Have I really been playing this thing for a whole week? Yowza. It's been pretty fun. Today I finished the last few things I needed to do before tackling the Abyss...sort of. The first thing I did was swing deep into the bowles of Deceit, and enter the altar room of love, where I used my stack of sexy multicolored stones to get a third of the three part key. From Deceit, I hit Hythloth and visited the other two altar rooms to get--you guessed it--the other two parts.
Next on the agenda was becoming an 8-part Avatar, up from a 5-part Avatar. I still had compassion, justice, and honesty to go, and increasing those is annoying. After some thought, I developed a plan to get all three in minimal time. I began by noting that Moonglow has a bunch of honest mages, a beggar, and a reagent shop. So I entered into the town, went south and gave gold to the beggar. Then I entered the herb shop and talked to two mages--Shakespeare I told that yes, indeed, I do strive to be honest, and the other guy I told that I have not never lied. Then I purchased 5 ginseng, paid the correct amount owed to the clerk, and exited town. I did this about 15 times or so, interspersed with with visits to the Shrine of Honesty, where among other things I learned not to cheat the merchants and not to steal chests. Well, duh.
As a side note, the shrine advice is worded in a silly manner: "Cheat not the merchants and peddlers for tis an evil thing to do!" Is the second half really necessary? Would anyone being told not to cheat the merchants and peddlars think, "Well, such an action will meat with moral acclaim, but I should probably not do it anyway..."?
Anyway, I became a full Avatar using my strategy and then also snatched up the mystic arms and armor from Serpent's Hold and Empath Abbey, respectively. The screenshot shows where I pried up the boards in a training room to get at them. The Lycaeum doesn't get to be special, I suppose. What's next? I finally need to build my party. A much more boring hour was spent adding Jaana and Dupre to my party and getting them up to level 5. Fortunately, they can both use magic bows....and so can Julia, I have discovered, despite tinkers' supposed disdain for magic armor and weapons. I figure I will get veryone basically up to level 5, and then hit the abyss. How long will this take? I'm not sure. Probably about half an hour to raise each character, so i estimate 2.5 hours before I can tackle the abyss, and I don't know how long the dungeon itself will take. Maybe 2 hours. So I estimate Ultima IV will be finished after approximately 18 hours total.
Ultima V will take far longer, because I haven't ever played it seriously before. Actually, I did more or less cheat my way through it...when? After I got the Ultima I-VI collection I guess, which would have been about 1995. So it's been awhile :-) I barely remember anything, except that one of the towns has a sleepwalking character, and most peasants wander around in green shirts.