Currently playing: Nox Archaist

January 29, 2012

In between games

I have spent some time lately to startup Legends of Valour but haven´t enough material to post anything yet. My saved charactes disapperad suddenly and I had to re-roll them and I have had very little time to give this game a chance lately.

Meanwhile, my poll about the readers average age of this blog is now ended. Not surprisingly, 80 % of the readers are at least 30 years old and almost 40 % are of the age 40 or older. Though this poll of only 21 respondents is not statistically correct it nevertheless shows what was expected. Most people playing CRPGS between 1985 to the beginning of the 1990s was at an age around 10 to 30 years old which this poll reflects pretty well. In my view the CRPG period ends somewhere in the middle of the 1990:s when the PC platform took over the game market completely and most games begun to switch to fully 3D.

Lastly, it is with sorrow I read that CRPGAddict has now decided to end his ambitious mission. He did inspire me to startup this blog. I do however fully support his choice. Real life must always be a firsthand priority. This is only a hobby after all. That being said, I hope he will return later on with his excellent posts from the CRPG era.

January 24, 2012

Dark heart of Uukrul - Review

It is time to review Dark Heart of Uukrul while it is still fresh in my memory. I have not the patience to complete the game but think that my 25 hours or so ploughed into the game is well enough to give it a fair rating. I do not like to leave it unfinished but I am realistic enough to realize that I must play for real enjoyment and that my limited time does not allow me to put limitless amounts of hours into a game just for the feeling of completing it.  

How did I came across the game in the first place ? Well, since I am an avid follower of CRPGAddicts blog, I checked his master game list to get hints of RPGs I´ve not played and that looked interesting. This was such an anonymous game that I just had to check it out. It turned out it sucked dozens of hours from game time otherwise set for Skyrim.

I must say that I appreciate these turn-based RPGs tremendously. When playing you don´t need to focus your whole attention to the game. You could take steps in your own time and be interrupted without spoiling anyting. If playing a modern first-person RPG like Skyrim or Oblivion you must have one hand on the mouse and the other on the keyboard and can´t let yourself be disturbed. That´s what I like about these old gems.

Gameworld and Story
The positive thing is that the game confines itself to a town and a specific scenario. The city is ruled by an evil being and you have got to get rid of him somehow. There is no mention of the world outside of this town because that is totally irrelevant for the game at hand. At the start you don´t know much about the story that will be unfolded later on. I personally like to discover those things piece by piece. The story is quite elaborate. There are a reason for how the state are in the town and piece by piece you are fed with it. While this part is not very elaborated it is in par with Bards Tale or Dragon Wars. Simplicity has its strongpoints but also leaves a lot of thoughts about the things outside the specific scenario

Quite often you get descriptions for rooms you enter or other atmosphere inspiring information. Compared to the Bard´s Tale series, this game is much better in that respect. It is more like Dragon Wars which also had some places with elaborate story texts.
Rating: 2.5

Economy in the game works very well. With that I mean that you always are on the hunt for more gold because even still in the middle levels you need all the gold you can get. Items are expensive, weapons get broken and armour rusted by enemies. You also need constant food rations which costs money. The balance is very good. I´ve not been totally without gold but never have I had enough to buy what I want. I always have to prioritize which person would get his armour or weapon upgraded. You have quite a lot of items to buy but there are only one shop that I have discovered and you never find items you don´t see in the shops inventory which means there are few surprises out there.
Rating: 3.5

NPC and Interactions
NPC:s are not this games' strong point. There are very few NPC:s and most of them don´t offer any dialogue options although you might get hints of the story or your quest. What does outweight the low options of interactions in NPC meetings, are the action related interactions you are given. You could come upon a lever, pit or closed door and be given at least four different ways of using it. That is unusual for this kind of game at this period in time and gives it credit. The only other people you meet which are not hostile (and therefore called monsters below) are the shopkeepers, temple priests, mages etc.

If you love the colorful NPC:s from SSI Goldbox games in Forgotten Realms or Dragonlance this game is not for you. Interactions with the environment however is not too uncommon.
Rating: 2

Monsters and Tactics
The first time I entered combat I thought this must be a clone of Demon´s Winter. Everything is almost identical. But the graphics here is better. You are met with a close-up view of the monster before the actual combat begin and the tactical map is actually better here. There are more details in the monsters shown and the tactical layout is more representative of the actual hex in which the combat occurred. You also have several exits points if there where several doors around you, not only one exit. You could move diagonally but not attack diagonally.

Monsters comes of several different types. They are humans, humanoids, undeads, animals and pure monsters and they have different types of attacks. Some of the can stun or paralyse you. Some can rust your armour or drain your experience. Some even steals your items and flee!

Your human and humanoid enemies could flee combat which is quite seldom seen in RPGs at all. After combat you have the chance to gain gold and items. Experience is given according of who did the most damage and if you have met this kind of opponent before, for instance, if it´s the first time you encounter skeletons you will receive more experience. That system is quite advanced for its time as well.

There is however no ranged weapons at all in the game. It would easily have been useful in this kind of tactical combat.

Although the combat is far from as good as in the SSI goldbox games, it is good enough to score above average here. There are only two things that detain from higher score and that is the lack of ranged combat, backstab or other flanking bonuses and poor enemy A.I. You could often outmanouvre the enemy to easily use your movement and attack phase to a much better degree than the A.I is capable of. He does not go for the weakest character but for the first he can hit.

Autocombat works quite ok but is recommended only if you are certain of the outcome and you know there are no dangerous opponents. Since you don´t get any report after the combat if - for example - a weapon was broken or an armour rusted, you could be very unlucky to let the A.I fight for you. It could cost a lot of money so it is not always worth it.
Rating: 4

Map design
The maps are of irregular sizes and formations which is good since it adds to variety. But it also makes them very hard to map out for hand. Fortunately you have built in automap. It works but when you have to travel up and down through several levels or teleport yourself it is very difficult to get a good overview of the areas or how they are connected to each other. It does however add to the immersion that you don´t know how big this game really is. In other games of the time, maps are often drawn from fixed cubic sizes of 32*32 or 16*16 hexes. Not here.

In the beginning the maps looks very irregular but then they are also supposed to symbolise caves. Later on in the game they are more intelligently built. It is impossible to get a feeling for how the maps are drawn if you take into accordance the few descriptions of the environment here and there. For example, the text could speak of an orcish area, a throne room or whatever. But when you look on the map you can in no way see the rooms are where they are in a logical or intelligent way. That is not uncommon for other games at the time so it will not weigh down DhoU either.
Rating: 3

Graphics, sound and interface
The dungeon graphics in this game cannot be simpler. The same color and lines depicts everything you see. From town squares to caves. It is functional but even Commodore 64 had better graphics in Bard´s Tale released several years earlier. However, the still images of the NPC and monsters you meet are well drawn and add to the atmophere. The interface is totally keyboard driven and it doesn´t take long to learn. You move quick through the dungeons and combat. Inventory and its interfaces is also quite self-explanatory with clear pictures of items and weapons.

Compared to Demon´s Winter, this game has better interface.

Sound is unfortunately non-existent in the game (or at least in my DosBox setup).
Rating: 2

The manual consists of 75 pages and is well written. The only thing I don´t like is the description of the spells and particularly the priest spells which are described as rhymes. It adds nothing to the immersion, only frustration.

I was immediately hooked by this game. It was easy to get into and presented a very balanced start. The combats are varied and sometimes you do need to use certain spells or tactics to win, although your paladin and warrior are the one who totally own the battlefield. It is not until the mid-game that you have spells that become quite useful in combat as well as healing the group. In the beginning you have few uses of the mage and almost none for the priest.

The game quickly becomes a challenge. You need rations to survive and that costs money. Money often is only attainable by slaying monsters. You also need to constant buy better armours and weapons to keep up with the stiffening opposition after every new Sanctuary found. The game lets you save everywhere but it also save automatically in the beginning of each combat so if you are unlucky of being trapped in a too difficult fight you have few chances of surviving it since a reload puts you back into the same fight. You could only hope to flee or to reload to a backup game which you have stored in a Sanctuary. That is hardcore. I took backup saves of the directory all the time so I wouldn´t loose too much by making my mistakes.

Besides, you always have to get back to a Sanctuary or markeplace to heal, gain levels, sell/buy items or rations etc. The problem is the long trek through random encounters on the way back and on the way to the point you where. Sure, that is the same as in all the other games of the time but it won´t make it less frustrating at times. If only the mage could have some freely laid teleport location.

This game is hard. You really have to slowly progress in the dungeons and build up your characters before you can venture further on. Up until level 4 it is very tough. Between level 5 to 6 you realise there might be a chance for you after all and after level 7 combats are beginning to become the second hardest part, the puzzles appearing begin to be the tough part. There are no way I have found out through spells or otherwise that lets you teleport back to a specific location. You have to use the fixed teleporters for that.

There are fights that poisons or cripples you and it takes a lot of valuable money to repair broken items. But perseverance pays itself because somewhere in the middle-game when you pass level 6 things are gradually becoming easier, the fights begin to lessen. Instead the puzzle solving part of the game begins to appear.

One more thing that irritated me a lot is the lack of per-spelled spellnames (got it ?). You have to manually write the cryptic name of each spell or prayer cast and I find it difficult to remember more than a few of them at the same time which means I have to look them up every time I need to use a more uncommon spell. The result is that I am too lazy to do that and miss out on things.

For me personally I came to the conclusion at this point that this game will take a lot of more efforts to break. I had already spent 25 hours of my holiday on it. Now work where about to start again and I was not looking forward to be locked into this puzzle solving thing during January. My patience is not large when I have limited time and so I decided to stop this game for now. I have done enough deep-diving into it to properly assess it I believe. If I had the time I would surely play it to the end but that is more to satisfy my desire to complete things started rather than fully enjoying it all the way.

Regardless of my decision to move on into the CRPG djungle, this game comes highly recommended for hardcore gamers who wants a challenge of the old school and could spare a minimum of 50 hours.
Rating: 4

Recommended links:

January 23, 2012

Next games coming up is still undecided

I am right now exploring which game I will start up with as the next revisit. This time it might only be to shed some light on some odd game or a game that I want to try.

I am very interested in doing a short revisit to Legends of Valour. It was released in 1993 to the Amiga and I played it with my Amiga 1200. I know it was full of bugs but I don´t remember much from it except that it had got a lot of negative critics. I am about to find out why in a potential revisit becuase for some strange reason I am feeling drawn to this game. I don´t know if it is because of the comprehensive and well written manual, posters and artwork the game was shipped with, or the rumours of vampires and werewolves roaming the city at night.

The other game I´ve found on CRPGAddicts masterlist is Nemesis - The Wizardry Adventure from 1996. That seems to be a first-person RPG which might appeal to me.

And I have yet to finalize my review of The Dark Heart of Uukrul.

January 22, 2012

Prophecy of the Shadow - Review

This is my fastest completion and playtime so far. In less than two weeks I completed the game. If I would guess, I would say I spent around 20 hours with this game. Normally - If I would have bought this game at the time and had unlimited playing time - I would have thought it was too short. Now I am just grateful to be able to enjoy and complete the game in a reasonable amount of time.

This game came out in 1992. At that time the game concept was not unique. It is clear this game took inspiration from games like Times of Lore (1988) and The Faery Tale Adventure (1987). Still in around 1992 the RPG market was quickly beginning to make games in true first person 3D like in Ultima Underworld (1992) and Legends of Valour (1992). Prophecy of the Shadow (PotS from now on) did try to vitalize the genre by including digitized animations of characters met and a streamlined interface without any need to use the keyboard. In its relatively simple GUI it was probably meant to target the more casual RPG gamer. There are no technical reasons why this game would not be released for the Amiga platform. A pity.

Even in Times of Lore on the Commodore 64 the game included day/night cycles and animated water. Something that is not even included in this game on the PC. Ok, enough of comparisons. Let´s get over to the review itself.

Gameworld & Story
The gameworld is relatively small compared to Faery Tale but I don´t find it too small in anyway. I got lost a few times so the map in the manual helps a lot. The world is filled with forests, towns, swamps, deserts and oceans. There are no mountains, hills or arctic places and you will never travel on water. You use teleportation or the spell equivalent to transport fast over long distances. 

The world have moderate distances between interesting places. The balance is good. Not like in Faery Tale where you could wander for 10-15 minutes without encountering anything interesting.

The story might appear quite cliché but I like it. You start out alone, knowing only that someone has killed your master and it is up to you to figure out why. It is obvious great things are in motion so you better have to prepare yourself. For the size and type of game PotS is, I think it is easy to grasp and give you a clear goal from the beginning. Personally I hate long background stories that have no effect in the game anyway.

The whole worlds seems to consist of the two continents shown on the map and everything spins around that kingdom. In that respect the developers have defined the game world.

Rating: 3

The first 2/3 of the game you are in constant need of Silver (the only currency in use). You have a limited stock to choose from and shops and its intermutual variety of items is very small. You don´t have to buy food or torches (I never bought torches, but used the ones I found instead) but you do need to upgrade your weapon. There are however only a few different melee weapon, no armours and a few range weapons (which I found quite useless). You need the money to upgrade your weapon and perhaps to buy healing potions.

I did not end with much gold (around 700 or so) but had bought the best I could get for that. Though, the best  weapons in the game will be found rather than bought. The balance is still quite good. The minus it gets is for the poor variety in buying items and the plus is for the good balance of it.

Rating: 3

NPC & Interactions
You meet a lot of different NPC:s in this game and many of them have their own digitized image and animation. You communicate by keywoards but you never have to enter anything by yourself. When you discover new topics they will be available for you when you return to previously talked to NPCs. This system works quite ok. 

If one would be really careful, one would have wroten down the names of all NPC:s met and where they are found because you will have too look up certain persons from time to time. You will never be able to choose your answers. In fact you never say anything. It is only the NPC who talks. That is quite simplistic but is in alignment with most game of the time.

Rating: 2.5

Monsters & Tactics
There are few different monsters in the game (I don´t think it is more than 10 actually) and the only obvious difference is that some could cast area spells and the rest attacks in melee. There are no tactics whatsoever to use since all combats are in realtim. You just get in, target your opponent, and watch who will die first. You could use an item during combat however but it is most of the time not practical because things goes so fast.

I am a little dissappointed that I could circumvent the obstacles of defeating Cam Tethe, the spectres and Abraxus by just leaving the level, rest and return. But the game don´t allow for much more varietions in combat. Sure there are a few spells, but I have never used them. It feels they are not worth it. First you have to switch item to your catalyst, then cast a spell, switch back to your sword and then issue the attack command on your foe. In that time you would probably be hit a few times and the spell does not do more damage than having a lucky throw with your sword.

One more thing. There are a fixed number of wandering enemies. There is no such thing as random encounters. That means that you can´t go slaying monsters in hope of increasing your attributes and then return to try to defeat your strong foes. I don´t know how I would have defeated my hard enemies without my special tactic above.

I find ranged weapons worthless,since the gaming area is so small. You manage one shot and then the enemy is upon you and before then you need to be fast to switch back to your ordinary melee weapon.

There are no A.I whatsoever in the enemy. They just run to you and attacks until killed. Your only way to affect the combat is to kill many lesser enemies and hope to increase your levels or to try to use a spell/item in the midst of the less than 10 seconds long combats.

Rating: 2

Map design
Apart from the map in the manual you do find an orb to use that shows you a bird´s view of your immediate surroundings. I found it quite useless because the distance it shows is too small.

Underground maps are irregular and you could easily get lost. Maps within buildings are built upon logic with guard barracks, sleeping rooms etc. The overland map is also quite ok. In total the map design stand the test. 

Rating: 3

Graphics, Sound & Interface
The graphics in the game was nothing to write home about even in 1992 but it is clean and functional and does what it have to do. There are very few animations at all, except in the digitized photos. Even Faery Tale Adventure could match this game on the Amiga but was released 5 years earlier.

I did not manage to get any descent soundcard working on DosBox so I had to endure the built in speakers. As you surely understand it would be better for me not to mention anymore about it.

The interface is clear and works pretty well. You have keyboard shortcuts for most things and that really speeds up things in the midst of combat. You could decide the speed the character will move throughout the land and that is very useful. The inventory interface is a little clumsy. It takes a awhile for the mouse pointer to recognise what it hovers over and clicking is slow as well. That might be remedied by increasing the cycles in DosBox.

You have all the information you need on the screen at once like your abilities, amount of silver, food, torches and most of your frequently used inventory. The only thing which is lacking is a quick way to cast spells by shortcuts not only to open up your spellbook.

Rating: 3

I only had access to the manual in textform but its 26 pages is pretty good and tells you everything you need to know to play the game, including description of spells and monsters.

I got immediately hooked by this game in the beginning. Mostly due to the simple but funtional interface and the uncomplex underlying game mechanics. You can move quickly and there are not too many people or places to visit which just slows your progress down. You have full freedom in how you will proceed or where to begin, although things come down to the same place sooner or later anyway. You could roam around killing bandits to gain experience or go directly against your major foes. The dialogues - albeit simple - does bring atmosphere to the game.

It is a perfect casual RPG in which you dont need to take notes or draw maps. That being said, the combats are not easy and if you are not experienced enough or have found the correct weapons you will have to wait until you can progress. But problem-solving wise this is not a particularly hard game although I needed to check out some hints from now and then mostly because of the extremely time consuming part of revisiting all places to see if you had forgot anything.

The tone is light and the world is really black-and-white. The hunger for more silver or better items keep you exploring the unknown and you never know what you will find since there are not automap function. Every fight has the chance to increase your skill values so you gradually get better. Most - if not all - puzzles are quite logical.

This game kept my interest to the end and I appreciated it all the way.

Rating: 4

Here follows a list of links with important information if you want to play this game:

January 21, 2012

Prophecy of the Shadow - Won!

In my last post I had just entered the temple. I begun my search after the tomb rumooured to hold the mage Abraxus, my real enemy and the cause of all evil in this world. I was attacked by several priests but they where not very strong. The temple was very small and each corner had a piedestal with an accompanying text that was some sort of riddle. First I thought it was the scrolls that was talked about that should be used but it was not. It was in fact here I would use my special items like the magical lamp, elemental wand etc. After having dropped the four items on the correct piedestal in the corner a hidden stairway opened up.

I did not come very far until two spectres attacked me. They were extremely hard and quite impossible to even harm before I was long dead. After a few attempts I gave up wondering if I would have to be much stronger to be here at this stage of the game. But then I used the same tactic as with Cam Tethe. I let them chase me back to the stair and entered the level above. 

No enemy in the game could follow you between levels. I rested, saved and returned and they where just downstairs. I could hit them one or two times before I had to retreat back up again. After some time I killed them. They left nothing of value. I continued forward.

Behind the spectres I found a grave with a body on top. Ok, I thought. Here is Abraxus himself. What should I do now ? I used my spell for resurrection that I got from the Witch.

I had awaken Abraxus himself and he immediately started to attack me. Of course I was killed several times until I used the exactly same tactis as before. I fled all the way back up with him after me. I rested, healed and went down again and he was so kind as to wait for me just below the stairs. After around 5 hit-and-run episodes, I killed him.

The game transports me immediately to a new scene where I am walking past a lot of important people and commoners on my way to meet the true princess now that I have saved the realm. 

 My next post will naturally contain my review of this game.

January 20, 2012

Prophecy of the Shadow - To the evil's den

Last time my morale went up because I got directed from the forbidden mages guild what to do. I got the key for the Great Library that is well hidden in the Great Forest. I entered and it was full of bookcases as well as some dire wolves here and there (nice place for their den!).

I found information about different beasts that roams the land like the Torloks and Gazers. The latter one is quite an advanced life form in itself and history tells of them quite a lot. When I came to a sort of piedestal I got struck by....a prophecy enlightenment!

I was not much the wiser of the prophecy except that I should seek out the High Gazers presumably somewhere underground. It is not clear why. I thought the guild might help me to interpret it and so I went back to Silverdale only to be told a simple message:

Ok! So that didn´t make me any wiser. I had explored the whole map as far as I know and could not move on in any place. This time I had to look for a hint online. The hint said it was time to use Larf´s Rod to teleport myself from the desert (called the Withering). I had forgot about all the teleporter stones. I travelled manually to all places and thought the teleporter stones only teleported me to known places. It turned out however, that by using the stones in the desert I was teleported to a small island not showned on the map.

The island housed another teleporter that I used and I found myself underground somewhere.

This was a huge complex filled with dangerous Gazers and a rat here and there. The Gazers are so dangerous that I always have to use the Shadow Sword, which stops me from using magic. That means that after every combat I have to save, rest to regain spellpoints, drop my sword, use healing spells, pick up and equip my shaodw sword and continue again. That is the process.

I stumbled upon some ancient ruins and found a magical lamp that....yepp you guessed it....means I can throw away my flint and torches. Extremely helpful.

In the beginning I wondered about the use of rations. Now I know that you don´t need them. They help regain more hitpoints while resting but it is not worth the silver to carry them around since they are depleted fast. 

After much explorations of the cave I stumbled upon a friendly Gazer who told me vital information. It took me at least two hours of more exploration of the cave because the first time I mistook the Gazer for an enemy and killed him. I had to reload. He didn´t talk to me and I had to go for a hint on this. It turned out I was actually carrying around a Gazer Dictionary - found in the library - that I had forgot about. By using it, he begun to speak.

It is the evil sorcerer Abraxus that is behind everything and the new ruler Cam Tethe (yes Cam, not Gam as I previously thought because of the hard to read font) is his puppet in the world. I was instructed by the Gazer to go to the hall of mages in order to find out more.

I used the teleporter in the cave and started my exploration of the hall of mages. Here I found a lot of important information for the background. The mages guild knew about the danger of Abraxus and had two ways of trying to defeat him. Either by forging a special weapon or by using very powerful magic to draw death itself to him. They choosed the latter one because the sword of power drained them of their magic.

So this is the sword I found sometime ago and was carrying around all the time. It was meant to destroy Abraxus himself but an unfortunate sideeffect was that it also prevented use of all magic, something which is quite a hinderance for a mage, don´t you think ?

 The hall of mages gave me valuable information but not a single hint on what to do next. I returned to the mainland and decided it was time to visit the witch again because I had now found all the four ingredients (the spider venom was found in the hall of mages).

Arghh...she attacks me! But she was weak, after having equipped my shadow sword she could not withstand me. She left the spell Respirare to be written into my spellbook but I have no clue what I should do with it just yet. 

I decided to return to the mages guild for more guidance and found them all dead, slaughtered by the mage hunters. Ok, so now I am alone again. At this time I had no clue how to continue so I checked for a hint saying I should check out Tethems keep near the capital Granite. I had already been there but couldn´t enter.

However, when trying to get into a backway I was told not to return until all mages where dead. Which they were right now but how would I convince them ? I showed my death warrants paper and was let in.

Finally I am inside the Keep where Cam Tethe resides. This will be importan. I seached the keep which was divided into several levels. I could talk to some loyal followers but most of the time I was attacked by the guards which by now was no major trouble since I could always rest and recuperate.

I found some keys that allowed me to open some closed doors. One key was given by a maiden who belonged to the resistance against the Cam Tethe. It allowed me access to his private quarters. Another key led down to the dungeons. In the end there was not much to do except plunder and search everything and find Tethe somewhere. I finally met him upstairs. He attacks with his Ebony Ax which does tremendous damage. I barely managed to hit him with my Shadow Sword. After being killed three times in a row I had to figure out a tactic to kill him. I entered the doors, met him. Made one or two swings then returned by the doors downstairs again. He was not following. By repeating this procedure - and heal in between - I defeated him after about 4-5 confrontations. 

After his death I searched everything and found some sort of priest dress I could wear. My guess is that it allows me to enter the temple in the north disguised but I might be wrong. I also found the key that led to the prisoner section in the dungeons where I saved the princess. She was free at last.

At some place a ladder went down to some caves below the dungeons. 

While searching them I stumbled upon an evil priest which I killed with the Ebon Axe from Tethe. He left an importan spellbook that gave me some more spells. Actually I never use spells in combat. It is to slow and clumsy but someone else might have use for them.

It takes no engineering brain to conclude that I will probably have to find these four scrolls. I hate looking for items with very little to go on. Especially if I have already been in the places mentioned like the Withering lands. Perhaps I have it in my bag of holdings already. Let´s hope so and continue.

I was finished with my business in the Keep. All guards where dead. Cam Tethe was dead and I had his axe and some dark priest robes. Now I left to visit the temple in the north.

Before I went there I took on my robes and tried the double doors. I was let in but they immediately discovered my false identity and attacked. It was too late for the however. Now I had access to the whole temple.

I begun my search. Rumours says there are a tomb where Abraxus lies. I think it could be beneath the temple. If this game is not hidden any huge unknown areas, the next post just might be the last one on this game...

January 18, 2012

Prophecy of the Shadow - Back on track again...

I found the map that are included in the manual. Though I roughly knew where everything was by now it still helps me to figure out how big certain things are like the Great Forest.

I had missed the capital Granite on my way north (though I don´t understand how I could´ve missed it). Anyway there I discovered a few shops and an inn. The palace where located on an island that was not easily accessed. The guards outside attacks me on sight and it took me a few tries to defeat the first two of them, and that was only possible because I could take them on one at a time. But when I tried to walk over the bridge to the castle, another two guards attacks at once and I don´t stand a chance so I left this place for now.

I did, however, manage to locate the former guard captain Gulian, but he had not much to add to the mystery.

I returned to the southeast part where I knew a huge swamp where. When I got closer this time around I discovered I could walk on certain hexes that contained some type of weed. While trying out all places to step my foot on (and I did try for long), I finally managed to get to an island in the middle of the swamp. There was an house there and I entered. It was inhabited by an old Witch, Esme that I figured out would be very important since she was so hard to find.

She spoke about contacts with the gnome-wizard Larf and that he wanted to ressurrect dead bodies and was always interested how thing where on the other side. Then it struck me that the severed head I carried around might be his and showed it to the witch. Voila! She begun to speak....

Arrrgh!, It turns out I need to find four different ingredients to create a potion of necrotelecomnicon. Not that I understand why I would need it. It seems like a hard task so I suspect it will be either very vital to the quest or something which will be very beneficial. After the visit to the witch´s hut, I tried to locate positions on the map where I could continue. The northeast and northwest part of the mainisland is blocket by difficult enemies, regardless of the great sword I carry. That is because they could throw fireballs at a distance. I have seen however that there is a shop in Jadar that sells what I believe is some sort of protection against it.

Meanwhile I ran around the Great Forest to find any entrance to the great library or the rumoured Torloks tribe but didn´t have much luck. My attention went back to the desert area in the southwest where I might have missed something. And so I did. I found a house but could not enter. It was probably deserted. While very throughly searching the desert, I found the desert pango. At least one of the four ingredients had been found.

I don´t remember exactly where, but I found a special bag of holdings which - unsurprisingly - allows me to carry more items. It seems it holds quite a lot and because of that I decided to return to the crypts under the desert to pick up items I had to get rid of in order to keep more important items. They could always be sold and allow me to buy better things.

After returning from the desert I had still no clue where to go so I went back to the Great Forest to explore all 
paths. Finally I found a path I´ve not been into. I was attacked by both Torloks and wolves and after fighting them methodically and healing and resting inbetween, I eventually entered their main camp. After some time I cleared it out and found their cave....

My investigation of the Torlok cave included a lot of fights. They mostly dropped pelts as items. They are not worth much but still, with the bag of holding, I can get some silver coins for them. I cleared out the whole area and met the Torlok Chieftain in the end. He was somewhat difficult to defeat but after a few attempts he was defeated and left a Torlok tongue. That is the second ingredient for the potion the witch could brew. Other than that I found nothing to take me further into the main quest. 

I left the Torlok cave and explored what was left of the irregular paths that led me there and stumbled upon the famous Great Library. What a pity it was locked and I had no idea how to get in. 

There was not much else to do so I took a note of the path to the library and went back outside the Great Forest. Now I was quite lost. I think I´ve talked to everyone and searched everywhere on the map. I made a new attempt to attack the Gazer in the north but to no avail. I had to take a little sneak peek in the walkthrough to get me only a hint of what to do and found out I´ve forgot to clear out the whole mine complex in the beginning. I was obviously on my way back to the town, stuffed with items to sell and forgot I was in the middle of its exploration. I went back and now I throughly searched the mines. I found a not talking about the Gnome Chieftain and his famous sword. Ah...I remember I did read that text the first time around but forgot all about it. Now I carefully searched the whole area and found the captain in his camp. I defeated him and he left a Shadow Sword.

Still, no way to proceed with the main quest. But this let me try out to defeat the gazers in the north again. And with the Shadow Sword equipped I vanquished them. Not easily, but still. They allowed me to explore the northern part of the island. The sword itself was interesting. It turned out that while carrying the sword I was not able to cast any spells. So now I have to drop the sword, equip the platinum catalyst, cast my spells and then pick up the sword again. That is the only way to heal yourself quick enough.

The northern part of the island housed the town of Malice. It turned out to be inhabited by religous fantatics that talked about Abraxus, some sort of god that will come back to the world to punish all that are against him. His temple lies there but they don´t allow anyone not disguised as a priest. I had no way to get in and there where not much more to do there. 

Yes! I finally located Gerald. He was hidden in a path south of Glade which I had not discovered yet. At last he give me instructions to go forward and meet them in the closed down Guild in Silverdale.

While inside the Guild, I learn that the shadow lord, the evil Abraxus is about to come loose. He surely have something to do with Tethe Gam, the new ruler. Now I was to find  more information in the Great Library. They want me to go there and gave me a key to enter. Finally I am about to proceed in the adventure....

January 10, 2012

Prophecy of the Shadow - Exploration of the world

Last time I had trouble defeating the mage hunter in the bandits hideout and so I had just turned my attention to the pit on the eastern part of the island. It could be found within some ruins. Rumours said it was in this area a gnome wizard where conducting necromantic experiments and zombies was said to threaten the village from time to time. Something I just had to check out....

At this time I was near my limit of 15 items in my inventory. That is a fixed number not affected by your characteristics and some items are obviously quest items so you need to carry around a lot of stuff for later use. When entering the pit I was welcomed into an underground laboratory where zombies greeted me with long fleshy fingers, eager to slit my throat.

Since I´ve recently switched my dirk to a dirk of sharpness I did stand a chance against them but exploring the area both filled my inventory and drained my health so I had to return to the village a few time to sell items and get some rest.

When I returned I found e laboratory and some sort of research facility. It gave me valuable information about the experiments conducted.

In the end I met Jeffrey, the gnome wizards butler, turned into a zombie. He was quite hard to defeat but after 5 attempts I got him down. The only thing of interest where the wizards rod. There where no sign of the wizard himself and no way to continue in the dungeons. I knew from the notes read that the rod should be used somewhere outside in a kind of ritual and I looked for places that looked important and tried the rod.  

I thought this was the obvious place to use the rod at

Meanwhile, I made another attempt to kill the mage hunter at the bandits hideout and this time I was successful. He left a letter indicating that the bandits where behind the murder of my master and it was signed by Tethe himself, which later turned out to be the new leader of this realm.

Found in the bandits hideout, this cleared my name
I took the note back to the sheriff and after I had cleared my name I revisited my masters friend at the fishermans house. Now that I was cleared he gave me a scroll to take to Silverdale on the mainland. It contained important information about a prophecy that it seemed now was about to come true.
Berrin, my masters friend gives me the scroll
At this time I didn´t know how to get to the mainland and I hadn´t found Robins (the bandit leader) treasure yet. I tried looking for it after instructions found in the thieves hidout but failed to locate it so I returned to look for special stones to use my rod on. I finally found two rocks and used the rod. It turned out that it was a teleporter. I was transported to a glade on the mainland and could continue my adventure over there.

From here I could use the Rod and teleport to the mainland
I am not really sure yet what effect food has on your health or character. Regardless wether I carry food or not I can rest and heal. Perhaps I will recover more health if I have food ? I am not sure of this yet so I will have to observer this closely.

Magic is forbidden to practice and anyone who does run the risk of dragging attention from the mage hunters sent out by the new ruler.

While on the mainland I first stumbled into a village called Glade. Here is the first possibility of increasing my agility by training acrobatics. It costs 500 gold though and I decided to keep it for now and return later.

I talked to all inhabitants to gather more information about what has happened and was told to take the road to southeast to reach the town of Silverdale, where the guild was. When coming there the Guild was closed and by speaking to the villagers I learned that it had been closed down by Gam Tethe himself and that the members are scattered around in the land, hunted by the law.

The story told to be was that when the princess was about to become 18 and was about to take over the throne,  she dissappeared and Gam Tethe appeared from nowhere and took over the throne. Noone knows where the princess is and many complains that Gam Tethe don´t do enough to track her down. I did not know where to go next and decided to explore the main island. While exploring I discovered an abandoned mine in the northeast and decided to search around for awhile.

I found a few items and returned back to the mainland to look for a shop somewhere. My search took me south to the town of Jadre where I found the first shop. I sold my stuff and explored an area west of it that was a huge desert. Somewhere I found pits leading down to underground catacombs. I did find a few corpses but not much else. 

While running around for another hour or so without really knowing what to do next or how to continue on my  main quest, I did find a remot hut in the northeast where Garen lived. Garen was supposedly one of the members of the guild and had now gone to hiding.

I showed him the scroll from my fathers friend. The prophecy and immediately Garen begun to speak:

He told me to find the other guildmember, Gerald and perhaps the ferryman Egan would know where he was. I had yet to find the ferryman but at least I did get a little closer. There where a few ways on the map that I couldn´t pass due to strong opponents so I sold everything I could spare and used my last money to replace my dirk of sharpness to a greatsword. Now, I was ready to force my way through my enemies in search for the right people. I had heard rumours of a resistance building up against the tyrrany of Gam Tethe, but at the same time he did have many peasants at his side since he did much to win their support.

My exploration for the truth continued.....