Buccaneer’s Den is a home of pirates as ever and is complete with suitably piratey music. As soon as I step off the ship, I meet a couple of guys wanting to take my money off me. They launch into a speech about how the world owes them a living – this is really cheesy dialog. I don’t hand over my money and fight them off instead.
There are a few pirate type shops in Buccaneer’s Den. This guy sells me a treasure map.
The map isn’t all too clear but it does at least show the surrounding area.
As well as being night time a storm rolls in while I’m here which is going to make the next few screenshots, really dark. Without a lantern its really hard to find your way around when it gets like this. I run into a guy selling slaves who have bought themselves out of debt by selling themselves into slavery. I could buy and release the slave myself but I don’t have that sort of money on me so I leave it for now.
I also find a guy being beaten by another pirate. I rescue him (with extreme violence) in return for a karma boost.
I’ve heard rumours about a cave with treasure around here so I swim around the coast looking for it and find a very likely looking spot with a ship parked in it.
You can barely see it in this screenshot but the missing silver serpent is in here. I kill off a few pirates, take a key and then release it. The serpent teleports itself back to Britain…..
Buccaneer’s Den is proving itself to be every bit as big as Britain was. It’s split into two islands and I make my way to the Southern island next and find a giant tavern. I learn that the pirate trade isn’t too easy these days due to whirlpools that have sprung up since the columns appeared.
Samhaynes house isn’t too far from here. It’s conspicuous by its overly ornate doors.
Samhayne wants me to sort out the whirlpools which means dealing with the column. He wants me to give Buccaneer’s Den preferential treatment and deal with its column first. In return he is going to give me the codex – god knows how he is supposed to have gotten hold of this out of the void. I should just bludgeon him for stealing the codex but this isn’t an option and I have to do things the hard way. I have no choice about dealing with the column here first anyway.
There is still a bit of Bucs Den I haven’t explored which is the infamous brothel area. There is a nice easter egg where if you drink serpent wine and use this place you wake up with a man….
I’m told that I need to find New Magincia and a guy in the bar tells me to ask the map seller about this. He tells me that I need to use a tunnel between the islands but that I will need the guild password.
Raven tells me the password straight off, without any questing required.
The cave entrance is near another lighthouse. This one is empty and haunted. The ghost wants some rum which I don’t have on me – this is another side quest for the list
I’m asked for the password as soon as I enter the tunnel. The tunnel is a mini dungeon with a few rats but only one straight route through it.
I emerge on the other side into the ruins of New Magincia, much to the amusement of the Guardian.
There is a spell binding circle here and I take the opportunity to bind my first spell. The spell casting in this game works a bit like Ultima 8. I still need all the reagents as in other Ultimas but instead of needing them for each casting, I put the scroll and reagents into a circle like this and can then bind the spell permanently into my spellbook. Once done, I can cast the spell as often as I like, just for a mana cost. I really like this system actually. It gets around the need for carrying around too many reagents (something I’m already doing).
I only have the reagents and scrolls to bind the one spell for now but light should come in handy if I run into any more storms.
Having said that I don’t use it here and end up with another all black screenshot. I followed the beach along for a bit and came to some likely looking rocks which I jumped across. Standing on one of these raises the shrine ruins out of the water. I pop over to the shrine and chant the mantra (which I already know from all the other Ultimas).
This triggers a cutscene where I’m drawn through the water down into the new home of the gargoyles around Ambrosia.
This place is a giant dome at the bottom of the ocean. I guess Ambrosia got flooded after the events of Ultima 3 – it certainly looks a lot different.
I run into a wingless gargoyle. The two types of gargoyle are at war over who should be ruling. By saying the wrong thing I make him think I’m on the other side and he attacks. Rather than have to cope with a world of hostile gargoyles, I reload back before I went to the shrine. I figure that I’m not even supposed to know the mantra yet.
I head the other way from the entrance to New Magincia this time. Most of the place is a wreck but I do see one building still in decent shape.
My old companion Katrina is here. She doesn’t seem to be as humble as she used to be, no doubt down to the columns influence. She does tell me the mantra for humility, and I learn that she has the sigil. She won’t give it to me, however, until I do something about the vultures and wolves that have been hassling her goats.
The vultures nest is on top of a large pillar of rock. I just have to cast ignite on this to clear the vultures.
To kill off the wolves, I need to kill the alpha male. He is inside a ruined building on a small island just off the main one.
This gets me the sigil, so now its back to Ambrosia again.
I meet a winged gargoyle who sends me off to see Wislem. The gargoyles are back to calling me the false prophet again and he tells me how I will bring about the destruction of his race but it is inevitable so he will still help me in the meanwhile. This stuff was all dealt with in Ultima 6. The destruction would be averted only through the sacrifice of the false prophet. The gargoyles took this literally but it was actually referring to sacrifice in the other sense. This was one of the key plot points to Ultima 6 and I don’t think much about it being brought back here as the destruction was already avoided as far as I’m concerned.
But if I’m going to kill off all the gargoyles, I may as well get on with it. I start exploring the area and find a room with 3 books containing the gargoyles philosophy. By reading these, a 4th book appears and reading this gets me a power cube.
I find Wislem and he wants me to activate his statue in the likeness of the gargoyle queen. This is going to be a problem as I need to fly up to it.
A bit more exploring nets me a crystal which opens up the jail cells.
I rescue a young wingless gargoyle who is in here for killing a winged gargoyle. I’m not sure I should be doing this.
I don’t have a lot of choice if I’m going to finish the game though. He shows me a secret wall behind which he has hidden some flying boots.
Before I find any boots, I find a guy who has been shipwrecked down here and is trying to build his way out with a ship made of rocks.
This guy acts as a shop in this area. I buy myself a light heal spell, which would be very useful but when I eventually find a binding circle I find I don’t have any garlic to bind it into my spell book. I didn’t think to buy it here at the time.
I get my flying boots down here. These don’t allow me to fly as such, its more walking in the air. They are pretty nifty though and its a nice trick to be able to move in 3 directions.
They allow me to explore the rest of the place, and I’m told to turn on the statue again.
I head on up to the statue with a power cube and start it spinning.
This has a disastrous effect on the dome.
Wislem sees how his pride led to this. He wants me to save the gargoyle race by taking a queen egg to the gargoyle in LB’s castle.
I have to get out of here first which involves finding another power cube to open some giant doors.
These doors open up allowing me access to the queens chamber.
The queen doesn’t take well to my presence and starts throwing things at me.
I dash in and grab a queens egg from behind her before running out again.
A teleport just out of here gets me to Hythloth which is a giant sewer in U9. My flying boots don’t work here – they would have seriously upset the balance of the rest of the game so this is probably not a bad thing.
There is a bit of a clue as to things to come – a small statue stands on a block near the entrance to the dungeon. I’ll be seeing a few of these before I get out again.
I discover a valve which lowers a lift.
This lift is in a really nasty area which poisons me the moment I go in the water. There are some swamp boots on the far side however + a cure poison potion. The swamp boots are so effective that I can swim underwater now and not get poisoned.
The lift I lowered earlier, gets me access to a lever which lowers a portcullis allowing me further into the dungeon.
I’m making good steady progress in U9 but unless it speeds up there looks to be enough game here to keep me going for the next couple of weeks. The scale of the game is up to the usual Ultima standards. I doubt I’ll get much time on it tonight although I would like to attempt to finish cleansing this shrine. I can see another distraction coming on, in that I started messing around on Dead Space last night but I think I’ll stick to U9 for the most part. Other than the graphics, I’m deeply unimpressed with Dead Space so far and U9 is the better game by a mile. First impressions of Dead Space are that its shallow, unoriginal & contrary to the reviews totally unatmospheric. Playing a game like this reminds me why I prefer older games. I’m in the mood for a few shallow blockbusters after a year of oldskool though – I think I’ll be playing a few of the titles I’ve missed out in the last 12 months after U9 before I get started on Lazarus.