Part 33: Shame & Doom
Shame & Doom
When we last left off, we had entered Dungeon Shame. as it so happens, the first room of Shame is a single closed-off room with no obvious exits. In fact, you can walk all around this room poking pretty much anywhere and you'll never find the exit.
It turns out, you see, that the Grapple can be used inside dungeons. You are never told about this. After grappling up to the SW corner of the room, a few walls pushed or whacked later and a path opens to the south.
Shame is a fairly easy dungeon if you take the correct path down. In this case the correct path is on the far right, so we'll take the first left turn.
A Roper blocks the path. What's funny is that, like most monsters, Ropers can appear on the dungeon map, but their behavior is exactly the same as if they were in combat. Since Ropers can't move, neither can they here, and what's more, they can't and won't attack me either! If I want to get into combat, I have to actually attack them.
I do so, because I haven't really got anything better to do. Note that Shame and Doom are absolutely packed with treasure, right at the point where it does no good whatsoever. Thanks a lot, Richard Garriott.
The ladder on the far end takes us all the way down to L7. Seriously. Shame is kinda short.
After descending to L8, this mess. I could just rush, but I'd prefer to keep everyone alive at least until I actually get to Doom, and the Slimes might multiply and trap somebody.
More things to fight, more treasure I really don't actually want or need at this point.
Leaving the room to the east... oh no! A featureless 1x1 room! I bet there's not a secret door here or anything.
Wait, sorry, there is. A gem could have told me that anyway, since they mark secret doors on the map. Some challenge Shame turned out to be.
And thus, we exit to the Underworld for what is, with any luck, the last time.
Here's the view of the surroundings (Shame is the thing in the center-left). We need to go way east, and blink east across the mountains.
Specifically, from here. This is not a suspect little spot or anything, no sir.
That puts us on the banks of an enormous sea. Since there are no ships available down here, the only way across is by carpet. There's some rough seas that damage the party, but it's impossible to prevent.
At the center of it all, magma flows snake towards a vast darkness. Putting on the Amulet is actually useful here. Not because it protects against magma burns (wouldn't that be nice), no sir, because when we get past the magma...
...we wind up here. No, the game isn't broken. No, my torch isn't out. This is just what it looks like around here. With the Amulet on, however, a tiny sliver of ground is visible at the entrance of Doom.
I'm standing north of the entrance in this shot. VERAMOCOR opens the way, like the Codex said. But before we go in, it's time to make sure everybody has magic points and is fully healed. Best way to do this is to camp out over and over until an apparition shows up.
It took like two days for this to happen. Anyway, the "Well armed art thou..." speech indicates that you are virtuous enough to rescue Lord British. You still need to make sure you have the Crown, Scepter, Amulet, and Sandalwood Box though.
Anyway, let's tackle Doom!
This is where the Shadowlords are waiting if you failed to kill any of them. They are, however, at the moment too busy roasting in the Flames of Truth/Love/Courage to object to my entrance at this time. Note there is no way out.
We've got a Scepter, so let's do some Sceptering. You can open the way to any of these passages, but the way you want to go is south, which I think sends you west or north or something, which will put you at the north part of L2. Don't ask me, it's Doom, it doesn't have to make sense.
Secret passages abound, and by abound I mean there are like two of them, and they're painfully obvious if you use gems on every floor. Not really the trickiest place around; the Abyss kind of puts it to shame. It makes up for it in lame difficult monsters who are way too hard to kill and who do ludicrous damage despite Mystic Armor and Magic Shields. I'll rant on that in a bit.
Lest I forget, now is an excellent time to don the Crown. Sometimes it pops off for some reason when transitioning between floors, so it's important to remember.
The first really tricky part of Doom is here. There are a lot of pit traps in Doom, but they're not quite used for what you might think they are. In fact, many exist in plain sight. Take L5 here for instance. There are ladders going up and down, but actually what we want to do is go to that pit trap to the east and climb up it to L4 again.
Which comes to a little room on L4 full of pit traps. Going down another...
...allows me to access a different part of L5. I do this another time or two...
...ow. Not all pit traps are visible here. But I needed to go this way anyway.
For some reason I got turned around and entered this room the wrong way. Then Steve died and I had to reload, and somehow wound up coming in from the correct side (you have to go in from the west and be on the right side to go north). I don't recall what happened there. Doom strikes me as a little buggy, but I'll get to that in a second as well.
Honestly, anyone can die in this dungeon except Steve, because only Steve can cast Resurrect (a lv8 spell, and good freaking luck getting anyone but the Avatar that high). I think I might have a scroll that does it too but I'm too lazy to translate the scroll text.
In my haste to reach British, I might be tempted to go down to L8. That's the wrong way though. Not that you'd be surprised by this, as this trick has been employed for two games straight now.
For the next room I really, really needed to be ready. Notice the glass swords coming out. This is necessary, because the next room has several demons and dragons and five Sand Traps (think sandworms).
Then it dawned on me that I have a lv8 Avatar and plenty of reagents. I have a better solution.
Remember Tremor (aka In Vas Por Ylem)? It's now a lv6 spell and not all that impressive. The new spell of choice is In Vas Grav Corp, which if you translate the individual words is "Create Great Energy Death." It fires blue energy beams in a cone in front of the Avatar.
But is it any good?
I think we have our answer.
Let me just take a moment here to explain something about U5's combat: It's really terrible. This holds kind of true for U4 as well. Even with max stats, it's incredibly hard to deal damage to top-end enemies, and having the best possible armor available and/or Protection spells really doesn't help much. With the anal numbers of times you have to cast An Nox (Cure Poison) and Mani/Vas Mani (Heal/Great Heal) in these two games, you'd think melee combat would at least be useful enough to preserve your already hurting magic points so you don't have to cast bullshit lv8 doom spells just to get through a single room in a dungeon. Well, you'd be wrong. The good news is this ceases to be true in later Ultima games, and for this I am infinitely grateful; spells are not nearly as anal and are mostly used for their utility in later games, with the occasional mass killin' spell for fun. Armor is also vastly improved in VI and VII. Some would say this makes VII a bit too easy, but that's crazy talk. I play games to actually beat them. Asking me to fight a room full of dragons and then another room full of serpents, with no way to retreat or heal between, is getting stupid. See below.
The treasures from this fight were absolutely incredible, but of course they'll be nearly worthless anyway. I don't particularly need another 3 halberds and plate armors.
The stairway down was hidden under a splotch of blood. That must have been a lot of blood.
I don't think I will ever love a spell more than In Vas Grav Corp until Vas Corp Hur ("Great Death Wind," or Death Vortex, in VII).
Actually, scratch that, I forgot about Animate in VI and False Coin in Serpent Isle... but you'll find all that out in due time.
Immediately down below is this room, where the game broke, and damn near scared me shitless because I thought I was going to lose the save. Before we get to that point, I had to clear out the monsters. This took considerable effort. Then to get through the room you attack the NW wall. This is not good.
A swarm of Mongbats streams out of a single square and rapidly fills the room, with little hope of actually getting out unless you kill them all which, given the two rooms you just went through, is incredibly difficult. I eventually just said screw it and fled with Steve, saving outside. At this point the save must have gotten busted or something because when I reloaded I was on L256.
Yes, 256. It was buggy and full of weird shapes. The save was corrupted. There is a small ray of hope though, because I saw a ladder. I climbed up and was on L156.
Strange, I know. Fortunately, L156's layout exactly matched the layout of Doom L1. And the dungeon functioned normally after that point, except for the whole -56 being appended to every floor I went through.
At this point, everyone was dead and I really did not want to deal with this shit all over again, so I busted out a memory editor and hard-locked Steve's HP. Yes, it's cheating. Blow me, Richard Garriott.
If you want an excuse, let's try this one: Dual-wielding a magic axe and a morning star (I didn't know you could do this until I read about it when I was trying to figure out what broke in the game), Steve was possessed by some invincible rage and punched through 800 floors WITH THE POWER OF HER MIND and that's what happened.
Now let's try to finish the game before it breaks and I start crying.
Another pretty lame room, but this time I can plow through it. The poison field disappears after a while, but we don't actually want to go west from here. We want to go south. How do we go south?
Stand on grate, push east wall. Go up to the north alcove that opened, push east wall.
Go down to the south alcove, push east wall. Leave to the south.
Fall "100" stories down via a pit trap.
Into a room full of sharks. Doom is hardcore.
While fighting the Wisps and Sharks, my incessant misses somehow struck the north wall or something and closed off the exit. They then opened that northeastern alcove. I'm not sure what happened there.
Attacking the north wall in the alcove opens the way, not to the north (which I don't even think is a real exit since it will close if you try to walk up to it), but to the east.
Only one more lame room remains, but holy shit is it lame. Are you ready for this? Are you ready for the kind of crap Origin thought was a fair match in Ultima V?
Yeah, seriously. The two mongbats on this side of the force field are no big deal, it's the eight of them and six fucking daemons that are the problem. The only way this could possibly get any worse is if molten lava flooded my half of the room.
Thanks a lot, Richard Garriott.
Anyway, the whole thing with L756/L856 is that you have to go up and down several times to get to the part of L856 or whatever that actually contains Lord British's prison. They could have just added more floors, but maybe 8 is hardcoded. You know what else is hardcoded? My hit points, bitch.
I'm about ready for this game to be over, can you tell?
At long last, I wind up in a simplistic room. A dashing regal fellow looks back through the mirror. Steve takes a few seconds to marvel at how much her beard has grown out since arriving in Britannia before she realizes that it's Lord British in there and goes up to the mirror, being instantly absorbed into a shadowy otherrealm because well I guess she's fucking retarded and Lord British isn't smart enough to warn me that this would happen.
Though as it turns out I needed to get sucked in anyway.
Now that's the Lord British we all know and love. Why his ghost couldn't rez anyone I don't know. Maybe using Jedi Ghost Powers weakens your connection to the Force, or maybe British just has some weird fetish for handling corpses. It would kind of explain why you have to drag rotting bodies to his throne room in VI and VII.
: Well met, Steve!
: Didst thou bring my box?
: I haven't seen you in like five years and the first thing you want to know is whether I have a box?
: I've kind of been under a lot of stress, okay? I've been trapped in a mirror for a while eating bizarre green-tinted food and the only thing in the library is Ayn Rand, Dianetics, and UNIX server manuals. Just give me the goddamn box.
: I don't have the box.
: You have to be shitting me.
: I am, here's your stupid box.
Lord British carefully opens the box...
: An artifact of astral power fell to this earth long ago from beyond the skies. From the world that thee and I both call home did it come. Often did I return to the old world with its magic, and now it will free us from this prison!
: No offense or anything, but shouldn't you have brought something that important with you just in case this sort of thing happened?
: You have to admit, she has a point. I feel slightly less guilty now that I know you were being a goddamn idiot.
: Yeah, well, I'm sure Mr. Amazing here thought he was too badass to get in shit since he's Richard Garriott in disguise, but I guess we just showed him.
: Older even than Mondain's evil are the forces which bind us here... But older still is the power of the Orb of the Moons!
LB throws down, quite literally. Man, I sure hope I get me one of those things. You know, it's funny in a not very amusing way that I was carting around such a powerful item all game but British never thought to tell me about it, or what it does, or how to use it, or how it's absolutely fucking essential to rescuing him. I don't think it's mentioned at all how this one single item is completely and utterly necessary to finish the game. Go figure.
The Red Moongate. Remember it for later.
Time and weather have taken their toll on the wooded path between your house and the circle of stones. For a long time you stand within the circle in the misty woods, dazed and lost, overcome by the disorienting journey between worlds. But these woods are all too familiar to lead you far astray. Turning away from the morning sun, a short walk brings you to the doorstep of your own long-deserted house.
Much time has passed since the night you left, but your front door is unlocked and opens at a touch, as if to greet you home. Entering, you lay to rest your arms that served you in your quest. Gone are the dark feelings that this day might be your last, gone are the pains of losses and the joys of victories in your Quest to save a kingdom.
Gone also are your TV set, stereo, and living-room furniture; a reminder that Evil dwells still within your own world and that your Quest of the Avatar is not yet at an end.
(On the other hand, no Iolo.)
That night you lie safe and warm in your own bed, but the comfort of your home offers you no peace. The insistent questions in your mind will not be laid to rest. What of Britannia's fate? How fares Lord British? Is the tyrant Blackthorn unseated at last, or does innocent blood still spill for the cause of his reign? Perhaps the worst fear of all is that you will never know the answers you seek, as those answers are nowhere to be found in this world. Finally sleep comes and you embrace it willingly, as though solace might be found in dreams.
You stand in shadow, in a vast, stark chamber sparsely lit by smoking torches. Manacles and instruments of torture abound. With a sudden chill, you recognize the throne room of Blackthorn's palace! His daemon guards are not in attendance, but the massive wooden door swings gently on one brass hinge as if some monstrous creatures had been in a great hurry to leave.
Blackthorn bears little resemblance to the proud ruler who once held you at his mercy. Now, the black robed King slumps heavily in his ironwood throne. Before him stands Lord British, whose armour of tattered leather and tarnished steel is oddly complemented by a serpentine amulet, a golden sceptre, and the regally bejewelled crown.
Blackthorn looks upon Lord British without hatred, without even surprise, but with a passive calmness, as would a prisoner awaiting the sentence of hanging.
"Thy deeds were black, yet thy punishment is not mine to give." Lord British speaks gently to the remnant of a man who was once King. "The evil of thy reign did not begin within thy heart, though there it must be ended. I have no wish to see thee die for having been ensnared by dark powers that took thy will from thee.
"Instead, I offer thee a choice. Thou canst return to Castle Britannia with me, and accept the trial and verdict of the Great Council. Or..."
Lord British holds aloft the Orb of the Moons. He does not appear to focus his will upon it as he did in the dungeon, but instead he closes his eyes and tosses the Orb carelessly into the air. The red gate springs up where it lands, just to the right of Blackthorn's throne.
"...thou canst enter this Gate, and live thy life in exile in a place that neither I nor thee hath ever seen."
Blackthorn rises slowly, tiredly, and stands to face Lord British. He lifts his head as if to speak, but pauses instead, holding the True King's gaze with an unreadable expression. Finally he turns away and gathers the folds of his cloak around him. Without so much as a last glance over the shoulder, Blackthorn steps through the gate and is gone.