I skipped a day of blogging concerning Ultima III because there wasn't all that much to say. This game had a much slower "starting-out" period than any of the other games. We left off last time with me preparing to wander into a dungeon hoping that it held the Mark of Kings, and fortunately for me, it did! I also managed to pick up the Mark of Fire in the bargain, which means I can now walk across laval unimpeded. The cave I chose was the Perinian Depths northeast of Castle British, which also conveniently had a big stash of treasure on the 3rd level. In theory, you have to go down to the bottom and back up again, or so I surmise, but the use of the wizard's down spell eliminates the need to bother with that.
Acquiring those Marks and a few trips to Ambrosia were all I accomplished the past two days, despite maybe 6 hours of playing. The fact is that gathering gold, even when you have a dungeon trove and (and town, Death Gulch, which has a big pile of chests), is fairly tedious. I don't have a thief, considering them totally overrated, because casting the open spell (DAG UMANI or something like that...) is much more efficient, and it doesn't result in town guards getting pissed off at me, the way they would if I used the OPEN command.
I also collected a wide array of hints from various townsfolk. The most useful of them was a nice thief in Dawn (or was it a wizard?) who informed me that I can DIG on islands for Exotic weapons and armor. I did so and was rewarded (there aren't many islands to check, actually). I now feel compelled to raise Jaana the Druid strength, so that she can whack enemies with the Exotic Sword. Other clues reminded me to go find the Time Lord, to SEARCH shrines for cards, and so on. These words are in captital letters because they represent commands to be typed in conjunction with the O key, which allows you to take Other actions besides those listed in the reference card.
In order to raise my characters' stats, I have to sail my boat into a whirlpool, and appear in Ambrosia, which is a maze-like area that would be hard to navigate without gems and the willingness to take a screenshot of the game while viewing them. I don't consider this cheating, because if it weren't for the screenshot I'd just spend a minute or two copying the important parts of it to a piece of paper. The shrines are fairly stupid--if you offer 100 gold, you alwaysget 1 point added to an attribute (Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom), but offering 900 gold does not seem to get you 9 points.
I have encountered a decent number of annoyances with the game. Most annoying is the fact that the counter for gold rolls over if you have more than 9999 gold coins. I'm guessing stats may do the same. The second is that food is ridiculously expensive, at one gp per ration, each of which lasts about 4 steps outside. That means feeding my whole party with 200 foods--which lasts maybe 45 minutes of gameplay--costs 800 gold. Possibly most annoying about food and gold is that you must do the work of distributing them among your characters yourself--and the prompt that allows you to transfer gold and food between people has space for only two numbers! As a consequence, transferring, say, 6000 gold between two players requires about 360 keystrokes. Considering the vast sums required to raise stats and buy expensive weapons, what in the world was Garriott or his cohorts thinking?
Anyway, the gameplay has sped up a bit. I will spend today hitting Death Gulch and Ambrosia over and over, raising my characters' stats. With higher wisdom, Jaana can hopefully open chests more efficiently than before. Then I have to go choose some dungeons in which to find the Marks of Force and Snake, but without any particular clue as to which dungeon I need to go to. In addition I have to seek out the Time Lord, who interestingly is reachable only via moongate (which are quite pretty in this game, I might add). It will probably be a few more days before I'm done, because after all that I still need to hit Castle Exodus and kill all its denizens.