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On a scale of 1-5, how excited about the announcement of Siege of Dragonspear (by Beamdog) are you?
There is a certain reality I wish to address before I actually begin exploring the castle. When a character advances a level, he or she gets 6 to 10 skill points to distribute. The game forces certain professions to allocate some of that 6 to 10 skill points in profession-specific skills until those skills reach a minimum of 51. For example, each time my Valkyrie advances a level, the game will force the Valkyrie to allocate some of her 6 to 10 skill points to the Pole Arms skill. This will hold true until the Valkyrie reaches at least 51 in her Pole Arms skill. For both my Monk and Ninja, it's Martial Arts and Ninjutsu. For my Bard, it's Music. For my Priest, it's Theology. For my Mage, it's Thaumaturgy.
The good (or bad) news is that some of these skills can be trained. If you can practice/train those skills until they reach 51, and before you ever advance a level, your characters can then distribute their 6 to 10 skill points each level however they see fit. Having a Bard in my party makes this so much easier to pull off.
So I spin around until monsters appear. When any monsters appear, my Bard puts them to sleep and practices her Music skill as well. As long as there's more than one monster, my Valkyrie will attack. My Monk and Ninja will practice Ninjitsu by hiding in the shadows. If there's at least four monsters still standing, my Monk and Ninja will also backstab to practice martial arts in addition to my Valkyrie's attack. If there's three monsters, only the Valkyrie and Monk attack. If my Monk and Ninja end up blowing their cover during an attack, they can simply hide again to get more practice. Once I'm down to one monster, I run away. If only one monster shows up during an encounter, I simply have my Bard put it to sleep, get my Monk and Ninja to hide, and then run away. This process allows me to practice my skills without getting any experience points.
Once the Valkyrie raises her Polearm skill to 51, she quits attacking in future encounters. Then I prioritize my Monk hiding and attacking to raise his skills, with my Ninja taking turns if there's at least three monsters still standing.
Once the Monk raises his Martial Arts and Ninjitsu to 51, then my Ninja gets all the practice. At the end of it all, everyone is then free to allocate their skill points as they see fit when they advance levels.
*NOTE* This is an extremely tedious and lengthy process, but well worth it when you get there. I recommend interspersing this with playing another game well before you try a Wizardry playthrough if you're so inclined.
First and Second
Now I take the opportunity to simply spin around waiting for monsters so that I can attain the next two levels for my characters.
Note a few themes here. One is, be patient and wait for good rolls for your characters. This includes multiple bonus attribute points (instead of just one), more hit points, and more skill points (preferably 8 to 10).
Note also that my spell casters, at least during the early levels, pick spells from previously untouched elemental spheres. For example, Terra my Mage picked Magic Missile instead of another spell from either the Fire or Water spheres. The reason for this is that mana for the Divine sphere will accumulate early and onwards, whereas I wouldn't be able to accumulate as much Divine mana if I simply continued to accumulate more Fire and Ice spells. Another example is when the Faerie Mage selected Missile Shield, with again the point being to begin to accumulate Air mana.
Note also that I sometimes select different options for more versatility. Sure, my Bard could also get Chill Blast at 3rd level, but going with Terror instead provides another option.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Weapon and Physical skills are trainable. That is to say that they can be raised by practising them. Academic skills are not, and have to be raised whenever you go up levels. Thus my Monk and Ninja allocate skill points to Kirijitsu during the early parts of their advancement.
Also note that I raised my Bard's Skullduggery skill to 10. In my experience, a minimum of 10 is needed to start picking the lower-level locks and traps. After that, it can be raised with practice.
The latter part of the video is where I come across two chests. One says "Open me First" and the other says "Open me Second". These chests are not trapped. The chest that says First will always yield a few healing and curative potions, as well as an Amulet of Life that can be used to resurrect a dead character. If you open the chest in the order indicated, the chest that says Second will yield a Sword of Striking, which my Valkyrie then equips.
The Entrance Level of the Castle
Now I explore the main level of the castle. Combat is frequent as there are usually monsters behind every door, sometimes now in multiple groups. If I encounter more than one group, my Bard will take out one group (usually the more numerous one) with her Lute, while the rest of the party goes to work on the other. And again, practice makes perfect. The Valkyrie practices her weapon skills. The Monk and Ninja practice hiding and martial arts. The Bard practices music and hiding. The Priest casts healing spells when needed. The Mage grabs every chance to cast single-target spells in order to improve Oratory. Sometimes, when only one monster is left, my Mage will still cast a single-target spell and my Monk will let off a Mind Blast. Get in as much practice as you can.
My Bard, with a Skullduggery of 10, can now begin to use her thieving skills. Whenever you have a chance to open a door or a trap, it represents a golden opportunity to up your Skullduggery skill. Always check to see if your skill has gone up after you have successfully picked a door or a trap. If it hasn't gone up, reload. If it has gone up, save your game. It is well worth your while to insist on progressing your Skullduggery skill in this fashion.
Now I begin to explore the southwest portion of Lower Level 1 of the Castle.
I first go through the door leading into the southwest portion of rooms, only to find myself having to fight 3 Brigands, a Rogue Leader, and 3 Bushwackers. My Valkyrie and Mage target the Rogue Leader first, while my Bard uses her Lute on the Brigands, and my Monk and Ninja go into hiding. The next round, the fighters and the Bard go all out for the Bushwackers that have advanced. The Mage targets the Rogue Leader with Chill Touch, since he has already been wounded in the previous round and can be finished off. Now that anybody left has been put to sleep, it becomes a matter of mopping up and getting in as much practice as I can.
At around 4:15 is a fight against a few Scallywags, who are basically Rogues that can use various magical powders during combat. Scallywags can be dangerous for lower-level parties, especially if they get off either Sleep or Blinding Flash. Try to get the jump on them as much as possible during combat, like for example with a Sleep spell of your own.
At around 7:05, I have a routine fight against some Creeping Vines. I then press the button on the wall. I then step ahead and have another fight with a few Fuming Vines and Creeping Vines.
I finally find the Armory Dummy at around 7:15, located at #1 of the Lower Level 1 Map. I get 300xp as well as a Bastard Sword (not great), a Heraldic Shield, and a Chain Hauberk. My Valkyrie finds the latter two items to be welcome upgrades. I then hunt for a little more experience in order to advance my Valkyrie to her fifth level.
At #2 on the Lower Level 1 map is Queequeg, who has a rather extensive if mundane inventory.
*NOTE* Be sure to buy the Mystery Oil from him when you get the chance, since it's needed to advance at a much later point in the game.
I also have a shopping list, not just as immediate upgrades, but also for importation in both Wizardry 7 and Wizardry 8. It includes:
Long Sword (for the Valkyrie)
Hammer (not the War Hammer, and can be dual-wielded by the Valkyrie come Wizardry 8)
Leather Leggings (for the Valkyrie)
Cuir Gauntlets (for the Valkyrie)
Katana (for the Ninja)
Feathered Hat (for the Bard)
Buskins (for the Bard)
Quilt Tunic (for the Priest)
Quilt Leggings (for the Priest)
Buskins (for the Priest)
Once I'm done shopping, I hunt around for more experience so that my remaining party members can advance to the fifth level.
Rotten Cheese and a Fat Rat
So now I head towards #3 on the Lower Level 1 map.
Very often I like to have my Mage use single-target spells, even though she now has Fireball and Magic Missile, because I also want my warriors to get in their practice with their fighting skills. There are times, however, when the desire to practice must give way to prudence. The fight at 2:30 is one such instance, when I'm faced with a Rogue Leader and two groups of Scallywags. I need to take both Scallwag groups out of the equation. The Bard puts the foremost group to sleep, while the Mage takes out the second group with Magic Missile.
I find the Rotten Cheese at #3 (4:50 in the video).
Now I head towards #5 on the Lower Level 1 map. At 8:40, while facing east, you'll notice a mouse hole. This is where you use the Rotten Cheese. It causes a Fat Rat, six Killer Rats, and five Rabid Rats, to burst out of the wall. The Fat Rat is dangerous, cause it has a fair amount of hit points and can attack multiple times. This is another fight where practice gives way to prudence. For the first round, my Monk casts Mental Blast on the Fat Rat, with the hopes of driving it insane with the possibility that it will attack me less often. I succeed partially in this. The Bard puts the Rabid Rats to sleep, while my Mage blows the Killer Rats away with a Fireball. The next round is going all out for the Fat Rat while the Rabid Rats are still asleep. The Fat Rat manages to inflict some hefty damage on my Valkyrie, but my Ninja manages to get it with a critical strike. After that, it's simply a matter of mopping up the Rabid Rats while my Priest heals the Valkyrie.
I then head towards #6 on the Lower Level 1 map, which is where a chest is located. At 11: 35, I show the most reliable method for dealing with trapped chests, casting Divine Trap first to reveal letters of the trap, then having the party thief inspect it to reveal more letters, then disarming the trap based on an educated guess. This chest holds a few random goodies, plus a Stuffed Beagle that will be needed to make progress.
The last part of the video is simply advancing my Valkyrie to the sixth level.
The Wine Bottle
Now I simply head over towards #4 on the Lower Level Map, and find the Wine Bottle, which may come in handy down the road. The video concludes with me hunting for enough experience in order to advance my Bard, Priest, and Mage, to the sixth level.
The Southwest Tower
Here is where I explore the Southwest Tower of the Castle, which includes a set battle against several Bats. The room at the top holds a Leather Cuirass.
This is where you need the Stuffed Beagle that had been guarded by the Fat Rat. When you reach L'Montes' room at the top of the southeast tower, simply tell him either 'Snoopcheri' or 'Beloved', and he'll let you in. Now give him the Stuffed Beagle, and get the Silver Key in return, which you'll need later on.
I then hunt around for more experience in order to advance my Ninja to sixth level.
Upper Level of the Castle
Here is where I begin to explore the south rooms of the Upper Level of the Castle. The particular point of interest is when I head to #2 on the Castle Upper Level Map, and find 2 Key of Spades, which I will need later on.
The Queen's Bedroom
Here the party makes its way towards #5 on the Castle Upper Level map. There's a secret button on the east where, where the party discovers a couple of items that says something about the Queen's past.
The King's Bedroom
Now I head for the large room on the east side of the Castle Upper Level map. I then head to #6 on the Map (4:30 during the video). "Stand back and pull the wire" is the correct method to avoid taking damage. The chest will have a Gold Key, which I will use very shortly, and the King's Diary, which will not become pertinent until the game is almost over.
So now I head back down to Lower Level 1, #8 on the map. There I find the Jailer Key, which can be used to open the gate at #7, as well as the gate at #9.
For the fight at 2:40, I decided to exercise caution. I didn't know whether I was facing two groups of Bushwackers (who would be easy enough), or two groups of Scallywags who could cast spells at me. I thus decided to blow the back group of Rogues away with a Fireball.
Search at #9, and you'll find the Deadman's Log. The Log holds the information that Queequeg wants on where the Captain's treasure was buried, but it is encrypted. You won't be able to make sense of it until you find another item later on.
The Altar of Ramm
Now I head further downstairs, to the Lower Level 2 Map. I use the Golden Key from the King's Bedroom to open the gate at #4 of the Map. From about 0:45 onwards shows the sequence of buttons to be pressed in order to enable access to the chest here. The chest itself contains a Resurrection scroll, an Amulet of Night (which I'll sell), an Anointed Cloak (which my Priest will wear), and the Book of Ramm.
Now I head upstairs. More specifically, I head for the gate near #4 of the Entrance Level Map. There is a button at #4, which when pressed will open the gate. Now that the gate is open, I 'Search' at #5, and find the Key of Ramm.
Now I head upstairs for the Upper Level. There will be a room just a little south and east of #8 on the Upper Level Map. On the west wall of the room will be a button. Press the button to open the wall. #8 itself will be barred by a gate that requires the Key of Ramm to open. The chest itself holds the Goat's Mask and the Dagger of Ramm, which are both quest items that will not become significant until much later on.
Now from #8, I go one square south, one square west, and then north up the corridor. The Key of Ramm will open this gate as well.
At #9 is the Altar of Ramm. If you read the Book of Ramm, it will provide clues as to the order in which the buttons need to be pressed. The order is Head, Head, Orb, Stave, Orb. You then have the option of jumping down the pit that has just opened, which is necessary to progress the game.
Once you do jump down, a Monstrous Snake opens the gate in front of you and attacks. The Monstrous Snake can be pretty tough. It attacks twice a round, and can inflict significant damage as well as poisoning with each attack. Note that my Priest cast Armor Plate as a preparation before jumping into the pit. I don't bother having my Monk and Ninja trying to hide. I just have them attack from the word go. The reason is that if the Snake attacks my back three characters, it will likely kill one of my party members outright. So as much as possible, I prefer the Snake to target one of my more durable front three characters, while I steadily inflict damage over it. My Priest continues to heal anyone who needs it. My Valkyrie did get poisoned, and unfortunately I did not have Cure Poison at the moment. It was simply a matter of waiting it out until the poison wore off, while keeping an eye on her hit points.
Now I head down the stairs, and wind up at in between #10 and #11 on the Lower Level 1 map. The video concludes with me hunting for enough experience for my Valkyrie to advance to the 7th level. The fight in question is against Zombies. Zombies can be challenging, especially in numbers, since they can spew bile that temporarily inflicts a nausea effect that can either reduce your chances of landing an attack, or prevent you from attacking altogether. If the Zombies are numerous enough, I earnestly recommend using the Dispel Magic spell.
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