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Author Topic: No bald kids or blue cat-people -- Let's Play Ultima 4: Quest of the Avatar!  (Read 4392 times)

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R^2

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Hey, tiny cave in the mountains only accessible by balloon!












doth evil still stalk the land?


Indeed the white stone is before the Ankh of this very cave. Open the box, and take up the stone!




When thou dost look upon the Codex, thou shalt know all. Thsi journey is thy destiny. Go, and seek the ultimate knowledge!


entrace ringed by the sea of fire! Only the one who hath mastered the Eight Virtues may enter.


We drift away from the cave, around the globe for around ten minutes, and eventually end up near another little town ringed by mountains.




Ask the blissful sea horse!


Meditate in the shrines of Honesty, then Compassion, and last Valor, if thou art truly foolish enough to knock at the gate of the Abyss!


I am Mentallion, Master of the Gates! Know now that sulfur ash, black pearl, and Manroot are necessary for the Gate spell.


Love, Courage, and Truth -- all are joined in the White Stone of Spirituality.


Hast thou considered this?


Thou must have recovered the Blue Stone from Deceit!


next to the Ankh, before some luckless soul stumbles through it!


'tis the only Virtue which exists apart from Truth, Love, or Courage.


world's troubles are small.


second floor of the village shrine! Fear not to open the chest.


All knowledge rests within the codex of Ultimate Wisdom. The stones open the way!


Oops, we stumbled through the hole in the wall.





What we've learned:
- The end goal of our quest is to retrieve the Codex out of the Abyss.
- All eight stones are needed in the Abyss.
- Only the Avatar can enter the Abyss -- alone.
- Recipe for Gate: Ash, Pearl, Manroot
- The Black stone is for Humility.
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R^2

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Another new place!








And I learned in a place far away to live without Virtue. Happily, I might add!


East of Serpent's Hold, in the midst of three volcanoes. Ye don't want it. Now go away!



And for overtipping at the pub:


We already found Cove via Balloon, so we don't need to sail around for hours looking for a whirlpool that moves around the map at random to take us there.


Search the island north of Magincia.


Wands for sale here. They're great ranged and melee weapons, but only Druids and Mages can use them. Also they're expensive as all get-out.


Meh.


The password is 'SELECT'!

Well, that's a lot more convenient that waiting around for the new moon in a poison swamp.


Search the Altar of the Spirit...


Yep, he sells the stuff. I don't buy any, because it's 20 gp each and I'm saving up for a Wand for Mariah.


You know what Cove and Buccaneer's Den don't have? Hotels or healers! So all that damage we took in Despise adds up, and the damage tile outside the Buccaneer's Den reagent seller was enough to drop Mariah to 0 HP. Without a caster in the party, I'm left to drift on the breeze, unable to control where I go.


I drift by Skara Brae, but not close enough to land.


Eventually -- after nearly fifteen minutes of watching scrubland and mountains and oceans and poison swamps go by under the balloon, I land a short hike away from Castle Britain. There's a healer in Britain town, so I drop by to resurrect Mariah. (Lord British will heal to you max HP if you're wounded, but can't bring back the dead unless there's a total party wipe.)

We've learned:
- The Skull of Mondain is between three volcanoes east of Serpent's Hold.
- The Silver Horn is north of Magincia.
- Being stuck in a balloon without anyone who can cast Wind is very boring.
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R^2

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Dungeons are first-person affairs while you wander the hallways. Certain rooms use the usual battle engine, and once the battle is won, the town/map engine to look around for e.g. secret passage switches. Once you leave that screen, you're back in first-person view for the dungeon corridor again.

I'll go into more detail as I explore the other dungeons in the game.
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R^2

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We start today's adventure by dropping our balloon off near Britain and hopping a ship. (And by "hopping a ship" I flippantly refer to murdering a crew of pirates and sailing off while Mariah mops the blood up off the deck.)


Because as much of a pain as sea travel is I'd still rather do it than walk through that poison swamp to get to this valley.


Which in turn leads to this little building tucked away.


Enter in peace, friend!

It's a shrine! I haven't been keeping track of the tips on where the shrines are, because I've seen most of them from my balloon anyway. The guard will tell you which shrine it is, and open the gate for you if you have the associated rune.


Speak now unto the Ankh!

This old guy says the same thing in every shrine (swapping out virtues as appropriate) so I'm going to skip him from now on.


I assume they mean cycles of the moon, as a measure of time. :shrug:






One down, seven to go. Hawkwind tells you when you're worthy of partial avatarhood, and thus worthy of this step. If you're not and you meditate anyway, you get tips regarding the associated virtue.

In this case:
Allow that which is not evil to flee thy wrath.
Give freely of thy wealth to those less fortunate.
Light the Candle of Love at the gates of the Abyss!


We swing by Minoc.



For thee I shall fashion the Axe of Legend, for I have witnessed thy coming in my dreams!

Dude I don't wanna know who you have dreams about coming.

If you return too soon:

Be patient, worthy Seeker.




Time to grab another ship.


Sail around the cape to another shrine.




awhhhuuuuuuuut?!


Hot diggity damn, he's right! Nobody told me where it is, so I never picked it up!


Fine, we'll go to this shrine instead.


Same deal. Talk to the Ankh, choose to meditate, and...



The clues you get about Valor are:
Flee not from strife with that which is evil!
To flee uninjured from a just battle is cowardice!
Ring the Bell of Courage at the gates of the Abyss!



Jhelom is right there.


Yeah, yeah.


earth split asunder and from his sash hung a sprig of that poison the mages call Manroot!

I just missed the relevant information the first time I came through.


While we're at it: three volcanoes.


You now prosess Mondain's Skull.

The Skull of Mondain can be used as an item. In battle, it destroys all enemies. In a town, it kills everyone. I think Lord British himself is the only person immune, probably Hawkwind too. Pretty sure everyone else just vanishes. Using the Skull for either purpose completely wrecks all your virtues.




I have never noticed this secret wall before.


moongate when the sky is dark!


even devils must flee it!


Gotta sail again.


'Cause balloons can't land on this island.




While we're sorta-kinda in the area...




We've been warned that approaching the shrine in this area gets you attacked by devils -- and it's true, every step on this screen results in a random encounter, usually with demons and balrogs and liches and mages and stuff.




But as we also learned, blowing the Silver Horn prevents that from happening.




I tried to get the screencap while all four lines of "Thou hast achieved partial Avatarhood in the virtue of _____!" were on screen at the same time, but clearly my timing was a hair off.

Take no pride in thy deeds, for pride serves only the self.
Wield never the power of Evil, for it shall destroy thee.
The black stone doth appear on the night of the new moons. Search beneath the moongates!



Gotta blow the horn on your way out, too.

Anyway, three down, five to go. I'm worthy of Avatarhood in Honor but can't get into the shrine without the rune. I'm progressing well in Honesty, Justice, Sacrifice, and Spirituality, but I'm not worthy of Avatarhood in them yet.


It calls for a reagent that's expensive or hard to procure, so I've never cast it. But I think Gate just takes you to whatever place a moongate would take you depending on the phase of the moon that determines where moongates go.


Welp, it's two new moons, so we jump into the gate.


It takes us right back here. (Yew has a gate that does the same thing, putting you back where you entered it.)


But Yew's gate doesn't have an important thing at that spot.


Maybe if I were playing a character who could use a bow or something I could kill enough enemies that I wouldn't get outclassed by my assistant. :whoops:

What we've learned:
- The Candle of Love and Bell of Truth are used at the gates of the Abyss.
- The second ingredient for the Tremor spell is Manroot.
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R^2

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Well, these dungeons ain't gonna loot themselves.




Again, the back entrance to Hythloth -- and now that I think about it, the only entrance, since you can't get to the other one without a balloon, and leaving that was is the only way to get the balloon in the first place -- takes you straight down to level 8, the bottommost level of any dungeon. And every dungeon is connected by altar rooms on level 8, so...




All of the dungeons based on virtues derived from Truth connect here -- so Spirituality (Hythloth), Honor (Shame), Honesty (Deceit), and Justice (Wrong).


So it's a good shortcut to save yourself a lot of map-exploring and dungeon-crawling.


Of course, the bottommost levels also have the strongest monsters. A Xorn, a Treant, and three Ettins aren't even the worst of it.


And secret switches in damage zones are not rare.


But Wrong is a good place to start, since the stone room is on level 8 too. This is not always the case!


the course of thy travels?

Well, yeah.




I'm assuming your script wasn't quite programmed right, buddy, prompting you to say the "Expel from dungeon" lines before your "You get a thing" line.


The wall vanishes.


Everybody must get stones!


We trek back to the Altar of Truth.


And shortcut into Deceit.


There are some tougher battles here, including one that has three Gazers and a Balrog that I didn't screencap for some damn reason. I make it to the stone room nonetheless.


Now here's the trick. No matter what the NPC in these rooms says, no matter how obvious the "right" answer is, their questions are always basically "Do you want this stone?". The answer is always yes. If you ever say no, they kick you out of the dungeon.

I guess in this case I'm being honest enough with myself to admit that no one is ever perfectly honest.






We can't take another round of fighting to get back to Hythloth, so we Exit from Deceit and end up at the normal entrance. Thankfully a ship is along shortly so we can sail back to Britain, heal up, and go back into Hythloth.




Just one more for Truth...




Shame is laid out oddly. The stone is on level 2, but if you enter from the world map entrance, you have to go all the way down a ladder shaft like in Hythloth to get to level 7, fight a mandatory battle, climb back up a different shaft, and know there's a secret door to access the rest of the dungeon on level 4 before you accidentally climb back out and leave from level 1. Or you can start from Hythloth and fight your way up to level 2, passing this secret trove on level 6 on the way. There are 22 chests here giving the usual 1-99 gold, so you average about a thousand gold for making this detour.


And as you climb, the scripted fights get easier.




along the path of honor, for so long as thou shalt draw breath?

Obvious yes.





This time I take the stairs out, reenter the dungeon from the entrance, drop to level 7, fight, up to 4, into the dungeon proper, and descend from there to reaccess the Altar room. Why?


Because the treasure room resets when you leave the dungeon.


Anyway, this is the first scripted fight you get into coming from Hythloth, and the last fight you have to do before you leave. Dragons and Hydras are some of the toughest monsters in the game. When I came in, they all ganged up on Mariah, and she had to go through all of this mess with her HP cut by half from getting so beat up in the very first fight.


Anyway, I make it back to the Altar of Truth, mage intact.


There are four holes to put stones into. Do you want to put this stone here?

Yeah, we worked out what to do here already. The stones for the virtues derived from Truth are blue, purple, green, and white. You know, the ones I just got from the adjoining dungeons. Mostly. :derp:


Aw yeah. Now, uh... what do I do with this thing? Everyone's told me I need it, and how to get it, but not what it's for!




Since there's no other way out of this valley, and no way to get from Hythloth to Castle Britain, the balloon is always here waiting for you whenever you exit to keep you from getting stuck.


We happen to drift by Empath Abbey first, which is okay since there's a Healer there and we're awfully beat up. (Inns cost 20 gold and restore +100 HP to everyone in your party. Healers are 70 gold and completely restore one character. Lord British, of course, will completely heal you for free.)


While we're here, we'll follow up on a lead.

Or would, if she actually told us the last ingredient for the Life spell. Wait a minute... her last name is Mandracha! Dracha sounds like "drache", the German word for Dragon. Dragons collect hoards of gold. Gold... old... cold! It's always cold underground. Roots grow in the ground... Manroot! It's so obvious!


Having swung by Skara Brae to restore some reagents (and by overpaying the blind reagent seller, pumping my Honesty a little), it's back to Britain.


You know the drill.




Hythloth being the dungeon of Spirituality, and Spirituality being derived from Truth, Love, and Courage, Hythloth connects to all three altar rooms.

So we head from the Altar of Love into Covetous, and shortly...




blood from a dying companion?

...yyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyes?


:shrug:



Now. Sacrifice is derived from Love and Courage, so the bottom level of Covetous connects to both of those Altar Rooms. And since I'm only missing one more stone -- having collected White and Black elsewhere, picking up Yellow earlier, and having grabbed the Green, Blue, and Purple ones from the Alter of Truth -- I head down and out the exit leading to...





And from there...

To the bottom of Destard, the dungeon of Valor.


No sweat.


............................y... yes?


:shrug:




Welp. You know the drill. Red, purple, orange, and white stones go here.




Yellow, green, orange, and white.



Oh, yeah.



Using a Gem or casting the View spell will give you a map of your current dungeon level. This is Hythloth level 8. All of it. See, the edges of the map wrap around, so it's possible on some levels to walk straight in one direction and come back to the ladder you just entered the level from. The Chalices, in this case, are Altar Rooms, but stone rooms use the same icon. Hollow boxes are scripted encounters. Arrows are ladders -- this being the bottom, none point down from here. Secret doors are (blessedly) marked on this map, so that's one reason to buy a lot of Gems to bring with you on any crawl.
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R^2

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Back to Britain town.


Talk to this guy in town. (Sacrifice+)


Talk to this guy in the castle, and say no. (Justice+)


Talk to this guy in the castle, and ask about some of the virtues I need to build. (Spirituality+)

Go heal by talking to Lord British. Repeat a couple times.


The harvest time is nigh!

I guess that's the only clue you're going to get that there's something here to pick up.


You don't even have to wait for the harvest to come in. You can start as the Paladin so this is your starting town, walk straight to this field, and pick up the Rune. And I'd have grabbed it on my first visit except I said I'd play the game straight.




...Sacrifice. More bad timing.

It is most noble to give if it doth costs thee thy last coin.
To flee and leave thy friends to fight is wicked.
Give of thy very life's blood, so that others may live.


Between meditations, you must take a specific number of steps on the world map before you're ready to meditate again. Thankfully, riding in the balloon counts -- and since the balloon never takes you directly to where you want to go, it's a pretty safe bet you're well-rested enough to hold your Avatar vigil whenever you get to where you're going.


But while we're in the area...




Only Jeff can.


Remember, dive in when both moons are full to reach the Shrine of Spirituality. And near Minoc is where the gates appear when the left moon is full, so...


You're warped straight into the building, and taken back to the Minoc cliffside when you leave. The Shrine of Spirituality does not otherwise exist on the world map.



Visit the seer Hawkwind often, and learn of thy own Spirit!
Meditation casts light upon the shadows of thy spirit.
The Great Mountain holds the white stone at its heart!



You can't get in by boat through those shallows. Mandatory poison swamp.





Do not open another's chests uninvited!
Stir not strife among the peaceful!
Seek no quarrel with creatures not evil!








A thief is but a begger without honor.
To slay the innocent doth not show thy honor.
Never turn away from a challenge, nor shirk a quest!



I had to grind up Honesty with the reagent seller in Paws before I was ready for this part.

The tips here:
Never steal in the townes or castles!
Do not deceive the shopkeepers.
Open the Book of Truth at the gates of the Abyss












Not bad for a level 4 Shepherd. My MP rocket up to 99, so I don't really need Mariah around anymore.


Empath Abbey!


Infinite stairs no longer!




How well you came!

Master of Virtue thou art now, yet soon thou must master the Great Stygian Abyss as well. Open this box and take up the Exotic Armour, that thou might survive its perils!






Whoa. Inventory overload can lead to big problems, I guess.

Mariah, hold my old cloth armor for me.






Infinite stairway no more!


Thou hast earned at last the fabled Sword of Paradise!


So, other than being the one sword everyone can equip, what can this d--


SWEET JESUS


Fun fact: the balloon can get sucked through moongates, which disembarks you. Lucky me this was the two-new-moon gate that takes you back to where you were. Still gotta wait until the gate goes away before I can fly off again.


Might as well wrap up this sidequest while we're at it.

Next time: The Great Stygian Abyss!
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R^2

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Well, as sidequests go, we have...

well, only one loose end. We have two of the three ingredients needed for the Tremor spell. I think we'll let that one slide, since I've only cast four spells the entire game (Light, Wind, Exit, and Energy).

So all we have left unresolved on our "What we've learned" list is:


Virtues:
Compassion: Yellow, made of Love, Britain
Valor: Red, made of Courage, Jhelom
Honesty: Blue, made of Truth, Moonglow.
Honor: Purple, made of Courage and Truth, Trinsic.
Justice: Green, made of Love and Truth, Yew
Sacrifice: Orange, made of Courage and Love, Minoc
Spirituality: White, made of Courage and Truth and Love, Skara Brae
Humility: made of no principles, Magincia

- My last goal is to enter the Great Stygian Abyss. I can survive doing so with the Exotic Armor I'm wearing, but I still have to go alone.
- The Bell, Book, and Candle are used to enter the Abyss.
- The Codex is in the Abyss. Reading from it wins the game.
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Brentai

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Quote



I parsed that as Book grasping out in awe for the hard-won armor of legend, realizing for the first time that she doesn't actually know how to use any armor, and experiencing a complete mental breakdown.
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LaserBeing

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I'm assuming the "exotic armour" is some kind of ancient space suit, in keeping with the tradition of random incongruous endgame science fiction elements.
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Stush

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Good luck with the LP, Artoo~
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R^2

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I'm assuming the "exotic armour" is some kind of ancient space suit, in keeping with the tradition of random incongruous endgame science fiction elements.

Seems legit. Apparently you die in the Abyss without it (mental note: test whether this is actually the case). Could be that the air in the Abyss is sulphurous or otherwise toxic, and you need a sealed suit to survive.  The Exotic Armor does not appreciably decrease incoming damage!
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R^2

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With all three Principle keys in hand, and having attained Avatarhood, I'm actually further in the game than I've ever been before! So I'm going into the Abyss blind -- I'm not going to use any maps, guides, or hints.


I've spent pretty much all my time since getting the Key saving up cash to get Mariah a Wand. But she can't come with me into the Abyss anyway, so instead I blow all my savings on reagents. I buy 99 of the usual six reagents, and 50 Manroot.


:getout:




Once you've attained Avatarhood, Lord British has a new greeting for you.


So good to cast for myself.


There it is, folks. Nowhere to land nearby, though.


There is this tiny island nearby, though... with a shrine we haven't visited.


Paradise may conquer the Abyss. All else face certain doom!

That's me, bubby!


And thou must face it... alone.


The black knight always triumphs!


I hail a ship as it passes by, mop the blood up off the deck, and sail into the valley.


Poison swamp. Figures.


But hey, I can cast magic now.


Lava. Figures.





Those passingly familiar with Catholic exorcism (or the same ritual in Nethack) know which order to use the next three items in.



A massive earthquake!





Another massive earthquake!










Welp, here goes.
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R^2

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We light a torch and have a look into one of them fancy-seein' gems.


Remember, the map loops around, and our location is in the center. Level one is refreshingly straightforward! East through two scripted encounters, turn south, two more scripted encounters, turn east and then north for the chalice.


Encounter square one! Free pass.


Encounter two! Firebreathing dinosaurs! These guys are kind of tough, made more so by the fact that to kill them in a reasonable time I have to run up and sword them. On the upside, the one guy kind of wanders back and forth through the lava until it kills him, so there's that.


Dum de dum


More dinos! And some hydras. Every time they breathe fire, it leaves a damage panel under my feet.


sword sword sword


I didn't screencap the fight, but it was more of the same.


This game doesn't have healing potions, and the Heal spell only recovers double-digit HP. Good thing I bought so many reagents.






Full HP restores are not a thing I expected to find in the final dungeon.

Anyway, to the chali-- oh. The chalice icon on the map is...


An actual chalice.




No sweat. We've had this association pretty well hammered in by now.
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R^2

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Level two!


So a gauntlet of six scripted rooms, then a little maze-wandering and -- as the four holes in the wall indicate -- a secret passage to reach the chalice. You're not gonna fool me with a ladder, no way the Abyss is that easy.


Well, the first step is easy.


As is the second.


Oh right, except Treants can cast Sleep, and the Exotic Armor doesn't defend against status ailments.

(The Lava is a side effect of the Energy spell. If I'm fighting enemies who need to file through a chokepoint, I'll use Energy to put some damage floors down and save myself some trouble. Even the fiery wisp monsters -- burning and flying as they are -- take damage from the Energy-Lava.)




Another easy fight. The only threatening monster is the dragon in the middle -- the beasts I can take out with a single sling shot.


Dum de dum.


A balrog, two demons, two skellingtons, and a serpent.


Dum de dum.


Oh, right. The east passage out led to a dead end. I head back in...


And hit the obvious "secret" switch tile.





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R^2

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Hah, I knew the ladder down was a trap.

Anyway, looks like only two scripted encounters this time. Or one, a healing fountain, return to the one, complete the other, chalice. w/e


We should have enough Heal spells that we can skip the fountain.


Demons love to cast Reflect, making your attacks useless against them for a few turns, but they're not otherwise dangerous.


GEE A DEAD END WHAT DO I DO







Well, that was an easy level.
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R^2

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Do they just assume you don't think to use the map items/spells here? I mean yeah going south -- four encounters to a dead end, then having to come back through the first three -- would be a pain, but I can tell there's a secret passage immediately to my east leading to two encounters and a chalice.


The first encounter is with Gazers. Even if their attack misses, it can put you to sleep. (It does.)


But their follow-up attacks are rather lacking.


Orcs and ettins. No sweat.






This would be a lot harder if you weren't asking for these in the order they're listed on the menu.
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R^2

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I didn't screencap the map of level 5. Sorry.


A balrog, a headless, and a xorn. The xorn can cast Negate, preventing me from casting spells for several turns, but gets stuck on the local geography and can't close to melee to be an actual threat.




Speaking of Negate, two sleep-inducing Treants and a Gazer demand my own use of it here. Otherwise I'd sleep for three or four turns, get pounded on, wake up, and have one of the three monsters put me back to sleep again before I could move. So I cast Negate, sword the Gazer, sword the Treants, and let Negate wear off while I finish off the other phantoms and stuff.

This was, and I wish I were kidding, the hardest fight in the game. And it was neutered with a single spell.










WHAT IS THE NEXT ITEM ON THIS LIST


WHICH COLOR IS IN THE SAME PLACE ON THIS LIST
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R^2

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As you can imagine, there's only one path through this gauntlet of encounters. And if you miss that there's a secret entrance leading to said path, you can wander around poking at side rooms from the wrong direction for well over half an hour.



Not that I did that, of course.



I'd never do something like that.



At all.



Ever.



Ahem.


This is the proper way in.
















YOU DICK


And as a last check to make sure you're paying attention, a secret passage to the wrong direction.


Last encounter of the level!





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R^2

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For some damn reason I didn't screencap the map of this level either. It's a twisty passage of scripted encounters leading generally northwest.




Phantoms, no problem.


This shit again.


Hydras. And this is the first room to not have a four-directional entrance/exit map...


DO YOU THINK I HAVE NEVER PLAYED ZELDA BEFORE COME ON

(To be fair, the original game came out in 1985, so uh)


I don't remember what monsters were in this room, but finding secret passage: justified.





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R^2

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Dungeons got eight levels, right?




Zat all you got?


Forgot to screencap the monsters again, but why take pictures of speedbumps? To avoid taking a wrong turn here, make sure you find both secret switches. One opens the wall, the other creates the bridge.


Five demons and a mimic.


These are the highest-HP monsters in the game, but they're walking around on lava on turns they're not spitting fireballs at me. Not really a tough battle.




Two more encounters to go.




Well, this was somewhat unexpected. Hey guys what's up in this eighth level of the Abyss


Squish is basically Gravija, hitting all enemies onscreen and reducing them to about a quarter of their max HP.


But if that's 3/4 of their HP, I could have just sworded them anyway.


These doppelgangers still love their melee, so I put down a few damage floors for them to walk through to get to me. The lava takes out the not-mage, not-druid, not-bard, and not-ranger by the time the battle's over.


I sword the rest of them and get ready for the FINAL BATTLE


Let's roll. This is gonna be so great you guys. Maybe it's the man in black going around terrorizing everybo--


Seriously?


I might as well have sneezed these guys away.









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