Monday, June 15, 2020

Game 197: Wizardry II: The Knight of Diamonds

Read the manual here:

It's been almost 10 months and more than 100 games since I finished Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord, which is still responsible for three of my five most widely-read posts on Data Driven Gamer. During this time, Charles, Morty, Parker, Luke, Bo, and Sam, my team of power class hybrids, have been languishing on a backed-up DSK image file.

The manual for Wiz2 is very sparse, with no gameplay instructions and just one page of backstory; a trite tale of a royal coup ending in a big explosion that leaves a hole in the ground where the castle used to be and the Staff of Gnilda, which protects the city, nowhere to be seen. Even from this little I have questions that I doubt will be answered. If the staff protects the city from anyone not born there, then how did the "forces of darkness" aid the evil Davalpus? How did the prince and princess survive the coup? Were they out playing poker in some Llylgamyn slum that day? How did prince Alavik "engage" Davalpus? Presumably the castle was guarded. And why wield the Staff of Gnilda, given that its power doesn't affect people born in the city, which is why Davalpus was able to go through with his evil plan in the first place?

Diving back in took a bit of prep work. With Wiz1, the disk images available at the time were all modified from the original release, and I had hacked them to restore the game state to its approximate launch conditions. Today, all Apple II Wizardry games are available in WOZ format, which better represent the pristine, out-of-the-box states.

These WOZ files are write-protected, though, as the original game disks were, so we can't actually PLAY using them. Instead, we have to create scenario disks, as one did in 1982. Wizardry II has a backup utility on the boot disk, but I couldn't get it to work properly in AppleWin.

MAME, thankfully, works just fine. Use AppleWin to create a blank DSK, and run MAME to boot the game and launch the utility to make a scenario disk from the blank DSK.

There's more work to do. Knight of Diamonds doesn't support character creation or come with any premade ones, and requires that you transfer characters from the Wiz1 scenario disk to the Wiz2 scenario disk. So I did that, which is a somewhat tedious process that requires frequent disk-swapping. No idea why the process doesn't support multiple disk drives - the scenario disk tool requires it, and you can't even start playing without using it!

My characters all transferred, I started the game, and found everyone chilling in Gilgie's Tavern.

Also Fred, my Bishop sideliner.

In Wiz1, I did a bit of powergaming after beating Werdna, and had all of my characters switch classes so that they would gain the benefits of the new ones while keeping some of the old. You don't lose HP or learned spells when switching classes, although you typically do lose a lot of stat points and spell points. Therefore, the best classes to switch from are fighters, who have the most HP, and mages/priests, who learn their respective spells the fastest.

My party consisted of:
  • Parker, level 9 fighter, formerly a priest and knows all priest spells.
  • Bo, level 9 fighter, formerly a mage and knows all mage spells.
  • Sam, level 9 fighter, formerly a mage and knows all mage spells.
  • Charles, level 9 mage, formerly a fighter and has high HP.
  • Morty, level 9 mage, formerly a fighter and has high HP.
  • Luke, level 9 mage, formerly a thief and has better HP than mages typically do.

This approach gives me some interesting advantages over a more conventional party. For one, everyone is a spellcaster, and nobody is squishy. I have three fighters in the front row, most parties use two fighters plus a priest, and all of them can cast spells should the situation call for it.

The biggest downside I can see is the lack of a dedicated priest. Parker knows all of the spells, but hasn't got as many spell points as a fulltime priest would, so I would have to be frugal, and heal cycles would be tedious. I also lack a thief, so my best approach for treasure hunting is to cast Calfo to detect trap types, and then decide if I can afford to eat it or not. Stats are nothing special, and of course I don't have elite abilities or access to elite weapons. And I'd need to be extra careful not to let my rearguard players get drained, or they'd lose massive amounts of HP that wouldn't be coming back.

Boltac's had restocked, and I still had plenty of gold from that Deadly Ring, but there was nothing new to buy. I simply bought copper gloves for my fighters and a helm for Bo, who lacked one for some reason that likely had to do with multiclassing, and then went into the dungeon to explore level 1.

My first venture took me through a corridor of doors, with a nasty pit trap right in the middle that only Luke fell into, but he took 50 damage. This would be enough to outright kill a level 13 mage who hadn't been extraordinarily lucky with his HP rolls or had very high vitality - thankfully Luke had been a thief in a past life and had higher HP to show for it.

The first several fights were no problem - I just cast Tiltowait once, and that was usually enough to kill everyone, at worst leaving survivors my fighters could pick off, though sometimes my enemies would land a few hits here and there, and Parker had to perform his healing duties. One time a group of mages surprised me, but cast no spells and just flailed uselessly at my fighters during their first round, and soon after I surprised a monster party and was unable to cast initiative spells myself. This is the rule of Wizardry that I'd been familiar with, although it was absent in the original first game.

The central part of the map was a confusing, radially symmetrical hall, difficult to leave as most of the doors lead to invisible teleporters that take you right back in. In the center, an apparition of Gnilda told me of my quest:




Eventually I got hit by a gas bomb trap in a treasure chest, and not having enough magic to cure it, teleported out. The trip, sadly, did not produce any useful loot.

My second attempt got cut short by a group of "carriers" who paralyzed half my party, including Parker who was the only one capable of curing paralysis, accompanied by Fuzzballs who resisted all of my spells and repopulated their ranks faster than I could cut them down with melee attacks. Eventually I killed them all, and returned to town where Sam leveled up.

A third attempt had no great incident, I simply left as my spells, which I had still been casting very freely, ran dry. Everyone else leveled up, and my identified loot included a Long Sword +1.

A fourth run was cut very short as a priest instantly killed Bo with a spell. Math suggested this shouldn't be possible - Badi kills instantly with 10% chance per level to resist, and at level 10 this should mean 100% chance to resist, but Wiz2's spells don't necessarily follow the same rules as before. A cast of Makanito soon confirmed this, as it killed all monsters in all groups, not just one. They dropped a stone worth 30,000 gold which I had Fred identify as a Blarney Stone, which I had Parker rub and increase his luck by one point, destroying it.

A few runs later, after everyone reached level 11, I located a passageway in the central map leading to a darkened lower-right quadrant, where I had to Malor through an infinite hallway, and there I reached the magic armor!

At this point I was nearly depleted of high-end magic. I tried using Mabadi - in Wiz1 this sets any enemy's HP to 1d8 without fail, but here it had no effect. I used what spells I had left over to boost my AC and lower its, and then, very very slowly, hacked it to pieces with my fighters while my mages hid. In turn, it didn't do anything too nasty, just hit one of my fighters each turn, for not much damage relative to their health. I estimate it took about 15 turns of doing 12-29 damage before it fell.

We collected the Magic Armor and revealed the path to the next level, but I didn't dare venture into unknown territory without a refreshed party first, so I went back to town to rest and identify. No one leveled, and apart from the Magic Armor itself the loot was unremarkable, but the armor itself was the stuff of Monty Haul, offering 14 AC and regenerative power. In comparison, the super rare Lord's Garb offers 10 AC, and Plate Mail +2 only offers 7!

This fight, incidentally, can be repeated, but only by discarding the Magic Armor, and passing it off to an inactive character won't cut it. Consequently, it means that although Wiz1 was designed to be played by multiple players, each with their own set of characters, Wiz2 really won't work that way. If I were playing on a real Apple II with a real disk, and a friend of mine imported his Wiz1 party into my Wiz2 disk to continue his adventures, he would find that the Magic Armor would never spawn, and he would be unable to finish the game. And if he managed to find, say the Magic Gauntlets before me, then neither of us would be able to finish the game. I shudder to think of what would happen if someone teleported into solid rock while possessing a piece of the armor - would it be lost forever, and nobody ever able to find it? Or would the item now count as "dropped" and be able to spawn as a level boss once again?

I Malored to the stairs to explore and map out level 2. The initial encounters were no real trouble, and soon I reached a crossroads.

Each door led to a teleporter to a different part of the map. I took the right one first, which took me through a series of rooms with easy encounters, except for one where I got ambushed by three swarms of no-see-ums, whose party-hitting breath attacks aren't subject to the "no ambush" rule.

18 of these hitting everyone hurts and feels unfair.

Following this series to the end, I walked through a long corridor and was given a riddle.

SHIELD, obviously.

Unlike the Magic Armor, the Shield hit pretty hard, and shrugged off my magic spells too, even proving immune to a Tiltowait. I focused on defeating its AC with MORLIS spells and wailed on it, but my attacks just weren't getting through, and it killed two of my party members in just a few hits. It was clear I wouldn't win, so I MALOR'D out, and then used my only Diadem of Malor to teleport to the dungeon entrance and leave and lick my wounds.


  1. It still amazes me that this game required character transfer from Wiz 1 and if your party dies, you have to go back to Wiz 1 and make new characters there.

    1. An experiment not repeated that I know of...

      Wizardy has always been one of the tougher CRPGs out there.

  2. I have always meant to play this, but I am too easily distracted to get through the Proving Grounds.
    I am glad you are covering this game!

  3. Hi, I'm trying to recreate the procedure you used to generate a clean scenario disk from the .woz files, but I'm having a difficult time. I set up MAME just for this (I've previously only used AppleWin), and it's so complicated that I can't tell if I missed a crucial step somewhere.

    Here are the steps I've taken:

    1. Download and set-up the most recent version of MAME (0.233), including the necessary rom files for the apple II and apple II+.

    1. Download the boot and scenario .woz files from the internet archive, and set the boot disk to read-only in the Windows file system.

    2. Launch the MAME Apple II emulator using the command line "mame apple2p"

    3. Hit scroll-lock to to enable UI controls, then tab to bring up the menu.

    4. Select File Manager, floppydisk1, mount the boot disk .woz file (read-only), and reset the emulator to boot the disk.

    5. Navigate the in-game menu to the Utilities screen and press M for "M)ake recovery disk". Press return to begin.

    6. Open Apple-Win and create a new blank .dsk file to be the scenario backup disk.

    7. Back in MAME, go back to the file manager, put the new scenario backup disk in floppydisk1 (read-write) and the scenario .woz file in floppydisk2 (read-write). Press enter.

    This is where things go wrong. I get the "Making Scenario - Do Not Disturb" message for a few seconds, then the screen says "Error Making Scenario - Disk Error - Press [Ret]"

    I've also tried making the scenario .woz file also read-only, but that didn't change anything.

    I have no idea how to debug this from here. Is there anybody who has successfully pulled this off? Can anybody tell what I'm doing wrong, or write out the correct steps in greater detail?


    1. This isn't working for me in MAME any more either. But now it does work for me in AppleWin. Go figure. No need to make the WOZ files readonly either.

    2. Hey, that worked. Thanks!



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