Ophidian Dragon blogs his way through the entire Ultima series, from beginning to end.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Ultima V, Day 9

Today I wandered around Britannia, trying to solve miscellaneous quests. I began with the black badge issue--turns out I needed to say yes to one of those "Blackthorn is a real nice guy isn't he?" questions, then i got booted to judge Dryden in yew, who sent me to annoying tower guy in Skara brae, who sent me to that castle full of rats and grumpy people southeast of the Isle of the Avatar. I had to give up the name of one of the great council members, which was unfortunate for her (I chose Fiona of Minoc), however with the Shadowlords all dead and me preparing to go rescue Lord British, I didn't feel bad and I doubted they'd get much done. I can say this wih some certainty, considering there is a sign saying I am wanted dead in the middle of Yew and no one seems to care! Nonetheless, I got the black badge, so I can wander around Blackthorn's castle without any trouble.

Incidentally, most evil people do not usually consider themselves evil. With that in mind, why is Blackthorn's group called "the Oppression?" I mean, why not the "Upholders of Virtue" or something? The framing is key. While there are a handful of normal people who follow Blackthorn, and awful number of the Bad Guys in this game are obvious thugs, jerks, pirates, evil wizards and sadistic baby-eating freaks. So the gray area in the moral compass of this game is a bit limited, I think.

Anyway, I also tackled the dungeon Shame, got through it fairly easily, and then hit the underworld underneath it. My theory was that Shame is the only duneon I had not been in, therefore I should go into it! This was an effective strategy, except it opened onto a volcano with a crazy dark area in the middle. I remembered being told that I needed the amulet of British in just such a situation, so I used it and found my way to...a locked cavern. Crud. So the next hour or so was spent wandering around Britannia, wondering where I get the word needed to open it.
When I quit to eat dinner, I decided I would do two things--first visit that tower on a forested island somewhere around Serpent's Hold, because my notes from there included nothing. Next, I would find that last word of power. Finally, I'd visit the shrines and make sure I finished them all. Humorously, Paulon's advice reflected this in his comment to my last entry! Here are the results:

1) The forested island was a boon. I ended up getting the spyglass there, though a fat lot of good it does me with all the Shadowlords dead.

2) I also happened to drop by th lighthouse near Trinsic, and found the sextant! I was clued in because the guy's name was David, and I had forgotten about it.

3) In Britain, I got the word of power for dungeon Despise. I had forgotten about the wizard on the roof. Obviously I should read over my notes more carefully. I also chatted with the housemaid, who told me to seek mystics from some guy in Jhelom. Thanks, hon, already been there and done that.

4) I decided to visit the shrines. All of them had been completed...except, somehow, Honesty. Oops. I think I must have saved and reloaded before it happened, because I remember finishing that one. Anyway, when I finished the quest, the Codex's page turned and I got explicit instructions (in runic, which I have become an expert at after 14 years of Ultima gaming) on beating the game and entering dungeon Doom, the place I was at some time before.

So to Doom it was! Doom turns out to be a pain in the rear. My invisiblity rings don't seem to work, and neither does the magic axe (or at least, not as well). Why do these morons who make mystic weapons never make nice, ranged mystic weapons? It's so contrived. Anyway, the place is buried in ladders and demons and so on, so a quick jaunt through just served to get me pretty well killed. Most enemies can be killed or avoided somehow, and it's just a mattr of my being careful. I will also need to make some detailed maps. Howeverm I think another hour or two or three tomorrow will finish off the game. That will put the total at somewhere in the ballpark of 25 hours. A little, but only a little, more than Ultima IV. I think with this game Lord British pretty much reached the limit of the Apple II, and not much more could have been stuffed into it. Had I been forced through more combat by not ditching my worthless chum...ahem, my valued Companions, it might have taken several hours longer!


Paulon said...

Doom is a tricky place. You've discovered that invisibility doesn't work, which is a pain. More powerful magic can freeze things in place or scare off problems.

Mapping is the key. Doom is a 3D maze, and there's a reason why a map was one of the early things I put on my site. You're looking for a spot on L7 incidently. Good luck.

Dino said...

I don't mean to discourage you, but you're going to have a hard time getting through Doom without companions. Doom is a tough place and killing is necessary.

Even with companions you're not likely to get through some of the battles... I remember back when I played U5 and descended into Doom the first time, I ended up having to backtrack and spend some time killing creatures to level up.

Incidentally, the same thing happened to me when I played Baldur's Gate... :S

Synbios128 said...

I gotta find my Ultima Collection disc and revisit these old classics again. I love your blog by the way it really brings back fond memories.

Calibrator said...

A great read, IMHO!
I really like to reminisce going through these classics.
I got though U5 on my Amiga way back and U2 - U4 on my best friend's C64.
We nearly didn't finish school! ;-)

I guess that your entries will be interesting in years to come.

Idea: Why not putting up separate pages for each completed game with the posts in successive order.
To create some kind of archive.


Moggy / Lady DD Dragon said...

About the evil people -- IIRC the idea was supposed to be that each person individually either:
1. Seriously thinks they're doing the right thing (but is in love with black-and-white morals & authority figures)
2. Is selfish/judgmental, thinks Blackthorn is great because his laws are giving them what they want (and justifying them having it)
3. Is a good non-corrupt person by nature, but like Blackthorn, was twisted by the Shadowlords (who stand for power/riches in a way)

I remember a mention somewhere that they're supposed to be (and are if you think about it) parallels to the kind of people in our society... It's not black-and-white in the sense of "these people are all EVIL, you are all GOOD" but more in the sense of many people feeling a need to follow black-and-white unforgiving authority figures (which they believe is the good/right thing to do) -- while the authorities they follow are either selfish by nature *or* were corrupted by power/riches. (It's supposed to be the origin of the Fellowship's seemingly-nice but ultimately screwed-up attitude in U7, I think, isn't it?)

Oddly, in my version, if you said the right thing to Blackthorn, he *didn't* slice anybody in half -- but I was imprisoned in Yew if anyone recognized me, iirc.

BTW, as far as I ever remember, you don't technically have to do the shrine quests, nor does it matter a fig what your virtue levels are. At least, I beat it (long ago, on an Apple) without having a clue about either of those, particularly not about crop-stealing being a problem.

For your amusement, a factoid: the estimated playtime was supposed to be 60 hours according to the original promo material and box. :)

Now I think I'll have to go replay some Ultimas as well...

Ultimate Carl said...

That volcano map totally looks like a bloodshot eye.