Part 10: The Black Gate - Hannibal "The Cannonball" Lecter
Hannibal "The Cannonball" Lecter
"Oh, hey guys."
"Thanks for letting us cross your bridge without asking us for a toll or attacking us."
"Heyyyyyyyyyy, wait a minute!"
"I even said thank you first. Jerk."
"He hurt me rather badly, Steve. I thought this armor was supposed to protect me."
"I still think he got the worse end of the bargain, Spark."
Note: Yes, that is the troll's head. No, it is not attached correctly to his body. No, it is not a graphical mistake.
Everybody was being picky, so I had to dig out the extra seats on the carpet to make them sit still. Note that Spark isn't even remotely correctly seated, but the carpet doesn't care.
Anyway, our destination tonight is the fields of Britain, to mingle with the farmers in a perfectly ordinary manner that definitely will not result in our acquiring a powerful weapon.
You see a farmer who, despite showing considerable wear from hard work, appears energetic, cheerful and friendly.
"Hey, there, Mr. Farmer."
"Haha, seriously? Well, how's your hammer hangin'?"
"Well, it's more of a scythe... I ran for the office of Mayor of Britain once, but I lost. Now I am back doing what I have been doing since I was a boy. Working the farm."
"Strange that more people did not vote for thee with a name like Brownie."
"Patterson won the election. He spent a lot of money on his campaign. Most of it to buy votes. But I am not bitter. I was just not meant to be Mayor."
"He bought votes? That doesn't sound, you know, like something to just let go."
"Patterson courted the support of The Fellowship. They forced a vote from all their members. Once word spread, my support drained away. No one wants to be on the losing side." Brownie sighs.
"That doesn't strike me as fair or legal."
"If thou art not with The Fellowship thou art against them. I think they saw me as a potential enemy that had to be stopped. I do not really have any wish to succeed in politics. It just made me ill seeing all of the people with riches mistreat all of the people who are poor, and then have to listen to them talk about how the class system has been abolished. Of course, I could have won the election if I had wanted to. I had information about Patterson that would have ruined any chances of him winning."
"What do you mean?"
"I could have revealed a secret about Patterson but if I did it would have hurt someone close to him very much. I did not want to be mayor that badly. Patterson does little to hide his secret. If thou dost keep an eye on him thou wilt surely learn of it sooner or later."
You may have already figured this one out, but Patterson is having an affair with Candice, the museum curator. I believe this is because he and Candice are Fellowship members and his wife is not, but I can't quite remember.
"I feel more at home on the farm growing vegetables. There is another farmer named Mack who works a farm near Britain as well. He raises chickens."
"I have heard things about Mack, Avatar..."
"Indeed. I like him. He even voted for me. But to tell thee the truth about Mack, he is a lunatic."
"What could he possibly be crazy about?"
"Thou shouldst visit his farm. It is not far from mine. See for yourself!"
Alright then, let's see what's up in Mack's farm.
Oh. That's what's up.
You see a farmer with wild eyes widened in excitement.
"Avatar! Thou hast returned!" exclaims Mack.
"Have we met?"
"Not recently, but I didst hear thou had arrived. I am Mack. I am a farmer, though most folks just call me a lunatic."
"You're not helping your case much waggling a scythe at me frantically."
"Thou dost also think so, eh? But I tell thee what I say is true! There are creatures visiting us from another place in the stars! I have seen them! They are big mean ugly liontigers! Or is that tigerlions? They are ferocious and they want to eat us! All I can say is that there are certainly no such creatures in this world! Nor is their ship like any that has ever been seen anywhere in Britannia."
"And you have seen these liontiger monsters?"
"With mine own eyes I have seen a star creature and the inexplicable conveyance which enabled it to travel to Britannia! I swear to thee! I am completely sane! I have proof!"
"What, this starship? Yeah that's... that's pretty convincing, in fact."
"I told thee I was not a looney! Didst thou see the proof? Still, my story of how I did come across this thing is beyond belief."
"Oh do go on."
"I like to stay up late. Sometimes I see bright lights flash across the sky. No one else ever pays them any mind. But one night I see this bright light come crashing down and it lands in my field. I always watch for moving bright lights in the night sky. That is part of why people in the town say I am a loonie. But is what I do so different from what they do in the orrery? After the explosion and crash I ran out to my field. There I saw the strange machine that thou hast seen, only it was glowing hot. I was terrified. But then the top of the machine started to open. It resembled a bird, but it was not a bird!"
"And then it opened, go on..."
"I could not move from the spot as I saw the strange ship open. From out of the top came the vicious tigerlion. There was a savage hunger in its eyes. It came at me like a predator comes after prey. It was so fast that I could not even move. I thought I was going to be killed for certain. It reached me in a second. It looked into mine eyes, and then it died. What it and I had failed to notice was that I was holding mine hoe. It had once been accidentally enchanted by a passing mage, and it works wondrously in the fields. I use it for everything! The tigerlion had run itself through upon it. As it died, the thing spoke."
"It said two words. "Kill Wrathy." I do not know who this Wrathy person is, or why the tigerlion wanted me to kill him. But I do know I sure get worried now whenever I see moving lights in the night sky. Anyway, the tigerlion itself was quite delicious."
"How in the world did you manage to slay such a monster with just your hoe?"
"Ah! I am sure thou dost know about the plague of looniness that has come to afflict all of the mages in the world. It was several years ago that I brought my broken hoe to a mage called Mumb. Fixing things was all he was good for anymore. There was also some fighter who wanted Mumb to enchant his sword, turning it into "The Sword of Death". It appears poor Mumb got confused and that fighter came back and killed him because the man wound up with a sword that was only good for cutting weeds. I could never figure out exactly what happened. It appears that old Mumb made mine hoe into the Hoe of Destruction! Unfortunately, the hoe is lost."
"You lost it?"
"Well, 'tis not really lost. It is locked up in my shed. It is the key to the shed that is lost! I think I might have accidentally used it as a fishhook when I was fishing on the banks of Lock Lake. So now I cannot get into my shed. One would think I -am- a looney!"
The ship is of course a Kilrathi ship from Wing Commander. Origin made both, before they started sucking. Incidentally, they started sucking after EA bought them, right after this game.
"Sure enough, this thing is shut up tighter than Iolo's wife."
"That was just uncalled-for, Steve."
"And apparently close to home, by the sound of it!"
"Well, we need that hoe. We need that hoe bad. But we're never gonna get in without-"
"The key? Hell no, I'm not searching every fish in Lock Lake for a fucking key! We're going to go see an old friend."
"Wait... thou dost not mean..."
"Oh, but I dost mean."
"Why, if it isn't Death Cannon."
"Come to gloat, have you? I know what you were doing on Mars. There are few things you can hide from me, Steve."
"Yes, we can all smell the steel cannonballs on her."
"I myself cannot, being a largely inanimate object. You wield unorthodox ranged weaponry and sometimes you wear Mystic Armor, but not today."
"We need your help. There's a door in the way and-"
"First principles, Steve. Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each particular thing ask: what is it in itself? What is its nature? What does he do, this door you seek?
"It, uh, stands there and doesn't-"
"No! That is incidental. What is the first and principal thing he does, what need does he serve by obstructing?"
"Anger, social resentment, sexual frustration-"
"No, he covets. That's his nature. And how do we begin to covet, Steve? Do we seek out things to covet? Make an effort to answer."
"No. We just-"
"No. Precisely. We begin by coveting what we see every day. Don't you feel eyes moving over your body, Steve? I hardly see how you couldn't. And don't your eyes move over the things you want?"
"Yes, that's why I wanted you to shoot the door for me."
"And what do I get out of this? I always did want a better view. It's rather difficult, being wheeled and incapable of locomotion."
"Couldn't someone just turn you?"
"If I help you, Steve, it will be turns for us too. I tell you things, you tell me things. Not about this door, though. Quid pro hoe. Yes or no? Yes or no, Steve? The poor little Hoe of Destruction is waiting."
"Just please, please stop the movie references."
"This strikes me as quite possibly the worst idea you have ever had and we are all idiots for quietly going along with it."
"But we are idiots."
"Shall we dance?"
"Don't you think Lord British is going to notice this?"
"Lord British still doesn't believe my awesome story about how Death Cannon killed him."
"Quite possibly because that never happened. Honestly, me with an Orb of the Moons? How childish."
"Look, are you gonna blow that door down or not?"
"Fire in the hole!"
"What the hell are you doing over there!?"
"Oh come on, it didn't even rock the foundations."
"Yes, Britannian carpentry is impressive indeed. A fitting tomb for you and your companions."
"Not this time, Death Cannon."
"Really? And how do you plan to stop me?"
"I don't need to, the game mechanics did it for me. You can't fire without a cannonball and a keg of powder. And I only gave you one."
"Yeah so anyway, we need to decide who gets the Hoe of Destruction. I'll pass on this one for mysterious reasons, so that..."
"Me! Me! Pick me!"
"You owe me!"
"You're really spoiling the boy."
"I can't let him die! What would I tell his father? ...nothing, is what I would tell his father, because he's an orphan!"
"Oh stop crying you little twerp, I just gave you a badass hoe."
So how did I inject a little bit of Death Cannon into the game? I could have just grabbed a cannon facing north, but there are relatively few, if any, cannons so positioned in the entire game. Obviously they can face north, it's just that most of them don't.
But we needn't worry about finding what we can create.
Hitting ctrl+alt+m in Exult puts us in Map Editor mode, which in the 1.4 screenshot also opens Exult Studio, as so:
The game window stays open, but Exult Studio also pops up. There are a variety of game files we can examine; in this case, it's SHAPES.VGA, which contains all the map objects in the game. We can very easily click and drag a cannon (after changing it to the right frame to be north facing) onto the game map. This is much easier than Ultima VII's default shape creator, which required you to know an object's assigned number and frame.
If we double-click an object, we get a big window telling us about it. In this case, we have a paralyze object, which is fired when we cast the spell Paralyze but can also be used by certain monsters (Gazers, I think? the green spider guys). Paralyze does no damage but causes, big surprise, the paralysis effect.
We can just drag and drop that...
And create it! Also I made a ship's hold. You'll see why soon.
We could, if we were so inclined, equip the Paralyze spell. Now when Steve attacks, she will cast it over and over.
The end result of that. Steve isn't dishing any damage, but with so many Paralyze spells flying a second, she easily stuns Mack while Spark hoes him to death, then paralyzes the guards who arrive to arrest us for murder before they can even talk to us. Hilarity ensues. I'll avoid using this exclusively, I just wanted to show off.
And now, at long last, the inventory reorganization I'd been promising. A ship's hold violates the volume laws, so while I can't expand the space in my backpack, I can just stick a ship's hold in there. We've got different containers for each little thing, including a barrel for food, a crate for weapons, a big-ass backpack of gold, and bags of other crap, including keys and reagents.
It's not necessary that the Avatar carry every single item in the game, but I'll be damned if I lose shit because Shamino decided to drop it behind a tree when he runs off like a pussy from a papercut which he always does.
You may notice there are no lockpicks in there anywhere. I've dropped them all because I have something much better to show you. This one is semi-well-known. See this little island west of Trinsic?
On that island is a nondescript hut.
In that hut is a key. There doesn't appear to be anything this key opens. That's because this key doesn't actually open any specific thing.
Rather, it's a Skeleton Key. It unlocks everything that lockpicks would, but nothing else. So it's not actually a master key to anything, since specific chests and doors assigned to specific keys will return an error. This just lets me use the 'k' hotkey for any locked object and know right away if it's pickable.
This is another of those "cheats in plain sight." It's perfectly reasonable that you might find this spot, and while you can't really land the carpet here (you might just barely be able to swing it), you could definitely sail a boat up to the island.
This ought to be just enough preparation to do The Forge of Virtue, so I suppose that will be our next trip! To the Isle of Fire! And even cheatier crap than I've pulled so far!