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

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Forge of Virtue: Day 1

I've returned, as promised! I tentatively expect to post a new blog each Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday, and sometimes Saturday. It removes some of the joy by scheduling it like this, but I'll get used to it. One of the downsides of this Ultima blog is that after about halfway through Serpent Isle, it's almost all downhill, with the shortened Serpent Isle plot, followed by Ultima VIII, and then Ultima IX. Speaking of which, I need a game disc for Ultima IX. Maybe I can find one on eBay.

Anyway, today was the Forge of Virtue! At least the second half was. The first half of today's adventure was Wander Around Trying to Find the Flying Carpet Because I Forgot Where I Put It, Dammit. I never found it, and instead spent 800 gold on a ship at the Britain shipwright, but not before killing Lord British with a well-placed plate to the skull, reflective of a real-life (but thankfully nonfatal) incident that happened to Richard Garriott.

The Forge of Virtue is one of my favorite sequences of any of the games, because it shows a detailed understanding of the series' history. Just chatting with Erethian, the mage that runs the place, we get in quick sucession references to the skull of Mondain, the Quicksword Enilno, the nature of Exodus (he emphasizes it was a "machine you destroyed"), the gem of immortality and the subsequent Shadowlords, and the gargoyles. It's this awareness of the rich history of the games that makes Ultima VII and Serpent Isle so spetacular, and the lack of it that makes Ultima VIII and Ultima IX such disappointments. In any case, I also stopped by to visit the Dark Core of Exodus--apparently, the thing was composed of a demonic psyche of some kind, the dark core, and a control mechanism which I destroyed in Ultima III. So the poster who recently called the ending of Ultima III a "fourth wall type ending" with Exodus as a mainframe with a medieval interpretation is more or less right, except there is some kind of distinct magical or demonic element to Exodus.

Speaking of the fourth wall, one of the humorous instances where Ultima breaks through it is if you start Ultima VII without a mouse. Give it a try.

The rest of my time was spent wandering around the Test of Truth, by accident--I didn't realize I would get teleported there by the statue who asked if I wanted the boon of truth. I remember the secret to beating it, but I wandered around just to remind myself how infuriating the dungeon really is. The thing is gigantic and full of not much treasure, but plenty of annoying traps. Shamino seems especially susceptible to being killed by explosions for some reason. in any case, I wandered around for wuite awhile, solving a "room of keys" to no apparent purpose, crossing another one of those neat bridges over the mountains, and lopping the heads off of many a troll. I had come close to heading back to the enterance to finish the test when the game locked up. I believe this is unique to DOSBox, and I don't know what causes it.

I'm debating how I should tackle the quest of Courage--my companions can help me kill monsters, but they sure die a lot. Should I take them with me or leave them behind? Hmm. Before I venture in there, I need to remember to drop off some of my magic junk in my ship's hold so that I don't have to carry it around anymore. I remember managing to fit some barrels on the magic carpet at one point and use them as a ship's hold...But I won't be able to try that again if I can't find it :-(

Thanks to all for your patience. I am becoming settled in my new home--Lexington, Kentucky, USA for those interested. I expect sporadic absences from my planned blogging routine since there's still a fair number of things I need to accomplish outside of work.

One of which is upload all those missing screenshots! Argh. I shall get to that soon, it's just a bit of a tedious chore.


Anonymous said...

This is great. Unfortunately the only Ultima game that I was ever able to get into was Quest of the Avatar when I was younger. I never had a chance to play any of the PC ones except for Ultima VII, which didn't really hold my attention that long.

I started a blog today about beating Final Fantasy I with only four White Wizards if you are interested. It was a challenge my friends and I had as kids but never got around to actually doing it.

Monotremata said...

Damn Im still catching up on the blog and am barely at where you finished VI when I decided to go back and replay Ultima IV since it and SI are the only two I never finished..

Anyways, you can get the memory down enough to run VII and SI in DosBox???
Just curious, did you try out Exult yet for those two??
Ive been playing with it for a little over a year now (ran through VII in like a week when I first found the app) and must say it works perfect! Probably avoid most of those lovely DosBox specific issues using Exult.. And Im pretty sure you can move that savegame over to it and pick up where ya left off!

And on that note.. Im home from work today and think Im about to finish up U4 this afternoon. Started a new character (I always get that damn Bard too) yesterday at about 5pm, played off and on all day til like 2:30 am.. Already got 5 virtues ready for elevation (2 are completed) and now I just gotta finish that Honesty up and get my party assembled and get all the loose ends tied up hehe.

Jay said...

I can send you the Ultima IX discs (though I would like them back when you're done). Just send me an email, and I'll dig them out and mail them.

Clarco said...

I used to carry a crate or two on my carpet plus a torch thrown to the ground next to the avatar. Igniting it helped to navigate at night.

Minor bug there: burning torches which you are not carrying seem not to extinguish at all.

Anonymous said...

I suppose that a torch on the ground is considered by the game to be equivalent to a torch in a sconce on the wall. Those burn infinitely too, right?

Anonymous said...

You donÄt need to buy the ship when you have the add-on. Lord British gives you the "Golden Ankh" for free. This is a horribly bland name considering that all ships in the realm have a golden ankh painted on the sail. Anyway, you can find it in Vesper.

So is this supposed to be the same ship that later belongs to Raven in Ultima IX? If so, it is a pretty unmotivated allusion to U7. Why on earth should she have that ship?

Unknown said...

@grandor dragon

Don't forget that in U7, there's a ship deed for the Golden Hinde, the ship used by Leodon/Leonna in U6.

It's in the cave north of Jhelom, and the date written on the deed shows it was built before U6 IIRC.

I don't remember if you could actually find the Golden Hinde anywhere.

Clarco said...

What does happen if you start BG without a mouse? I cannot remember ...