Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Wizardry III: Breaking bad

As the clue at the end of my last session hinted at, Wizardry III's solution requires cooperation of good and evil parties. One method, which I had used in past playthroughs, is to deliberately switch your party's alignment back and forth as necessary by antagonizing friendly monsters to turn evil, or leaving them alone to turn back good. Clearly this was intended this as a viable alternative to hot-swapping between two parties; in Wizardry I you were very unlikely to ever turn evil this way, and turning good wasn't even possible. Switching your alignment is pretty tedious, but the standard approach of maintaining two separate parties who must be leveled and equipped independently seems more tedious still.

However, this replay of the Wizardry trilogy has been all about trying things I've never done before. Until Data Driven Gamer, I'd never played the original Apple II versions, I'd never tried multiclassing, and I've never tried playing with a bona fide evil party. So I decided to do it. Maybe, for once, I'll even get to be a ninja.

You still need Wizardry I to create your characters, so I loaded it, and used my knowledge of the training grounds to maximize my attribute points, making everyone a gnome and re-rolling each character until it showed 17-19 bonus points. Being evil means gaming the system when you can.

  • Roy, evil fighter
  • Sandy, evil fighter
  • Llewellyn, evil priest
  • Vince, evil thief
  • Iago, evil mage
  • Frank, neutral mage
  • Brennan, evil bishop

Thankfully, you don't have to beat either prior scenario to import your characters into Wizardry III, so I simply transferred these characters, initiated the rites of passage, and took their descendants into the mountain lair after some basic equipment shopping at Boltac's. Lacking the prestigious estates of my main party's good-aligned descendants, they didn't have as much cash, and had to make do with simpler starting gear.


Without a third fighter, and with lower quality starting gear, the going was much more difficult this time around. Almost immediately, I suffered a total party kill at the hands of eight or nine dusters, and had to enlist my good party to recover the corpses and to farm $1,500 to raise them. The smart thing to do would have been to use Luke, the neutral mage of my good party, to power-level the evil guys for a few levels, but I'm stubborn.

I won't bore you with exhaustive details on what happened beyond that incident. My level one evil training more or less paralleled my previous post, but with less mapping, a bit more player death and temple resurrection, much more looting, and relatively few looting mishaps. Chests only ever appeared in the fortress, and only by Garian Guards in fixed locations, which is a big change from the original Wizardry mechanics where monster lairs got randomly seeded with chests throughout the level.

I didn't feel comfortable advancing to the next dungeon level until everyone was at level 6, which felt like it took ages of monotonously traversing the fortress again and again in search of treasure and experience. This may have been in part because I'd already gone through the grind in the first game and the process was all too familiar, but the slowly responding combat engine exacerbated the tedium, the XP rewards are stingy, and there are no Murphy's Ghosts to power-level at this early phase. And every time HP runs low, there was the tedious ritual of healing everyone with my pitiful priestly healing spells, of which I could cast a whole five without needing to rest the priest in the stables.

More like Dios mío, is this getting old.

The sole interesting treasure dropped during these runs was a magic dagger, and as it was prohibitively expensive to have Boltac identify it, I took the opportunity to train my evil bishop on moat monsters until he could do it for free. It turned out to be a dagger+1, not particularly useful to anyone, but rather than sell it for $5,000 I gave it to one of the mages as a prestige upgrade to his staff.

After this, I fought my way back to the center of the fortress and climbed the first set of stairs, only to be denied entry and kicked back to town, where the bishop identified a Mace +1, a suitable weapon upgrade for the priest. Repeating the fight to the fortress, I took the other stairs to what Dumapic revealed to be level 3.

But you are not me, so I must push forward!

Level 3 is a hateful, appropriately evil labyrinth; a grid of concentric squares of invisible one-way walls that force you to move outward until you reach a maze in the outer ring. A handful of teleporters scattered throughout the level take you back to the innermost ring, but do this without any indication, making it hard to know when this happened, especially when you stumble into one while traversing the inner rings. One is positioned in a manner that can be reached by walking in a straight line from its destination, putting you into an infinite portal loop until you figure out what's going on.

Most cruelly of all, reaching the furthermost corner of the level gives you a sly warning, and if you take a step forward, then bam - you immediately step into solid rock somehow, and your whole party and everything they collected is irrevocably lost. I kept my rule allowing a save backup in the castle after a half hour of play, but this still felt like an amazingly spiteful trick even if Wizardry didn't have permadeath, and the ingame self-awareness didn't make me feel any better about it. On real hardware you could instantly lose a veteran party of two games, unless you had lighting reflexes and pulled the disk out of the drive before it could start writing.

Don't. Seriously.

Monsters I fought here included:

  • Friars. They mostly just ran away.
  • Leprechauns. Physically weak spellcasters.
  • Men at Arms. Melee fighters vulnerable to sleep and cowardice.
  • Witches. Spellcasters that I blew away with mahalitos before they could cause too much trouble.
  • Bengal tigers. Sleep-vulnerable animals that tend to attack in packs.
  • Mummies. Undead and therefore can be dispelled.
  • Centaurs. Fairly strong melee fighters.
  • Pixies. Powerful spellcasters with moderate HP.
  • Looters. Weak melee fighters.
An alcove floating in a void of invisible walls leads to a maze circumferencing the level.

Same alcove viewed closer and facing right

After stepping through the door

Some other things I found in this level were:

  • In one of the inner rings, found only by exhaustively searching every tile, a monk offered to buy my soul. I couldn't find a way to sell him one, but he possessed treasure that I couldn't take "without payment."
  • In the outer ring maze, an apparition above a murky pool demanded payment to search within.
  • Abdul's Ethereal Taxi Service, which charged $2,500 that I didn't have for a one-way trip.
  • A suspicious teleporter in the lower-left corner of the level which brought me back to the start of the level, but showed a loading screen first, which normal teleporters don't do.

I found no treasure in this level apart from loose gold drops, and couldn't figure out what to do with the monk or apparition, but eventually scraped together enough money to pay Abdul, whose taxi service was just a teleporter back to town. The experience brought me to level 7, unlocking some group-hitting damage spells and a single cast of the slightly better healing spell Dial, and the treasure haul from fighting the high corsair on the way included another Dagger +1.


  1. Wow, that is a mean trick -- I think most players would expect maybe a difficult encounter, and possibly some good rewards for it, not just an instant party wipe.

    1. Wizardry III is infamous for being a game meant for 'expert' players. Heck, if you think this is bad, wait until Wizardry IV.

  2. That’s just mean, and one of the reason I don’t like early RPG.

    Why gnomes and why a neutral page in your evil party ? Item swapping ?

    1. I 99% expected something bad, but I had to do it just to find out. If I were being super strict about permadeath then I might have rolled a disposable party to find out. Still would have been a pain to get them leveled high enough to even reach this floor.

      The gnomes and neutral mage are for future multiclassing. Gnomes have okay stats across the board, which helps with that. As for alignment, some diversity means more options for class changes. It gives Frank the option of being a samurai later down the road, but he'll never have a career as a priest or ninja.


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