Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Wizardry III: Won!

I began this last session possessing everything I needed to win, though I didn't know it yet. After transferring loose items and extra gear from my evil team to my good-aligned A-team, my party loadout looked like this:

  • Parker, level 10 fighter
    • Battle Axe +2
    • Plate Armor +1
    • Heater +1
    • Bascinet
    • Iron Gloves
    • Salamander Ring
    • Ship in Bottle
  • Bo, level 10 fighter
    • Battle Axe +2
    • Plate Armor +1
    • Heater +1
    • Sallet
    • Iron Gloves
    • Dialko Amulet
  • Sam, level 10 fighter
    • Broadsword +2
    • Plate Armor +1
    • Heater +1
    • Sallet
    • Iron Gloves
  • Morty, level 10 priest
    • Giant's Club
    • Breastplate +1
    • Heater +1
    • Iron Gloves
    • Amulet of Air
  • Charles, level 10 mage
    • Wizard's Staff
    • Displacer Robes
    • Rod of Fire
    • Crystal of Good
    • Crystal of Evil
    • Book of Life
  • Luke, level 10 mage
    • Wizard's Staff
    • Mage's Robes
    • Staff of Earth

While equipping Charles, I had the option to invoke the Crystal of Good. Invoking the Crystal of Evil had cremated poor Morty, but maybe this would be different with a correctly aligned crystal, so I gave it a try.

Doing this produced two new items - a Neutral Crystal and a Broken Item. The former had no invoke option, but I took it to floor 6, where L'kbreth allowed us through.

The door shut behind me. I was forced to explore for a little while without a breadcrumb trail to follow back home.

This turned out to not be such a predicament. By following the left wall, I soon found a door back into the starting area, where L'kbreth acknowledged my return. I faced only two encounters on the way, once against some gnomish priests with fighter backup, one against a group of samurai, neither a serious threat against my standard tactics of using katino & montino to disable the main group as the fighters kill them.


I explored and mapped the rest of the level, returning to town as necessary by using the "wrong" stairs. Apart from a big dark area in the north, there was nothing particularly interesting or tricky. Some of the corridors wind around a lot, and pass through the meridian multiple times, but as with floor 5, I managed a more or less sensible map by disregarding the wrap-around meridians on rows 0 and 19 and just mapping the rooms out until I had retraced my steps.

After I exhausted the unexplored territory, there were six holes in my map, all of them 3x3 squares. I could not MALOR in - there had not been many combats, and nobody in my party was even close to reaching level 11, let alone level 13. So I tried kicking one of these areas from the outside in the hopes of finding a super-secret door that my light spell failed to reveal. And I did - an area close to L'kbreth's entrance yielded to my feet.

Inside a secret 3x3 room

Inside the inner nacelle

I approached the statue and was prompted to search, which initiated a combat against a "Xeno" resembling a slug. My fighters made short work of it, and it left behind a chest trapped with a stunner, which I simply triggered, knowing priest magic easily cured this effect.

Another one of these areas, nearly identical in design, prompted me with a riddle before I could approach the statue.


Die? Dice? Neither was accepted, and to be fair "turn" is at best a poetic interpretation of how dice work.

"Wheel" was accepted. I'm not really satisfied with that answer - the first line works, but I can only figure that the second line works with certain kinds of wheels - Wheel of Fortune, Ferris wheels, Catherine wheels, but probably not the kind associated with locomotion.

Anyway, this statue produced a crystal sphere. Which I took back home.

The game didn't end, as is customary for a Wizardry game when you return to town with a plot token. So I had Fred identify it, revealing it to be the Orb of Mhuuzfes. Equipping it showed it was cursed, and raised Fred's AC to a staggering 30! It had an invokable power too - this lowered his piety by a point. And Boltac demanded $150,000, unaffordable even this late in the game, to uncurse it. Thankfully, Fred's role as a stay-at-home bishop wasn't really affected by this.

Without the Neutral Crystal, I was no longer welcome on floor 6, but re-retrieving the crystals of good and evil wasn't a challenge, and they could be reassembled to enable my re-entry.

After doing so, I found another secret door beyond the dark zone, and another riddle behind it.

Why is this one so much easier than the red herring riddle?

The statue beyond yielded another crystal sphere, which I took home to a hero's welcome, but not before encountering a hydra which posed only a moderate inconvenience of paralysis and yielded an incredibly generous 10,000 XP per character on its defeat, immediately followed by a Mifune and a pack of samurai who gave everyone 8,000 XP and caused no trouble at all. Why couldn't I have encountered these when I actually wanted to farm experience?


This honor also granted a ton of experience points, and everyone, including my evil party, was able to gain a level or two.

Apart from not actually learning the cause of Llylgamyn's climate disaster (let alone solving it), I still had a mystery to solve. How do you sell your soul on level 3? I had to know, so I got an online hint.

Turns out you just need a spare broadsword. I have to ask, are they serious? How does anyone encounter a monk asking for a soul in trade, and decide the answer is to bring a cheap broadsword from the local general store? Is it some sort of play on the aphorism that the sword is the soul of a samurai?

I had to test this, so I switched to my evil party, bought a broadsword, and went in, where I noticed that everyone was naked. Weird, but no problem - magic was enough to see me through against the weak encounters. That is, when they weren't running at the mere sight of my naked level 11 party!

For our "soul," we got a gold medallion, and at the murky pool, this was traded for a crystal vial, an item that granted unlimited healing. That would have been useful. Possessing this allowed me to pass by a teleporter in the southwest corner in the room and access the stairs to level 5, which I certainly didn't need at this point, so I just went past them, went through a door back to the start of the level, and down the stairs where I took the warp back to town.

The vial was identified as "holy water," which I suppose completes the set of elemental items.

GAB rating: Average. On one hand, this is the richest, most elaborate Wizardry scenario yet. Wizardry 1 kind of gave up halfway through when it came to filling out the levels with actual content, and Wizardry 2 made exploration moot by the fact that you begin with teleportation magic and you're really just searching each level for the KOD's armor while smashing everything that stands in your way. But in Wizardry 3's deadly, low-level environment, exploring every corner of every floor was usually worthwhile, or at least interesting. I loved the floor interconnectivity too - the secret shortcut to floors 4&5 near the start was a great touch (though until finding the necessary ship in bottle, the process of re-reaching and then traversing floors 2&3 was quite tedious), and the excursion to the completely optional portion of floor 2 with Po'le and his minions was a blast. The Temple of Fung was a horrible place that wasted untold hours, and I'd have been better off skipping it entirely, but that's partly on me for not recognizing the situation.

Wizardry 3's gameplay is also quite a bit deeper than anything else in 1983 as well. CRPG Addict continues to write about games of this era, and the ones I haven't played myself invariably come up very short in the gameplay department. It's a testament to the great design of the original that its third scenario still feels ahead of its time despite being barely changed at all.

However, the lack of any real gameplay evolution hurts. While it's nice that status effect spells are more effective, you hardly use anything else except against the handful of monsters that resist or that use breath attacks.

More so, the grind is just horrible, especially combined with how slow the "improved" engine is. I don't think I mentioned that I spent most of the game emulating at 200% speed, and it still felt like a slog. It's disheartening to see that you've got to win 20 or more fights to reach a next crucial level, and then when you do, even more disheartening to see that your mages failed to learn new spells, or that your fighter who always seems to be the one to kick the bucket first and need resurrection lost stats and barely gained any HP.

There's also a sense of unpolish, with strange bugs, arbitrary-seeming rewards with no relation to the difficulty of earning them or to your progress in the game, and poor balance. And a streak of cruelty throughout as well - Wizardry I for the most part didn't care if you lived or died, but Wizardry III is actively trying to trick you into a calamity, whether its that detestable party-killing trap on level 3, or its innocuous-seeming items with horrible and sometimes irreversible curses, or just burning you to a crisp for invoking its plot tokens in the wrong way, there's just a malicious design sensibility. Which, in a game intended to be a long-haul adventure with permadeath, seems unforgivable.


Ultima and Wizardry have always made for interesting comparisons, especially regarding the original trilogies, which dueled every year from 1981 to 1983. Ultima always kept reinventing itself, and this wasn't always to its benefit - the first two games are strange, and the second in particular never comes together in a satisfying or even coherent manner. Wizardry won the first two rounds, but refused to evolve or expand its player base, making it a requirement to own the original game, and this approach hurt it by 1983, when Ultima started to find its stride. This dueling aspect won't be seen again until 1988, when the series' respective fifth games come out, but by then the gaming landscape is radically different.

Once again, we are not quite done with Wizardry III. Posts on the mechanics and data tables are to follow, as always. After that, though, updates will be slower than usual next month, because "D" and I are moving! Between moving to and settling in our new house, and the inevitable chaos at work once everyone comes back from summer vacations all at once, I won't have very much time to devote to old video games.


  1. Congrats on finishing 1983! Good luck on your move.

  2. Nice!

    I don't think I've really ever seen an in depth review of Wiz III...

  3. Your comment about Wizardry II making exploration moot because you start with all the high-level magic (including MALOR) has me wondering what you would think of its port to the Nintendo Entertainment System. As there was no way to transfer characters from one game to another on that system, its version of Wizardry II was rebalanced for parties to start at level 1.

  4. Equipping it showed it was cursed, and raised Fred's AC to a staggering 30! It had an invokable power too - this lowered his piety by a point.

    Wizardry, everyone.

    I'll not lie, there's a part of me that admires this kind of brutality. They just don't make 'em like this any more.

  5. I am really looking forward to your mechanics posts!


    When you turn the wheel(s) of your vehicle, you move forward.
    When you turn the wheel(s) of your vehicle, you turn.

    1. I think I get it. The ROLL is rotation around the axle, the TURN is its horizontal orientation.

    2. ROLL is for the wheels that touch the ground. TURN is for the steering wheel.


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