Saturday, June 3, 2023

Serpent Isle: This Broken Jaw of Our Lost Kingdoms

Apparently, they have T. S. Eliot in Pagan.
Despite my misgivings about the game's length, I start this session with a certain excitement--even optimism. Serpent Isle so far has been somewhat predictable: three cities, three sets of problems to solve, three artifacts, culminating in a bottleneck that requires those three artifacts. But now that I'm through the bottleneck, looking at the northern half of the island, the game seems wide open again. This could be an illusion--probably is an illusion--but that doesn't change the immediate feeling of being on a frontier where anything could happen.
My map shows some kind of structure to my east, which I would encounter quickly if I adopted a counter-clockwise exploration pattern from my current point. So just to be ornery, I decide to go west and adopt a clockwise pattern. 
As we skirt along the northern border of Gorlab Swamp, we're attacked by an insect swarm and a couple of boars. This is good because boars drop meat, the party is getting hungry, and I haven't maintained a large reserve of food (of course, I have a "Create Food" spell, but why waste the reagents?). Wolves join the attackers as we get nearer the coast. Shamino is poisoned and Iolo wounded, which gives me an excuse to burn a couple of my thousand potions.
Curse save us all from a death like this.
We reach the site of what I first take to be a shipwreck, debris scattered all around it, but it turns out to be the camp of some extremely messy adventurers. The corpses of two men and three women line the shore. A journal chronicles a harrowing half-year in which a large party arrived to search for gold. They found several veins of ore but frequent attacks by wolves made them paranoid, and they eventually turned on each other. One of them, Draygan, burned the ship, and it seems that the rest were killed by wolves. There might be some Treasure of the Sierra Madre allusions here; it's been a long time since I saw the film. 
One of their barrels holds a couple of white potions--easy go, easy come--and some jugs of milk. I waste the reagents for a "Telekinesis" spell to bring down the gangplank only for Dupre to tell me that it's blocked. We'll never know what's in the two crates on board.
By what? Water?
The journal wasn't kidding about the wolves, though. As we continue along the coast, we're attacked repeatedly--and of course the bastards respawn the moment we leave a screen. They're more annoying than dangerous, though.
There's something amusing about calling a wolf a "fool."
We soon leave the wolves behind, and it's a long, uneventful stretch along forested shore--the forest canopy occasionally accented with silverleaf trees and giant mushrooms--before the coast turns north, indicating that we've reached the island's western extremity. We pass gamboling deer and rabbits. A reaper, looking like a dead tree trunk, doesn't fool us. "Where are we?" the Avatar wonders at one point. "We are lost, Avatar," Dupre unhelpfully responds.
Our trek north along the western coast ends in a cul-de-sac, water to the north and west and mountains to the east. The dead body of a sailor inexplicably lies on the beach. A heavy rain begins to fall as we make our way back south and then east, this time following the mountains. Lightning occasionally strikes, depositing junk or turning rocks into cauldrons and candelabras.
End of the line.
Our first significant encounter in a while comes when we find a hut in the middle of the forest with a silverleaf tree growing through the center. A white-bearded man bustles about a neat interior with various plants, tables, cups, and potions tidily arranged. He introduces himself as Morghrim, "master of these forests." When I ask him to clarify, he gives his titles as: "Forest Master! Friend to Windrunner! Former protector of Elerion, and now refugee of Pagan!" This is, I believe, the second mention of "Pagan" in the Ultima series, the first occurring in Ultima Underworld II.
Morghrim goes on to explain that in his world, Pagan, he was the last of a long line of protectors of Elerion, the great world tree. When the Guardian invaded the world, Morghrim opposed him. The Guardian's forces burned the tree, and Morghrim lost his eyes in the fire. His friend, a gray wolf named Windrunner, rescued him, and Morghrim used the last of his magic to create a portal that dumped them in the Serpent Isles. Since then, he has spent centuries tending the forest and speaking to its animals. Frustrated with the differences by which magic worked in his new world, Morghrim stored his Pagan-based magical abilities in a living orb called the Heart of Elerion.
I guess his face is supposed to be burned. The graphics weren't quite good enough for me to notice until now.
As we talk, he mentions that he's friends with the Hound of Doskar, a magical beast who can track anyone if you give him something personal to that person--just what we need to find Cantra. But Morghrim has three problems. First, the forest is dying because of the imbalance problems that the Serpent Isles are experiencing. Second, a sadistic trapper named Hazard is slaughtering the forest animals. Third, the leader of a camp of miners, Draygan, has stolen the Orb of Elerion. Windrunner and the wolves went after him and killed all his followers, but the orb makes Draygan impervious to harm. Morghrim suggests that we might be able to reason with him. If we can return the orb, he can summon the Hound of Doskar to help us find Cantra.
Finally, Morghrim mentions that although Elerion was burned, he was able to save the Silver Seed at the heart of the tree and bring it to the Serpent Isles. The Silver Seed is of course the name of this game's expansion, which I've put off doing just because it hasn't come up organically yet. I don't quite understand the relationship between Morghrim's Silver Seed and the Amulet of Balance I got from the Xenkan monks.
This unexciting screenshot is here only to avoid too many paragraphs of text in a row.
Continuing along the mountain range, we come to a cave. It leads to a long, multi-leveled dungeon in which we fight boars, giant spiders, goblins, acid slugs, and bats and find crates full of potions and one crate with several magic armor pieces. After a while, we reach the exit to the dungeon. Just as we do, the party starts complaining that it's getting colder. Next to the exit, we find a dying trapper. He introduces himself as Fitch, a companion of Hazard. Some evil sorceress attacked his band, and he crawled into the cave to die. He expires shortly after explaining his tale; we loot a Gwani cloak from his body.
Apparently, we don't even try to heal him.
We emerge into a frozen landscape. I debate whether to save this area for later or continue my exploration pattern. I decide to continue the pattern. We head north and find another cave with two polar bears, which we unfortunately kill. Yet another cave north of that seems to have the remnants of the battle that Fitch spoke of. Bodies lie on the floor next to scorch marks and ghosts walk through the room. A trapped chest has more cloaks, including a Gwani cloak.
The color of the stats window seems to indicate how badly the character is suffering.
By now, though, we start to experience a serious problem. Despite being wrapped in Gwani cloaks, my characters are freezing. Their complaints go from "it's a bit nippy" to not being able to feel their faces. They actually start to take damage. I try different combinations of warmer gear, but I don't have enough fur hats and boots to go around. We turn around and head back for the dungeon. However, the characters don't stop complaining even after we pass the point at which they originally mentioned the cold; they keep complaining all through the dungeon. They're taking damage from frostbite while simultaneously taking damage from goblins. I try to keep everyone hale with potions and spells, but characters keep collapsing. I mistake "Poison" potions (green) for "Awaken" potions (orange) and make the situation worse. Eventually, I reload from just outside the dungeon and head back through it as fast as I can. The characters don't stop complaining about the cold until we reach the original entrance and head back into the forest.
If you don't like the climate in the Serpent Isles, wait five minutes.
Moving along, we find Hazard's Lodge in the forest. One trapper attacks as we enter, and we easily dispatch him. A note indicates what we already know: that Hazard has gone to the north. But it also tells us something we didn't know--that he's in possession of the glass sword we lost when we arrived on the island. He must have found the sword where it replaced a pine cone.
Only in this screenshot am I noticing that mandrake on the floor. Dammit.
North of the burned ship we discovered earlier, we find several dilapidated buildings that must have belonged to the miners. Still north of that, nestled in the mountains, behind a gated fence, we find Draygan's compound. The first person we encounter is a woman named Beryl. She says that there are actually four survivors of the expedition: herself, Draygan, and two men who work for Draygan. She recaps what we already know about Draygan having left the rest of the party to be eaten by wolves, and she blames Draygan for the death of her husband, Carvell. She's tried to run away, but Draygan's flunkies keep finding her. She confirms that Draygan is invincible, but she thinks we might be able to deal with him by treating an arrow with a plant called King's Savior, which puts people to sleep. The Forest Master should know where to find some.
We find Draygan himself in a small hut. He relates the history of the miners as we already know it, except that the ship they arrived on was called The Emerald Lady. I had been wondering where they came from, but a tattoo on his forehead confirms Monitorian origins. He doesn't seem to know or care that I'm a fellow Knight of Monitor. He has delusions of power and glory and warns us not to interfere with them.
From here, that would be a small nook of dirt surrounded by mountains.
For fun, I take a save and attack him. He retaliates with fireballs that quickly wipe out the party. I reload and feed him a "Sleep" potion (how is that different from Beryl's plan?) and he gets a protective aura around him. I feed him a "Protection" potion and he goes to sleep. I feed him a "Poison" potion and he wakes up. I feed him an "Awaken" potion and he gets poisoned. Confusion over the potion colors aside, poison doesn't seem to damage him, and if you put him to sleep with a potion, he just wakes up when you attack. Oddly, pikemen from Monitor respond to his cries for help.
The answer to the obvious question--where did they come from?--turns out to be the caves to the north of Draygan's compound. I don't know why we're repeatedly told that Draygan only has two followers when clearly he has more. The cave network is large and offers combats with giant spiders, headless, and trolls. Their bodies, as well as a few chests, yield gold nuggets and bars, which is nice because I haven't made any serious money for a while, and I still have spells and reagents to purchase.
Looting a troll lair.
We decide to finish our circuit before returning to Morghrim. As we near the eastern coast, Shamino starts exclaiming, "I know this place! I never thought to see this again!" He explains what we already know about the castle once being his home, and he laments the fair lady Beatrix that he abandoned there. He draws me a quick map of the castle as he remembers it and mentions a secret door that once existed to the west between two trees.
Helpful, but not really necessary.
A plaque at the impassable front gate reads: "BEWARE. SPIRITS PROWL HERE." Mountains block passage north around the castle. We head back west and find Shamino's secret door between the stumps of two trees. A tunnel leads through the mountains, past combats with giant spiders and giant scorpions (?), and down some stairs. In a cyclops lair strewn with debris and body parts, we find a chest with a magic shield and some magic crossbow bolts. 
Cyclopes are nasty.
A stairway upward leads to what Shamino has marked as a storage room. A ghost immediately greets us, welcoming us to "the Castle of King Shamino, the Betrayer!" She tries to attack us, but we're on the other side of a closed secret door, so she just beats at the wall for a few seconds before disappearing in a flash. We open the door and start exploring around the edges of the castle. Highlights:
  • The storeroom has nothing of value but torches and bandages. Food in some of the barrels has rotted away long ago, leaving banana peels and fish skeletons behind.
  • The well still has water at the bottom.
  • The kitchen has a couple of fresh dead bodies. A diary on one of them indicates that he was a pirate hired by Batlin in Fawn. He relates how Batlin's party traipsed across the frozen north, hunting and imprisoning daemons. One of them was called Anarchy. How they came to their end in this kitchen is unknown.
  • In the meeting hall, armored statues come to life, and we have to kill them in a (relatively) long combat. Almost everyone is wounded down to single digits, and I have to spend some time healing.
Did they come back to life the moment we left the screen? Of course they did.
  • In the guard post, we use a winch to open the main gate so we don't have to exit through the caves.
  • Undead attack us in the barracks, where there are a number of locked chests. I spend time picking them all, but they just have pieces of armor worse than I already have. A cluster of levers at the north end of the barracks unlock all the doors that were previously locked.
Between the wizard's chambers and chapel.
  • The armory has eight locked chests. The four front ones yield to my lockpicks but are all empty. The four rear ones break every pick. One by one, I bash open the locked ones. I find a bunch of regular weapons and armor, a dragonslayer sword, a magic axe, a fire wand, and a note from Beatrix to Shamino. In it, she begs his forgiveness for having "looted the king's private arms" when the castle was besieged by goblins and Shamino was nowhere to be found.
  • The dining hall and servants' quarters have nothing but cobwebs and rotting furniture.
  • The wizard's chamber has a nice selection of reagents in several locked chests. A few magic scrolls lie behind a locked door, but an invisible chest has the key.
As we leave the armory, the ghost speaks to us again, and it is clear that it is Beatrix: "I loved thee once! I wrote three notes of love, letters of trust--but thou didst remember me no more, when Lord British summoned thee to his aid!" She attacks a couple of times and disappears. She appears again in the wizard's chambers: "So, thou didst finally think to return, King? It is too late! All are dead, the goblins conquered all ." Finally, she meets us a third time in the chapel: "Here is where my body did lie, until the goblins pillaged the tomb. I died of a broken heart, waiting for thy return." As if to drive this home, there's a casket in the corner of the chapel with a plaque that reads: "BEATRIX OF THE BROKEN HEART." It is empty.
Beatrix reacts to Shamino's mustache.
Shamino is curiously mute during all of this, and he has nothing to say when I double-click on him. Unfortunately, there's nothing else we can accomplish here at the moment. There's some kind of magic barrier in front of the castle's main keep. We make several loops around the area and search all the keep's walls for secret doors, but nothing comes to light.
That's convenient.
We continue our explorations and finally arrive at the castle that was just to our east when we emerged from the swamp. The swamp surrounds it like a moat. A few wooden planks serve as a bridge, but Boydon somehow manages to get himself poisoned as we cross it. The interior main doors are locked, so all we can do is take stairs up to the battlements. All ways here lead to dead ends or other locked doors.
I assume this is the Castle of the White Dragon.
Out of ideas, we make the long trek back to the Forest Master's house, using the trip as an excuse to probe the mountains for secret passages. We find one just before we reach the area with the hut. It leads to a small cave with barrels of food and potions, a trapped chest with a magic bow and magic arrows, and a little money in a sack. The remains of the presumed owner are spread out across the floor.
A secret niche.
Morghrim knows what King's Savior is: "Aye, it's a weed!" He describes it and tells us where to find it, near the mushrooms to the west. It takes me a while because his description depends heavily on color. Iolo has exactly one regular arrow, so I apply the plant, and it turns into a "Sleep Arrow." I grab a couple of extra just in case, and we head back to Draygan's camp.
One wonders how a plant that makes magic arrows ever managed to save a king.
I let Iolo do the honors, and of course he somehow screws it up, leading to another death at Draygan's hands. I reload and give the bow and arrow to the Avatar. He manages to put Draygan to sleep in one shot. Then Beryl rushes up and kills him! I wasn't expecting that. I guess I can't blame her, though. She thanks me and heads off, intending to offer herself as an aide to the Morghrim.
Technically, he only fell asleep thanks to me.
Draygan's body has magic leggings, a great helm, and the Orb of Elerion. Morghrim gates in and demands the orb immediately. I give it to him, and he gives me a whistle to summon the Hound of Doskar. I blow it, and a friendly little dog appears. I expected some kind of demon mastiff or something. I ask it to track something and give it Cantra's wooden sword. The dog points to the east.
Anyone know what kind of breed that is?
Apparently, the Hound of Doskar doesn't so much lead me to my quarry as point to it. I have to keep re-summoning him with the whistle if I want him. Still, there isn't much to the east except the two castles, and sure enough, the hound leads me directly to the front gates of Shamino's Castle. Next time, we'll see what's changed.
As the session closes, my open-world optimism is mostly gone, and while the session hasn't been unenjoyable, I find myself missing the less-linear world of The Black Gate. It's too bad that Origin didn't use the strengths of this engine in further titles. I want to explore more and follow step-by-step instructions less.
Time so far: 50 hours


  1. I know some people have been pretty rude about the Silver Seed thing, so I apologize in advance for getting into the subject again, but:

    "I've put off doing [Silver Seed] just because it hasn't come up organically yet"

    There isn't anything like this ahead of you in the game. Karnax giving you the Amulet of Balance is the "organic" start to the expansion. There's no further expansion content in the game without actively pursuing it using the amulet. He gave you the only hint you will get on how to use it. (ROT13) "Ohg V nz pregnva vg vf pbaarpgrq gb gur Frecrag ehvaf va fbzr znaare. Creuncf vs gubh qbfg hfr vg arne gur Frecrag tngr gubh jvyg gevttre vgf cbjre."

    1. Having played through the game more than once, I think there is one specific moment where the expansion makes sense plotwise, but a "first time player" will know it only in hindsight.

      Readers who already played the game may judge whether the following is a spoiler or if it makes the game more enjoyable.

      One of your main goals is to defeat Batlin, right ? (rot13) V jbhyq cynl gur rkcnafvba evtug nsgre ur vf qrsrngrq, BECAUSE (rot13) gbb znal riragf unccra va gbb fubeg n gvzr nf fbba nf ur vf qrsrngrq, ohg gur rkcnafvba gnxrf frireny va-tnzr qnlf.

    2. Yes, that clearly counts as a spoiler. Chet has said multiple times that he prfers to approach things "blind" and that is a major plot beat.

      The issue of when to play is akward, but I like your reasoning. My personal take has been that earlier in the game things feel more open and thus it makes sense there.

    3. The moment that felt organic for me the first time I played was when - fghzoyvat ba gur frecrag tngr va gur zbavgbe pelcgf, juvyr uhagvat sbe Vbyb'f pebffobj - love to know if that was similar for other people.

    4. I'm still confused. The expansion is called "The Silver Seed." I've just learned from a guy in the woods what the "silver seed" is. Don't they have anything to do with each other? Would the plot of the expansion make sense if you played it before getting that information from the Forest Master?

    5. Morghrim states that he failed in his task to plant the Silver Seed, because it got split and lost its magic. Cerqvpgnoyl, gung zrnaf gung gur ningne unf gb cresbez gur gnfx vafgrnq, juvpu unccraf va gur rkcnafvba.

      I'm pretty sure someone in the expansion also explains that part of the plot, yes.

    6. Weird. I didn't get that dialogue. I wonder how I missed it.

  2. It looks possibly like a St Bernard puppy.

    1. To me, the Hound of Doskar looks like a Bernese Mountain Dog. The Ultima Codex agrees.

    2. Yes, that's a Berner Sennenhund, they're quite common over here in Switzerland (surprise, surprise, I know ;)

    3. My first thought looking at the pic was a Bernese puppy too

    4. I'd love to have a dog like this, too, alas I'm living for rent and pets aren't allowed.

    5. Well, they are huge dogs, maybe not the best breed for an apartment

    6. They are herding dogs, they need a lot of space, activity and mental stimulation. As far as I understand, they are also technically not "hounds", so I think the Avatar got conned.

    7. I think it's supposed to be called a Myanma Dog now.

    8. Thanks for solving the mystery. It's a cute dog. I agree, though--not what I usually think of as a "hound."

  3. That Shamino is one cold son of a b*tch.

    You have likely addressed this before, but is there some sort of screen filter you could use to make certain colors more recognizable? There must be something out there in the wilds of the interweb.

    1. You're thinking about color blindness the way most people do, and it's not how it works. There's no filter that will make something look to me like the color it actually is. I simply can't see that color. I suppose if I really cared enough to solve the puzzle, there might be programs that change colors to other colors completely, like maybe they'd keep red red but change green to blue or something. But the problem isn't significant enough that I want to solve it at the expensive making all of a game's graphics look wrong.

    2. For people with mild deuternomaly, like me, you don't have to go as far as changing green to blue; it's enough to change "bad" shades of green to "good" shades of green. This obviously won't let us see like normally-sighted people, but it will make things distinguishable without going all the way to being outright wrong. But my impression from what you've said in the past is that you're quite a lot more color blind than I am, which, yeah, probably can't be "fixed" other than by falsifying the colors completely.

  4. The whole Morgrim / Draygan subplot reads like filler to me; it doesn't appear to have anything to do with the rest of the game.

    Note that Draygan is of the Leopard command, and the Monitor plot has established the Leopards as power-hungry traitors (e.g. Marsten); they're basically House Slytherin.

    1. Agreed about filler. Especially right on the heels of the similarly disconnected Gorlab episode, it gives the impression that the developers perhaps had grander ambitions for this whole section of the map, and then in a time crunch went with something more self-contained and easier to resolve.

      To be fair, in many games of the era, these would be totally unremarkable side quests --- I think they only stand out here because so much else about the game suggests the intentions of very tight plotting and coherent world-building. I guess it's good to have some things that DON'T perfectly connect, lest the world feel small and overdetermined by the game's quest line...a tricky balance to strike.

    2. As much I have my issues with SI'structure,

    3. Apologies for the incomplete comment above, feel free to delete.

      As much as I have my issues with SI's structure, that part never particularly bothered me.

      Not every obstacle needs to be necessarily tightly plotted and related to the main story.

      It's a short quest for covering such a big part of the map, but I liked the environmental storytelling of the shipwreck and the wolves infesting the area.

      I find much more annoying Shamino not commenting on the events at his castle beyond the first reaction, that does feel like missing content to me.

    4. The only dialogue that got cut was the Avatar reading the Miranda warning to Shamino after hearing the testimony of Beatrix.

  5. First of all, thanks for releasing this post on a day I felt like crap (finally got the cold my kids have had for the last week)!

    I think you're at the point in SI where the rails are coming off a bit and things don't connect well. Shamino having little to say about what happened when he was king is so odd. I'm sure they meant to fill in the gaps but had to skip a bunch to release it for EA.

  6. A curious mix between two different variants of "staging". A plot bottleneck separating two stages, but not as obvious as Baldur's Gate, or, even stronger, Planescape Torment. As soon as you add the ebb and flow in an open world-game, "rhythm" becomes an issue. Many open world games don't have much of a rhythm at all, Dragon Age or the Elder Scrolls, because once you've crossed a critical plot point, a return to the open world, side quests and free movement, can feel a little...tedious.

  7. How does Serpent Isle compare to other RPGs in terms of puzzles? i.e. Does the engine support things like pressure plates, pits and complicated levers, as features to affect other parts of the environment? I feel like there hasn't been much in the way of complicated puzzles, but maybe I'm expecting too much from the engine and the constrictions of an isometric viewpoint.

    1. I think the engine's possibilities in this regard are relatively limited, but we've seen some examples of puzzles in the Knight's Test and the Mountains of Freedom. I think the bigger problem is that the game makes solving them a bit too easy.

    2. The engine does support semi-complex puzzles, and an example thereof is the lengthy final dungeon in The Black Gate. The designers just don't use such puzzles often.

  8. Hi Chet, as a recent follower of this blog I was very much looking forward to you tackling this game. I seem to recall on a previous Ultima posting you didn't have fond memories of the plot to this game, but I get the sense you have a similar reaction to it today that I've always had playing it. Serpent Isle is this very fascinating blend of the very good and the very bad. There is so much that is incredible world building, and yet so much that seems bewildering, unnecessary, unfinished, or EXTRA. Your posts have proved some social validation for me as I had very similar confusions around logic behind the knights test, the mountains of freedom, and Monk Isle (just to name a few). In regard to The Silver Seed, I totally get that there isn't really a 'plot convenient time' to do it. I typically do as soon as is practical in terms of making the gameplay easier in the long run, i.e. straight after getting a new spellbook. I do recommend starting the Silver Seed as soon as you can. Having said that, I'm really fascinated to see how you will find the last 03rd of the game. There really is nothing quite like it.

    1. Thanks, Mike. Welcome to the blog. A "fascinating blend of the very good and the very bad" does apply well to this game.

    2. I agree that's an apt sentence. My favorite Ultimas are 6 and SI, for reasonably different reasons. U6 to me is flawless, although it doesn't really do anything extraordinary. SI is extraordinary in some things (particularly in those days and ages) but quite poor in others.

  9. While you personally might prefer the freedom of Black Gate, your entries for Serpent Isle make for far more entertaining reads because of the narrative focused structure of the game. Even this, filler obstacle quest, feels like a chapter in a book.

    1. This game also provides a lot of fodder for ridicule, which makes for great MST3K moments.

      Not to say I didn't like it, I LOVED it at the time. But all my childhood favorites appear less vibrant through Chet's critical eyes...

    2. I don't really see SI as deserving ridicule.

      I'm not part of the generation that played it in the 90's, so it's not part of my childhood. I played it somewhere in the last decade, maybe 5 years ago.

      I find both Black Gate and Serpent Isle have a very appealing vintage charm to them.

  10. On the other hand, vg jbhyq or vagrerfgvat vs Purg jbhyq qb Fvyire Frrq nsgre Vbyb, Funzvab naq Qhcer unir orpbzr haninvynoyr qhr gb cybg ernfbaf. Jvgu gur cnegl bs Crgen, Tjraab naq that arrogant dude. I don't think anyone has ever done it like that.

    1. I did it, more or less (jvgu n cnegl vapyhqvat Oblqba naq na nhgbzngba).

    2. I should try that next time I play. :D

      I've always done Silver Seed somewhere before Gorlab Swamp.

      V guvax gur fgng vapernfr qbrf uryc gur cynlre gbb zhpu naq senaxyl, gur evat bs erntragf whfg ryvzvangrf n ynetr cneg bs gur tnzrcynl, juvpu vf erntrag pbyyrpgvat.

      Is it particularly fun to collect reagants? No... ohg gur nygrenangvir whfg srryf yvxr n tvnag purng zbqr. Ohg qnza, gung xrlevat... is such a vital thing.

      Though Chet has been doing fine without it and he's already like 60-70% in the game.

    3. That reminds me of the beo bs gur zbbaf onpx va gur fvkgu tnzr; xabjvat rknpgyl ubj vgf gryrcbegngvba jbexf qbrf engure srry yvxr purngvat gb zr, naq V'q fnl vg znxrf gur tnzr yrff sha.

    4. Agreed on the U6 orb of the moons. I wish one could "unlock" teleporting codes progressively


I welcome all comments about the material in this blog, and I generally do not censor them. However, please follow these rules:

1. Do not link to any commercial entities, including Kickstarter campaigns, unless they're directly relevant to the material in the associated blog posting. (For instance, that GOG is selling the particular game I'm playing is relevant; that Steam is having a sale this week on other games is not.) This also includes user names that link to advertising.

2. Please avoid profanity and vulgar language. I don't want my blog flagged by too many filters. I will delete comments containing profanity on a case-by-case basis.

3. NO ANONYMOUS COMMENTS. It makes it impossible to tell who's who in a thread. If you don't want to log in to Google to comment, either a) choose the "Name/URL" option, pick a name for yourself, and just leave the URL blank, or b) sign your anonymous comment with a preferred user name in the text of the comment itself.

4. I appreciate if you use ROT13 for explicit spoilers for the current game and upcoming games. Please at least mention "ROT13" in the comment so we don't get a lot of replies saying "what is that gibberish?"

5. Comments on my blog are not a place for slurs against any race, sex, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or mental or physical disability. I will delete these on a case-by-case basis depending on my interpretation of what constitutes a "slur."

Blogger has a way of "eating" comments, so I highly recommend that you copy your words to the clipboard before submitting, just in case.

I read all comments, no matter how old the entry. So do many of my subscribers. Reader comments on "old" games continue to supplement our understanding of them. As such, all comment threads on this blog are live and active unless I specifically turn them off. There is no such thing as "necro-posting" on this blog, and thus no need to use that term.

I will delete any comments that simply point out typos. If you want to use the commenting system to alert me to them, great, I appreciate it, but there's no reason to leave such comments preserved for posterity.

I'm sorry for any difficulty commenting. I turn moderation on and off and "word verification" on and off frequently depending on the volume of spam I'm receiving. I only use either when spam gets out of control, so I appreciate your patience with both moderation tools.