|Somebody please stop me.|
At some point, I got the idea that Fate's game world was 400 x 400 squares. Maybe because the furthest north coordinate was around 400, and all of the interior maps have been square, so I figured the easternmost coordinate would be around 400, too. Then I got into my ship and tested my hypothesis. A few hours later, I found myself at what I believe is the real southeastern coordinate, which is around 650 squares east. That suggests a map of 260,000 squares. I guess the Britannia of Ultima VI is still bigger--almost five times bigger, in fact--but it really doesn't seem that way. It's probably a mistake comparing tile counts in top-down games versus first-person games anyway. So put another way, the overworld of Fate is more than 50 times as large as the overworld of Might & Magic.
Learning that the size of the world was 63% larger than I had believed should have driven home the point that I cannot possible map it all, and it's folly to try. And yet I persisted in mapping the places that I visited--mainland, islands, the water in between. I mapped (and searched) dozens of little one-square islands off the coast. I sporadically mapped the southern border of the world. I don't know what's wrong with me.
|Navigating tight waters.|
Sailing the ship is fairly easy if a little time-consuming to hop on and off. It works very much like a first-person Ultima IV or V. You board the ship from any adjacent land square and raise the sails to get going. Clicking on the compass tells you the wind direction. If the wind is "calm," you either have to wait or cast the "Storm" spell to whip up a gale. You get the best speeds running before the wind or at a broad reach, the worst close-hauled, and you can't move at all facing into the eye. (Did I learn these terms from Pirates!? Yes, I did.)
You can steer in 45-degree increments but you can only face in the cardinal directions (just as on land), and you can look around independently of steering, so the view is sometimes a bit weird. When you want to land, you just run yourself ashore at the desired point; the ship takes no damage. The game won't let you leave the ship unless you've furled the sails, so there's no chance of losing the ship. You just have to remember where you parked it.
|"Docking" on an island.|
You can sail anywhere that there's a single square of water, even way upriver. You're out of luck if you hit a bridge. I actually bought a second ship at one point because I'd sailed the first one all the way up to Fainvil and I didn't feel like going all the way back.
I'm finding that jewels are particularly useful for sailing. Even if I was going to map the entire overworld, I wouldn't be so pathological about it that I would insist on sailing on every bit of water. (You find nothing on the waves; if you try to "dig," the character sarcastically asks if you mean to put a hole in the bottom of the ship.) So the jewels help determine where there are islands, and where I can just fill in squares with swaths of blue.
|Checking my position at sea.|
I started by mapping some of the little 1 x 1 islands I could see from the shore, then progressed to some larger ones. Commeters had told me of fantastic treasures to be found on islands, but so far I haven't had much luck. I did manage to find a "warphammer" in the far southeast corner. It's a great melee weapon that weighs less and does more damage than Winwood's previous weapon, the "hulkhammer."
A couple of the islands have offered names, such as the island of Laria and the island of Wym.
When I got bored, I made my expedition to the ends of the world, then started using the jewels to look for islands with cities. There was a large island in the southeast corner that seemed to qualify, which is how I found myself exploring the city of Katloch.
Katloch was full of monsters, such as insects, giants, and undead. There were hardly any usual NPCs. A lot of the enemies were capable of one-shotting my lowest-HP characters, so I relied heavily on the Banshee "Freeze" spell and the Enchanter "Tornado" spell to take parties out of commission. One monster, the Bane Giant, was one of those I talked about a few postings ago, where they never seem to die by hit point loss alone. I learned to rely on various stoning spells to kill them.
|I wasn't prepared for these guys.|
The city had some of the more advanced guilds (anti-fire +8, magic points +4, invulnerability +8), so I spent a lot of my training slots (and money) here. Oddly, the taverns wouldn't allow me to "go around" the way you can with the mainland taverns. There were no shops or smithies.
The entire city is an odd shape: a kid of spiral that culminates in a large open square with a small lake and a little 3 x 3 platform in the middle of the lake. I was surprised when I encountered nothing here. On the far end of this open area is an inactive teleporter. I assume both mysteries will be resolved at a later date.
|The odd-shaped city of Katloch.|
- Leveling isn't all that satisfying in Fate. I wish the game gave you any indication of the number of experience points needed for the next level as well as the number of experience points earned for various enemies. As it is, leveling is always a complete surprise.
- You can sail between islands that are connected to each other on a diagonal.
- I experimented a bit with using crystals in combat. You have to pay at guilds (and sacrifice some spells slots) to learn how they work. They summon demons, essentially, which act like greater melee weapons for one round, doing damage to all opponents.
- This black monolith appeared in a graveyard that I explored on the mainland, leading to the dumbest comment from an NPC in the game so far.
- Every once in a while, I find a mysterious item like this, which given its name and location must be a powerful item, but the statistics suggest that it's worse than leather armor. I'm not sure what to make of it.
|Is it called that because I'm doomed if I wear it?|
- I think I might have mentioned this before, but party members will often refuse to do something, like insult a powerful enemy or make rounds in the tavern if the character is a shy woman.
On the main quest, most of my hints have come from wandering mages since there were so few NPCs in Katloch. A big group came from a guy named Gideon on a random island I explored. As we discussed last time, to defeat Thardan I apparently have to enter his "Forbidden Zone," which in turn requires a Cassidan mage wielding the legendary Moonwand. The mage in question is almost certainly Bergerac, whose statue awaits the return of its heart.
I've had no information about the heart, but I have been getting clues about the wand and the "Agyssium," which might be the same as the Forbidden Zone--I'm not sure. The Agyssium is supposed to be a maze beneath Katloch with hallways somehow formed from living creatures. To enter, I have to use the Moonwand in the middle of the "Blood Circle."
|I guess that's useful to know.|
The Moonwand has been broken into seven pieces--groan--and scattered across the land. I guess I'll have to recover them one by one. A wizard in Katloch told me that he'd once met a mage in Laronnes who spoke of the Moonwand and a piece of it called the "Dreamstone." Another part is called "Spiralgem."
|I supposed it was too much to hope for that this Moonwand quest would be easy.|
Before making my way all the way back to Laronnes, I decided to try to find the one other city that I knew was out here somewhere: Pirate Rock. Again, I sailed around using jewels liberally until I found a likely location: a mountainous island surrounded by a ring of smaller islands. Pirate Rock was a smaller city with useless NPCs and a surfeit of taverns, but I found the guild that increases dexterity by 2 and spent most of the remainder of my slots on these upgrades.
A short post representing about 20 hours of gameplay. In the next one, we'll have an exhaustive tour of the magic system and see if I've made any progress on the pieces of the wand.
Time so far: 151 hours