I finally reached my grinding goal of getting all my characters to Level 13. While it took me a few weeks in real-world terms, it was only a few hours of game time (although keep in mind that I did it with the emulator speed cranked up). Wizardry's not a long game, and reaching high levels can be done pretty quickly, but as I've said before my time has been limited, and I haven't been all that excited to spend it on playing ancient CRPGs.
A little bit before getting my characters to Level 13, I decided to have a couple of my characters change class. The first change I made was to have my thief Flanker change into a mage. I would have preferred a change to cleric, but I was restricted by alignment. I got Flanker to around level 8 as a mage before having second thoughts about the whole thing. What I'm unsure about is whether he even keeps his thief skills after changing class. He certainly didn't keep his Agility or Luck scores, and I gather those are important when disarming chests. So I dropped him for now, and swapped Penitent Pat back in. I've been disarming traps with my non-thief characters, which has been reasonably effective, and I much prefer the balance of having two priests in the party.
The other change I made was to convert Mean Joe from fighter to samurai. This one was a disaster. Joe went from a killing machine to one of the most useless members of the party. I'm still keeping him in the front line, because he has loads of hit points, but his melee damage output isn't even close to what he was dishing out before. At first I thought this was because he lost his multiple attacks, but I've levelled him up to the point where he's gotten those back. The real problem here is that characters get their ability scores reset when they change class, and those new totals are really low. Mean Joe's Strength of 18 was a big asset, and it's not one that he's ever going to get back. Changing to Samurai got him some mage spells, but the trade-off hasn't been worth it so far.
So for the moment I'm steering clear of the class-changing system. I've probably just used it badly, but it feels to me as though characters lose almost everything by going back to level 1 and having their stats reset. I'll stick with Mean Joe, and hope I find a weapon or something that can bring him back up to par. As for the rest, I'm going to keep my fighter, two priests and two mages. Hopefully that'll be good enough. I was considering turning my priest Pious Pete into a lord (for better melee capabilities), both of my mages into priests, and Penitent Pat into a mage, but now I'm not so sure. I'm hesitant to screw things up after what happened to Mean Joe. ("Look how they massacred my boy" I say, having just watched The Godfather for the first time ever.)
I explored dungeon level 5 using the elevator that I'd previously unlocked on level 4. My first foray was somewhat disastrous: I encountered a group of Level 7 Mages, and underestimated the amount of spell power I needed to unload on them. (I think I typed MAHALITO instead of LAHALITO, and ended up casting the weakest of the game's mass damage spells. It's an easy mistake to make.) The Mages cast their own mass damage spells on me in return, and both of my mages were killed. I had my priests finish them off with LORTO (a mass damage spell that slices the enemy with spinning blades), and quickly high-tailed it back to the castle to resurrect Merlin and Misto at the temple. (I could have had my priests do it with a DI or KADORTO spell, but I was wary of the manual's warning that DI isn't as effective or safe as using the temple. Besides, I have plenty of gold.)
|Taking stock of my casualties between rounds.
Dungeon level 5 used the entire 20 x 20 grid, unlike level 4, but it didn't have any special encounters at all. The only noteworthy area was a large central room where spellcasting didn't work. I was lucky enough to get through that area with only a couple of easy random encounters; I suspect that meeting the wrong enemies in that place could go very badly. I have no idea if anti-magic zones affect the monsters as well as the party, but I'm not anxious to find out.
There are a bunch of one-way doors throughout the level, one spinner, and a corridor with a darkness zone. Overall, I'm surprised at how little Wizardry has put these tricks to use. I'm accustomed to the Bard's Tale series, which will drop spinners and darkness zones all over the place. Wizardry has been sparing with them, and so far its levels have been pretty simple to map.
|Wizardry Level 5. The light blue area is an anti-magic zone.
In terms of encounters, I've been blowing through most of them with LAHALITO, LORTO and MADALTO (a highly damaging frost spell). One of my mages got TILTOWAIT upon reaching 13th level; this spell does 10-100 damage to every monster in the combat, which at this point sounds to me like pressing the "automatic win" button. I haven't used it yet, and I'm not even sure why not. I think I've been saving it for a really hairy encounter, but there's no reason not to drop it on some unsuspecting kobolds on my way out of the dungeon.
I did have one scary moment, when I was surprised by a group of 7th Level Mages (those guys again). There was nothing I could do except watch as my characters got blasted over and over. Penitent Pat and Misto got killed, and Merlin was left with only 2 hit points. I annihilated them with LORTO and MADALTO in the next round, but I'm pretty sure the only reason I survived is that a couple of the Mages had attacked rather than cast spells.
After that hair-raising encounter I decided to use MALOR (teleport) to escape the dungeon as quickly as possible. I'd been reluctant to use MALOR thus far, instead opting to take the elevator back to the surface: I'm well aware that giving MALOR the wrong coordinates can kill your entire party if you land in solid stone. I'd been mapping carefully though, and knew exactly where I was, so I was able to land directly on the level 1 stairs to the castle. Once again, all of my character were resurrected safely.
|Setting my coordinates for a MALOR teleport.
Aside from that, my only other setback came at the hands of an ANTI-MAGE trap. I'd set one of these off much earlier in the game, and it had paralyzed both of my mages. I took the risk, and this time one of my mages was turned to stone. The other was paralyzed, as was Mean Joe; it turns out that this trap affects anyone who can cast mage spells, not just those of the mage class (I guess that's a downside of class-changing to give everyone spellcasting, you could get wiped out by a single trap). I was able to use the MADI spell (which cures all conditions and restores the target to full hit points) to fix everyone, but that trap was a lot nastier than I was expecting.
It's possible my next post might cover multiple dungeon levels, as I'm done with grinding for the moment (and will be done for good unless I change my mind about class changing). Of course this all assumes that I don't suffer some kind of major setback, but so far so good.