Part 3: Olde Tyme Capsule Fun
Olde Tyme Capsule Fun
We left off where we started, in the 1895 capsule on the Martian surface. Mars is red, that's how you can tell we're there.
Notice the interface is just a steampunky version of Ultima VI's. There are some marked differences, though. First and foremost, characters have slightly different paperdolls. Second, Steve actually remembered her pocketwatch this time.
Steve's stats have regressed a bit, but they're pretty good otherwise. She starts at a pretty damn high level and has plenty of HP and HM. What is HM, you ask? Just Max HP.
"So wait," you say, "what about magic points?"
This is 1895 Jules Verne Mars, you dope. There's no magic here! ...well, kind of. We'll get to that later. No spellbooks though.
Spector's a bit flabby, but he's sharp. He has decent HP too, for his level.
Nellie's kind of Iolo-esque, but she's quite weak. Fortunately, Martian Dreams has guns, so we're good there.
And now to talk to them!
You see a lean, dark-bearded man with kindly eyes.
"So I'm still letting this sink in, but you're him, you know. Warren Spector."
"Normally I hang out with Iolo."
"That's a shame, Steve."
"So, I mean, what exactly are you going to do here?"
"Probably keep you out of trouble, Steve."
"Damn, you really are smarter than Iolo."
"No, really, for now I'll be content to be your assistant in your explorations."
"That's right. Let's not forget who saved your ass in Savage Empire."
"Yes indeed, a grand adventure in its own way. I'm certainly glad you were there to help me with that one. I don't know where I would have been without you." He sighs and shakes his head.
"I can't help but think I'm missing something. I'm not really used to traveling with someone worth a shit. So uh, let's talk about Mars. Where we are. Apparently."
"The hypotheses of the Victorian age don't seem to correlate with our modern discoveries about the red planet, Steve. We'll have to see if our science or their intelligent guesswork is more reliable." He grins and gestures you closer. "Considering your history of travels to worlds with fantastic creatures and scientific mysteries, would you care to bet on the scientific reality of this particular Mars?"
"I thought not." He chuckles.
"I don't actually know who any of these people are. Didn't Tesla design base defenses for the Russians?"
"That's Red Alert, Steve. The real Tesla is a first-class scientist. Definitely unorthodox in his approach, but he achieved some miraculous breakthroughs in his career with electricity and magnetism. I'm glad he's on our side!" He grins.
"When we were coming here Sigmund Freud said I had penis envy or something. He's on my list."
"Definitely an interesting man. Highly intelligent. He has yet to do most of his influential studies, you know."
"We'll just see about that..."
"No, we won't. I'm not letting you kill Sigmund Freud. Nellie, maybe-"
"It was a joke, Nellie." He grins and his teeth do that twing thing.
"Oh Dr. Spector!"
"Where were we?"
"I don't know, something about that cowboy."
"I'm afraid I don't know much about Mr. Garrett. He certainly seems like a classic cowboy, doesn't he? I'm sure he'll be useful to have along."
"And Dr. Blood?"
"Actually, I don't know too much about his work. I know he worked... sorry, works... primarily with the use of oxygenated air on patients."
"How about Nellie?"
"I'm standing right here, Steve, why not just ask me yourself?"
"Look, this is gonna be a real long expedition if you don't learn how the Avatar rolls, Nellie. I'll get to you in a minute. Now then, Warren?"
"A fascinating woman. Did you know she travelled around the world alone? And made it in less than the 80 days hypothesis in Jules Verne's book. She's pretty unique in this day and age."
"Right. What about this Lowell guy who screwed all this up in the first place?"
"The reports of Lowell's odd behavior have me worried, Steve. He's one of the premier scientists of the day. I do hope nothing serious has gone wrong."
"Yup. Okay, time to talk to you now, Nellie."
You see a comely, well-mannered woman in her late 20s.
"My dear Steve, so nice to speak to you again."
"So I'll just come right out and say it, but what the hell kind of name is Nellie Bly?"
"What the hell kind of name is Steve the Avatar?"
"Touche, Nellie Bly."
"Nellie Bly is my current nom de plume, although my given name is Elizabeth Cochrane. Although I believe it to be a fine name, I decided to adopt the name Nellie Bly after hearing my editor at the Dispatch hum the Stephen Foster tune of the same name. I believe it fits me well."
"Oh, Stephen Foster is one of the most talented composers that I know. His works are very popular in Pittsburgh."
"So he's a... rap artist?"
"Oh, uh, so you're a reporter?"
"I work for Mr. Joseph Pulitzer as a reporter for the World which I feel to be the finest paper in print. Perhaps you have read some of my writings. I have written of the horrible conditions of the inmates of Blackwell's Island. I even had myself committed in order to gain firsthand experience of the poor souls' wretched existence."
"I thought I told you to read up on this in Wikipedia before we left."
"It was like 1992, what the hell was I supposed to be looking for?"
"Blackwell's Island Asylum for Women. It is a despicable place, where the inmates are cruelly treated and many women who are as sane as you or I-"
"Let's just go with 'I' and leave it at that, Miss Bly."
"-must remain, judged by incompetent doctors."
"Sounds like fun. One time I had to save a king from a collapsing underworld. And now we're on Mars, how do you like that?"
"Oh dear, I'm afraid I can't help you with that. Perhaps the kind Dr. Spector or Mr. Tesla can be of assistance. Mr. Tesla is a very interesting man. He seems to be quite adept in many physical sciences, especially the study of power and electricity. Mr. Pulitzer felt that he would be an excellent choice for an expedition leader."
"So Pulitzer put all this together, huh? Maybe I can get his prize."
"That's... not how it works, Steve."
"What about the others? Dr. Freud?"
"Dr. Freud is a psychologist. He has been asking us the most unusual questions to further his research. He strikes me as a bit odd, though, and reminds me very much of the doctors in New York that I was able to dupe into believing that I was insane. Dr. Blood has had a difficult career of late. His theories concerning oxygen are interesting, but I can't determine if he has truly made any important discoveries. Nonetheless, I am glad to have his services on this expedition. As for Mr. Garrett, he's quite a charmer! He was our guard and provisioner while working at the laboratory in Colorado. Unfortunately I didn't get to speak to him much before we began our journey."
"Well, maybe something will come up while we're stumbling around uselessly."
"Very well, Steve. We can continue our conversation at a later time."
Only one person is left in the main cabin, so let's sit down for a little more analysis from Sigmund Freud himself.
You see a distinguished man with a probing stare.
"Guten tag, Steve. What may I do for you?"
"What exactly are you doing here anyway, Dr. Freud?"
He smiles and fishes a notebook from his pocket. "I am currently studying dreams, for they are a good indication of the psychological structure and personality of the dreamer."
He makes a note, then says, "Ja, they tell much about the person involved. For example, many people dream that they are being chased by something they cannot see. This usually indicates the individual is feeling oppressed by something, or has a duty to perform that is in some way unpleasant to them. Psychology is my chosen profession. It is the goal beckoning me from afar. I have begun work on theories of the structure of personalities."
"What do you mean your goal?"
"My goal is to infer or learn how the mental apparatus is constructed and what forces interplay and counteract in it. I believe that the personality is comprised of three components: the Id, the Ego, and the Superego. The Id is the mechanism for the release of tension that is brought about by a stimulus."
"Like a cannon!"
"Ja, whatever. The Ego is the means by which one deals with reality and one's external environment."
"Like a cannon!"
"...The Superego is the portion of the personality that defines one's morals."
"Just stop there, please."
"On the way here you analyzed me. Could you analyze anyone else?"
"Ja, of course."
"How about Spector?"
"Herr Doktor Spector seems like a fine gentleman, although a touch nervous at times. It would be interesting to learn more about his parents and his home situation when he was young. This would possibly give us some insight into his compulsively protective tendencies."
"How about Nellie?"
"Miss Bly is all too outgoing for a member of the fairer sex. I surmise that she was raised in an environment where her parents were overly strict. Thus, she developed very aggressive and proactive tendencies."
"Herr Tesla is much more knowing than I about Mars. You must confer with him if you wish to be learning more of the land. Hmm. A desire to leave the enclosed safety of the capsule. Yes, very interesting..." He mumbles and stares intently at his notes.
"Herr Garrett is a humorous case... he is clearly continuing to associate with his childhood even into adulthood. Perhaps this is the reason he feels he must act so possessively with the equipment we have brought with us."
"And Dr. Blood?"
"I have spoken briefly with Herr Doktor, and I am curious about his repressed anger. He seems to be suffering from feelings of inferiority... I will have to delve deeper into his problems before I can determine what to recommend to relieve his dilemma."
"Awesome. I'll let you know if I want dirt on anyone else."
"Goodbye, Steve. Feel free you discuss your concerns or your dreams with me at any time."
Freud won't be joining the expedition, but his help will still prove invaluable in its own way. Plus he can talk shit about everyone and make it sound analytical.
Out into the middle cabin. The pipe organ works. I'm sure it was very important in the 1800s to have a pipe organ on every interplanetary spacecraft. Tesla, Garrett, and Dr. Blood are in here too.
You see a good-looking, dark young man with an intense stare.
"Come, my friend. We have landed! Let us see how close my calculations were for our landing site." He strides to the window and stares out for a few seconds. He moves toward the door of the capsule. "Good, good! My calculations were precise, as usual."
"You can't tell that from just looking out a window."
"I'm Nikola Tesla, I can do that. We are not far from the site of the 1893 landing. It should be just east of here, within easy walking distance. The others may have important information you can use on your journey. It would be wise to speak with everyone before exiting the capsule. I would also check with Mr. Garrett for some utensil with which to pry open the door of the capsule. It seems to be jammed closed."
"The 1893 expedition is what we came here for, isn't it?"
"Indeed, it is of paramount importance that you find the landing site of the earlier expedition. The sextant we brought should help immensely. It should be in the hold. If you learn the coordinates of a place you wish to go to, the sextant will lead you there. The location for a place should be calculable using the sextant. It will give you a set of two numbers which you can then use to find the spot again later. The coordinates for the earlier landing site, for example, are 28S, 153W.
"So what will you be doing while Warren Spector and Nellie and I are out actually saving them?"
"It will be my job to monitor the communications from Earth through the giant reflectors. Communication must be maintained with the Earth to prove that my mission is a success. I will take care of it personally to guarantee its accuracy. Communications on the red planet are achieved through the means of light reflection by huge mirrored surfaces. We will set them up if they are needed and I will monitor them personally to insure emergency communications."
"There's not going to be much help if we do have an emergency. That was our last capsule. Though it does seem to have worked."
"Indeed, it has worked even better than I expected. It is rewarding to see my theories proven correct. I have tried the door, and it seems to be jammed. Please do ask Mr. Garrett for something with which to pry open the hatch."
A strange machine. Maybe Dr. Blood can tell us more about it.
You see a middle-aged man dressed in black.
"Greetings, my friends! Let me check you over while you're here. Can't be too careful, you know." After completing his examination, Blood proclaims, "No one here is in need of my services."
"I guess you're the healer... err... doctor for the trip?"
"Yeah, I'm a physician by profession. I heal those who are injured and I specialize in diseases of the lungs. Admittedly, I have fallen from favor in the medical community, as my innovations are too 'modern' for those who favor the status quo. At any rate, I still maintain my practice and operate an office at 27 Bond Street in New York."
"What do you mean 'innovations?' Are we talking like penicil-"
"Ixnay on the imetay aradoxespay, Steve."
"I have promoted the use of Oxygenized Air, which I feel is critical in the treatment of ailments of the respiratory system. It is imperative for survival that one have sufficient oxygen. Without such, the brain ceases to function properly. I fear that while on Mars, we shall suffer from oxygen deprivation. If you carry on in an oxygen-poor environment, you will notice a marked reduction in your physical strength and agility. Furthermore, the lack of oxygen flow to the brain will most certainly cause you to suffer a reduction of your mental faculties. Certainly, Steve, this is not a manner in which you should operate for any length of time."
We'll get back to that. For now, let's chat up ol' Dallas Garrett and start grabbing the loot in the cargo hold.
You see a weathered man in his 30s.
"Howdy, Steve. Anythin' I can help you with?"
"No offense or anything, but what exactly are we going to do with a cowboy on Mars?"
"Well, now that you're here, I recok I'm gonna be keepin' an eye on the home fires here. I'm a pretty good shot, if need be." He pulls out a six-shooter and twirls it expertly, slamming it back in its holster with a confident grin.
"Awesome. Look, I need to get the hatch open."
"I do carry a lot of different tools with me, and I know how to use 'em. Got me a prybar and some other doodads. Speakin' of equiment, one thing you might oughta do is check out the hold over there to see what we have in the way of gear. I hear tell they've got everythin' we need in there."
"You've got a prybar on you?"
"This here prybar works like a charm on anythin' what's stuck together. You need this for anythin', jest ask."
"Yeah, I need it to pop the hatch. And loot the hold. And possibly to dual wield with a cavalry saber."
"Right. Here you go. You just put that at the edge of the door and pull. She'll come off real easy with this."
As I've been known to say, let's get looting!
Here's the cargo hold. Lots of boxes and barrels and stuff. Since the premise of this is an expedition, the place is actually stocked with things that will be useful.
Well, this is the Victorian era. You can't go anywhere without bottles of wine and fine china. But the rest is useful.
The first strongbox here has a set of men's clothing. Since Mars is cold as hell (and not the place to raise your kids), we need to protect ourselves by covering up in warm clothing instead of armor. I was going to give this to Spector, but...
He's already got a set. Damn you Warren Spector, always planning ahead in case you wind up on 1895 Victorian Mars! So I'll just give some of that stuff to Nellie, who only has some gloves and a dress.
The prybar can open the nailed-shut crates, which hold most of the really good items.
Books. These may come in handy later. They seem to be a collection of works by Verne and others.
No torches in this game. We've moved up to lanterns. The advantage is they're quite bright and don't burn out as quickly. The downside is we'll need to lug along an adequate supply of lamp oil.
The first set of weapons. Lots of daggers, a couple machetes, and a cavalry saber. Melee isn't that great, but Steve has very high Strength and can actually make good use of it.
The spyglass and sextant, which might be handy if I didn't happen to have a map of the game. Still handy if we get lost.
You can't actually take this. It says it's Tesla's reflector kit, for emergency signal purposes, but it can't be opened or used in any way. Hmm.
A carpet bag, probably belonging to Dr. Blood, with some medical instruments... and a sledgehammer. Well, things were a little different in medicine back then.
The carpet bag is a container, which is nice, because Martian Dreams differs from Ultima VI in another very critical way. Notice we can see 16 inventory slots? That won't scroll; we're limited to 16 items in the inventory. The good news is, if one of those items is a container, we get 16 more slots.
The second container is a backpack with more survival stuff, like a hatchet and bedroll, and another lantern.
The second strongbox has a set of women's heavy clothing, which will keep Steve all wrapped up for a while. Also note the pith helmets. Awesome.
Tools. Most games, you wouldn't give a hoe a second thought, but there's no telling what we'll need on the trip. Plus it's good training for Ultima VII.
Mmmm, ammo. And where there's ammo, there must be...
...guns. Jackpot! We've got a six-shooter revolver, a hunting rifle, and a Belgian combine.
A combine is a gun which can load both rifle rounds and shotgun shells. Using it allows me to choose which of the two it fires, or fire both at once for extra kick. To preserve ammo it's probably a good idea to set it to one or the other until we know what kind of dangers we're up against out here.
That's the full loadout, so it's time to pry the hatch and get outta here.
A little-known fact: Nikola Tesla is also widely considered the father of copyright protection.
He asks me about the lenses used on Mars. Not that I'd know this, but thankfully I do have the manual so I know they're ruby red, and that satisfies Tesla.
And with that...
The hatch is open! Oh, and now we can't breathe right.
"Steve, this air is too rarefied for good health! I am sure that should anything happen to you, your friends can help you get back here." Dr. Blood reaches for your pulse. After he listens to your heartbeat and breathing, you see that he is concerned. "Best that you acquire some kind of oxygen supply, so that you will be in top form in case of trouble. I will prepare some of my Oxygenated Air cannisters for you. Use one on anyone who is injured or has fallen. Each cannister will only work once. I will continue to manufacture them so that you may occasionally return for more. I will remain here to help if needed."
And he's right! Those blue numbers mean we're actually being weakened by the Martian air. We'll need some kind of oxygen supply more convenient than Blood's cannisters if we're going to function at peak efficiency around here. The most obvious question is where to go from here. Since we don't really know where anything is, heading east to the 1893 landing site (it's funny that nobody calls it a crash) seems like the only good idea. And hell, we've got Steve, Warren Spector, and Nellie Bly armed to the teeth. What can go wrong?