Sunday, March 30, 2014

Game 22: Ultima: Quest of the Avatar (NES) - Honoring Valiant companions

Can you spot all three hidden passages in the screen above?
In my last post, I had just discovered what hidden passages look like. With that knowledge in hand I explored more of Lord British's castle. I learned there exists a lighter-than-air device, and somehow this person knew its current location even though it was stolen. It's always a little strange that random NPCs have this knowledge without ever discussing how they found out. I found a couple more locked doors. I figured before going to every town and castle looking for more passages I'd explore a dungeon, gain some gold, and purchase the key to unlock these blasted doors.
Criminals will be criminals
I chose to explore the dungeon of Despise since it was close to Britain and I already reached Avatarhood in the virtue of Compassion. During my first attempt I tried to get by without mapping; I should know better by now. In the middle of that I realized it wasn't going to work and started over; however, I unfortunately stopped by to speak to Lord British again. I am now level 6, and the random battles increased in level once again. It isn't so much that it's more difficult. It is, but mainly the battles tend to take so much longer since I'm not doing any more damage.
Using gems has made finding my way much easier
Luckily fixed battles are always the same. In the map squares mark rooms, which may or may not have a fixed battle or event. Only two of the rooms on that floor have battles, the others are empty. One of the fountains fully heals the character that drinks while the other poisons. Other fountains have so far done nothing. There are also chests, orbs, and secret passages shown by using the gem. While gems do make mapping trivial, I'm not adverse to using them on every floor. In case it wasn't obvious, the dungeon size is greatly reduced from Ultima: Exodus.
Some rooms have multiple gold chests
I ran out of gems before I got very deep. I still ended up with a good pile of gold though to purchase the sextant, 10 more gems (should be enough for one dungeon), and some more herbs. I stopped by Jhelom to recruit Geoff, in Skara Brae I picked up Shamino, and found Katrina hiding under Magincia. She had some interesting ideas to discuss about pride before we agreed her questions don't make much sense, and she joined anyway. Since I already had four in my party, they all reside now at Lord British's castle. There's a hostel downstairs where I can dismiss and invite each member.
Yes, I think... pride's bad, right?
Nope, I'm wrong. Apparently it's prideful to think I could cleanse my heart of pride...
Back in the dungeon I quickly mapped it with my new gems. Inside I found three orbs. Orbs will raise your stats, but take a good chunk of HP at the same time (200 currently, but the manual suggests some orbs take up to 800). The orbs disappear after use until exiting the dungeon. The orbs in this dungeon all raised my intelligence. I'd really like to raise my dex in hopes of doing more damage with my ranged weapons.
Mysterious orb in a dungeon... here's an idea, let's touch it
I found the yellow stone in the middle of the dungeon. It was well hidden. In fact, if I didn't know there was a room on the other side with the help of the gem, I probably would have passed by it without a second thought. To get there, you have to create a bridge my stepping on a false wall.
Obvious or not? You decide
The stone lay beyond a stone wall. Before the wall was a beggar who asked for a blessing. I deposited 100 gold, and the wall faded away. I retrieved my first stone, and made my way back out. I still didn't have enough to purchase a key though, so I went back in to fully explore. It turns out that the dungeons are connected to the altar rooms.
Is the word Love written on the ground or something?
The altar room appears to not only connect to the dungeon I came through, but all four dungeons related to the virtues that correspond to that principle. At least I know where the altars are, and I'll return once I collect the proper stones. One dungeon down, six more to go.
That sleep sprite, oh my
I took a break from the dungeons, picked up the key, and started to run down my list of things to do. I used the sextant to find the location of some fungus, but failed to find anything at another location. I'm not really sure it was a true location, but someone mentioned compiling a book and it was 69,105 pages. So I tried 69 long. 105 lat., but nothing was there.
A hidden room that seems to serve no purpose in Britain

This virtue is complete as far as I can tell. I have the rune, the yellow stone, and I've attained partial Avatarhood. I still donate to beggars every now and then, but I don't think I need to.
One way stairs lead outside through strange mechanics of space-time
I'm not sure why, but I don't seem to be progressing in this virtue. It could have to do with me answering questions incorrectly, but some of them are either worded strangely or I'm confused on  how English works. In any case, I'm not too worried. Related to this I've found the Book of Truth. This is one of the three principle items, but I'm unsure what use it has at this time.
In a library?! That's shocking
With the key, I unlocked a door that allowed me to explore some tunnels under Jhelom. The key is multi-use, which is realistically the only way the game could manage its extremely high price. The rune was easy to locate once I gained access to that area. I took a trip to the shrine and gained partial Avatarhood.
Nostro tells me where to find the rune
I managed to give enough of my life blood to the healers, and am ready to get partial Avatarhood for this virtue. I wasn't progressing very quickly, so I thought I'd need to give blood to every healer in the world. I'm pretty sure I didn't accomplish that. I think I tend to make things a little more complicated than necessary, although I find the thought of having to visit each place and give better than gaming the system and spilling all my blood at one healer.
Some people have funny ideas of enjoyment
I still haven't located the rune or stone, and still haven't reached an acceptable level for Avatarhood. I'm not really sure what can get me further. The rune is said to be in one of the castles, so I'll continue making my rounds through all locations with my new key. The stone is either located in another land (possibly near Cove) or in a solitary dungeon not connected to any other. This information was discovered after spending the night at Skara Brae where I was visited by a ghost.
beyond the reach of man and horse... so, air travel or boat?
Along with Honesty and Spirituality, this is one of the last virtues I need to build up and I'm not sure how. I haven't visited Yew since I received the key, so this may get wrapped up during my next session. I have no clue what Vorpal might have to say, but I don't expect much of a journey afterwards.
I tried swapping Mariah for Shamino, but he's so weak
Finally! Harvest time has come. I'm really not sure what the trigger is here, as the moons don't seem to matter. Eventually I noticed he was saying different things, so I just kept talking to him. He asked for my help in the harvest, and I found the rune in the field. Was just sitting there the whole time? I thought I searched, but possibly not. Since I already had a high enough virtue I easily gained Avatarhood once I had the rune in hand.
What's the purpose of waiting all that time? What does that teach me about honor?
I've somehow managed to gain enough in this virtue for Avatarhood, but have yet to locate the rune. I learned that it's supposed to be hiding in Paws. "In the moors behind a meadow." Why does this game plague me with description of land represented in glorious 8-bit tiles? Which tile is a moor and which is a meadow? I may just have to search every square. I picked up the black stone of Humility based on the advice of someone hiding out behind a locked door. I thought possibly there wasn't one since I can't imagine its use as it has no place on any of the three altars.
Twin new moons to get the stone

About half the time I spend on this game is in combat. The more I level, the more HP monsters have, and my damage output hasn't increase. I've taken some time to read through my spells though, and found the spell Blink allows me to escape without reducing my Valor. Also, Quick doubles my number of attacks. These two should allow me to speed through the rest of the dungeons.
Tidbits of information haphazardly spread about the world
I'm still gathering information, and I have a list of towns and castles I need to return to with the key. In addition to that I need to locate the whirlpool. I'm hoping it'll be easier if I find the lighter-than-air device first, as I'd guess it doesn't encounter enemies so I can search unimpeded.
I've got my towel
With luck this game will be wrapped up this week. I still have six stones to find, but since the dungeons are all connected, there won't be much downtime between exploring each one. Gems are the key to doing that quickly. First though, I'll take this key and unlock all the doors.
I'm sorry, can you point me towards your local moor

Elapsed Time: 5h35m (Total Time: 11h24m)


  1. Don't feel bad about answering the questions wrong. A good lot of them are phrased strangely and you'll quite likely answer the opposite of what you meant to.

    1. Hey Shen, I'm enjoying the Fire Emblem blogging. I haven't played any of that series, so I hope I'm not spoiling myself on the US releases.

      As for the questions, I'm not too worried. We'll see if I need to do any questions grinding to get my virtues back up. I would think Honesty would be soaring by now though, what with all the chest temptations I've been able to avoid. I guess it doesn't track that though. Unless there's anything special I'm missing, I think one more trip around the towns, one through the dungeons, and then I'll have enough to finish off the game.

      I'm glad I'm not the only one that thinks it's phrased strangely.

  2. 69,105 may be a reference to Infocom games, which featured that number as a result when the player would count something (particularly leaves).
    A book is made of leaves, in a manner of speaking.
    For what it's worth, 69 in hex = 105 in decimal, which may be why the programmers chose to use that number as a recurring theme.

    1. That's some interesting history. Thanks for sharing. Also, welcome to the blog, I don't think you've commented much (or at least very little).