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Let's Play Ultima 1! Part 1: Getting Started

Never finished it though I've played it many times.

Hello and welcome. I've finally decided to play through Ultima 1 from beginning to end. I've decided that I will not use a walk through or any other hints or cheats found on the web. I will try to use my wits and the provided manual to figure this stuff out. I'm playing the DOS version which I bought over on Good Old Games.

A little history. The first time I played Ultima 1 was back in the mid 80s. I had several friends who played it and a technique was to grill each other at school the day after an intense night of gaming. We'd let each other know any secrets we found or how to solve a quest if it proved to hard to figure out by our selves. Those were fun days of gaming.

One may wonder why I'm starting on Ultima 1 instead of Akalabeth  (or Ultima 0). A number of years ago I played Akalabeth on an Apple II emulator and recorded the process to be uploaded to YouTube.

After going through that I found it hard to actually want to play the game again. I might give it a go if/after I finish Ultima 1. There is now a C64 version of it out now and I'm thinking about giving that a go. We'll have to see.

Now, on to the game.

This was my least favorite way of character generation. I prefer random stats and going from there.
The first part was to make a character. Not too sure about stats I did what I would usually do back in the 80s when I made up a character. I pulled what I thought would be the best stats out of my ass.

I then chose to be a human which I believe gives a bonus to either wisdom or intelligence. I think it's intelligence. Not sure.

Soon to be having great adventures.
I chose to be a male and finally, I chose to play a Wizard. I've always loved playing magic users but, somehow, I think this may work against me. It seems I read somewhere that playing a magic user was bad. It may be this game or Ultima II. I'm not sure.

Note: for those who don't know there are no benefits or penalties for playing male or female character. It's simply a role playing option.

Let's find adventure!
After getting through the character creating process I found myself standing in a field in Sosaria.

Otto, your a Wizard!
A quick look at my (z)tats and I can see how well I'm doing. At first I'm not sure what the characters in red mean. Seems I remember that they were equipped items. I guess I'll find out soon enough.

I make my way to a nearby city and castle. I realize that the game doesn't really have a pause button. I guess I'll have to be careful about food and encounters as I stop to take notes.

So much hustle and bustle.
I enter the city of Britain and am exposed to the dizzying array of shops I can peruse. I browse around and notice my food doesn't disappear while in towns. Useful. Also, the shops don't really have much of what I want besides food. I was hoping to buy a ranged weapon but, alas, it looks like I'll have to look elsewhere. The barkeep does let me know that I do need to destroy the gems. Something like that.

I got to the food vendor and buy four units of food, I hope that will be enough for now, and then I decide to visit the castle. I'm feeling very unprepared for this.

As I have mentioned before I played this game a long time ago but never finished it. In playing it I would converse with other friends who were playing it and we would exchange notes. Best strategies and secretes we'd discovered. This is one aspect of gaming I do miss immensely. Now, everything is posted on the Internet and, unfortunately, the sense of discovery is gone.

I'm saying this because one of the strategies we discussed all those years ago was to grind out stats and experience. We'd do this buy killing monsters. Hit points are either purchased from Lords (Kings?) or when you exit dungeons. It's kind of a crap shoot though. Sometimes you can exit a dungeon and get less hit points when you went in. I forget what it costs to buy hit points though.

So, off to the castle...

Yeah, that jester.
I enter the castle and quickly find the King. He wants me to go and find "The Grave of the Lost Soul" and not to return until it's done. I'm not sure where this is but I have a feeling I will find out via lots of exploration.

When I played this game back in the 80s I remember getting past this quest as well as many other quests. I just don't remember how I did it. Thirty some years of time will do that to you I guess.

I do remember the dungeon to the north-east and I make my way there. If I'm going to grind some stats then I need to do it there. I find the entrance guarded by a monster of sorts.

Hidden behind mountains. Mountains I cannot easily pass.
Unfortunately hindsight fails me and I soon find out I cannot walk through the mountains. I have another dungeon to find.

Ah yes, you'll do!
I do find an accessible dungeon further north as well as another castle. Well, it appears as one. Dungeon first and then the castle second.

It is the Dungeon of Montor. This is where I shall grind.

I wonder who built/dug all these dungeons. They are everywhere.
My first foray into the dungeon yields combat with giant rats and bats. After a while of grinding I cannot say that my hit points are improving too much but I've gotten over 500 coin and over 300 XP.

I decide to head towards the castle I saw early and find it's the city of Paws. I will stock up on supplies here. Maybe find a ranged weapon.

I replace my dagger with an axe hoping it will be better but they have no ranged weapon. I can't remember if there are ranged weapons in this game. I thought there was at least a sling and maybe a bow.

Next I look at armor. I'm playing a wizard so I don't know if I can wear chain or plate mail. I'm going to find out and buy some plate mail. Well, apparently I can. I thought I sold the dagger but I still have it. I'll try and sell it again. Okay, it sold.

Now I'll get more food and grind the dungeon some more. Not sure how I use experience points or if I auto level.

I buy more food and I noticed that there is a magic vendor here. I buy a few unlocks because I keep running into chests and setting off traps. I wonder if I will always need to use this spell or if I'm able to level a stat or skill to unlock chests.

Actually, being a wizard I don't see a huge amount of spells and it looks as if everybody can use those spells. Maybe it would have been more prudent if I would have been a melee class.

I start grinding again but I almost die. Well, die as in my HP got under 100. Must be careful.

After a bit more grinding I decide to see if I cannot find out what hit points are good for. This requires me to read some wikis out there. Avoiding spoilers and walk through I find that hit points aren't really used for anything other than increasing the number of monsters in the over world. I do a quick ask on Twitter though to make sure. I'm not sure anybody will respond.

Time has passed and no answer on Twitter though to be fair it's only been about an hour. While waiting I decided to explore the lands a bit. I ran into some mobs in the over world and slayed them. Some are harder than others. I eventually found another town where I bought a sword. Again, I'm not sure how much damage (more damage) these weapons are doing. I think the most powerful weapon in the game is a phasor and I believe I have to follow that.

That jester gets around.
Wandering further I found The Castle of the Lost King. Doesn't seem so lost sitting in his castle now. I guess I'll add his quest to my quest log...which I can't read. His quest is to kill a Gelatinous Cube.

I'm not going to lie, these are my least favorite quests in the early Ultima games. In Akalabeth that's what they all were and I did not enjoy them. I think I need to get more leveled up and get richer before I delve into the deeper parts of the dungeon. Richer so I can buy the "ladder spells". I think they are called ladder. Might be ladder up and ladder down. Don't know right now.

Before I leave this King I give him a pence of 28 gold and, in return, I get 42 hit points. I think dungeon diving might be more lucrative for gaining hit points.

Ah, there you are!
Exploring more of the land I finally see a sign (I believe these are the areas I have to find as part of quests) but it looks like it is on an island. Time for me to buy a frigate. Frigates cost over 500 coin but that's okay as I've got close to 1000. I'm also almost to 1000 XP which means I'm close to hitting level 2 and that means there will be more monsters in the over world.  Or so I've heard...but not from anybody on Twitter yet.

I could have probably gotten here faster.
Traveling the seas are dangerous and I'm immediately beset upon by two other frigates. I forgot about the (f)ire command for fire and proceed to pull up next to the attacking frigates and use melee attacks. Not to smart.

I reach the island with the sign and sidle up next to the sign but can't find the command to read the sign. Ugh.

I finally figure out that I need to get on top of the sign and press (e)nter to interact. I've found the "Pillars of Protection" and I gain 2 for my agility. Groovy but not sure how it will help me. Just to make sure there is no way to "game" the system I try interacting with the sign again. Nope, no free agility.

I decide to sail the seven seas and see if I can see anything else.

Sailing the seven seas involves staying close to the coast and looking for Islands. I eventually come across a dungeon on an island and decide to investigate. Hmm, "Mondain's Gate to Hell". Nope! I'm thinking this is the way to the end boss. Not ready for this. I kill a bat and bail.

Not much of a city is it?
I then find the City of Montor and upgrade my sword to a great sword. Crazy round city with only two stores.

Ding! While adventuring in The Mines of Mount Drash II I dinged to level 2. Gratz!!

Stopping into the city of Tune I upgrade(?) my great sword into a staff. It's more expensive but does it do more damage? The only real reason I bought it is to role play the a wizard. A staff seems like an appropriate weapon for a wizard. Doesn't explain the plate mail though.

I did find the dungeon of Doubt. Not much of a dungeon. More like the long hallway of Doubt.

I finally found a ranged weapon in the city of Moon. I think I'll keep the staff though. It also had a reflect suit which I bought. So, I have the best armor in the game. I think the thief can steal it from me though so I have to be careful.

What's that even mean?
I was beginning to lose hope when I found another island with another sign. I've gained three intelligence. Groovy.

Well, I've come full circle around the continent and I've found the Pillars of Protection again. I decided to use it again and it gave me two more Agility. This gives me an idea.

So it appears as that I can sail back and forth between the two signs I found and get agility and intelligence for ever. Not sure if this is the way it's supposed to work but it is an in game exploit that I intend to use for a bit.

Sometimes I'm a silly person. I forgot there were four continents in this game and I found out by accident about this. Sailing west I eventually found another land mass and, eventually, found another sign (The Eastern Sign Post) that emphatically tells me to go east I must go east. Hmm.

I will start exploring these extra continents.

I found the Grave of the Lost Soul and completed my first quest for Lord British. I will now attempt to turn it in and see if I cannot get my first Gem. I think that is my reward.

I've made it back to Lord British and turn in my quest. My reward is ten strength. Not bad but I though I was to get gems. Of course I could be wrong. I'm actually not sure how to get gems. Anyway, when I offered my services to him again he, again, presented me with the same quest. So, upon completing the quest again he gives me only 8 points of strength. I wonder if this continually goes down or if it is random. I'm not sure but I'll have to test it later as I need to wrap up part one of this. Next time I'll try and get the grinding stuff taken care of and, maybe, more into the meat of the quest.


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