Thursday, January 9, 2014

Ultima I: In Which I'm a Wanderer

My first day of adventures in Ultima I, of course, began with making my character. I normally play a fighter, just for the extra stat points (they get boosts to two stats, rather than just one like the other classes do) but I'm determined to do things differently to keep things interesting for me this playthrough, so I made myself a mage instead so I have reason to mess with the spells more.

Aric's beginning stats

I spent the majority of my first day wandering around the mainland of the Lands of Lord British, mostly because I had no way of getting off the mainland of the continent for the majority of my first day. My time was mainly spent poking about the various towns, making note of what towns sold what, and which of the magic-shop-possessing towns sold which spells - playing a mage and hoping to really make use of the spells, I felt this was a good thing to pin down!

So that's what I need to do!
I also spent some time drinking in the various taverns and inns, which I hadn't really done before. Seeing as I'm focusing on the story in these playthroughs of mine, though, and the tips you get from the bartender being the main way of delivering clues and hints, I figured it'd be best for me to do so. I was not disappointed - the first time I slipped a bartender a coin for ale, he told me the general idea of the game flat out. That Mondain created a gem that made him immortal a thousand years ago, and that my main goal was to find a way to go back in time in order to defeat him before the gem was made. Some of the "hints" are rather cheesy and fourth-wall-breaking - most notably the one that says simply "Did you know this is a great game?" (I don't disagree, but c'mon, how's that help me make progress?) But some help give direction, like the one that tells me what to do to become a space ace, or one that tells me rescuing a princess will be helpful - especially once I'm an eighth level ace.

Boy I'm glad those mountains are there.
Wandering between towns helped remind me just how tense the opening stages of the early Ultima games can be - enemies dropped in on me a good deal, and having lower physical stats than I typically do due to playing a mage this time around,I had to be very judicious about making use of enemy pathing and landscape obstacles to my advantage. This was made much easier once I finally had enough cash to get myself a ranged weapon (both letting me breathe a sigh of relief and get back to my comfort zone - I love playing archers, no matter what game I'm playing), but until I got to that point, there were some nail-biters - I dipped below 100 hit points on several occasions. Even dipping into the upper levels of the dungeons didn't let me escape, I had thieves and rangers pouring on me at one point and ended up doubling my pre-dungeon entry hit point total when I came back out. And that was after losing about three-quarters of that in the process!

All in all, though, I'm having a grand old time. It's nice knowing the game well enough that I can afford to poke around at things that I hadn't before - rebounding after being seduced by the tavern wench, playing around with Magic Missile spells, straining every nerve to refrain from making use of the Ladder spells... I finished the day by purchasing a frigate and upping my agility and intelligence at the two signposts in the Lands of  Lord British. I'm trying to decide whether I want to delve into a dungeon and kill a gelatinous cube for the Lost King before moving on to a new continent, but whatever the case, it's sure to be an adventure!

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