Monday, April 10, 2017

Magic Candle II: I'll Be Kinda Late Tonight

The financially-strapped party finally gets a break.
     
I started this session frankly lukewarm about the game. I don't know why. If I was in the mood for any gaming at all--particularly after the bizarre Alien Fires--I was in the mood for something more traditional. Something of the "kill orcs, get experience, buy equipment, kill stronger orcs" variety. Nonetheless, I pressed ahead.

At the end of the last session, I had begun to explore the dungeon beneath Castle Oshcrun and I had cleared the first room. The Magic Candle games use an approach to dungeons similar to Ultima IV and V: somewhat bland corridors (top-down in The Magic Candle; first-person in Ultima) punctuated by rooms. The party moves together in the corridors, but characters can move individually in the rooms. Rooms usually have combats, sometimes chests, and often tell some little vignette with their arrangements.

Very soon, I ran into a wall of light that I needed "Pierce" to dispel. I checked my characters and found that none of them had it memorized, although Rimfiztrik had other spells from that book in his memory. Assuming this meant that he had the spellbook, I returned to the castle to sleep and memorize it. It was at this point that I realized that although Rimfiztrik had spells from 3 books memorized, he actually only possessed one spellbook. Gia, moreover, came with a bunch of memorized spells despite having no books at all. This was confusing for a while.
    
Later, when she had the spell, Gia was able to cast her way through the lights.
    
I gave up on dungeon exploration for the time being and decided to explore the island of Oshcrun instead. I started by returning to Telermain and talking with the NPCs who required 6 charm (Subia's level). I didn't learn much. A warrior in the weapons store advised me to hunt for food so I could sell it. A wizard in the wizard's lodge said that a new kind of mushroom called Turpin (it casts the next spell at maximum potency) grows in Gurtex. A resident named Bol Tannier recommended that I visit Min, buy a bunch of elvenspun outfits, and sell them in Gurtex. A gambler in the gambling hall just complained about losing. There were a few NPCs who required 7 or 8 charm and I still couldn't talk to them.

Preparing to explore the outdoors, I bought as much food and as many Sermin mushrooms as I could afford. Sermins restore stamina to 99, which is vital because it depletes very quickly as you walk outdoors: 2 to 4 stamina points per step, depending on terrain. (In town, by contrast, it depletes 3 every 10-12 steps.) Although there's no time limit in the game, frequent camping and resting is annoying, so it's much easier to have the entire party chew on a Sermin and get a drug-fueled boost.
    
Subia offers a boost to morale.
     
I also bought a musical instrument for Subia, who has the highest music skill. Some music supposedly has magical effects, but Subia only knows "The Happy Traveler" and "Long Live the King." Using the instrument causes each tune to play briefly but seems to have no particular effect. Later, I learned about a couple of other songs that do have effects.

The economy is already tight. I have nowhere near the optimal number of mushrooms, food, blankets, potions, and items for the teleportal chambers.
    
These expensive items are going to be important later.
    
Off we went to the rest of the island. Chewing Sermins every few minutes, I explored the island in a counter-clockwise manner. I found a garden of Gonshi mushrooms (which increase the number of actions in combat) near the northern tip. I picked a lot but remembered to leave some so the patch could grow back.
    
I think we should get off the road.
    
A temple to the god Marior was in the northwest corner, and reading the altar revealed his secret word as RANALAMMA.
    
I'm pretty sure this is a lyric in "Who Put the Bomp?"
    
There were no combats on the island, which I guess makes sense, given that the island was supposedly pacified by Rebnard's forces. I thus finished my explorations in the halfling village of Ketrop, which had an inn, a food store, a couple of trainers, and a number of NPCs.
     
Exploring Ketrop. Tonton was the halfling who taught charisma in the last game.
     
I found a lockpicking teacher and decided to train Gia, since she's broken every pick she's tried to use so far. Normally, when you want to train someone, you have the lead character talk to him or her and "assign" the NPC to stay at the location and train while the party moves on. But Gia can't talk to herself, so I couldn't find any way to get the rest of the party out of there during her session. I ended up having everyone wait for 2 days straight. At the end of the period, nothing happened, I got no message, and Gia's lockpicking ability hadn't improved. I'm not sure what I did wrong, but I decided to save more training for later.

A halfling named Faranim sold the Sabano and Demaro spellbooks. Demaro is what I needed for "Pierce." He also recommended that I sail to the adjacent island of Ziyx to talk about his new spellbook. Anyway, he wanted 1,800 coins for Demaro, which I didn't have.
     
Sure, I'd like to.
    
On a lark, I asked a halfling named Perin to join me. He came with 9 charm and 65/75 in metalsmithing. I decided to take him back to Telermain, talk to the rest of the NPCs, and then put him to work in the metal shop, earning a wage that I could later pilfer.
    
The betrayed Perin looked at the rest of the party with sad eyes. He had wanted to be an adventurer. He had thought we had seen the potential in him. Sighing, he picked up a hammer and went to work.
    
Among the final NPCs, Truk in the castle told me the teleportal combination for Oshcrun. A waitress named Misha in the Eastern Breeze tavern suggested I seek out her sister, Sheria, if I want to learn the song "Urg's Dream." Sheria went off looking for her father at the suggestion of the town beggar, Sefil. Sefil, in the meantime, had nothing to say in response to related keywords, so I'll just have to wait until I find her in the course of travel. I also heard about a song named "Mage's Joy" from one of the halflings; it supposedly charms slimes.
    
Who knew slimes had ears?
    
When I was done with the NPCs, I put Perin to work pounding metal at 65 gold pieces a day and tried to figure out what to do raise the money for a Demaro spellbook. I soon discovered two things. First, several of my party members had come with gems in their possession, and gems sell for quite a bit of money. Second, the "wizard's lodge" in Telermain allows spellcasters to "rent" spellbooks that they don't own and memorize the associated spells. I could have rented Demaro, but the gem sales were enough to get me what I needed back in Ketrop, so I schlepped back there and got the book. I gave it to Gia since the book contains primarily exploration spells that you cast outside of combat.
     
Nice!
     
After memorizing a few instances of "Pierce," the party returned to the dungeon and continued its explorations. It was reasonably large but not so large I had to map it. A few places required my party to cast "Walkwater" to get past small puddles (which is ironic--see below), but that was in my new Demaro spellbook, and in any event I found a couple of fountains that gave me far more versions of the spell than I needed.
    
This was convenient timing.
    
I found the dungeon a lot of fun and more interesting than the dungeons in the previous game, although I'm probably mis-remembering that they were very different. I'll save combat for a later post when I have more experience, but I love that you can move, attack, and cast on the diagonal here. There are more pre-combat options, such as the ability to greet the monsters (and perhaps avoid combat) or rally your own troops with your "leadership" skill.
    
These orcs just didn't want a fight.
      
Combats overall weren't too hard. I had to resurrect Rimfiztrik once, but generally speaking I got through them with basic tactics, mushrooms, and a few "Heal" spells afterwards.
     
Ambushes are about as annoying as I remember, with the enemy parties getting a free round of attacks, although sometimes a party member senses them. Gonshi mushrooms are cheap enough that I started keeping a set active just in case, something I'll be able to do with Nifts (resist the next 3 physical attacks), Mirgets (increase strength), and Luffins (ensure accuracy) when I'm better funded. More on the mushroom economy later.
    
The party practices caution.
     
I found a sign that told the location of buried treasure later in the dungeon, which was fun. (The coordinates really help.) I also found the dungeon's teleportal chamber, where combinations of pyramids, spheres, and cubes will take me to other parts of the continent, once I learn the combinations.
    
Fortunately, I already know the one that gets me back here.
    
Halfway through, I ran across Sakar, the dwarf warrior who stayed with my party all the way through the first game. I invited him to join us. He came with an excellent 87/99 axe skill. My party is actually pretty well-balanced with this addition, with three spellcasters and three non-spellcasters, although two of my spellcasters, Gia and Eneri, are also the strongest fighters. Buzbazgut and Subia are the weakest links, and I might ultimately replace either of them with a second pure spellcaster. For now, they both have roleplaying purposes.
     
"Weren't you a man last time?"
    
Towards the end of the dungeon, we found the crypt of the god Marior, woke him up with the holy word obtained from his temple, and got a nice boost in statistics, mostly of the martial variety.
     
A sleeping god bestows boons.
     
After quite a few combats and rooms with gold and jewels, I came upon a locked door that promised to lead to a dungeon called "Deraum," but I couldn't get past the door so I made my way back up to Oschrun.
    
I'm sure I'll find a key eventually.
    
Miscellaneous notes:

  • Sometimes, it's really hard for colorblind me to find the NPC in the room.
   
She blends in with the chair!
   
  • When your unwieldy party accidentally walks into something, or if you hit the wrong key for a menu command, the game punishes you with a shrill three-note error tone. It's enough to make you want to turn the sound off.
  • Dialogue notes stay in the notepad even if you reload the game. To save Sermins, you could run around talking to every NPC in an area, then reload and rely on the text in the notepad. I didn't do that, but you could.
  • A halfling in Ketrop taught the "tailor" skill. I'm wondering if there's any use for this skill other than to work as a tailor. I don't believe the first game had training options for purely vocational skills, although I could be wrong.
  • Despite having to cast "Walkwater" in dungeons, apparently I can swim into the middle of the ocean with no issues, avoiding even having to charter a boat. Is this a bug?
     
A little over our heads.
    
  • Fortunately, the game doesn't allow you to accidentally attack party members, or poor Buzbazgut would be dead. I kept mistaking him for enemy orcs.
  • I'm not sure how the skill development system works. My weapons skills routinely increase during combat, but my "lockpicking" skill has never increased from opening a chest, nor my "trader" skill from buying and selling.
    
Gia's sword skill, already high, increases as she lands a blow.
    
  • At the end of every combat, the game asks who wants to search for loot. I'm not sure if it matters who I choose--if some statistic is influencing the amount of treasure I find.
  • NPCs are chatty during dungeon exploration, warning of potential dangers.
    
Not likely, but I appreciate the warning.
    
As I close this session, I'm preparing to sell my gems and get much better stocked with equipment and mushrooms, then see about heading to my next port of call. Soon, because of Subia's quest, I want to make my way to the Demonspine Mountains and see about the rumored elven village.

I end this session at 2:00 AM and I don't want to stop playing. That was a nice turnabout in my attitude.

43 comments:

  1. Hmm... After only two posts, I'd already like to try this game out someday. On other hand, I don't want to play first one, because I simply hate time limits in games, especially in RPGs. Probably I'll just re-read your posts on the first game for story and general lore and play this one. Missing out on better stats and equipment are not of great importance.

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    1. If it matters, the time limit in the first is very generous. I started out with what may have been a sub-optimal party (I mostly picked characters for their trade skills) and still managed to win well within the limit. The game doesn't punish you for taking too long, unlike some others I've seen like Exile III.

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    2. I like the third one better than this one. Better graphics and I felt like it had better pacing between towns/dungeons.

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    3. I never finished the third one. This is unusual for me, I am usually a bit anal about finishing. But I encountered a fatal bug early on. This was back in the day, when it was hot-or-miss to even learn about bugs or patches.

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    4. I got all the way to the end and then realized I had given a plot critical ritual item to the orc NPC, who won't share items with you. Man I was sore at the time.

      Years later I gave it another go around.

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    5. I liked MC3 best of all back in the day (not back in its day, but back in my day of playing older games sometime early 2000s), but I tried replaying it recently and was a bit disappointed in how straightforward it was. The investigation element is all but nonexistent. And then that final set of caves...

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  2. I've come SO CLOSE to playing this myself! I've played the opening castle in the first game, but never even that in the second. MAN this game sounds good- and the first did too :)

    Thank you again for continuing to fight with all these older CRPGs. It's VERY cool!

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  3. I was looking forward to you covering this one. I couldn't get into it or its predecessor - a little too much time spent on gathering intel and the wrong type of logistics (for me). I'd rather have more combat/equipment options than worry about my mushroom supply or sleep/work schedules. Still a very good game and interesting to read about. I'm also really digging the graphics.

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  4. Reading these posts makes me want to dive into DOSBox and fire the game up myself, right before remembering I barely have the time for the games I'm set on playing, let alone any new ones. One day, perhaps.

    Also, poor Perin. :(

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  5. Staying up late because you're enjoying the game too much to stop is definitely a good sign, even if you are burning the candle at both ends.

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    1. I couldn't use that one. I had already used it for the first game. I went with an obscure Bill Haley lyric instead.

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    2. Ah, it's been a while. My bad, I hope that comment didn't get on your wick.

      I'm deathly curious about that Tanda game coming up. From reading its description elsewhere, it doesn't sound like it does much justice to the Myth books. I guess we'll see.

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    3. I know nothing about the series, so please be ready to help fill in gaps if you're familiar with it.

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  6. The walking into the ocean must be a bug because I could never do that when I played. Also, as for the tailor skill I think it affects how well that character can repair cloth armor, although I might be misremembering that. Finally, I don't know if you figured this out but you can safely camp and learn spells in dungeon rooms you've cleared out.

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  7. This one looks like fun to me. I was still using Amiga's back in the early 90s and remember seeing this game in the computer store for DOS and wanting to play it. I might have to setup DOS BOX and give it a crack.

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  8. It's not just your colour-blindness Chester - I have trouble seeing that NPC as well. She is very well camouflaged.

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  9. I can confirm walking on water is a bug, you should not be able to do that.

    Boosts in non combat anything was slow IIRC, I NEVER got any of magic users to as high a skill with Teleport as I did in the first game.

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    1. That's too bad. I thought navigation would be a lot faster in this one.

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    2. Well, if you don't need a boat it will be. This game is huge, I remember being impressed with how much game they stuck in a couple of megabytes.

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    3. Unlike in MC1, you actually control the boats this time.

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    4. Well, boats are bugged in my version, too. When I walk up to them, nothing happens.

      If you control the boats anyway, is it that much of a cheat for me to just walk?

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    5. 1. Not a bug. You have to find the ship captain in the nearby town, talk to them, and arrange for passage before you can board their ship. I just realized this is incredibly not intuitive and that I must have picked it up from a FAQ or something.

      2. It's a mild cheat, in that you normally have to pay X gold per day of passage, even though you get to control where the ship goes.

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    6. One concern I might have is crashing the game if you go somewhere you are not supposed to. It might be worth renting a boat as per James Neal note above, and getting on a off of one to reset it.

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    7. I can't even find the ship captain. Where is he supposed to hang out in Telermain?

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    8. I think he should be in the Black Rooster next to the beach.

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    9. Not in my version. I checked every hour of the day. Do you suppose it's possible that someone cracked this one to do away with ship's captains and just allow walking on water? Usually, you'd expect to see a note about that in the game materials, and I don't see anything, but this is too weird otherwise.

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    10. then I wouldn't worry about it. Just keep a eye out for a chance to do it later.

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    11. just in case. boat captain is
      Garlin 'Destiny' 20/day 33, 58 (E of Telermain)

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    12. IIRC captains show up at really weird hours. I can't remember if it's super late or super early but if by "every hour of the day" you mean you went to the tavern between 9 AM and 9 PM you probably just missed him is all.

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    13. No, I meant all 24 hours. The dude isn't in the tavern.

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    14. Ok, I just pulled my saved game. If the game is not bugged or cracked, and it could be, Garlin sits at the upper side of the long table in the rooster inn. He sits at the upper right end of the long table. Really hard to see. he seems to be there from 19:00 to 23:00. Try talking to the upper right chair.

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    15. Okay, I apologize. He is there--I don't know how I missed him--but all he says is that if I need his ship, I'll find it just outside Telermain.

      The ship IS just outside Telermain, but I can't do anything with it. If I walk on it, nothing happens. If I "look" at it, it says I see water. If I try to talk, it says nobody has anything to say.

      Is it because I didn't specifically "arrange passage" with Garlin? How am I supposed to do that? "Buy" produces nothing. His conversation topics don't lead to the party making a decision or haggling a rate. No keyword that I can think of produces any result.

      The manual says this: "To board a ship, simply walk onto it. If you have not already hired him, the captain will ask the party to pay him before he accepts them on board." So that sounds like you DON'T need to find the captain first, and the bug is in the fact that the game doesn't acknowledge there's a ship sitting there.

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    16. I think your game is bugged. I just tried this. The ship is not there until you ask the captain for advice. Then when you leave the town, the ship will appear and when you walk on to it he will offer the boat for a daily rate. If you try to walk on water, it will say "too far to swim." Of all the things to crack in the game that seems a odd...but it appears to be the case.

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  10. The comments about putting Perin to work made me laugh out loud! Thank-you.

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    1. There's plenty of NPCs who play a pivotal role (staying behind to line your pockets). Eventually you can move them around with magic stones I think? You can send them to groves to wait for you, or they'll eventually go home.

      I enjoyed grabbing my ideal party the second time around, before waking any sleeping gods.

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  11. Sounds like they should have named it Magic Mushroom II.

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  12. You need to use the manual from MoCAGH, as the text one is incomplete. Concerning the tailor skill it says: "Tailors can, of course, provide the party with income. But the best Tailors can also ensure that the party makes a good impression-much like a permanent Glamour spell-and that their clothing is worn in a manner to alleviate the effects of bad weather."

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    1. Okay. I see how that the other "vocational" skills also have some utility: metalsmiths fix weapons and armor more quickly, carpenters can build shelters to make camping in the wilderness more comfortable; gemcutters get a better deal when selling gems. That's interesting, although I'm guessing the effects are subtle enough that it's not worth worrying that much about. I mean, regular repair of weapons and armor only takes a couple hours anyway.

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    2. I played part of MC2 and all of MC3 and never needed to care about trade skills as anything other than cash generators.

      Also I believe the MC1 manual implied that trade skills had similar effects in MC1. I think they did and were so subtle you never noticed.

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    3. You'd be a Sakar for not having him in your party.

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  13. An NPC named Truk? Must be a great game!

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  14. Sakar is the only NPC in the series that is available to be recruited on all 3 games, and his stats show/progress accordingly

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    1. That's good to know. I recently had an opportunity to get rid of him for someone with technically better stats, but I didn't for role-playing reasons.

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