Monday, December 9, 2013

Akalabeth: Foolish Mortal...

I can't quite get over just how many opportunities Akalabeth takes to call me a foolish mortal... the title screen, the intro, the manual... I mean really, I'm trying to become a knight and help defend the realm here, no need to belittle me while I do so. What, you want me to become disheartened and stop killing monsters?
And so my adventure begins.

Anyway, I choose my lucky number of 16 (because it's one of my favorite numbers), and apparently it is indeed my lucky number as my first stat roll seems pretty decent, and I decide to accept it. When given the choice between fighter or mage, I go with mage (so as to make better use of the magic amulets, and besides I have a certain fondness for Ultima mages, so might as well go all out, eh?) and I'm unceremoniously dropped into Akalabeth.

My first order of business is to figure out where the heck everything is in this iteration of the World of Doom, so I cringe slightly over the use of "stat's" before I pick myself up an axe for a weapon, forgo an amulet from the get-go and blow the rest of my budget on food for my explorations. This latter proves to potentially be slightly overkill. I head west to see what I can see, and lo and behold, I'm apparently right up against the western edge of the map. All right, says I, let's see what we can see in the other directions. I head north, and after a few paces, once again I hit a wall of mountains. So it appears I'm wedged in the northwest corner of the map.

Look, I know I'm no noble, but no need to be condescending about it.
After I flesh out this portion of my map, I start heading east, and come across nothing for a little while until I stumble into a couple towns - and Lord British's castle immediately afterward! There's a dungeon literally two steps away from the castle, and a town right next to that. And all of this is about a dozen paces away from my starting position, and I didn't even waste all that much food to get there! Sixteen apparently really is my lucky number, last time I played through Akalabeth Lord British's castle was way on the other end of the map from me, and the closest dungeon another dozen steps away or so. This will really help me conserve food!

I decide to poke about the top level of the nearby dungeon to see if there's any convenient treasure, and end up falling into a pit - which has two convenient treasure chests right there. One of which is right by a ladder back up to the first floor. I fight off a couple thieves, who swipe the weapons I got from the chests and the axe I'm using right out of my hands, but I've got enough pluck to punch them to death and pick up a few coins for my trouble. Back out of the dungeon, I introduce myself to Lord British and he gives me a quest to kill a gremlin and raises my stats by one each.

I hardly ever name characters after myself when I play RPGs, and for this blog, I chose to name my peasant-slash-Stranger-slash-Avatar Aric. (I have a certain fondness for A-names, apparently, and according to my name book, "Aric" has a meaning along the lines of noble leader/commander, which seems appropriate for the Avatar).

See? Convenient! (There's a town on the other side of the dungeon, too.)
This is where I stopped for the day, dipping my toe into the water, so to speak. Most of my time was spent messing with the emulator and trying to figure out what buttons did what, how I took screenshots, whether and how I could make use of savestates and all that good stuff. So too did I break in my Official Ultima Journal, for all my maps and notes, and I had a grand time color-coding my world map of Akalabeth, which mostly turned out to be unnecessary but enjoyable all the same (and also confusing at some points - mapping out a lot of blank space when all you can see is a 3x3 square at a time gets disorienting real fast). Now that I actually know what I'm doing in the emulator, time to go slay me some monsters and name myself Sir Aric of Akalabeth.

Incidentally, I find it extremely fortuitous that I didn't spend a good fifteen/twenty minutes dying repeatedly on account of bad rolls and/or failing to find Lord British's castle, like I did last time I played (and nearly every other time I've played, for that matter). I'm hoping that's a good sign for how things are going to go for me. It's an auspicious start!

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