Sunday, August 15, 2021

Wizardry III: Speak no evil

For the past few days, I've been exploring and farming floor 5 with my evil party. Mostly farming. Initially without a thief, it had to be joined by an extra neutral mage, hardly a bad thing. The front row had two fighters and a priest, and the rear ranks had three mages.

I divvied up the surplus gear from the good party to my evil B-team. It wasn't much, but fighter Roy got an unholy axe to replace his battle axe, a heater+1 to replace his standard heater shield, and Sandy the other fighter got a broadsword+1.

Two posts ago, my evil party had been stymied by floor 3, a suitably evil level that I was unable to find a way out of, and unable to find a way to sell my "soul" to a monk who offered or to search a murky pool. However, with the surplus ship in a bottle, collected by the good party and transferred to the evil one via neutral liaison along with the extra weapons and shields, I could simply sail across the river near the tower entrance and head directly to floor 5.

So many doors! And what's more is that Dumapic showed me to be on row 0, facing west, which meant the doors on the left headed south, wrapping around to row 19! This could have made for an extremely confusing map, but by ignoring the implicit border on row 0, I was able to put together something sensible, and navigation was so much easier than it was on floor 3.

The random encounters gave me little trouble here for the most part. My floor 4 tactics of using Katino and Montino to disable troublesome monsters while the fighters pounded the tar out of them generally worked, and when dealing with monsters that couldn't be put to sleep, group-damaging spells or casts of Bamatu to lower the party's AC worked well depending on the situation.

The exception was surprise attacks, which could be miserable. Although enemy spellcasters are generally useless ambushers, dragons can breath fire on your entire party without warning, which means a world of hurt as their breath damage runs proportionally to their HP. Surprise attacks by the undead have a good chance of getting someone level drained, which really sucks, but has one unexpected upside; more chances to level up means more chances for your stats to change, and they go up more often than they go down while your party is young.

I explored southward first. All of the doors seemed to converge to a general area of corridors with useless side-rooms, eventually leading to a rotary of one-way doors, at the center of which was a special encounter.

Angels! But these weren't nearly as scary as authentic Tanakhic ones, or even as scary as Delf and his emaciated minions. The angels mainly attacked with weak, single user-targeting spells, while the crusaders hit the party with nonstop silencing spells - potentially devastating when the main battle group has real capacity for harm, but here it was just annoying.

I focused on the angels at first, only to realize that they replenish their ranks by calling for help, so I instead beat up the crusader support while my silent spellcasters parried. Unfortunately, with no way to know when a silence effect expires, and with the angels constantly reinforcing their ranks, they simply outlasted my party as my fighters couldn't kill them fast enough to keep up, and my rear ranks wasted their magic points trying to do something, anything, to help out. End result: total party kill by attrition.

Reloading a backup save, I tried a different approach - hit the angels first with everything I've got. Forget status effect spells, just hurt them, and hope someone gets off a hard-hitting group spell before getting silenced.

It worked beautifully, though it helped that the second time, there were only three angels and only two groups of crusaders. By round two, a barrage of Dalto and Madalto spells finished off all of the angels, and the crusaders ran for their lives, leaving behind the crystal of good.

I was pretty sure this was all I needed to do here, but I kept exploring the stage, heading northward of the starting point to see the rest of it. Most of the doors north were dead-ends, but the ones in the center opened up into a branching maze. The northeast direction led me to a sternly worded warning.

Obviously, I trespassed.

Too many groups to silence, but not too many to blast with damaging spells. Unfortunately, they're tough enough to survive a Madalto or two, and they indeed did, and countered with instant death spells that worked more often than not. Total party kill again.

Checking out the northwest side after a restore, I ran down some more corridors, took a left at a fork, and found a riddle:

"Chariot" wasn't accepted. So I tried running down the most likely-seeming other major arcana until I slapped myself and realized it's "The Chariot." There's no penalty for being wrong, at least.

Beyond the riddle door was a simplistic maze and the stairs up to floor 6, but I wasn't quite done. Going back to the fork, and going north, I ran into a nasty surprise.

Light extinguished and blind, I couldn't even cast Dumapic to get my bearings. Some anti-magic effect was in place here too.

Another step forward, and Abdul's Ethereal Taxi Service showed up again.

"Still?" It was $2,500 last time.

Another two steps and I landed in a pit, though it did oddly little damage.

This area, as I walked around it, seemed to be a big, open, dark, rectangular arena, strewn with pits and taxis. The occasional random encounter mutually forbade use of magic, which was of great help against spellcasters, and no help at all against strangling vines and were tigers.

Eventually I saw light at the end of a tunnel.

Even after leaving and finding my bearings, I couldn't cast magic to heal, but I had an idea. A suitably evil idea.

The anti-magic effect follows you even after leaving the arena, and it makes the priests of Fung almost helpless as their holy magic fizzles.

But there's an important distinction between "almost" and "completely." With no magic on my side either, the fight took a long time, and even though the priests have a strong inclination to use magic, they occasionally hit too, and this happened often enough to put my party into the danger zone after just one fight, with no ability to heal their wounds afterward. And it turned out, this encounter in the temple was the first of many. More awaited deeper into the cloister.

Despite the difficulty, this seemed to be one of the better options available for experience farming my evil party, with a full encounter yielding over 1,000 XP per character. Bear in mind that reaching level 9 takes in the order of 20,000 XP, that I had to go back to town every fight or two, and that runs were occasionally ruined by random encounters. A full party of dragons, whose breath isn't stopped by anti-magic, can damn near cause a total party kill if you can't zap them with group-targeting magic of your own first. Getting poisoned also forces a retreat, if the poison doesn't kill you before reaching the stairs. Stocking up on potions of Latumofis wasn't even helpful, as the anti-magic effect even prevents items from working! Thankfully, after finding this out, I was close enough to the dark arena that I could simply take Abdul's back to town.

I did flip my thief back to evil - itself a tedious process of touring floor 1 with neutral mages and fighting all of the randomly friendly guards, which took hours. The priests of Fung always drop chests, and I figured if my back row couldn't be useful in a fight, then I might as well put the thief to use.

Some of the gear I found during these runs included:

  • Another Giant's Club, which went to waste when my Bishop accidentally touched it and triggered the curse. Neither able to use it nor able to give it away, I had to pay Boltac's a hefty $10000 fee to remove it.
  • A Battle Axe +2, which I determined to be a bit better than the unholy axe.
  • A Mace +2, given to the evil priest replacing his Mace +1.
  • A Serpent's Tooth, which lowers AC by a point and isn't usable by fighters, given to the priest to supplement his breast plate +1.
  • A Thief's Pick, which only my thief could use, appeared to do nothing when equipped, and broke when invoked.
  • A Shepherd Crook, usable only by the bishop.
  • Ruby Slippers. They did nothing obvious when equipped, and broke when I used them. I thought they might cast Malor, though Loktofeit would have been more thematically appropriate (and a very nasty surprise given that using it costs you all of your gear).
  • Gem of Exorcism. Cursed armor with no obvious effect or use.
  • Armet. A helmet with AC 3.
  • Book of Life. Presumably casts DI, but I did not get a chance to test this.
  • The Blade Cuisinart! The best weapon available to fighters, it's even better in Wizardry III, hitting up to five times, and Roy does on average 14 damage per hit.
It chops nuts, blends dips, and fillets fanatics with consistent results!

After multiple days of running the Temple of Fung, my fighters reached level 10, and with the extra attack they gained (not to mention the Blade Cuisinart), they were each able to consistently kill a priest with every round of combat. I finally made it through the gauntlet, which consisted of three fixed encounters.

In the back of the temple was a familiar face.


I paid, and for my otherwise useless cash received a Rod of Fire, to complement my Staff of Earth and Amulet of Air. Hilariously, after checking my inventory, I immediately received another one. The rod, like the amulet, does group damaging magic - I assume the complementary spells of Lahalito and Dalto.

On the way out, I ran into two more groups of priests, who my fighters wasted. By cycling the rest of my party members through the third slot, I made it through without letting any of them die.

I now possess three elemental objects and two crystals of good and evil. I'm guessing that there's a water-themed object on floor 3, but I have no idea how to get it. My plan for the next session is to first see if having crystals of both good and evil helps me on the top floor, and if not, to try to solve floor 3 again. If that fails, then I'll just have to read some hints online.

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