Previously, our gallant heroes bested both the evil wizard Werdna and recovered the Knight of Diamonds‘ missing armor – saving the land twice exclusively through the Ancient Magic of Time Reversal (save scumming relentlessly within an Apple II emulator). By casting “OHSHITO!” and striking the mystical F12 rune, Wizardry’s legendary difficulty was compressed into something far more reasonable. Now, they face their final challenge in Legacy of Llylgamyn (it was Lylgamyn with one L in the previous, but I guess this is the spelling that stuck). These three games make up Wizardry’s first trilogy set; requiring you to use the same characters you made in the very first, therefore forming a somewhat connected story.
Since the second scenario started you out with enemies that expected you to have beaten the first game, there’s not much further you can go without wildly unbalancing the difficulty. XP requirements past level 13 are also in the millions, so continuing to level further is kind of out of the question. It also seems like Sir-Tech wasn’t interested in just dropping a new dungeon map and calling it a scenario, they apparently wanted to offer something more that just the minimum effort. That’s why the third scenario introduces a small twist:
Yes, this game takes place “a generation” after the second and you’re now playing as your party’s descendants. You still must import a character from either Wizardry I or II, as there’s still no way to create a new character in III. Once imported, each character must go through the “Rite of Ascension,” where your new progeny is created. In general, this works to your advantage. Stats are copied over verbatim. If your character was a advanced class (Ninja, Lord, Bishop, Samurai) then the new character begins as one also. You’re starting the scenario at level 1, but you’re doing so with some supernaturally tough characters – better than you could ever get by endlessly rerolling in the character creator. You could also theoretically skip Wiz I and II (so long as you still have the first game) by simply creating and importing some fresh guys. You won’t get the inflated stats, and vets get twice the amount of starting gold to work with, but it’s still possible.
Ascended characters are then treated normally and can still be modified in the Training Grounds. I had always planned to turn my two front line Fighters into Samurai – per the manual, Samurai are essentially boosted fighters with some offensive magic. However, converting to an advanced class requires you to hit stat minimums through leveling, then restart back to level 1 as the new class. Rik had the stats by the end of the first Wizardry, but restarting Dave was such a pain that I didn’t want to do it again. Now everyone’s starting over, so flipping Son of Rik to Samurai was an easy choice. Unfortunately, this reset Rik’s enhanced stats to the minimum for Samurai, so the actual value was debatable. I definitely noticed his lower strength value in combat, which persisted through the entire game.
The Rite of Ascension also lets you change each character’s moral alignment. Since the first Wizardry, characters could be Good, Neutral, or Evil. Some characters (Priest, Lord, Bishop, Ninja) could never be Neutral. Good characters will not join up with Evil characters, limiting your party options if you’re not leveling more than six guys. Encounters have a low chance to be “Friendly,” giving you the option to attack or leave the foes alone. Attacking friendly opponents has a chance to turn Good characters Evil, while not attacking has a chance to turn Evil characters Good. If you weren’t consistent, a member of your party could turn in a way that suddenly made them incompatible with others.
This makes up the major gimmick of the third scenario. A mighty dragon guards the Orb of Earithin. He requires both the Crystal of Good and the Crystal of Evil to defeat, and four of the dungeon’s six levels require characters of a specific moral alignment to enter. Parties with the opposite alignment are instantly kicked out. This means there’s now two exclusively “Good” and two exclusively “Evil” levels and you have to adjust your party accordingly.
On the surface, this looks like it’s going to require you to make two parties. Not so. Everyone you can turn Neutral during import, you should. Luckily, that’s most characters. If even a single character is appropriately aligned while the rest of the party is Neutral, you can access the corresponding levels. You can, of course, just try to convert party members through “Friendly” encounters, but that’s more excessive grinding in a game already full to bursting with that. In my case, I needed an Evil Priest and a second character to replace Stoo’s Good Bishop. It was easy enough to load the first Wizardry and create two dastardly rogues to import.
From here out, it’s basic Wizardry. You start with a tissue paper party that could get killed by a violent sneeze, then grind them up through random encounters until they’re tough enough to hold their own on the dungeon’s next level. Each level is a 20×20 grid that will dutifully use every square. There’s a lot of blank areas you can’t reach initially, but you’re guaranteed to find a chute to them on a level above. You’re required to draw and maintain your own maps and figuring out the levels’ puzzle-like nature is a lot of the game’s appeal.
For this specific scenario, it seems like most of the spell buffs from the previous are retained. Your Sleep spell especially hits more often and stays useful throughout. Potions now have a chance to not be consumed on use. This seems rare, but you’ll occasionally get some extra sips from the same item. Given how frequent Poison attacks are in this scenario – enough that antidote potions are sold directly in the store – this is extremely helpful. Likewise, the Castle’s store (still Boltac’s; must be a franchise) now sells a single copy of improved equipment. For example, you can buy a “Broadsword+1” for a single character, giving you a leg up over having to find similar equipment in the dungeon.
The most noticeable part of Scenario 3 is its revised interface. There’s a fancy new intro with screens of (comparatively) high-res art. Enemies similarly show more detailed profile pictures. The wireframe dungeon is now shown fullscreen, with the party status screen as an overlay that can be turned off with the O key. Some quality of life upgrades also got added, namely the ability to pool gold with a single key, to see party members’ health values while casting a healing spell, and the ability to see both characters’ inventories while trading. I’m not sure if these graphics and UI improvements coincide with the release of the Apple IIe, but they’re welcome upgrades regardless. This interface is also what the later ports, namely the Wizardry Archives releases for DOS, would end up using for the previous games.
There’s a greater deal of scene setting here. Messages with associated graphics are new to the series. They’re rare, but a good first attempt at giving parts of levels a sense of place instead of arbitrary lines on a grid. The first level is based around a castle and its moat, with surrounding barracks and an island on the other side of a river. As ridiculous as it sounds, simply reading a message that I was entering the barracks helped make the following hallway connecting many single rooms have a purpose. I could imagine the cots and weapon racks lining the small rooms as I explored and mapped.
There’s also a good mix of encounters and items here. The middle levels of the first Wizardry are notoriously vacant. Wizardry II didn’t have much going on beyond trying to find the armor pieces. Wiz III’s maps are still mostly purposeless squares, but comparatively, there’s many more unique things to find. An NPC named Abdul makes frequent appearances, offering to take you back to the Castle for a fee or selling you a useful item. Riddles return and block key passages. The first Evil level has two spots where you must trade items to get a third item that opens the way to the second Evil level. A random Ship in Bottle drop gives you a magical raft that lets you cross the river and shortcut to the higher Good and Evil levels (levels 4 and 5).
It’s a noticeable advancement for the layout and environment, however gameplay feels like a step back. Though I was initially excited at the chance to revise my characters, I quickly realized that starting over from the beginning is not all roses. A weak party isn’t really fun and I’d forgotten how garbage healing spells are. Reliably healing party members to full is a spell you won’t see until around level 10. Until then, it’s a few spells with random dice rolls inside a small healing range. It’s amazing how many times these spells, even the “advanced” ones, would heal for just one or two points. This is regardless of the Priest’s skill or Piety stat, so the individual spells never get better. Because the magic system is charge based, you’ll use up your charges with “kiss the boo-boo” levels of aid and be forced to cut your dungeon run short so you can go back the castle and rest.
The vast majority of my early leveling in the first Wizardry took advantage of the Murphy’s Ghost fight. After a fairly short trek from the first floor entrance, you could find a room where these guys would consistently appear every time you left and re-entered. They were weak and worth 1K experience a shot. You don’t get an equivalent in this scenario. The closest are the Moat Monsters. They hit harder and are worth less, but are still some of the safest and richest encounters on the first level. But they’re still random, while the encounter rate in this scenario seems lower than the previous games. Cue jogging laps around the castle walls, hoping to get attacked.
I noticed there seem to be fewer dragons or similar beasts that breathe fire on all party members, so your back line is generally safer. This seems like the only real concession, though. The scenario overall feels tougher and getting killed (or nearly so) is routine. Encounters no longer seem tied to opening doors. I would get attacked while turning, which never happened in the first two games. This means you’re not only getting attacked more often, but you have to make sure to pause the game while mapping. As said, Poison spells are rampant throughout the scenario and poison still ticks every step – keep potions stocked. Duskers prowl the first level and deliver enough damage to KO new characters in their initial battles. Level-draining Banshees and others start appearing as early as the second floor – get hit and your character loses a whole level. Simply put, early character levels are miserable.
Grinding also gets magnified with only six floors to work with. Hitting a point where I wasn’t getting enough experience on one level, but I was getting my ass handed to me on the next, was common. Splitting the party up does help a bit. When I would get frustrated with one set of floors, working on the party of the other alignment would bring back some quicker leveling that scratched the itch to make progress. Sharing Neutral characters was the key to making this work. Since my heaviest hitters (Samurai, Mage) were always leveling, they had the power to protect the weaker characters while they caught up.
Yet like the first game, you hit the XP requirement wall around Level 9 and the grind begins in earnest. I really appreciated the Ship in Bottle and its ability to let me jump to the second Good and Evil levels. I could dip in, get wrecked in a few fights for better XP, and then limp back to Castle quickly enough. But it’s still a slog and I found myself less patient for the long grind this time around. This could be because I’d already done it – there was a level of curiosity in Wiz I about what was coming next for my characters, which was largely absent here because I now knew how the mechanics worked. I still plodded through, but I can see why people were willing to pay $40 for a cheat program. Simply put, middle character levels are miserable too.
It wouldn’t be Wizardry without some bullshit “gotcha!” moments and I think some of the worst so far are present here. The first Evil level is a strange layout that takes advantage of Apple II Wizardry’s choice to seamlessly show the view through a teleport square. This is difficult to describe, but think of it as a portal. Instead of seeing the dead-end wall on your side, you see the path ahead on the other side of the portal. I mentioned in the first Wizardry how you could teleport without ever knowing you did and this is why. The majority of the level uses this effect to give the appearance of wide open room. As soon as you step forward, however, a wall appears behind you that corrals you into a narrow row. Repeat each time you step forward. It is a real mindfuck as you try to map it and it requires constant checking in with the Mage’s location spell.
On this same level is a poem. One line appears per step. “A dungeon’s dark / and this trap’s a crock / take one more step and.” Follow through and you’re teleported into rock – the entire party is gone, their equipment unable to be recovered. Remember, this is still the era of permadeath and immediately writing results to disk, so if you didn’t have a character backup on a separate diskette, you’re done. Make a brand new party and start over. The trap’s self-awareness doesn’t make it any less ruthless. However, given that you’re meant to have played two previous Wizardry scenarios before this, I suppose you should know better. I did NOT take that last step, mumbling something like “naw hell no,” so clearly I’d learned something.
Finally, there’s a dummy Orb that you’ll encounter first on the last level. Trade your Crystals of Good and Evil for it and they’ll get used up – the Orb is useless and you’ll have to go back and fight the Crystals’ guardians again for fresh copies. There’s no way to know you’ve got the wrong Orb ahead of time. You can Identify it in your inventory and see that the name is wrong, but it’s still too late to get your Crystals back. It seems you are 100% expected to make this mistake, slog back through the dungeon, then search around for the secret room with the real Orb. At least this scenario has the easiest dungeon to get around without spells. The Mage’s Teleport spell makes short work of backtracking, but there are enough map shortcuts that you don’t have wait until Teleport is earned (level 13) to beat this one.
This one’s tough to judge, because while I do appreciate the richness they’ve put into this scenario and how there’s value in searching every corner of the levels, it doesn’t feel as balanced as the first Wizardry. Conversely, the first Wizardry has the slightly worst scenario of all three, but the best gameplay. This matters little when you’re still expected to play Proving Grounds first, but given that you technically can jump ahead to the third scenario, I wouldn’t advise that you do.
As for the vets, well, we’re three games in now so you should be able to decide on your own if you want more. Legacy of Llylgamyn has the best scenario design so far and is the end of an era for your original characters. But it’s a tough grind this time, probably made worse by knowing just how far you need to go to get the next crucial spell, or watching another level up sequence where your caster fails to learn it. Memories of thwomping through Knight of Diamonds so much more easily make going back to pointy sticks for weapons and a couple of sparks for magic sting a little more when the inevitable frustrations show up. Ultimately up to you if you have the patience to see it through.
Every floor of the dungeon is worth mapping. There’s still not a lot, but there’s a larger number of messages, puzzles, and unique items. Party alignment isn’t the pain it seems like it will be. I love this dungeon’s layout in terms of shortcuts and ease of travel.
Seems more grindy than the first, without reliable encounters to quickly work on. Six floors (really, 3 per alignment) make a noticeably rougher leveling curve. The first Wizardry still feels the most balanced.