Friday, 4 August 2017

Missed Classic: Enchanter - The Terror that Flaps in the Night

Written by Joe Pranevich



Last week, I finished exploring nearly all of the Warlock’s castle but left many mysteries unsolved. We found a deathtrap with hammers and spears, a mysterious rainbow turtle, a man in a mirror, an excessively guarded door, and many other little mysteries. I’m going to have to put some of these puzzles to bed if I want to fight my way to the Warlock. You may have noticed that this isn’t a “Won!” post. Except for the original Dungeon (which was enormous), this is the first game in our marathon to require a fourth post. I’m still going to push to have each game done in three or less, but it seemed better to let this game breathe as much as it needed to. There are a lot of puzzles!

Just as with last week, my big break happened almost immediately after I stopped scrawling my notes for the last section. I put the game down, came back, and figured out a huge trick: napping. I have said this before, but when I write about these games, sometimes I sound smarter than I am. For every correct choice, I can spend enormous amounts of time wandering around or trying randomly stupid things which I do not always mention. Keep in mind that for every solved problem there is a strange man yelling at his computer screen about a thirty-four-year old game. Finding the clue I needed while napping was one example of said screaming.
Nothing says “pompous Warlock” like a tasteful portrait gallery.

Dreams and Visions


I started this week just fooling around, trying new things, and seeing what clicked. Along the way, I got tired so I settled down for a hallway-nap, like you often do while exploring castles owned by evil magic-users. This time, maybe for the first time or just the first time that I noticed, I had a dream. I dreamed that I had no possessions but that I was surrounded by many faces in the dark. Could that be a clue about the portrait gallery? I restored back a bit and slept again and this time received a different vision, that of a “cartoonish” man who opens a door and ascends a wooden staircase. Admittedly, that clue isn’t quite as useful!

I start with the portrait gallery first and drop all my stuff off just to the west, including my trusty broken-but-magically-glowing lamp. I walk into the gallery and find that there is light: one of the paintings is back-lit! I remove it from the wall to recover a black scroll and a lit black candle. It’s the “ozmoo” scroll which is supposed to allow me to “survive unnatural death”. Well, that will come in handy here! I copy it into my spell book. I’m not sure about the candle but since who knows how long it has been lit back there, it might be my first real permanent (non-magical) light source… not that I need one right now, but it could come in handy.

Next up, I’ll try for the cartoonish man, whom I assume is the adventurer in the mirror. I search and find him in one of the mirror rooms and cast “zifmia” to summon him through. He’s not very happy about it! He is certainly “me” from the Zork series, down to the elvish sword and trusty lamp, but he doesn’t like “me” from the Enchanter series one bit. With some experimentation, I find that I can cast “vaxum” on him to get him to like me, but even then he just wanders aimlessly around the castle picking up random odds and ends. I think I’m on the right track, but what do I do next? I have no idea. (Incidentally, where does this game have to fall on the Zork timeline? My guess is somehow between Zork II and III since he knows about the Wizard of Frobozz but he still has his sword with him. It can’t be after III because then he’d be transformed into the Dungeon Master. I probably am not supposed to think too hard about this.)


Hero in a half-shell.

Turtle Power!

I spend a little time futzing around, but the next break isn’t too long in coming: I can cast the “exex” spell on the turtle! Remember that there was a rainbow-shelled turtle on the beach that I could not find anything to do with. If I cast “nitfol” to talk to him and “exex” to speed him up, I can get him to follow me up to the hammer room in the castle. He is able to speed off into the other room and dodge the hammers if I ask! Unfortunately, once he gets there he just stays because he can’t hear me over the din of all the engines. That’s disappointing. But, wait! I work out that you can give him multiple commands. We’ve done this “command someone to do work for you” puzzle in a few games before this (most notably the robot in Dungeon/Zork II) and this is the first time that you can give him a queue of commands to run. I do that, telling the turtle to cross the room, get the scroll, then come back. He does, first dodging the hammers along the way and then avoiding the spears thanks to his hard shell. He makes it all the way back in one piece and gives me the scroll before heading back to a well-deserved rest at the beach. Score! This finally wins me the “kulcad” spell to dispel magic but unfortunately it’s too complicated to copy into the spell book. I can use it once and only once so I better get it right.

While I am wandering around, I manage to get captured every now and then and each time I have been trying new things against the monk-creatures to escape the sacrifice. I had just assumed that’s it’s a guaranteed death like the prison in Planetfall, but on one of the attempts I get the idea to cast the “ozmoo” spell on myself to “survive an unnatural death”. Each time I die, I am hauled up to an altar and sacrificed with a very real dagger by very real people. That did not strike me as “unnatural” in any way… and yet when I try that spell (more out of just trying things than a real expectation it would do anything), I somehow survive. The cultists leave me alone, uninjured on the altar and holding a sacrificial dagger. All of my stuff is gone, but I survived! I climb down the altar and into the temple while all of the cultists just seem to ignore me. They aren’t the least bit surprised that their blood sacrifice is walking out the door? Or is this part of the spell? In the base of the temple, I discover both my prison cell (now empty) and a second cell that contains all of my old stuff. I pick it all back up again and walk out. (Actually, I eventually notice that the “kulcad” scroll is missing but I restore back and do it all over again to get the scroll after evading capture.) Even with whatever is magically protecting me from being noticed, I still cannot travel east from the “Junction” without getting captured. There must be something else I need to do to explore that part of the castle.


In the old tongue, it reads “bibbity bobbity boo”

Something Wicked This Way Comes

At this point, I am stuck again. Although I have the solved a few puzzles, I don’t have much of a way forward except for using the “kulcad” spell. Since that one is in scroll form and can only be cast once, that’s a big decision! Without any better ideas, I decide to cast it on the heavily guarded door to the northeast tower (the one that had defenses for its defenses, not to mention gargoyles and tentacles). When I cast it, I am given a warning by the Circle of Magic that the use of such a powerful spell will surely draw the Warlock’s attention to me. That is foreboding… All of the locks and enchantments gradually fall away revealing only a plain wooden door which I have no problem opening.

At the top of the tower is the “Map Room”, so named because it contains both a map and a rune-covered pencil, plus a “filfre” spell scroll which creates gratuitous fireworks. Like the “kulcad” spell before it, I cannot copy that one into my spellbook either so it will be one-shot. The map on the floor is reproduced below but you will probably notice (as I did) that it exactly describes the strange cream-colored maze that I explored at the end of last week’s post, with one exception: there is a room labeled “P” that there is no access to. Does it contain a treasure? I draw a line using the magic pencil from “F” to “P” and start heading there to check out what is in the room, but I die nearly immediately. The “Terror” has been released by my foolish scribbling and the whole world is doomed.


ASCII art!

I head down to the maze with the map and play with it some more. I try erasing the line from “M” to “V” and then adding another one from “P” to “F”. I wait a bit and then remove that line and add a new one to “P”. In short, I’m trying to get the Terror out of his room into a spur and then close him off. Well, that didn’t work because he didn’t leave so I freed him again. No good. I try again, this time placing myself in room “F”, disconnecting it from the network, and then drawing a line to “P”. That lets me access the Terror’s room without him being able to get out, but as soon as I arrive I am trapped by his evil presence. If I try to leave, I just run in place. There is a “guncho” spell scroll in his room to banish someone to another dimension. With no other options, I use it on the Terror and he is defeated… but I gained exactly nothing and lost two powerful spells. I also received no points for the ordeal which is a pretty big clue that I did not go down the right paths for either solution. I restore back and will have to figure this out later.


Making progress!

Bits and Pieces
With that little experiment completed, I’m back to being fairly stuck. I was going to end my efforts for this post while I work out what to do next but I do have some housekeeping of other puzzles to catch you up on:
  • I returned to the banquet hall and kitchen and found their situations reversed. Instead of a luscious (but ultimately unfilling) spread of food in the hall, I find the room dark and trashed. The kitchen, in contrast, seems clean and “freshly used”. Did I miss a timed event?
  • The cultists are getting more aggressive the longer I play and they now can follow me throughout the castle instead of giving up as soon as I leave the library area. 
  • I summon the adventurer and follow him around. He seems to always take a fixed path around the castle at first, passing through the temple and the hallway junction without incident. After that, he seems to go aimlessly. If he sees any of my stuff lying around, he annoyingly picks it up. He seems single-mindedly in pursuit of treasures like in the first two Zork games. 
  • In the library, I am still convinced there is something in the rat hole but I can’t work out how to get it. I try making the spoon glow and shoving it in and lots of other tricks but nothing I do seems to work and I’m not sure if it’s a vocabulary problem or I’m really just experimenting on nothing.
  • Because I am running out of food and the increased viciousness of the cultists (plus the event in the kitchen I may have missed), I replay the whole game from scratch to try to minimize turns. I manage to get back in only 584 turns so no change for you but it’s a ton earlier for me.
While re-playing, I realized that I completely forgot about the locked chest in the closet outside the courtyard. It was wrapped in a tangle of gold thread which I had said reminded me of a “Gordian knot”. My hunch was correct! I was able to cut the wires with the sacrificial dagger to reveal a “melbor” scroll which will protect me from harm by evil beings. That will be a fun spell to play with when I pick up the game again in a few days.

Inventory: Spellbook, brass lantern (glowing), bread, jug of water, book, mechanical egg, spoon, black candle, “kulkad” scroll, sacrificial dagger (not all being carried).
Spells: blorb, nitfol, frotz, gnusto, rezrov, krebf, cleesh, zifmia, vaxum, ozmoo, melbor

Time played: 3 hr 25 min
Total time: 8 hr 00 min

6 comments:

  1. Excellent progress. The turtle puzzle is one of my favorites. EXEX, by the way, is an ironic reference to the name of a chronically slow mainframe computer (if my memory of the hintbook serves).

    What syntax have you tried with the rat hole?

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    1. I don't remember all of them now. "feel in hole", "look into hole", "shine light into hole", and "put hand in hole" were ones I tried and variations on those. "search hole" tells me that I find nothing unusual which turns out to be an absolute lie.

      As you know, and I figured out shortly after I completed this section, the right syntax is "reach into hole".

      This is the first major vocabulary issue in some time and I have to think that at least some of what I tried should have worked or at least given me a more meaningful error. But it is nice that we're at the point where we expect the game to figure out what we want rather than the opposite.

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  2. I didn't think to mention it, but the turtle is stuck in my head as the "anti-Floyd".

    While you could give commands to Floyd, he usually forgot what they were mid-sentence with only one or two occasions where you could get him to do anything at all.

    The Turtle, in contrast, can execute whole streams of complex instructions while dodging hammers and spears and traveling at Mach 1. That's impressive!

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  3. Your comment about trying random things and screaming at your computer for hours before writing about finally solving the puzzle and making you sound like a genius had me nodding my head - that's how we roll at The Adventure Gamer

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    1. We reviewers should one day film our moments of despair, when we've spent days in solving a game and are verbally insulting the producers behind it. It would make for a quality Youtube material.

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    2. Would love to see a 30-post series of non-progress in a game one day, with post titles like "This F**king Game" and "God F**king Damn This Piece of S**t" and "I Will Kill These Developers With My Own Two Hands".

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