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Bard's Tale: Intense Dungeon Crawling

posted Apr 9, 2010, 4:58 AM by Troy Cheek   [ updated Apr 9, 2010, 5:02 AM ]
From the CRPG Addict blog...

I had hoped that I would be able to announced that I had won The Bard's Tale this weekend, but I'm not even close. I finally just finished mapping the first dungeon of four levels; at least, I hope it's only four. I nearly didn't find the fourth level because getting down to it involved (d)escending through a pit in the floor with a levitation spell in effect. The pit was barely visible, though.

As you can imagine, the monsters get tougher the lower the level. I'm finding that spellcasters are my worst enemy. I routinely run into parties in which there are 12 or more spellcasters in three or more groups, making it nearly impossible to clear them out before they get a couple of fireballs in. Most monsters are standard D&D fare; I haven't encountered any truly unique ones yet.

Fortunately, I've yet to have my entire party wiped out. I don't even know what happens if that occurs. I've lost individual characters several times, though, and it's getting expensive to raise them.

Some miscellaneous things about the game:
  • There are several party-effect spells that I've found useful to have running when I start my dungeon crawling. These include MALE (levitate), YMCA (mystical armor), MACO (compass), and GRRE (a light spell that also reveals secret doors). The screen shot below shows my party in a dungeon with several buffing spells active (lined up in the center of the screen).
  • These spells take up a lot of spell points, and spell points do not regenerate in the dungeons. I've gotten in the habit of standing outside Roscoe's Energy Emporium, casting these buffing spells, then going inside and paying to get my spell points recharged before heading into the dungeons.
  • There are four spellcaster classes in the game--conjurer, magician, sorcerer, and wizard. You cannot select the latter two when you start, but you can change a conjurer or magician to those classes (or each other) once they reach Level 3. There are seven spell levels per class. I'm on the cusp of getting Level 7 spells for my conjurer and magician, at which point I'll switch them over to the other classes. Theoretically, I guess, one character can cycle through all spellcasting classes and get all the spells, but this must take an incredibly long time.
  • Only after about 10 hours of playing did I figure out that the "T" key pauses the game. If you don't pause during mapping and such, the clock keeps running and your spells run out faster. It would have been handy to know that earlier.
  • The "P" key starts combat with your own party, giving you a chance to have your characters assail each other. I can't imagine why I would want to do this.
  • When you first encounter creatures, you can try to run from combat. If you succeed--which you seem to do about 75% of the time--you stay in the same square, and as far as I can tell there's no penalty. I have frankly been running from a lot of combats if they look difficult.
  • Instead of armor and weapons +1, +2, and so on, better armor and weapons seems to be distinguished by the metal used to craft them. During this dungeon crawl, I found some mithrail swords and armor that seem to be one step up from the regular weapons and armor I had. I also found a "bardsword" that only my bard can equip; I'm not sure what it does.

The main purpose of dungeon crawling so far, it seems, is to pick up hints and clues written on the walls. I don't understand most of them yet. These are some of the ones picked up in the first dungeon:

  • "Pass the light at night!"
  • "Golems are made of stone."
  • "IRKM DESMET DAEM"
  • "Heed not what is beyond understanding."
  • "Thor is the greatest son of Odin."
  • "The hand of time writes but cannot erase."
  • "Seek the snare from behind the scenes."
One inscription was helpful, though. A magic mouth appeared and told me that "a man called Tarjan, thought to many to be insane, had through wizardly powers proclaimed himself a god in Skara Brae a hundred years ago. His image is locked in stone until made whole again..." I'm guessing Tarjan is the name of the "mad god" whose priests keep asking me for his name. I suspect this leads to the second dungeon.

I'll leave you tonight with my map of Level 4 of the wine cellars/sewers. With luck, I'll win the game this week.

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