Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Phantasie: The Dwarven Dungeon


Following my initial disaster, I rolled two new characters to replace the fallen - Dennis the sprite thief (22 dexterity!) and Greg the halfling monk (19 dex, slightly above average stats the rest of the way).

No new spells were available, but the shop had another leather armor and small axe, which I bought for Lambert.

I realized, by accident, that unlike Wizardry, Phantasie does not automatically save your game when bad things happen. Game state is saved only when you command it to be (and whenever a character is generated or deleted). An unacceptable outcome can be undone with a reboot - your party will be back in town, alive or in whatever state they were when you last saved, ready to be assembled.

I explored the initial overworld sector more aggressively, this time fighting anything that came my way. If someone dies, they die, and I replace them. If I suffer a total party kill, oh well - better luck next time.
  • A group of ten or so "drip slimes" throttled Robert a bit, but he lived long enough to heal at the inn. The fight yielded 173XP for everyone; about 1/2 of the XP needed to level up a thief, or about 1/6th of the XP needed to level up a ranger.
  • Twelve nearsighted orcs made for a prolonged combat in which I slowly whittled away their ranks as they mostly whiffed their attacks. This only earned me 135XP, and a bit of gold.
  • Five bees and ants went down easy, and Dennis got his very first level-up for $73 in town.
  • Six coyotes died easily.
  • An amorphous "skum" creature looked scary, but went down in two rounds. Afterward, Kruncha had enough points to level up, but for a pricey $337.
  • Five bantirs attacked at night, to little avail.
  • Black knights actually showed up once, and I made an exception to my rules of engagement and ran.
  • A group of nine kobolds and two orcs yielded some good XP, enough to level up Robert and earn him a new spell - I picked Confusion 1. They even dropped some nice scale mail.
  • Minmax leveled next, for a cheap cost of $24, and got to learn Strength 1 and Charm. Dennis leveled up again, this time for $337.
  • Lambert and Greg leveled up next and learned protection 1 and ninja 1, respectively.
  • A viper took about two rounds of poking with sharp sticks before it died and gave about 100XP and some gold.
  • Kruncha earned enough XP for level 3, but this would cost $1,550 - more than I'd got at this point.


I figured it was time to try my luck at the Dwarven Dungeon.


The encounters are mostly the same as the overworld - a lot of orcs, some bugs, and occasionally a viper or two. Nothing my party can't handle individually, but the encounters are pretty frequent, and when you're deep in the dungeon, you've got to consider your prospects of fighting your way back to the entrance before going any deeper. It takes me several runs to explore every inch of the dungeon, but each return makes me stronger for it.

Partial map after my first go

Some combat notes:

  • Four melee options exist; thrust, attack, slash, and lunge. Not all of these are available to all characters, but fighters and fighter-adjacent classes gain access to the more challenging attacks sooner.
    • Thrust strikes once with a bonus to damage and accuracy. All characters can do this.
    • Attack strikes twice with no bonus to damage or accuracy. Most characters learn this relatively quickly, but my wizard lacks it.
    • Slash strikes three times at a penalty to damage and accuracy. At my level, only Kruncha the fighter has access to this, and only when Quickness is cast first.
    • Lunge strikes once with a penalty to damage and accuracy, but strikes an enemy in the second rank instead of the first. It is more difficult than attacking, less difficult than slashing, and of no use to thieves who can attack any rank they choose.
    • Parry is a fifth option, but I have not used it yet - my wizard alone can't attack worth a damn, and being too weak to use a shield, can't parry worth a damn either.
  • Spells are cast from a character's MP pool. The most useful spells so far have been Quickness, and Ninja 1, which grants its castor a very random but occasionally devastating critical hit ability.
  • Enemies fight in up to three ranks, but your party fights as a single rank. You can't protect your squishy wizard from harm as you can in Wizardry - you've just got to hope he doesn't get hit too much. Damaging spells generally target the rearmost rank.

A clue found in the west chamber. Having an orc in your party makes no difference.

A trapped corridor activates

I fell for the old creeping coins trick

This seems important

About 25% done

Toward the south end of the dungeon, a winding tunnel, carved out from a flowing stream of water, cuts through the straight corridors. The murky water washes your party in a southeast direction.

East of the central corridor, I find a trilogy of scrolls stored in a library. West of it, a locked door, easily picked, leads to a boss fight of sorts.

The rangers are annoying elite enemies who hit your party with a barrage of debuff and damaging spells, undoing useful buffs like Quickness and Protection. The fight drags on, as I'm reduced to slowly and inaccurately hitting them for pitiful damage, but their own strikes do little damage to me in exchange - only their direct damage spells cause significant hurt, and they are uncommon.

Beyond the locked door is the kitchen, and a group of scribes guard a door in the rear.

Unlike the rangers, they are wimps.


But I find nothing in the storeroom behind them but some rotten food.

Exploring southward, I find a long stone passageway, with a lever at the end.


This closes the valve, and I can explore the water tunnel without getting washed up.


This gets me access to the armory, where I find some gear, another scroll, and a cryptic message.

I get what it says, but not what it means.

The dungeon may have been encounter-heavy, but this is one of the more mechanically complex dungeons I've seen this side of Wizardry. Buttons unlock doors elsewhere in the dungeon, there are special encounters and events, a lever closes a a water sluice, one room has a door that crashes behind you as you enter which forces you to poke around to search for the secret exit, and the rooms even have descriptions here and there, like in Temple of Apshai but without needing to read paragraphs in the manual. It's cool stuff.

Concluding this adventure, everyone is significantly more powerful than they were beginning it.

  • Kruncha the fighter reached level 3 and is armed with a flail, scale mail, and a medium shield. He's even learned a spell - Monster Evaluation - not the sexiest spell in the book, but casting it in a new area provides an average level of the monsters that will spawn in it.
  • Lambert the ranger also reached level 3 and is similarly armed, except with ring mail, one step down. Spells include healing, protection, and dispel undead.
  • Robert the priest is level 4, has a short sword, heavy leather, and a medium shield, and can cast double healing, confusion, binding, sleep, and awaken spells.
  • Greg the monk is level 3, has a staff, heavy leather, and a small shield +2, and can cast fireflash, a damage spell, and Ninja.
  • Dennis the thief is level 3 and has the same arms as Greg, and has no spells.
  • Minmax the wizard is level 4, wields a hammer, wears "clothing" and no shield, and can cast lots of spells - triple fireflash, double quickness, double strength, and charm.
  • We all have air runes, and the mystic evaluates the overall party power level as '7'

The scrolls found in the library are a chronicle on the history of Gelnor:


And the other scroll gives me a geography clue:

Time to boldly ride further south. The manual says there are 16 overworld areas, and I've seen one of them.

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