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Completed Let's play Wizardry 4!

Discussion in 'Codex Playground' started by Crooked Bee, Mar 24, 2012.

  1. Whisper Arcane Vatnik

    Whisper
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    DHoU story was excelent, i basicly did play because of it.
    But then another set of puzzles with few levels left (you are native speaker of english?) - and i read end of your LP to know how it was finished (maybe best ending of all CRPG games i saw).

    Anyway, looking forward to your Wizardry 4 LP. Very good start at the beginning, i like how you describe available monsters for summoning and spells.


    Also question - you did play Arcatera: the dark brotherhood?
    Knowing you love hard games, probably this one of hardest too (less puzzles, but NPC live their own life, literaly - this means every walkthrough their locations and way they spend day can be different same as can be different game evenits, including main quest)


    p.s. What crpg game storyline you enjoyed most?
     
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  2. Monstrous Bat Arbiter

    Monstrous Bat
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    So, um... Are you skipping Wizardry 2 and 3, then?
     
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  3. Crooked Bee wide-wandering bee Patron

    Crooked Bee
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    No, I'll do them after I'm done with 4.

    Nope.

    No, but thanks for mentioning it. I'll give it a try someday.

    Ugh, it's a tough one; can't really say. Uukrul is close to perfect in my book, though.
     
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  4. Whisper Arcane Vatnik

    Whisper
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    Did you play Anvil of Dawn?

    For me, this and DHoU is best storylines.
     
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  5. Crooked Bee wide-wandering bee Patron

    Crooked Bee
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    Codex 2013 Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire MCA Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Anvil of Dawn was one of my first RPGs, I believe. Haven't replayed it since back then, though, and don't remember the storyline. :P
     
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  6. hoverdog dog that is hovering, Wastelands Interactive Developer

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    I am ThreeDawg and this my most hovering LP on the Codex.
     
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  7. Crooked Bee wide-wandering bee Patron

    Crooked Bee
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    2: The Pyramid of Entrapment

    In the last update, I didn't elaborate on the 1st tier Priest spells that our party can cast now that Werdna has 1st Lvl Priests at his side.

    Of those, Kalki, or Blessings, is an in-combat spell that lowers the entire party's AC by 1 for the duration of the fight. Dios, also known as Heal, is the base healing spell that can be cast in both camp and combat modes and restores 1d8 hit points to a single character. Badios, or Harm, on the other hand, is the reverse of Dios dealing 1d8 points of damage to a foe. Next there is Milwa, the Light spell we used to reveal a way out of the starting room. It also increases visibility range (useful when you want to orient yourself by the walls), but only lasts for a short time and can be extinguished by darkness tiles -- of which there aren't any on the starting floor, thankfully. Finally, Porfic, or Shield, lowers the caster's AC by 4 for as long as the encounter lasts.

    [​IMG]

    Outside the jail cell, Werdna contemplates his next course of action. Baby steps!

    The first choice we're given is to decide where we should go now, left or right. In that, however, the game is just teasing the player, as it is wont to do. Due to the way this floor is laid out, the choice doesn't matter in the least. It isn't by chance that this level is called "The Pyramid of Entrapment".

    [​IMG]

    And by that, I mean the floor is made up of concentric squares, each meant to represent a pyramid layer. It's very abstract, sure, since the terrain is flat without any height differences, and the layers make it look like a ziggurat of entrapment rather than a pyramid. Being symmetrical in this way, B10F is relatively forgiving, to the extent anything in Wizardry IV can be. No matter the direction you take, if you stick to the outer wall you're bound to come across a door leading to the next layer sooner or later. To an extent, especially as far as some of the outer layers are concerned, the path you take does make some difference, in that one of them may be shorter than the other. And the longer it takes for you to find the exit, the more the level's encounters wear you out.

    All the doors between the layers are secret doors, by the way, just like the one in the first room, so you can only see them with Milwa on.

    As you may remember, in Wizardry I dungeon floors significantly differed in importance, to the extent that you didn't even have to visit half of them in order to beat the game, and you wouldn't miss out on any interesting or eventful content either. (I'd say B3F and B7F were perhaps the only ones among the optional floors that had interesting design, at least.) Not so in Wizardry IV. Here, every floor matters and it isn't possible to skip even one of them. Which is also tied in with the game's character progression: another floor means another level for Werdna.

    Thankfully, what Wizardry IV lacks in non-linearity, it makes up for in variety. Every dungeon section has a unique twist or gimmick to its design, such as the "pyramid" structure here, and you can say a lot of work went into them. Whether it was a work of love or hate, you decide.

    [​IMG]

    A turn to the right, and a random encounter pops up. In Wizardry IV, encounters happen often, very often. Thankfully, each floor has a fixed list of adventurers that you can encounter on it, and once you've exhausted the list by slaying everyone (without reloading, since that respawns all the guardians), you're free to explore the floor without those pesky adventurers bothering you. On the other hand, the list is usually long, and the longer you explore a floor, the closer Trebor's ghost gets to you, so it's a Scylla and Charybdis thing, really.

    Luckily, this time it's just a solo do-gooder Priest, and solo adventurers aren't generally much of a problem at this stage unless the dice gods decide to screw you over completely. It is worth noting that, normally, weak adventurers would populate the dungeon floors that are closer to the surface, while only the stronger ones would be able to get as far down as the 10th floor; that wouldn't, however, make much sense from the standpoint of character progression, so Wizardry IV had to sacrifice that kind of, dare I say, realism.

    Apart from unique set encounters that have their own graphics, there are three character portraits for each class in the game, and I'm pretty sure we'll get to see all of them in this playthrough. Note also that the turn doesn't end when one of the sides is slain - it continues until everyone alive takes their action.

    [​IMG]

    Just like the do-gooder list for a given floor is fixed, so loot drops aren't random either. You can expect the same items to be dropped by the same adventurers. That certainly makes it easier to keep and organize notes when you know that a certain party on a certain floor necessarily carries a certain item that you need.

    Loot in Wizardry IV greatly varies in usefulness. Being a Mage, Werdna can't even equip most of the items dropped by adventurers. Apart from regular items he can equip (such as staves, robes, etc.), what you're really looking for are unique items, some of which are plot- and puzzle-related while others have useful abilities or bonuses to offer. There are also consumables such as potions and scrolls; in the above screenshot, the potion is a potion of Porfic. Another, even more useful potion we can find on this floor is a potion of Dios.

    One convenient thing about Wizardry IV is that Werdna identifies all items automatically, in contrast to Wizardry I where you needed a Bishop or a trip to Boltac's Trading Post for that. It doesn't help, however, that before you pick it up all loot is unidentified when you rummage through it; for example, at one point we'll need to acquire a Blade Cusinart', but it is always listed simply as a "Sword" among the loot, which makes it a pain to pick out.

    [​IMG]

    To keep track of Trebor's progress as he tries to catch you, you should pay attention to the ghost's utterings. There are several things he can say depending on how close he is to you, and they come in a fixed sequence:

    • W...E...R...D...N...A...
    • WHERE...ARE...YOU...???
    • I...COME...FOR...YOU...
    • MY...REVENGE...IS...AT...HAND...
    • I...ALMOST...HAVE...YOU...

    And finally,

    [​IMG]

    Which you must avoid at all costs...

    [​IMG]

    ...because it instantly leads to a game over.

    [​IMG]

    Back to our tomb for us. :(

    Which is the standard death screen you get no matter the cause of your (always untimely) demise. And no matter what you do or how good (or should I say evil?) you are, this is the single most common thing you're going to see, over and over again, as you play the game.

    [​IMG]

    At (9,5) on B10F, our first fixed encounter awaits.

    [​IMG]

    The Guardian of the Inner Way, or simply The Inner Guardian, tries to put an end to Werdna's world domination ambitions.

    [​IMG]

    He is alone, but relatively strong. Not too strong, though. From what I've gathered, his regular attack hits for no more than 1d8.

    Against our current party, with the help of the Priests' Badios as well as Werdna's and the Gas Clouds' Halito, he doesn't even last a single round.

    [​IMG]

    The Guardian of the Middle Way, located at (3,9), comes next. But he won't stop us!

    [​IMG]

    At 30 HP and 5 AC, The Middle Guardian isn't significantly tougher than the Inner one, but still strong enough to last two rounds and even kill an Orc and a Gas Cloud before going down.

    [​IMG]

    Rendor's Roughnecks is one of the two full-fledged, six-character adventurer parties roaming this floor. Together with static guardians, do-gooder parties are basically a given floor's boss encounters, meant to test you and wear you out as much as possible.

    [​IMG]

    In contrast to solo do-gooders, each enemy party you encounter has a unique motto associated with it. It can be more or less silly or meaningful; in this case, it's a simple "Charge!!!"

    As I already mentioned in the OP, many of Wizardry IV's do-gooders were extracted from user disks sent to Sir-Tech for recovery. I've been wondering if users were also allowed to submit a motto for their party, but I haven't been able to find any behind-the-scenes info on the mottos.

    [​IMG]

    The Roughnecks are two Mages, three Fighters, and a Samurai. Samurai, a prestige class that normally can be of any alignment except evil, are basically Fighter/Mage hybrids who can equip a Muramasa Blade (a powerful Samurai-only sword), wear armor, and start learning Mage spells at level four. This low-level Samurai is unlikely to have any spells at his disposal, though. Characters of good and evil alignments can't travel together in Wizardry, but neutral can travel with either.

    The screen only shows character portraits for the first four members of the adventurer party. That means the portrait on the left, the one holding a banner, is the Samurai, and the other ones are the Fighters. As some characters get killed, they get moved to the back of the party, and the displayed portraits change.

    The Roughnecks' AC is high and HP are low, but there are six of them, and Mages are dangerous because they can easily target Werdna with their spells. It is essential to incapacitate as many of them as possible in the very first round, so we go for a Katino, which targets everyone in the enemy party, in an attempt to put them to sleep. It is definitely one of the most useful, if not the most useful, Mage spell early on.

    [​IMG]

    Like almost everything in Wizardry, Katino is dice roll-based. In extreme cases, you can either put everyone or no one in the enemy party to sleep. This case is almost extreme, and luckily in our favor. However, characters tend to awaken when hit, so not everyone we managed to put to sleep will remain asleep when the round is over.

    [​IMG]

    "Slept" characters are also transferred to the back of the party, by the way, and now we only have to deal with the three who remain on their feet.

    We strike them down and move on, encountering even more solo do-gooders who are too insignificant to warrant description.

    [​IMG]

    Jiri's Jaguars are the second B10F party.

    [​IMG]

    Their motto is longer, and they're stronger too!

    [​IMG]

    Baltec is a relatively tough Fighter, and they even have a Priest, a Thief, and a Mage. This is pretty much a classic, most orthodox Wizardry party.

    This is also where we meet our first death. We've made it quite far without dying, I must say. This is by no means indicative of the original, first playthrough experience. :P

    After reloading, however, it doesn't take us long to encounter the Jaguars again. In our second attempt, we kill two of them and put the rest to sleep, and the combat ends. However, four of them have remained alive, meaning there's a good chance of meeting them again; the dead will remain dead, of course, unless we reload the game again.

    [​IMG]

    In a surprising stroke of luck (I assume luck will be an important motif throughout this LP), we make it to The Outer Guardian at (18,9) almost in one piece.

    [​IMG]

    This one is a Mage, not a Fighter, and he has 40 HP. That doesn't bode well since it means he should be relatively high-level. Indeed, The Outer Guardian is capable of casting Molito, or Spark Storm, a 3rd tier Mage spell dealing 3d6 points of damage to a group of monsters. The AI in Wizardry is dice roll-based, so the guardian may as well not cast a Molito. In this case, however, he does.

    A single Molito could outright exterminate any of the groups that accompany Werdna, yet thankfully the guardian decides to target the single Orc. Goodbye Orc, but at least the Priests and Gas Clouds are safe and sound.

    [​IMG]

    After that, a Gas Cloud saves the day by paralyzing the guardian. Much like sleep, paralysis can end the fight before the enemy is slain.

    Among the loot, there is a stick and some kind of clothing. The stick is a regular Staff (1d5 damage per hit), and the clothing is Robes, the only kind of armor a Mage can equip (AC -1). I take the robes, but forget to pick up the staff for some reason. Oh well.

    [​IMG]

    Sometimes, Werdna can surprise the enemy, reacting with an amusing exclamation. :)

    Enemies can't act when surprised and you get an extra round to strike at them. On the other hand, spells aren't permitted in the surprise round, so you have to rely on melee. Scrolls and other items that cast spells when used are, however, allowed, so technically you can cast a spell even in the initiative round, which can at times be very useful.

    [​IMG]

    An ambush is the reverse of the previous scenario: now it is the do-gooders who get to whack at you for an additional round. Thankfully, they can't use spells either, and that can be a matter of life and death if you encounter an all-Mage adventurer party, for example.

    [​IMG]

    In Wizardry IV, Thieves have a new ability: they can steal items from you. Even plot-critical ones. That certainly makes them one of the most annoying enemies in the game.

    As soon as a Thief succeeds at stealing an item, he instantly flees, to the point of abandoning his companions if he's in a party. He does, however, remain on the current floor so you can hunt him down if you want, and the item he stole will be among the loot he drops. Naturally, you should do so before reloading the game, or else everything resets.

    After a reset, you can always return to the place you first found the item, though, and it will be there. It may be hard and annoying to backtrack, but it is possible. That means that, even though the game allows you to drop or lose a plot-critical item, it doesn't screw you over completely every time. You are so kind, Wizardry IV!

    [​IMG]

    Struggling through even more random encounters, we reach B10F's second pentagram at (2,6) with just a single Priest and a Gas Cloud. The monster roster is the same here, but we summon Zombies instead of Orcs this time.

    The hardest encounter on this floor awaits us.

    [​IMG]

    The Guardian of the Pyramid is the final, and the strongest, one. You should definitely save the game before fighting him, even at the cost of all other do-gooders respawning. It would be nothing out of the ordinary to die a dozen times before you finally beat him.

    [​IMG]

    The Pyramid Guardian is a Samurai, a class we've already encountered in this update, but a significantly higher-level one. His regular attack hits up to three times per turn, dealing enough damage to one-strike kill Werdna, and in addition to Halito and Molito he can cast Mahalito, or Big Fire, an offensive spell that deals 4 to 24 points of damage to a monster group. Molito and Mahalito can also kill anyone in our party, including Werdna, on the spot.

    To win this fight, we must get really lucky. And after three failed attempts, we do just that.

    [​IMG]

    We couldn't wear the guardian down, so we just paralyzed him. Problem solved.

    (With Gas Clouds and Zombies both having the ability to inflict paralysis, that was bound to happen at some point.)

    [​IMG]

    The Pyramid Guardian also drops two essential things. The "charred tallow" is a Black Candle, a unique item that casts Lomilwa -- a stronger Light spell -- when used, and the amulet is a Jeweled Amulet that allows you to cast Dumapic, the mapping spell. Both items can break, however, which also happens on the basis of a roll of a die, so we should use them sparingly. In fact, the Black Candle is so essential an item that you should consider reloading if it breaks.

    [​IMG]

    The next tile contains the stairs leading up to B9F, but let's skip them for now and head down the long corridor making up the last pyramid layer and leading all the way around the map, arriving at (9,19).

    [​IMG]

    You have obtained A STONE.

    [​IMG]

    The stone is actually a Bloodstone, one of the stones required for a certain puzzle later on. This done, we can now take the stairs to B9F.

    Next up on Wizardry IV, we'll trap an oracle, validate a credit card, and explore the catacombs. Stay tuned!
     
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  8. Occasionally Fatal Prophet

    Occasionally Fatal
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    :salute: Another fine update.
     
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  9. Whisper Arcane Vatnik

    Whisper
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    Nice reading!
     
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  10. Edward_R_Murrow Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Edward_R_Murrow
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    I always thought that since the good people controlled the dungeon, they stuck all the weaker adventurers down there on guard/canary-in-the-mine duty.

    "Oh, hear that?"

    "Yep, sounds like Private Popamole being burned alive by an evil wizard on the lower floors."

    "Should we help him?"

    "Nah, the others will take care of things. It only took one party of game developers to kill this guy last time at full power. They've got this..."


    By the way, I'll be interested in seeing how you map of one of the later floors.
     
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  11. SerratedBiz Arcane

    SerratedBiz
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    Shouldn't Werdna have gone up a level when he used that pentagram?
     
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  12. Crooked Bee wide-wandering bee Patron

    Crooked Bee
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    Codex 2013 Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire MCA Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Nah, he'll only level up at the next floor's pentagram. A given floor's pentagrams are all the same, basically, and once you've been at one of them, you don't level up at the others -- they're there for you to replenish your HP and summon new monsters.

    One floor = one level up for Werdna, basically.
     
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  13. CappenVarra phantasmist Patron

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    Gotcha this time, you Do-Gooder! :obviously:
     
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  14. Ulminati Kamelåså! Patron

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    :rpgcodex:
     
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  15. Cenobyte Tacticular Staff

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    Heh, I expect you to die disproportionally more often than in Wiz 1. Good luck!
     
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  16. lulurkinglurkerlurk Learned

    lulurkinglurkerlurk
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    Oh good,codex now own image storage,no more expired lp's.
    Great stuff.
     
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  17. Mrowak Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Mrowak
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    Codex owns image storage? Where? I must know that!! I hope it's not the gallery you mean - which was impossibly unwieldy as you had to upload images one by one. But with a good Codex storage I could go back to my SRance LP.
     
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  18. Crooked Bee wide-wandering bee Patron

    Crooked Bee
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    Patrons can upload images to their posts using the "Upload a File" button. It's a bit of a pain to use though, I must say, that's why I switched to photobucket for the 2nd update.
     
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  19. LeStryfe79 Deal Breaker Patron

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    Why do I feel smarter every time I read a Bee LP? M:
     
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  20. Ulminati Kamelåså! Patron

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    Because Bee makes fucking quality LPs of monocle games.

    [​IMG]

    Needs more Bethsoft/Biowhoar devs though.
     
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  21. Occasionally Fatal Prophet

    Occasionally Fatal
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    I actually prefer LPs with a more... educational approach. Although I'll admit the Majestic RPG Dev Wizardry party was a nice touch.
     
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  22. LeStryfe79 Deal Breaker Patron

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    ...missing monocle :smug:
     
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  23. Ulminati Kamelåså! Patron

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    The games are monocle, not the bees. How the fuck would you make a monocle for multifaceted eyes?
     
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  24. LeStryfe79 Deal Breaker Patron

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    Good point. Would a multifaceted monocle break the space-time continuum?

    XXX_img_6303.jpg
     
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  25. Crooked Bee wide-wandering bee Patron

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    3: The Catacombs

    In the last screenshot of the first update, there was a question mark which I said stood for a unique NPC who goes around the floor on his own patrol route. I also promised we'd "catch" him as soon as we could. On our way back to the stairs, we finally manage to do just that by entering the tile he's currently occupying.

    03wizfour008.png

    The NPC is The Wandering Oracle of Mron, and, in a Proteus-like manner, he will only answer to someone who can capture him. Trapping him isn't as easy as it may sound, as most of the time he'll be doing his best to avoid you while at the same time being a tease by often passing right near you yet outside your grasp.

    Incidentally, it means that, in contrast to the first title, Wizardry IV actually has NPCs. In fact, they were already introduced in a similar role in Wizardry II and III. There is, however, no NPC "interaction" here in the manner we've grown accustomed to over the years as the genre transformed; they are only there to give you a riddle, a clue, or a quest, and you can't question them further. Some of the non-player characters in Wizardry IV are crucial to your progress, and some are optional so that you don't even have to encounter them in order to beat the game. There will be particularly many of them in the end game, for a reason that will become clear when we get there. Many NPCs can be either hostile or non-hostile depending on the actions you take. Even the apparently harmless Oracle can become hostile under certain circumstances to be shown off later.

    When captured, the Oracle responds with "It's a fair cop", which is just one of Wizardry IV's references to Monty Python, at once to Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975; where a woman falsely accused of being a witch says under her breath, "It's a fair cop") and to episode 29 of Monty Python's Flying Circus (1972; "All right, it's a fair cop, but society is to blame.") There are at least two other Monty Python references in the game that I can think of off the top of my head. Apparently, what Star Trek was to Might and Magic, Monty Python was to Wizardry IV.

    03wizfour012.png

    For "only" 2500 gold pieces, the Oracle can provide an extremely obscure clue meant to help you solve the game's numerous unfair puzzles. The clues he gives are, however, so obscure that they are puzzles unto themselves. After all, this is an "expert level scenario."

    Not really related, but I've recently come across an old interview with Brenda Garneau, now Brenda Brathwaite, John Romero's girlfriend and a notable Wizardry designer who was one of the playtesters on Wizardry IV:

    Now this is someone who obviously had relatively little problem figuring out the Oracle's clues. Beware, John Romero! Brenda will make you her bitch!

    03wizfour013.png

    With the Oracle, you get two payment options: cash or "charge card." We don't have a credit card yet, and even when we get one later, charging it isn't going to be the best option.

    But I'm not spoiling it more than that just yet.

    03wizfour018.png

    Naturally, you are free to leave the Oracle without receiving a clue if you don't need one. If, however, you choose the option to pay him when you don't have enough gold, he threatens you with "It is not a wise idea to short-change an oracle, buddy!" I'll try showing off that line when and if we're low on cash.

    For now, however, let's pay the Oracle to receive our first clue.

    oraclehint1.png

    The clues come in a fixed sequence, and there's a limited amount of them. The first clue, the one we've just received, recently provoked a strong reaction in a certain CRPG blogger:

    :roll:

    However, even though the first clue won't really be of help to us in our current progress through the lowest dungeon floors, it is in fact going to be vital when we are going to be trapped, with no apparent way out, later. Much later. In general, whenever you have enough gold, you shouldn't refuse buying a hint from the Oracle, and you should do that until you exhaust the clue list. The clues he provides are essential, and gold isn't really of much use in Wizardry IV, as there are no shops where you could buy equipment. To be fair, there is a certain end game event that requires a certain sum to be readily available, but you will most likely have more than plenty of gold by that point anyway.

    As soon as we take the stairs up to B9F, the game's peculiar form of copy protection kicks in.

    03wizfour036.png

    Wizardry IV has a rather unusual form of copy protection. It asks you to validate a Mordor Charge Card, the in-game jokey equivalent of a credit card, before you can access a new level. And not just once, but, if I remember correctly, for every new dungeon level you climb (or maybe just for the first few).

    Back in the day, the player had to turn to the "valid card list" included in the package for the answer. Without it, he or she could only play through the first floor, which I guess amounted to the game having a "demo."

    w4_cardvalidation.jpg

    The card validation list came in the form of a bulletin, of which the title page is given above, and was printed on dark red paper to make photocopying more difficult. Not a problem nowadays, obviously, even if it still hurts the eye reading it.

    There is, however, a trick to the card validation algorithm that, once figured out, made it unnecessary to have the validation list handy and possible to copy the game without worrying too much about copy protection. It turned out the correct answer to the card validation question wasn't random; rather, it could be computed in some way from the three numbers given. The following solution was posted in Computist #51 (January 1988):

    computist_codes.png

    Apparently, a sum modulo 9000 is involved, but I can't say how the table itself was compiled by the author of the solution.

    mordorchargecard_scan.gif

    Another item included in the package was an actual copy of a Mordor Charge Card. It was more of a promotional item than anything really necessary or helpful, and to this day remains a collector's item first and foremost. The number on the front of the card is unique to each boxed copy of the game.

    [​IMG]

    Higher floor means stronger enemies, of course, as well as another dungeon gimmick.

    B9F.png

    B9F, as all Wizardry IV dungeon levels except maybe the starting one, is in the first place an exercise in perseverance. In fact, perseverance is Wizardry IV's second name. Robert Woodhead once described* the game as a "puzzle dungeon" that is basically one "giant trap" where "each level or set of levels has a theme that you can use, if you understand what's going on, to help you solve the level." Like B10F, B9F is symmetrical (which is going to change real soon, because "symmetrical" means "too easy" in the language Wizardry IV uses), and this time it's a spiral-like symmetry. It doesn't help, however, that not only do you have to blindly stumble into quite a few side rooms full of random encounters (that will likely strip you of remaining monster allies) before you discover the one and only pentagram on the floor, but there is also an inconspicuously placed secret door at (13,14) that you must pass through in order to find the exit. It's going to cost you considerable time and effort (and many deaths) to discover them both, especially the damn door. :argh:

    * In an interview found in Questbusters IV-3, March 1987.

    Another trick is not to follow the main corridor into the central room: the fixed encounters at (9,8) and (10,9) are guaranteed to wipe you out at this point. You're only supposed to visit the area much later, so I won't spoil what's in there just now; suffice it to say it is a plot-critical area, and if you forget to visit it at a certain point, you're basically screwed. For now, however, instead of simply following the corridor, you're supposed to discover and enter the aforementioned secret door -- just don't forget you can only notice it with Milwa on.

    B9F only features one pentagram, but luckily the main corridor has a lower encounter rate than the side rooms, so you can backtrack without too much pain. There are also several symmetrically located square-shaped fixed encounter areas marked by the sword symbols on the map, but only one of them, at (19,0), lands an item relevant to the plot. Good lucking fighting pointlessly through the other ones.

    For all the problems you might encounter here, B9F is, along with B10F, one of the easiest levels in Wizardry IV. The first two floors are basically what the game understands to be tutorial level difficulty.

    03wizfour046.png

    Beautiful, isn't it?

    (Wait, don't answer that.)

    03wizfour047.png

    B9F is called The Catacombs, so I assume that means the side rooms are burial places.

    I also assume they're chock full of do-gooders because everybody knows RPG heroes are distinguished grave robbers.

    03wizfour053.png

    Equipped with meta-gaming knowledge, we hurry to the pentagram.

    03wizfour058.png

    Some interesting, as well as stronger and more varied, monsters here to choose from. Creeping Cruds are an updated version of the Slimes, resistant to cold and capable of poisoning the enemy; they have 3d4 HP, which is alright at this stage, but overall they just aren't particularly exciting to have at your side. "Creeping Cruds" is one cool monster name, though. Crawling Kelps are strange plant monsters first introduced in Wizardry III, who also look funny in the IBM PC version, possessing 2d5 HP and no particular abilities. (A random bit of trivia: Crawling Kelp is a lvl3 monster, and interestingly enough, in an arcade action-RPG Cadash (1989) there is a level 3 boss called "Crawling Kelp," a seemingly peaceful plant hanging from the ceiling that attacks you with its thorny vines as soon as you get near it.) Next, Mummies are the undead monsters who also originated in the third Wizardry title. They may not have many hit points and are in constant danger of being dispelled by a stray do-gooder Priest, but they have one extremely useful ability that makes them worth the risk: their regular attack, which rarely misses against this floor's do-gooders, can level-drain the enemy. Level-draining monsters were definitely the ones the player feared most in the previous Wizardry games. It is therefore only natural to assume that, the roles being reversed now, they are among the best ones to summon. A level drain not only strips the do-gooder spellcasters of higher-level spells, it also reduces the enemy's HP by a sizeable amount and overall makes them significantly weaker. All in all, you can't go wrong with a good old level drain.

    Next are Witches, yet another group of Wizardry III evil beings who went by the name of "women in robes" when unidentified. They always come in a group of 7 when summoned, which favorably contrasts with just one measly Lvl 1 Mage you could summon at the previous pentagram, and are capable of casting 2nd tier Mage spells and inflicting poison. They also have a reasonable amount of hit points, but Werdna already has the Mage spells covered so we don't really need any more spellcasters in the party. Poltergeists, as well as Rogues and Anacondas (also arriving straight from Wizardry III), have no special abilities at all, and thus aren't worth bothering with. No-See-Um Swarm, or just No-See-Ums, come from Wizardry II. No-See-Ums are insects that have a highly useful breath attack targeting the entire enemy party. There are always nine of them when summoned, and their AC equals 0, which is very nice; after all, it isn't easy even for a trained fighter to hit a bunch of insects with his sword. It's also pretty fun to have a swarm of deadly, small, mean-looking (Apple II, PC) flies at your side. Do-gooders will think twice before troubling us now! (They won't. Do-gooders attack first, think second.) Ashers are ghostly entities capable of inflicting paralysis. They have relatively high AC of six and don't hit too hard, but paralysis is a nifty thing that generally makes them worth summoning. Dusters, shadow figures from Wizardry III, have the strongest regular attack among this pentagram's monsters, hitting two times per round for 2d3 points of damage, so I guess you might want to summon them if you're looking for some heavy-hitters. Not the best, but a feasible option nevertheless. Huge spiders are Wizardry I monsters that, as is customary with spiders, have a chance of inflicting poison when their attack connects.

    Finally, Lvl 3 Priests, being Priests, are a must to summon. The new, 2nd tier spells they have at their disposal are Matu, or Blessing, which reduces the monster group's AC by 2; Manifo, or Statue, which attempts to paralyze the entire adventurer party, one by one; and Montino, or Still Air, a silence spell that causes the air around the hapless do-gooder party to stop transmitting sound and therefore makes it impossible for them to even speak their spells.

    Having leveled up at this pentagram, Werdna can cast 2nd tier Mage spells now. Those are Dilto, the Darkness spell, and Sopic, the Glass spell, and I already covered them in the first update.

    03wizfour061.png

    We go with Mummies, No-See-Ums and Priests, pretty much a perfect combination.

    03wizfour068.png

    It doesn't take long for the Mummies to prove their worth. Tyron initially had 19 HP, but after a level drain he only has 5 HP left and goes down in a single turn.

    There are two randomly wandering do-gooder parties on this floor: Talon's Tigers (their motto is, appropriately, "Roar!!!") and Greyhawk's Ghostbusters, but I haven't encountered them yet. The Tigers (1 Lord, 3 Fighters, a Thief, and a Mage, all roughly the same level as we are) are easy to defeat, but the Ghostbusters are not. The latter party, their motto being "Bell Werdna!", consists of both high-level fighters and high-level spellcasters who are well above our current capabilities. It's a good thing we haven't met them; they don't even drop any useful loot anyway. As for the Tigers, they drop a Cone of Silence, or "dunce cap," when defeated, an item that would allow us to cast Montino. We'll probably get it later.

    There is also a solo do-gooder on B9F who can be quite dangerous. His name is Raistlin and he's a low-HP Mage yet with a powerful offensive spell at his disposal. The spell is Lahalito, or Flame Storm, and it sets an entire monster group on fire for 6d6 points of damage.

    03wizfour081.png

    Let's now have a look at B9F's regular fixed encounters.

    At (3,15), we enter a fight with The Tower Sentries. They are the weakest among the fixed battles in any given square-shaped encounter area on this floor.

    03wizfour083.png

    They also have a typical sentry motto. If that can even be called a motto.

    03wizfour092.png

    An all-Fighter group, the Sentries consist of five Privates accompanied by a Corporal. Being Fighters, a good half of them -- those standing in the back row -- have to Parry against us during the round, which basically makes them no more than target practice for our spells.

    In other news, Katino (sleep) still remains the most useful spell against weaker enemies.

    03wizfour129.png

    The next tile has us battle The Tower Guards, a tougher bunch of do-gooder guardians.

    03wizfour131.png

    With a more ambitious motto, too.

    03wizfour158.png

    These consist of five Corporals and a Sergeant. All Fighters again, but higher level. The Sergeant in particular hits pretty hard.

    03wizfour181.png

    And the final of the fixed encounters has us pitted against The Officer's Mess.

    03wizfour182.png

    Let's see... a hundred year old wizard, a few mummies, several evil priests, and an insect swarm. Nope, no busboy-lookalikes here, I'm afraid.

    03wizfour187.png

    Now this is the real deal. No wonder I died here. (Not only here, but here too.)

    The Officer's Mess are for the most part pure Fighters again, but the Captain is a Samurai, meaning he is capable of casting Mage spells. Katino is in particular his favorite.

    03wizfour240.png

    The Captain drops a Twilight Cloak after we finally manage to defeat him. It reduces the wearer's AC by 1, and you can also "invoke" it after it has been equipped, which increases Werdna's to-hit chance.

    Invoking is a mechanic often used in Wizardry IV. Equipping an item may not be enough to reveal its powers, and many items only confer a particular bonus or ability when invoked, which is done separately from equipping them. For instance, the Black Candle we picked up on B10F must be not only equipped, but also invoked in order for it to cast a Lomilwa spell. Basically, "invoking" amounts to using a magically charged item in contrast to ordinary, non-magical items that you simply "use". We'll witness this mechanic many times in this LP; it is frequently required to solve various plot-critical puzzles. An item can also break when invoked, so it should be done with care.

    03wizfour336.png

    Next thing we do is battle our way through to (18,0) to acquire an important item.

    You have obtained A STONE.

    03wizfour339.png

    This is the second precious stone we've found so far, a Lander's Turquoise. Lander Blue turquoise is a real thing, and apparently it is the most valuable turquoise in the world, produced in the Lander Blue mine in Nevada.

    It is also magical, and glows when invoked! :P

    03wizfour367.png

    With Light on, we have no trouble getting into the secret passage at (13,14).

    03wizfour374.png

    Next floor awaits. And this is where real bullshit begins.

    Next time, we'll die the death of a thousand cuts. Stay tuned.
     

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