action when you have combat active causes you to attack the person. I guess "T" means T)arget, maybe.
      
A generic guardsman is alive but has no comment.
    
I'm almost afraid to try Moonshade, but I do. It has fared no better. The bodies of Gustacio and Bucia lie at the entrance to the academy. Gustacio's body has a note from Melino indicating a desire to get his hands on my Black Sword. Julia the ranger's body lies in Columna's house, and Columna is dead in her back yard. Flindo is dead by the docks, Frigidazzi in her house, Mosh and Pothos in the workshop, Hawk and Edrin in the tavern. Rocco and Topo are lying outside Stefano's house. Sadly, I don't find Filbercio among the dead. The various mages' automatons are alive, but none have anything to say. A few of the houses have gold chests that I don't remember, and in them are serpents' teeth. By the time I leave the city, I have only two empty spots in the jaw.
 
As with the other towns, bears and wolves and leopards roam the streets, though they're mostly non-hostile. I do have to kill a cluster of mongbats and some crocodiles.
     
Stefano is sleeping in his bed, and finally, I find someone who is willing to acknowledge that something has happened. "A terrible, glowing being came to Moonshade," he says, "and battled against all of the mages . . . 'Tis the end of the world, Gideon!" As if that isn't enough, Stefano is being pursued relentlessly by a Death Knight. It seems that Filbercio paid Stefano to steal a pair of Columna's stockings to use as some kind of leverage. Then a teleport storm whisked them away, which is why Filbercio sentenced Stefano to the Mountains of Freedom in the first place. When Columna found out that Stefano was behind the theft, she cast a curse to summon the Death Knight. Stefano has the blackrock serpent (which replaced the stockings), and he'll give it to me if I defeat the Death Knight. He joins himself to me and won't leave until the Knight is dealt with. He also gives me a serpent's tooth, which immediately gets lost in either my pouch or backpack. After trying to find it for a few minutes, I reload and make sure I have a free hand before talking to him again.
       
I probably wouldn't have done it, but I concede that I was thinking of it.
     
The Death Knight, looking like a regular guy, attacks immediately. He manages to kill Stefano before I kill him. I use the Hourglass of Fate to summon Thoxa, who resurrects the thief. I should have thought to do that for Ruggs. When I talk to Stefano, he gives me a key to his vault west of the city, where the blackrock serpent is. The key immediately gets lost in either my pouch or backpack.
       
Great! Would you mind repeating that for, uh, everybody?
      
I find Ducio the tinker alive in his hut to the north. He clarifies that the "glowing being" was Shamino. He says only himself, Torrissio, and Andrio survived. This is untrue not only because of Stefano but also because of Petra, the automaton. She says that her existence is pointless because Rocco is dead. Frell and Andrio, the students, are also alive--I'm glad Shamino didn't kill children. He says that Fedabilbo tried to stand up to Shamino, but he was turned to stone in the middle of the Seminarium. Andrio suggests that Torrissio's wand, the Philanderer's Friend, might help. 
    
I love the Avatar's dialogue options. "Sorry to hear your life is over, Petra. Would you mind bringing me a cold pint and a slice of pie?"
     
Ernesto, a ranger, is alive in the winery. He calls Shamino the Anarch the MageLord of the city. "No longer must a Mage or Mundane be bound by petty rules," he says. "It is quite exciting!"
     
This is supposed to be one of Moonshade's defenders.
    
Torrissio is on the throne in the MageLord's house. I ask him about the magic wand that I gave back to him a few sessions ago, and he confuses me by saying that I have it and taking it back from me. I then remember that I reloaded and abandoned that entire session. Now I don't have the wand, though, and no dialogue option will get it back from him, so I have to reload to avoid killing him. 
     
I thought it was just a decorative statue.
    
Back at the Seminarium, I use the wand to restore Fedabilbo to life. He gives me a key that Captain Hawk gave to him; it supposedly opens Hawks' chest at the inn. While I'm talking to him, the game has me say, "I seek the Scroll of the Serpent, sir," which in fact I've never heard of. But he gives it to me, so I guess that'll be important at some point. 

Hawk's chest has a map and instructions to some hidden treasure, though given the coordinates that he provides, I think it might be a hollow tree that I already found and looted. 
    
This might be the cache where I found the serpent crown.
      
I remembered some of what I discovered during this session from a previous play. I remembered that after the party members were possessed, some people died. I did not remember that it was this many. This is a pretty astonishing, depressing plot development, and I spent a lot of this session with my jaw open. I want to thank everyone for not ruining it with spoilers. 
   
But as many commenters have pointed out, it's clear that the game was rushed. It's insane that no one in Monitor, Fawn, or Sleeping Bull has any comment on the apocalypse. It's weird that those that do have a comment don't seem to blame me at all for--or even question me about--what my companions have done. And why are the monks just sitting on their islands doing nothing? Why can't they resurrect everyone?
       
I close this session by trying to find Stefano's vault and the blackrock serpent it supposedly contains. It takes me a while to find it because it's outside the city walls. And when I do find it, I'm not sure that I've found it, because all I find are some buildings with no doors that are completely empty. This makes me suspicious, as I had a problem with The Black Gate where items disappeared from buildings. Sure enough, I look up spoilers, and these buildings are supposed to have doors and furniture, and one of them is supposed to have the blackrock serpent.
         
Why does this keep happening to me?
      
I reload from the very beginning of this session and head right for the building, and alas, it's still in this same condition. I reload the oldest save that I have, from when I was exploring the Gwani village, head back to Moonshade, and the building is in the same condition. Fortunately, some commenters are able to help me acquire the serpent using an in-game cheat menu. I just hope this bug doesn't cascade into further problems.
      
When I started this game, all the information about Ophidian belief systems and virtues was just interesting backstory. All of a sudden, it has become central to my life. This, therefore, would seem to be a good time to dust off that Amulet of Balance and see what I can learn from it.
         
Time so far: 69 hours

56 comments:

  1. I've actually heard of another couple named Rocco and Petra... except they were a pair of pet rocks. On Sesame Street.

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  2. Back in the day I had the "banes escape, everyone dies" plot twist spoiled for me by careless reading of the Usenet group "comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.rpg". It was still eerie to experience, though.

    Poor Ruggs can't catch a break. If he'd lived he would've had some relevant commentary to offer.

    Order and Chaos blame each other for the war and the death of the Great Hierophant, but the scroll in the cave at the beginning of the game (Erstam's note to Drogeni) implicates Order in the latter.

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    1. The banes were imprisoned in the temples of Order; two of them have a blown-up metallic thing called "bane prison" (the third is omitted by mistake).

      Presumably Batlin used Vas Por Flam or something to get them out, and the first time he tried that the bane escaped and grabbed a random bystander (i.e. Cantra) and he had to get it back with summoning magic (not mentioned in-game, but it IS also what the forces of Order did so it makes sense.

      It turns out that you can trap banes grzcbenevyl va fznyy trz fgbarf, fb cerfhznoyl ongyva xrcg gurz gurer jura bcravat gur jnyy.

      It makes no sense lore-wise that Britannia has teleport storms, but since it does, we can assume that's how that underworld goblin got the blackrock serpent.

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    2. I think maybe I misunderstood what the "temples of order" were. I thought they were the antechambers in the city of Order where you find the three artifacts needed to open the library. Now I'm thinking they're the larger buildings scattered around outside.

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  3. I'm still confused where the serpents came from in the first place, whether they were around pre-Mondain, and why they waited until after Serpent Isle was sundered to speak to the people.

    Confused, you say ? Be careful, Chester, you are really calling for jokes on atheists here.

    Let us just say that the three serpents are gods/deities, therefore they are eternal and they can go anywhere, including places beyond human imagination. Humans cannot fully understand a god's plan, the same way a dog cannot understand its master's job.

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  4. If it's any consolation, Cantra not getting better is an unfinished script, which was fixed in the Exult version.

    There's also one other person who is alive and whose condition adds to the general doom and gloom. I hope you stumble that person, but AFAIK they're not essential to talk with.

    Are you going to Silver Seed solo?

    What about a certain missing person you came to this island to look for?

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    1. I guess I had a Mandela Effect moment here. Tjraab bayl wbvaf jura Qhcer vf ohearq gb pvaqref.

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  5. That's one nasty bug though. I'm sorry for doubting you and thinking you're clicking on some random serpent statue.

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  6. I had so many questions in my head at that time playing the game too. Who's the Guardian and what is he trying to achieve in that game? What happened to the Order faction after they escaped their world ? Why did Batlin do wrong except being a stupid guy trying to betray the Guardian who knew that from the start ? The game really fails to elaborate.

    My headcanon conclusion was that the serpent war was some kind of Quest for Avatar gone really wrong (with a set of virtues borrowed from Moorcock) and that the "ascension" of the Order winners actually merged them all in some entity embodying unrestrained order and tyranny; the Guardian.
    So basically the red muppet brought us to his own turf to punish Batlin and trap the Avatar in a dying world.

    That was a satisfying answer to my questions at that time, until the next Ultima games at least.

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    1. Although neither this game nor U8 mentions it, the Guardian is gur nznytngvba bs gur guerr funqbjybeqf, ng yrnfg gung jnf gur cyna. Gur avagu tnzr vafgrnq qrpvqrq gung gur thneqvna vf gur rivy fvqr bs gur cynlre punenpgre, juvpu ur pnfg bss va hygvzn sbhe va beqre gb orpbzr gur ningne. Guvf jnf uhtryl vzcbchyne nf vg rffragvnyyl ergpbaf gur cerivbhf tnzrf vagb orvat cbvagyrff.

      The Guardian is simply trying to xrrc lbh njnl juvyr ur pbadhref oevgnaavn. Abgr gung hygvzn rvtug unf gur fnzr cybg: gur erq zhccrg gencf gur ningne va n qlvat jbeyq gb xrrc lbh njnl juvyr ur pbadhref oevgnaavn.

      This game is pretty clear that Batlin failed because he tried to use the Chaos serpent in the Order shrine; and this mistake allows the Banes to overwhelm him and tear him apart. I like Chet's notion that the Banes likely misled Batlin, too.

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    2. Remember that in Ultima 7.1 the Guardian could speak in the mind of his followers ? My hypothesis was that Batlin mistook the Guardian's voice for his own thoughts. Maybe the Guardian can make voices, even inside people's head ?

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  7. Such a shame that this massive game didn't get another 4-5 months! Rushed out the gates as it was, it really falls apart a bit near the end. I also feel that a game designer of Warren Spector's caliber giving the whole thing a thorough examination of what's fun and what isn't, what should be in the game and what shouldn't, would have been a huge boon for the game's pacing and for presenting the overall story arc in a more natural way.
    The info dumps you take from certain NPCs when you first reach a new location contrast sharply with the almost entire dearth of information once the game reaches the stage you're in now.

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  8. Yeah, it's such a shame how rushed this part of the game is. Instead of a proper reign of terror the banes just murder everyone, and no one left even cares. Also kinda makes everything done thus far feel pointless.

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  9. This was a pretty gripping entry, especially for featuring almost no gameplay.

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  10. Oh man, now all the people who have been bugging you to do the Silver Seed are going to be telling you to put it off longer.

    Apparently there is a lot of unfinished dialogue buried in the game that indicates that the Banes were supposed to lord over Monitor, Fawn, and Moonshade as mad tyrants, instead of just killing everybody. It's unfortunate not just because that sounds more interesting, but because it might have given some closure to dangling plot threads in those towns that will never be resolved. I guess there is some poignance in that these folks all had plans and schemes that are suddenly brought to an unceremonious end.

    The back half of Serpent Isle is a lot messier (and buggier) than the front half, but even broken and incomplete I think there are still things to look forward to. The Ophidians are kind of interesting once you have to delve into their history and problems.

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    1. The impression I get is that the original Serpent Isle plot was designed by somebody without a lot of experience with the Ultima VII engine. It's an impressive engine for its time but it was designed for a game with a very static world. The biggest permanent change that happens in Black Gate is the murder of Alagner. Otherwise, your progress through the game is controlled by keys, keywords, and key items. Even the handful of "cutscenes" you see (like through Alagner's crystal ball) are actually physically present in the world, and the cutscene just moves the camera to them!

      Even if they'd had more time, I think it would have simply have been untenable to move everybody around, give them completely new dialogue and schedules, set up whatever scripts would be necessary for the Bane confrontations, etc. with the engine limitations they had. They must have settled on the "kill almost everybody" approach very close to shipping, considering how sloppily it was executed. I imagine that this was a major learning experience for Warren Spector, because it certainly wasn't up to his later standards as a producer.

      (Regardless, I absolutely love this game.)

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    2. Yeah, it's clear that they tried to stretch the engine's capabilities beyond what was originally designed.

      Also it wasn't developed with multilevel dungeons in mind, there is only an enormous "ground" level.

      When players go down the stairs in a dungeon, they are teleported in another seaction of the map not reachable by normal means, like inside a mountain or at the borders of the world, for this reason you are never given full freedom of exploration.

      The start of the game, to prevent players dropping the starting items to avoid losing them for the scriptes storms, a similar trick is used, teleporting the player to an identical beach.

      Black Gate used some of these tricks, but in a much more limited capacity.

      Still, I think that with just some additional months of editing/polishing/bug fixing, it would have been a much better game (or at least less lopsided).

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    3. I don't see why this would be a limitation of the engine. As far as I can tell U7 allows scripting and variables that can be used for quest stages. That's really all you need. It's just that creating a dynamic world is more complex, error prone and time consuming in general. At least when you combine it with static guarantees.

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    4. Nah, the U7 engine can handle this just fine. It's just a boatload of work for the developers, and they didn't get finished.

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    5. Something interesting is that there's a prototype of the game floating around from before they started chopping down on the back half. Unfortunately, as far as I'm aware it hasn't really been dug into to see if there's anything interesting that didn't make it into the final, used or not

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    6. Interesting. Turns out that a lot of NPCs do, in fact, have comments about the bane apocalypse, but due to rushed coding these don't trigger (source: TRCF).

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    7. Radiant, do you know if the trigger for the post-banes comments was fixed in Exult? I have no memory of the game being so weird after the event, but I could be misremembering.

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    8. I don't think Exult by itself does that, but there is also a fanmade patch that fixes a lot of little details that probably includes this. HTH.

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    9. I've looked at some patches, no indication that what happens after the banes are released is corrected. I must be misremembering. Thanks for your answer, it took me on a little detour to the Ultima Dragons sites, which was a nicely nostalgic experience.

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    10. I'm not saying it would have been literally impossible to execute the design as intended, but if you look at the existing usecode for the game the scripting for dialogue is extremely verbose. You can't just, say, swap out which dialogue script a given NPC has from the usecode -- you'd have to add script conditionals to literally every keyword and response for every NPC. That's why I say that the complete revamp of the world originally envisioned was "untenable".

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    11. Very interesting observation that goes beyond the usual "blame EA" (not that that's entirely wrong). I actually never thought of just *how* static UVII, for all its reactivity, is.

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  11. The good news is that a number of the questions you ask in the introduction do end up being answered.

    Ruggs does talk about the destruction of Fawn, and he points you in the direction of another NPC who also does. Might want to use the debug console to resurrect him. Also, have you been searching bodies? Some people have notes and the like.

    Good timing for the expansion. Looking forward to seeing what you think of it!

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    1. Ugh. I don't know that I searched ALL of them.

      I think I reloaded after killing Ruggs. I'll check next time I fire it up.

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  12. Looks like the Banes have Serpent Isle under their thumbs.

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  13. I must say it's a powerful plot twist that you stop the bad guy but his "sealed evil in a can" gets released and you have to deal with the fallout.

    So the original plot was to have the three Banes rule one city each, and have the Avatar deal with that. Frankly that sounds pretty cool; if only the devteam had prioritized that plot over some of the filler ones. Overall, great twist but could have been handled better.

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    1. Also, it would have been pretty funny if, just like in the end of Ultima 7, the Avatar would interrupt Batlin's gate-opening ritual by detonating the Blackrock Serpent with Rudyom's Wand. Again.

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    2. That would have been awesome. "WHAT IS IT WITH YOU AND THAT WAND?!"

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    3. Indeed, it would have been amazing !
      Now, see what happens if you do use the wand on one of your blackrocks...

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    4. The anonymous comment above was from me.

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  14. Isn’t there something that makes managing keys much easier in the expansion?

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    1. .... that's for me the main reason to do the Silver Seed as fast as possible...

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    2. On a replay, sure. On an initial play, you don't know it's there.

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    3. Sure! For me it looks like Silver Seed is an expansion that integrates into the game, but it's designed for people who already finished the game and install it for a second playthrough...

      Delete
  15. Can someone explain the Deal with All those automatons? Where are they coming from? I feel like the entered the narrative rather suddenly. Why Do they take peoples places? Is this like an NPC dying in Skyrim so the game doesnt break?

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    Replies
    1. The automatons gets explained more in the Silver Seed expansion, but they are creations of the Ophidians, and more specifically the Order faction. There's one automaton created by one of the mages in Moonshade, so people had been beginning to learn the ophidian magic and recreate it.

      Because the automatons are essentially able to live forever (so long as they aren't attacked), they hang around in ophidian ruins and such, like the temple with the wall of lights.

      There is a spell (Create Automaton) that you can use to have one in your party, useful at this point to carry things while you have lost your main party members.

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  16. The wolves and leopards in Monitor are non-hostile because they are human citizens transformed to animal shape by the bane-possessed Dupre. That's actually rather clever.

    https://ultima.fandom.com/wiki/Cut_Material_in_Serpent_Isle

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    1. That's the Bane of Wantonness for ya. I just don't get why he killed barmaid Lucilla.

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    2. In the game-as-published, my headcanon is that the Bane thought it would be funny to massacre the "Wolves", "Bears", and "Leopards" by magically summoning authentic wolves, bears, and leopards.

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    3. I unwisely went to that page and immediately got a spoiler. I'll look at it for the final entry. All I can say for now is that if the bears, wolves, and leopards are supposed to be Monitorian citizens, it must be all the unnamed ones, because all the named cities are dead on the ground.

      Delete
  17. AlphabeticalAnonymousJuly 2, 2023 at 1:40 PM

    Upon reflection, I'm amused by the contrast between this latest update to SI and the latest Zelda game. Here entire cities are decimated and hardly any of the survivors have anything to say about it -- and we rightly complain that this is a mistake, due only to the game's rushed production schedule. Meanwhile in Tears of the Kingdom: gaping holes have opened everywhere leading to a gloomy underworld; rocks are falling from the sky; entire cities are suddenly floating overhead... and still, no-one has anything to say about it. This drove home to me just how shallow its gameworld is, compared even to CRPG gameworlds of three decades past.

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    Replies
    1. I'm confused by this. I think it's fair to say that in the previous game, Breath of the Wild, NPCs are strangely indifferent about what happened to the world, but in the new game, the first 'village' you encounter is a central base for investigating and responding to the disaster and the world is full of people fighting back monsters, investigating fallen ruins, etc.

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  18. Another box that SI checks is that by the avatar's actions the island gradually becomes devoid of its life forms. Another fine RPG where the hero saves the world by leaving it (mostly) dead.

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    Replies
    1. Warriors of the Eternal Sun is shaping up similarly. Your comment just made me realize that I've been assuming there's some mechanism by which all this death will be undone (in Serpent Isle). I have no idea why I've been making that assumption, other than that the alternative is pretty horrible.

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    2. Gurer npghnyyl vf; vs lbh pbzcyrgr gur fvyire frrq, gura gur zbaxf jvyy zragvba gung gurl jvyy erfgber nyy gur onar ivpgvzf nsgre lbh pbzcyrgr gur tnzr.

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    3. The systematic extermination of life usually comes at the expense of native wildlife and evil creatures. In this case, even the good NPCs perish so you might assume/hope that's reversible. But I feel like that would somehow be counterproductive.

      Delete
  19. "I would love your take unless I'm supposed to just PAFO."

    What does PAFO mean?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had to look this up: Play And Find Out

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    2. funny. my google search led me to uk slang for 'piss and fall out'; to get fall down drunk.

      Delete

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