Part 94: Quest for Glory 5: Dragon Fire
Quest for Glory 5: Dragon Fire
And so, we finally turn our attention to the fifth and final installment of Quest for Glory. A lot changed in the four years between the production of 4 and 5. Adventure games were going out of style, and if it weren’t for a write-in campaign (helped along by that non-ending at the end of 4, no doubt), it likely wouldn’t have been made at all. As such, Dragon Fire was one of the last two games ever released under the “Quest” lines (the Police Quest: SWAT spin-off had by now dropped the first part of its name), both of which used 3D elements to…mixed success. King’s Quest 8 was generally regarded as a disappointment, since it not only dropped the adventure elements in favor of becoming a buggy third person action game, but it also failed to feature the royal family at all. As for Dragon Fire…well…
Alright, so there’s plenty of good news. There are a ton of returning characters from the previous games, and only one person who told us he’d be in Silmaria fails to show up (Punny Bones). Two spells mentioned in QfG3 and 4 but never encountered finally appear as castable spells. The series’ sense of humor hasn’t disappeared entirely, and there are plenty of puns to be had, particularly from the game’s resident gnome. The hero’s story comes to a definite conclusion, including the possibility of romance with four different women (one for each class, basically). Since there are only four characters shared in common between 4 and 5, and three of them barely had any lines, there is very little dissonance typically caused by switching VA’s. While they weren’t the lead developers this time, the Coles were still involved. Oh, and the final villain turns out not to be completely insane for once.
There’s still a lot to be desired, though. Dragon Fire has quite the problem with bugs, and the development “company” Sierra budded off to make the game (Yosemite Entertainment) was dissolved before they got past version 1.2. Of course, given my own history with finding bugs in games 1, 3, and 4, this was pretty much par for the course to me. Have I mentioned that this LP is the first occasion I’ve had to get a wizard save file from 4? The game also requires Sierra Utilities to play, a program which exists solely to annoy you with advertisements about ten-year-old Sierra products. While the backgrounds are very well made, the characters are fairly lumpy (if well-textured) polygons. The voice acting is a mixed bag; mostly average, with a few rather corny performances. Everyone also has a hell of a lot more to say than in previous games, too. This is actually a symptom of a different problem: everything is on a timer. Particularly in the first few days and between the major quests, if you don’t meet someone on the right day, good luck hearing what they were going to say. This isn’t a big problem in most cases, but succeeding in a romance requires doing things available only in certain windows, and you’re locked out of it forever if you miss. Combat is generally a wash; while you can still defend and attack with a stab or slash, all you need to do is run up and whack the enemy until it dies. Oh, and forget about throwing spells.
With all this in mind, it’s understandable that some choose to file this game in the discontinuity bin and move on. Still, I like the game (for having a real ending, if nothing else), which is why I’ve apparently written an essay about its good and bad points. Enough chatter; let’s play!
Chapter 1: The Boy is Back in Town
The soundtrack for Dragon Fire was composed by Chance Thomas, who by the sound of things used a high quality synthesizer along with a few real-world instruments. Unfortunately for us, he also released a separate soundtrack CD for the game, which means that Quest Studios can’t host the songs on the soundtrack. However, they can host the ones that weren’t on the CD, including (inexplicably) The Main Theme. If you listen closely, you can tell that Mark Seibert’s Hero’s Theme still hasn’t left the franchise completely.
In the end, the thief won by a landslide, taking this LP full circle. As you can see, time has finally advanced the pixel count, and what once was 320 by 200 has now doubled to 640 by 480. And since I was already using images doubled in size, this is incredibly convenient for me. I could show you the introduction movie, but all it does is tell you things you’ll end up learning in the next five minutes anyway, plus it spoils who the final villain is, and I’d like to spare you that (if only to see how long it takes you guys to figure it out on your own).
Oh, and one final word about romances: in the grand tradition of LP’s with this sort of choice, I’m leaving up to you guys to determine who thief Nike ends up with. I’ll be advancing all the romances I can on my own, but it’s up to you to choose who gets the ring. Feel free to discuss your position, but please stick to the women who are already introduced, and remember that the “voting” doesn’t begin until after a certain other vote is made (don’t worry, you’ll know it when you see it). Also, while certain combinations of class and romance are normally prevented by the game, don’t worry about it; I’ve already proven how little I care about the official canon. Finally, don’t worry if your choice didn’t win; I’m sure one of the alternate universe Nikes picked her instead.
I get the distinct feeling that the developers weren’t actually expecting someone with a name this long. Sure hope that doesn’t become a problem later. Anyway, you may notice a few important changes from the old character sheet. First of all, the game has been kind enough to round up all numbers to the nearest ten. Also nice is that 150 in the bonus pool. Weapon Use has been redubbed “Offense,” and Parry and Dodge have been combined into “Defense.” Swimming is now a new skill option, but we’ll find a book that teaches it, so there’s no point wasting good points (there’s still a 100 point minimum for new skills). Communicate is gone, and since haggling isn’t, I believe it now relies on Intelligence. I’ll just add points to the low numbers and continue.
Oh good, I think he’s coming to.
No thanks to you.
Oh hush! He’s here now, and no worse for the wear.
Looks a lot lighter than he did in the crystal ball, though. You sure you didn’t cast the wrong spell?
It’s an unfortunate side effect of most Teleportation spells. Now be quiet, I need to tell him why he’s here.
Damn, how long have I been out? Feels like years…
Let me assure you, you have only been out for a few hours. You are with myself and Fenris in our summer home in Silmaria. So, dear boy, the reason we brought you here is this—you are a hero. And so, in the grand tradition of all heroes, you need to go where you are most needed. That happens to be Silmaria at this moment.
What? Oh, god damn it! You pulled me right out of my own celebration! It’s barely been two weeks since I killed Ad Avis and stopped the Dark One, and I haven’t had a single fucking moment to myself the whole time! Can’t this wait?!
Sorry, Nike, but it’s really quite urgent. You see, the former king was assassinated a short while back. We have no idea why this was done, or even who did it. Thus, you were summoned.
Get Rakeesh! Get Uhura! Get anyone! Why me?!
Rakeesh is here, Nike. We both agreed that we would need your assistance.
There’s more you need to know. Silmaria needs a new king, and thus the Rite of Rulership is about to begin. This Rite will determine the next ruler for the kingdom. If you choose to accept this mission, you will need to go to the Hall of Kings to speak with Logos, the centaur who is in charge of Silmaria right now.
What? Then why isn’t he the king?
I’ll let him explain the situation.
And why did you say “if?” You make it sound like I’ve got a choice in the matter now that you’ve Teleported me here.
Oh, stop worrying! You will enjoy Silmaria, I’m sure. I’m certain you will meet some old friends and make new ones. This is an interesting city, and these are interesting times. In fact, I’ve arranged for you to stay at the most amusing inn in Silmaria.
Oh yes! Would you like to go there now, or are you ready to head into danger?
This is kind of a poor choice. “Danger” sets you in the wilderness just outside of the city for a small encounter, but it also puts you on the far side of the city from the exposition.
Why the hell would I say “danger?” Just set me outside your door or whatever you have, like usual.
Silmaria by Day
A giant rotating wizard hat. What is wrong with you, Erasmus? Seriously?
With a new game system comes a new interface. Clicking on the hero’s portrait in the corner will take us back to the status screen, where we can choose the game menu, options menu, or rest for 60 minutes (you can’t pick 10 or 30 anymore, but that’s okay since nobody uses those anyway). The hand can also turn into an eye with a right click, and the old move and talk icons have been rolled into the hand action. Click on the latch to visit the inventory screen.
Damn it, not again! I finally got a ton of money together again, and now it’s gone! When did I even get this drachma? Well, let’s see, I only have one dagger again, got my leather armor, a tinderbox, some fruit, the blackbird, and my Mark II Toolkit. I don’t even remember where I got the fruit, but whatever. I don’t care anymore.
In addition, the bar on the left shows carrying capacity and how close the current weight is to it. You can also get the absolute numbers by hovering over the bar for a second.
Spells are also shown in this menu, with entirely new symbols to represent them. Starting from the top left, we’ve got Open, Fetch, Trigger, Force Bolt, Flame Dart, Frostbite, Lightning Ball, Dazzle, Calm, Hide, Detect Magic, Levitate, Reversal, Protection, Aura, Juggling Lights, and Zap. Poor Glide didn’t even get past the fourth game.
Also, any spell or inventory item can be dragged down to the black bar along the bottom of the screen, which binds it to a keyboard number and lets you use it in the environment much faster than selecting it from this menu.
Finally, this is where you can actively equip weapons and armor onto the hero. While more complicated than the old “dis sword good, but dis sword bettar” system of throwing away the older weapons, it also allows you to see your defense rating and how heavier armor can affect certain stats. Observe:
Nike is now armed and armored. No, I don’t know why he just put leather armor on over his leather armor. Just go with it. Oh, and on the plus side, any class is now allowed to wield any weapon and armor combination he wishes. I’ll go more in depth about what slots he has later, when he has things to put in them.
You can control Nike either by clicking a location with the mouse or by using forward/back/turn controls with the keyboard. Most regions are actually quite large, and scroll along several locations. This area is called “Nob Hill,” and has Erasmus’ door, this rock,
A small collosseum,
A closed mansion,
And the Hall of Kings. Looks like the gate’s open today.
The Hall of Kings
So you really are here, Rakeesh.
Good day to you too, Nike. I would like you to meet Logos, the current ruler of Silmaria.
Greetings, Prince Nike von Slartibartfast of Shapier. I am Logos, counselor to rulers and Speaker of Silmaria. Welcome to our kingdom. I have heard much of you from your friends Erasmus and Rakeesh.
Some friends, grabbing me right out of my reward ceremony…
I’m sorry, did you say something?
Nothing, go on.
Yes…I trust you understand why you were summoned here. The Rites of Rulership need one more entrant before it can begin. All of the competitors are worthy individuals. However, I suspect that these Rites will be more dangerous than they are intended.
“More” dangerous. Great.
Indeed. We believe that the one or ones who assassinated the King of Silmaria will attempt to make certain the contestant they support will win. You must understand that your life will be in grave danger from the moment you enter the Rite of Rulership. We will be doing everything we can to stop the assassin, but you need to be wary.
This just keeps getting better and better.
I’m glad you are eager to help. Hero of the lands of Spielburg, Shapeir, and Tarna, will you enter the Rites of Rulership?
A quick break to check out the new dialogue interface. While some things like “tell about” items and greetings used to be on a menu you got by clicking on the hero, they are now all quite sensibly on the same menu you can get by clicking on the target.
Topics now turn yellow when you’ve heard them, and secondary topics appear underneath the originator, rather than pulling you into a new menu.
Can you give me a second before I have to accept? I kind of need to catch up with current events here. First of all, how did Rakeesh get called in on this?
Rakeesh and I have been friends for many years.
We met in Thebes when he was a young scholar, and I was just earning my warrior rank.
I had journeyed there to study the riddles of the sphinx. I mistook Rakeesh for a sphinx when we first met.
Ironically, the sphinx’s riddle applies to neither of us.
When the king was assassinated, I contacted him through Erasmus for his wise counsel. Both Rakeesh and Erasmus mentioned you, and spoke of your worthiness.
Wait, when did you meet Erasmus?
I have met him once or twice before. I was quite surprised when I found out we both knew you.
Alright then. So what are “Rites of Rulership,” anyway?
The Rites of Rulership are a series of quests that will aid Silmaria. Five individuals will compete to complete these quests. The one who accomplishes the most will be judged worthy to become king.
The Rites are a wise and honorable way to choose a leader. The very quests will strengthen the kingdom, and allow Logos to judge who will be worthy enough to be king of Silmaria.
To enter these Rites, you must first contribute 1000 drachmas to the Rulership fund. This can be done at the Bank of Silmaria.
1000?! Dear god, how many mansions would I have to rob—monsters. I said monsters.
Don’t worry, friend. Drachmas are worth considerably less than the currency you are probably used to. In fact, your father, the Sultan of Shapeir, was informed of this fee by myself and my wife, and has contributed 300 drachmas toward your entrance in the Rites. Erasmus and I have deposited another 100 drachmas each.
Exactly so. Once the Rites begin, all quests will be announced one at a time. Some Rites can be fulfilled by only one person, while others cannot end until all contenders accomplish their assignment.
You will get more details once the Rites of Rulership begin.
That’s nice. So you’ve heard from the sultan? How’s he doing these days?
The Sultan Harun al-Rashid has sent a letter of recommendation about you. He says you would make a most splendid king, to use his words. He also sends you his blessing, and trusts you will choose the future you wish to fulfill.
Yes, well, I suppose he’s only known me for three months, after all. So, new topic. Where is Silmaria?
Oh yes, you got here through Teleportation, didn’t you? Our kingdom of Silmaria consists of the isle of Marete and the outlying islands in the center of the Med Sea. Marete is a large, volcanic island that some say rose when Atlantis fell. It is mostly the steep peaks of Mount Draconis, with Lake Morae in its caldera. The city of Silmaria was built upon the prime port of this island, and is a thriving center of trade for the world, or at least it would be.
Marete has recently been invaded by Hesperian mercenaries. They have taken the outlying fishing villages, and we do not have the force to drive them away.
Although the city of Silmaria was designed as a defensible fortress in the days when war was more common, we have been a center of peace and prosperity for generations. We have had no need for an army.
Then who are these dudes on the stairs?
City guardsmen. They are formidable enough to keep the mercenaries away from the city itself, but the smaller villages have not been so lucky.
By the way, when was your island invaded?
Two days after the king was assassinated, and no, I do not presume that this is a coincidence.
How’s travel by sea look?
Travel to some of the outer islands has become very dangerous lately. Many fishing boats have not returned, and reports of attacks by tritons and sea monsters are all too common.
Half-human, half-fish people who live under the sea, supposedly the remnants of Atlantis’s population. We have been at peace with their people for generations. We have no idea why they now turn against our fishermen.
Great. Just great. Par for the fucking course. Oh, and the assassin running loose. I don’t suppose you know much about him, either?
We know that the assassin used a poisoned dagger to kill our king. The poison is very deadly, and unknown to our healers. Unless an antidote is administered immediately, the victim is dead within a minute.
And even with an antidote, unless the victim has a very hardy constitution, he will remain unconscious for weeks. We are trying to learn the exact nature of the poison in order to cure this.
The assassin of the king is a man skilled in stealth and the use of a poisoned dagger. A merchant was also presumed to be killed by the assassin, for his body was found by the docks and he died from the same poison.
Fine. Wonderful. Lovely. Sure, I’ll enter your little Rites. Not like I’ve got a choice or anything.
We will be pleased and proud to have such a worthy hero contesting to become our leader. I shall see you again when the Rites of Rulership begin. May Tyche, goddess of Good Fortune, smile upon you.
Before you go, you should know that you can find me during the day basking in the sunshine near the arena on the other side of Nob Hill. You should go there soon so we can discuss…other matters. In private.
Yeah, I think we will.
You may be tempted to wander off farther left when you leave the Hall of Kings. This is a very bad idea, especially for thieves and (to a lesser extent) paladins. Not only can you find Rakeesh here immediately after leaving the Hall (and only on day 1), but he’s got something for you that you just might want.
So. Seriously. Why me?
I can understand your reluctance to enter the Rites. Given some of your more…unfortunate tendencies, I was also somewhat reluctant to put you in the running for becoming the king of this place. But you do not need to win the Rites to get to the bottom of the situation. Our enemy is cunning, intelligent, and works from the shadows. When Logos asked me for help, I could think of no one who could assist us more than you.
Thanks. A lot. Really. Did you know that Erasmus pulled me out of Mordavia right when all my old friends and enemies were congratulating me on saving the day? You know that’s the only reason I do this stuff.
Are you from Mordavia? Interesting. I am sorry to hear that, though. Oh, and that reminds me. You left behind most of your equipment when last I saw you. I was unable to bring most of it, but I can give you this.
The magic grapnel? Wow, that’s…actually, this will probably help me a lot. Thanks.
So how did you get here so fast? Kreesha ankh-port you again?
I was summoned here by my son Shakra, who has made this island his home.
You have a son?! [My bad, actually. Rakeesh and Kreesha mention him in a conversation way back in 3, but I never managed to find it on the LP run.]
Yes, and he has taken after his mother far more than he did me. He even owns the local magic shop, and I have been staying with him there. Kreesha sends her regards, but she is unable to come. She has a new apprentice, and must stay to instruct her.
How are the others?
Yesufu and Johari are married now, and Uhura’s child grows strong and proud like his mother. Tarna itself is enjoying the peace you brought her. You are missed there.
Alright. But back to these Rites. How is this any way to pick a king, especially if they’re from thousands of miles away, like me? What do I care about what happens to Silmaria, and what do I know about ruling anything?
That is part of the purpose of the Rites. By performing them, you come to understand the country and aid in its defense. The quests vary, depending upon the needs of the kingdom. Logos also aids the king in his rule; he has guided two in the past, and will soon guide a third. And choosing even a foreigner based on his or her abilities seems a far better method than others I have seen.
And you seriously think I’d deserve to rule the kingdom if I won?
Well…if you did complete the Rites, you would have done much good for Silmaria. All I ask, though, is that you make certain that the one who does win is a worthy successor to Justinian. Silmaria deserves a good king.
Heh. Thanks for the vote of confidence. Seriously, though, being king sounds like way too much pressure to me. Not my kind of thing.
I feel better knowing your intentions. However, you really should enter the Rites as soon as possible. They cannot start without you.
Wait a second. Logos said that too.
He did. We need a minimum of five contestants, and we only have four at the moment.
Didn’t you say the guy behind all this would also have a contestant of his own? So his plans can’t start without the Rites either?
I suppose, but he might get impatient—
No, no he wouldn’t. Stealth is all about patience, and no one acting so quietly would make a blatant move when the plan can still go ahead. Remember how the demon wizard didn’t act until I went through all the trouble of calling the peace talks? It’s my move until I enter the Rites. And do you know what I think?
I think I’m in a lovely port town in the Med Sea, surrounded by palm trees, magnificent buildings, calm seas, and sunny skies. I think I’m finally going to get a vacation, and there isn’t anyone who can stop me. See you later, Rakeesh; I think my day is finally turning around.