|'Cause ghosts are entirely unbelievable in a fantasy world of monsters and magic.|
Let's recap where we are. My character, Winwood, has been sucked into the Fate universe from the real world. This was done by the evil mage Thardan, through methods unknown and for reasons unknown. So far, Winwood has been able to avoid Thardan and has, by repairing the Cavetrain, managed to escape Thardan's plan to keep him boxed in the small starting zone.
My explorations of the wider world (400 x 640 squares, with plenty of cities and dungeon levels of around 60 x 60 squares) has revealed that to reach Thardan, I'll have to enter his Forbidden Zone. To survive its horrors, I will need a mage from Cassida, equipped with the Moonwand, as part of my party. To free Bergerac, the Cassidan mage, from his stone form, I need to explore the multi-level dungeon Agyssium (in the city of Katloch) and retrieve Bergerac's heart. Coincidentally, the same Moonwand is needed to eenter Agyssium.
The Moonwand has been split into seven pieces, each with its own name, and my most recent stages of gameplay have been focused on collecting intelligence on the seven pieces and finding them. As this session began, I had learned a bit about the Dreamstone, the Crimcross, the Marbeye, and the Spiralgem.
You may recall that after my last post, I had resolved to stop wasting so much time mapping and get down to business. But at the time I made that resolution, I was in the midst of mapping a ring of mountains, and I decided I needed to finish that up. It turned out to be a very large area.
|And there went another 4 hours.|
When I was done with that, I made my way to the closest city, Perdida, determined to pump its inhabitants for every bit of information they had. You may recall from earlier postings that each successive hint is in the hands of a specific character class, and you have to get them in a fairly precise order. Of course, you don't know what class holds the next clue, so you have to keep trying different classes until you get lucky. In my case, it was a witch who knew that the Perdidans had intelligence on the Crimcross in the first place. Once in Perdida, I had to find a ranger to learn that the Crimcross is buried in the Withering Woods, and then a druid to learn that "an old man on the shores of the Moonlake" knew more about it.
|It would be nice to meet one NPC who doesn't talk in all exclamation points.|
So far, so good. From my previous mapping, I knew where the Withering Woods were--I had found the sign. I also guessed that the Moonlake was the large crescent-shaped lake near Perdida, which I had already fully mapped. I returned to it and hunted for an old man. I soon found a druid, but once I had his hint--make an offering to the Oracle at Demon Tower--I realized that I'd already met him when mapping the Moonlake in the first place.
I had no idea where Demon Tower was, so I decided to visit some of the other cities to learn about the other pieces. That first entailed getting my ship, which I had parked far to the east of Perdida. I set out east, mapping a new route to my ship's berth, when I serendipitously ran into Demon Tower.
|Moonlake to the west, the Withering Woods in the middle, and Demon Tower to the east.|
Demon Tower was a small mountain maze ending at a well in the center. Dead-end passages on the outside of the maze led to two messages. The first I found said, "Dig around the lonely rock at Zabros Point." At this point, I didn't even know I was at Demon Tower, but it was an easy quest--I had mapped Zabros Point a long time ago, and it was just a few clicks to the south. I visited, found a single rock square, dug, and found a gold coin.
Returning to the Tower, I kept mapping the perimeter and found a second message that said, "Drop the goldcoin into the Oracle's well." This was my first confirmation that I was, in fact, at Demon Tower.
|Then this made it a bit more explicit.|
Eventually, I reached the well itself, dropped the goldcoin, and received directions to the Crimcross: find the southern edge of the Moonlake, then walk 24 steps east and 11 steps south.
The southern edge of the Moonlake wasn't hard to identify; there's a single southermost square. But there were other problems with the directions, including the fact that forests block you from actually walking 24 steps east and 11 steps south. Even if that wasn't a problem, that precise number of steps places you in the middle of a forest square. If you go 12 steps south, on the other hand, you reach the dead-end of a twisty forest path, and I figured that's where I needed to go.
A previous clue had said that the Crimcross would only appear at midnight, so I did a little mapping until the appointed time, dug, and sure enough found the first piece of the Moonwand.
I returned to the task of marching to the far eastern end of the world to retrieve my ship. On the way, I mapped the rest of a road and was surprised to find it end at a new city: Mernoc. Somehow, I had the idea that I'd already discovered all the cities. The inhabitants were all hostile and very difficult (capable of one-hit kills of my characters), so I left it for later, hoping that I don't need to find any hints about the Moonwand there. If I do, I'll do it last.
Back in my ship, I mapped a couple of small islands on my way to Pirate Rock, where I hoped to find more information about Captain Bloodhawk and the Marbeye. It wasn't long before I received hints that his spirit is said to haunt Fainvil and that when in Fainvil, Bloodhawk only slept in "the best and finest beds."
|As does my party, since I have nothing else to spend money on.|
I figured this would be an easy one. Fainvil has only one inn, so I visited and rented out the finest room. I thought I'd have an encounter with his ghost or something. Alas, nothing happened. I wandered around and asked for hints from NPCs and taverns but got nothing. I feel like I'm close on this one.
If I can't solve it soon, I still have a few leads. Back in Laronnes, the mage Rinoges has the Dreamstone and I guess I just need to keep trying to enchant him until I succeed. I know some fairies on Spawn Island have the Spiralgem. I don't know where Spawn Island is, but that gives me an excuse to do more mapping. As for the rest of the pieces, I still haven't asked for hints in Larvin, Valvice, or Katloch (I assume Cassida is a waste of time).
I am quite determined to finish this game before April comes around and I've been playing it for a full year.
Time so far: 186 hours
Time so far: 186 hours
Let's talk about a few other games. Fer & Flamme is driving me crazy. All the weapon-buying that I did when I started the game doesn't seem to have carried over to the game itelf, so I had to buy new weapons (with a greatly reduced pool of money), but I still can't even inflict damage in combat, let alone win it. NPCs keep popping up and saying "bonjour!" but never offer anything substantive--they must have a purpose, right? The game crashes at the drop of a hat and does this fun thing where it suddenly won't recognize my save disk; I don't know whether to blame the game or the emulator. And of course there's the horrible interface. I don't want to continue with it, but I don't have enough material assembled on it to give it a fair GIMLET, and I'm not leaving another game hanging on the list with no rating.
I'd appreciate hearing from anyone who's played The Dark Wars for the Atari ST. I can't find documentation on the game, and it's a bit confusing. I'm not even sure it meets my definitions as an RPG; it looks like one, but the character sheet offers no evidence of experience or level. It seems to come with a pre-created main character named "Adam," and I don't know if there's some way to change that.
I feel like if I can can just get past a few difficult games, the rest of the upcoming list looks easier and fun.