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

Monday, April 30, 2007

Ultima Underworld, Day 2

Today, the first thing I did with Ultima Underworld was install a mouse. Trying to play that game with a touchpad is a painful proposition (at least, immediately afterwards it is...ouch). I have continued my thorough exploration of each level in about a two hour period--and I think I'll be able to keep it up until level 6 or so, most likely.

The quests on level 2, the home of the mountainfolk, are not very comlplicated. First, an ironwitted fellow named Ironwit lost some blueprints, and sent me to retrieve them. A headless and a bunch of flesh worms later, he got them, and gave me a fly potion as payment. Yay! I also found a lantern, which is my favorite light source in the game, and elsewhere on the level, sliced and diced something like six grey goblins.

The second quest was to invade a mine and kill a mean old gazer which is staring at everybody, and probably eating them too. This wasn't too hard, though the gazer has some tough hide and took a bunch of hits. Also, I have found that my mouse freezes up once in awhile, leaving me unable to move or attack, and I can be easy prey in such situations! At any rate, my reward for killing the gazer was to get a medallion of some sort, which I swear looks like a pizza cutter. Offering the king of the dwar...ahem, the mountainmen some gold also got me a look at his treasure chamber. It strikes me that treasure is not of much value in the abyss...but I leapt in and attacked the golem guard anyway! Unfortunately, he pounded me flat into the ground.

I didn't realize the keyboard arrow keys don't work in Underworld I (or at least not in DOSBox), so getting around is a little frustrating. I'm so used to Half-Life-ish interfaces, where I can use the mouse to turn and keyboard to move forward that it's hard to use the older interface! I did eventually realize that w and x move forward and back, so I was able to use that knowledge to fight better. Speaking of fighting better, I improved my attack skill at the shrine, and I also discovered that using the multiple-skill mantras gives you far more cumulative points than the skill-specific ones. That seems to be by far the best way to improve my mana! For kicks, here is a rundown of all the skills and my opinion of them:

Attack: Highly useful if you decide to engage anything in combat
Defense: Useful if you enage anything in combat, and they are likely to fight back
Axe: Useless for me, since I don't use axes
Sword: This one is good for me, but it takes some time to find the mantra as I recall
Missile: I never found much use for missile weapons in the Underworld
Mace: There are some good magic maces, I think, but I don't look for them much.
Mana: Absolutely required for magic.
Casting: Required for magic that does not backfire and hurt you...
Lore: I like a high lore skill to identify magic items
Appraise: Since bartering is not very useful, neither is this skill.
Charm: See appraise
Swimming: Possibly the most useful in the game, at least before you can cast Water Walk. Thus far, 10 has been sufficient for all the swimming I've had to do so far.
Sneak: Not sure how exactly it works--It is useful in concept but I'm not sure if it is in practice.
Search: I have not seen a direct effect from increasing this skill.

I have a lot more skill points to use (1 + my level, it seems), but I don't want to spend them until I can increase swords or lore. In summary, I don't have the mantras I need, and I am a bit weaker than I ought to be at level 9 as a result :-(

On level 2, you can find Corby, Cabirus' scribe, but without knowing his ages when he wrote the Memoirs and when I met him now I can't get much info from our encounter...


Anonymous said...

Hi Paulon, great job on blogging Ultima, you are a worthy avatar!

UW is unplayable to me without using the qweasdzxc keys to move around and the mouse to interact with the environment and attack.


Hope that is useful ;)

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I meant Ophidian, not Paulon ;)

Alun Bestor said...

As slash said, all the keys in that block of the keyboard help you move - it's actually quite similar to the standard WASD layout that most FPS games use by default. While I originally stuck with the mouse in UW, the keyboard controls are second nature to me now from playing System Shock.

If I remember correctly the gemcutter you get for defeating the gazer comes in useful later on, I think you may give it as a gift to another NPC.

I'm personally interested to know the stats for the Sword of Justice and whether it's actually a particularly good sword for fighting with. You get it about halfway through the game if you don't take your time about it, and there's plenty of fancy swords you pick up after it (such as the black swords) that I never used because I figured nothing would top the Sword of Justice.

Anonymous said...

IIRC, the Sword of Justice is actually a middle-of-the-road weapon. But then, given the ending of the game, it's probably best not to get too attached to it.

Anonymous said...

Get the back end of that nifty sword and you're in the vicinity of your Lore skill. Those who live by the sword can teach the sword. Most of those mantras are pretty screwy - the least they could have done was look at a Gargish vocabulary when picking them. The only two which make much sense in relation to the gargish meanings are the mantras for attack and defence. And even they could have been better - agra for attack and sanct or anagra for defense would have been better.