Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Ultima Underworld: Cultural Differences

Why this place, as opposed to all the people who presumably haven't bathed for a while?
Floor 3 is much like floor 2 starting off, a corridor outside the stairs up. One way leads area with more poison worms. Of all the enemies to become reoccurring, its these. They were guarding, for a lack of a better word, a body of water, with another octopus in it. The room started off by giving me a message of a funny smell, so I guess that's related to all the items near the octopus. He doesn't really want to fight me, running away like a coward, so I take what I want of those items.

The clouds are a nice touch
The other way leads to a scroll on the ground, I try to look at it only to get a magic sight spell activated. Huh. Then I see a grey flying imp, or a mongbat. Some abomination or another. Funny, its blood is grey, must be a statue or something. Continuing to explore the area I find a river that very strongly reminds me of one of the later levels in Shadowcaster. I'm probably going to be the only person on the planet to make that comparison. Take out a few gray octopus and continue exploring. Something goes by my head. Its another gazer. Yep, he's as hard as the last one. Except he's gray...wait, that spell must change the color of things to gray. Oh, well, I die and reload.

Considering I didn't die after pulling the lever, this is terrible environmental design
On my second attempt through, I realize the mongbat is a flying monkey. The only thing here that isn't in danger of that gazer is a lever that does...something and a teleporter. So I guess I have to take out that octopus on the other side. That place turns out to be very fruitful, because a little ways down is some very nice armor and killing a second octopus gets me to level 9. This does provoke an interesting question as to when I should return to floor 2 to remove those remaining few high level enemies. Since I had to restore my health anyway, I try it, only to once again get practically slaughtered. Good, just what I need.

As I learn later, Bica is a general purpose greeting/goodbye, which some real language I forgot does
I continue exploring the river. Its pretty handy taking out those octopi now left and right. Seems like my only effective method of gaining experience. Speaking of that, I'm at 906 now, so does that mean that when I get to 1000 I get level 10? Well, there's only one way to find out. After I talk to this mellow lizardman. And I screw it up. I figured from the way he was talking was, "hello, human yes", then "Are you with the green lizardmen?" (Hey, its how its worked out so far) Only that offended him. Reload.

To be fair this is every RPG with wandering NPCs
From what I can tell, there seems to be a pretty big interior to this river. Only, all the doors leading here are seemingly locked. I finally find one that isn't locked, and it contains an upset lizardman. And close. There's a bridge across the water here. What's on the other side? A woman who won't let me click on her. LET ME CLICK. Oh, she's an upset bandit. Well, at least I can talk to her. Or him, he's very effeminate.  He tells me to shove off after I ask him about the baron's daughter and I do so. Not much point in trying anything further.
Mumbling Wizard would be a good band name

A little more ways down the river, seems like the thing surrounds a central isle here, I find a gray lizardman. He's also mellow, and better yet, he speaks English...or common or whatever it is I'm supposed to be speaking in-universe. He can't tell me anything about his language, apparently his order is forbidden to do that, but he does tell me about other things. Apparently there's a wizard around here trying to fix the talisman sword, and he'll tell me more about it if I find his leader, who is lost. Guess a magic sword is one of the 8 talismans.

In a nice touch, he uses the same kind of attacks I do

But being still at level 9, I don't have complete freedom here. And I was wrong, maybe I need 1100 for level 10? I just continue down the river, mopping up whatever I can kill, staying away from the lizardmen so I don't end up offending them. I encounter a hostile bandit at one point, too strong for me. There's a puzzle involving buttons, and the puzzle is really just looking in the opposite corner for the sequence to press. That takes me behind the bandit that didn't automatically want to kill me. I find the stairs down here, so I circle back. Only, to find another set of stairs up, this set leading behind the dwarf king. Needed a key to unlock this door. All right, back in business...uh, now what?
See, while I have explored more, I've also found a lot more areas where I need another level before fully exploring. I guess I still have more river, but you can't fight off those octopi without being on ground. Don't really have another option though.

How long has it been?
This turns out to be the right way to go. I find some items on the ground next to a poison rat. There's a book mentioning that the sword hilt is somewhere in the southeast...and a scroll with a message to the lizardman leader. Uh-oh. I return to the named gray lizardman. He didn't even make it that far from their place. The guy is sad about it, and tells me that the wizard the next floor down has the other half.
In a twist of irony, I actually got the right path the first time, without understanding anything. Go figure
No, not 1100 either. One time I really need a level up and I'm not getting it. But I do hit upon something very important, a human who can translate for me. Sure, he's mute and has to communicate non-verbally, and also wrongly accused of stealing food and killing one of the lizardman. Now, admittedly, instead of doing the right thing and writing everything down myself, I'm instead going to be using a guide to the lizardman language online. After giving the lizardman 5 pieces of food, he lets the human go, and all I get for it really is a fuzzy feeling inside. Because I'm the Avatar, a paragon of virtue. Meh.
The map of this level, the I maze reach later is in the upper half of the "island"

This newfound knowledge doesn't really seem to be helping me much. I don't really care for trading and it seems that the lizardman jailer is one of the few named lizardmen around. I have been getting more spell runes, but so far I don't see much reason to experiment with them. The attack spell I could use at the beginning was not really worth the effort and my mana pool is better directed towards light, and should the need arise, food. I also find the second stairs down, not too far from the area I assume is a kind of lizardman village.

Without any real idea of how to proceed, I decide to return to a fountain. I mistake where the stairs up were and instead go down. This turns out to have been a good move, because down on floor 4 are skeletons and I can take out skeletons. They drop swords too, so any equipment woes for me are long gone. Lots of bags on the floor here, including one containing a note to a troll I imagine kidnapped the baron's daughter. Well, let's just try to avoid those guys for now.

The friendly NPCs of the Ultima series, trolls
Ah, the banner, must be a town. Hmm, something threw bones at me, that's new. Is it a trap? Its a very bad one if it is. Oh...trolls...uh-oh. Well, they're mellow. I talk to one. I can say what I'm doing here is "Looking for trolls to kill". Not sure on the details of Ultima's religion, but I'm pretty sure the Avatar committing suicide by troll isn't part of the virtues. I just say I'm exploring and decide to get out of here for now. Anyway, the point is mostly moot, after a little more exploring I reach 1200 XP and level 10.

My grieves are getting a beating despite my level

I take this opportunity to get some skills at a shrine, this time taking mantras off an internet guide. Seriously, screw this skill system. I am indeed now capable of taking out the headless...however, they're a bit of a chore to take out. One thing of note in combat, the different attacks, that is, high, middle low, each definitely have different changes of dealing damage, because I can only really hurt these headless with low attacks.

I was starting to think they weren't real
Clearing all those things out, I notice there's still something I can't reach in this part of the dungeon. Aha, this must be where the blueprints are. So I get up high, quaff the levitation potion, and see inside. There's some other stuff, like a rock hammer, I put mine down to upgrade my armor earlier, but mostly just the blueprints. I go back, give the dwarf his blueprints, and all I get is the knowledge I did a good deed and another levitation potion. So basically no real point.

Its nice finally being able to take some of these guys out
The gazer too, falls to my blade. I return to the mountain king and once again get the knowledge of a deed well done. And call him a dwarf, which offends him. Wasn't expecting the more verbose option to be an insult, nice touch. I get a password and an amulet from him. The password is to enter the Mountainman treasure vault. Not really sure if I should, since it seems very unavatar-like to do so.

Who are Tom and Judy, anyway?
Bandits are now vulnerable to me, but they're actually still a worthy challenge. A rewarding one too, the first one I killed dropped a longsword. This opens up another maze. Lots of stuff I don't have a use for right now, but I do find a key and a note that the thieves hideout is in a storage room. I also find a fighter named Zak who collects light sources and is afraid of the dark. Got a lot of XP now, close to 1600, guess that superfast level advancement has tapered off.
An unusual screen when looking at a "window"

Over the course of the level I've picked up two new keys. Which seems to fit the theme going on in the game so far, each floor there are two keys. These two keys aren't unlocking a lot of doors, mostly just what seem to be lizardmen personal rooms. I do get another quest, one wants a flawless ruby. Guess there is a reason to be on the lookout for those gems. Curiously, I seem to be fighting skeletons here in places I've already cleared out. Other than finding the bandit leader and barely avoiding annoying him, there doesn't seem to be anything else to do here.

Time for floor 4 properly. Hmm, it looks like there was quite a bit of fighting here. Outside of the seemingly numerous towns I'm avoiding for now, I meet a fisherman, who offers me his spare fishing rod. Nothing seemingly in exchange, but then, I didn't really want it. It starts off seemingly like there isn't much of value here, and I very quickly find a path down.

Its much nicer compared to the...ahem..."feral" goblins on the higher floors
But then I meet another outcast, this one definitely guilty of his crime, but I sweet talk him into giving some information. The trolls and the knights here hate each other, dating back to the days when Sir Cabirus was alive. While there's an uneasy peace now, it could be destroyed with little effort on my part. There's also a rogue knight north. I figure that's where I should go next...and what north The only place north of here leads to a bunch of lizardmen or is the stairs down. The paths continuing forward are limited to the stairs, two paths I need a potion for, or the villages.
Clearly, they knew these fellows were unhelpful
Picking the troll village, the trolls, shockingly, are not very helpful. The first one I can ask about any topic, but trying to ask him about the baron's daughter is an exercise in futility. Another wants to call me Rodriguez. The game is trolling me, it seems, but whether that's intentional or a happy accident I do not know. He'll open some kind of door for me, but he wants a bribe. Great.
I'll just tunnel through the wall, don't worry, won't take me but a hundred years
The knight village is better from a certain point of view. The first person I talk to asks me if I'm a fighter, I say sometimes, and she gets me to join their order. She tells me to meet their leader, south of their encampment. Hmm, south, I think, checking my map. I'm at the southern most part of the map. I can't get any more south. This is as good a time to stop as any, considering that the game is now actively screwing with me.

Combat and indeed exploration has turned into a relatively simple task. Just walk around, if a non-hostile NPC is in the way, let him walk through. They do take their sweet time though. Whenever a fight happens, just hammer the dude, if my weapon is consistently getting damaged, reload, otherwise keep hammering. Repeat this until health is around 20 points, then retreat to the nearest fountain. Magic seems like it would require a ton of resting and thus food. (though this is a self-solving problem) Ranged combat is pointless and with the weight limit, impossible without dropping most of my non-combat gear. This isn't a dungeon crawler you play for the combat...or puzzles...I'm not really sure what it is that makes it fun, but it is fun.

This Session: 2 hours 35 minutes

Total Time: 5 hours 45 minutes

No comments:

Post a Comment