First of all, I believe all my screesnhots now click through to a double-sized version. Let me know if there are more problems.
Today was an eventful day in Britannia. I died repeatedly, but I got a lot done! Number one on the agenda was finishing all those stupid shrine quests. This task was aided by the fact that I finally figured out how to use my boat--yelling while on board furls and unfurls my sails, and damn do I ever fly through the water fast when they are unfurled! The biggest problem is sailing at night. Sea monsters are a huge pain because there are so many of them and without ranged weapons, I cannot kill them easily. Squids are the worst because they poison you. More annoying is the fact that DOSbox does not have an easy reset as far as I can tell, and I cannot exit the game during battle. I've gotten more adept and careful with monsters, though--In the screenshot, you see the wide array of annoying creatures seeking to kill me, but through creative use of my ships cannons they were all dead before they could even approach me!
One of the rare insightful conversations happened in the city of New Magincia (which, I should add, has very cute graves for all the ghosts in Ultima IV). We had the following conversation:
Him: Who do you serve?
Him: Do you hate the tyrant Blackthorn?
Him: Does the evil and hatred within him make thee better than he?
Him: Then how dost thou judge him? Dost thou know all there is to know about him?
Him: Them perhaps you should reserve judgement.
Speaking of Blackthorn, you will recall I was told that I needed to fetch British's crown from the top of his castle. I decided to give it a go, and it was astoundingly easy. First of all, the traps in the floors were a simple matter to evade with the flying carpet. Second of all, the guards seem to go to bed readily. Now if they catch me, they take me underground and threaten me--but more on that later. As long as you do not approach them, they ignore you. Among the more absurd scenes is the image of me happily floating through Blackthorn's throne room--note the demons nearby. I enter his bedchamber and head up the ladder to the roof, where I found the crown. Guarding the crown were two gargoyles who seemed invincible--every hit caused a new one to appear. I gave up and reloaded my game after I had about 12 of them attacking me at once! But they don't move much, so careful navigation got me through and away from them without much fuss.
Ultima V is good because it lends itself to these interesting situations. It's bad because so many puzzles simply are a case of "keep reloading your saved game until you manage to avoid the totally annoying monster." In the castle, if you get caught by the guards, you are chained to the wall and Shamino is stuck on a carving block, ready to be sliced in half unless you tell Blackthorn the mantra of Honesty. But Shamino dies in either case. Now, the Official Book of Ultima touts this as one of the cool parts of Ultima V, where your actions can have real consequences--Shamino can't be resurrected. But because there is no POSSIBLE way to get out of it, this is one of those "reload the saved game" scenarios. In other words, finding out there is no way out of having to reload your game devalues the whole encounter. Had Shamino survived if I told Blackthorn the mantra and I were put in a cell, I probably would have simply continued playing and thought to myself, "wow, that was a hard decision." But he can't, and I didn't, I just reloaded and avoided the guard in the first place.
So the bottom line is Blackthorn is a joke. I should also add that I finally found Dupre, hiding with a certain Sir Simon at Bordermarch (I think that's the name). I had been told Simon was "on an island west of Spiritwood," which is near Skara Brae. But the dude was WAAAAAY west of anything, all the way next to the Isle of the Avatar--actually, close to where Ambrosia is in Ultima VII. Boo for bad directions!
I guess I played about 4 hours on this last night and today, bringing my total to around 9 I suppose.