Sunday, July 4, 2021

Wizardry: Level Three

I haven't had a lot of time to devote to playing Wizardry this week, unfortunately.  I now have a work commute that's two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening, and my laptop only works now when it's plugged in.  This doesn't leave me with a lot of free time, so most of what I'm covering in this post happened on Saturday night and Sunday morning.

I did manage to do an hour or two of grinding during the week, repeatedly fighting Murphy's Ghosts while I watched episodes of Seinfeld in the background.  This grinding got most of my characters to level 10, quite a bit short of my level 13 target.  My plan was to get my spellcasters to level 13 before switching classes (mages to priests and priests to mages) but that's going to take quite some time.

While I'm on the subject of levelling up, I want to vent about one of the most annoying aspects of the game: healing.  More specifically, it really bugs me that characters get an increase to their maximum hit points when levelling up, but they don't get the same increase to their current hit points.  To give an example, if Mean Joe's maximum hit points go from 75 to 88 hit points when gaining a level, his current hit points will stay at 75.  So every time I level it's necessary to spend time healing everyone, and it's very irritating.

It mightn't be so bad if the healing process weren't so laborious.  Characters can stay at the Adventurer's Inn, where their hit points gradually increase as gold decreases, but I don't like spending money when I don't need to.  Besides, you can only do this with one character at a time.  Instead I enter the dungeon and cast my full complement of healing spells, which can sometimes take multiple trips.  It's hard to criticise a game this old for its interface issues, especially when it's pretty much inventing that interface, but it does get tiresome after a while.

I considered continuing to grind on Murphy's Ghosts, but I was determined to post on the blog over the weekend, and I wanted that post to have some actual content.  So last night I determined to head down to dungeon level 3, hoping that I hadn't just sent my entire party to die.

Level 3 was a series of straight corridors and rectangular rooms, with very little to discover aside from monsters.  Some of the corridor intersections had pits, which did enough damage to almost kill my mages.  I don't think there's a way to avoid them, but it's possible there's a spell I'm missing.  Other intersections featured spinners, which are an ubiquitous trap for this genre.  Basically, when you step on a square with a spinner, it turns you around in a random direction.  This dungeon is designed so that it's impossible to tell which way you're facing just from the layout.  Each time I hit a spinner I had to move one square away, make camp, and cast DUMAPIC to get my bearings.  Something else that annoys me about the interface is that you can only cast non-combat spells while in camp.  Spinners are generally a minor annoyance, but the interface for this game magnifies that annoyance significantly.

Also found at the intersections are messages saying "turn around", "turn left" or "turn right".  I'm not sure if these messages mean anything, or if they're just there to confuse the player.  I tried following them, but the directions never led anywhere of interest (and more often than not they pointed me towards a pit).

Messages like this are found throughout the third dungeon level.

In the centre of the level, through a one-way door, I found a room with buttons marked A through D.  I'd encountered similar rooms on levels 1 and 2, which had ended up being a sort of elevator or teleporter (I'm not sure which).  These buttons worked the same, and connected to the matching rooms on levels 1 and 2.  The only button I haven't tried now is D, which I assume goes down to level 4.  I don't think I'm quite ready for that yet.

Combat on this level wasn't anywhere near as deadly as I'd feared.  The monsters I've fought are as follows:

  • Level 5 Mages: This is a pretty big leap, considering that I'd only just been fighting Level 1 Mages on the previous dungeon level.  These guys cast MAHALITO, which is a danger to my weaker party members, but I can usually kill them before they fire off more than one.
  • Capybaras: A rodent-like creature with a poisonous bite.  I can cast cure poison (LATUMOFIS) now, so poison doesn't send me scurrying back to the castle like it once did.
  • Rotting Corpses: Undead that I've been able to kill without much trouble.  If they have a special attack, I don't know about it.
  • Vorpal Bunnies: I'd fought some of these on level 2, and they're found in greater numbers on level 3.  I haven't been hit by one yet, and more often than not they run away from my party.
  • Coyotes: Like Vorpal Bunnies, this monster will run away most of the time.
  • Ninjas: I've fought several groups of ninjas, but they haven't done much to me beyond casting sleep spells.
  • Dragon Flies: Flies with a breath weapon that damages everyone in the party.

Taking breath weapon damage from a Dragon Fly.

I feel like my grinding paid off here, because I've been able to beat the monsters on level 3 with little trouble.  I've been pretty generous with spells, firing off LAHALITOs with abandon, and those are generally enough to wipe out a group of monsters.  I've purchased the best armor I can (+1 shields, +1 plate mail), and combined with the MAPORFIC spell my AC is good enough that I rarely get hit.  I keep expecting to bump into monsters and get completely wiped out, but so far it hasn't happened.  I've been cautious, and that caution has paid off.

My only misgiving is that I find myself leaving a lot of treasure chests behind.  I don't have a thief, so I'm not confident to have my characters disarm traps.  I use CALFO to identify the traps whenever I find a chest, and open those that are safe.  That was fine on levels 1 and 2, but on level 3 pretty much every chest has been trapped.  Once I risked opening a chest with an ANTI-MAGE trap, figuring that if I had a fighter open it I'd be fine.  It paralyzed both of my mages, and I had to rush back to the castle and pay for them to be restored at the temple.

You'd think there'd be a spell to cure paralysis, but I
couldn't find it in the manual.

I need a thief in the party, but I really don't want to change my current party makeup.  While finishing up this post, an obvious solution occurred to me: have one of my characters change class to thief.  Perhaps when one of my mages hits level 13 I'll give him some levels of thief before switching to priest.  I'm still a little wary of the class-changing in Wizardry, because I have no idea how it works.  I'm pretty sure I keep the spellcasting from earlier classes, but I'm not sure about other abilities, or how it affects hit points, or any number of other factors.  I don't want to ruin one of my guys with an ill-considered change.

Dungeon level 3

I've found the stairs down to level 4, so I need to decide what my next move is.  I think I'll probably tackle it much like I did with level 3: grinding when I find time during the week, and exploring the new level on the weekend.  It worked well for me with level 3, and I'm not about to change a winning formula.


  1. You'd think there'd be a spell to cure paralysis, but I couldn't find it in the manual.

    DIALKO and MADI will do this.

    I'm still a little wary of the class-changing in Wizardry, because I have no idea how it works.
    You keep learned spells, and can even keep learning new ones from the class you abandoned, but only in whatever circles you achieved. Spell points will be lower, in fact, you lose them all when you class change, but get some back as soon as you level up for the first time in your new class. HP is kept, but growth will be slow. Going from Mage->Priest you'll probably be gaining only 1HP per level for awhile, and the other way you might never gain more than that.

    The two big downsides of changing classes are that you lose a lot of stats, basically everything becomes the minimum for your race and new class, and that getting level drained sucks even worse, because the HP loss takes into account the highest level you achieved in any class. A Fighter->Mage convert who gets level drained basically loses their entire HP surplus, undoing the whole benefit of the exercise.

  2. I remember trying to make any sense out of the "turn" messages. Part of the problem is that they don't take into account the direction you came from, so it's hard to believe they're directing you to anything. If you go east from the previous level's stairs, then turn right (on your own) when it dead-ends, then start following the messages from there, you end up exploring almost the entire corridor network, but that's probably just a coincidence.

    I think you're going to regret not having a thief. I'd suck it up and start developing one now (maybe do a class change) before you get much farther in the game.

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