Day 54

Now, I’ve got the clues I’m going to follow them all down 1 by 1. The first apparently went off to kill a daemon in the dry lands. This has the be Sin Vrall, the friendly demon from the last game and sure enough I ask him about a pirate and he says he got dragged off by the ants.

I’ve seen a few giant ants in the desert – a lot of walking and I come across a hole which leads into a four level ant nest. This place is truly huge and not surprisingly full of ants. The ants really aren’t very tough though – its a lot easier than Destard.

When I eventually get to the bottom of the dungeon, I find Hawkins body with the map piece on it.

The next piece looks to be in the Dungeon Shame. I walk around attempting to find this dungeon. I know I’m off course when I see a sign for Iolos Hut. Smith is still there giving me clues about the last game.

I do find another dungeon on my travels (the cyclops cave). Apart from cyclops there isn’t much here apart from food and powder kegs on the bottom floor. I grab a few kegs and all the food and leave.

I do eventually find Shame. The problem was I needed a skiff to get there so I could row down between some mountains. The dungeon is pretty easy apart from the poison everywhere which I’ve no means of curing yet. I just about make it down to the bottom floor and run into the pirate who gives me his bit of the map, but refuses to come with me and dies on the spot.

Thats 3 out of 9. Getting these map pieces is proving to be a big job but I’m collecting quite a bit of money and equipment on my way through. I’m a bit fed up of getting poisoned – I think I’ll go in search of some swamp boots next so I don’t have this problem.

I’m really enjoying these quests for the map pieces. It feels like the game started properly after the shrine quests were completed.

Day 53

I started out today by heading for Mariah in the Lycaeum to see about getting this book translated. She has half of a tablet she bought from some gypsies which is kind of a rosetta stone for the gargoyle language. This starts off a quest to find the other half which starts with tracking down the gypsies she bought it from.

Luckily enough they are exactly where I saw them last. Apparently the tablet had been lost while in the hands of a pirate called Captain Hawkins. This means a trip to bucaneers den.

Unfortunately, I don’t have enough money for a boat so I have to trek through the sewers underneath LB’s castle and then through another dungeon up in Bucaneers Den.

While on the way there is a thief living in the sewers who’s belt I will need in Bucaneers Den to join the thieves guild. I only know this from playing the game before but while I’m here I may as well get it. I’m supposed to steal it from her but there is a nice trick where you can push her onto her own bear trap and kill her off without losing karma. This also nets me a load of glass swords,

To get between the two dungeons I have to sail to a small island in an underground lake. There is a conveniently placed skiff for this.

Since I have the belt, I’m allowed straight into the thieves guild. In the inn, one of the sailors on Hawkins ship tells me that to find the tablet I need to locate the hidden treasure. To find this I need all nine parts of a map (he has one but won’t give it to me without the others). He gives me clues towards four of these parts all of which I’ve screenshotted here. (If I hadn’t joined the guild he wouldn’t have told me this).

Another local at the pub gives me a clue about balooning and points me at a book in the Lycaeum – I’ll look that one up later.

To get the rest of the clues I need to talk to the cook at Trinsic but he won’t tell me anything without a dragons egg.

To get a dragons egg I have to struggle through Destard. This really isn’t too easy at all – I haven’t a chance against the horde of dragons at the bottom but manage to sneak in and steal a couple of eggs before I’m killed off and magiced back to LB’s castle (with eggs).

Sandy now gives me a whole host of clues for the rest of the people with the map pieces. One of them is owned by the town mayor himself. I presume it is 8 map pieces for eight towns…. but I don’t actually know that yet.

After accusing him of being an ex pirate the mayor coughs up the map piece. 1 down and 8 to go then.

Something I will say with this session of play is that the game feels far more like an RPG than it did when I was clearing the shrines now that I’m having to battle through dungeons and the like. Experience seems to be dished out fairly generously so I’m levelling up quite fast but I could do with buying some decent equipment and spells which I’ve neglected to do so far – I’ll need the money to do it first. I bought a ship in Buccaneers Den which cleared out my funds but I’m feeling a bit better off now than I was. I’ll probably still carry on tracking down the rest of the map pieces for now and worry about equipment when I really need it as I expect I will find loads in the dungeons.

Day 52

I’ve got started on Ultima 6 with about a 3 hour session. It’s a huge change from Ultima 5, where combat was all important. This game almost belongs in a different genre. So far, I’ve been spending all my time exploring the towns and talking to everyone in them. The conversation trees are just huge now for every single character, everyone has a portrait and a different personality and it feels more like a real world than ever before. Having said that a lot of the towns only consist of a few buildings which is a little unrealistic, but its difficult keeping track of everything as it is so I shouldn’t complain.

I started out with a chat to LB who reiterates my quest to solve the gargoyle problem.

It seems that Iolo grabbed a tablet with writing on it while I was being rescued. Nystul the royal wizard advises we take this to Mariah at the Lycaeum. I never got around to this since I only even just remembered the quest while writing this. I really should be taking notes while I play this game. Anyway, he also advises me about the black stone I picked up on earth and LB gives me the full details on it. Basically, if I use the stone on a tile surrounding myself a moongate appears, which tile changes the location I get teleported to. This is incredibly useful and can be used to speed around all the games locations.

I set out to free all the shrines – I figure I will need the runes to do this and ask around in Britain. Arianna, a young bard, has been awarded the rune. I ask her parents if I can borrow it and they give me the ok.

A quick walk to the shrine of compassion, and I’m set upon by gargoyles. Thankfully there are only 3 so we just about survive. I use the rune, say the mantra and the shrine is freed. I (or any of my party) can talk to the shrine if I want to level up at this point.

When I head back to Britain, I run into a travelling band of gypsies. I remember from years back that they were important for some reason but I’ve no idea what it was now. No doubt I will find out later.

Freeing the rest of the shrines follows a pattern of sorts. I have to ask the towns leader about the rune and they will give point me in the right direction. I already know the mantras so I’m not worrying about them. I head for Yew next and run into one of my old companions Jaana, who joins up.

It turns out the rune was stolen by Boskin, who has been caught but the rune is still lost. He agrees to tell me where it is as long as I take it away which sounds ok to me.

The rune is under a plant in the pub – easy when you know where to look.

I try walking to the shrine but get massacred every time by the gargoyles. If I use the moonstone to warp there however, I seem to be safe + it drops be right on the shrine so I can just cleanse it and warp out again. I stick with this strategy for the rest of this day.

The next rune turns out to have disappeared along with its owner. I eventually find out that he dies and is buried in a crypt under the pub.

New Magincia next. I teleport into the middle of a flock of sheep.

The rune here was stolen by a rat and dragged into a hole in the wall. I’m given the solution to retrieving it by a child working in the bar. Back at LB’s castle Sherry the mouse joins my party after I give her some cheese and she is able to go into the hole in the wall and retrieve the rune.

In Trinsic, I have to join the guild to be allowed to borrow the rune. This means I have to make some panpipes and learn stones. Gwenno has already joined my party so learning stones is easy enough. Panpipes require a freshly cut board of Yew, so I have to warp to Yew, buy a log, warp back, get it cut and the sawmill, then Jaana turns it into pipes.

The town mayor now gives me the rune.

The rune of honor is the easiest of the lot. Its left in the middle of the town as no one would be dishonarable enough to steal it….

At this point, I’ve retrieved all the runes and freed all the shrines and am at a slight loss as to what to do next. I decide to use the moonstone to warp down to the gargoyle side of the world. 

The gargoyles don’t attack on sight for the most part but I can’t understand a word they say.

I remember from last time I played this that Captain Johne is just inside the entrance to Hythloth. The entrance takes a bit of finding but I get there in the end.

He fills me in on a lot of the story for the game.

It turns out the gargoyles aren’t evil after all, but are just trying to save their world from destruction. Apparently moving the codex after Ultima 4 is destroying their world. This is a great plot twist (if I didn’t already know about it).

John sends me to meet up with Beh Lem (a friendly gargoyle) who has been helping him with their language. He also gives me a scroll which I use to learn the langauge myself.  Beh Lem tells me that the world can only be saved through my sacrifice which the gargoyles have taken literally but could mean several things.

He points me in the direction of another gargoyle who says I must surrender to the gargoyle inquisitor.

I do this and he places an amulet on my neck which will apparently hold me to my promise to come back and be sacrficed when the moons are aligned. Lets hope this isn’t too soon. All the gargoyles will talk to me now.

I’ve had hints about other quests such as retrieving a gargoyle cube from Stonegate which was apparently stolen by human thieves. I’ll attempt that and head for the Lycaeum next.

As ever, I’ve really rushed through this post. There is far too much happens in a session of play on this game for me to attempt to get it all in. I must have talked to about 70 or 80 NPC’s all of which had loads to say.  I’m kind of overwhelmed by how much conversation, I’ve had to remember. I really should have been taking notes. Having done all 8 major towns now, its probably a bit late to start but I’ll correct that when I make it to Ultima 7.

This doesn’t feel anything like Ultima 5 to me at all – the series really took a new direction here. I like the single scale map so you just walk out of one place straight into another. I kind of miss the 3D dungeons but in all honesty they were getting less important each game as the pre-designed rooms took over. Ultima Underworld more than made up for the lack of dungeons anyway. I’ve hardly been involved in combat since I started, just a few wild animals here and there. This is fine by me and the gameplay here is more about puzzle solving and exploring.

As much as I like the early games, I think all the changes are for the better. You can’t keep doing the same thing over and over. I think being a fan of the whole series, requires you to like quite a few genres and opinion differs wildly with different people loving or hating different parts of the series. So far I’ve enjoyed them all so hopefully that will continue – I’ve never played 7, SI or 8 though so I’ll hold out judgement for now.

Day 51 – Ultima 6

 I’ve not really started the game yet but I’ve read the manuals and watched the intros which must warrant a post. I’m fortunate enough to own the anniversary edition of this game which has a cassette tape with a monologue from LB on the history of the series. I ogg’ed this cassette years back and have uploaded it on to here for anyone interested:-

Side 1
Side 2

The documentation doesn’t give a lot of detail of the story to come.  It mentions that gargoyles have started venturing up from the dungeons raiding, taking over the shrines and are rumored to want to kill the avatar and something must be done to stop them.

This was the first Ultima to be developed specifically for the PC. The difference is pretty apparant straight off with the intro sequence being fully animated (sort of) and backed up with a great MT-32 soundtrack. I say sort-of fully animated as the graphics used just slide around on the screen, but for the most part remain static. Its all still very effective. There are actually 2 intro sequences. The first comes before you start the game and shows you on earth being summoned back to Britannia and stepping through the moongate.

I import my character from Ultima 5 at this point. He’s pretty low level but the stats are all near enough maxed which should help out a bit.

At this point the second intro starts up. As soon as I step through the moongate a load of gargoyles attempt to sacrifice me.

Fortunately my old companions turn up at the right moment through a moongate and we escape.

A few gargoyles follow through the moongate however so the game proper starts with a battle.

Thankfully the battle is very easy. I’m in Lord British’s throne room and the next thing to do is to talk to him but I ran out of time at this point.

The intro still looks great – playing these games on Dosbox with the HQ3x scaler they really look as good now as you remember them being at the time. I always found the Rule Britannia theme a bit annoying but its in full effect here played on a fairly realistic MT-32 style pipe organ. At least I will only hear it in one game location so I can live with it. This was the first Origin game to have a full game soundtrack (in DOS) although on other platforms they had them all the way back to Ultima 3 which was 7 years earlier.

I’ll leave any comments on the gameplay until I’ve actually got somewhere.