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Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness

200px-Ultima 1 box

Box art from the 1986 edition.

Developer(s) Richard Garriott, Origin Systems
Publisher(s) Apple II

California Pacific Computer Co. Origin Systems Atari 8-bit Sierra On-line Commodore 64 Origin Systems DOS Origin Systems Electronic Arts MSX2 Pony Canyon FM Towns Fujitsu Apple IIGS Vitesse Inc.

Designer(s) Richard Garriott, Ken W. Arnold
Platform(s) Apple II, Atari 8-bit,Commodore 64, DOS,FM Towns, MSX2,NEC PC-8801,NEC PC-9801, Sharp X1,Apple IIGS
Release date(s) Apple II

Atari 8-bit

Commodore 64

DOS

MSX2

FM Towns

Apple IIGS

Genre(s) Role-playing video game
Mode(s) Single Player
Media/distribution Floppy disk

Ultima I: The First Age of DarknessEdit

Ultima, later known as Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness or simply Ultima I, is the first game in the Ultima series of role-playing video games. It was first published in the United States by California Pacific Computer Company, which registered a copyright for the game on September 2, 1980[1] and officially released it in June 1981.[2] Since its release, the game has been completely re-coded andported to many different platforms. The 1986 re-code of Ultima is the most commonly known and available version of the game.

Ultima revolves around a quest to find and destroy the Gem of Immortality, which is being used by the evil wizard Mondain to enslave the lands of Sosaria. With the gem in his possession, he cannot be killed, and his minions roam and terrorize the countryside. The player takes on the role of 'The Stranger', an individual summoned from another world to end the rule of Mondain.[3] The game follows the endeavors of the stranger in this task, which involves progressing through many aspects of game play, including dungeon crawling and space travel.

The game was one of the first definitive commercial computer RPGs, and is considered an important and influential turning point for the development of the genre throughout years to come.[4]

PlotEdit

[edit]SettingEdit

Ultima is set in the fictional world of Sosaria, a land broken into four different continents. The land is ruled by a total of eight different lords, two for each of the world's four land masses. The four continents contain two castles each, where quests can be obtained by the player. There are two types of quests given out in the castles—one entails visiting a certain location on the main map, the other killing a specific type of monster in the dungeons. Fulfilling the former type of quest gives stat boosts; the latter gains the player an important item needed to reach the endgame.

There are also a variety of towns where different goods and services can be purchased. The world map also houses many dungeons to be explored, and is populated by forests, mountain ranges, lakes and oceans. All towns are equivalent (and they all look exactly alike in the original release of the game), as are all dungeons (their maps are different, but are not designed but rather randomly created); castles differ only in the different quests that may be assigned. Due to the nature of the game's story, Sosaria is inhabited by numerous monsters and beasts that attack the player character on sight. There are also ruins and places of interest on each continent (usually in somewhat hard-to-reach places such as small islands) that the player can enter in order to receive rewards, usually in the form of a weapon or stat boost, or in order to solve quests.

[edit]CharactersEdit

The two main characters featured in Ultima I are Mondain, the evil wizard antagonist who has induced a reign of terror over the world of Sosaria, and the protagonist, a character of the player's choosing. Character creation is open-ended and the protagonist could be anyone from an elf wizard to a human warrior. The game features the first introduction of characters such as Iolo, Shamino and Lord British, who become staples of nearly all future Ultima games.

[edit]StoryEdit

The story of Ultima I revolves around the evil wizard Mondain and his rule over the kingdom of Sosaria. According to the game's back story, Mondain created an evil gem over 1000 years ago that granted him immortality.[8] Since then, Mondain has released monsters and beasts upon the land that ravage the villages and towns of Sosaria and cause most of the nobles to bicker amongst themselves.[5] In an effort to stop Mondain's dominion, Lord British searches for a person to bring about the wizard's end.[5] This call is answered by the player.

The player is informed that the only way to defeat Mondain is to travel back in time and kill him before the gem of immortality is created.[9] The majority of the game is spent searching for a time machine, and a way to activate it. Four of the lords in the game, one from each realm, hold a gem that will allow the time machine to work once all four gems have been found. In exchange for the gem, the lord will ask the player to complete a quest that involves travelling into a dungeon and killing a specific creature. Once this has been achieved, the lord will hand over his gem.

The time machine itself also needs to be found. Purchasing a space shuttle and travelling into outer space is a prerequisite of this —the PC must become a space ace, by destroying 20 enemy ships, in order to complete the game.[10] Once this task has been completed, rescuing a princess will reveal the location of the time machine, which always appears to the north of the castle in which the princess was held prisoner. The main character will then travel back in time and face Mondain before he has completed the gem of immortality. Destroying the gem is a requirement for beating the game as well as killing the wizard himself. Once Mondain is dead, the player is transported one thousand years into the future and rewarded by Lord British.[11][12] The game narration does not attempt to explain away the paradox caused by killing Mondain 1000 years in the past, thus preventing the events which cause the player to be called to the world in the first place.

Ultima II: The Revenge of the Enchantress
256px-Ultima II coverDOS cover
Developer(s) Richard Garriott
Publisher(s) Sierra On-Line, Origin Systems (re-release)
Designer(s) Richard Garriott
Platform(s) Apple II, Atari 800, Atari ST,Commodore 64, DOS,FM Towns, Macintosh,MSX2, NEC PC-8801,NEC PC-9801, FM-7
Release date(s) August 24, 1982
Genre(s) Role-playing video game
Mode(s) Single player
Media/distribution Floppy disk

Ultima II: The Revenge of the EnchantressEdit

Ultima II: The Revenge of the Enchantress, released on August 24, 1982 (USCO# PA-317-502), is the second role-playing video game in the Ultima series.

It was also the only official Ultima game published by Sierra On-Line. Controversy with Sierra over royalties for the PC port of this game led the series creator Richard Garriott to start his own company,Origin Systems.[1]

PlotEdit

From the game's story, the player learns that the lover of the dark wizard Mondain, the enchantress Minax, is threatening Earth through disturbances in the space-time continuum. The player must guide a hero through time and the solar system in order to defeat her evil plot.

The young Minax survived her mentor's and lover's death at the hands of the Stranger (in Ultima I) and went into hiding. Several years later, Minax got older and very powerful, more so than Mondain once was.[2][3] Minax wanted to avenge the death of her lover, so she used the time doors created by Mondain's defeat to travel to the Time of Legends, a place located at the origin of times.[2] From there, she sent her evil minions to all the different time eras; she also used her dark powers to disturb the fabric of time and influence men, who ultimately destroyed each other in the far future, nearly wiping out humanity.[2]

Lord British called for a hero to crush Minax's evil plans. The Stranger once again answered British's call.[2] The game begins with the Stranger starting his quest to defeat Minax. Minax's castle, named Shadowguard, can only be reached through time doors (similar to moongates in the later games); even then an enchanted ring is required to pass through the force fields inside. The war against Minax's vile legions is long and hard, but eventually the hero hunts down the sorceress to the Time of Legends, pursues her as she teleports throughout the castle, and destroys her with the quicksword Enilno (online backwards).

It's interesting to note that this game is set on Earth. Even though Ultima I is set on the fictional land of Sosaria, Ultima II borrowed characters and the story of Ultima I, but relocated them to Earth with no explanation. Later games in the Ultima series ret-conned this, and assumed that Ultima II actually happened on Sosaria,[3] not Earth, to create a continuity among the games.

Ultima III: Exodus
Ultima III Exodus cover
Developer(s) Richard Garriott
Publisher(s) Origin Systems
Designer(s) Richard Garriott
Composer(s) Ken Arnold (home computers)

Tsugutoshi Goto (NES)

Engine Ultima III engine
Platform(s) Amiga, Apple II, Atari 800,Atari ST, Commodore 64,DOS, FM-7, Macintosh,MSX2, NES,NEC PC-8801,NEC PC-9801, Sharp X1
Release date(s) August 23, 1983
Genre(s) Role-playing video game
Mode(s) Single player
Media/distribution Floppy disk / Cartridge

Ultima III: ExodusEdit

Ultima III: Exodus is the third game in the Ultima series. Exodus is also the name of the game's principal antagonist. Released in 1983,[1] it was the first Ultima game published by Origin Systems.

PlotEdit

After Ultima II: The Revenge of the Enchantress was set on Earth, the story of Exodus centers on a quest back in Sosaria, the world of Ultima. The player's mission is to destroy the final remnant of the evil Mondain and Minax. The game is named for its chief villain, Exodus, a creation of Minax and Mondain that the series later describes as neither human nor machine. Although, Exodus appears on the cover of the game as a Demonic figure, it is not encountered at the game's end as such, and is never exactly clear what it is.

At the beginning of the game, Exodus is terrorizing the land of Sosaria from his stronghold on the Isle of Fire (known as Fire Island in Ultima Online). The player character is summoned by Lord British to defeat Exodus and embarks on a quest that takes him to the lost land of Ambrosia, to the depths of the dungeons of Sosaria to receive powerful magical branding marks and to find the mysterious Time Lord, and finally to the Isle of Fire itself to confront Exodus in his lair.

The game ends immediately upon Exodus' defeat; but unlike many games in the genre, Exodus cannot simply be killed in battle by a strong party of adventurers, but only through clever puzzle-solving and by paying attention to the many clues given throughout the game. At the end of the game, players were instructed to "REPORT THY VICTORY!" to Origin. Those who did so received a certificate of completion autographed by Richard Garriott.

Although this is the last game in the series to take place in Old Sosaria, places in the game such as Ambrosia and the Isle of Fire make cameo appearances in later games, namely Ultima VII.

Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar
225px-Ultima IV box
Developer(s) Origin Systems
Publisher(s) Origin Systems

Pony Canyon (Famicom) FCI (NES) Sega (SMS)

Designer(s) Richard Garriott
Composer(s) Ken Arnold (home computers)

Seiji Toda (NES)

Engine Ultima IV Engine
Platform(s) Amiga, Apple II, Atari 800,Atari ST, Commodore 64,DOS, FM Towns, MSX2,NEC PC-8801,NEC PC-9801,Sharp X68000, Sharp X1,FM-7, NES,Sega Master System
Release date(s) September 16, 1985
1990 (NES, SMS)
Genre(s) Role-playing video game
Mode(s) Single player
Media/distribution Floppy disk

Ultima IV: Quest of the AvatarEdit

Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar, first released in 1985[1] for the Apple II, is the fourth in the series of Ultima role-playing video games. It is the first in the "Age of Enlightenment" trilogy, shifting the series from the hack and slash, dungeon crawl gameplay of its "Age of Darkness" predecessors towards an ethically-nuanced, story-driven approach. In 1996 Computer Gaming World named Ultima IV as #2 on its Best Games of All Time list on the PC. Designer Richard Garriott considers this game to be among his favorites from the Ultima series.[2]

PlotEdit

Ultima IV differs from most RPGs in that the game's story does not center on asking a player to overcome a tangible ultimate evil.

After the defeat of each of the members of the triad of evil in the previous three Ultima games, the world of Sosaria underwent some radical changes in geography: three quarters of the world disappeared, continents rose and sank, and new cities were built to replace the ones that were lost. Eventually the world, now unified in Lord British's rule, was renamed Britannia. Lord British felt the people lacked purpose after their great struggles against the triad were over, and he was concerned with their spiritual well-being in this unfamiliar new age of relative peace, so he proclaimed the Quest of the Avatar: He needed someone to step forth and become the shining example for others to follow.

The object of the game is to focus on the main character's development in virtuous life, and become a spiritual leader and an example to the people of the world of Britannia. The game follows the protagonist's struggle to understand and exercise the Eight Virtues. After proving his or her understanding in each of the virtues, locating several artifacts and finally descending into the dungeon called the Stygian Abyss to gain access to the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom, the protagonist becomes an Avatar.

Conversely, actions in the game could remove a character's gained virtues, distancing them from the construction of truth, love, courage and the greater axiom of infinity—all required to complete the game. Though Avatarhood is not exclusive to one chosen person, the hero remains the only known Avatar throughout the later games, and as time passes he is increasingly regarded as a myth.

Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny
200px-Ultima5box
Developer(s) Origin Systems
Publisher(s) Origin Systems
Designer(s) Richard Garriott
Composer(s) Ken Arnold (home computers)

Martin Galway(NES)

Engine Ultima V Engine
Platform(s) Amiga, Apple II, Atari ST,Commodore 64/Commodore 128,DOS, FM Towns, NEC PC-9801,Sharp X68000, NES
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Role-playing video game
Mode(s) Single player
Media/distribution Floppy disk

Ultima V: Warriors of DestinyEdit

Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny (1988) is the fifth entry in the role-playing video game series Ultima.

PlotEdit

After having mastered the eight Virtues, attaining Avatarhood and retrieving the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom in the previous game, the Avatar is summoned back to Britannia by his old comrades Iolo and Shamino using a magic coin, which was included as a trinket in the game's box. Lord British has been lost on an expedition into the Underworld, and a tyrant known as Lord Blackthornnow rules Britannia in his stead. Three powerful beings known as the Shadowlords have corrupted Blackthorn and terrorize the eight cities of Britannia. Blackthorn enforces a strict, rigid version of the Virtues, which leads to results that are anything but virtuous (for example, citizens are required to give to charity or else face execution).

Over the course of the game the Avatar learns that the Shadowlords sprang from three shards of Mondain's Gem of Immortality (destroyed at the conclusion of Ultima I) and represent the antithesis for the three principles of the Avatar - Falsehood, Hatred and Cowardice. With the help of his old companions and some new ones, the Avatar forms the Warriors of Destiny in order to eliminate the Shadowlords, undermine Blackthorn's rule, and rescue Lord British to restore him to his throne.

The game deals with the issues of fundamentalism and moral absolutism.




Ultima VI: The False Prophet
256px-U6coverCover art
Developer(s) Origin Systems
Publisher(s) Origin Systems
Designer(s) Richard Garriott

Warren Spector

Composer(s) Todd Porter

Herman Miller

Engine Ultima VI Engine
Platform(s) DOS, Amiga, Atari ST,Commodore 64,FM Towns, SNES,PC-9801, X68000
Release date(s) 1990

1993(SNES)

Genre(s) Role-playing video game
Mode(s) Single Player
Media/distribution 5.25" or 3.5" floppy disksCD-ROM(DOS/Towns) cartridge(SNES)

Ultima VI: The False ProphetEdit

Ultima VI: The False Prophet, released by Origin Systems in 1990, is the sixth part in the role-playing video game series of Ultima. It was the last in the "Age of Enlightenment" trilogy.

PlotEdit

Some years after Lord British has returned to power, the Avatar is captured and tied on a sacrificial altar, about to be sacrificed by red demon-like creatures, the gargoyles. Three of the Avatar's companions, Shamino, Dupre and Iolo, suddenly appear, save the Avatar and collect the sacred text the gargoyle priest was holding.

The Avatar's party flees through a moongate to Castle Britannia, and three of the gargoyles follow. The game begins with the player fighting the gargoyles in Lord British's throne room. After the battle, the Avatar learns that the shrines of Virtue were captured by the gargoyles and he embarks on a quest to rescue Britannia from the invaders.

It is only later in the game that the Avatar learns that the whole situation looks rather different from the point of view of the gargoyles – indeed, they even have their own system of virtues.[1] The quest for victory over the gargoyles now turns into a quest for peace with them.

GameplayEdit

This game ended the use of multiple scales; in earlier games a town, castle, or dungeon would be represented as a single symbol on the world map, which then expanded into a full sub-map when entering the structure. In Ultima VI, the whole game uses a single scale, with towns and other places seamlessly integrated into the main map; dungeons are now also viewed from the same perspective as the rest of the game, rather than the first-person perspective used by Ultima I-V. The game kept the basic tile system and screen layout of the three preceding parts, but altered the look into a much more colourful and detailed oblique view, to take full advantage of the newly-released VGA graphics cards forPCs. Non-player characters had their portraits shown when talked to, something that would not have been feasible on the classic 8-bit Apple II.

Ultima VII: The Black Gate
Ultima VII Black Gate box
Developer(s) Origin Systems
Publisher(s) Origin Systems
Designer(s) Richard Garriott
Writer(s) Raymond Benson
Composer(s) Dana Karl Glover and others
Engine Ultima VII Engine
Platform(s) DOS and others throughExult
Release date(s) 16 April 1992
Genre(s) Role-playing game
Mode(s) Single player
Rating(s) ESRB: T (13+)USK: 12+
Media/distribution 5.25" or 3.5" floppies; later releases on CD-ROM

Ultima VII Part 1: The Black GateEdit

Ultima VII: The Black Gate is the seventh installment of the Ultima series of role-playing video games. It was released in 1992.

The Black Gate was critically and commercially successful, being widely lauded as a high point in the series and as one of the best isometric RPGs ever created. In an interview with GameSpot,Richard Garriott stated that Ultima VII "was the most masterfully executed of the Ultima series." [1] He has also often stated that the game was, along with Ultima IV, his own favorite part overall.[2]

PlotEdit

The game begins with what appears to be the game introduction on the Avatar's own computer screen. Suddenly, the screen is filled with static, and a red creature who calls himself The Guardian proclaims:

Avatar! Know that Britannia has entered into a new age of enlightenment! Know that the time has finally come for the one true Lord of Britannia to take His place at the head of His people! Under my guidance, Britannia will flourish. And all the people shall rejoice and pay homage to their new... Guardian! Know that you, too, shall kneel before me, Avatar. You, too, shall soon acknowledge my authority - for I shall be your companion... your provider... and your master!

The Orb of the Moons glows, and the Avatar finds that a red moongate has appeared behind the house. The Avatar thus returns to Britannia through the moongate, and arrives in Trinsic, where he[6] meets Iolo. Iolo tells him that two centuries have passed since he left. The whole town is shocked due to a ritualistic murder that occurred the preceding night - the body of the blacksmith Christopher was found in the stable. Finnigan, Mayor of Trinsic, asks the Avatar to investigate the incident.

In Trinsic, the Avatar gets to meet several members of a new religious organization called the Fellowship. Eventually, in Britain, he meets Batlin, one of the founders of the Fellowship. He also meets Lord British, who urges the Avatar to join the Fellowship, which, according to him, has done a lot of good things. It also turns out most of the mages of the realm have gone completely insane without any good explanation, and their magic doesn't work as it should.

Most of the game is composed of the Avatar's investigation of the Fellowship and the Trinsic murders. During the game, the Avatar finds more and more clues that implicate the Fellowship in shady dealings; more murders appear on the way, and the Avatar himself goes undercover by entering the Fellowship. His quest takes him to most of the cities and towns of Britannia, including Minoc, a destroyed Skara Brae run by a liche, Yew, Moonglow and Bucaneer's Den.

The Avatar eventually learns of an astronomical alignment of importance that is supposed to happen very soon, and about the three evil Generators that the Guardian has created, which have been causing most of the problems of the land. After destroying them, he and his companions follow several leads to the Isle of Avatar, where members of the Fellowship are waiting. The Fellowship has fashioned a black moongate out of blackrock on this island to allow the Guardian to enter Britannia when the astronomical alignment happens.

The Avatar confronts the Fellowship members and defeats them. As the astronomical alignment begins and the Guardian starts to loom behind the moongate, the Avatar destroys the gate just in time, preventing the Guardian from entering Britannia. As the moongates had been rendered useless by the destruction of one of the generators, the Avatar has to remain in Britannia, with no means to return to Earth.

Ultima VII Part Two: Serpent Isle
Ultima VII Serpent Isle box
Developer(s) Origin Systems
Publisher(s) Origin Systems
Director(s) Richard Garriott
Producer(s) Warren Spector
Designer(s) Bill Armintrout
Composer(s) Dana Karl Glover
Engine Ultima VII Engine
Platform(s) DOS and others throughExult
Release date(s) March 25, 1993
Genre(s) Role-playing game
Mode(s) Single Player
Rating(s) ESRB: T (13+)USK: 12+
Media/distribution 5.25" and 3.5" floppies; later releases on CD-ROM

Ultima VII Part 2: Serpent IsleEdit

Ultima VII Part Two: Serpent Isle is a role-playing video game released in 1993 as part of the core Ultima series, its story beginning eighteen months after the conclusion of Ultima VII Part One: The Black Gate. (The storyline of the spin-off game Ultima Underworld II: Labyrinth of Worlds takes place in the time between the two parts of Ultima VII, beginning on the first anniversary of the conclusion of Ultima VII Part One.)

In Serpent Isle, the Avatar follows Batlin to the eponymous land called Serpent Isle, finding three city-states founded by those who left Britannia generations before and ancient ruins from a yet older lost civilization that was there long before them.

This is the first game in the main Ultima series to completely take place outside Britannia as it has been known since Ultima III. It is also more linear than the earlier parts — unlike the earlier games where the order in which quests were completed was of little concern, the new approach makes it possible to give the game a more carefully plotted storyline, while at the same time somewhat limiting the player's choice.[1] Additionally there are few optional sub-quests; every objective somehow ties into the main quest.

Unlike the four previous Ultimas, the companions do not take issue with theft or murder. The only punishment for such behavior is if characters outside the party witness it. As the world of Serpent Isle does not emphasize the virtues the way Britannia does, guards will sometimes ask for bribes from the Avatar if the player is caught stealing or murdering; bribing the guards was last possible in the game Ultima III.

Since most of the game's code was recycled from The Black Gate, it was decided not to call it Ultima VIII; Richard Garriott had stated in interviews around 1988 that no two Ultimas shared the samesource code, unlike the then-competing The Bard's Tale series, and he may have felt bound by this statement.

A clue book was published for the game, titled Balancing the Scales.

PlotEdit

[edit]BackstoryEdit

Back in Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness, one section of the game world was known as "The Lands of Danger and Despair". Shamino, a recurring character in the Ultima series, was a ruling lord here. The Lands of Danger and Despair vanished during the cataclysmic events of the first three Ultima games and became Serpent Isle, separated from Britannia as it is known since Ultima IV.

The original inhabitants of Serpent Isle, the Ophidians, had a culture where serpents played a central role. They eventually became polarized as the forces of Order and Chaos, respectively, and fought a great war that destroyed their culture and left their cities and temples in ruins. Order "won" the war, destroying the Chaos Serpent but thereby upsetting the natural balance to the point where the entire universe is unraveling. (It turns out that the "Great Earth Serpent" that guarded Exodus' fortress in Ultima III was actually the Balance Serpent that Exodus had ripped from the void, triggering the war between Chaos and Order in first place.)

Much later, Serpent Isle was re-settled by humans who had left Britannia voluntarily or had been exiled. Many of them referred to Lord British as "Beast British" and had a very low opinion of the Britannian king. After he united the lands, and with the establishment of the eight virtues, those unhappy with his rule fled to Serpent Isle. Unlike Britannia, which has eight cities representing the eight virtues of the Avatar, Serpent Isle has three city-states, each with their own beliefs which are warped versions of the Britannian principles of Truth, Love and Courage:

In the city of Moonshade, mages rule and "mundanes" are regarded as an inferior servant class. Instead of truth, they strive for power.
Those from the city of Fawn champion beauty above all else instead of Love.
The Monitor warrior culture is ostensibly based on knightly courage, but in truth is rife with intrigue and betrayal.

Serpent Isle has essentially the same map layout as the former Lands of Danger and Despair, though this might not be immediately obvious to players. The towns of East and West Montor have merged into Monitor, the village of Gorlab vanished in the newly formed Gorlab Swamp (an important plot element), and the ruined Ophidian cities of Skullcrusher and Spinebreaker, apparently named after the mountain chains in which they lie, are located where dungeons of the same name were found in the earlier game.

[edit]Game storylineEdit

Eighteen months after the destruction of the eponymous Black Gate at the conclusion of Ultima VII: The Black Gate (and six months after the Guardian attempted to trap the Avatar and the whole of Castle Britannia in a blackrock sphere on the anniversary of that event in Ultima Underworld II: Labyrinth of Worlds) it is discovered that the Guardian ordered his right-hand man Batlin to follow Iolo's wife Gwenno, who went to explore Serpent Isle.[1] Lord British sends the Avatar and three of his companions (Sir Dupre the knight, Shamino the ranger and Iolo the bard) to Serpent Isle in pursuit of Batlin. The journey entails travelling into an arctic zone where two serpent pillars emerge from the sea; upon moving between the pillars, the ship is teleported away to Serpent Isle.

At the beginning of the game, the expedition's ship is beached at Serpent Isle by magical storms. Soon afterwards they lose most of their equipment to another magical storm that exchanges equipment for seemingly random items, such as a magical helmet exchanged for a fur cap. It turns out that the items switched locations and that the items gained thus are leads to the location of the missing pieces of equipment, such as a penguin egg indicating that the item it it swapped places with will be found among the penguins in the frozen north.

Two overarching plotlines exist within the game: The expedition must reclaim their equipment, as many of the items are required to solve puzzles and subquests in the game; and they must explore Serpent Isle and discover its history to understand the reasons for the magical storms that will destroy the land. Over the course of his adventures, the Avatar and his companions visit the ruins of the lost Ophidian cities, witness the extinction of the peaceful Gwani, and learn that Iolo's wife Gwenno was killed (though later manage to have her revived). Lord Shamino's ruined castle is also visited, and his and his dead fiancé's tragic backstory is revealed.

The storyline can roughly be divided into three parts:

[edit]Chasing BatlinEdit

Exploring Serpent Isle while tracking Batlin (and Gwenno), the expedition learns that the magical storms, which are gradually getting worse, indicate that the world is unraveling. The apocalypse is drawing near, and when it turns out that a lighthouse on Serpent Isle was exchanged for Britannia's Royal Mint by teleport storms it becomes apparent that the problem is not limited to Serpent Isle, but is affecting Britannia as well and possibly the entirety of creation. (At one point in the game, the Avatar visits the magical dream world where he meets Lord British who confirms that similar magical storms began ravaging Britannia shortly after the Avatar left.)

The Avatar learns that Batlin is trying to capture three Ophidian demi-gods known as the Banes, but Batlin always remains several steps ahead and the Avatar does not arrive in time to stop him. Batlin was hoping to tie the Banes to his own service to attain god-like powers, betraying the Guardian, but they escape, slay Batlin and possess the Avatar's companions who in turn proceed to devastate the three cities and kill most of the inhabitants.

[edit]Fighting the BanesEdit

After his happens, the Avatar must find a means in the post-apocalyptic Serpent Isle to track down the three Banes (Anarchy, Wantoness and Insanity) and free his companions from their influence. In the process of doing so, Gwenno is resurrected.

Many parts of the plot were cut for this section. In the game itself, the Banes occupy the cities and simply kill most of the population of Serpent Isle before withdrawing to a castle where the Avatar must find and defeat them. However, in the original plot documents of the game, the Banes take over each town instead of simply killing the inhabitants [2] and many subplots are concerned with their cruel rule.

[edit]Restoring BalanceEdit

Finally, after defeating the Banes and rescuing his companions, the Avatar must use his knowledge about the ancient Ophidian culture to ascend to the position of Hierophant of Balance (through exploring their ruined cities and shrines, and performing a variety of rituals) to ultimately restore the lost Chaos Serpent to balance the warring forces of Order and Chaos. It turns out that a living soul must be sacrificed in the process. The Avatar volunteers, but Sir Dupre, driven by guilt for the deeds he committed while possessed by the Bane of Wantonness, insists on sacrificing himself instead and hurls himself into the crematorium.

In the end sequence, the Avatar is teleported into the void to face the Serpents, who thank him and affirm that order is restored; then suddenly, the Guardian's giant hand appears and grabs the Avatar, abducting him to (yet) another world. (Ultima VIII: Pagan continues the story from there.)

[edit]The Ophidian VirtuesEdit

The Virtue system of the Ophidians is formed around the following three Principles:

Principle Embodiment Symbols
Order Blue Serpent of Order Diamond, Ice
Chaos Red Serpent of Chaos Ruby, Fire
Balance Great Earth Serpent Earth

In the Ophidian symbology, the Great Earth Serpent is the keeper of Balance, and lies around in a vertical plane; the opposing serpents of Chaos and Order wrap themselves around the Great Earth Serpent, each spiraling in a different direction (a symbol inspired by Caduceus).

The Ophidian system comprises six Forces, three from Order and three from Chaos; the Forces of Order are Ethicality, Discipline and Logic, while the Forces of Chaos are Tolerance, Enthusiasm and Emotion. Their descriptions are as follows:

Force Description Symbols
Ethicality The belief that there is great value in abiding by rules of conduct. A torch
Discipline The drive to complete a task and avoid the distractions that will prevent its completion. A dagger
Logic Clear, reasoned thought, free from any instinctual biases. The abacus
Tolerance That which encourages the acceptance of all things. A chain
Enthusiasm The energy that allows one to perform great tasks. A rose
Emotion The ability to perceive those feelings that come from the heart, as opposed to coming from the mind. A heart

When combined by pairs, these Forces form the Three Principles of Balance (not to be confused with the three Principles of Order, Balance and Chaos above). The Principles of Balance, their descriptions and relations to the Forces of Order and Chaos are illustrated in the table below:

Principle of Balance Arises from Description
Harmony Ethicality and Tolerance The ability to be at peace with the self, the individual and the world.
Dedication Discipline and Enthusiasm That which permits one to surmount obstacles and lead others.
Rationality Logic and Emotion The ability to comprehend life and understand the world around us.

There also exists Anti-Forces associated to the Forces of Order and Balance. These Anti-Forces arise from Imbalance between the Forces, and are essentially perversions of their corresponding Forces. The Anti-Forces also manifest themselves as a kind of malevolent spiritual being, collectively called the Banes of Order and the Banes of Chaos.

The Anti-Forces (and Banes) are as follows:

Anti-Force Arises from Description
Prejudice Ethicality without Tolerance Disrespect for the beliefs and rights of others.
Apathy Discipline without Enthusiasm A spirit of hopelessness which retards positive action.
Ruthlessness Logic without Emotion Taking self-advancing actions without regard to the wants or needs of others.
Anarchy Tolerance without Ethicality A lack of standards of conduct.
Wantonness Enthusiasm without Discipline Acting without self-restraint.
Insanity Emotion without Logic An inability to overcome emotional impulses with rational thoughts.

The Silver Seed expansionEdit

The Silver Seed expansion adds the Silver Seed story arc to the game, in which the party visits a subterranean keep in the ancient civilization of Serpent Isle (centuries in the past, during the war between the two sects of Ophidians). The Avatar is given an amulet by the Xenkan Monks when he or she first visits Monk Isle (either by death or by physically going there), and after using this amulet at one of the Serpent Gates, the subquest begins.

Powerful magic items, including a keyring, a ring of unlimited reagents, and an enchanted belt can be found in this area and in nearby dungeons. In later releases of the game, the expansion pack was included, and both games and expansions were released as The Complete Ultima VII.

The Silver Seed expansion was not properly finished due to a rushed release by Electronic Arts; the story told in the expansion does not properly conclude, nor does it seem to 'connect' with the larger plot of Serpent Isle outside of a few incidental 'framing' elements. It is broadly concerned with acquiring and planting a magical silver seed to maintain the balance that holds the world of Serpent Isle together.

Ultima VIII: Pagan
Ultima VIII box coverThe game's box cover art by Denis R. Loubet
Developer(s) Origin Systems
Publisher(s) Origin Systems
Director(s) Mike McShaffry
Producer(s) Richard Garriott
Designer(s) Andrew P. Morris, John Watson
Artist(s) Bob Cook, Beverly Garland, Denis R. Loubet, Dicko Mather, Brent Poer,Steve Powers, Jonathan Price, Micael Priest, Matt Sheffield
Composer(s) Nenad Vugrinec, Randy Buck, John Tipton, Kirk Winterrowd
Engine Ultima VIII Engine
Version 2.12
Platform(s) DOS
Release date(s) March 15, 1994
Genre(s) Role-playing video game
Mode(s) Single player
Rating(s) ESRB: Mature (M)
Media/distribution 3½" floppies, CD-ROM

Ultima VIII: PaganEdit

Ultima VIII: Pagan is a video game, the eighth part of the role-playing video game series Ultima. It was not as well-received as its predecessors, Ultima VII and Ultima VII Part Two: Serpent Isle. Developed in 1994, it is a DOS-only title and is also the first game in the series to be rated M in North America.

PlotEdit

Following the defeat of the charismatic religious leader Batlin on Serpent Isle, the Guardian banishes the Avatar to a world that he has already conquered:Pagan. Ultima VIII has a much darker tone and a very different premise, in comparison to most of the Ultima games. The world of Pagan is entirely different from that of Britannia: the Virtues were not part of Pagan's culture, and the magic systems and monsters were entirely different.

The world of Pagan is in eternal twilight as the result of an ancient battle between the Elemental Titans and the evil "Destroyer", which resulted in the victory of the Titans. However, the people of Pagan had to pay a high price: the Titans had to henceforth be worshiped as gods. The Titans bestow powers on their most ardent followers, but they are otherwise cruel and unloving rulers, and their followers terrorize the general population.

Ultima VIII sets off where Ultima VII Part Two: Serpent Isle ended: The Guardian has grasped the Avatar from the Void, and now drops him into the sea of the world Pagan through a pentagram-shaped portal. In the introduction, the Guardian reveals his plot: "You have been a thorn in my side for far too long, Avatar. Your two worlds will be crushed. Britannia first, then Earth. I shall parade you before their conquered peoples as the fallen idol of a pathetic ideal. I banish you to the world of Pagan. No one here knows of the Avatar!"

The Avatar regains consciousness on the shore after being rescued from the sea by a fisherman (who turns out to be an important character later on in the plot). He soon witnesses the execution bybeheading of a townsman, ordered by the tyrannic ruler of the region, Lady Mordea.

Later, visiting the wizard Mythran, he learns that there are four Titans on Pagan, each one having one of the Elements as his/her domain: Water (Hydros), Air (Stratos), Fire (Pyros) and Earth (Lithos). The more privileged followers of Lithos are identified as necromancers, the followers of Pyros as sorcerers, the followers of Stratos as theurgists and the (albeit highly selective) followers of Hydros as tempests. Apart from those, a fifth type of magic known as Thaumaturgy exists and is pioneered by Mythran. In order to escape Pagan, the Avatar has to overcome many obstacles and master the ways of all titans, finally becoming the Titan of Ether: the magical field and fifth element.

During his quests, the Avatar collects the four artifacts of the Titans, unleashing violent thunderstorms, hurricanes, earthquakes and meteor showers by doing so. These artifacts allow him to enter theEthereal Plane and defeat the Titans on their own turf. The Avatar then reconstructs the original blackrock gate that originally allowed the Guardian to enter Pagan. By entering the reconstructed gate, the Avatar is teleported back to Britannia, which is now ruled by the Guardian.

Expansion packsEdit

[edit]Speech PackEdit

The Speech Pack add-on was released concurrently with the game. This pack adds spoken lines for certain key characters, such as the Guardian, the Titans and Khumash-Gor.

The Speech Pack did not sell very well as a separate add-on, mostly because the CD-ROM Gold version of Ultima VIII, which was released shortly afterward, also includes the speech files. The speech files are also included in the later budget releases and the Ultima Collection release.

The speech pack was available in English, French, and German.

[edit]The Lost ValeEdit

This expansion to Ultima VIII was planned from the outset, and was highly anticipated, but never released; it was canceled when the main game did not sell as well as had been expected, despite being all but finished and ready for duplication.[8]Hints from texts in the main game suggested that the expansion pack would have added a new story regarding resistance to the Pagan gods and followers of the old religion known as Zealans. A single Lost Vale game box surfaced in October 2005, and was confirmed to be genuine soon afterwards. It was auctioned in eBay for US$1923. Some low-resolution scans of the box are located on the web.[9]

Ultima IX: Ascension
Ultima IX - Ascension Coverart
Developer(s) Origin Systems
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts
Distributor(s) Electronic Arts
Director(s) Richard Garriott
Designer(s) Seth Mendelsohn[1]
Writer(s) Brian Martin
John Zuur Platten[2]
Composer(s) George Oldziey
Engine Ultima IX Engine
Version 1.18f[3]
Platform(s) Windows 95
Release date(s) November 24, 1999
Genre(s) Role-playing video game
Mode(s) Single player
Rating(s) ESRB: M (Mature 17+)
Media/distribution CD-ROM
System requirements

Pentium II 400 MHz
128 MB RAM 16 MB Video Memory
1 Gigabyte Hard Drive

Ultima IX: AscensionEdit

Ultima IX: Ascension (1999) is the ninth and final part of the main series of the role-playing video game series Ultima.

Following the Avatar's escape from Pagan, he is transported back to Britannia for one final battle with the Guardian, who is increasingly ruining the physical and moral fabric of that land by use of eight columns. The Avatar must fight his way to the runes of virtue found in each of the columns, and cleanse them of the in the shrines of Virtue, then face off against the Guardian himself.

PlotEdit

In the beginning of Ultima IX, the Avatar had somehow returned to Earth for an unspecified amount of time before getting back to Britannia. The game starts just after the end of Ultima VIII, in which the Avatar is transported to a Guardian-controlled Britannia. He arrives in Britannia on a mountain overlooking the Guardian's keep in Terfin. The Avatar is transported to Stonegate by Hawkwind the Seer (from Ultima IV), who informs him that great columns have appeared throughout the land, and their malignant influence has caused plagues, famine, and other natural disasters. Under their power, the people of Britannia have twisted the Virtues into mockeries of their true meaning. The Guardian is helped by Lord Blackthorn, who leads the Wyrmguards and forces the people to obey the Guardian.

As the quest progresses, the Avatar learns that the Guardian has stolen the Runes of the Virtues and twisted them into the glyphs that form the heart of each of the columns. Most of the game consists of traveling through the dungeons to recover the glyphs and visiting the Shrines of the Virtues to meditate and cleanse them. Eventually, it is revealed that the Guardian is nothing other than the dark half of the Avatar himself, and the only way to save Britannia is for the Avatar to ascend to a higher plane, taking the Guardian with him. The player is able to accomplish this via an Armageddon spell cast behind a Barrier of Life, which takes the Avatar and the Guardian to a higher plane out of Britannia.

[edit]Original plotEdit

Origin Systems released a number of preview video clips in the five years between the original release of Ultima VIII and the final release of Ultima IX in December 1999, first in the Ultima Collection and intermittently in between. These screenshots and clips pointed to a totally different plot from the released version, which many longtime fans of the Ultima saga agreed was unsatisfying and unrewarding.[citation needed]

On December 9, 1999, a synopsis of the original script was posted to the "Ultima Horizons" discussion board. The synopsis was written by Bob White and released with his permission.[4] White worked directly with Garriott, John Watson, and Brian Martin in developing the game's original story before leaving Origin.

The beginning of the game is more or less the same as the beginning of the actual Ultima IX release, except that the Avatar never actually returns to Earth after his sojourn in Pagan in Ultima VIII. Just as in the official plot, there are also columns created by the Guardian with malignant influence. Further, Lord British has become enfeebled and left government of the kingdom in the hands of a tribunal consisting of the lords of the cities of Moonglow, Britain, and Jhelom, but they have proved unable to deal with the crises and have fractured into mutually distrustful city-states that are, at the time the Avatar arrives, at the brink of war.

The Guardian is behind all of this, orchestrating these events with the aid of Lord Blackthorn, but few within the kingdom suspect this. Among those suspicious is Samhayne, a benevolent smuggler of contraband and food supplies to the various cities. He enlists the aid of the Avatar to find proof of these shadowy manipulations that are causing Britannia to disintegrate. With the help of his longtime friends Shamino and Iolo and Samhayne's protégé Raven, they uncover that Lord Blackthorn is secretly advising members of the council and goading them to war. Blackthorn is unmasked just as the armies of the council have taken the field of battle. He is eventually caught later on at Terfin, and executed at Lord British's command, but the Guardian escapes.

The Avatar and Lord British then travel to Stonegate for the final confrontation with the Guardian, but after it appears that they had successfully killed him, they are told that it is not enough. The columns that the Guardian created have embedded themselves too deeply within the very fabric of Britannia itself, and soon they will destroy the world, funneling the power of its destruction back into the Guardian, resurrecting him and making him even stronger. The only way to destroy the Guardian is to extinguish the life force of Britannia itself, but the people may be saved by evacuating them to the island of Skara Brae and using the power of the Runes of Virtue to protect them. The Ritual of Armageddon is cast, Britannia is destroyed, along with the Guardian and Lord British, but the Avatar ascends to a higher plane by the power of the spell. The people that were evacuated to Skara Brae are protected by the Runes and they live on, to find another world to call their own.

This plot specifically compares the destruction of Britannia and the island of Skara Brae flying off into space with the Roger Dean paintings from the album Yessongs.

CreditsEdit

Ultima I - The First Age of Darkness Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultima_I:_The_First_Age_of_Darkness

Ultima II - The Revenge of the Enchantress Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultima_II:_The_Revenge_of_the_Enchantress

Ultima III - Exodus Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultima_III:_Exodus

Ultima IV - Quest of the Avatar Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultima_IV:_Quest_of_the_Avatar

Ultima V - Warriors of Destiny Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultima_V:_Warriors_of_Destiny

Ultima VI - The False Prophet Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultima_VI:_The_False_Prophet

Ultima VII Part 1 - The Black Gate Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultima_VII

Ultima VII Part 2 - Serpent Isle Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultima_VII_Part_Two:_Serpent_Isle

Ultima VIII - Pagan Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultima_VIII:_Pagan

Ultima IX - Ascension Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultima_IX:_Ascension

Ultima Series Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultima_(series)

Ultima Wikia: http://ultima.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page

The Codex of Editable Wisdom Wiki: http://codex.ultimaaiera.com/wiki/Main_Page

All information, citation, and reference can be found on these Wiki's.

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