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October 31, 2012

Legend of Faerghail - Review





Game reviewed: Legend of Faerghail
Publisher: reLINE software
Designed: Electronic Design Hannover
Released: 1990
Formats: Pc, Amiga, Atari ST
Version reviewed: Amiga
Difficulty: 5/10
Est. Playing time: 35 hours


The game was designed by Olaf Barthel, a famous guy in the Amiga world. Besides developing several famous amiga programs he also participated in the development of the Amiga OS in the mid 90:s and is still very much active today.

The music composed by Andreas Starr is what distinguishes Faerghail from the ordinary RPGs of the period. The melody is perfectly matched by the atmosphere of the game and greatly enhances the immersion, even tough it is only heard at the introduction. I feel obliged to allow you to listen to the original Amiga score here: 



Gameworld & Story
The story of the adventurers being approached at the inn by a foreigner telling them that the king looks for brave adventurers, is hardly orginal even for 1990. The king tells about the evil that threatens the land with vile orcs and ogres that invade and the elves that mysteriously has turned against humans. He needs the military support of his neighbour county to repell the attacks and win time to find a solution. The task is given to you to find out what has happened to the land and who is behind it at but first you must request support from the other county.

During gameplay there are very few references to the actual story. The only thing that actually links part of the story together is scrolls you find which either contains very sparse background information about the evil Balaan and his allies or describe the particular powerful weapons that exists. There are no NPC:s to talk with and no dialogues. Still it is enough to build a game like this on the info that actually exists but keep in mind its on the same level as a ordinary Bard´s Tale adventure.

The gameworld spans two wilderness areas with some different places to visit. Each of them is really different from eachother in terms of graphics and encounters. The gameworld is not large and there is no risk you will get lost. But that is a good thing because in a game like Abandoned Places 2 the outdoor areas where large but very empty instead. Here you could quite fast travel between different locations.

Rating: 1.5
 
 
Economy
Economy in this game works pretty well in the beginning. The start of the game is the hardest part. You have to survive at least until your second level before daring venturing on any longer quest. You will have to gather as much gold as you can since raising in levels costs money you don´t simply have. You will not get much money by fighing random encounters in the wilderness. You have to enter a complex in search for chests filled with gold. After you begin to handle yourself at level 3 and upwards money becomes less of an issue and soon after that you will have as much as you need and could fill the bank. This makes the game unbalanced. The emporium in town have a lot of different weapons and armours but you cannot buy any magical equipment and all special items you find will be better than the stock items.
 
 
The problem with the game is that it resets every complex when you exit so you could return back and plunder the same gold chests again or get the special items again and again. It´s up to you to misuse this system or not but it makes the game much easier. On the other hand it prevents you from being locked out to solve the game if you by mistake drop or loose an important quest item. Anyway, the emporium is just for selling stuff and that is a pity.

There is a lot of items in the game. Many weapons and armour pieces. You won´t know their effect until you try them out. Armours is easy since you will see your defense rise when equipped but weapons damage must be closely watched in order to decide anything. As always the only good hint is to use the most expensive item all the time.
 
Rating: 2

NPC & Interactions

There are no NPC:s in the game worth mentioning and the few there are (like the elven king, sage at the oracle, temple monk etc) could not be spoken to. They just have their saying. There are also very few places in which you must interact with the environment. The few places that do require your effort are often worth it though, like using the mirrorshield or holy water to get across heat or invisible forcefields or having to remove all equipment to be able to wade through a pool. It´s mostly in the latter part of the game in which you will have the opportunity to interact with the gameworld. There are a lot of places in which you have to use found keys though.
Rating: 1.5
 
Monsters, tactics & combat system

This part is one of the stronger points of the game since it is very combat focused. There are a lot of different opponents and monsters in the game and most of them have beautifully drawn images. They also have different abilities like that they could stun, paralyze or poison you or even drain your experience. Or they could cast spells or breathe at you.
 
 
Combat is played out in rounds in which you could tactically place your party members on different rank lines against you opponents. The further away the harder to hit...or be hit. But easier to concentrate on casting spells. Tactics used in such a stationary combat is mostly utilised by selecting the correct spells or using items (potions). The monsters always appear within striking range compared to Bard´s Tale or Dragon Wars.
 
 
Combat is generally not too hard in the game. When you reach level 4 you could practically fight against any creature. The good thing is that you could partially fight creatures and when you are severily injured you could retreat from combat and still get experience from it. It is always guaranteed success to withdraw from combat. That makes the game too easy in my opinion, because you don´t have to fight any creature in the game in order to succeed actually. Well, you need some hitpoints to resist traps and the dragons breathing in the end, but that is about it. Not that it would be very fun without the combat but you don´t need to. Sometimes I fought monsters just to get rid of them harassing me in the dungeons and hinder my movement. Monsters don´t respawn as far as I can tell.
 
 
Quick combat works very well and is really quick. You don´t need to repeat your actions for every round, it remembers your last settings. Just be sure to watch out for weapons- and armour breakage. You will get indications on when something is damaged in the summary report after each round. An asterix is shown below the armour or weapon column.

For a static combat system this is one of the smoothest and best I have seen.

Rating: 3

Magic system

Magic is somewhat original since you don´t have any traditional spellpoints. Rather you have a number of castings per day and each spell also has limitations on how many times it could be cast during a day. You don´t need to memorise spells, neither do you have to type in shortcut letters for them (Thank god! I hate that system employed by Dragon Wars, Bard´s Tale, Devils Whiskey, Dungeon Master 2 etc). Every spell is shown in your spell list. Just click the corresponding number and your done.

There are a lot of spells in the game. Some says it is close to 300 but I haven´t counted. Some spells are very similar in different schools but that goes for all similar games. You have to advacne to level 7 and above to get the really good spells something which I was just precisely attaining before the end.

It is easy to regain lost castings (i.e. castings per day). You just have to rest and only one time during my countless times of resting have we been interrupted and attacked, so resting is always safe.

Rating: 3.5

Character generation & development

Character generation works very well. It is fast, you have a lot of choices and you could re-roll your attributes easily. There are the standard amounts of races but a whole lot of classes, some only available to females which also has different attibute bonuses. I enjoyed creating my group.

When leveling you need money before you could train then there is a chance you might improve one or two of your skills depending on class. It is usually attack or defense but spellcasters generally improve concentration ability. There is also a slim chance you will have one of your attributes raised. All this is totally random. Then you get a random number of additional hitpoints depending on your constitution and a fixed addition of castings per day.

For each level gained you could check if there are new spells to be learned and payed for, they will then be scribed to your spellbook. Fighter classes receives additional attacks per round now and then but you will only notice it in combat.

In summary, a very good, streamlined process but it offers nothing of uniqness about it. 

Rating: 3

Map design

Maps in the game are of traditional squares. At least 35*35 hexes. The layout is solid and generally done with thought and logic behind it. There are no random rooms and doors. Many places are described ingame and gives an even better feeling for the map layout. Large entrance halls, barracks, prisons, feeding grounds etc exists. There are some places which are much smaller though. 



The crystal ball works quite ok as an automapper and you could scroll to see the whole map but the problem is that when you leave a place the map is gone and you have to rediscover it when entering again. Therefore you generally need to draw your own maps anyway.

Rating: 3

Manual

The original manual was ringbound and very well layed out. It is pretty thick and covers easily over 50 pages. It is filled with facts but written in easy manner. Not without humor. The spell section are really well done and the descriptions enjoyable to read. This manual is one of the best I have seen for an RPG of this time. It also contaings parts of maps that are referenced during the game in scrolls and shows hidden doors and other stuff. If I don´t give this my highest rating I don´t know what will get it.

Rating: 5

Graphics, sound and Interface


The graphics in the game are very good on the Amiga version. Both the dungeons and overland maps are nice and the difference between the complex is really noticeable. Never will you only get new color settings but entire new complexes. The images of monsters also looks very nice. Many of them seems digitized from other photos. 

The sound in the game is above average and covers echoing steps, thunders, door slams and crows squeaking in the wilderness. The title music is excellent and provides a perfect mood for the game.

But this game probably sports the best and fastest interface I have yet to seen in a RPG in this genre. Every choice has a keyboard shortcut and the interface is extremely fast and responsive. Quick combats could be done and over with in 3 seconds and you still have full control during that time. Combat layout and overview is perfectly laid out and give you all information you need. You don´t need to go through each and every characters action sequentially. You see all party members at once and just select the one you wish to give an order. The default settings is attack or defend and it remembers all actions from the previous round.

Managing the inventory and trading items is also easily handles. The inventory could span several pages per character but is quick to navigate through. Sure one could wish for a larger window to get a better overview but it works very well.

There are also som ingame options that allows you to turn off graphics or sound effects, making the game even quicker. That the game is multitasking is also a nice feature even though it doesn´t have any effect of the gameplay per se.

Rating: 4

Gameplay

This game belongs to my all-time favourites and though I have seen and played through almost every level 20 years ago, I still had much play with this playthrough. It would be even better if it was my first time I believe. Now I had my old maps to help me out so the exploration feeling is not really there. 

The game are so easily played, responsive and quick due to its good interface that you will make good progress in little time. I see no reason not try this game out regardless of if you like games like Dragon Wars or Bard´s Tale. Actually I don´t see much likeness to them except for the static combat system but others like to compare them. In every respect that will make Legend of Faerghail a clear winner in my opinion.

However, there are three things I whish to point out.

Firstly, I have seen some people complaining about the frequency of random encounters. There are a lot of random encounters but not as much as in the Bard´s Tale series and - most important - they are not respawning. If you clear all monsters out from a complex you could run around freely and you even see them on the screen so they move around in realtime by their ghostly silhouette. If you don´t fight them though they could be really annoying and forcing an encounter at almost every step until you get out of their domain. That could be irritating and many times I have fought monsters just to clear my path.

Secondly, the system does not remember anything from your previous visit in a complex, so even if you have already taken all gold and magical items they will be back again if you get out and reeenter. That don´t hold for levels within a complex only for reentering from the wilderness. The only good thing about this - and I mean only - is that you will not risk getting stuck because you have dropped an quest item by mistake. But otherwhise this system opens up for misuse and cheating if you have the patience. Perhaps it is impossible to reach the higher levels with this system ? But then the developers could have implemented some respawning.

Thirdly and last, there are not a single fight in the game in which you are forced to fight if you are not prepared. You could always withdraw from combat. You might be harassed and annoyed while walking afterwards but you will survive and resting is almost always without any danger as long as you choose a guard. This makes the game too easy. Not that it is fun avoiding all the fights in the game in the first place, but it could be done. There are a few places in which you will have to fight to get a certain item but only when you  yourself are ready for it.

If I could change something I would add much higher risk of being attacked while resting because rest you will have too. That at least would force you to either use your potions (I have never used any) or be more cautious. But the combination of a complex both being reset when revisited and that you could run from every fight is not a good gaming balance. That the game is too easy combatwise is its weakest spot. If you really like a challenge and housekeeping your resources all the steps this game is not for you. This makes it very different from Wizardry VII for example.

Other than that the graphics and sound really add to the atmosphere, it is very rewarding to raise in levels and improve you characters and the environments and monster types are well varied. There are a lot of different items and you will spend good time with optimising your characters. The system is quite advanced with weapons and armours that could break during combat, while resting your watch may fall asleep and either you will be surprised by monsters or find that part of your equipment has been stolen. It is small things like this that makes Legend of Faerghail stand out from its competition.

Rating: 4
 
Recommended links:
 
  • The complete manual in textform without the maps/illustrations
  • The most comprehensive walkthrough of the game

Section
Rating
Gameworld & Story
1.5
Economy
2
NPC & Interactions
1.5
Monsters, tactics & combat system
3
Magic system
3.5
Character generation & development
3
Map design
3
Manual
5
Graphics, Sound and Interface
4
Summary CRPG value
26.5


Gameplay
4 (26.5)

October 27, 2012

Legend of Faerghail - Won!

At last we where ready to try to confront the evils den, lurking somewhere deep in the mines. We stayed for a few days to prepare, resupply and sell off stuff at the Emporium while most of the members gained a level. A few of them was very near to gain a level and so we spent time in the wilderness to grind some more experience. My party now spans from level 5 to 7. I know, it doesn´t sound very high but then I have taken a more direct approach to complete my goals rather than fighting out each encounter.

Anyway, we set out to return to the dwarven mines. Each clue gathered so far has told us that herein lies the answer and we must return back down. There are two entrances to the mines in the west. The north one gets you stuck with no way of climbing down and the south one give access to the normal dwarven mines. The starter mines did however reveal the portal that would take me down to level 3. It is now open. Probably as a result of me discovering it the first time I visited these parts. If so, that is the only place in the game where it does remember what I have done.

We got down through the portal to level 3 but had no way of returning back to level 1 because I am missing my amulet we got in the beginning. I don´t know where it is. Perhaps my thief has it in the inn. That would at least give credit to his trade and that is probably the only thing in which he had succeeded.

While here, I used the opportunity to gather another round of gunpowder. Level four would not get me further on and so I returned back to the top again. This time I discovered there are two stairs from the hex where I enter the mines. The second one has been missed but leads to the deeper mines. In order to return here though I had to sacrifice my gunpowder. I know it sounds confusing and so it was for me because I am still not sure when this second stairway appears in the game while at the same time my exit is blocked  forcing me to use my second gunpowder. There must be another way but I don´t mean to powerplay this game, only to complete it and so I did not ponder on it more.

You have to unequipp all items in order to proceed
The deeper levels of the mines holds much tougher opponents. Black deaths drains your experience, slimes, arag-dai, bastards and other creatures tries its best to pester you but I only choose to fight opponents that give good experience and so my advancement went quickly enough. To be fair, it was most due to my old hand-drawn maps from 20 years ago that helped stalk out my direction. I never had to step on every square as if it had been the first time.

We came upon an underground spring that stopped our progress due to our heavy armour. You must unequip all armours, weapons and items in order to enter. In the end you will find a strengthring that holds unexplained powers. It doest not increase your attribute strength but it could perhaps inflict more damage in combat nonetheless ?

Some things that happened to me during these new dwarven levels:
  • At level 2 (or level 6 if you choose to add them to the ordinary levels) there is a place that in order to proceed to the stairs leading down to level 3, the entrance behind you are sealed with no way of returning back again. I was afraid we would get trapped but in the end it turned out I had to pass this opening to get a stonekey that would allow me to get back through a portal.
  • I found some adamite lump that I had to give to a dwarf to give me a mirrorshield.
  • With the mirrorshield I could block heat radiating from a certain place which allowed me to explore forward and in the end find some Corona (remember the clue "Only gem, corona and staff makes the key to the mountain" ?)
With this I descended down to level 3 and here came the most ugly, darkest, hardest, hard-core part of any CRPG I have played until then. A huge hall unfolded in front of me and there is only one invisible safe way to navigate around it. Each failed step in any direction either kills a member instantly or wipes out the entiry party. If you have come here and lack more than one gunpowder you have to try out a way by trial and error which will take hours after hours becuase I think it is around 100 steps you have to carry out. I had half of the way mapped back in 1992 and yet I know I did find another way without taking this path. But I don´t remember how I did!!!

Ah, did I mention that you are not allowed to save on this level ?

I admit here that I did cheat and looked up the correct way to navigate through this invisible labyrinth of death tiles. I feel I had the right too or I would never have the patience to map the path by trial and error and reload the game 100 times.

This labyrinth leads to three different arches. Each one containing powerful items like a staff of darkness (I have no clue what it does), loads of gold and potions. There are a few secret doors here and if you search all corridors throughly you will come across the Crystal sword. I never found it during my first playthrough though. 

This sword sounds powerful

To get out of here you will eventually find stairs leading upwards to the wilderness. Here you can save the game again. This part of the wilderness is a totally new section but very small. There is a spring here in which you could heal your party members. There is also a halfling statue holding a stone sword but I didn´t know how to get it so I just continued. I hope this sword isn´t crucial in the end.

This will be your last grasp of fresh air before the ending battle

Springs helps to replenish your health
You will eventually reach a closed gate in the mountain in which you have to use all your quest items to proceed. First of all - and I stood dumbfounded for awhile with this - you have to have all three items on the same character. First use the corona and together with the emerald (don´t remember where I found it) it will form another item.

Use that item together with the keystaff and you could use the keystaff to open the gate that leads down into the Volcano. Remember though, that you could only tro to open the gate in the early morning or it will fail. I am not sure if that is told anywhere in a clue but it seems to be the case.



By entering we descended into a volcano. A totally new complex opened up before us. It is strange, but I have no memories whatsoever from this complex, yet I know I must have been here the last time I played Legend of Faerghail on my Amiga. I had to draw up a map with pencil and paper. This complex was filled with high level monsters that gives a lot of XP but the way back to the nearest town to train is not a  tempting option. Especially not now when I know I am near the end.


I like the colour palette of the the Volcano

I fled from most of the encounters. This complex was filled with different types of elementals and other types. There is really nothing important on the first level despite there being some impassable ways to reach certain chests due to forcefields. I found out that there are always a secret door that you could take to get around those obstacles. One of them holds a gain level potion which is probably the most valuable object in the game. I know that because I sometimes first save and then test the potion. That will mostly reveal the type of potion. I have however never used any of them and you should save them until the end anyway when the XP requirments are in the 6-digit.


The exit from the first level lies in the southeast part of the volcano where you will find a hole to descend. That leads down to the second level and now things takes a different way. Here you will have to use all important quest items gathered during your adventure so far. 

The first part leads you through a labyrinth with impassable forcefields. In the end you will meet an elemental that will give you a riddle...

This game is very fond of riddles
I had no clue and so had to find the solution online. The answer is iceflower. Very far reached answer in my opinion. 

You will be teleported to another section. By following long corridors with a few secret doors you will come across a water elemental that will give you some water. In the end you will be teleported once again to another place. This section was really hard and frustrating. A huge square room with invisible walls. I had to manually draw a map from the invisible walls while taking damage all the time for my front fighter when clashing into the walls. There where a lot of creepers offering me advice and secrets for 300 gc each, but all of them just walked away with my money except for one who said:



After one hour I found what I was looking for. An air elemental in the middle that waited for something. I think I used the water here and was transported to another section. This section I think was what the creepers tried to tell me about. The exit lied in the northwestern part through a hole but other than that it held nothing of interest. Down the hole we came upon the last level.

Here the intense heat could be felt gradually. We got information about wether it got warmer or cooler depending on where we got. A new monster type that I had never seen before made its appearance, magma beings. I had to intention of fighting them at this stage and so I just continued to withdraw from combat.



The complex ends in front of a sea of lava that is impossible to pass. But by using your sarcophagus (the important item from the Monastery catacombs) you could sail on top of the lava with your party and navigate around. That leads you both to some powerful items (like a golden sword) but also to a fire elemental that seems to wait for something. I had a wet clay key and needed to use it on the fire elemental so that he could breathe at it giving me the proper key for the gate in this section.

In my inventory below it transformed into a dry clay key


The gate opened up into the last part of the cave and here I finally found what I had been waiting for to complete almost 20 years ago. The red dragon itself.


Well, while I didn´t hit him even once the first time around he managed to breathe at my party, effectively killing each and everyone with 96 points of damage. Hmm. Before the next fight I re-equipped my warriors to use the dragon plates, god´s hammer for the priest, crystal sword for the paladin and the golden sword for my smith. I let Evaine, my illusionist cast my favourite spell Haste, that effectively doubles the amount of attacks you could do in a round.

My next attempt at the dragon showed a better outcome but that was only due to the fact that the dragon failed at breathing at me, giving me a second round in which I could try to kill him. Trion did it as could be seen below. I was quite astonished that the dragon did not have more hitpoint.  Perhaps 200 or so.


This is the moment I have been waited for since 1994
I felt a great relief when killing the dragon and wondered what would happen now. Nothing happened! The dragons pool of blood lie in front of me, seemingly active in some strange way. It turned out I had to use the demons mask I got from the elven Pyramid. By throwing it into the blood pool it evaporated together with the living blood. This finally seemed to have destroyed the evil.


The story continued with us fleeing from the volcano that begun to erupt and finally exploded. We returned back to the king....


I was quite content with the ending that was accompanied with a new piece of music from the game. When the ceremony and rewards was over we found ourselves back at the inn. It was now possible to actually begin playing the game again. I could raise levels and sell off stuff. I imagine you could probably repeat the adventure again because I could left the inn and was receiving the amulet exactly as what happens the first time. I suppose I could just return to the volcano but that is pure speculation.

I feel very satisfied of having completed the game 20 years later,even though I had to resort to check out one riddle and the solution to get past the death labyrinth.

I am looking forward to review this game in my next post and see how it holds up to the other games...







October 18, 2012

Legend of Faerghail - Preparing for the end

My group of six had searched the dragon temple, ploughed through the dwarven mines, escaped the corridors of the elven pyramid and not the least walked the dead halls of the former Sagacita temple. All in search of information about the new evil that stalks the land.

During our search we have found some very important information about what to do but very little background information. We learned that:

  • "Only gem, corona and staff makes the key to the mountain". We found the emerald in the castle. It was hidden in a basin and only reachable by using a ladle also found on another floor. But to reach the basin you had to get access only as the master of the castle which was an vampire. You had to trap him using the Mithril ball and then use the caught vampire to get access to the basin. The emerald will surely be important later on. The staff mentioned could be the Keystaff I have found before from the Oracle. Only the corona is still missing.
  • The mountain will open only during the night. It is obvious that I will have to get access to the mountain during the night in order to get access to the deepest levels. I have not yet testet that though.
  • The lord of darkness Balaan has allied with the king of the dragon Istrildiar and with trolls and orcs in the land to do his bidding. The elven king seemed trapped somehow by the evil and my success in reaching him seemed to have released his bonds. 
The castle turned out to be one of my favourite places in the game so far. Perhaps it is the atmosphere with echoing steps and thunder and lightning flashing on the screen. The inhabitants is represented with everything you could wish for in a horrorful way like skeletons, zombies, werewolves, vampires, spiders, rats, executioners and a lot of other dangerous entities like the Arag-Dai, the stronger cousin of orcs.

The atmosphere is perfectly on top in this complex

When entering the castle you have no way of returning back until you have found the door key much later on.  Fortunately you will never run out of rations or abilities to rest your group. At least I haven´t ever been near. But I sure did save before entering in case that I could not find the key or get stuck somewhere. At the first level I found a creeper willing to depart some secret for me that would get handy later on.

You should always pay these creatures to hear what they say
From the base level you will find several stairs leading up or down. There are two basement levels and up to four levels above you, most of them very small but important. At the basement you will eventually find the hammer of the gods if you succeed in finding a T-junction and pressing the buttons on the wall to the north and west. That will remove the forcefields that stops you from getting to a chest which holds the hammer of the gods. It is a terrific weapon but I am not sure of its full use but suspect I should use it in the end.

The answer here is Stairs

Before starting on Legend of Faerghail I said the levels lack darkness squares, compass disorientations and pitfalls etc but in this complex they are all there. But only at a few places and it will never be hard or frustrating to map the place. I also think the monsters have the capabilities for all the special attacks found in the game. I have been blinded, weakened, drained of experience and paralysed. Neither of them was I capable of restoring without proper spells. 

I love the monster images in the game, these werewolves could be dangerous
The upper levels is what contains the important stuff. The first level holds the lord of the castle. He won´t attack you so you have to use the mithril ball to trap him. 


When trapped you could use him to gain access into certain areas, both to get they key to exit the castle but also to find a very powerful sword called blade of power. There are some problems you have to solve at certain places like sand a slippery corridor in order to get through, open the large windows with a crank-handle to let in daylight to heal your party etc. I did found a golden key I never understood where to use. As soon as I got the corona I left the castle. I had no more areas to explore.


I was sure that when leaving for the town and inn again all of my party members would rise at least one level but I was disappointed that it wasn´t the case. I did improve in half of them but the ones now at level 7 requires a lot of XP to improve. My least developed character is still at level 5. My magician Perenne did however get new group targeting spells like lightning bolt. I cannot wait to try it out.


My next task will be to return back to the mines where the final solution lies. I am not totally sure yet how to reach the deeper parts except I will try to enter at night. My next post could possibly be my last on this game. I do feel however that my party is not experienced enough. I think I was far more powerful when I played this game the first time around but then again, I did rush through every place several times since I couldn´t solve all riddles or challenges at my first try. 



October 3, 2012

Legend of Faerghail - Monastery of Sagacita

I am finally back to continue my quest in Legend of Faerghail. Real world interferance is always a threat to my gaming time and as if that wasn´t enough fate wanted me to fail my playthrough of the game by corrupting two savegame discs.

Anyway, I was just about to enter the Monastery in search of more information about the elves and my quest in general. At least according to the count who suggested I should check out the place. My party entered a temple in two levels that was desecrated. Dead priests where strewn across the floor. Pools of blood made the floor slippery and only very seldom did we actually meet surviving priests that where friendly. Something terrible had happened here. 

Dark dwarves had attacked the temple...
Halfway exploring the first level I met a monk who told me that the temple had been attacked by dark dwarves while their priestess Lady Miriam was underway. The monk offered to join our group to help us through this system, offering his advice. I didn´t wan´t to miss out on anything so I returned to the town and dismissed my priest Werca temporarily by letting her rest at the inn. Then we returned back to the temple to let the monk join us. Strangely enough he presented himeself as Melian but when he joined the party his name was Eljot.


This monk, Elijah is a good NPC fighter
NPC:s have their characteristics hidden as well as equipment. If they use spells you never know exactly what they do but he turned out to be a good fighter nonetheless.
 
The first level contained nothing of exceptional interest except the sword Lightbringer, hidden in the northeast section. I am still not sure of how capable it is but it sure gives the impression of being a good weapon. I have a faint memory of it being described in a scroll somewhere as to draw energy from your enemies to heal yourself but I have frankly never seen that happen or not been attentive enough.

The group explored all the place but the only thing we found was a few scrolls of history which I will return to later on. We never met any dark dwarves and in general the monsters inhabiting this complex was quite weak and gave very few XP. Both the Temple of Dragon Servants and the Elven Pyramid hosts more dangerous opponents which indicates I should have gone here first.

Corridors with bookshelves and a scroll here and there was what was contained in the temple

At the second level of the temple we found a hole in the floor. By jumping down we entered the Sagacita Catacombs spread out over two levels. Here you could find more treasure but still there where no major changes of monsters. Orcs, Catchpoles, Mercenaries, Rats, Poisonous spiders, Skeletons and Zombies. All are parts of your adversaries but neither of them give any noticeable XP. This is not the place for grinding.


Monsters ahead in the catacombs
Here and there you could meet creatures offering secrets for gold

The second level of the catacombs does not fully use the whole square potential of the map so I suspected there might be hidden sections I had to uncover. I used my only instance of gunpowder to blow through walls here and there just to be sure I didn´t miss something. At one place, north of the stairs I blew a hole into another hex that when entered said the following:

That the authors bothered to make these false - hard to find - places is fun

These are only a few examples of the humour used throughout the game. Normally I don´t like to mix up such things but they strike a good balance and lighten up the game. Besides it shows to me that the authors had a good time making this game. And it really shows.

In order to get back up from the catacombs and the hole you jumped into, you need to find a rope. The rope could be found on the second level of the catacombs and here the authors once again show they are not without humour. Beside the rope lies a dead adventurer, when finding him the tune of Indiana Jones is played for a short while while the description inevitably hints at this being Indy.


What you really need to find in the temple though is a sarcophagus that is extremely heavy. It is not obvious now but I remember that it will be very important in the end of the game.


When finding the Sarcophagus it was nothing more left to do except to head up to the wilderness again. Unfortunately, bringing Eljot with me was a mistake. He never, ever told me anything except acted like an uncontrollable party member. I lost XP to him that my priest Werca would have needed much more. Not that this complex helped any of us to gain any more levels anyway as it would turn out later.

I returned to the town to sell of some stuff. At this point I had been everywhere in the new county so I had no other choice but going back to the other side again through the mines. Since I got a leather pouch from the oracle to contain a mask I suspected they meant the mask bearer in the elven pyramid. That would be my next target once again.

I returned to the dwarven mines at level 2. Just one level below I could grab another set of gunpowder. This was too tempting so I headed down there and grabbed my second batch of explosives and begun my return upwards. When getting back to level 1 I found the exit back to the wilderness blocked. Instead of looking for alternate ways I blow the wall with my second explosive and thereby forfeiting my advantage. At least I was back at my homeland again.

I immediately headed for the elven Pyramid. This time I was only interested in getting to the fourth level as soon as possible so I followed my maps there as quickly as I could. On the way I discovered that the locked door on the second level is a red herring (I blew the wall with my gunpowder to ascertain that).

Before seeing the Elven king I had to answer a riddle (solution: circle)

At my last visit to the pyramids I got stuck in front of black flames that prevented my progress. The solution is to use holy water against them, then you are allowed to continue. I don´t remember where I found holy water because every potion just says potion but I suspect it was in the Monastery (that would make sense). You have to try to sell them in a town to see their names because there is no option like identifying items in this game. Then you have to keep track which partymember carry the potion and in which order they are listed in the inventory list. Does it sound cumbersome ? It is.

Beyond the black flames I had to solve a riddle from an elemental. Behind all these obstacles I could enter the room of the Elven king. It seems I had freed him in some way because he says that because I´ve found my way to him it enables him to go out and fight his evil opponent. Hopefully he means our common enemy and that he had been trapped behind the flames and the riddle, but what do I know ?

The elven king, allegedly behind the evil, but now.....perhaps not ?


Lastly he presented me with a gift, an elven bow. This is a major magical item in the game. I have read about it in scrolls describing the most powerful weapons. Unfortunately none of my three magic users or priest could use the bow. Perhaps my paladin or smith but they are my frontline fighters. I have disregarded my need of an thief long time ago.
 
 
There where much efforts to get to the elven king but the only gain of that is the bow. The real objective of the Elven Pyramid is to defeat the mask bearer on the same level. He is not very hard to defeat and when dead leaves his mask. First time I went to the Pyramid I didn´t know I had to pick it up, or rather, I had nothing to pick it up with. But at the oracle it was obvious I had to use the leather pouch I was given so by using it I could get hold of the mask.

At this last level there is one single place that is worth fighting extra for. There is a group of Dragonettes in the south. They are very powerful as they could cast group spells on you but also gives you almost 3.000 xp each. Compare that to a mere Elven soldier or bandit who might give around 150 xp.

If you don´t strike first you run the risk of feeling their wraths
I thought I should mention the magic system in this game. Each mage has magic points. The number of magic points limit the number of spells that a magic user may cast in any one day. Then each individual spell has a value indicating how many time the spell could be cast each day. The more powerful the spell, the fewer times each day it could be cast. The only way to recover magic points is by resting.

During combat, to cast a spell you have to succeed in a concentration test (your concentration skill is based on you intelligence and the number of languages learnt). The closer to the front rank the less chance to succeed due to the stress of staring eye to eye into your enemy. Therefore the natural place for the mages is on the 3rd or 4th row.

This system works really well. But then resting is as good as risk free as long as you have one partymember on watch. Actually, the very last gaming session had me for the first time see one of my watches dozing! That meant creatures could enter our camp and stole a lot of things. At least all our rations. Without rations you cannot rest.

My party is now at between level 5 and 7. Most of the XP goes to my frontline fighters since as I´ve said before you get XP for your individual actions. If your mages don´t use their offensive spells they generally have a low chance to strike an enemy from the rear ranks, thereby yielding very few XPs. I am yet to get powerful party target spells so my mages are behind in the XP race for now.

Now that the Elven Pyramid is completed (and the mask was the important item here), I have only one more place to go to and that is the Derelict Castle in the northwest.

In the next post I will summarise what we have learnt about the story in the game so far during my trip to the the castle...







 

October 1, 2012

Struggling with corrupted savedisc

Recently I have had very little sparetime to continue my adventure in the game Legend of Faerghail. I did have the opportunity to start up the last few days but what happens ? My savedisc got corrupted in WinUae and I had to replay my last hours. Then the same thing happened yesterday again. And though I had several new backups each of them was corrupted. I am able to save and reload from within the game but when I restart WinUae the savedisc is not readable anymore so I have thought everything was ok.
 
My suspicion is that this happens when the savedisc gets full. I have now created a new savedisc and replayed half of my last sessions. I will be back again soon.
 
It seems the power of Balaan from within the game is not confined to only the game itself