The Let's Play Archive

Ultima VII: The Black Gate

by Nakar

Part 4: The Black Gate - The Next Mystery: Who Murdered The Guy Who Made Copy Protection? (SPOILER: Me)

The Next Mystery: Who Murdered The Guy Who Made Copy Protection? (SPOILER: Me)

I've taken the spellbook and reagents. Everything else has been left as it is. I've got plans, you see.

"This is a serious matter. I need to think about it. And I always think best when I'm baking bread."
"I don't remember you ever doing this before."
"Silence! Fetch that flour!"

First we open the bag.

And then we sprinkle some flour on a good flat surface.

Add a little water from a bucket, and we get a glob'o'dough.

Hey, don't jack my dough!

Regrettably, for some reason, the baking fails. I think either this oven isn't the right type of oven for baking, or I need to roll the dough with a rolling pin (I think this is optional; it just controls the KIND of bread you get), which I don't have. Well, we'll just keep the ball of unshapen dough in our backpack next to the key and torches and ham.

I promise to clean up my backpack, eventually.

And here we are at the healer. Gilberto the guard is walking around, which is good news, as it means we can get some information from him.

You see a grumpy fellow with a bloody bandage on his head.
"I am Gilberto. I have the night watch at the dock gate."
"Just the man we were looking for. Did you see anything the night of the murder?"
"I'm afraid not, but I was close by. It must have occurred shortly before I was knocked out. It was just about sunrise. I was looking out to the sea. All of a sudden, I felt a blow on the back of mine head." He winces in pain.
"Art thou alright?"
Gilberto still seems a little wobbly, but his gesture indicates that he does not desire your aid. "My skull is still ringing, but I shall be all right momentarily."
"Well, don't let a little head wound stop you."
"Errr, right. The next thing I knew, I was on the ground. Johnson, the guard for the next watch, was shaking me. I had been out about ten minutes. I knew that because the sun had just peeked over the horizon. And 'The Crown Jewel' had gone and sailed!"
"What's the Crown Jewel?"
"Did I forget to say? That is a ship that was docked here all night. I believe it was about to sail for Britain. Thou couldst ask Gargan the Shipwright to make sure. Anyway, I did not see mine attackers," the guard grumbles. "Hmmm. I wonder if they jumped onto the ship! They could be all the way to Britain by now!"
"Did you see if anyone got on the ship? Like a man with a hook?"
"What, while I was lying on the ground bleeding? No. I cannot say that I saw a man with a hook."

Gilberto isn't alone, of course. Besides the injured guys, there's the town healer.

You see a solemn fellow in healer's robes.
"Hello," he says. "How may I help thee?"
"You look kinda like a monkey. Has anyone ever told you that you look kinda like a monkey?"
"My name is Chantu and I am quite sensitive about my ancestry," he says, slightly annoyed.
"If I go to your house I'm going to find a banana there, aren't I?"
"Steve, is it wise to tease him?"
"He might throw his poo!"
"That isn't quite what I meant, Spark."
"Alright, alright. But just so everyone following this is aware, Chantu does, in fact, have a banana in his house."
"Are you quite finished?"
"Okay, yes, fine, I am. Job?"
"I am the Trinsic healer. I can perform a heal, a poison cure, or a resurrection on any of thy friends. Or on thee, of course."
"Wouldn't it be hard to resurrect me when I'm dead? I mean it wouldn't be hard for you, but for me, you know, to request it... uh anyway, any news on the murders?"
"'Tis a sad state for Britannia when events such as these happen. Christopher was a good man. I hope that the villain is caught."
"Candidly, do you think this Fellowship had anything to do with it? Not that I'm suspicious or anything."
The healer frowns. "The Fellowship does not appreciate the efforts of healers in Britannia. Although they do admirable things, The Fellowship is short-sighted when evaluating the need for healers. They believe that our work can be done through their so-called 'Triad of Inner Strength'." The healer shrugs. "Klog does his duty as he sees fit. And I do mine." Chantu notices your medallion and his eyes widen. "Excuse me, Avatar, I did not mean to offend thee."
"Oh this isn't mine, it belongs to Spark's murdered father."
" grandmother was right. There is something wrong with you."
"She must've been one smart monkey."

Now I'm sure you've all noticed the potions lying around. We didn't get much use out of potions in Ultima VI, because they just weren't particularly helpful. Here, they're a lot better.

Oh, not because they're useful on the party this time around. They still are exactly as marginal in their benefits to the person carrying them.

But I'm not using them on my guys.

Of course you don't want to use a potion directly off a desk, since that will piss everyone off and it will be traced back to you.

And this will happen. That's a pretty extreme reaction considering poison can't kill you if you try to commit suicide with it.

So instead, we'll snag the potion, which upsets Chantu a little, but not much, and use it directly from the backpack, which causes no reaction whatsoever.

But that's pretty small stuff. Poison sucks, but there's an even better option. The light blue potion we've got here? It's Sleep.

Nighty-night, Gilberto. He won't be asleep long, but this works on anything. Dragons? Shove a potion down their throat and rob them while they're sleeping. Seriously.

We'll need a source of potions, of course, but there's a few of those around.

If you're curious about what potions do, the game finally decided to label them. Obviously, anyone with a mischevious bone in their body will realize that the potions worth caring about are black, blue, and green. Matter of fact, with enough blue and green potions, you can quietly kill someone in their sleep, without the death being traced back to you. I may use that later.

The store owner here in Trinsic (who, you'll notice, is a Fellowship member) sells a lot of weapons and armor.

But why pay? He's got a storeroom in the back, but there are no doors leading into it. You might think it's just for show, but nothing is just for show in this game.

Can you see the way in? No?

It's here, a few pixels hidden between two tables. Hidden levers are somewhat commonplace in the Ultima VII games, but they're usually not so dreadfully well-hidden that you can't find them. Plus, you almost never need to access an area unlocked by a hidden switch.

And there we go!

He's got a bunch of money, plus weapons and (non-magical) armor.

We don't want him noticing the theft, so we have to walk until he's offscreen, putting us in the far corner of the shop.

And yes, I feel as ridiculous as I look.

You see a solid-looking but seemingly bored fighter.
"I am Markus the trainer," he says gruffly. "If thou dost wish to increase thy skill in combat I can help thee."
"No training right now. Know anything about the murders?"
"I heard about it, but I assure thee I know nothing of the details." Markus yawns.
"Oooooookey-dokey then."

If we actually train with Markus, Steve will gain a point of Combat skill and lose a Training point. Basically what you do is spend a Training point to gain some amount of stats (usually Strength or Dexterity) and Combat skill. Combat helps you land blows and deal damage, and your stats help modify this as well. They're also almost all completely irrelevant. Markus isn't a terribly good teacher though, so it's usually a waste to train with him.

Someone's been milling about outside. Who could she be?

You see a young woman with a bright smile.
"Hello there!"
"Um. Hey?"
"Steve, this girl is Caroline, the daughter of the Fellowship leaders here! Maybe she knows what they argued with father about!"
"You know she can hear you."
"Yes, I am standing right here, Spark."
"That said, I suppose it is true. I have no 'job' per se. I have devoted mine energies to helping The Fellowship. I hope to recruit new members."
"Of The Fellowship. We meet every night at the hall. Thou shouldst visit! Every night at nine o'clock."
"Maybe after I'm done casing the... checking out Britannia. Well, Spark brought it up, may as well point it out: What's up with the murders?"
She looks concerned. "'Tis awful! Christopher was a nice man. Didst thou know he was one of our members? I cannot believe he is dead..."
"Well, we did already know that."
"Still, 'tis unusual. Perhaps we should consult Caroline's parents."
"I'm still standing here."

We stole some flour from this guy. Now we're stealing... CLUES.

You see a salty old sailor who reeks of tobacco.
"Yes, matey?" Gargan asks, coughing.
"Uhhh, you okay?"
"Never better." He snorts. "If thou wouldst like to know about a ship or a sextant, just say so." Gargan coughs.
"People sell ships now?"
"They sold them last time you were here."
"Yeah, but we had Dupre. I don't concern myself with these details."
"Thou dost want to buy a ship?" the old man asks, smiling. (Apparently not too many folks buy ships these days.) "My ships are sturdy and well built. They may not be built by Owen, but they are fine vessels! But thou must first purchase a deed." Gargan wipes his runny nose on his sleeve.
"Errrr, not today. Who's Owen?"
"Thou hast not heard of Owen? Finest shipwright in the land. He lives in Minoc." Gargan coughs.
"Let's change tack-"
"Is that a nautical metaphor?"
"This is gonna be a long trip if you keep acting precocious, kid."
"Oh. I'll keep quiet then."
"Anyway, uh. Murders. Know much?"
"I heard about that. Terrible thing to happen. Can't say I saw or heard anything, though." Gargan coughs, clears his throat loudly, then spits.
"Ooooh, yuck!"
"What about the Crown Jewel?"
"Yes, that ship was docked overnight." He consults his log. "She sailed for Britain at sunrise. I do not recall seeing anyone get on or off." Gargan snorts and coughs a couple of times.
"Not even a guy with a hook?"
Gargan laughs. "Matey, I have always seen pirates and sailors with peglegs and hooks. If thou hast seen one, thou hast seen another." But the man suddenly frowns. "Hmm. Now that thou dost mention it, I -did- see a man with a hook late last night after sundown. I was leaving the shop and saw him outside. There was a wingless gargoyle with him. They were walking east." Gargan sneezes, then coughs a couple of times.
"I told thee! It was him!"
"Does seem a little pat, doesn't it? You think there was a Fellowship connection, old man?"
"Fellowship? I am too old to pay attention to them." Gargan wipes his runny nose on his sleeve.
"We shall get to the bottom of it all the same, Gargan. Thank thee."
"May thy day have smooth sailing," the sailor starts to say, but a coughing spasm interrupts him.

Finally, we reach the Fellowship Hall. It looks kinda like a church, doesn't it?

This is a woman who seems pleasant and welcoming. "I am proud to meet the Avatar," she says, beaming.
"Nice to get a little respect now and then."
"I wouldn't know."
"It is good to have you here! My name is Ellen. I do the bookkeeping at the Fellowship Branch. I work with mine husband, Klog."
"What the hell is the Fellowship?"
"The Fellowship has branches all over Britannia. It is a most popular philosophical society. Perhaps thou couldst call it a 'confident philosophy'. We meet here at the branch office every night."
"Not following you."
"Then allow me to give you the canned speech!"
"Get used to this one, Steve."
"The Fellowship is a society of spiritual seekers who strive to reach the highest levels of human potential and to share this philosophy freely with all people. The Fellowship was formed twenty years ago by Batlin with the full approval and support of Lord British. The Fellowship advances the philosophy of 'sanguine cognition', a way to apply a confident order of thought to one's life, through what is called the Triad of Inner Strength. The Triad is simply three basic principles that, when applied in unison, enable one to be more creative, satisfied, and successful in life. They are: Strive For Unity, Trust Thy Brother, and Worthiness Precedes Reward. Strive For Unity basically means that people should cooperate and work together. Trust Thy Brother implies that we are all the same and that we should not hate or fear each other. Worthiness Precedes Reward suggests that we must each strive to be worthy of that which we want out of life."
"Sounds... pretty bengin, really. Which means it must be evil."
"Why is that?"
"I'll tell you in a while, Spark. It's a little complicated if you haven't been to the bottom of the Abyss and found ultimate knowledge."
"Sounds tricky."
"Anyway, what about the murders?"
"'Tis awful, is it not? Of course, I was home with Klog all night."
"Awful, sure. Awfully convenient. Is your husband home?"
"Of course! He is in the other room."

And indeed he is!

This man exudes kindness and geniality. "Ah, Avatar! I recognized thee at once! Word has moved through town quickly. I had heard thou wert here. My name is Klog. I am the Trinsic branch leader for The Fellowship. I work here with my wife Ellen."
"Heard about that, yeah. But we're actually here looking into the murders."
"Well," the man says, reflecting, "I was home all night, and my wife Ellen will certainly verify that. But, as we say in The Fellowship, 'Worthiness Precedes Reward'. Christopher must have done something bad. And the poor gargoyle Inamo! 'Tis a pity."
"What, you think they both got killed because they were bad people?"
"Err, rather, I did not know the gargoyle. It sounds as if he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. 'Tis a pity."
"Yeah, but you said that Christopher..."
"Christopher was a valued member of The Fellowship for some time. Unfortunately, we got into a petty argument last week."
"I told you! They were talking about something with father!"
"I admit this is true, but hear me out, Avatar! Last week Christopher stated that he wanted to leave The Fellowship! Canst thou imagine? Well, we simply attempted to speak with him and alter his decision. The man verbally assaulted me and my companions with no provocation!"
"They have gone to Fellowship Headquarters in Britain. They were here delivering Fellowship funds. Their names are Elizabeth and Abraham."
"We'll keep that in mind. Did you or your companions give Christopher any gold?"
"I do not know what thou art talking about."
"How about his medallion?"
"Christopher had expressed interest in leaving The Fellowship. Perhaps he had stored it for safekeeping."
"And this scroll?"
"I do not know anything about that."
"Ever hear of the Crown Jewel? It's a ship."
"I do not know that ship."
"Not ringing a bell, huh? No guys with hooks?"
"I am afraid I do not know a man of that description."

It's important to note here that Klog is lying. Characters normally don't tell you they know nothing about a topic; you usually just don't get the topic to ask them about. Since Klog does have these topics, it means he does know something, but it will be quite some time before we can coax the truth out of him.

One more person to grill: Johnson, the morning watchman who found Gilberto after he was attacked.

You see an alert and no-nonsense guard.
"What is it?" Johnson asks, sternly.
"You weren't on duty, but did you notice anything about the murders?"
"I did hear of this. When I arrived at my post at sunrise, I found Gilberto lying felled on the ground. If thou art asking if I saw anything -- I did not. No one hath passed by me since I arrived at the dock."
"How about the Crown Jewel?"
"The Crown Jewel? The boat left just after sunrise. It did sail to Britain, I believe. Thou canst ask Gargan the Shipwright about that."
"And you saw no one get on or off of the ship? No guy with a hook, no gargoyles?"
"A man with a hook? No, I saw no one all night or all morning."

Johnson is a Fellowship member, by the way. It doesn't seem terribly relevant, but on the other hand, a Fellowship member has had a hand in seemingly every little aspect of this mystery.

Oh, and the Fellowship is pretty loaded. As long as whoever's in charge isn't looking, you can jack the donation box funds. Regrettably, the AI doesn't add more donations over time, as far as I can tell. The 100 or so gold from every Fellowship branch isn't really a big deal in the long run though.

Now that we've got some clues, it's time to head for city hall and deliver our report. The office in the back is hidden behind two secret walls. I have no idea why.

Finnigan's not even in his office, he's in the room to the north. Also pictured: The pedestal where the Rune of Honor used to be.

We take a seat (Spark takes a seat automatically when Steve does. Iolo is standing because he's too stupid to find his own chair).

"Alright, Finn, ready to report."
"Very well. What was Christopher's occupation?"
"He was the town blacksmith."
"And what did you find at the murder scene?"
"A key."
"And what did the key unlock?"
"A chest."
"Hmmm. And what was in the chest?"
"A medallion, a scroll, and some gold."
"Dost thou have a suspect?"
"Yes, a man with a hook on his hand."
"And dost thou have any leads?"
"Yes - the Crown Jewel."
"Excellent!" The mayor seems satisfied with your report.

Buuuuuuuut first we got some more copy protection.

Yep, here we go. Dig out your cloth maps and/or google accounts, kids.

Really, though, if you just answer 60 or 120 to every question and reload if you're wrong you'll get it eventually.

"Oh, and before I forget - the password is Blackbird!"
"Now that you've told me this, I suddenly realize I can say the word to people."

Well, we can leave Trinsic now. But you want exploits and cheats first, don't you?

Okay, let's cheat our way outside Trinsic without using the gates.

It's possible to get up on the wall using stairs next to the gates. Not a big deal. But the edge of the wall is slightly too tall, and there's quite a dropoff.

However, we still have a ladder of crates and anvils, and we just might make it.

Notice the crates all fall properly when I yank the anvil out from under them. You're more clever than Morrowind's physics engine, Ultima VII!

As it turns out, we don't even need to stepladder crates to get down. All we needed was to get up to the edge of the wall, and Steve promptly slips off - and outside, at that - the wall.

Eat shit, Finnigan.

"Holy crap, there's a deer out here!"

"Boys, we're goin' huntin'."
"I'm not letting you cast Armageddon just to hunt deer, Steve."
"Oh yeah? Watch me."
"I don't have to. You're only lv3, and you haven't got enough magic points besides."
"Awwww, fine... let's see what else we got in this book here..."

"Swarm! That looks promising. Spark, Iolo, stand back."
"Okay! this gonna be big?"
"I really cannot say, Spark."
"Vas... something something... Mani something... Corp something... ah screw it."

(bonus points if you can actually see the bugs, because I sure as hell couldn't for a while)

"Swarm of insects! Attack on my command!"
"Goddamnit, what kind of idiot makes a spell that summons a swarm of ordinary, non-murderous insects?"

"Screw this, let's cast Fire Blast."
"That would've been more prudent in the first place."
"I don't think it's dead."
"Then hit it until it is."
"I've never really killed anything cute before."
"Kill it or you'll be at the mercy of Mr. Bee!"
"...God, you fucking suck, Swarm spell."

Spot what's wrong with this picture, win a prize (of nothing).

Okay, time to "cheat" some more. This isn't so much a cheat as an extremely well-hidden little stash. Can't see it? Look at the tree to our right very carefully. There's a chest hidden under the branches, but it can be hard to see since the ground is brown and the tree is too.

If you're having trouble finding it, here's the F3 location.

The chest is locked, I think picks usually break at this stage, and there's no key that I am aware of, but it doesn't mean a shit's lick of difference because we can just pound the chest until it breaks open.

The haul is considerable: A full suit of magic armor (armor, leggings, boots, gauntlets, gorget, helmet and shield), a Sword of Defense, a Fire Sword, a crossbow and 50 Magic Bolts, 6000 gold, and some Swamp Boots.

Now that makes me feel like an Avatar. We'll go with the Sword of Defense on Steve because it's early yet and I'd rather she not get killed all the time. The full suit of armor buffs her defense enormously, though, so it'll be incredibly hard to kill her even without the extra armor from the sword.

Spark gets the Fire Sword, Iolo the Magic Bolts. The one problem with Serpent Isle's paperdolls is that there are no children in SI, so all bodies are scaled for adults. This means Spark is a ripped man who is like six feet tall with a child head in Exult. On the other hand, that's kind of funny.

We're a bit better prepped to face the world, but I of course can't stop until everyone's decked out properly. That'll come in time though.