|My fantasy is someone else's idea of hell.|
At the end of the last post, I had one of the seven pieces of the Moonwand: the Crimcross. Now I have four.
The Dreamstone was the easiest. Thanks to a hint from Zardas, I knew that I just needed to return to Laronnes and keep trying to "charm" Rinoges until it worked. It actually worked on my first try. I guess I just got unlucky last time.
|You're under my spell. I don't have to promise anything.|
The Dreamstone turned out to be the key to finding the Marbeye, which I was on the cusp of retrieving last time. I had heard that it was part of Captain Bloodhawk's treasure and that Bloodhawk's ghost was wandering around Fainvil, probably staying in the fancy room at the inn. After I had the Dreamstone, I stayed in the finest suite at the inn again. Almost immediately afterward, Jeanie--who was in possession of the stone--said that she had a dream about a pirate digging in the sand and then drawing a treasure map.
|Jeanie recounts her dream.|
The map had been imprinted on the Dreamstone, so "using" the stone caused it to reveal itself.
I returned to the high seas and kept using my jewels and gemstaff to view the surrounding area. Eventually, I found a cluster of likely islands.
But this turned out to be the wrong place. After exploring and mapping all of them, I set sail again and within a couple hours found the right set of islands:
|That makes more sense. The other islands were about one square each.|
Digging in the area indicated by an "X" on the map produced the artifact!
|Winwood isn't the brightest bulb.|
I was lost for a bit after this. I only had any intelligence on one other piece--the Spiralgem held by the fairies of Fawn Island--and I didn't know where Fawn Island was. I spent a while touring the cities, but I didn't find any new hints in any of them. You can tell when you need to stick around an area because your characters ask for something specific like, "Have you heard anything about pieces of the Dreamwand?" When they start saying generic things--"Do you know anything about mystical objects?"--you know you've exhausted the hint chain in that location. Unfortunately, that happened everywhere I went: Larvin, Laronnes, Fainvill, Valvice, Perdida, Katloch, Pirate Rock, and of course Cassida, where everyone is just unhelpful by default.
Back to the waves, then. I let the overhead maps guide me to large islands, and after a few hours, I found Fawn Island. A path led to a wooded glen, where the queen admitted that she had the Spiralgem. But she wanted me to do her a favor first: retrieve a fairy named Myriam, who had been abducted when a "wild crowd of pirates" attacked the island a few months before.
|Given what these fairies looked like in the original version of the game, I'm surprised the pirates ever leave the island.|
I don't know why it didn't occur to me to go to Pirate Rock immediately. Instead, I got the idea that the pirates must be on the large island south of Fawn Island, and I spent a long time mapping it only to emerge empty-handed. That island mystifies me a bit. It's the second-largest of the islands in the game world, and it has a broken road running all around it, but ultimately leading to nothing. I searched a number of likely-looking squares but found no treasure.
Eventually, it occurred to me that the pirates might be in, duh, the city of pirates. The NPCs in Pirate Rock had nothing to offer, but I started to get hints when I visited the taverns--specifically, that the fairy was imprisoned in one of them.
It turned out to be the Black Rock Tavern, accessible only by a teleporter. To free Myriam, I had to pay a 400,000 gold piece ransom--the game didn't even give me the option to fight. I also had to kick someone out of the party (temporarily, by shuffling him to a new party) to free up the space. It turns out that two parties can't board the same boat--in fact, you can't even see the boat if another party is aboard--so I left Toronar on Pirate Rock while I returned Myriam to Fawn Island.
|If my party looks so strong, why did I have to pay 400,000 gold pieces?|
There was no option to keep Myriam, but I wouldn't have even if there were. She was weak and only Level 14 (most of my characters are above Level 40). The fairy queen was so happy that she not only gave me the Spiralgem, but three improvement slots and three new spells for each mage character.
|I think I'd be a bit more demanding than Winwood.|
I have no idea what to do for the last three pieces except to explore the city of Mernoc, in the Forbidden Zone, which promises to be pretty hard. If there's something I've missed, I'll be happy to accept light hints (i.e., the general area that I should go to search for clues).
- It would be nice if new spellbooks for characters appeared at the bottom of the list instead of the top. I get used to patterns--for instance, to cast "Locate," I need to select Jeanie and type 3-3-3. Then she gets a new spellbook and I have to memorize a new sequence (3-4-3) to cast the spell quickly.
- This random message appeared when I was walking around some city--Fainvil, I think. I have no idea what it means, but I guess I won't be putting anything in the banks.
- At some point, I found another "Vixhammer," which does damage to every opponent, in all groups, with every attack. That means three of my characters now have such weapons. In contrast, I've been unable to find any decent weapon for Elgarette, my priestess. She's the only character who still has a blue bar for weapons, indicating "adequate" rather than "excellent."
- No matter where you are on the map, wolves come out at night. They were almost impossible for my pre-Level 20 characters, but now they're no trouble at all. The darkness actually encourages me to sleep for the night ("Light" spells just cast everything in a reddish tint) more than the wolves.
- I lost a bunch of progress at one point because I kept my characters out exploring too long and they started to starve. Juliet abruptly announced she was leaving and took off, taking some of the Moonwand pieces with her. I had to reload a save from hours earlier (I had gotten cocky). My characters have been pretty hungry before, but that's the first time that happened.
- Drunk party members are useless in combat. If everyone is drunk, the game becomes a real challenge.
- New maps below for readers who enjoy seeing those squares get filled in.
The Moonwand quest is done the way a multi-part quest should be done: with a lot of variety in the effort and time necessary to find each piece. Ultima VI did the same thing with its pieces of the map. A game gets boring quickly if every subquest takes exactly the same amount of time and toil, just like a paragraph gets boring if each sentence is exactly the same number of words. You want some quests that can be handled in a single location (e.g., the Dreamstone) and other compound quests that require several stages (e.g., the Spiralgem), and you want the length and effort to be a bit unpredictable. Of course, the Moonwand is just one quest in an enormous game, so the pleasantness of this variety is somewhat blunted by the breadth of the rest of it.
As usual, it took a long time (15 hours) to produce a fairly small amount of material. But for the next post--if I can figure out a way to sensibly make it start with "Q"--we're going to have a very long analysis of the spell system.
Time so far: 201 hours