Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Might & Magic I: Secret of the Inner Sanctum

Thanks to a deep-discount flash sale on GOG, I picked up another game I'd wanted to go back and complete: Might & Magic I.

I'm stalled on Ultima IV until I have a solid day open to spend on gaming straight through to the end. Lack of save in dungeons is a real issue when you're an adult with non-game responsibilities.

But I could use a game I could pop in to and play. This will do. It's like a more highly functional, much more forgiving Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord.

I'd had that back in the day, but I never completed it. Oh, I got obscenely powerful wandering around fighting monsters, so much so that it was rare even the Council of Dragons would stick around for a whole combat round without fleeing, but I never did get to the central quest. I'll do that now.

I have had a lot of fun with it so far, with two caveats:

- it's been cheap with monetary treasure. So much so that I only recently had my characters all leveled up, as most of the time I lacked the funds to train them up. I'm still almost broke - I spent a few times dead broke, almost out of food, and yet had magic items and piles of gems (used for spellcasting, mostly). I felt like my PCs in my Felltower game. I had to quit and restart in one session where I had 4 people who needed 200 gp each of healing, 200 gp each of training cost to level, and one of them picked up a "Large Shield +1" that turned out to be cursed. Removable in town to the tune of 1500. I had 27 gp at the time, and I was grateful for outdoor encounters that mauled me nearly dead but coughed up 30-40 gp per person sometimes. I just quit, unsaved . . . I was looking at 2300 gp just to restore my party to health, which would be 5 encounters with treasure-toting monsters if I got a reasonably good haul without getting further mauled. I mean come on, just give me a bit more cash.

- I forgot that spells are number codes. So I type "Cast" "1, 2" for Bless, "2, 5" for a Sorcerer's Levitate spell to avoid pits, and so on. I really need to find a good compressed table to print out, because I forget.

Aside from that PITA, it's easy enough of an interface.

By the way, is there a way to quit DOS BOX games other than Alt-Tab and then X-ing out the window? That seems to be how I have to do it. It's just weird. And it's either full screen, or a little box on my screen. It would be handy to resize it but have it windowed so I can do other stuff on my PC when I need to.

Oh, and M&M I might be a rare game in which the example characters are hard to beat. I spent a good 90 minutes rolling up PCs, and ended up keeping 2 of the 6 original characters and just renaming them.

I've heard II is good, as well, so I may follow with that. We'll see. I have I-VI now but no draw to play any so far but I.


  1. You can't beat the starter characters in Bard's Tale. They start at 2nd level IIRC and they have good equipment that costs more than you start with, plus the bard has a magical Fire Horn which is one of the best things to have...and the only way you are going to be taking out a large group of wandering monsters until you reach 5th level (and even then the spells do half of the damage...Fire Horn casts a 4th level spell you can learn as a 7th level magician).

    El Cid and Brian the Fist. Ah the memories :-D

    1. Really? I just took their stuff and made characters with better stats. All you need is one guy to step out of the Guild with them, swap the stuff over, repeat with the odd man out . . . and your characters have all of their stuff!

      In M&M I, it's very hard to randomly roll stats that as nicely match what classes need as the sample characters. I managed, but it took a long time.

    2. You can get better ability scores than the pregen characters but new characters will be 1st level with half the hit points of the pregens. And I'm not sure how much effect the ability scores have in play but I know that when you gain levels your ability scores also go up so starting with mediocre ability scores isn't something that you will be stuck with for life.

    3. True. But I've won BT twice with my own PCs, and being 1st level wasn't a big obstacle to success. I'm not saying playing the pregens was bad, I'm just saying I feel like you can do better than they are. In M&M, I spent hours trying to do as good or better and failed for 1/3 of my current party. I was never able to get a solid-Endurance, high-Speed, high-Intellect guy to make a Sorcerer but I had one just sitting there. So I renamed him and moved on.

  2. Might and Magic II is decent too, but its difficulty is all over the place, while the other games in the series have a nice progression with no random spikes like that. I still recommend checking it out. Also, it retains the sort-of lighthearted atmosphere of the classical M&M games and Star Trek references.

    1. Oh, M&MI has incredibly deadly monsters not far from the starting town, and even encounters within it that will mop the floor with starting characters. I think that's a feature not a bug, anyway . . . I never liked the whole "guards in the final town could have beaten any monsters in the world except for the ones around the final town" progression of difficulty.

  3. MM 1 was lots of fun and one of my first CRPGs. I reemember battering my party against a wyvern encounter thinking that was the only way to progress only to find that I needed to go elsewehere. Played 2 until the mid-game when things just stalled out for me. Played 3 with my friends and had lots of fun with that. MM 4 and 5 were the sweet spot for me and especially liked the world spanning. Got 6 during college, but for some reason the 3D view just never took with me.

    1. Ah, the entrance to the Wyvern Peaks.

      MM1 is tough because it's not always clear where to go. I lost the plot after Dusk back in the day. Now I know to search out the next part of it.


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