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Ultima IV Diary

edited 2012-10-14 13:44:07 in Liveblogging
OOOooooOoOoOOoo, I'm a ghoOooOooOOOost!

Given that today has taken a decidedly weird turn, I think keeping a journal will be useful. Whether that's because it chronicles an encounter with some magical force from another world or because it will help someone at a mental institution figure out what sort of medications to give me, I can't say, but either way, probably a good idea.

So, today I was taking a walk in the countryside. As I relaxed by a window, I heard a strange chiming sound and witnessed the appearance of a strange expanse of blueness. It was kind of hard to look directly at it; it seemed like there was some sort of weird distortion around it. It quickly vanished again, though not before something fell out of it. Rushing over to investigate, I found a circle of stones around the spot where the blue thing (I'm assuming some sort of portal for the time being) appeared. At the center were two books, wrapped in a cloth map, with an ankh amulet on top.

The map is of a world unfamiliar to me. I can't read the writing on it; it's in some sort of runic lettering.

The cover of one of the books is legible, but antiquated: The History of Brittania, as told by Kyle the Younger.

The other book is...sort of unnerving. It's made of something resembling leather, but from some creature with dark red skin. And no, I don't think it's dyed. The writing on the cover is in the same strange runic text, with an image of a serpent at the bottom.

I think I'll start with the nice, legible, nonthreatening history book.



  • edited 2012-10-14 14:38:03
    OOOooooOoOoOOoo, I'm a ghoOooOooOOOost!

    Okay, taking notes on the history book to help me absorb it and for quick reference.

    Chapter one

    This chapter gives a basic history.

    Dark Ages

    First era: Evil wizard, Mondain, was doing evil wizard stuff until a hero destroyed him.

    Second era: Mondain's apprentice, Minax, turned out to be even more powerful than he was and was able to do some large scale planetary corruption stuff. Someone eventually managed to kill her.

    Third era: Third member of the Triad of Evil, Exodus, was doing some stuff that the book is actually kind of vague about. Lord British, ruler of a young empire (note: the planet or continent or world or whatever seems to be called Sosaria), summoned four adventurers from another world (does this have something to do with the portal?) to stop it.

    Then Lord British united most of the world under Britannia, though a few places remain unexplored. Britannia is now divided into eight regions, each with a central town.

    Chapter 2

    This one's all geography.

    Lord British's castle is at the center of the continent, overlooking Brittany Bay, next to the town of Britain. Someone's got an ego.

    North of there is a huge, dangerous mountain range called the Serpent's Spine.

    Northwest of there You know what? I probably don't need to transcribe all of this. I have a map. If I wind up in Britannia and really must find something, I can refer to the book and the map.

    Chapter 3

    Describes 8 major professions (similar to adventuring classes from a fantasy RPG, but with some odd ones like "tinker" and "shepherd." Not really much to note down just now.

    Chapter 4

    Talks about the types of shops one might find in a town in Brittania. Pretty much what you'd expect, though the Shrines and the Seer seem to relate to something called "The Path." Local religion?

    Chapter 5

    About means of travel. Pretty much what you'd expect. Apparently, though, some sages were working to create what sounds like a hot air balloon. The prototype was stolen, though.

    Chapter 6

    An overview of weaponry and armor. Not much surprise, though they seem to have Greek Fire or something resembling it. Neat.

    Chapter 7

    Describes magic. Magic appears to involve the proper mixing of reagents, so I guess it's a sort of alchemy?

    Also says how to recognize magic energy fields. Short version: if there's a colored aura, avoid it. It's dangerous.

    Chapter 8

    Provides a bestiary of standard fantasy monsters.

    Chapter 9

    About basic self-defense. Most interesting part was a bit about ethics, though that basically just said "if it isn't evil, try to avoid killing it." Simple, but it's interesting that this people has the sort of outlook that would lead them to write that.

    Chapter 10

    Relates to ethics in the time after the dark ages. Talks about how important it is to exemplify Virtues (it capitalized that for some reason) and not just preach them.

    Also, it encouraged the reader to visit Lord British personally to learn more about the Path. Got to admire a king with an open-door policy.

    Then it mentions something called the Quest of the Avatar, but doesn't clarify what that means.


    This is written by Lord British. It implores the reader to attempt the Quest of the Avatar, which involves becoming an embodiment of eight Virtues. It says that the book is a message sent out across time and space, then said to learn the symbol on the inside back cover.

    That's the end of the book.

    Yeah, I'm definitely thinking this was some sort of hoax, however convincing that portal thing was. It's just kind of...generic, I guess? I mean, the bestiary was pretty much a generic list of creatures I recognize from RPGs and stuff.

    Still, good production values for a hoax. I'm fairly impressed.

  • OOOooooOoOoOOoo, I'm a ghoOooOooOOOost!

    After I stopped reading, I noticed some music from over a hill. It lead me to a Ren Fair (I didn't realize they had those in Alabama. Huh.)

    I tried to buy a ticket at the entrance, but the man wouldn't take my money; he just pointed at the Ankh amulet and let me in, then said "enter in peace and find your path." Is this part of the hoax or something?

    Whatever, if they went to this much trouble, I might as well enjoy the fair.

  • OOOooooOoOoOOoo, I'm a ghoOooOooOOOost!

    So, a gypsy woman did some sort of reading on me. She talked me through various choices between two of eight virtues. Let's see if I can remember them...







    Ummm...that's definitely six of them. 

    Well, anyway, that's probably less important than the fact that I then passed out and woke up in a field. I see some structures in the distance. I'm going to go check it out; not sure what else I can do.

  • edited 2012-10-15 00:13:19
    OOOooooOoOoOOoo, I'm a ghoOooOooOOOost!

    So, I appear to have been given an axe and leather armor while unconscious. I still have the books, Ankh and map, too.

    I'm okay with this.

    Anyway, I entered the town I saw. It's the town of Jhelom. With the help of the guidebook, I was able to find it on the map. It seems I'm near the southern tip of Brittania. It doesn't seem like a bad trek to the capital; I just have to head North.

    Wait, no, I'm dumb. I'm on an island. Problematic.

  • OOOooooOoOoOOoo, I'm a ghoOooOooOOOost!

    Standing by the shore and considering my options, I witnessed a strange blue portal opening. Not sure what else to do, I stepped through. Still on an island, but it's a different island. Huh.

  • If you must eat a phoenix, boil it, do not roast it. This only encourages their mischievous habits.

    So... what is Ultima, anyway?

  • edited 2012-10-15 00:21:37
    OOOooooOoOoOOoo, I'm a ghoOooOooOOOost!

    (OOC post)

    It's a series of classic RPGs from the 80s.

    Famous for having really good feelies. Ultima IV, for example, shipped with the two books, ankh and map my character found. When it gets to that point in the narration, it says the following:

    You read the history book.


    (No, really! Read the history book!)

    I've already played a portion of Ultima IV, but am starting over pretending my character doesn't know anything about it. 

    Also, all the games from IV on star the same character (who is supposed to actually be you), so I'm starting there and running at least to VII, which is supposed to be the last good one, and possibly to IX, which is supposedly so bad it killed the series outside the MMO spinoff.

  • If you must eat a phoenix, boil it, do not roast it. This only encourages their mischievous habits.

    So what's notable about the game?

    I mean, give us some context here, man. :V

  • edited 2012-10-15 00:25:17
    OOOooooOoOoOOoo, I'm a ghoOooOooOOOost!

    (OOC post)

    It's...well, basically the most influential PC RPG series ever made, from what I've heard.

    I really haven't played any of it with the exception of a bit of IV before this.

    I do know that Ultima IV is probably the first videogame RPG to actually involve roleplaying -- you have to actually act according to those virtues or the main quest will turn you away until you clean up your act.

  • OOOooooOoOoOOoo, I'm a ghoOooOooOOOost!

    Okay, so I'm outside the city of Skara Brae, which also doesn't have any way of finding a ship. Are those blue gate things just how people travel here? Maybe I should just wait for another one?

  • OOOooooOoOoOOoo, I'm a ghoOooOooOOOost!

    Okay, looking back at the travel section of the book, I figured out what these things are. They're called "moon gates." The planet has two moons which seem to change their phases improbably quickly -- I guess they're magic or something? Well, anyway, the gates are marked on the map as the phases of the moon. One moon determines which gate is active as an entrance, and the other determines which is active as an exit.

    With that knowledge, I managed to reach Lord British's castle with no trouble. Hopefully now I'll get some answers.

  • OOOooooOoOoOOoo, I'm a ghoOooOooOOOost!

    Met with Lord British.

    He explained that I was chosen as a candidate to become the Avatar, an embodiment of virtues.

    The virtues:

    • Honesty

    • Compassion

    • Valor

    • Justice

    • Sacrifice

    • Honor

    • Spirituality

    • Humility

    I guess I should try to act according to those, then.

    Then I apparently have to take something called the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom from a place called the Abyss. Not looking forward to that bit.

    Apparently, each town is thought to represent a virtue, so I guess I should just go to Britain (which represents Compassion) and try to learn more.

  • OOOooooOoOoOOoo, I'm a ghoOooOooOOOost!

    (OOC post)

    So yeah, that's what the game is about. You attain enlightenment in the ways of the eight virtues, then you find the Codex.

  • If you must eat a phoenix, boil it, do not roast it. This only encourages their mischievous habits.

    That doesn't seem particularly... well, anything, I guess.

    How does it encourage roleplaying? Roleplaying as a character, or what.

  • OOOooooOoOoOOoo, I'm a ghoOooOooOOOost!

    (OOC post)

    You have eight invisible stats corresponding with the virtues. Pretty much everything you do affects them, and they have to reach a certain level before you can meditate at the shrine of that virtue.

  • If you must eat a phoenix, boil it, do not roast it. This only encourages their mischievous habits.

    Bluh, that doesn't roleplay very well at all.

  • OOOooooOoOoOOoo, I'm a ghoOooOooOOOost!

    (OOC post)

    It works surprisingly well. You just kind of have to play the game. I'll admit that it's really primitive, but this was 1985, so everything was really primitive.


  • If you must eat a phoenix, boil it, do not roast it. This only encourages their mischievous habits.

    Well, my objection to it is just that it sounds like you're... roleplaying a character who can only be played in a certain way, really.

  • OOOooooOoOoOOoo, I'm a ghoOooOooOOOost!

    Got attacked by a walking skeleton on the way from the castle. It startled me, but didn't seem too tough; it ran away after I gave it a good smack with my axe.

    So, I talked to a few people in Britain. None of them have been able to tell me much about the quest as a whole, but one kid told me that if I wanted to learn about Compassion, I should ask someone named Cricket about the mantra of Compassion. He couldn't tell me where Cricket was, though.

  • OOOooooOoOoOOoo, I'm a ghoOooOooOOOost!

    (OOC Post)

    Well, my objection to it is just that it sounds like you're... roleplaying a character who can only be played in a certain way, really.

    Well, that's kind of the idea? The actual goal of the game is to be a perfectly honorable, compassionate, etc. person.

    Apparently the stories get consistently more complex with each game before VIII and IX.

  • If you must eat a phoenix, boil it, do not roast it. This only encourages their mischievous habits.

    It's an idea, but they may as well have just given you a consistent character then, I guess.

    It's just that without choice, roleplaying gets kinda meaningless.

    But ah well, it may work for the game; I wouldn't know.

  • OOOooooOoOoOOoo, I'm a ghoOooOooOOOost!

    So, I went to the local healer, because where better to learn about Compassion, right?

    An injured man there told me that he was injured because he knew a terrible secret. Apparently, Mondain's influence has not left the world. It remains in the form of his skull. Being unable to find and destroy it himself, he asked me to seek it out. He said to inquire about it at Buccaneer's Den.

    Well...Valor would demand that I carry it out.

    But I don't think I'll make it my first priority. I just got here, after all, and this sounds pretty dangerous. I don't think Valor requires me to rush into things blind.

  • OOOooooOoOoOOoo, I'm a ghoOooOooOOOost!

    (OOC Post)

    It's an idea, but they may as well have just given you a consistent character then, I guess.

    It's just that without choice, roleplaying gets kinda meaningless.

    But the thing is, you do have choice. 

    Essentially, part of the point of the game is that if you do some immoral stuff you might have done before, like chasing down fleeing enemies for their XP and gold or refusing to give money to beggars because you need it for that awesome weapon, that sets you back in your quest.

    And bear in mind, at the time, people would not have expected the game to actually keep track of your character's morality. Realizing that all that standard dickish RPG stuff you've been doing actually had consequences would have been pretty huge in 1985.

  • They're somethin' else.

    Now I'm kind of interested in playing this game. Again, I mean.

    Last time I tried playing it, I felt like i was bowling myself over in the dark.

  • edited 2012-10-15 01:08:22
    OOOooooOoOoOOoo, I'm a ghoOooOooOOOost!

    A shepherd named Shapero told me that someone named Julio knows the true nature of Compassion. I should try to find him.

    He also told me that the shrine of Compassion is east across two bridges. I think I should learn more before making that journey, though.

  • OOOooooOoOoOOoo, I'm a ghoOooOooOOOost!

    Met a beggar named Sprite. Gave her 20 coins from a purse I must have gotten when I entered Brittania. She told me that Pepper knows about a Rune. I remember seeing a bard by that name in the weapon shop earlier. I should ask her about that.

  • edited 2012-10-15 01:14:47
    OOOooooOoOoOOoo, I'm a ghoOooOooOOOost!

    Pepper told me that I could find the rune -- more specifically, the Rune of Compassion -- hidden in a hallway somewhere in the town. Searching the inn, I found a stone with a rune marked on it. This must be important. I thanked Sprite and gave her 20 more coins.

    I should probably look for Cricket to ask about that Mantra.

  • OOOooooOoOoOOoo, I'm a ghoOooOooOOOost!

    Found Cricket in the local bar. He initially didn't want to talk to me, but when I explained that I really needed to know the mantra, he told me that it was "MU."

    I think I'm ready to head to that shrine, then.

    So, on the way out of town, I ran into a drunken fighter, who asked if I'd buy him a drink. I agreed, and he told me that "the yellow stone is in despise."

    I...I have no idea what that means. Is that important? Um...I'm just going to investigate that shrine now and hope that will clear up more about what exactly I'm supposed to do.

  • OOOooooOoOoOOoo, I'm a ghoOooOooOOOost!

    It's been...I don't know how long...at least several days since my last entry. I traveled to the Shrine. I was attacked on the way by a skeleton, but was again able to send it running. Once I arrived at the shrine, I wasn't really sure what to do, so I just sat there, thinking about Compassion and the Mantra for awhile. Soon, time began to just slip by and I was granted a vision. I clearly heard a voice:

    Third, light the Candle of Love at the entrance to the Great Stygian Abyss!

    So...I guess that's how I learn a virtue? I suppose I'll have to travel to the other cities now. I feel I've only just started the easiest part of my journey.

    Also, I think something in the swamps on the way here made me sick. Lord British said he was a healer; I should see him before I hop through a moongate.

  • OOOooooOoOoOOoo, I'm a ghoOooOooOOOost!

    Returned to Lord British's castle. On the way, had to fight of some Orcs. They weren't so tough, and didn't appear to be armed. Some of them fled once it became clear that I had the upper hand.

    The later ones were more difficult to face, though, since I was growing weaker from the illness.

    However, I made it back and Lord British fixed me up.

    Next, I'll go to...one of the other towns. Whichever the moon gate takes me to, I suppose; I don't really know which one I should prioritize or anything.

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