I’ve brought back this miniboss, and adjusted Boltac’s initial stock to match the values seen in the PC and NES ports, which I believe were also intended to be the initial values in the Apple II version.
This version is the one I’ll be playing, and you can download it here, along with my notes on the changes:https://drive.google.com/uc?authuser=0&id=1YY3rwyfXkReGx0x3VTg5h-2pOG9ZQtRv&export=download
Two emulation notes - first, configure the emulator to emulate an Apple ][+, and not an Apple //e, or else the ingame font will look funny. Second, make sure the boot disk is mounted in read-only mode, or it won’t work!
Update: As of January 11th 2020, there's been a WOZ release of Wizardry v2.1 which more or less confirms my assumptions to be correct. I was off on Boltac's stock of cursed short swords (which he won't sell you anyway), but the rest of the initial game state matches my fixed version, including the miniboss. Note that if you want to play that version, you will need to use the ingame utilities to create a duplicate scenario disk, since MAME and AppleWin can't write to WOZ files yet, and I could only get that utility to work correctly in MAME.
You can read the manual here:
I’ve played through Wizardry several times already. My first exposure was the “Story of Llylgamyn” trilogy on SNES, played on an emulator, sometime around 2004. I didn’t get very far, but soon decided to play through the DOS-based Ultimate Wizardry Archives versions instead. I played through the first seven over the course of a few years, and as of this writing, haven’t yet gotten around to playing Wizardry 8. Sometime after finishing 7, I learned that the first five games had Japan-only 3D graphical remakes on the PS1, and I imported copies of them so I could play them again with all of the 32-bit bells and whistles.
Fast-forward to now, and Wizardry is an excellent candidate to replay for Data Driven Gamer. For one, there just is so much data in this game to extract and analyze. In fact, I’ve already done a good amount of data analysis already in preparation for my replay – that’s how I discovered something was funny about the disk images. Second, I’ve never actually played the original Apple II version – even the DOS-based Ultimate Wizardry Archives represent the state of the game in 1998 rather than 1981, so the original may yet have some game experience that I have yet to untap.
I’ll be sticking to my rule about saving only after 30m of play. I tried and failed to beat Rogue this way, but I’m pretty sure I can do it in Wizardry, thanks to its slower pace, lessened reliance on randomness, and option to do things like rest in town or grind.
Starting off, I reviewed the manual. We take it for granted now, but as of 1981, this is, by far, the best paper manual I've seen in a computer game. A far cry from Akalabeth's dot-matrix printings on a series of cocktail napkins, this is 27 pages of well organized and useful gameplay instructions, with silly illustrations by Will McLean, one of the O.G. D&D comic artists.
Re-releases of the Zorks, Ultima, and to a lesser extent Akalabeth would get similar treatment in the future, but Wizardry alone came right out the gate with this kind of quality, which could very well be owed to Wizardry's PLATO roots, but the overall style anticipates later DOS RPGs more closely than it does the PLATO helpfiles, front-loaded with overviews rather than nitty-gritty details, and gameplay concepts are described broadly except when specifics are absolutely necessary (such as the controls). There's no list of monsters and weapons as there were in Moria and Oubliette, but there is a complete list of spells and their effects, which is probably the most PLATO-like part of the manual.
Booting into the game, there’s an elaborately-animated intro sequence:
The next screen reveals something interesting:
This is version 2.1, released in January 1982! Wizardry has a release date of September 1981. Could there have been an earlier version, perhaps 2.0 or even 1.0, which existed in 1981? Does it exist anywhere today? And what changed? I know that Wizardry had been prototyped as early as September 1980, and its release had been delayed thanks to Apple not yet having a consumer-ready Pascal runtime environment.
Delving into the utilities shows a clue about at least one thing that may have changed:
If you shut off your computer while exploring the dungeon, your party members will be stuck in a sort of limbo, where they aren’t available to recruit in town, but you also cannot resume their dungeon expedition in order to return them to town. This utility zaps those characters back to town, and evidently an early build had aged them 10 years as a cruel disincentive to abuse the feature.
The manual at MOCAGH marked “First Release” mentions this penalty, while another manual marked “Second edition” doesn’t. I have to conclude that I am playing the second edition, and the first release may be lost to time. Perhaps version 1.0 was the prototype, and version 2.0 was the first commercial release.
Starting the game proper, the castle and town are pretty austere, displayed entirely in text using the stock Apple II font, but in the Apple II's high-res color mode and not the sharper text mode for some reason.
The first step is to go to the training grounds on the edge of town and roll some characters. Here it switches to text mode - note that the font appears sharper than it does in town.
I had never really taken advantage of Wizardry’s class change system before, so I decided that this time, I’d abuse it as much as possible. Learned spells, HP, and some amount of SP are kept when changing classes, so a character who has been a high level fighter, mage, and cleric will have lots of HP/SP and know all of the spells, and can still change into a class with intrinsic abilities.
To that end, the gnome seemed like the best race for multiclassing, as it doesn’t have any particularly low stats.
I’d also never had any Lord characters before, so I decided I’d make my party good, except for the thief, who would have to be neutral.
When rolling new characters, you get a random number of bonus attribute points to assign, usually 7-10, but there’s a slight change of getting 17-20 points instead - and a very small chance of getting 27-30 points. I re-rolled each character until I got 17-20 points.
|Odds are a bit less than 10% that this happens|
My last character, without intention, hit the points jackpot.
|Odds were less than 1% this would happen! Still not enough to start as a Lord though.|
My army of munchkins:
Owing to its PLATO multiplayer roots, you don’t just start the game with a party of characters you rolled. You have to visit Gilgamesh’s Tavern, where you add available characters to your party. You can password-protect your characters so that only you may use them; not really something we would value nowadays, but back in 1981 you might have shared a computer and your single copy of Wizardry with your family or even your entire school. You might have opted to let your level 11 samurai freelance himself to any player that wanted a powerful escort, but you might have also password-protected him to prevent your reckless siblings / classmates from getting him killed or worse.
|A full party recruited at Gilgamesh's Tavern|
Next stop, Boltac’s! My characters had 805 gold between them, not enough to buy Bolcac’s good stuff, but enough to get some starting gear for everyone.
|Boltac's shopping interface|
Reviewing prices and stats, I made this shopping list:
- 2x long swords
- 2x breast plates
- 2x large shields
- Anointed flail
- Chain mail
- Short sword
- 2x daggers
I equipped everyone at Gilgamesh’s, and went into the dungeon.
Only the fighters and priest had any armor, so I’d have to be careful to not let my anemic thief and mages in the rearguard face any combat until I could better equip them. They'd be safe on this level, as long as my vanguard held up.
Putting Luke the thief in the rearguard meant he’d have no use at all in combat. Only characters in the first three ranks may attack, and thieves have no back-row abilities at all. Luke would only be there to watch, and open treasure chests afterward. I could have, instead, swapped him with Parker, so that he could at least fight while Parker cast Priest spells, but I felt Luke was too vulnerable compared to Parker.
|The Apple II version’s tiny dungeon view.|
One of the not-so-well-known secrets of Wizardry is that when entering a level, a number of designated “treasure rooms” are randomly seeded with up to nine treasure chests. Entering a treasure room that contains a treasure chest guarantees an enemy encounter with a treasure chest reward, and this is the only way to obtain treasure chests.
|Red regions are treasure rooms. Original provided by John Hubbard of tk421.net.|
I headed for such a treasure room, and had my first encounter.
|No point in Katino, skeletons never sleep!|
My party won without taking a scratch, partly thanks to Parker’s Dispell, but exhausted our mages’ spell points in doing so.
|No treasure chest here, but the gold reward was doubled!|
I returned to the castle to recharge my spells at the stables, and in the meantime, picked up a large shield for my priest, and leather armor and small shield for my thief.
The second attempt scored us some armor. At this point, I rolled a new character, a bishop, whose sole purpose would be to identify items.
|Fred the Bishop|
It took a few tries, but eventually he identified it as another breast plate, which I gave to Parker, and sold his chain mail for enough to buy my mages some robes.
I pushed my luck a bit on the next expedition and endured three treasure rooms, exhausting my spell points and putting Morty and Parker on the brink of death.
|Traps can devastate you, but this one was untrapped.|
With the accumulated gold from these fights, I bought helmets for my fighters, and then had every cheap item worth buying.
|My party after the third expedition|
After some repeated trips, Parker suddenly leveled up when I had him rest in the stables. I had the rest of the characters rest in turn, and they all leveled as well.
|Sometimes your stats go down, and this gets more common with old age.|
One annoying gameplay pattern in Wizardry is the healing cycle. Money is tight, so it’s better to heal with priests, who recharge their healing spells for free for a night at the stables. But you can only cast them in the dungeon. So, to heal your party, you go to the inn, have your priest rest, then go into the dungeon, camp, inspect your priest, cast DIOS repeatedly, then return to town, and repeat. It gets less bad as your priest learns better healing spells, but never stops being somewhat tedious.
|My party’s new stats.|
Luke got paralyzed by a misidentified stunner trap, and the Temple of Cant took most of my money to heal him.
|Healing is free, for a large fee|
At a party level of 3, I was able to explore the entire dungeon on a single expedition, collecting bronze and silver keys in the process. The monsters mostly fled, and the rewards left behind weren’t terrific, though the small piles of gold added up enough that I could buy Boltac’s only Plate Mail +1 and a Shield +1.
But the real treasure is in the lower-right quadrant of the map:
Murphy’s Ghosts are robust foes with 10d10+6 HP, -3 AC, regeneration, 40% spell resistance, and immunity to fire and cold spells, but they don’t hit very hard. Your reward for beating them? 4,450 XP per ghost divided among the party – worth more than ten kobolds. You don’t even start encountering monsters with comparable XP rewards until dungeon level 7! And this encounter is guaranteed and repeatable, making it the go-to XP grinding location for most of the game.
|It was a long fight, so I MATU’d everyone a few times|
The encounter was enough to level everyone, and with a few more I leveled everyone to 6, and descended to level 2.
|Take another step and you fall in a pit.|
Level 2 posed little problem for my party. Barring an area in the center of the map only accessible by elevator, I hit every treasure room in a single trip, and gathered the plot tokens within – namely, a bear and frog statue sealed behind doors that I unlocked with the keys from the first floor, and a golden key in a sealed-off room which required both statues to enter.
|The frog statue. Is this an allusion to something?|
I used spells in a few of the tougher looking fights, but returned with plenty of HP and SP to spare. For this effort, Luke hit level 7, and everyone else gained over half the XP required for it.
I took Fred the Bishop with a reduced-size party down to the Murphy’s Ghosts to level him up a bit, just so that he’d have a better chance of doing his one job of identifying items without accidentally equipping something with a curse. By only taking my three front-line party members plus Fred, he could get 1/4th of the XP instead of only 1/6th, and still be protected from all melee combat in the back row. A few combats raised Fred to level 5, and my frontline fighters the rest of the way to level 8.
With the money earned from level 2 and these fights, I bought Fred a Staff + 2, a Small Shield, and leather armor so he could join in on the frontline fun and get 1/3rd the XP. This got Fred a lot more beat up than I anticipated, but a single fight raised him and my two fighters another level.
Regrouping and re-equipping my main party, I descended to level 3. It was tougher. On my first trip, I used spells quite a bit, exhausting my best circle after just a few fights, but the XP reward was enough to level up my lagging mages.
One of the unusual features of this level, which I haven’t seen anyone else mention, is a fixed-location fight near the upper-right quadrant. What makes this unusual is that this location not only spawns higher level enemies than the level normally features, but there is an absolute limit to how many times they will spawn. After five encounters, it permanently reverts to a standard treasure room with standard-leveled encounters. Even starting a new game with brand new characters won’t change it back.
Another level 3 run was cut short when Parker got poisoned and I hadn’t any cure spells left, and had to hightail back to town. Parker had gained enough XP to hit level 8.
A third run got Morty killed by ninjas. I ran back to town, and just barely had enough to resurrect him. Luke, Bo, and Sam reached level 8 from the experience.
A fourth run was once again cut short when ninjas surprised my party and poisoned my entire front guard. I had exactly three casts worth of Latumofis, but Luke misidentified their treasure and sprang the poison needle trap inside (but found stuff in it). Charles was the toughest, so I used my casts to heal the other three. This didn’t help much, as a random encounter with capybaras poisoned my whole front row all over again. Regardless, I made it back with everyone alive and with HP to spare, and my fighters reached level 9.
A fifth run trashed my party. I encountered some gargoyles and spirits, who resisted my spells, and the spirits cast multiple rounds of Molito on my whole party, killing everyone but my two fighters. They ran and made it back to town, but were too broke to resurrect anybody. So I recruited Fred, had him heal my fighters, and farmed Murphy’s Ghosts for a while until I could afford to resurrect everyone. The experience took my fighters to level 10 and Fred to level 9.
A sixth run was successful at hitting each treasure room. There weren’t any particularly important locations or any plot tokens, and I got lost a few times in the repetitive layout, but it yielded enough experience to bring my fighters to level 11 and everyone else to level 9, plus a rare Mace +1 for Parker, and enough loot to buy some Copper Gloves for Morty.
Level 4, like with levels 2 and 3, can be reached by stairs or by elevator. Directly north of the elevator shaft was a stern warning.
Kicking it down sounded an alarm, and my next step set off an encounter which I won easily.
Beyond was a room with a door marked "Monster allocation center."
In any of the copies of Wizardry 1 on Asimov, the LVL 7 Fighters won’t be present in this encounter. As I mentioned, they are programmed to be fought only once, and are then deleted from the disk forever, and their unique treasure goes with them.
I had my fighters attack the priests, I had Parker cast Porfic on himself for a -4 AC bonus, Luke parried (what else could he do?), and my mages both cast the group-damaging Dalto spell on the fighters. This wiped out the fighters and hurt the priests, but the spellcasters did some good damage to my whole party. The ninja, whose strikes are capable of decapitation, missed.
Next, I had my fighters attack the weakened priests, and had my spellcasters all target the mages with their best group-damaging spells. This killed all of the spellcasters. The lone ninja hit Morty for some nonlethal damage.
On the last round, my fighters attacked the ninja, and Parker went for an instant Badi kill. The spell failed, but the fighters felled him, and I claimed the reward inside the chest.
Past this room was an antechamber filled with useless once-magical trinkets, and beyond it was Trebor’s office. He congratulated us for surviving his proving grounds, and revealed our quest.
AS THE PARTY ENTERS THE ROOM, THE
DOOR SLAMS SHUT, GLOWS BRIGHT ORANGE,
AND DISAPPEARS. A DOOR APPEARS TO THE
RIGHT. A VOICE, COMING FROM NO
APPARENT DIRECTION CAN BE HEARD. IT
SAYS: "CONGRATULATIONS, MY LOYAL AND
WORTHY SUBJECTS. TODAY YOU HAVE
SERVED ME WELL AND TRULY PROVEN
YOURSELF WORTHY OF THE QUEST YOU ARE
NOW TO UNDERTAKE.
SEVERAL YEARS AGO, AN AMULET WAS
STOLEN FROM THE TREASURY BY AN EVIL
WIZARD WHO IS PURPORTED TO BE IN THE
DUNGEON IMMEDIATELY BELOW WHERE YOU
NOW STAND. THIS AMULET HAS POWERS
WHICH WE ARE NOW IN DIRE NEED OF. IT
IS YOUR QUEST TO FIND THIS AMULET AND
RETRIEVE IT FROM THIS WIZARD.
IN RECOGNITION OF YOUR GREAT DEED
TODAY, I WILL GIVE YOU A BLUE RIBBON,
WHICH MAY BE USED TO ACCESS THE
LEVEL TRANSPORTER ON THIS FLOOR.
WITHOUT IT, THE PARTY WOULD BE UNABLE
TO ENTER THE ROOM IN WHICH IT LIES.
GO NOW, AND GOD SPEED IN YOUR
This, however, was no time to go joyriding in the elevator. I returned to the castle posthaste.
Among the treasures dropped by the LVL 7 Fighters is the notorious Deadly Ring. Long ago, the first time I ever played this game, I stupidly equipped it. It’s a cursed item that drains HP until the wearer dies, and costs more to remove than you'll ever make. However, it’s worth 250,000 gold if you sell it. I gave it (along with my other treasures) to Fred to identify. If he was successful, I’d never have to worry about money again. If not, then Fred would be cursed to die, and I’d never be able to remove it from his corpse, or ever be able to find the ring again.
Luckily, he was successful, and at his level, the odds were in his favor. The other, less notable treasures, were a latumofis potion and a Rod of Flame, which I gave to Bo more for the fire protection than for the ability to cast Mahalito.
At this point, there wasn’t that much worth buying from Boltac’s. I got a very expensive Short Sword +1 for Luke and Staves +2 for my mages – the latter almost completely pointless since I was certainly screwed if I ever got into a situation where my mages would need to fight with melee weapons, but this was an upgrade in theory.
With the express elevator at my disposal, I could take it directly down to the entrance to Werdna’s lair and take on his minions… if I wanted to get obliterated. Time enough for that later, I suppose.