Part 8: The Gauntlet! (Or: How We Saved the World with Katino)Chapter 8: The Gauntlet! (Or: How We Saved the World with Katino)
Okay, game. I tried.
I really, really tried to be nice about this. I always wanted to beat Wizardry clean my first time, and for a little bit, I thought you were going to help out. You gave me an Amulet of Makanito. An Amulet that casts Makanito. It only has a 5% chance of breaking. That should've set me up for the rest of the game.
And you know what? It broke on my second use.
No, I'm done being nice. Today, you cry for me. The whole internet will hear your tears, and they will laugh.
Well, this is it.
According to the map, stepping forward should put us on the tenth floor.
Great, another teleporter! Let's go!
NO WAIT WE DON'T KNOW IF AAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh...
Well, I got us here, didn't I?
Inscribed on an ornate gold plaque is a message. The script is ornate, and blinks various colors.
You are trepassing on the domain of **WERDNA**! There is no possibility that you can get past my guardians! So sure am I of my defenses that I give you this clue!
Pretty ornate, if you ask me.
So, it begins. The ultimate battle of wits with an evenly matched intellectual foe.
Oh, real classy, Werdna.
Tell me about it!
This is floor 10. The only way in is the chute—quite literally, as any attempts to Malor in will be deflected back. The clue is actually a bit obscure and almost no one knows or needs it. For trivia's sake: "Contra Dextra Avenue," in Latin, means (roughly) "Don't go right." Doing so late in the floor will usually take you back to the first hallway, and doing so from the first hallway will instantly boot you back out to the castle. This is actually super handy if something goes terribly wrong.
From here on out, you'll go through a series of seven hallways and rooms. On the other side of each room's door is a guardian fight. If you beat them, you can then search the room for the next teleporter. It'll be pretty obvious, as they're the type you can actually see the other side of. If there's a hallway just hanging out unattached in the middle of the room, you've probably found it. Keep in mind, though, that the teleporter back to the beginning of the floor is always on your right after entering the room. "Contra Dextra Avenue" and all that.
Alright. You ready for this, team?
You're goddamn right I'm ready. Let's go stomp some wizard ass.
Awesome, I love punching nerds.
Not you, you're cool.
Werdna Industries, please hold. Werdna Industries. Yes, he'll be available later this week. Thank you, buhbye now.
Hey. We're here to see Werdna.
Mmmmmmmm, yeah. Name?
Look, Werdna is booked solid for at least a month. Do you have an appointment or not?
Oh, sure. It's under Fiste.
Oh, right! And this is where you punch him.
What? No, my last name is Fiste.
Oh, I get it!
Right, because I make all my money by PUNCHING PEOPLE TWIST ENDING POW
Oh, great. Now he's got friends.
Ehn, how hard could this be?
Yeah! Go get 'em, Hanover!
Should he be foaming at the mouth like that?
Absolutely not, no.
Greater Demons welcome the party to Floor 10. They're a lot like Lesser Demons, only greater. In addition to summoning help, their hits both poison and paralyze. In case you haven't noticed yet, this floor is serious business.
Still, maybe it was an aberation, right? We back out of this fight because we're way overmatched, and a restart exploit later...
One group of guardians have been defeated, but there are many more. Turn back while you can, fools!
I don't actually recall beating the first set of guardians, but sure, whatever.
Alright, next door.
Here we go...
Nope. I'm done.
C'mon, Justine, it's—
Seriously. I'm done with this LP. The rest of you have fun.
Is... is she serious?
Can she even do that?
To be honest, I don't think she—
And fuck you too, you're the one that sent us down here. I'm not doing shit from here on out. You guys are on your own.
Justine, seriously, you're overreacting just a—
Screw you, Sternn. Why are we even down in this dank hole in the first place?
Uh, fabulous riches?
Really? That's your answer? Nico and Illyssa inherited enough money to buy half the freaking planet twelve times over. Aldo and I are perfectly fine getting by on our research grants. You two are still getting royalties from that stupid movie—royalties which none of us will ever see, I might add.
Hey, it pays to get in on the ground floor.
Didn't Sternn kill you at the end of your short?
Made me look good, though!
Ugh. This. This right here. This is exactly what I'm talking about, and it's why I'm finished with this whole stupid ordeal unless you can give me one good reason to keep going.
Ha! Quitting! Just like a woman.
Okay, I'm back in. But I want to see this guy bleed.
I think that can be arranged. Follow me, we're getting out of here.
One express teleport later, the party pays a visit Boltac's Trading Post.
Welcome to Boltac's! How may I be of service?
What do you have available?
Well, as you can see, we have the finest wares in the land.
Looks great. We'll take it.
The whole shop. We're buying it.
Now get the fuck out of my store.
Well, it hasn't been easy, but we've finally made it past Floor 3.
I still can't believe he took our gold and just left us there.
No kidding. If I ever see that Sternn guy again, I'll...
Welcome to Boltac's Trading Post! How can I help you today?
...You're not Boltac.
Nope! We've just had a change in ownership. I'm Sternn...
Weird name. Anyway, we're looking to breach the more difficult levels of the dungeon.
Ah, yes. You'll need the heavy hardware for that.
Unfortunately, we're a little light on gold...
Well, you're in luck! Hanovertac?
Y'see, we're holding a special promotion to drum up interest in the new and improved Boltac's Trading Post!
Indeed. For a limited time, you can trade in any old gear you find in the dungeon for some of our finest wares! Breast plates, long swords, you name it.
Wow! What a deal!
Remember now—any armor or weapon you find in the dungeon!
We certainly will!
Meanwhile, at the Temple of Cant...
Bless me, father, for I am currently in the process of sinning my ass off.
What peturbs you dis evenin', Lord Thyme?
Look, I'm not proud of this, but my cohorts are currently scamming low level warriors in town for gear. We've got to beat Werdna. I don't know if it's foolish pride, sense of justice, or whatever, but we have to.
Meh. Anybody gettin' killed by dis scam?
Then who cares. Werdna's a dick.
Just how did you get the priesthood, anyway?
How'd you get your Lordship?
...you win this round, Bishop.
At any rate, it sounds like yous guys could use some help. Looks like I'm comin' outta retirement.
What, seriously? I mean, no offense, Father—you already saved our lives once—but you seem kind of weak in the combat area.
I've just been maskin' my true power until now.
How do you even—
Holy Mother of Butt
Let's go meet those friends o' yours!
And back at
Well, there's the last of it.
I seriously can't believe the deal we're getting on all this old unidentifiable junk. This place rocks.
Way better than the last guy who ran it. He tried to sell me a ring! A ring that could've killed me!
You won't find that here, friends! Remember—Sternntac's Trading Post! For all your equipment needs!
We will! Bye now!
Man. It just never gets old.
Sure doesn't. Hey, Justine! Ooh, and the Bishop! Just the man I wanted to see!
Hiya, Sternn. Whatcha got for me?
Pile of loot's over there. Should be pretty good stuff.
Will you take off that stupid mustache?
The Bishop's going after Werdna with us. We'll have to drop someone to make room.
Not to worry! Someone needs to mind the store. Right, Beezer?
Hey, guys! Come check out what's down this staircase!
Son of a bitch. Boltac was keeping the best gear for himself this entire time! Maybe he wasn't as dumb as we thought.
Maybe, but he still wasn't smart enough. Hanover?
And that's how we do it.
Oh hey. You're back.
Oh. My. God. Look at all this stuff! He's got a freaking katana! Shurikens! Chain mail made entirely out of ice! How long had that stuff been down here?
Alright, we have to start sorting through it. Justine, you take the Blade Cuisinart'.
Right, the Blade Cuisinart. Got it.
No, the Blade Cuisinart'.
...isn't that what I said?
Must be a regional accent thing.
I'll take the katana, naturally.
What about the dagger?
Probably useless, but we can't be too careful. Hanover, hang on to this for me.
Speaking of which, we'll definitely need some new weapons for him. I think this Long Sword+2 would make a fine choice.
What about those shurikens?
Well, I guess you could—Gah!
A brief interruption here, since this is both a game mechanism we haven't seen yet and one of my favorite items in the game. Many rare drops in the game have a power called "Invoke." To invoke an item, inspect your character and pick (E)quip. You don't necessarily need to equip the item you're invoking, you just need to get to the end of the equip process. Afterwards, if you have anything in your inventory that can be invoked, you'll be asked if you want to "invoke its special powers." The answer is usually a resounding no. Most invokes just gain you tiny little permanent stat boosts and will probably break your big spiffy new weapon/armor.
The Dagger of Thieves is the one exception to this rule. You don't care if the dagger breaks. It's a shitty weapon. Besides, it was built to break, because when a thief invokes it...
Don't know what you're looking at? Magnify and enhance!
Hanover's a motherfucking ninja. (Yes I changed his class to thief first shut up ok)
And that's not all!
So, I wuz going through some o' the old rags those guys brought in, and I found somethin' for you, Lord Thyme.
Lady. And this just looks like a white tunic with some sandals. I mean, I guess I'll try it on, but...
...should I be shining the radiant holy light of the heavens right now?
Ehn, why fight it.
If you remember from way back in the intro, the Garb of Lords is the best (and only, in my opinion) reason to have a Lord in the party. First off, it's -10 AC. With any decent amount of backup armor, that probably takes you down to the coveted "LO" AC status, which is where the scale stops. Not only that, but you'll see a "+" next to Justine's HP from here on out. That means she now has Regen. It works exactly like anti-poison; while walking around and in between combat turns, you'll slowly gain back lost HP. It's the best armor in the game, bar none, and only Lords can equip it. Finally, a justification for their ridiciulous stat requirements!
Looks like we're geared up and ready to go!
Wow. This stuff is much better than our old gear.
Tell me about it. If this doesn't get us past Werdna, nothing will.
Let's not get too cocky. You two haven't rounded out all your spells yet, so let's do that first.
Why do we need to? The Bishop can cast every spell in existence!
Sorry, Nico, but I can't get too crazy. Every time I stay at the inn to recharge, I put da entire world at risk.
I don't really understand that, but I'm not about to argue with a guy who can cast Mahaman like I cast Halito.
Well, before we do anything, let's head back to Floor 1 and test out the gear.
Ha! Not bad.
Not bad? His hands are gone and most of his head!
And just when he was getting so good.
With this equipment, we'll be unstoppable! To the elevator!
Who's the god? WHO'S THE GOD?!
Oh, for shit's sake.
Okay, I want to point something out here. First of all, a team of level 7 mages do not give a fuck about what gear you're wearing if they all cast Lahalito at once. The Bishop aside, our guys are at least level 12—a few have changed classes, but they still retained their HP—and this one group of mages almost wiped them out before I could restart. I want to say that again. We're actively cheating and the game is still kicking our ass.
Not only that, but it took about six orbits around Floor 9 before we had the 200,000 experience or so to finally get level 13. And what do we have to show for it?
One cast of Malikto, and two of Tiltowait. Besides that, our spellbooks aren't even complete. Aldo still needs Kadorto, which brings just about anyone back to life with full HP (even someone in ASHES!), and Nico needs Mahaman. We're not sticking around to get that, because this game has officially gotten ridiculous and I'm out of patience.
Worse yet, the class changes are a huge bust. Given the stat drops and the fact that powerlevelling tapers off around level 8, Justine and Hanover have become infinitely more useless than they were as fighters. I want you to keep in mind that Hanover is a ninja equipped with Shurikens, the best weapon in the game for them, and he's struggling to crack 20 damage. The guy who was dishing out 60 like it ain't no thang has been reduced to a peashooter—and, as I'm sure you've figured out, his instakill abilities are nowhere to be found. It would've been better to keep him as a fighter and bash our way to the end of the game.
Justine's in slightly better shape since she has the Blade Cuisinart'. (Which, by the way, is a devastating weapon; its damage is something ridiculous like 1d2+9, which means every successful hit is guaranteed 9-11 damage.) But, if we wouldn't have broken the shit out of the game and given her the best gear possible, she'd be a fair to middling fighter with spellcasting and dispell abilities that, quite frankly, we would never have a use for.
So, I guess it's cool having a ninja or lord in your party and all, but it's just not worth the time to go back and level them. Do yourself a favor if you decide play this game. Learn from my mistakes. Send two fighters, a cleric, a thief, and two mages. Let the cleric take one of your fighter slots. Then, once you're all at level 13 or so, go smear Werdna on a wall with your spells.
Anyway, back to the game.
Awright, we're ready this time.
Hell yes, we're ready. Let's go meet his guards and crush them under our heels.
Are you shitting me? We fought these guys on floor 9 as regular encounters!
Oh well, no sense in taking any risks. Katino!
Nice work! They're all asleep.
And they'll never wake up again.
And so, the party butchers the first round of guardians...
Well, I guess that's a little—
They're... all asleep again.
Okay, this is just getting—
Seriously, they're not even a threat anym—
Oh, come on! We could've just used a Montino there!
I'm not taking any chances.
I have no idea what happened here. I was totally psyched to go punch out some of the worst creatures in the game, and suddenly floor 10 floods me with these weenies. I never came close to needing a restart exploit, because—as shown above—we had Nico spam Katino on everyone. Again, that's a level 1 spell, of which Nico gets 9 casts. And it's the only spell we used while running the gauntlet.
It's not the cheating that makes me feel empty inside, it's the lack of chances to show it off.
A few well placed katana hits later...
You may defeat me, Sternn-San, but you will never defeat my master.
Werdna? Pfft. We got this one in the bag.
Not Werdna. You will see, Sternn-San. You... will see...
A discreet sign on the wall reads:
Lair of the Evil Wizard Werdna! Office Hours 9AM to 5PM. By Appoinment Only.
Shoot, now we have to go back.
It's after hours.
Wait! You guys hear that?
Thank you for meeting with us on such short notice, Werdna.
A pleasure, gentlemen. You know I've always had the utmost respect for your kind.
Our kind? Oh, I get it. Because we're one of those types. I bet you even think we shouldn't sparkle.
Er, no, I never said—
Because let me tell you, buddy. We sparkle. We sparkle like nobody's fucking business.
Please excuse my young associate. He's fairly new at this.
Also he's a fucking tool.
Vampires! What's Werdna planning?
Vampires used ta rule this land until Trebor cleared 'em out. Werdna must be plannin' on giving it back to them!
We cannot allow that to happen.
You said it, Sternn!
Not while there's so many people left to fleece.
Look. At this point, that's as close as you're gonna get to heroism. Take it or leave it.
I'll take it, I guess.
The party kicks down the door!
What is this, Werdna? A setup?!
Well, here it is. The big fight you've been waiting for.
Guess what? It lasted exactly one turn, and they never got a shot off.
I've been reading up, and it appears that Werdna will cast Tiltowait if you wait around long enough, plus he hits pretty hard for a mage. Also, his bodyguards will drain levels if and when they connect.
And none of that means shit all, because we have multiple casts of Tiltowait queued up.
Tiltowait is the go-to damage spell for this game. It drops 50-100 on every single monster you're facing. Not many creatures will stand up to one cast, even on a bad roll. Get two off, and no one's getting a second chance.
And I mean no one.
On top of that, Aldo is casting Malikto here, just to be sure. Malikto ("Word of Death") is the Priest companion to Tiltowait. It doesn't do quite as much damage, but its variance is much smaller, and it still hurts like a motherfucker.
And that's it. A few token swings from vampires, those three spells go off, and there's a smoldering crater where there used to be a boss and his high level bodyguards. I can't stress this enough, but due to the sudden unexpected drop in gauntlet difficulty, there was absolutely no reason to cheat here. None. All I needed was to add a high level spellcaster to the mix instead of a thief. The gear did more good grinding on Floor 9 than it did in the final boss fights.
Oh, Christ! Stop him!
It's too late, Thyme! You may have defeated me, but you can't defeat the power of the amulet! All I have to do is read...
Don't read the inscription!
We was too late.
And there it is.
Wow, I can't believe this is what all the fuss was about.
I know. Just looks like some dumb emerald thingy to me.
Nico, you drop that thing right now!
I think not, sister.
LOOK UPON ME, JUSTINE. I... am the sum of all evil.
You have got to be kidding me.
Your brother is now in my thrall. We will reconstruct Werdna's empire. You and your friends will die.
Oh, hey! Sup.
Haven't seen you since they shot Heavy Metal. What have you been up to?
Ehn, you know. Kicking around Europe, worked out a bit, teamed up with my fellow Nar stones to spread the corruption of foul Uluhthc through the universe. Same ol' same old.
Hey, Sternn? When you're done reminiscing, can you please help me pry that thing off my little brother so we can save his immortal soul?
Quit interrupting, Justine! We're catching up!
Thanks. Felt pretty good.
Already, you turn on each other. My influence contines to grow.
I just checked outside. There's no exit here.
Oh, come on. There has to be a teleporter somewhere. All of these stupid corridors had—
Justine, I stepped on every square. Nothing. We're trapped down here.
That doesn't make any sense! I mean, those vampires had to get in and out of here somehow.
Yes, master. Sorry, master.
He raises an excellent point. Werdna couldn't have possibly received visitors without help.
So how'd he do it?
I don't know. I'd say the amulet, but I don't think it's powerful enough.
Yeah. I mean, sure, it can melt a man's flesh off his bones within seconds, but teleporting through solid rock? No one can do that.
I'm standing right here, you know.
Yeeeeaaaah. Yeah! I agree. Just beyond the range of his omnipotent powers, y'know?
Oh, screw you guys. I can too teleport!
I totally can! Nico, show them!
Of course, master.
Yup, this is the last puzzle in the game. There's no way out, and your guys are most likely out of spells. What's an adventurer to do? Just equip the amulet (invoke for a free heal if you want, it's not going anywhere), then (U)se it. It'll cast Malor, and you can instantly zap yourself 10 levels up to the castle. Since I have a map, I chose to teleport to the stairs at Floor 1, because you win style points for it.
Ha! Fucking owned! Told you guys I could—
I'll take that, thanks.
...you win this round, Sternn.
Damn right I do.
Yaaaaaaaay! Three cheers for Captain Sternn and Lord Thyme!
Congratulations! You have recovered the amulet and passed the overlord's test! As a reward, I, the Mad Overlord, grant you...
Millions of gold?
Vast and unfathomable knowledge?
... 50,000 gold and experience!
Also, you will be inducted into my elite guard. Bear our mark, the Chevron of Rank, in honor.
Who's the big winner now, chumps?!
As an aside, 50k barely makes a dent in your experience climb towards level 14. It didn't even put Justine at level 12. That's your reward—a handful of gold/experience, a little ">" on your stats screen, and a pat on the head.
I hate this game.
Later that day, after the festivities...
You know, I really have no one to blame for it but myself. I don't know what it is, but Sternn just sweeps you right off your feet. I guess it's to be expected, what with him being a con-man and all.
Yer lookin' at dis all wrong.
Sternn may be a rogue, but he's also an adventure. Life ain't borin' wit him around.
I guess so.
Anyway, I gotta get back to da Temple. You stay outta trouble, yer Lordship.
Thanks, Father. You too.
Hey, Nico. Feeling better?
Yep! The Temple said I've got at least 48% of my soul left, so I should end up in Limbo with the virtuous pagans!
Well, hey. Good news all around.
Have you guys seen Hanover anywhere?
Not since Sternn left to sell off Boltac's. I assume he went with him.
Left to do what now?
Sell off Boltac's. He wanted to get back the gold he invested, plus pilfer anything of value left.
Well, Hanover's got my spellbook, so I hope they get back soon.
Hey, he's got mine, too. He said he wanted to keep it on hand in case they found scrolls of Mahaman to inscribe.
...wait a minute. Didn't Sternn pool all of our gold before he went to buy Boltac's?
And we're done! Thanks to Andrew Greenberg and Robert Woodhead for the game, Bernie Wrightson for the characters and not suing the crap out of me , and you, the viewer, for reading! Until next time, don't equip any cursed items, watch your spell count, and what's that last line?
Always, always, have an angle!
Coming Up in the Bonus Feature: The Breaking of Wizardry!