The game's done! Only a day or two later than I'd intended, thanks to the Silver Seed.
The day dealt with here was spent wandering the subterranean realm of Furnace, which was formerly known as the Hole to Hades back in Mondain's time. It has since been populated by gargoyles, who moved into some old Ophidian ruins there. Theyhave all succumbed to a sleeping sickness, the same one that is affecting the gargoyles and emps in Britannia, and to some extent the other Gwani in Serpent Isle. It's odd, however, that it is not affecting other "wild"races like the goblins or the trolls. Killing the goblins would be a lot easier if they were all zonked out.
The city is pretty large, and in good condition--its like its people just got up and walked out one day. As I recall, this place was the city of balance, so once the Great Heirophant of Balance died, it's probable that everyone there just walked away. It's possible king Zheklas and his gargoyles also cleaned the place up some, but based on the random corpses laying around, that is doubtful. In any case, Zheklas kicks me over to a test of my knowledge of the Ophidian virtues! Actually, he seems to just test my devotion to the principles of order. By far the most memorable of these tests is the infamous red-worm killing test, wherein I fight off a series of unbelievably wimpy red worms that pop out of the ground, something like whack-a-mole, but with worms, and only one at a time. Dupre is off looking for treasure and becomes progressively more insane as I insist on whacking the mo...worms instead of going and gawking at the magic items, etc. with him.
Wandering around the duneon took in the realm of an hour or more, due to the sheer size of the place, and the variety of rooms to explore. Found here is also one of the most useful items in the game--the Everlasting Goblet, which allows you to feed your companions forever! Now whenever Iolo or Shamino whines about how he "could use a little food," I grab him by his collar and jam the goblet in his mouth until he can't breathe, and say, "WILL YOU SOON BE PLUMP YET OR DO YOU WANT SOME MORE????"
An annoying aspect of Furnace is the fire elementals, these flaming fellows who are an excellent way to kill Boydon. I had to reload several times when he died, since he breaks into his component limbs. He is still amusing, though, because you can put his head in your backpack and he sometimes makes pithy comments. My favorite is when you are falling asleep near Gorlab swamp; his severed head pops up and says "We're getting sleepy" or something like that, instead of the usual "I'm getting sleepy." I like that attention to detail.
After exiting Furnace, I went to the western forest, where I found a bottle of ale and which I used to accuse the Monitor innkeeper of being a spy; he then turned into a goblin and urged me to kill his leader. It's surprising he could stick around so long. I also wonder about his story--he claims he and his wife were ambushed by goblins at one point in the past--is this a true story and he simply replaced the expired inkeeper, or was he, as a goblin, married to a human woman (without her realizing it) and then had her killed? That's some impressive acting ability!
Anyway, that was three inhabitants of Monitor I had to kill thus far, but no fear, all the rest die later except Harnna the healer, who merely becomes insane and oblivious to her surroundings. Much of the first half of Serpent Isle is, in retrospect, totally futile!
On my next day I'll be heading north to the golbin camp and killing their leader and stealing his Helm of Courage, which he stole from Monitor, which they stole from some previous goblin (Guodinir, I think is the name), and where they got it, who knows...One of the more curious aspects of the backstory of Serpent Isle is the goblins, who are quite mean, but who evidently represent courage.
In response to comments--I won't be using that high quality filter in DOSBox, since I don't want my games to appear significantly different from the way they once did; otherwise, I might as well play Exult. Sometimes I think playing these old games in emulators is sort of like publishing old books that might be written in different languages and whatnot. When you publish Shakespeare, which of the versions do you use? Do you correct obvious errors in spelling? If someone would make a new version of Ultima III, should they include the elements that exist only in the old Nintendo version? I have contemplated creating a new version of Ultima (Ultima 1)for Windows, one that emulates all the characteristics of the original, but should I also emulate the fact that the game is shockingly slow? Or that the resurrection feature when you die is hopelessly broken and you often get resurrected in the middle of water?
A harder question concerns the graphics--the Apple II's graphics were weird and used only one bit to represent multiple colors; as a result, solid white text has strange colored shadings to it. Should a new version of the game try to emulate the Apple's goofiness, or would it be OK to make the text solid white? What about the fact that it's in ALL CAPS?
I do intend to work on that project when I am done with the blog. The original code is in BASIC and should be easy to analyze and recreate in a C program given some open-source graphics and sound libraries. Not sure which ones I should use though; I've never done multimedia programming before. It should be fun!