The Let's Play Archive

Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord

by Chokes McGee

Part 7: "...Is that you, God?" (Or: Thread Title Delivers)

Chapter 7: "...Is that you, God?" (Or: Thread Title Delivers)

So, last chapter, we discovered the Big SecretTM of the dungeon—the express elevator! Also we fucked up big time and almost got everyone trapped underground forever.

At any rate, the party reunites on floor 4.

I can't believe you guys left me there!
It was an honest mistake! The Bishop only had room for five in his party!
Why didn't you leave Beezer? They can't sacrifice him, he's a robot!

Look, the important things are that everybody's safe and we finally know about that goddamn elevator. Maybe now we can get this over with, I can get back to the lab, and Sternn can get back to robbing old ladies' bingo money.
Justine, I'm appalled.
What, at the suggestion you'd be willing to steal from people who are traditionally revered in most societies and would require a deep-seated sociopathy to take advantage of?
No, that you'd think I'd pull the same scam twice.
The payoff's lousy, by the way.
Hey, guys?
I hate to interrupt, but something's been bugging me ever since we found that elevator.
Besides the fact that there's a service elevator in middle of a medieval stone dungeon?
Well, yeah.
This should be rich. Please, continue.
You know how there's that room in the top we can't enter?

Just before I passed out, I remember seeing a door on the other side.
So, if there's another door, there might be another way in!
Nico, we've been all over this dang dungeon. There's nothing left to see.
Not everywhere...
I told you—
No! No, shut it!
...Beg pardon?
Hanover, ever since this whole ordeal started, I've been telling you to go back to that dark area on the first floor! I've said time and time again that there was something else in there, and you wouldn't listen to me! Eight floors later, we find that stupid elevator, and my big sister almost has a stroke—and all because you woudn't listen to reason! Now, I am begging with you, I am pleading with you, I am down on my goddamn knees here, let's get our collective asses back in there and not come back out until it's fully mapped!
...Well you don't have to be like that about it.

See? "Out of Bounds." It's the perfect disguise!
Ah, yes! Just as I suspected!
What? No, I was the one who—
Yeah, I'll admit it, boss. You were right.
Nice work, Sternn! You saved us again!
Oh, I don't even care anymore.
Welcome to my world.


And now you've found another elevator! Amazing, Lincoln!
Well, what can I say?
Okay, new plan. We wait until the next time they level up, then murder them in their sleep.
I can neither confirm nor deny my complicity in that.

The party takes the elevator down to the fourth floor.

Great, muzak.
I dunno, it's not a bad little tune.
...hmm hmm hmm give it away... hmm hmm hard for the people today...
To get what you want!


Oh my god let me off this thing right now

Alright, we're kind of flying blind here.
Well, it's a fairly straightforward corridor on the other side. Should be—
Don't say it.
Aw. But I might be right this time!
When have you ever been right about that? Every time that phrase flies out of your mouth, something bad happens to one of us!
Which phrase?
"Should be simple enough"—oh god dammit
Ha! Gotcha!

Aah, now we're getting somewhere.
But it says not to enter!
Nico, if there's one thing I've learned in my long, illustrious, and absurdly lucrative career, it's this: The one place they don't want you to be is the one place you absolutely need to be.
That's surprisingly deep.

Of course, it's also the place where they put the most guards. Have fun, you guys!
Seriously, how do you not just clobber the shit out of him sometimes?
T'aint easy.

Oho. Now we're talking.

...Why is this room empty?
Well, clearly they already allocated all the treasure.
He's a crafty one, that Trebor.

Okay, call me crazy, but this seems like the one place we should definitely not be visiting.
Which means it's exactly the place we should be visiting!
What the hell are you teaching my little brother, Sternn?
Wisdom, Justine. Truth and wisdom.

It's those guys!
It's those guys!

This is a scripted fight, and one of the hardest in the game so far. You don't necessarily have to go this way to win, but it's what the designers intended, bless their rushed and somewhat lackadasical hearts.

It can't be stressed enough that these guys mean serious business. Not the fighters, mind you—they're mostly a joke at this point in the game. As always, the real danger is spellcasters and instakillers. The mages will cast big area-effect damage spells and Katino (sleep). The priests will cast Badi, which drops the character it's cast on—no questions, no resistance, just bang, you're dead. And, of course, the High Ninja will have little to no problems getting through even the toughest AC. Even one measly point of damage is enough to take off a guy's head if he hits his roll properly.

Things like this make me believe the restart exploit was intentional. Even at level 10, there's simply no way to get through this fight without losing half your guys unless you're crafty and/or lucky. Can you imagine stumbling across this at level 6? I've done that, way back when I played Wizardry for the first time. It's not an experience I wish to repeat.

Anyway, to get through this: Montino the priests immediately and hope it sticks. This is not up for negotiation. If you manage to get the jump on them, pick off the ninja first. (Oh, didn't I mention? If you get a surprise attack, you can't cast any spells during your free turn.) Have your mage drop the biggest tactical nuke in their arsenal on the mages—probably Madalto at this point, though Lahalito is a fine option. Finally, once the really nasty stuff is cleared out, cast Dilto on the fighters to lower their AC and club your way through what's left of them. It's not easy, and you may need to try a few times, but you can get through this without losing anyone.

And so, an epic battle begins...

Why do you guys keep fighting us?! We've got nothing against you!
Only one team of adventurers can have the amulet! Trebor has ordained it so!
Yeah? Well, ordain this!

We will not be denied in our quest! Badialma!
Gonna be hard to cast that without a voice.

To the last, I will fight!
And I totally respect that.
Wow, really?
Yes. It also makes for a convenient distraction.

We... we actually did it!
I know! It feels great to win a big fight like that!
No, I mean finally, we won't have to deal with those morons ever again.
Well, that too.

Did you just feel that?
Yeah. It's like somebody just walked over my grave.
Look, we've come this far. We're sure as hell not turning back because a few of us have the willies.
Lemme go first, just in case.

Crystal balls, vials, bottles of ink and paint, pens... Weird. Who keeps a desk like this?
No idea.
I really don't like this. I don't think we should be here.
Hey, is that door glowing?
I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure that's the last place in the world we want to go.
Which means—
Oh, shut up.

Crap! The door's gone!
Nobody panic! Everything's under control! Everything's—
Hello, Sternn. that you, God?
Welcome to my humble abode. I believe you'll find the answers you seek through the next door.

Alright, here goes...

Congratulations, brave adventurers! Today, you have proven yourself to me and are now ready to start your quest!
We've been doing the quest for almost a month now.
Years ago, my amulet was stolen by the wizard Werdna. Werdna hides in the maze somewhere below us. Find him; slay him; and return to me the amulet!
No offense, Trebor, sir, but you're a fairly powerful guy. Why don't you just do it yourself?
Are you kidding? That's what I created you guys for.
This right here is a man after my own heart.
To aid you in your quest, I give you this, which may be used to enter the elevator on this floor.
What is it? Some sort of mystic key or magical rod?

Or your daughter's 3rd grade science fair award, sure.
Now go—and may the Gods guide you!
Surely you don't mean Fotzh'hi.
Hell no, I've been trying to get that asshole out of my dungeon for months.

As the party leaves, the wall closes behind them, becoming seamless once more.

So, shouldn't our faces be melting off or something? I mean, we just saw God.
Sternn, our God co-created Swamp Thing. I'd call him a lot of things, but sacrosanct isn't one of them.
Anyway, the important thing is we can access all the elevators now. No more stairs for us—we can take the express lane straight to the bottom of the dungeon!

Wait. Is that really such a good thing?
Meh, what could go wrong?
I'm not even stopping you this time. It's actually entertaining me now.
Come on, guys. We handled everything floor 8 threw at us. What's floor 9 going to do that—

Er, that we haven't, uh, seen—

Okay, this might be a problem, but it's nothing we can't h—

Grab the loot and cheese it

Floor 9 is only accessible via the express elevator and, unsurprisingly, has a massive ramp-up in difficulty. You'll see Lifestealers and Nightstalkers (level drain), high level Priests (Badi), high level mages (Dalto/Lahalito), and just about every other monster can cast Katino. That is something you really, really don't want to have happen right now. A well-placed Katino suddenly puts your thief, mage, and maybe one fighter on your front line. The monsters can just tee off after that.

So, why would you even risk this floor?

Because of the loot.

My God, the loot. Of the haul above, the Plate+2 (N) is the most important. It's one of the most powerful armors in the game, and it can only be equipped by neutral characters.

Finally, a lifetime of amorality and questionable decisions pays off!

To be fair, it also seems like cursed items get dropped down here more than anything else. You'll notice the RING OF DEATH! in the above shot, and you can also see that I'm not making up the exclamation point. As an item, it's not only useless but supremely dangerous, slowly sucking the HP out of your guy as if they were poisoned. (Or so I'm told. I'm sure as hell not putting that thing on.) But there is one thing you can do with it that's pretty exciting...

Heeeey, Boltac!
Heeeey, what!
We have something we'd like to sell you.
Oh rly!
Yep! It's a cursed item that can't be taken off once put on and slowly drains the very lifeforce from your body until you're nothing but a soulless husk.
What'll you give me for it?

How's 250,000 sound?

Like we got a deal, that's how!

I don't know. There's no explanation I can come up with except that Boltac is as dumb as a sack of rocks.

Also, you'd think having that much gold would make you kings among men, but you'd be wrong. At this point in the game, there's nothing left to buy. Anything you need to pump your guys up further will have to be found in the dungeon as random drops. All you can do with the gold is squat on it in case someone gets royally fucked up and needs a trip to the Temple of Cant. And even then, your priest can probably do something about it first—ASHES is about the only status you should let the Temple handle, and you have to botch casting Di (life) on a dead character to have that happen. Best not to let them die in the first place, I say.

In addition to all this, during our intial run through floor 9, we managed to pick up an experience level. Each individual level is worth its weight in gold from here on out. And check out Nico's spellbook:

Hmm. "Makanito." Wonder what that one does? Puts everyone to sleep, maybe?
Might as well test it out on floor 1, where it's safe. God.
The carnage. The sheer, unadulterated carnage.
Today, I am a man.

You can't see it in that shot, but Makanito murders anything under level 8. No groups to target. No questions asked. It just methodically steps through each monster you're facing and offs them if they fall under the cutoff. The translation given in the manual is "deadly air," so it won't work on anything that doesn't breathe, i.e. undead. But let me tell you a little secret—on floor 9, anything that doesn't explicitly say it's high level (i.e. Lvl 10 Fighter) is probably under the spell's cutoff. That means you now have a "Get Out of Jail Free" card in your mage's back pocket.

Later on, you get another version called Lakanito that works on monsters higher than level 8—but it's limited to a single group, so who cares. If you need rampant death and destruction that badly, just wait for Tiltowait and go whole hog. (If you don't know what that is, you're in for a treat next update.)

And not only is Nico getting absurdly powerful, but Aldo's getting in on the fun, too!

Hey, Justine! Wanna see a new trick I learned?
Oh my god! She only has 5 HP left! Why would you do that?!
So I can do this... Madi!
Oh hey, my HP's full again.
Must you play capricious arbitrer of life and death, Aldo?
Oh my yes.

Mabadi strips a single target of everything except 1-8 HP. Madi heals a party member back up to full HP and removes any status ailments—excepting DEAD and ASHES, of course. Needless to say, Madi is a very handy spell to have. (Mabadi less so, there's more efficient ways of killing that work on more than one target.)

Really, like other old school RPGs, Wizardry is all about spells in the late game. Your fighters aren't useless meatshields like in some games (hi, Bard's Tale!), but you'll definitely need proper, strategic use of spells to support them. This is the whole "simple but nuanced" thing in action again. By now, you should have a bunch of low-level casts for stuff like Montino, Katino, and Dilto/Mamorlis. Since your guys are much more advanced than before, they'll stick pretty well. Your spellcasters' jobs are to sprinkle those spells around at the right times to keep your front three from getting in over their heads. Furthermore, they'll need to reserve the big bombs for when things are spinning out of control. Of course, you'll have to recognize when things are getting out of control as it's happening; with all the instakillers, level drainers, and mages roaming around, you can't afford to be wrong.

Oh, and after all this time, something else of interest has happened...

Justine Thyme?
By order of his majesty, the king, we are to escort you to the throne room for a private audience.
What? Why?
Okay, Justine, stay calm.
Remember, you don't have to tell them anything.
I'll get Cholly on the horn, he'll be filing paperwork not five minutes from now. He can shut down an entire administration with nothing but an ink pen. They'll rue the day they tried to bust you.
And remember, if this thing goes to trial, we can always pull the "One Angry Man" scam from back in '82.
You guys are just being paranoid. I'm sure I'll be fine.

Justine leaves the party.

She's a goner.

A little while later, in the throne room...

Are you Justine Thyme?
That'd be me!
I understand you've been exploring the Mad Overlord's dungeon.
And slaying many monsters, I presume.
And looting Trebor's dungeon of its precious treasures.
...My lawyers have advised me not to comment.
A woman of few words. I can respect that. Very well, Thyme—kneel.
Is... is that a sword? Don't I get a trial or something?

By the power vested in me by the Mad Overlord Trebor, I dub thee... Lord Justine Thyme.
...holy shit.
Arise, Lord Thyme.
Thanks! But, uh, shouldn't it be "Lady Thyme"?
Ehn, whatever.

A little while later...

...larcenous, perverted worm! Hanging's too good for her! Burning's too good for her! She should be chopped up into itty bitty pieces and buried alive!!
Pitch perfect, Hanover.
Heh. Still got it.
Justine! You're back!
Did you make a break for it? Get out of here, we'll cover you!
Nah, it's totally cool. I'm a noble now!
Really? Does that mean we have to call you Lord Thyme?
Whatever. So, what kind of perks do you get with that fancy new title?
Dunno, just got promoted. Lemme take a look...

Uh... that doesn't look like a whole lot.
In fact, it looks like less than you started with.
Oh for the love of Christ

Changing classes ages you six to eight years or so—which isn't a big deal for us, as we haven't wasted any of our time or money on inn rooms. It also gives you access to extra spells, to the point where I'm seriously considering changing Nico to a Priest and Aldo to a Cleric so we can get some archmages rolling. When you change over, you'll be level 1 again, but you keep your HP, gear, and any spells you've learned. The number of spellcasts available will drop dramatically, but they won't zero out, and you can earn them back as you level up.

But here's the real kick in the junk: Changing classes automatically resets your stats to your race's baseline. For humans, this is very bad. It's not entirely crippling; gear and levels matter more than anything else, really. But that doesn't mean it's fun.

Fortunately, between her existing gear and her high level partymates, Justine can fight on the lower levels of the dungeon without any issues. This also means she levels up like someone strapped a rocket to her ass.

So, after some quick legwork, the party's off to explore floor 9 properly!

Hmm. "A.C.G." That's weird.
Who designs dungeons in the shape of initials, anyway?
Someone with a very high opinion of themselves.

"A.C.G." is Andrew C. Green, the other programmer behind Wizardry. And, of course, Andrew spelled backwards is "a really bad end boss name."

So, it doesn't look like there's a lot to do on this floor.
Nope. Think we should just punch our way straight through the teleporter?
Sure, if you want to end up a greasy stain on the floor. There's no way we're ready for Werdna yet.
Well, you know what that means!
I'm sick of disco, we're just levelling up normally.
Hey! Who put you in charge?
Uh, the king?
...You win this round, Thyme.
That makes the score 2-0!

Once you get Makanito and Madi, level 9 gets a little safer to grind on. The problem is, the risk/reward ratio is kind of puny. For best results, seek out giants ruthlessly and aggressively, such as these:

They usually come in Earth, Fire, and Frost, but there's not a whole lot of difference between them (other than inherant spell resistances). Giants are fairly safe fights at this point, but they yield 10k+ in experience for a medium-sized group. This is essential, as level 11 onwards can take over 125,000 XP (!) to get through, depending on class. Of course, if the giants bring some friends along, you might have some problems. But, if it's just a single wandering group, knock them off immediately and cash in on that sweet, sweet XP.

Another useful trick is to open chests with Alarm traps instead of disarming them. Alarms cause a new fight to spawn after you set them off; win that fight, and you get whatever was in the chest. At this point, you actively WANT fights. You need levels 12 and 13 to round out your spellbooks. Getting an extra fight that you can choose to trigger or leave behind is a pretty good deal, all things considered.

Great, an Alarm trap! Go ahead and open it, Beez.

That did not go at all as planned.

Of course, you should make sure you're right before you set off traps on purpose. Here, Beezer detected an Alarm but actually set off a Gas Bomb, which poisons the entire party. In a sign of how powerful our guys are getting, Aldo was able to cure all of it via four Latumofis and two Madi. Sure, we had to head back to the elevator immediately after, but we've come a long way.

Another level, and Nico updates his spellbook once again:

There's Lakanito, like we mentioned before. Also new to the spellbook is Masopic, which drops everyone's AC four points and stacks with Maporfic (but only works in combat).

There's also Haman, which I think translates roughly to "Comedy Option." Haman and its big brother, Mahaman, are a bit odd. They only work in combat, and it costs you a level to cast them (and, in the case of Mahaman, you instantly forget the spell). Once it's been cast, the game picks a random effect from a list and applies it. This can be anything as useless as casting Dialko three times to something as extraordinary as killing everyone you're facing. There's no telling what will happen until you cast it, though, so it's by and large useless in my opinion. Interesting, but useless nonetheless.

(One side note: In the sequels to Wizardry, you get to choose your effect when casting Mahaman, which makes it quite a bit less useless.)

At this point, we've got just about every spell available except the final tier, which we'll get in our last update. As I said earlier, there's a lot of gadget spells in Wizardry, and not all of them are useful. At a bare minimum, here's the spell names you'll need to memorize for combat:

Montino: Silence. You must cast this on high level mages unless you like dead party members. (Some people do, I don't judge.)

Katino: Sleep. As I've said before, there is no better feeling in the world then dropping 64 damage on an instakiller while they're napping.

Dilto/Mamorlis: Dilto will generally get the job done, but Mamorlis makes sure. Both increase a monster's AC, making them easier to hit. Mamorlis has the added advantage of hitting everyone you're facing, as opposed to a single group.

Madi: Instantly return one of your guys to 100% HP and no status ailments. Great for emergencies.

Makanito: We covered it earlier, but this spell will get you out of a jam just about everywhere but floor 10. Maybe even then.

Madalto/Ladalto: Madalto does 8-64 damage of ice damage to any monster group. You'll learn its big brother, Ladalto, shortly before you get Tiltowait—the end-all, be-all of mage spells.

Obviously, everyone has their own playing styles, but these six get me through just about any situation.

And after even more levelling...

Sternn, I think it's time.

Oh man. I'm so freakin' psyched right now.
Everyone ready? We sure we can do this?
Yeah. After all, it's what we came here for.

Alright. The teleporter to the tenth floor is located in here. These crossed swords are probably Werdna's bodyguards. Sternn, you and Nico flank them from the rear entrance. Hanover and I will cause a distraction, then—

Some days, I don't know why I bother.
To be fair, neither do I!

And now, it's decision time!

Up until this point, the LP has mostly been on rails. Some of that's to aid me in delivering content in an expedient fashion, but it's also because there's just not a lot of decisions to be made. Other than starting party and when/if to change classes, you pretty much just kill whatever's in front of you until you run out of evil wizards and/or amulets.

All that changes today. We've got one more floor to go. I promised you guys I'd break this thing over my knee in revenge for what it's put me through, and I intend to deliver. So, you, the viewing public, has a choice to make.

Do we get the final levels to round out our spells, run the battle with Werdna straight, and show off game breakage as a bonus feature? Or do we break the game beforehand, so Werdna never knows what hit him?

The decision is in your hands, dear reader. Choose—but choose wisely.

Or just cheat your ass off. Whichever!

Next Episode: The Gauntlet!