The Let's Play Archive

Ultima 1

by ManxomeBromide

Part 1: Who Are You?

The Adventure posted:

Hail, Noble One! Our land is in need of a stalwart hero, one who will brave perils too horrific to consider. A plague has befallen the Realm, a scourge is upon the land! Our villages lie sacked, ruinous mounds of ashes where once trod peasants stout of heart and sound of mind, where once lay fields of grain and fruit, where kine and fowl grew fat upon the bounties of our fair Sosaria. All manner of wicked and vile creatures prey upon our people and ravage the land. 'Tis the doing of one so evil that the very earth trembles at the mention of his name.

Mondain the Wizard hath wrought his malice well. Our nobles bicker amongst themselves, and each hath retired to the confines of his keep in hopes of watching the downfall of his rivals. Verily, the Evil One hath heaped indignity upon curse by releasing upon the Realm a host of creatures and beasts so bloodthirsty and wicked that our defenseless people fall as grain before the reaper's scythe.

These denizens of the underworld hold sway over all that can be surveyed, save for the strongholds of the nobles besotted with their own ambition. Nowhere in our once peaceful country may a traveler find safe passage or lodging, save in the keeps of the self-proclaimed kings—and they demand hard labors for their indulgences.

Only the young Lord British remains steadfast in the vision of a peaceful and united Sosaria. In his castle and his towne the pure of heart will find an ally and replenishment for the needs of one who hath chosen to fight for the Realm. Aid us in ridding our land of the scourge that hath befallen us, O Noble One. We beseech thee, for without thine aid we shall surely perish before the onslaught of the maleficent necromancer. Slay the evil Mondain!

Mondain has in fact wrought his malice unusually well, as we shall see, but first we must decide who we are...

Step one is to pick our attributes. These are mostly self-explanatory, with two rather interesting wrinkles: Wisdom is what apparently determines our spell success rate, and Intelligence is mostly useful because it controls our bargaining skills. Intelligence is easily the most important single stat in the earlygame, but Strength is the hardest stat to raise in play.

Step two is to pick our character race. I'll just defer to the screenshot and the manual for this one...

Fellowship posted:

The lands of Sosaria are populated by a diversity of races as varied as the elements. From the tiniest Bobbit to the most towering human, our folk show a strength of character unknown in other parts of the world. Until the coming of the foul Mondain, our folk lived in harmony and worked together in the true spirit of comradeship. The principal inhabitants of Sosaria are:

Human: Endowed with a natural intellect higher than any other race, the humans are the backbone of Sosarian society. Found in all walks of life, they are strong of body and of unexcelled spirit.

Elf: Shorter than their human counterparts by the span of three hands, the elves of Sosaria are slight of build and swift of movement. Their superior natural agility makes them excellent musicians and clever thieves. At home amongst the trees of the deepest forest or in the alleyways of the capital, the Sosarian Elf makes a stalwart companion and a relentless foe.

Dwarf: Mountain-born and legendary miners, the dwarves of Sosaria stand but half a human’s height, yet often outweigh slender elves. They are matchless in courage and possess an inordinate endowment of natural strength. Never accept the Sosarian Dwarf’s challenge to wrestle for drinks in a tavern, unless thy supply of gold be endless and thy generosity ample.

Bobbit: A small and gentle race, the Sosarian Bobbits are believed to have come to our Realm from a distant place. They are said to favour mountainside meadows and the serenity of forest clearings. Their diminutive height being even less than that of a dwarf, they shun any task that involves hard, physical labour, preferring instead pursuits of study and contemplation. Bobbits are naturally weak, yet possess a serenity indicative of profound wisdom.

Hobbits Halflings Bobbits are interesting because they're the only race with a stat penalty (to Strength). Meanwhile, each race has a stat bonus: Humans get Intelligence, Elves Agility, Dwarves Strength, and Bobbits Wisdom.

After that, sex:

In an admirably progressive stance, in Ultima 1 gender identification has no stat effects at all. The series would later go back on this, and in Ultima II men get a +5 Strength while women get a +10 Charisma. Also, Charisma is a dump stat.

Then, class. You know the drill on these, but let's go to the game and manual again:

Professions posted:

Whilst the professions practiced by our folk are numerous, there are but four courses of action that may be followed by the novice adventurer. These are:

Fighter: The rigorous training involved in learning to become a fighter results in a stronger, more agile adventurer. The knowledge acquired during this period permits the fighter to use virtually every kind of weapon that might be found in Sosaria.

Cleric: A profession suited to those who are of an introspective nature, the study of the ways of the cleric requires patience and results in a good deal of wisdom. Such is their calm and concentration that at no time will the proper spell cast by a cleric fail to attain its desired result.

Wizard: To become a wizard in our Realm, one must study long and diligently, poring over ancient writings and dusty tomes. Mastery of the arcane arts comes not easily, yet such training hones the intellect to a superior edge! The fruits of the long years of discipline are deemed to be worth the effort, however, for only the wizard may purchase the necessary supplies for the casting of the more powerful enchantments.

Thief: Whilst not a profession held in the highest esteem among those charged with maintaining the public order, thieving is a trade that often serves the adventurer well. Many of the explorer's finds are guarded by clever and devious traps that require nimble fingers and a dexterous hand. Larceny and the opening of locks comes much easier for the thief than for other mortals, for they who follow this occupation are endowed with exceptional agility.

Almost everything listed in that quote is, incidentally, either a filthy lie or a half-truth. It's true that Fighters can use almost all weapons and armor, and that clerics never have their spells misfire.

... but as best I can tell, nobody has any equipment restrictions whatsoever, and I've never had a spell fail on me due to misfire. I think it is true that Wizards get access to unique spells, and Fighters get the best initial stat boosts.

The final step is obviously the most important one:

Our character needs a name.

So, I am open to suggestions now, folks: Give me a name, race, gender, and class, and suggest some initial attribute weighting. As will soon become clear, basically any build will be viable, so we've got a decent amount of leeway.