The Let's Play Archive

Might & Magic III: Isles of Terra

by Thuryl

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Original Thread: Might & Magic III: The Good, the Bad and the Druids

If you liked this LP, you might also like Might & Magic by Thuryl, Might & Magic II by Thuryl and King's Bounty by Thuryl

Introduction

This will be a brief introduction to Might & Magic III. If you already understand how the game works, feel free to skip straight to the first update.



Might & Magic III is an RPG released by New World Computing in 1991. Some RPGs offer a deep and engaging story, while others offer detailed character customisation or intricate tactical combat. The Might & Magic series, however, is unapologetically about running around in a big open world, solving a few puzzles and killing loads of monsters. Also it has space aliens with ray guns in it.

Compared to the first two games, gameplay has been streamlined: the combat system is simpler and better integrated with exploration, and you won't randomly run into 255 sea monsters in the middle of a desert. If you're familiar with the first two games, you can expect this game's plot to have the same craziness you know and love, even if it's been toned down a bit. If you're not familiar with the first two games, I've already got LPs of M&M1 and M&M2 up on the LP archive: they'll provide a pretty good idea of what you can expect from this LP.

I'll be playing the Mac version for this LP because I'm used to its interface and it has slightly prettier graphics, but the DOS version is fine too, and it's available in easily-playable form as part of Good Old Games' Might and Magic 6-pack. I'm not saying it's the best $10 you'll ever spend on video games, but I bet it won't be the worst.



If we sit at the title screen without touching anything for a while, dramatic music plays and some text appears. Those of you who know the plot of the first two games already know a bit about who Corak the Mysterious is, and the rest of you will pick up what you need to know as we go along. The game's manual is written in the form of Corak's journal: it's pretty neat, although it's kinda short on actual gameplay information.



Sheltem was the antagonist of the first two games. He's also the Guardian of the world of Terra, where this game takes place. (The game came with a lovely little map of Terra, if you want to see the world our party will be tooling around in.) Judging by his behaviour so far, part of a Guardian's job description involves destroying every other world except for the one he's guarding.



And that's where we come in. As with any RPG, our party of brave (?), heroic (?) adventurers will set right (?) what's wrong with the world.



First, though, the giant disembodied head of Sheltem appears to taunt us. For the first time in a Might & Magic game, there's even voice acting: click here if you want to listen to it. If not, here's what he says:

I am Sheltem, Guardian of Terra. Twice now you have defeated my tests, thinking yourself worthy of invading my world. Walk carefully, then, through this third challenge, and take heed your final decision is truly what you desire. For the course of destiny cannot be turned once set in motion. Until our next meeting, mortals...

We'll find out what he means by that soon enough.



Upon starting the game, we're prompted to choose a name for our saved game file, and then hurled into the town of Fountain Head with a party of six pre-generated characters.



As we set out, it's the morning of the first day of the year 500. (M&M2 began in the year 900, so obviously the two games use different calendars.) It's important to keep track of the passage of time: most shops are only open at specific times of day or night, and some encounters will only be available on certain days.



There's nothing strictly wrong with the party we've been given, except that it's a bit short on spellcasters. However, using the premade characters is boring, so instead we'll be using characters submitted by readers at the end of the M&M2 LP. My sincerest apologies to everyone whose character idea was accepted (although after two LPs, you really should know what you're in for by now).

Let's head to the inn so that we can reorganise the party.



You'll notice that two characters here are listed as "for hire". Our party can consist of up to 8 members: 1-6 player-made characters and 0-7 hirelings, who are hard-coded into the game and can't be deleted. Hirelings act as normal party members in every way, except that it costs money to keep them in the party. Run out of cash and they'll run out on you, returning to the last inn they visited.

The two hirelings in the Fountain Head inn start at level 3, so taking them with us would give us a considerable edge in combat, but we don't have a whole lot of money to throw around just yet. Instead, let's create some new characters.



Just like in Dungeons and Dragons, a character's abilities are represented by a set of statistics. Each statistic is randomly assigned a value from 3 to 21, with 3 being worst and 21 being best. It's possible to switch statistics around during character creation, so if you roll a 21 in Luck and you really want it in Endurance instead, you can swap it over. If we just plain don't like these statistics, we can generate a new set of stats as many times as we like. If you're playing along at home, don't spend too long trying to get perfect stats: it's possible to raise them later in the game anyway. 19+ in a character's most important stat and 15+ in a couple of other stats is good enough for most classes.

Once we've settled on a set of stats (try saying that three times fast), we have to choose our character's race, sex, class and alignment. Class is the most important property that defines a character: which class we pick will determine how effective the character is in combat, what equipment they can use and what spells they can cast. Race is less important: it has a minor effect on hit points, spell points and a few other things. The numerical effects of class and race are summarised in this chart from the manual. Alignment is a character's outlook on morality, and its in-game effects won't become obvious for a while yet. Sex is mostly cosmetic, although there are one or two events in the game that turn out differently for males and females.

Now that the introduction's over and done with, let's meet the party!

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