Sunday, August 1, 2021

Wizardry: Levels Six to Eight

My progress in Wizardry has been fairly slow-going, through a mixture of over-caution and lack of time.  But with my characters as high-level as they're reasonably going to get, and my rejection of the game's class-changing system, I was able to make some decent progress this week.  I said last time around that I might get through two dungeon levels for this post, but I actually made it through three.

That said, I could have easily skipped all of these levels and gone straight from level 4 to level 9 by using the elevator.  There's nothing on levels 5 through 8 that makes them worth exploring, and their sole purpose seems to be the accumulation of experience and treasure.

Dungeon level 6

Level 6 is interesting in that it you could mistake it as being 17 x 17 instead of the usual 20 x 20.  The areas to the east and north are only accessible by a single secret door.  There's very little to find out there, unless you're looking for stairs to go down instead of using the elevator.

The only other thing of interest is an encounter with three humanoid figures: a barbarian with a glowing sword, a "sexy female mage", and another that looks like a huge ogre.  The barbarian calls out to "Ariel and Ookla" before the trio disappears around a corner. This a reference to the cartoon Thundarr the Barbarian, and must have been a pretty late addition to the game: Thundarr debuted in October of 1980, and Wizardry was almost ready to go by then even though it wasn't released until September of 1981.  I never saw Thundarr growing up, but I really should check it out, as it's written by a bunch of my favourite comic writers and has production design by legendary comics artist Jack Kirby.  It's kind of an irritating inclusion here, though. Not only does this scene serve no purpose, but it happens every time you enter the relevant square, which means Thundarr, Ariel and Ookla are constantly running up that same corridor.  I guess they really need to improve their mapping skills.

I suppose that in the world of Wizardry, "sexy" is an objective term.

Level 7 is laid out as a grid, with nine distinct areas and enough symmetry for it to be potentially confusing.  Adding to that confusion are a few well-placed teleportation squares, which give no delay or warning when they're activated.  I did get myself turned around on a few occasions here before I realised what was going on, but at this point I was still surprised at how easy to map this game has been.  Wizardry has an unforgiving reputation, but at least in mapping terms I've been finding it quite breezy.

Dungeon Level 7

Level 8 is where things started to get a little hairier in that regard.  The middle area, with its layout designed to look like the initials of creator Robert J. Woodhead, is not so bad.  (Decide for yourselves if that design choice is cute or obnoxious.)  The top two corners are where things get more difficult.  At the top right is a room in complete darkness, that teleports you into the room's center as soon as you enter.  That one's not so bad once you figure out where and when the teleportation is happening.

More irritating is the room to the top right, which is full of spinners.  You can enter this room via teleportation, or by taking the stairs down from level 7.  Note that there are no stairs back up; if you came down here without the Blue Ribbon needed to use the elevator, you'd need a MALOR spell to get back out again.  Even with all the spinners, though, this room isn't so difficult to escape.  Spinners only turn you around when you enter their square; after that you can reorient yourself as normal.  As long as you hug the walls it's no problem at all to edge around and find the secret door that exits to the north.  (I think I'm more annoyed by this level's needless wrapping.  Couldn't they have shifted everything down a couple of squares, so that the rooms aren't split across the top and bottom of the map?  I kind of hate levels that wrap around to begin with, and stuff like this just makes that annoyance even worse.)

Dungeon Level 8.  Note that the area I've mapped
is only 20 x 17; there's a 3 x 20 area on the east side
of the map that's inaccessible.

I'm still getting through the combats with little trouble, mostly by blasting my enemies with MADALTO and LORTO, or with TILTOWAIT and MALIKTO (a priest spell that instantly kills most foes) when things look really tough.  I've occasionally been caught with my pants down by underestimating how much spell power to use, and Misto and Merlin have both required a couple of resurrections.  But by being generous with attack spells and returning to the castle regularly I've been able to survive everything so far.

Unloading with a TILTOWAIT

I am starting to have some trouble with traps though.  Without a thief I'm just using my other characters to disarm traps, and its becoming less successful as I descend further into the dungeon.  At the moment I'm pretty much resigned to setting off any traps I discover; I just identify them with CALFO, and make a decision as to whether I want to suck up the consequences or not.  ALARM? Sure.  SPLINTERS, or ANTI-MAGE?  Probably not.  For the most part, I try to avoid traps that I think will affect the entire party.  Misto and Merlin are drastically low on hit points compared to everyone else.

It is worth opening chests, though, because it's the best way to find magic weapons and armour.  All of my characters have +1 weapons now, and it's a made a big difference to their effectiveness.  I'm not sure how magic weapons work in Wizardry.  In Dungeons & Dragons, they simply give you a bonus to attack and damage rolls.  In Wizardry, I noticed that my cleric started making multiple attacks when I equipped a +1 mace.  I also levelled up at the same time, so I'm not sure if it's the weapon or the levels that did it.  Equipping a Dragon Slayer sword also solved my problems with Mean Joe's drop in effectiveness.  He's not quite back up to where he used to be, but he's not far off.

"Yeah man, Wizardry is awesome!  You go into a  dungeon
and thrust at men in leather!"

I only have two more duneon levels to go, and I expect things to ramp up from here.  I'm not all that worried about being wiped out in a fair fight, or killed by traps.  If I do get wiped out, it's almost certainly going to be the surprise mechanic that does it.  If I don't get ambushed by some powerful spellcasters and blown away, expect a victory post in the near future.  If I do, well... it's back to level one I guess.


  1. Thundarr was one of my faves as a child!

    No idea how it has held up, but probably worth a try.

  2. I guess I finally got to see what I was missing by skipping right down to level 9, and then 10.

    1. I remember it felt like they were filling in encounters and ran out of disk space.

    2. I think I remember reading a history once when it said they did just that - cobbled together some encounters to fluff the game up for those levels since they were out of space for more.

  3. I'm not sure how magic weapons work in Wizardry.
    Technically, there are no hard-coded rules. All item properties come from records in a table, and the "mace +2" field is just the weapon's name. But the general pattern is that a +X weapon has +X on the to-hit roll, does +X damage per hit, and grants +X attacks. Main exceptions are that staff+2 only hits once, and mace+2 and dagger+2 only hit twice.

    Fighter-type classes naturally gain an extra attack every five levels, and this doesn't stack with the weapon's attacks. A fighter at level 10-14 will attack three times unless they're using one of the few weapons that do more than this. Other classes don't gain extra attacks, so your priest is hitting twice because the mace+1 allows it.