The Let's Play Archive

Ultima VII Part 2: Serpent Isle

by Nakar

Part 28: MOONSHADE - I Have One Spell For You, Just One Spell: False Coin

I Have One Spell For You, Just One Spell: False Coin

"Hey Mortegro ol' buddy, guess what!"
"You have a spellbook. That's the only possible reason you could be interrupting my sleep."
"But it's 11 in the morning."
"Hello, Necromage?"
"Whatever, sell me something I can use to kill everybody alive."

"What the hell is this? 'Imbalance?' This replaced Armageddon?"
"My sincerest apologies, but when the settlers arrived on Serpent Isle, it was decided the Armageddon spell was 'an incredibly stupid thing to actually sell to random people' and all scrolls were burned."
"Does Imbalance at least cause widespread destruction?"
"Not particularly. In fact, Mass Death is pretty much more reliable at actually killing all the things you want killed, and I don't really have to explain to someone of your sociopathy how good Death Vortex is."
"This is complete bullshit. How am I going to kill the entire Serpent Isle now?"
"I'm sure one of us will think up something."
"Just shut up and nod, Dupre."

Mortegro also sells this innocent-looking spell. Serpent Bond exchanges the Avatar's mind with that of a snake or something. Basically it polymorphs you into a snake you can slither around as. It's necessary for a single thing in the entire game, but it has a huge accidental side-effect in that it keeps your party from following you and suspends certain triggers that would otherwise be tripped by the Avatar. In other words, it can be used to break certain areas. In fact, this will be very relevant to Mortegro himself in the far-flung future, so don't forget about it.

It requires a serpent-related reagent, which normally makes it a bit inconvenient to cast, but we'll soon have a way around that too.

Melino and Columna won't even talk to you if you aren't a mage. If you are, they're only slightly wordier. You must be very careful what you say and do around them, however. First thing you should do is pump both for spells, then talk to them about things going on in town. Melino takes a bit of conversation before "spells" appears as an option, just ask about innocuous things.

"I do not believe that we have met. 'Tis so nice to make the acquaintance of a new, young Mage. I am Melino, husband of the Green Enchantress."
"What makes you think I'm new? You wouldn't even talk to me earlier."
"Of course thou art new here! I know all other Mages in Moonshade... And I have never seen thee before. And thou hast thy spellbook, so thou art not a Mundane. Therefore, thou art a Mage. By careful reasoning then, thou art a new Mage!"
"That's some fancy logic there, mister."
"But I cannot recall having seen thee in Fedabiblio's training... But then I do not usually take much note of the novices."
"I heard from someone you had retired."
"Oh, not quite. While I am far too busy to sit on the Council, I am well-connected, nonetheless. Many Mages come to consult me during their research. I seem to have a talent for discovering forgotten references within the archives. Such information can prove to be the key to a new spell or new aspect of an existing spell."
"For instance, Torrissio hath been paying me outrageous sums to deliver a list of reagents for a certain set of spells. I will not rest until I can justify his faith in me... Luckily, Columna hath been very understanding of the time I devote to my work."
"What's your angle on Torrissio?"
"Torrissio is a very talented young Mage. His specialty is the creation of the automatons that serve as servants and guards for our mansions. He hath a fine eye for detail, even for such menial creatures as servants. Thou mayest see his best work at the Blue Boar -- where he lets Rocco display Petra for him."
"You seem pretty friendly for somebody who won't even speak to a mundane."
"Without magic, man is little more than a slightly evolved animal. Suited only to be a beast of burden for those whose powers are clearly superior. I know nothing about them, nor do I care to. What use is it to note such furtive little lives that pass so quickly and with so little note? Only from time to time hath one caught mine eye... Like that striking young woman that came through here a while ago."
"Young woman?"
"To be fair, Columna noticed her first... But then my wife always hath had a fancy for music. And this young woman was singing some sort of ballad about her beloved husband. I found it a bit tedious, but Columna was enchanted... so to speak. However, when we spoke to her, she seemed intelligent enough for a Mundane. She was asking all sorts of questions about history and such like. -- Her name? Let me see... I believe it was Gwenno. -- Columna directed her to Fedabiblio."
"You hear that, Iolo, your wife is tedious. And dead."
"Oh ha ha."
"I'm sure Mr. Iolo is crying on the inside."
"He's crying on the outside, Boydon."
"Well, one doesn't necessarily exclude the other, does it?"
"So how'd a guy like you end up married to that hot little number?"
"Thou dost not know the Green Enchantress? Ah, perhaps thou wouldst recognize her by the spell she is famous for... Columna's Intuition. No other Mage doth have a spell named after them... Of course she is famous! Why everyone agrees how remarkably useful it is!"
"What about Erstam's Surprise?"
"To be fair, Erstam's Surprise sucks."
"So does Columna's Intuition."
"You win this round, new person."

You can also mention the moonsilk stockings to him. Do not do this, ever. Or this will happen:

"Those are my wife's stockings! Oh, vile fiend! To think that thou wouldst flaunt Columna's indiscretion in my face! After I trusted thee! Out! OUT! Take thyself from my sight and never return! Never return!"

Well that's a bit touchy. It sounds like Melino is aware that his wife has been cheating on him. In fact, the stockings are... evidence of a love triangle.

You can get this spell for free in the Ranger building but I forgot about that. Enchant Missiles is a great spell because it can be combined with the Create Ammunition spell to first manufacture bolts or arrows, then turn them into magic bolts or arrows. A good stock ammunition that makes crossbows better than most normal weapons and magic bows brutally effective. They do cost reagents, but once that little hurdle is dealt with in The Silver Seed, you're good to go on ammo for the rest of the game.

Now then, Columna!

"I do not believe that we've met. It is so nice to make the acquaintance of a new, young Mage. I am Columna, the Green Enchantress. Sorceress, wife of Melino, and I am also the most desired beauty in Moonshade. Perhaps I could interest thee in a spell. Many strange travellers have come from across the Serpent Isle to learn spells from me. But that, of course, was before the Teleport Storms. Since these vile telport storms began all sea travel has virtually stopped. Even long range travel over land is considered to be extremely dangerous!"
"What kinds of people have dropped by to see you?"
"Many weeks ago a woman named Gwenno passed through Moonshade, and more recently a sage named Batlin."

It's got to have been "many" weeks since Petra says Gwenno was last here eight months ago. Unfortunately the chronology of the game is pretty messed up. The good news is the exact dates and times are irrelevant; as long as we know the general sequence of events, the plot can still be worked out.

"What of Gwenno, Green Enchantress?"
"The one and only time I saw her she was singing a love song about her husband, Iolo. But she made quite an impression on some people while she was here. If thou dost wish to know more of her, then ask around."
"And Batlin?"
"He came through town with a strange daemon creature as his companion and servant, and he had some sort of artifact in his possession. 'Twas male, the daemon, and had bright red skin. But there were no horns on its head -- I swear. I believe its name was Palos."
"The artifact was probably the serpent he stole from Monitor."
"I personally did not see it, but I know that Gustacio did."
"So what's your husband been up to lately, you figure? Nothing you wouldn't want him to find out about?"
"I shall have thee know that mine husband is most influential with the Council of Mages. And is perfectly capable of satisfying my needs in nearly all other ways. He is a close and trusted advisor to Filbercio, the MageLord of Moonshade and senior member of the Council."
"Satisfying your needs, eh?"
"Oh, worry thyself not. I am not one to allow my needs to go unsatisfied."

Now, we come to a little tricky part. Columna can also be spoken to about the stockings. As Melino exclaims if you show them to him, the stockings belong to Columna:

"Those stockings thou dost have in thy possession are rightfully my property. They can be used by people to humiliate me and destroy my marriage. As one woman to another, I appeal to thee for understanding. If thou dost return them to me I will give to thee a spell from my personal spellbook. Wilt thou please return them to me?"

Of course that's actually not what we want to do, because the stockings may be hers by right, but they weren't actually in her possession at the time the storm hit us. If you agree to her proposal, she just destroys them entirely:

"Ha! There was thy spell, foolish woman! Now the stockings are destroyed and they shall trouble me no more!"

If you're male, she makes a more... substantive promise. But she just pulls the same trick on you.

Now, how did she wind up losing the stockings? If you happen to bring up the subject of a certain Stefano, she spills it:

"'Twas Stefano who stole my stockings from Torrissio's house in an attempt to blackmail us over our affair. My sincerest wish is that he rot slowly in Filbercio's mountain prison."

Stefano is somehow involved in the Torrissio-Columna-Melino love triangle, and either sought to profit from it through blackmail or was hired by a third party; it's unlikely he'd chance pissing off three powerful mages over nothing, but who could have hired him? The important thing here (and a possible hint, as we'll see later) is that Stefano was sent to the Mountains of Freedom, and he had or knew where the stockings were when the teleport storm swapped them for our Blackrock Order Serpent. Since we kinda need that serpent, we have to figure out where the hell Stefano stashed the stockings originally. It might help to still have them (although you don't need them; Stefano will tell you where they used to be even if you lose them or have them destroyed).

There's one more thing to do with Columna right now, and it's quite funny, but there's another NPC we have to hear from first and she won't talk about everything we need to hear until we're ready to leave Moonshade. Fear not, we won't forget it.

Money's getting a little low. Spells cost money, especially when you're canvasing Moonshade buying everything you can. But we still have enough for one more mage.

Say, Torrissio himself?

"Make it brief... I am Torrissio, a Mage of Moonshade. I am not a sociable man, so this will be brief. What dost thou desire of me, and at what price?"
"Well, somebody's a big shot."
"I come from one of the longest family lines of mages in all of the Serpent Isle. That is how one tells a good mage, thou must know -- by his family line. Good mages are a result of good breeding. My father always said that. A thousand years ago, our ancestors performed tricks to amuse peasants. Hundreds of years ago they were the most trusted advisors to Kings and rulers of the land. When it comes to magic the only bloodline more pure than mine is that of the ruling family. Of course, my family was decimated in the old war. If not for that, I might be ruler today."
"What a shame that must have been."
"According to family records, most of my family members were killed fighting the Daemons. This is the war which brought an end to the Age of the Two Kings."
"Well that's delightfully droll. So what can you do for me?"
"My personal specialty is spells involving healing and the sustenance of life energies."
"Can you sell me a few spells?"

The answer will be no if you do something in particular. I'll give you a hint: It involves those goddamn stockings. Don't talk to fucking anyone but Stefano about those things, he's the only person not out to screw you over with them.

"Of course I can sell thee a spell! I have recently sold a spell to another person passing through Moonshade. It is just such a business upon which the city of Moonshade was built. With all of the experiments and developments we produce here in the magical arts, we are practically the center of the world."
"Sold to whom?"
"Why, that fat sage that passed through town a while ago. Batlin. I remember not the specifics of the transaction."
"If your family is so great, why are you not seated on the Council of Mages?"
"Do not even raise this topic -- I have no stomach for the political games which one must play in order to win a seat on the Council. Of course, nothing ever gets done without a little politics. I was allied with Rotoluncia, but her death makes our partnership void."
"I was partners with Rotoluncia in politics. But partners with Columna in love. Our love must remain a secret. This saddens her, and myself as well. There are those who would come between us, who plan against us. Her heart was touched by a song sung by the lady Gwenno."
"Who is planning against you?"
"I do not wish to burden thee with my personal problems. The less said of these things, the better."
"And the secret is endangered, apparently."
"Columna and I have received information that it was Stefano who attempted to destroy our love by stealing her stockings from my manor house. When Filbercio sentenced him to death in the Mountains of Freedom, I laughed until blood ran from mine eyes! It will serve that cretin good, to be entombed with the rats and maggots in that prison."
"What, these stockings?"
"I beseech thee to turn over to me that which is the instrument of humiliation against a woman who hath done thee no harm. They belong to my lover Columna and they were stolen by the bandit Stefano. Columna's stockings can be used as evidence of our affair. I neither know nor care how thou hast come into possession of them. But know this: I shall have them!"
"Oh, really?"
"Those stockings are of no use to thee. I know thou wilt do the proper thing. Within thy chest beats a human heart. Thou art a woman of feelings."
"Oh, was I supposed to cackle maniacally with you guys on that one? Sorry, I'm new to this."
"It's cool, you'll catch on fast."
"So too am I a man stirred by strong emotions. Give unto me this thing, and together we shall share a night of passion the likes of which have never before been told in story or song."
"Okay hold on let's all join together in maniacal laughter, guys."
"Surrender those stockings to me!"
"Hell no, you'll probably just drug the wine and steal them."
"How did you know?"
"Because the last time we were here Dupre drank the wine next to your bed and passed out for thirty minutes, which given the fact that he's been an alcoholic for about 500 years means there were probably enough drugs in it to put someone out for about 3 days."
"Thou dost not trust me? Then be on thy way! All I wanted were the stockings... After all, Columna is more of a woman than thou canst ever hope to be."
"Oh, one day you'll find out just how much of a woman she is, buddy."

But not right now. We need his spells. Notably, Create Automaton, which will allow us to raise our own little robot army should we stumble upon some broken automatons (or create some).

The spellbook after buying from everyone in Moonshade that we can manage. There are a lot of holes, but not too many. Gustacio has yet to provide us with his spells, but he won't until much later. The good news is, when he finally does offer us his spells, we'll get them for free. The other gaps in the spellbook are for spells related to the main quest, of which there are a good number. We just plain won't have any for now.

Some noteworthy spells:

False Coin: Duping money. I'll show you how that works in a sec here.
Enchant Missiles: Already mentioned, turns good ammo into great ammo.
Telekinesis: Needed for later and a couple other times in the game.
Blink: Does nothing. By design, in fact. Yes, this spell is entirely useless.
Restoration: Heals everybody. Nifty stuff.
Create Ammunition: Conjures up ammo to be used with Enchant Missiles.
Create Automaton: Robots.
Mass Might: Good buff spell.
Fetch: Like telekinesis and hack mover, you can use it to jack items through walls and such.
Mind Blast: Explodes heads.
Serpent Bond: Breaks the game.
Mass Death: Kills everybody, again.
Death Vortex: For when you really want something dead. You know the drill.
Imbalance: Armageddon's dumb half-brother who drools a lot.

Anyway, it's now time for the trick. I've been promising this one for a while, and it's high time I showed off just why False Coin is broken as hell.

Alright, so you have your reagents for False Coin (which cost something like 10g tops, I'm not totally sure, it isn't much), and you've got a stack of 100 Monetari, since that's the highest-value currency around.

Now, here's the part where I may lose a great many of you, so try to follow me on this one: Cast False Coin on the coins.

Whew, that was hard, wasn't it? Now where you had one stack of 100 Monetari you now have six. And you can keep casting it on a single stack of coins.

"Wait a second, Nakar," you say, "those coins are supposed to vanish eventually! The manual says-"

Well the manual is wrong. And even if the manual were right and the coins were temporary, no NPC in the game has a fucking clue about this, soooooooo...

...we can go trade all that fake money for real money that won't disappear on us and which can be used to buy fancy stuff like spells and glass swords. Congratulations! Money is now completely pointless! All you ever need is one stack of Monetari and you have infinite everything that can be bought. Wasn't that hard?

"I can understand the whole laundering your magically counterfeit coins, but why are we exchanging them for gold instead of guilders?"
"Iolo, after all the money we just dumped into the economy, the Guilder is about to go to shit."

Now then, shall we head off to the Silver Seed?

No, we shall not! There's still some cheats to be poked into, including what may be the biggest doozy of a cheat room in Serpent Isle.

The forest west of Moonshade has a lot of little huts and stuff, but most of them suck. Like here, there's a bunch of witches or something that charmed Shamino and forced me to kill him. A scroll of Great Light is totally worth that.

Here's where it is if you want to save 120 guilders or whatever the hell Great Light costs. Cheapass.

North and east of there is a huge old house with a lovely motif straight out of Stonegate from the last game, although admittedly with slightly fewer cups full of blood.

Downstairs is a bunch of rats and a coffin. I'm assuming this is Vasculio's house, and that he is very much dead not here right now.

He does, however, seem to have left behind a scroll of Invisibility All, which is nifty.

Also in the forest is this considerably less destroyed little villa. The door is locked and we won't be getting inside for now, because this place is plot-relevant (it's  Stefano's hideout; in fact, the Blackrock Order Serpent is in the shed out back, but we can't get to it ).

That's not important though.

The important thing is that we locate it, right here.

This is the big one, folks.

Egg display on, you can see there's a teleport egg atop the stump here. Set down a crate or two, some rocks, whatever you gotta do. Climb on the stump and teleport.

You wind up on a tiny island south of Erstam's with a Magic Axe and a chest full of 200 Guilders. It's not a terrible stash, but this is a red herring. Do not take the teleporter here back to where you were.

Fiddle around on the NE shore until you start walking onto the water.

Eventually you should be able to walk straight north, over the sea.

"As Xenka wrote, 'the Hero From Another World shall walk on water to find secret cheat areas.'"
"She did not."

And here we are, in a secret cave on Erstam's island!

Powder kegs (they have a different sprite, but they are in fact kegs) and...... a poster of a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader.

Could this get any weirder?

Perhaps a secret grotto with statues of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders?

No, still not weird enough for you?

How about if naked women were prancing around the lounge?

Still no?

How about a giant orgy with topless lamias and even more naked women?

"Okay, now I am a bit weirded out here."

In addition to the loot in the vault seen earlier, the chests in the bedroom contain one of nearly everything, 100 of each reagent, potions, armor, some spoilered-out plot items under that potion chest, all sorts of stuff.

As cheat rooms go, this one isn't as bad as Claw Island; you don't get every quest item needed to beat the game here or anything and all totaled there's only a single suit of Magic Armor in here. 100 of every arrow type isn't bad, the reagents are good, but it's not incredible for loot (lest anyone get excited about the scrolls, every single one is Create Food).

It's just the bizarre audacity of the place. It's not just a cheat room, it's a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Orgy Party & Cheat Room. What the hell?

I don't know about you, but the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders Orgy Party & Cheat Room sounds like winning to me.