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Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord

by Chokes McGee

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Original Thread: The Proving Grounds of Bernie Wrightson: Let's Play Wizardry!



Let's Play Wizardry I!


Go into maze, kill evil wizard.

This is the only plot summary to be found on the Wizardry wiki site for Wizardry I (aka Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord). Wizardry does not preach to you, like Ultima. It does not actively despise your very existence, like Bard's Tale—though that doesn't mean it LIKES you, either. It doesn't even care if you're good or evil. You're here for one reason, and one reason only: stomp ass all the way down to the bottom, give the evil wizard Werdna a magical wedgie, then gank his Amulet of Power. Simple. Direct. Pure.

Naturally, your task won't be easy. Between you and the wizard is a legion of undead, dragons, brawlers, beasts, and weird little coin things. You risk not only death, but total annihilation of your soul... and that's BEFORE you get to the monsters that start draining levels with every hit.

So, why would you risk it?

Well, you're not, but I am. Pity me.

But First, Some Basics

Wizardry is usually described as being relatively straightforward, but with a certain level of nuance underneath. Fighters make with the hitty bonk, though they come in several different flavors—one noticiably tastier than others. (More about that shortly.) Priests heal and protect. Thieves pick locks and detect traps. Mages zap things into tiny little piles of ash. Pretty standard D&D stuff, and honestly, there's a lot of D&D in Wizardry. There's +1/+2 weapons and armor, everybody has an AC and THAC0, and the random number generator even "rolls" D6s and the like for effects.

This is the basic "in-town" menu. Gilgamesh's is where you assemble your party and get them ready to roll. The Adventurer's Inn is for healing and levelling up. The Temple of Cant will heal characters with status afflictions, including DEATH and ASHES, but the price is steep. A variety of equipment is always available at Boltac's, and finally, the Edge of Town is where you reach the Training Grounds and the dungeon itself.

The Training Grounds are where you'll start out. Here, you can create new characters and change existing characters' classes. (Yet you level up in the Inn, and not out here. Who knows.) When you create a character...

You'll get a certain amount of bonus points. As far as I can tell, it's 3D6, plus an extra 1D4 if you pop an 18. Don't like the number? You can back out of the character and try again. And again. Basically, as long as you have the patience for it, you shouldn't ever start a character with less than 20-22 points. I don't have the patience for it, by the way, so we're going to take a shortcut. But, more on that later.

Statistically, you have Strength, Intelligence, Piety, Vitality, Agility, and Luck. All of them are fairly obvious except Luck, which serves (I assume) as a catchall buffer during "Oh Shit" moments, like a treasure chest trap going off. Agility plays no role in AC that I can see but DOES influence initiative.

When you create a character, you'll also pick his or her alignment. Alignment determines which classes are available to you. In order to maintain your current alignment, you'll have to make decisions about friendly groups of monsters. Other than that, there's no penalties. The game doesn't give a crap if you want the amulet to save the world or to be the next person to take it over. All it cares about is whether or not you get it.

A standard list of races are available. Human provide the baseline average at 8, so keep that in mind as you continue.

And here's the rundown on classes, along with their minimum required stats.

Magic you'll see in action once we get rolling, but here are some basics. Instead of MP, characters get a certain number of spellcasts per spell level. Once they've exhausted their casts, they have to stay at the inn in order to recharge. Casting is like Bard's Tale inasmuch as every spell has a MYSTIC NAME and you literally have to type the name in to cast it. You can read your characters' spell books to see what they can and can't cast, but there's no description of what each spell does without a manual for reference.

And Here's Where the Other Shoe Drops

One "unique" aspect of Wizadry is that it saves after every combat and (I think) periodically as you're walking around the dungeon. What does this mean to us?

It means if you get party-wiped, poisoned, killed, or some other horrible fate, you better quit before combat is over and reload, or you're fucked.

It also means once your party is in the dungeon, they're really in the dungeon. Instead of being at the Tavern, they're permanently filed under "Out" and have to go through a special menu option to pick up where they left off. That means they're not coming back unless they find their way out or some other party (of less than 6 people) goes back to haul their asses out. There are turntables, dark zones, and teleporters to make sure this is as hard as humanly possibly. Oh, and there are monsters in the bottom levels who will drain a level every time they successfully hit you. Yeah. You can fight back by exploiting a few (unintentional) cheats in the game to turn your characters into the God Kings of Old, but we'll be avoiding those for a full experience. (At least at first, I can't guarantee anything once we get down to dungeon level 5 or so.)

And this, all on top of the game's big, nasty secret. Those of you who have played Wizardry 1 may know what I'm talking about. It's a deflating moment when you realize what's going on and just how many hours of your life you've needlessly thrown away.

Ready to Rock!

Well, that's the full rundown. Now all we need is a hero, a legend, a man willing to assemble a party of daring adventurers and foolhardy enough to stand up to the awesome might of the wizard Werdna.

Unfortunately, we're stuck with this jerk.


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