The Let's Play Archive

Ultima 1

by ManxomeBromide

Part 7: From Darkest Dungeons...

Before we do anything else, let's visit this otherwise inconsequential little town.

Not because we want to do anything here, but...

... because it is named Bulldozer. That's kind of a silly name for a fort, but I do appreciate this because this is the site that will become a tavern in Serpent Isle—The Sleeping Bull.

Anyway, we have a bunch of quests to do, and all of them involve finding specific kinds of monsters and slaughtering them mercilessly. We are pretty firmly in roll-playing mode, so let's go on a Morbid Adventure!

Well, that's a pleasingly morbid start. Also, it lets us use the simplest spell in the game:

Yes, instead of creating light or healing minor wounds or dazzling the eyes, the simplest spell in the game causes coffins to open safely. "Aperire" is Latin for "to open", though I suspect that it has more to do with doors than coffins normally.

Likewise, treasure chests open flawlessly if you shout MONEY! at them. Even with 99 intelligence, these spells cost more than you're likely to get from the chests and coffins.

There's a whole lot of parallel doors on this level for some reason. At about this point I realize that I'm going to be doing something insanely dangerous here and I should prepare a bit more than I had.

Every little bit helps, but I'm going to need more HP than that to feel safe. Here's the map so far:

I cruise over to the White Dragon's castle and hand him 12 gold crowns.

That's better. Down to the 3rd level and there's an enemy we haven't seen before!

Also, I take out another Gelatinous Cube:

These kill quests are repeatable, it turns out. Here's levels 3 and 4:

Once we get to level 5, we find our next quest enemy, but we have to be careful, because these guys can do real damage:

Armor doesn't reduce damage taken per hit; it just makes them more likely to miss. we can't withstand many hits of that magnitude and we're not even halfway through the dungeon yet.

Fortunately, our blaster basically one-shots everything.

Other enemies on level 5-6 include the two-headed Ettin:

The Lizardman:

And lastly this fine fellow:

I like to think that a "Minotour" is so named because they normally take monsters around Morbid Adventure to show the sights and sell cheap souvenirs.

One nice thing about being a Wizard is that we get access to the Destroy spell, which means force fields don't have to block us:

"Delio" isn't actually proper Latin. I think he wanted "deleo", which is "I erase".

Oh, right, there's one other monster on this level range:

These guys don't really behave like chests; they block advancement just like any other monster, even if you don't try to open them, and they are really accurate attackers.

My HP is getting worryingly low. Once I find the ladder down to level 6, I decide I've had enough and turn back.

The level generator has at least done a couple of interesting things here; the ladder down to level 6 was in a 1x1 room hidden behind two secret doors. If I wasn't mapping carefully this would be very hard to find.

I leave the level much the worse for wear, but with a solid chunk of wealth. Let's get those HP back up for our next dive!

Much better. Descending to level 6 is much faster now that I know the way. Also, I'm starting to see a pattern in the location of all ladders on every level but the first. This makes the similarities across dungeons perhaps a bit less baffling.

Level 7 brings us new enemies, like the Wraith:

And the Lich, which the Black Dragon had charged us to kill:

I don't know why Ultima insists that Liches are floating heads. Come to think of it, Might & Magic did that too as late as Darkside of Xeen. Maybe they read the bit in the D&D Monster Manuals about Demiliches, whose bodies had rotted away with their extreme old age, in defiance of even their preservation magics.

We also have our old friend the RoperTangler:

And these cute little guys:

They're adorable, but they steal food, which can be bad news if you're not careful and are far from towns. I don't give them a chance. The blaster really does mean we only really take hits if we get swarmed from multiple directions at once. Admitedly, that is all the time. These screencaps don't really make clear how much of a slog this is.

Here's levels 6-8:

We descend to level 9!

... and are immediately attacked by invisible demons. Oh, wait, no, he's just behind us trying to cave our skull in.

Despite playing as a wizard, we haven't actually cast any attack magic this whole game. Let's fix that now with a Magic Missile spell:

This one-shots him. The Amulet, Wand, and Staff remove your ability to actually attack with the Attack command, but they boost Magic Missile damage by 50, 100, or 200 percent, respectively. The Triangle is a 200% boost while still doing roughly pistol-level damage. We clearly don't need the help.

"Vasto" is an interesting word. I handed it off to Google Translate and it gave me the following partial list of words it would mean: "ravage", "desolate", "lay waste", "make empty", "leave uninhabited", "pillage", "sack", "devastate".

The old saw about how Eskimos have 57 different words for "snow" turns out to be, at best, misleading; all the same, you can see what really mattered to the English speakers of old.

Continuing to explore level 9, we find this fine fellow:

That is totally not a Mind Flayer, sir, I have no idea what you are talking about

Behind him, Shamino's bane!

You see here me preparing a Kill spell, the Wizard-only attack spell that is the mightiest incantation in the game, and then you see me fat-finger the controls and open fire with the blaster pistol instead.

Which one-shots him. A quest has been completed!

Oh wait, now we are being attacked by invisible demons. Until I turn around and...

It still lists it as a thing I see in front of me, despite not rendering anything. Another notch on our blaster hilt!

We haven't explored the entire dungeon—the dungeons all go down to level 10—but we've gotten what we came for. Let's get out of here. We could retrace our steps, but I thoughtfully picked up a dozen or so Ladder Up spells first, and so...

"Ascendo" needs no real explanation, I don't think. Garriott did well to shift from dog-Latin to invented rune-language for Ultima spells. The Ladder Up/Down spells are interesting also because they will overwrite any ladder that might have been on that square; that can complicate things on many levels given that if your source square contained a ladder, the target was going to as well.

We make it to the top levels without incident, though we still haven't used that Kill spell yet. Let's find some poor loser who is entirely unworthy of such devastating power:

"Interficire" is "to kill". I'm kind of suspecting that he was just looking stuff up in his dad's Latin 1 textbook here.

We're done. Now we'll never have to delve another dungeon again.

Note that all of this was way more work than you'd normally need. The "real" way to do this is to stock up on ladder up and down spells and about 2500-3500 HP, and warp down through each tier until you kill one of the target enemy types for that level (which tends to happen after like three steps) and finally warp back out with Ladder Ups. Any dungeon will do; the Dungeon of Montor is a popular one. (For reasons I'm not clear on, Montor is down south in Britannia, but its dungeon is up by Paws.)

Next time: ... well, we've completed every quest in the world. I'm sure we'll find something.