First, some exciting news--My blog has attracted the attention of Lord British himself, who sent me a greeting and wished me well on my quest, and promised a rhyming tombstone if I fail. I will thus give some free advertising to his current project, Tabula Rasa, a multiplayer action-RPG in a sci-fi genre. I grant I have never been a fan of the huge online games--seems like too many people find too many ways to cheat or exploit bugs--but I will give this one a shot, if for no other reason than I appreciated the email. I hope the genre has matured since I last tried Ultima Online many years ago.
Trivia factoid: If you have the original Ultima Online strategy guide, you can find a news item concerning yours truly and my desire to entertain the inhabitants of Britannia with song!
My quest in Ultima VI continued with several dungeon mapping expeditions. I began with the sewers underneath Castle British, which are brimming with rats and gazers and other beasties. No monster in the Ultima universe changes so much between games as the gazer, which in Ultima VI looks like a hovering green UFO with little red dots all around. The reaper also changes a lot--they're supposed to be big posessed trees, but in Ultima VI they look like really goofy amoebas or something, but with flapping arms They finally look reasonable around Ultima VII, and in Ultima Underworld--although looking like a tree seems a silly disguise underground! In any case, they are fearsome foes, somming swarms of non-deadly but *REALLY* annoying insects and charming party members. Underneath the castle I also found a nest of daemons, but the were guarding literally no treasure, so I didn't stick around long. I also found Phoenix, the thieve's guild member whose guild belt I was ordered to steal. Since she prances around her house with two glass swords, the best approach for dealing with her is to either pickpocket the belt, or kill her by pushing her into her own poison field and waiting...In the screenshot you see one of the charming things about Ultima VI and beyond--your party members directly interact with other people and sometimes pop in with comments, like Sherry in this case after Phoenix pins a mouse in her home to a wall with her knife.
I also explored a cave near Jhelom, called....Heftimus Cave, I believe. Turns out it is connected to dungeon Despise, which it turns out is not an inspiring dungeon. Dungeoneering in this game is depressingly unrewarding, save for a gold nugget here and there and some rings. Ultima V had more treasure--but I have to admit, getting rid of the 3-D dungeons improved Ultima a lot, allowing for a consistent interface and making map-drawing *far* simpler for me. I wish I could scan in some of my hand-drawn maps of the sewers, etc. I try to leave no stone untouched, but I may be less thorough as I try to gt through, say, Hythloth.
In terms of the main plot, I cleansed another shrine, in this case Sacrifice. When I had to go get a stupid set of panpipes made to get the rune, I assumed it was only because the doofball who was making me do this inane chore was not aware of the gargoyle threat. Yet, when I tell him how to play panpipes he hands me the room and tells me he hopes I can do something about the gargoyles! Thanks, buddy. Amusingly, I had been worried about where to find the sawmill, but emerging from a moongate near Minoc, I happened to walk right into it. Overall I find the plot of the game pretty easy to follow--I know previous comments have sid hat playing them previously means I tear through them, but honestly I find it is usually pretty clear what needs to be done next in the games, and even when I don't random exploring usually nets me some useful things!
The final thing I have been working on, after joining the Thieve's Guild, is gathering up the pieces of a treasure map associated with the ship Empire. I found one in Trinsic, and one via a hunch in Buccaneer's Den. I am wondering if there might actually be two in Trinsic--the mayor had one, and the cook at the local bar was formerly ship's cook on the Empire, but is that a high enough position to deserve a part of the treasure? I'm not sure. Eventually I'll fetch the dragon egg he demands and perhaps I will find out...Pictured on the right is my visit to the Empire itself, where I found a piece of the map.