I’ve still got a few loose ends to sort out in Monitor so I start on these fist. I’m pretty sure Luther has my sheild so I head for the training grounds to take him up on his earlier challenge. I lose my nice weapon when I enter the arena and its quite tricky to win the fight without decent equipment but I beat him in the end. While I’m here I take the chance to train my stats up a bit – this is quite expensive though and I soon run out of money.
The healer who’s daughter was kidnapped wants me to look in her crystal ball. This shows a strange scene where her daughter is attacked but she is either possessed or not what she seems as she fights back with a barrage of magic herself. I promise to try to bring her back and the healer gives me her training sword. I’m supposed to find some sort of Serpent Isle style bloodhound creature to follow her trail but I have no idea where to look. I’ll have to attempt to pick this quest up later.
I finally get around to freeing Iolo who’s been needlessly languishing in the prison cells all the time I was off fetching the silver seed. He is of course still level 2 whereas the rest of my party in up to level 6-7. I really should have taken him with me but I’m sure I can build his experience up pretty quickly.
I’ve run out of things to do in Monitor so I head out to explore. Between Fawn and Monitor is a large pub called the sleeping bull. This place is really a small village with quite a few houses on the outside and a lot of characters to talk to. The pubs bard tells us a tale that sounds very familiar to Shamino about one of the castles to the north. He also tells us about the castle of the white dragon. This is where I can guess that the Serpent Isle is actually the lands of danger and despair I guess although I did know that much heading into the game. I’m looking forward to finding out more about this storyline. Most of the people in the pub were travelling to Moonshade but are trapped here now as their captain has been arrested by the pikemen. I’ll have to attempt to get him released later.
The lady who owns the pub has my swamp boots which I swap for some slippers. From her and some of the pubs other patrons I learn a long history about the pub where its founder Silvernade disappeared one day. The same thing has now happened to her husband about the time Batlin was passing through. She tells me that she heard a scuffle in the basement so I head down to look for secret doors.
Sure enough there is a secret door in a suspicious looking gap between barrels. This leads me to a lever which opens the even more obvious metal door at the bottom of the cellar. How people have found this such a mystery is beyond me.
I find a treasure map to Silvernades horde which I’m going to have to look into at some point. I don’t find any sign of the missing husband though. There is a big area with loads of levers but I don’t know what they do.
Around now, I remember that I’m still supposed to be looking for traitors in Monitor. I do what everyone suggests and go ask Krayg – he’s obviously not guilty but he suggests I check out a black monilith in the woods to the north where the goblins meet up.
The wood he’s sent me to look around in is quite large and it takes a little finding. As soon as I get there Iolo points out a bottle which is just as well because I would have just ignored it. I pick it up and Shamino suggests its a clue as no goblin would have left it here so it must belong to a human.
I walk around town showing the bottle to everyone. Lord Marsten is less than interested but it does seem suspicious that he wants me to throw it away.
The pub seems like a better place to take a beer bottle and sure enough I learn that the bottle belongs to Simon who runs the inn.
After a bit of cross examination, we get a confession out of Simon. It turns out that he’s actually a goblin who has been working as a spy for years. He immediately attacks but doesn’t stand a chance against 4 of us. This is becoming a habit with Monitor’s inhabitants and this is the third that we’ve butchered now.
Simon gets quite talkative in his final moments and blames the goblin king for betraying him. He even tells me how to find the goblin village by going through an entrance near a particular tree in the forest.
I had quite a bit of trouble finding the obelisk before which for very obvious. Finding a tree in the middle of a forest is going to be trickier. I find a house who’s occupants have all been killed, presumably by goblins.
The correct tree isn’t all that obvious even when I find it. I walk into it and find myself in a dungeon though so I know it must be the right place.
I follow the dungeon through and emerge out of a hillside next to the goblin village. I hack through a load of goblins to the center of the village and we take out the chief goblin. Considering that a whole town of fighters couldn’t cope with them this isn’t that hard a battle. There is a key on the body of the goblin king.
The key opens a locked door back in the dungeon which gets me into the goblins treasure horde. The missing helmet is in here.
There are also a couple of scrolls. The first implicates Lord Marsten himself as helping the goblins.
The next implicates Spektor – the chancellor.
I head back to Monitor with the scrolls and the helm and no one seems all that interested. The leader of the bears is the only person who wants to do anything about it and immediately has both of them arrested and put in jail.
I visit them both in the jail, they confess but don’t have much to say for themselves. That makes 5 people in this town so far that are traitors which is a fair percentage of the town. Spektor mentions some sort of secret weapon. Asking around town reveal some details about this + a key. I never did find any more out about this though – I expect that I needed to have a look around the town hall.
I’ve still not explored Fawn yet so I head there next. When I get into town Iolo finds a lute created by a magical storm. One of the townspeople requests a song at which point he sings a song about Gwenno.
Everyone in Fawn worships beauty which seems a pretty questionable religion. I learn from the temple priestess that all the positions of power are occupied by woman and the best a man can do is to be one of three Great Captains. Fawn is primarily a fishing town but like everywhere else the boats are not sailing due to the storms. A ship full of people from Britannia arrived some time back but they were all expelled from town and blamed for causing the magic storms. I think this is the ship Gwenno arrived on, it also carried a load of fellowship members who are now living to the east of Fawn. The priestess also has my armour and agrees to swap it if I find her at home.
The man running the provisions shop has our food although I’m not convinced I wouldn’t rather keep the money it was replaced by. He also recognises the ring which was the engagement ring of his daughter who lost her fiance during a storm.
While exploring the rest of the town, I’m attacked by a pirate who clearly knows who I am. I presume this is Batlins doing but I have no proof of who sent him.
I find the shopkeepers daughter and show her the ring. She doesn’t actually want it back but does give me my magic gloves in return. I’m getting my possessions back at quite a rate now but the ones I really want are my spellbook and my sword which are still nowhere to be seen.
I’m told that there is an oracle in the temple which regularly gives “revelations”. These revelations are held by the people as gospel truth but there are suspicions that something has been tampering with the oracle. I agree to look into this.
Before I get much further a guard comes up to be to tell me I’ve been given an appointment with the queen of Fawn thanks to Iolo’s singing.
She gives Iolo a diamond necklace to give to Gwenno.
She proposes a toast at which Dupre gets a little carried away and blurts out a toast to Lord British. This really wasn’t a good idea.
LB is as popular in Fawn as he was in Monitor and the queen has Dupre arrested immediately.
Dupres trial starts the next morning in the longest ingame cutscene so far.
Near much everyone in town is called up as a witness. The whole trial is a farce – all in all between their repeated attempts to kill me and their dubious moralities the inhabitants of Serpent Isle aren’t exactly endearing themselves to me. I suppose a community formed from people who rejected the virtues is likely to end up something like this but I preferred Britannia.
The trial is adjorned for the day after the prosecution finishes. Dupre appoints me in his defense but I don’t fancy my chances much judging by the way that practically everyone in town seems to want to present evidence against him. While exploring the rest of the city I’m approached again and told that Dupre is being held in a cell beneath the temple, given a key to get in and told to go there after dark.
I find Dupres cell although I can’t actually open it and rescue him.
Just beyond here I catch the leader of the great captains rigging the oracle using a series of levers. Like everyone I catch out he seems to think that attacking me is a good idea.
Once he is disposed of I’m left with a load of levers and no idea what to do with them. I flick a few around at random and the oracle starts to talk to me. I give the oracle instructions to tell the truth at the trial.
At the trial, I call a few witnesses but they don’t improve matters so I give that up quickly and call for a verdict. The oracle describes the conspiracy between the high priestess and the great captain and all is forgiven.
I’m not sure I achieved much in Fawn really – all I got out of the whole trial business was that diamond necklace which must mean its going to be significant later in the game. Having said that I discovered that the woman who runs the sleeping bull will buy jewelery at good prices so I may just have sold it to her for all I know. I’m running out of quests here so I head out to find the arrested ships captain who I was told about at the sleeping bull. He is being held at one of the guard towers just to the NW of the bull. I can buy his freedom from the guards for a measly 100 Monetari which sounds ok but as soon as I offer to pay they up the price.
At the bull, I’m approached by a woman called Lydia who has heard that I need funds and wants us to go off together on a quest to retrive some. This all sounds a bit dodgy but I don’t see I have much choice so I agree to leave my companions and the two of use set off together.
Lydia doesn’t exactly tell me where we are going but seems to regard the whole thing as a big adventure and tells me to follow the coast north then east. I can ask for directions and after a while we home in on a likely looking building. The key she has opens the door which is a hopeful sign and sure enough there are a load of gold bars just inside. The building has some sort of bizarre security system which seems to randomly teleport us around and monsters appear then change into different monsters or items when I kill them. I give up on trying to clear the building of them and just leave the building.
Once we get outside we are attacked by a load of bandits. Lydia conveniently magics herself away and agrees to meet me back at the pub leaving me to deal with half a dozen of them on my own. Thanks to my equipment from the silver seed addon, I manage to fight them off. Lydia isn’t waiting for me at the pub but I’ve got all the gold bars so I’m not too worried about this.
The guards accept the gold bars and hand over the key. I don’t think much of the legal system but I release Hawk who without a thank you heads back to the pub.
I’m sure Hawk would sail me over to Moonshade at this point but there is still the matter of the missing girl from Monitor. I’ve no idea where to find one of these bloodhound-like creatures but I’ve still not explored the area north of Fawn + the two castles should be up there somewhere. When I get to the swamp, however, my party start falling asleep one by one until I do the same. I wake up in a very bizarre place – its some sort of ruined version of Lord British’s castle. He is even here himself – he tells me how a series of earthquakes, storms and the like have hit Britannia since I left. He mentions the royal mint being struck by lightning and replaced by a lighthouse. Retrospectively, as I write this I’m wondering if that was the place I got the gold bars from with Lydia. It would partly explain the strange teleporting and random creatures inside it. I wasn’t sure whether to believe that this was the real LB but this would seem to lend credence to it if I’m right. I’m sure Britannia isn’t as bad as it looks in this dream world but it appears that the storms we are getting in Serpent Isle have spread. The dreamworld appears to be a reasonable size – I notice a big fire after some exploring, walk into it and then wake up with my companions back outside the swamp.
It appears that I will need some way to stay awake in this swamp. I carry on exploring the immediate area and find a bit red portal with a few daemons around it. Stepping through I’m teleported to a small building in the middle of a lake of lava. There doesn’t seem to be anything to do here – I find a teleport that returns me back to where I came from.
I don’t find anything else of interest and decide its time to head for Moonshade. Hawk agrees to set sail as soon as I ask and I head for the boat outside. First time around, he gets stuck and doesn’t manage to walk to the boat forcing me to reload. There is no trouble second time around.
We are dogged by magical storms for the whole journey but make it to land in one piece. The captain has decided enough is enough by this point and will not sail back so I’m stuck here until I either cure the storms or find another route.
The meatloaf lookalike who came over with us on the boat tells me about some rumored passages that connect Moonshade to the other islands. I’ll look for these after I’m done looking around.
Moonshade is a city of mages. Like the rest of serpent isle the moral system here is a bit questionable. There is a definite class system between magical and non magical people (called Mundanes). In fact quite a lot of the people in town refuse to even speak to me as a non mage. The mages seem to largely live in large isolated houses and have automatons to act as servents.
I find a school for mages with a few children being taught. One of these is the child of a Monitor resident I met earlier and he gives me a note to take back to his parents. Moonshade have the policy of snatching any children from the parents who displays magical ability alegedly in the interests of public safety. I can’t imagine this policy is too popular with the residents of Fawn and Monitor – its a good job they aren’t on the same island. While I’m in here I get handed a magic scroll – when I try to use it I get to talk to one of the 3 town leaders. It turns out Batlin passed through town a while back with his tame demon and she thinks I’m in league with him somehow and wants me to reveal how to control demons. I obviously don’t agree to this, not that I know anyway.
At this point I spend quite a bit of time looking for something to do in Moonshade and not getting too far. However, meatloaf has managed to arrange a meeting with the towns lord for me. He says he will summon me at the appropriate time. A few minutes later my party is teleported straight to him.
The lord has gone to the trouble of putting on a banquet for me and seems like a reasonable guy despite the attitude of some of the townspeople.
All three town leaders are present including the one who sent me the scroll earlier. She is a bit less reasonable and decides to pelt me with fireballs before being restrained. These towns could do with picking some better rulers – they all seem to want to kill me. She teleports away and the banquet is interrupted again by a man with a message for the Lord. I didn’t learn too much from this meeting but when I leave I do find that a few more of the buildings are occupied so this was blatantly a trigger event. The towns shop is now occupied and I learn from the man there that there is a shortage of reagents especially blood moss which he also mentioned when he came in with the message during the banquet.
On this basis I head out to find some blood moss and generally explore a bit to the south. There isn’t actually much to see but I do find some blood moss with no problems at all.
When I get back to town I can’t actually give the blood moss to the shopkeeper. I guess I have to do something else first but I don’t know what. I do find a mage who specialises in spells to do with death who calls a seance for my benefit. I get a brief chat with Chrisopher who’s murder I spent the whole of the last game trying to solve. Just as he is about to tell me something useful the seance ends.
I spent a long time on this game today and have made some decent progress. I’m learning a bit about Serpent Isle but I still don’t know much about the mysterious Ophidians who lived here in ancient times. One oddity about this game is that there are only 3 cities mentioned in the manual and I’ve basically explored them all now. I’ve still got a couple of castles and monk isle to see but the implication is that there will be a lot less conversation and a lot more dungeon crawling in the later stages of this game.
I can’t say if I prefer this to Ultima 7 or not at this stage. I feel that the plot is yet to really start moving and the background details are still being filled in. The game feels a little different, I’m being led through it more and there are things that never happened in U7, like the cutscenes, characters approaching me and the even longer conversations. I’ve heard this game described as being linear, this may be true to some extent but I’ve really not noticed it so far. It certainly hasn’t affected how I’ve played the game and I’ve always had options on what to do next although I will admit they do seem to be slowly running out. As long as the world doesn’t close behind me as I go linearity won’t bother me but I do want to be able to go back and pick up loose ends. The new hotkeys are far more useful than they sound and the keyring is a lifesaver. The number of keys I’ve already seen is this game is huge and without it I’d have been hunting through my pack every time for the right one.
What I can say at this point is that Serpent Isle is living up to U7 which is high praise by any standards. My main criticism would be that there is a little too much conversation and the conversation topics can be difficult to follow when they lose their original context. It strikes me as the sort of game that would benefit from being replayed so that you know a bit more going into these conversations. I expect part of this problem is caused by playing the game with a hangover and not having had enough sleep which didn’t improve my attention levels any.
I’ll continue exploring the town next, and see if I can’t manage to give this blood moss away one way or another. I also need to have a look at the northern part of the island where there is some sort of dungeon called the mountains of freedom which the mages use as a prison. There is no mention of it yet, but this being an Ultima, I would be highly surprised if I don’t have to rescue someone/something from there in the near future.