Wizardry VII: Crusaders of the Dark Savant

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Wizardry VII:
Crusaders of the Dark Savant
Wizardry7Box.jpg
Developer(s) Sir-Tech Software, Inc.
Publisher(s) Sir-Tech Software, Inc.
Distributor(s) Gamepot
Designer(s) David W. Bradley
Series Wizardry
Platform(s) MS-DOS
Microsoft Windows
PlayStation
PC-98
FM Towns
OS X
Linux
Release date(s) 1992
Genre(s) Role-playing video game
Mode(s) Single player
Distribution CD-ROM, 3.5-inch floppy, download

Wizardry VII: Crusaders of the Dark Savant (originally known as Wizardry: Crusaders of the Dark Savant) is the seventh title in the Wizardry series of role-playing video games by Sir-Tech Software, Inc., preceding Wizardry 8 and succeeding Wizardry VI: Bane of the Cosmic Forge. It is also the second entry in the 'Dark Savant' trilogy. The game was published in 1992 by Sir-Tech, originally developed for DOS. In 1996 it was remade into Wizardry Gold, designed to work on Windows and Macintosh, and distributed by Interplay. Gamepot re-released Wizardry 7 and Wizardry 7 Gold bundled with Wizardry 6 for Windows on May 13, 2013,[1] and for OS X on November 15, 2013,[2] in GOG.com. In September 10, 2013, Night Dive Studios release it in Steam standalone, or bundled with Wizardry 6, with support for Windows, OS X and Linux, although that the Gold edition is only available for Windows.[3]

The setting is a science fiction/fantasy universe, featuring interplanetary space travel and cybernetic androids, alongside high fantasy arms, armor and magic. The story picks up where its predecessor left off. The recovery and subsequent theft of the magical artifact known as the Cosmic Forge in Wizardry VI: Bane of the Cosmic Forge has revealed the planet Guardia, the hiding place of another power artifact, the Astral Dominae. Multiple factions have converged on Guardia attempting to locate this artifact, including a party of adventurers controlled by the player, and the principal adversary, the eponymous Dark Savant.

The game is notable for featuring an early example of a well developed diplomacy mechanic. It features multiple competing factions with different interests in the world of Guardia. The player may engage in diplomacy when key NPCs of the factions are encountered, and may attempt to bribery, peaceful negotiations, or threaten force.[4] It is also an early game to feature NPC competition with the player; as time progresses NPCs may beat the player to obtaining certain quest items, forcing the player to change their priorities.[5] It was also the first game in the Wizardry series to feature 8-bit VGA color graphics.

Gameplay[edit]

Crusaders of the Dark Savant is played from a first person perspective, with the party's character portraits visible alongside what they see in the game world, and movement is tile-based, and the player can only turn in 90° increments. The game supported contemporary VGA displays and a variety of sound cards for effects, and synthesized background music. The player could use the mouse or keyboard to navigate the user interface.

Characters[edit]

The party's characters are not autonomous and have no personality; they are completely under the player's control. The gender, portrait, race and profession of each character is, however, customizable, allowing for many different types of parties to explore the world of Lost Guardia.The party of player characters can be imported from a previous saved game of Wizardry VI, or characters may be created anew. Each character's statistics (such as strength and intelligence) are given a baseline by the character's race and gender.[6] A random dice roll provides a certain number of bonus points for each character. Each profession has minimum requirements for entrance, so a given random character may not be eligible for some professions. Unfortunately, this means to be an elite group, the player may need to spend considerable amounts of time trying to obtain the highest possible dice rolls to create strong or exotic characters (such as the faerie ninja).

The game permits the player to change a character's profession at a later time, provided the character meets the class' requirements. This permits the player to develop more versatile characters (allowing fighters to obtain magic, for example), and allows characters to join professions they were not eligible to join at creation. Profession changes carries certain penalties.[7]

Formation of the party, up to six, is set up to allow the first three characters to be on the front line, where stronger short ranged weapons can be used, but where more damage is taken. The final three can only hit with ranged weapons, spells or while hidden, but are less likely to be hit and take damage.[8]

Combat[edit]

Combat is phased or turn based. When battle begins, the enemy party is shown graphically on the worldview screen. Relevant mythology skills are then rolled to determine if the party knows what kind of enemies they are; the party may first guess that an enemy flock of black birds is simply "Black Birds" and will later learn that they are "Fire Crows". The player selects an action for every character, such as attacking, dodging, running, casting a spell, or otherwise. When all the actions are selected, every belligerent in the battle takes action in an order determined by their statistics and random factors. The fastest characters or monsters act first, complete their turn, then allow the next fastest person to take theirs. This mechanic means that party members' actions may take no effect (if a party member attacks a group that others have already eliminated) or healers may take their turn too late and fail to save their injured companions.

NPC interactions[edit]

NPC interaction, on the DOS and Windows versions of Crusaders of the Dark Savant, is carried out by the mouse and keyboard. The mouse selects general actions, such as "Fight," "Spell," or "Trade." The keyboard comes into play when talking, where the player must manually type in certain questions or keywords for the NPC. Simply typing "Ukpyr" will bring up the NPC's information about Ukpyr, while "Where is Ukpyr?" will give directions. The Japanese PSX version allows the player to choose from a list of keywords, much like the Ultima series. NPCs, like the characters, also travel the world, make alliances, kill other NPCs and discover treasure that the player may eventually have to barter, steal or kill for.

Magic[edit]

Magic is divided into four schools of magic, and six elements. The four schools are: Psionics, mind-based spells; Alchemy, potion-based spells; Theology, prayer-based spells; and Thaumaturgy, element-based spells. The six elements are fire, water, air, earth, mental and divine. Spell points are depicted as current/max numbers, but are divided among the six spell realms. For example, a healing Priest has few spells available in the fire realm, and might have only 50 points to spend casting fire spells. On the other hand, she might have up to 400 to spend on divine spells. In this way, MP is divided up into six element sections, with each section corresponding to unique spells carrying the theme of the element it represents.

Experience levels[edit]

Leveling is similar to other RPGs. When enough experience is earned through defeating enemies, a character advances in their current class, earning new statistics, skills, spells and ranks in that class. Statistical growth can result in one statistic going up, several going up, or even (rarely) having one decrease. Skill gains are divided among weapon skills, physical skills like swimming and climbing, academic skills like spells, critical strikes and mythology, and "personal" skills. These mostly superhuman skills, like super speed and super strength, are unlocked through finding unique items in the world and invoking them on a single character. It is also possible to load the game after a "bad level," fight another battle, and re-do the level's bonuses if the level is not to the player's liking.

Player character races[edit]

Each race has a certain statistic value attached to them, before bonuses:

  • Strength determines carrying capacity and melee damage.
  • Intelligence affects the number of skills learned, and the strength of spells.
  • Piety affects the amount of spell points a character has to use.
  • Vitality determines HP, and resistance to disease.
  • Dexterity determines number of attacks per round and thieving skills.
  • Speed determines number of total attack rounds available and initiative.
  • Personality determines how likely a character is to make friends with neutral or hostile NPCs.
  • Karma does much the same as Personality, except that low values in Karma impress similarly low Karma NPCs (thieves like the company of thieves, and so on).

As with the first five Wizardry games, the races include Tolkien-esque Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes and Hobbits. However, continuing with the expansion of this concept in Bane of the Cosmic Forge, Lizardmen, Faeries, Dracons (half-Human, half-Dragons), Rawulf (humanoid dogs), Felpurr (humanoid cats) and the alien Mook (tall and hairy Sasquatch-like people, who make an appearance in Wizardry 8) are all playable. Each race carries its own unique set of benefits and detriments to statistics, unique resistances, and can make use of race specific equipment. The game even includes a weapon that is relegated only to Faeries who become Ninja: the incredible Cane of Corpus.

Player character classes[edit]

There are also several classes to choose:

  • Fighters are the frontline troops.
  • Thieves disarm traps, steal and fight.
  • Samurai, Lords, the female-only Valkyries, Bards, Rangers, Monk and Ninja are all hybrid classes that can fight, in addition to casting spells and/or thieving.
  • Psionics, Priests, Mages and Alchemists all cast spells from one of the game world's four spellbooks.
  • Bishops cast both Priest and Mage spells, but learn them half as quickly as a pure Priest or Mage.

Plot[edit]

Crusaders of the Dark Savant starts at the end of Wizardry VI: Bane of the Cosmic Forge.[9] The party had just found the Cosmic Forge, the pen that the Cosmic Lords use to script the events of the universe, after it was stolen by the Bane King and his Wizard, Xorphitus. Before the party could decide what to do with it, it was spirited away by a servant of the Cosmic Lords, the cyborg Aletheides. The Cosmic Forge was used to hide the location of the Astral Dominae, a powerful artifact with power over life itself, on planet Guardia. Because of this, its theft revealed Planet Guardia to the universe. Now, multiple forces are converging on Lost Guardia to find this artifact, including the party itself. It is after planetfall on Guardia that the story begins.

As there are three endings to Bane of the Cosmic Forge, there are four beginnings to Crusaders of the Dark Savant (one for each of the endings from the previous game, and a fourth for parties who are starting fresh).

The first beginning follows a party who believed the lies of the Bane Queen and killed her husband, the Bane King, his lover, Rebecca, and her brother, Bela. On a whim, the party then enters the mouth of a "giant slumbering beast" (in actuality, a spaceship), which was secreted behind Bela's room, and takes off for the stars. The ship is captured in mid-flight by the Black Ship Dedaelis, which belongs to the Dark Savant, who is the main antagonist of the story. The party is then pressed into service by the Savant, who explains that he wants the Astral Dominae to overthrow the Cosmic Lords, and they are then transported down to Lost Guardia to aid the T'Rang in finding the Astral Dominae for the Savant.

The second beginning follows a party who did not believe the lies of the Bane Queen, and who spared the life of the Bane King. He commits suicide, and Rebecca gives the party the key to her brother Bela's room. In this case, Bela does not attack the party; in fact, the party agrees to accompany him on his spaceship to chase Aletheides to his destination. As Bela has been in contact with a race called the Umpani for some time on an interstellar communication device, the party transports to the surface of Guardia just outside Ukpyr, where the Umpani are based. They then have the option of joining up with the Imperial Umpani Federation in their mission to defeat the T'Rang.

The third beginning is not hinged on believing the Bane Queen or not; rather, it is dependent on whether or not the party decides to take the Cosmic Forge before boarding Bela's ship. Aletheides appears and takes the pen, and offers the party the opportunity to accompany him to Lost Guardia. After a long voyage, he transports the party to the surface of Guardia just outside Dionysceus, where the Dane live.

The fourth beginning for new parties describes the party as adventure and treasure seekers, who stumble upon the Cosmic Forge in an abandoned temple. Aletheides appears and introduces the events of Wizardry VI, then the party accompanies him to Lost Guardia. This party starts just outside of New City.

Whatever the initial circumstances of the party's arrival on Guardia, they are free to make or break alliances as they see fit. For example, a party initially aligned with the Savant and the T'Rang are fully capable of turning on them, with no repercussions in finishing the game. In fact, it is possible to either befriend or make enemies of every nation on the planet, and still be able to complete the main quest.

The main plot involves the party's quest to find the resting place of the Astral Dominae, the greatest artifact ever created by the god Phoonzang. There are four distinct endings; each of these endings can then be imported as savegame files to Wizardry 8, the final chapter of the Dark Savant trilogy, which in turn has its own set of five beginnings.

Each of the seven races of Guardia have a small side story of their own to complete, and almost all of them are necessary to finish in order to acquire the items needed to unlock the resting place of the Astral Dominae, the Isle of Crypts:

  • The Umpani want the death of the T'Rang queen, who if left alive, would spawn enough T'Rang to overrun Guardia and every world near it. They need the party to slay her, as the T'Rang would be less likely to suspect a group of Humans, Elves, Mook, etc... than a group of Umpani as assassins.
  • The T'Rang are searching for a lost map that may lead them to the Astral Dominae, and plot to turn on the Dark Savant to acquire this ultimate prize. The party is tasked with the first two of the T'Rang's three goals.
  • The Munk seek their lost Holy Work, which is being held by a fallen Munk sect underneath their city, and need the party to find it.
  • The Dane desire the Cornu of Demonspawn, a powerful magical artifact, which is a horn on the forehead of a demon that the party must summon and defeat.
  • The Gorn are in the midst of civil war, due to the interference of unnamed visitors from the stars, and it is up to the party to hear the tale of their betrayer, the Wizard Murkatos, and restore the spirit of the King.
  • The Rattkin plot to ambush a T'Rang starship to extend their criminal empire offworld, and need the party's help to find the landing time of the perfect ship.
  • The Helazoid guard the secrets of Phoonzang for the Crusaders of their prophecy, the party itself.

Crusaders of the Dark Savant blends science fiction and fantasy into an epic story, and is seen through the eyes of medieval warriors. Because of this, a spaceship can be referred to as a "flying whale" or "beast-bird of steel," ships shooting lasers are described as "machines that breathe fire" and the Helazoid rocket sleds become "chariots of fire."

Many philosophical issues are discussed throughout the story, such as the purpose of reincarnation, the importance of personal responsibility and remembering history, and the need for forebearance and self-reflection. Some are spoken through NPCs within the game or through the narrator, while others are read from maps scattered throughout the world of Guardia. These maps, which rival NPC parties are also seeking, offer philosophical treatises nestled alongside clues to solving puzzles within the game.

NPC Races[edit]

Umpani: A spacefaring race of rhinoceros men, who are banded together in an interstellar civilization called the Imperial Umpani Federation. Their society is based on both fair trade and impressive military might. They are the sworn enemies of the T'Rang, whom they have been at war with for a long time. Their favored weapons are large, flat-ended swords called Walriblades, and gunpowder-based firearms like the musket and blunderbuss. They occupy the old Guardian ruins of Ukpyr, an old city whose stones and materials they have reused to construct a base there, and run a Detache Station in New City. General Yamo, their leader, operates from Ukpyr.

T'Rang: A spidery race whose star-spanning trade network rivals the Umpani's own. Their bodies are snake-like but they stand erect, and they have four claws extending from their chest/thorax, and two antennae protruding from their heads. The Guardia brood is ruled by a T'Rang Queen, a larger version of regular T'Rang, who spawns the eggs that hatch newborn T'Rang drones. The T'Rang favor the use of electrified staves to subdue their enemies, but are also known to use magic. They occupy the ruins of Nyctalinth, as well as a small building in New City called T'Rshieche's House. Their Queen, H'Jenn-Ra, spawns the Guardia brood from Nyctalinth.

Munk: The Munk are pudgy, red robed humanoids who look little different from Humans. They are adept at martial arts, and the use of the quarterstaff and rod. Their deeply religious culture revolves around the Holy Path, which is a set of life guidelines set down by the ancient Munk prophet, Munkharam. Their faith bears a resemblance to monastic religion, as they dress and live simply, study martial arts, and practice charity for others (at low cost) from at least one church. They are at war with the Dane and the Dark Forest Munk, their fallen brothers, both of whom they consider blasphemers. They live primarily in Munkharama, and have a church called Thesminster Abbey in New City. Although they have no official leaders, the strongest Munk, Xen Xheng, teaches from Munkharama.

Dane: In contrast to the Munk, the Dane are tall, slim and blue skinned, wear flashy blue and purple robes, and their beliefs are radically different. Those on the lower tiers of their faith seem little better than charlatans, as they constantly press the party for more and more money as they advance through the Dane's ranks. For example, Kymas Turan is an infamous NPC who, after the party has joined the Dane, constantly demands 10% of all of the money the party has as a tithe, or he attacks. The upper echelons of the Dane seem more concerned with personal power, and the pleasures of wine and sex. The Dane are at war with the Munk, whom they consider blasphemers. They live primarily in Dionysceus, the Tower of the Dane, where their leader the Magna Dane also resides.

Gorn: The Gorn resemble the common fantasy archetype of the Orc, and share in their warlike nature. They are tusked, green skinned humanoids who wear Samurai-style Do-maru armor, and wield polearms like the naginata and lance. They are xenophobic and trust few outsiders, as their lands are situated between the Munk and the Dane, who are at war with one another. According to the game manual, it is the very presence of the Gorn Empire that keeps the Dane and Munk from turning the planet into a warzone. The Gorn, and their leader King Ulgar, live in Orkogre Castle, a hidden fortress in Orkogre Forest.

Rattkin: A race of humanoid rats, the Rattkin are adept at thievery and espionage. Their lower ranks are simple cutthroats and bandits, though at least one Rattkin, Professor Wunderland, has left his thieving ways behind. Their higher ranks are more adept at physical and magical combat, and are described as mercenaries, assassins and other murderous occupations. The Rattkin favor the use of daggers and short swords. They are ruled from the Rattkin Ruins, an abandoned city whose name has long been lost, by a Yakuza/Mafia-style crime boss named Don Barlone', who lives in the ruins of a funhouse there.

Helazoid: The Helazoid are the descendants of the Higardi, who are a race of humanoids that play a principal part in Wizardry 8. No male Helazoid are ever seen, but the females are depicted as long blonde haired women who ride fiery red rocket sleds. They are technologically advanced on a world of swords and sorcery, and are firm believers in the Prophecy, which states that once the Crusaders arrive from the stars to unearth the Astral Dominae, the Higardi will appear to take their long lost children into the stars with them. The Helazoid fire laser beams from their rocket sleds, and also make use of laser pistols and glowing laser spears. They live in the City of Sky, and are ruled by their Queen, Dame Ke-Li.

Wizardry Gold[edit]

The first main difference between the original Crusaders of the Dark Savant and Wizardry Gold is that they are designed for different computer platforms. While Crusaders of the Dark Savant can be played on Windows 3.1, Windows NT, and Windows 95 computers (and beyond), Wizardry Gold will not work in DOS by itself.

A major development in the Wizardry Gold version was the introduction of speech. This was primarily in the form of a narrator who describes to the player what is happening at each stage. In the Crusaders of the Dark Savant version, this is merely text that can easily be skipped through. Another noticeable difference is the improvement of character portraits to a more colorful "fantasy comic book" feel, rather than the more realistic look of the original Crusaders of the Dark Savant's portraits.

Wizardry Gold was included as part of Interplay's Ultimate RPG Archives, that was released in 1998, and it is also available in the Ultimate Wizardry Archives that contains the first seven Wizardry titles.

On the website GOG.com customers can purchase a package which includes an updated version of Wizardry Gold and Wizardry VI that are fully compatible with Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8. It should be noted that Wizardry VI's compatibility was achieved by building DosBox into the application.

While an Amiga programmer is credited in-game, an Amiga version was never released.

Differences between Wizardry VI and Wizardry VII[edit]

Although most things about Wizardry VI and Wizardry VII are similar, there are some key differences between them:

  • The graphics improve from 16 color EGA in Wizardry VI to 256 color VGA in Wizardry VII.
  • The skills Diplomacy, Swimming, Mapping and Climbing do not exist in Wizardry VI. Diplomacy exists because NPC interaction is more complex in Wizardry VII, involving negotiation through peace or force to speak with NPCs. Mapping came as a result of the new map system in Wizardry VII, where more skill reveals more of the surrounding area to the player when using a map. Swimming became a skill because characters in Wizardry VII can enter water without a mode of transportation, like in Wizardry VI, and success in Swimming keeps the character from drowning. Finally, the Climbing skill was added, because it was changed from random success in Wizardry VI to a skill-based roll in Wizardry VII.
  • Personal Skills like Eagle Eye and Power Strike can be unlocked through items in Wizardry VII, and are not present in its predecessor.
  • When levelling up in Wizardry VI, acquired skill points are all part of a large pool which can be placed anywhere. In Wizardry VII, skills are split up into Weapons (Swords, Martial Arts, Shields, etc...), Physical (Swimming, Lockpicking, Scouting, etc...), Academic (Spellbooks, Critical Strike, Mapping, etc...) and Personal Skills (Power Strike, Eagle Eye, etc...). This meant that classes that previously gained high skill in everything (Fighters, for example) could no longer place their many skill points at level up wherever they chose. Instead, Fighters gained more weapon skill, Mages more Academia skill, and so on.
  • The illness "Disease" was added in Wizardry VII as a rare, but dangerous and lingering, ailment.
  • A character's mana bar is now portrayed in the game's main window, and the player no longer has to manually choose a character to see how much magic they have left.
  • A character may be selected by clicking on their portrait or pressing 1-6, instead of being "Reviewed" through the menu like in Wizardry VI, saving a click of the mouse or a few keystrokes to achieve the same result.
  • The party may sidestep or turn at any time in Wizardry VII, but there are separate modes for turning and sidestepping in Wizardry VI.
  • When talking with NPCs, they no longer automatically like (talk with) or hate (attack) the party. In Wizardry VII, it is sometimes necessary to "Peace" or "Force" a neutral or hateful NPC into being friendly. In addition, there is a "Lore" command, which exchanges all of the player's information on the world with an NPC in exchange for all of theirs.
  • Lockpicking in Wizardry VII involves sliding individual tumblers into place to pick the lock open. In Wizardry VI, every tumbler is activated at once, and must therefore all be in the correct position before the door lock is successfully picked.
  • In Wizardry VI, portions of a treasure chest trap's name are revealed, letter by letter, according to the skill of the character inspecting it. For example, a character with high skill might see a "GUARDIAN" trap as "RUDGNIAA," while someone less experienced might see "DA." Chests in Wizardry VII are opened by disarming specific devices in a certain order.
  • There is no "Terminate Game" option in Wizardry VI as there is in Wizardry VII, which allows the player to kill everyone in the party and restore a savegame immediately when the party faces impossible odds. The player no longer has to run first, or wait until everyone is dead, before restoring a savegame.
  • The spells Psionic Fire, Dazzling Lights, Restfull, Superman, Draining Cloud, Cure Disease, Shrill Sound, Death Cloud, Whipping Rocks, Crush, Confusion, Watchbells, Spooks, Find Person, Healthfull, Zap Undead and Recharge are new to Wizardry VII. Cure Disease did not exist in Wizardry VI because there was no Disease condition to cure, and Find Person did not exist because NPCs don't begin to wander until Wizardry VII. The rest of the spells were added to help support lagging spellbooks and spell classes (for example, by adding more fire spells for the Psionic, and more spells in general for the Alchemist), or to add new features, like the ability to recharge magic items.
  • Spells could be cast to the 6th level of power in Wizardry VI. This meant that if a spell did 1-6 damage, a power level 6 version of the same spell would do 6-36 damage. Wizardry VII unlocked a new, 7th level of power.
  • Carrying Capacity, the ability to carry more weight without suffering negative effects, was permanently set in Wizardry VI from character creation, depending on the character's initial Strength and Vitality values. In Wizardry VII, the ability of a character to carry more or less weight changes on a level by level basis, depending on whether they gained or lost points in these same statistics.
  • Some bugs were fixed, such as "strike everyone" spells like Nuclear Blast and Mind Flay being resisted by everyone in Wizardry VI (there are unofficial patches, which fix this bug in Wizardry VI as well).

Reception[edit]

Computer Gaming World stated that Crusaders of the Dark Savant was "the first Wizardry that has a real-world feel to it ... there are towns, ruins, wilderness, mountains and even a small sea" with the player interacting with multiple races that cooperated and competed with each other. The magazine approved of the improved inventory management, but criticized the small automap. More seriously, it called the open world design "deceptive" as backtracking and "hours in a fruitless search" were often necessary to solve a puzzle. The magazine nonetheless concluded that "Crusaders of the Dark Savant is certainly an improvement over the last couple of games", and recommended it to "Wizardry fans and experienced gamers (who are willing to put up with some of the frustrations)".[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Release: Wizardry 6+7". GOG.com. 2013-05-13. 
  2. ^ GOG.com (2013-11-15). "Bonus! More Mac Games on GOG.com!". cdp.pl. 
  3. ^ Valve Corporation (2013-09-10). "Now Available - Wizardry 6, 7, and 8". Steam. 
  4. ^ Wizardry VII Gold Player's Manual, p. 417. Retrieved 2013-09-24.
  5. ^ Jitawa (2006). Wizardry VII Review: Introducing a persistent world. Retrieved 2013-09-24.
  6. ^ Wizardry 7 Gold Manual, p. 405. Retrieved 2013-09-24.
  7. ^ Wizardry VII Gold Player's Manual, p. 412
  8. ^ Wizardry VII Gold Player's Manual, p. 425
  9. ^ a b Scorpia (1993-02). "Wizardry's Crusaders of the Dark Savant". Computer Gaming World. p. 62. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 

External links[edit]