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!