I started this session by farming floors 2 and 4 for items again.
First, I took my party, thief included, down to Po'le's area on floor 2, using the chute on floor 4, to see if I could beat the fiends again with a thief in my party. I did, though the fiends got off multiple group-hitting spells leaving multiple characters half dead. I healed and went to take on Po'le again - two appeared yet again, but to my surprise, one of them ran away, and the other went down easily. The prize was a lapis amulet.
Back in town, the haul from the fiends was nothing great - a Hauberk +2 that improved nobody's AC, another bag of gems, and a cursed set of robes with an AC penalty that Fred accidentally equipped while identifying, costing me $1000 to remove. The lapis amulet, though, turned out to be an amulet of air, and allowed its user to cast a group-targeting damage spell in combat. Just the thing for my thief, if the act of testing it out hadn't broken the amulet in the process.
Further exploring floor 4, I found a room nearby Delf's chambers where his minions lived. The graphics showed that they looked like zombies, so I tried dispelling them, which worked. Between that and frequent Katinos, which somehow also worked, they didn't get a single lick in, though my thief did misidentify their treasure's trap and get the mage paralyzed.
The haul from this trip had a few good and interesting items:
- Ship in bottle. Possessing this would allow me to cross the lake in floor 1, and access an area with stairs directly to floors 4 & 5, which would save me some busywork (and perhaps be necessary for the evil party's passage later on).
- Flametongue. A fighter-only weapon capable of casting a weak damage spell (probably Halito), but why bother.
- Ivory dagger. Only usable by good characters.
- Unholy axe. Only usable by evil characters
- Another short sword +2
- Another heater +1
Up until now I hadn't really had trouble deciding what to equip on who. I took it for granted, for instance, that short swords were for thieves, daggers were for mages, and blunt instruments for priests. And I had assumed that a short sword +2 was better than a short sword +1, a broadsword +1 better than a battle axe, and a broadsword +2 better than anything. But how did Flametongue and ivory daggers fit in the hierarchy? Unlike armor, there's no immediate feedback on damage output. You just have to get a feel for whether or not the new weapon was an improvement.
But I did some empirical tests, having Parker fight moat monsters solo with each weapon.
- Flametongue did the most damage by far, inflicting an average of 16.67 damage per hit.
- Broadsword +2 was next, with 10.67 per hit, and hit marginally more often than flametongue, but not to a statistically significant degree.
- Broadsword +1 did 8.75 per hit and never missed. 100% of Parker's swings with it hit 3 times.
- Short sword +2 did 8.54 per hit and missed as much as Flametongue.
- Ivory dagger did 8.53 per hit and missed more than the short sword +2 did.
So, Flametongue went to Bo, trading in his broadsword +1, and the
ivory dagger went to a mage. The spare broadsword +1, heater +1, and
unholy axe went to my evil party's inventory to sort out later, and I
just sold the short sword +2.
I would say that this floor was quickly becoming unchallenging, except that my next trip was ended by a pack of elven mages and berserkers, who I encountered while trying to exit. I targeted the mages with everything I could - fighters, silence, and sleep, but they got off some devastating spells first, killing enough of my weakened party that I had no hope of recovery, and an encounter against giant ants finished us off as I tried to get back to the exit.
Restoring my backup, the next run had no encounters of note, but a botched trap inspection nearly did in my party. The thief misidentified a splinter trap as a teleporter, and it did massive damage to everyone, putting two of them into the single-digit HP zone.
Nevertheless, I came back with a few interesting items.
- Plate Armor + 1 - given to a fighter, obviously.
- Bascinet - Sightly better helmet than what Boltac's sells. Also given to a fighter.
- Wizard's staff - Gave this to my other wizard, replacing his regular staff. Decreases AC.
- Margaux's Flail - Cursed, and deals pathetic damage. Boltac's had to remove it.
- Bag of emeralds - Using it cost Parker a strength point. He got it back the next time he leveled up.
- Four more ships in bottle. I gave one to the evil party and tossed the rest, which sadly can't be sold even though the identification fees, normally the same as the selling price, are insane.
The next run had less after sifting through the trash.
- Bag of garnets - using it aged Fred a year.
- Dialko amulet - Casts Dialko. Running out of tier 3 priest magic hadn't exactly been an issue, but I gave it to a fighter just in case I needed to de-paralyze the priest.
- Another wizard's staff, given to the other mage.
- Displacer robes - Magewear with 3 AC. Nothing mindblowing or even useful in most circumstances, but still an upgrade over standard robes.
The experience brought everyone to level 10. It seemed time to attempt floor 6, and I took both mages with me, instead of a thief. And this attempt was cut very short.
The primeval dragon L'Kbreth lived here, and wasn't amused by my trespassing. My attacks didn't hit, and my spells fizzled. All I could do was run. She had, after all, warned me that neither good nor evil could prevail alone, but Wizardry doesn't let you have good and evil together without resorting to some tricks, and I didn't think that's what I was supposed to do.
I tried invoking the Crystal of Evil. This was an error.
It exploded and burned poor Morty to ashes. Thankfully, the stairs to floor 5 were nearby - the accessible portion of level 6 consisted entirely of five antechambers leading to L'Kbreth's lair with stairs in two of them - and level 5, being for evil parties only, kicked me back to town where I resurrected him.
When I tried to return, thinking I might farm what little of the level I could explore for experience points, invisible forces kicked me back to town. After retrieving another Crystal of Evil from Delf, I was allowed passage.
With limited walking space, all I could do was walk in circles and hope to trigger a random encounter. Eventually, a pair of Venus man-traps spawned, who I easily killed, receiving a generous (by Wizardry III standards) 2666 XP/character, but more interestingly, they left behind an untrapped treasure chest with an item marked "?". Fred's identifications services proved... alarming.
I also found a giant's club, which I gave to the priest. It turned out to be cursed, but also did such impressive amounts of damage that I not only allowed him to keep it, but also made him an honorary fighter, replacing Sam and allowing me to have a thief and two mages in the back.
With this new party layout, I returned to floor 6 and farmed random encounters for awhile, more for the hopes of good items than for the experience. Monsters fought included:
- Burglars. Weak at this stage of the game, and accompanied by dwarven fighters and men at arms, who run once the burglars start to fall.
- Berserkers. Capable of hurting my fighters, but not too badly.
- Giant Gorillas. Tough but few, and concentrated attacks tended to kill them before they could retaliate.
- Wights. Spellcasting undead, but I'd rather everyone be hit by a damaging spell than touched and drained.
I farmed a small room near the stairs to level 5 where my party was forbidden, knowing I could easily slip out and get teleported back to town if anything went wrong so long as someone survived. And sure enough, something bad did happen eventually. A surprise attack by wights left my priest paralyzed, and nobody else could unparalyze him. So I unloaded my most powerful damaging spells to kill the wights, and immediately took the stairs to town so I could pay to bring him back, heal up, and identify my items.
The only items of value were another heater+1, another short sword+2, and a "salamander ring" with no obvious purpose.
I figure that the next steps are to solve the "evil" level 5, now that I have a means of reaching it, where I expect I'll find a crystal of good that can somehow help me pass L'kbreth and access the rest of level 6. There's still a few unsolved mysteries on level 3, and maybe the clues lie ahead, but I suspect not.