I accidently walk through a curtain in the first building I enter and find a crypt behind with all the town leaders in it.
They are here to entomb the ashes of a pikeman who lost his life in the same battle as the knight champion Astrid. It was part of the funeral ceremony that Iolo teleported into and he is now locked up in the town jail.
Lord Marsten gives me a good deal of detail about the town of Monitor. It is a town of warriors all of whom belong to three clans (bears, wolves and leopards). Everyone has to take a knight test at the age of 15, if they cannot pass it they are expelled from the town. The town was formed by people from the twin towns of Montor (from Ultima 3) when they fled the rule of “Beast British”. I don’t mention that I’m here on his request.
I find out that both Batlin and Gwenno have been through town. Batlin has some companions with him. The details are sketchy for now but he is travelling with a sailor, some sort of demon/gargoyle and an immensly strong man. Gwenno has gone off to the island with the monks to the east.
I volunteer to take the knights test myself – it can’t be that hard if its aimed at 15 year olds. After I’m done talking to Marsten Dupre is escorted in and rejoins the party. As I’d expect hes lost all his equipment also.
Inside the crypt I find something called a serpent gate which looks significant but I don’t know what to do with it.
I get more clues about Batlin from the guy who does the cremations. He will also give me 100 coins if I find the bodies of any dead pikemen and bring them back to him.
Iolo is in the jail. There isn’t much I can do for him but he is safe enough for now. Lord Marsten will release him if I become a knight and vouch for him. A lot of people in town won’t talk to me until I become a knight so I figure I’ll get it out of the way early and head out to find the test.
The test is looked after by a solitary knight. Since I have the password from Lord Marsten he lets me straight in after removing all my equipment and handing me some leather armour + a mace.
A few people in town gave me some clues about parts of the test. The first bit involves running fast through some fireballs. Next is a creating a stairway type puzzle like the one from Ultima 7.
This stairway needs to be a bit larger (my first attempt here didn’t do the job). Its made harder by snakes hiding under some of the rocks which attack when I move them. There is also one rock too few so I have to make part of the stairway after I’m on it.
A cyclops appears in one bit. He’d be a bit tough for this early in the game but I run around the room and set off a load of fireball traps which blast him in no time.
I carry on making my way through. Its a case of finding keys to open the next locked door at each stage. I’m attacked by some sort of guy that flickers in and out of existance. I find a scroll on his body which implies that he has been sent to kill me. Whoever sent him knows that I’m the avatar so this has to be Batlins doing.
At this point in the test a scroll tells me to use some claws to draw my blood which I must then use on the ashes of a dead goblin lord. This conjures up my totem animal (a wolf) which I have to slay. The wolf turns out to be tougher than I am and I wake up on the monks island.
I’m greeted by the monk who battled Thoxa at the start of the game.
He hands me over a amulet of balance – I’m 90% sure this is something to do with the Silver Seed add-on and tells me to use it at a serpent gate. I know where to find one of those so will give it a go as soon as I’ve got my companions all together.
After I’m done speaking with him, the monk teleports me straight back into the fight which I win this time. I take the body and make my way to the exit where the knight opens the door for me. He then attacks me himself but is an easier opponent than I would have expected.
A scroll on his body tells me that a woman was behind the plot to kill me. I have no idea who this is at the moment.
I head back to town to be made a knight. As part of the process I have to get a tattoo on my face, and get a cloak made from the skin of my dead totem animal. I get the tattoo from a woman called Lydia.
Shortly after this I suddenly go down with an illness for no apparent reason. I find the town healer asap.
She needs some Varo leaves which I can get from a woman in Fawn. I’m not done exploring Monitor yet but this can’t wait so I head straight for Fawn.
I’m stopped outside the town and a man called Ruggs asks me to deliver a message to the woman I need to see.
Fawn is a very different looking place to Monitor or indeed anywhere in Ultima 7.
I don’t bother trying to explore but look for the greenhouse. Its the middle of the night so no one is there but I figure the house next door must be a good bet so I stomp around until I wake up the occupant.
She hands the leaves straight over. While I’m here I pass her the letter. Fawn is a town which worships beauty and she obviously has problems with loving Ruggs on this basis but gives me a letter to take back to him. I didn’t see him on the way out of town (and forgot to look) so I’ll hand this over next time I’m up here.
Back at the healers, I’m cured and led to believe that I got the virus from the tattoo. I’m going to have to corner Lydia about this.
I really don’t know my way around town yet and take a very indirect route to find Lydia. First off I find the furriers and hand over my animal for skinning. I need to come back and pick up the cloak in another day.
I find Lord Marsten and he tells me that I also need to hand over the wolf meat to the woman who runs the pub, so the meat can be used to prepare a banquet.
Lydia confesses straight away and then proceeds to attack me. She isn’t too tough considering this is a town of fighters. She knows I’m working for LB, I’m glad I didn’t tell this to Lord Marsten if this is the reaction.
I head off to the banquet for my knighthood.
The knights ask me about the test, apparently all the magical creatures I had to face should not have been there. Lord Marsten says he will speak will Shmed about it which hes not going to find easy since I killed him at the end.
A woman bursts in to report that her daughter has gone missing. Everyone immediately blames the goblins then start accusing people of being traitors.
A fight results….
After the meal everyone disperses. I take the opportunity to tell him about the two of his people I’ve had to kill. He’s surprisingly understanding about it and assumes that I’ve killed off the two traitors. They still want to blame the goblins for everything when clearly Batlin has more to do with this. There is probably another traitor in town I need to hunt out. He agrees to let me release Iolo – I just need to go and pick him up.
At the pub, its suggested that I should try to become the new champion knight. I’m not 100% sure that the old one is dead actually since they never found a body. I’ll need to hunt out the helmet which is supposed to be at the goblins camp. She also invites me to a late night rendevous.
A lot of waiting around and I meet up in the early hours of the morning. She isn’t much for small talk..
Sex in an RPG. This has to be one for the history books. I’m rewarded with a cape which belonged to her grandfather who was a former champion knight himself.
I head to the serpent gate to try out my amulet next. I’m not sure its working as I keep disappearing then appearing again looking different but in the end we teleport out.
I find myself on another gate. Shamino remarks that the ruins here are not ruins and look brand new. This bit of the game must be the silver seed add-on which I’ll start tommorow.
I’m far enough into the game now to get more of a feel for it. I’m not being sent on endless quests this time although I do have quite a few things to be looking at. Batlin and his companions went to Fawn so I need to chase them up, I’d like to attempt to be made champion knight so I will want to find the goblin camp and get the helmet back. Gwenno is on the monk isle as far as I know – I need to get myself a ship to get there which I also need to go to Fawn for but there aren’t many sailors around with the storms putting them off. Finally there are all my lost items. I’ve not seen any signs of these in Monitor so I guess they must be elsewhere, although it occurs to me as I write this that one of the knights was rumored to be using a magic shield. I’ve been challenged a few times to combat in the arena but I’m holding off until I’ve played the silver seed and upped my stats.
The game really does feel little different from playing Ultima 7. A lot of the music is the same as well as the graphics and the engine. Ultima 7 didn’t outstay its welcome unlike Strike Commander though so this is actually a good thing – I’ve been able to get straight into the game with no fuss. The lack of side quests so far is certainly a change, and the banquet amounted to an in game cutscene which I can’t think I’ve seen in any Ultima before now – it reminded me more of the sort of thing you would get in a Final Fantasy.
All in all, this has been possibly the easiest game game of the series to get started on and I’m definitely hooked.