The Let's Play Archive

Dragon Wars

by rujasu

Part 2: Purgatory

Update 2: Purgatory Part 1

Let us begin the game!

Yep, that's right, you start this game off with literally nothing. Take a look at Madrick's inventory:

Every character manages his or her own stuff, including money. Note the statistics at the top: the first row of numbers is the attributes we set in character creation.

The second row includes Attack and Defense, which are essentially "accuracy" and "dodge" rather than how much damage you'll do. In fact, nothing on this screen will tell you how much damage your characters do when attacking, so you just have to figure this out on your own. We're level 1 of course, and have no armor, so AC is 0. This is one of those games where an AC of 0 is the worst, and it counts up from there, so higher numbers are better.

The next row is Health and Stun. Max Stun is always equal to Max Health. When a character is attacked, he or she will receive either stun damage, or both health and stun damage. If Stun goes to 0, the character is stunned and cannot fight, but this is recovered after battle. If Health goes to 0, the character is dead. Dead is particularly difficult to recover from in this game, and if a character dies, your best option is usually to restore from your last save point. The good news is that you can save anywhere in this game, even in dungeons.

Power is MP. If you don't have a Magic skill, this is always 0/0. If you have Magic, max Power is Spirit x 2. Madrick has 16 Spirit, so he has 32 power, which is considered a high number in this game.

The bad news is that nobody has actually learned any spells yet. You have to find scrolls and read them to learn spells. It turns out that these scrolls are tough to come by, as Namtar has outlawed all magic in Dilmun. Naturally, Madrick and our other two magic users are not going to be happy about this development!

To make matters worse, the game has dumped us in the middle of the slum known as Purgatory. Fortunately, Purgatory isn't too dangerous. Many enemies will only deal stun damage to us, and battles are generally easy to run from.

For example, walking just to the East, we immediately run into a Big Dog. We could easily run from the dog, who is 30 feet away. But instead, let's "Advance ahead" to get into melee range.

With the now dog being 10 feet away, we can fight it.

Not too tough. We took a bit of stun damage, but that's automatically healed at the end of battle.

So, what happens if we wander to the south a bit?

Eh, what's the worst that can happen?

Um. Just a hunch, but I don't think we're supposed to fight these guys yet. Fortunately, they're a good distance away, so...

Perhaps we should look for another way out of Purgatory. Let's head north!

Hopefully this guy flunked out of Spleen-Kicking 101. Rather than advance ahead, let's just stay back by having everyone use the "Dodge" command.

Now he's at 20 feet. We'll have everyone "attack" and let the Pikeman waste his turn coming to us. This way, we're essentially getting a pre-emptive attack.

Okay, so we got a free shot in on him! Now let's go another round...

Nice! We got some experience and gold, though Piers took some health damage. He's at 14 Health, which is fine, but we'll want to keep an eye on him.

Two Big Dogs, still pretty easy to contend with. Again, we wait for them to come to us rather than advancing and make short work of them.

We dispatch the Bandits quickly as well.

Sweet! When a character gains a level, he or she gets two extra skill points to distribute. Let's save them for a bit. Going just a bit farther north...

Well, that looks interesting.

Taking a cue from Interplay's earlier game Wasteland, the manual for Dragon Wars contains "paragraphs" with text indicating what is going on in the game. This was partly as an attempt at copy protection, but it also saved memory. Personally, I like this. The descriptions are interesting, and I don't have to sit through any boring cutscenes.

Paragraph 4 posted:

You stand before the gate to Purgatory's great public arena. Bloodthirsty residents of the Dilmun
interior come here toenjoy the spectacle of outlander scum such as yourselves fighting to the death on the
floor of the arena.
A guard swaggers up to you He is clad in the trappings of authority fine armor, a weather-beaten harness
well-oiledweapons. "Oy there, you filthy street scum," the guard growls. "you look fit enough to hold a
weapon. Why not haul your butt into the arena and make yourself useful?" Why fight for another man's
pleasure when life in Purgatory is adaily struggle for survival? You're about to turn away when the guard
lays a heavy hand on your shoulder and adds,"You'll get your choice of arms...and if you defeat your foe,
which I doubt, you might win Papers of Citizenship. Namtar help me - heathen dogs like you living in
Dilmun! I don't like it, but the law is the law."

Piers: Let's do this! We can pick out our own swords and armor, beat up some thugs, and win honor, glory, and citizenship!

Madrick: Count me out! I want no parts of this hand-to-hand fighting business!

Kali: Sounds exciting, but are we sure we're ready for this?

Dolph: Don't worry. I have a plan. Just follow my lead, everyone!

We get up to take up to 12 items, so we grab the following:

Piers: Broadsword, Leather Armor
Madrick: Mace, Leather Armor
Kali: Battle Axe, Leather Armor
Dolph: Leather Armor, Bow, 4 packs of Arrows


"Don't forget to equip your items," says the guard. "Let the combat commence!"

These words hardly finish echoing in your ears as the gate slams behind you and the roar of the crowd raises to a cresendo.

Everyone equips their arms and armor, and prepares for the fight...

Piers: ...

Kali: Dolph, about that plan...

Dolph: Hey, look over there!

Gladiator: Huh?


The guards take your gold as a penalty for losing the combat. "Better luck next time!" snickers the guards.

We lose a small amount of gold, but that's a small price to pay, because we get to keep the weapons!

The Gladiators are too tough to take on now, but we can return to the Arena later if we desire.

Let's explore the western part of Purgatory.

Paragraph 9 posted:

A statue of Namtar, the Beast From the Pit, dominates this dirty city square. You carefully examine the statue, trying to memorize the features of the villain who exiled you to Purgatory. You struggle in vain.
The citizens of Purgatory,themselves no less fond of Namtar, have taken it out on his image - the nose is broken, limbs are chipped, and the mouthis deformed beyond all recognition.As you watch, a wild beggar spits on the statue. "Filthy face of stone!," she mumbles. "Layed down with lizards he did,that stone face lies as much as he!" The poor mad creature wanders off, still spitting and mumbling, leading you to wonder if a similar fate awaits you in the months to come.

Namtar is a jerk, if you hadn't picked up on that.

A bit further to the west is a small building:

Paragraph 10 posted:

This back-alley building is in remarkably good repair. Curious, you enter, and recognize the interior of a modestly-appointed magic shop. A wizened gnome of a man springs from behind the counter and
scurries up to you. "Mercy,mercy me...customers! Bless me, customers at last!"
The old man is insane but friendly. He explains all high magic has been outlawed by order of Namtar, but
instruction inthe low arts is still permitted in isolated regions. He is eager to teach you what he knows,
and will in fact refuse a fee,preferring to teach for the simple joy of it. Unfortunately, the old man knows
little useful magic.

The wizard offers unlimited Low Magic scrolls, meaning all three of our magic users will pick up enough scrolls to learn all six Low Magic spells. This is all of the Low Magic there is in the game, and in general it's nothing special, but it offers a little bit of everything:

Mage Fire - Does a few damage to one enemy 30' away. Very useful now, less important later on.
Disarm - Disarms a foe. I've tried using this a bit, don't remember being impressed with the results.
Charm - Increases AV (accuracy) for one person slightly during combat. Never used this.
Luck - Increases DV (dodge rate) for one person slightly during combat. Never used this.
Lesser Heal - Heals a few points of health. Useful until we get better healing spells.
Mage Light - If you're in a dark area, cast this so you can see.

Everyone but Piers learns Low Magic, and Madrick stashes a handful of extra scrolls in his bag.

This is the western edge of the city, so let's head east.

There's a healer on the east side of the city, but it costs gold and we just lost all of ours. Instead, we can have Madrick cast Lesser Heal on Piers to refill his Health.

The building across from the healer has a few drunks standing in front of it. Gee, think this might be a tavern of some sort? Let's fight with the drunks and make our way inside. The drunks fail to land a hit on us, so it's an easy fight.

Madrick: Perfect! We should ask around for more meatshields to stand in front of me! Mwahahaha!
Piers: As insulted as I am, I have to agree. We need allies if we're going to defeat those gladiators at the arena, or those guards at the main gate.

Ulrik posted:

Fresh faces are a rare thing here, may name is Ulrik, and like you I cannot settle for slavery. Let us join forces.

Ulrik is a pure melee fighter who comes ready for action, and also has a 3 in the Axes skill. Note that while Ulrik's Attack Value is listed as 3 on this screen, he actually gets an additional bonus for each point of weapon skill which is not shown. Since Ulrik is using an axe and has a 3 in Axes, his AV is actually 6 right now, which is a good number. He should usually connect.

Now, let's talk about party order. There are seven party slots, and those in the first four can attack with melee weapons. Those in the back can only attack with bows or magic. We definitely want Piers and Ulrik up front, and Dolph can use magic or his bow from the back, so we'll go with a party order of Piers, Ulrik, Kali, Madrick, Dolph.

Now with that out of the way, let's see what the hot rumors are at the tavern.

Barkeep posted:

"I hear there's a secret hatch within the southwest tower leading to freedom."

"I hear a strong man can swim to safety through the harbor."

"I hear you should pay your respects to Irkalla if you plan to enter her realm."

So, what will our plan of action be?

- Try to escape Purgatory by looking for the secret hatch in the SW tower
- Try to escape Purgatory by swimming
- Pay our respects to Irkalla
- Explore Purgatory further
- Give up all hope and sell ourselves as slaves