HELLO AGAIN, TO THE NEVERENDING WORLDS OF ADVENTURE IN
ST NEWS Issue #3.3
Walk with me on my trip through the ruins in search of
The Wizard's Crown
An 8-character role-playing fantasy game with tactical combat
STRATEGIC SIMULATIONS, INC.
In the beginning, I was relied upon because of my strength and
endurance. Perhaps others are smarter than I am; some may be
quicker. But I am and always have been the strongest, and I am
still the hardiest. I am still needed.
Those first days were perhaps the best we had. All was new,
and fighting was honest. No dark magic, no fireballs that would
attack from afar - a fighting knight could see his enemies and
oppose them eye to eye. And defeat them eye to eye. I never cared
much for arrows, magical or otherwise. For me, combat is a man's
job - I use all kinds of weapons, though longsword and shield I
On our first expedition in the town (the mayor had offered a
reward for those who cleaned up his domain) we encountered a gang
of thugs chasing a young girl. Would we oppose them now, I would
mock them, and advice them to run like lightning. Then, it was
a tough job. The reward, a magic sword offered by the father of
the maiden, seemed priceless; a gift beyond imagination.
Hello all to yet another Crimson's Column issue where we'll
discuss some basic tactics for
The Wizard's Crown by SSI/Andromeda.
Unlike other role-playing games I've discussed that always
ranked "introductory", the Wizard's Crown is an intermediate
game. This means that you will not be able to just "start up &
play". The 27-page booklet that comes with the game is necessary
reading for all those interested in the tactical combat option
that the game offers.
This approach has a good and a bad side. The bad side is that
at various points in the game you will want to pause (possible;
it's not a real-time game) and check the best strategy by
consulting your manual. Of course this is only true in the
beginning; after a number of combat simulations you'll get the
hang of it and do things half-automatically. The good side is, of
course, that you have more options: this way things don't get
Although at first sight graphics seem to be deploring, you
will soon find out that this is neither disturbing nor essential
- in fact there's a good deal of detail that doesn't seem to
matter at first but may prove valuable later. And although the
countryside is la-la, the layout of the dungeons is done quite
well (especially the Mansion and the Palace).
In Wizard's Crown you will command eight adventurers to
retrieve the crown from the bad guy called Tarmon. Your basic
tactic should be gaining sufficient experience to improve and
equip the party up to the point where they will survive the 4
dungeons. Each dungeon is hidden further away in the ruins
(except for the the Thieves' Guild which is in town) and they
are increasingly hard to survive. You need a good deal of
fighters, and at least two priests. Most characters will be
multi-classed. I used a fighter-ranger (with good scan and
stealth) for scouting purposes and and a fighter-thief (opening
locks and search) for exploring dungeons.
Seeing how Wizard's Crown is a moderately complex game I could
spend a lot of space giving suggestions about party equipment,
weapons, how not to waste points on useless abilities and such,
but these are things everyone must decide for her/himself. After
you've spend some time in the city and the ruins, you'll probably
want to make a new, optimal party anyway.
Okay, for those interested in other Crimson's Column articles
I hereby suggest that you turn to the part of ST News where it
says something about how to make back orders and such; otherwise
you can always ask around (or ask me); ST News is Public Domain
and, as such, freely available in many Bulletin Boards, Libraries
and so forth.
Let's see what our next hero has to say.
Armed with a +2 broadsword and anxious to make further
progress we all entered the Thieves' Guild. We had had some
experience in town by fighting thugs, thieves and skeletons, and
furthermore we had killed some large spiders when we went to get
our reward. Each of us had improved his abilities in the Crossed
Swords Inn and we had even heard some interesting rumours in
taverns and some hints from an old man in the park. In short, it
was time for the moment of truth.
We entered the Guild and talked to some of the guys in there
(mostly lowlives and other scum) who all directed us to talk to
the bartender. Ignoring requests to separate us from each other,
we talked to the barman and checked the cellars. After a while
someone found a secret door and we came face to face with a bunch
of mean-looking dudes. Our curiosity must have been too much for
them; within minutes we were fighting the whole gang and getting
lots of wounds ourselves.
But we did overpower them, and left the Thieves' Guild with a
good deal of silver and the knowledge where our next step would
lead - to the Old Thieves' Guild, in the ruins.
As a scout, chances of survival are slim at best - the thing
to do is make sure you get a lot of training in stealth and scan.
Then, if you're fairly certain that no smart monster will try to
trap you while separated from the rest of the team (some people
will never learn how to wear plate mail without making the noise
of a troup of bandits celebrating victory), you can walk ahead
and check the countryside for unpleasant surprises. And when the
time comes to fight, I rely on a heavy spear - it keeps them at
The first time our strength was really tested was in a combat
with some hobgoblins, a good number of their cousin goblins and
(aargh!) three magicians. I'm sure now that if I hadn't seen them
coming, thus giving our team the benefit of surprise, we never
would have survived.
The thing we did was forming closed ranks behind our enemies;
everyone but good ol' me - because I was supposed to sneak and
get the magicians. As we had the initiative, there wasn't any
real problem. Cold Sweat killed a magician in the first round,
and I managed to put one out of battle - but some goblins were
onto me. While the third magician managed to do both counter
magic and missile protection before Hakke killed him, I was busy
fighting off five goblins; two with spears and three with swords.
I wasn't happy at all and definitely glad that help arrived after
Anyway, we did kill those bastards - but our goal, the
Old Guild, would have to wait for another day, because the
priests spent most of their prayers fixing us up again.
The Old Thieves' Guild was a dark, foreboding, deserted place.
On the top floor I didn't find much (except for some giant rats
who got a treatment from the swings of my staff and the
aggression of my comrades) for a while; the only thing of
interest seemed a pool - but I never did find out what it was
about. Still, there had to be more. After a long and thorough
search I finally discovered a hidden entrance to a lower level.
We needed rope, but fortunately Sniffy had some.
Down, we found some jail cells, and in one of the cells the
fabled Emerald Key was found. I put it in my pocket, and started
to roam the rest of the place. Most of it was a lot of long-
forgotten rusted crap, but in a room we found a scroll (which I
couldn't read so I had to get a sorcerer to decipher the old
script) which gave us some hints, and furthermore I found a trap
(which I failed to disarm; that never happened again afterwards)
and, behind it, a secret door. We had a little sport then with
some undead warriors, but they didn't seem too enthusiastic; most
of them were simply turned by our priests.
The room held another secret door, and there I found some
interesting things - such as a magical set of lockpicks, thank
you very much.
Although I am a man of peace, I may and will not shun violence
when through violence alone order can be restored. As a human
being of faith, I believed it necessary to show that we, priests,
are not above helping those who struggle against evil.
The party I travelled, ate, fought and rested with did not
share my opinions of fate; most of my fellow adventurers were
people who simply got fed up being pushed around. And, of course,
brave men always have a good deal of curiosity.
As a team, we fought well: our hardest adversaries in the time
between the Old Thieves' Guild and Gozaroth's Mansion were the
gangs that had magicians and sorcerers in their ranks. The first
time we ran into a couple of these, we were defeated and robbed.
After that, a standard operation was used: Sniffy to sneak and
kill the magic-users, the others using various magic items in
order to end the avalanche of wound, fireball and poison spells.
There was a reason why a basically unchanging strategy such as
ours could work: our opponents always started off with a counter
magic (which doesn't seem to influence dispell magic), then a
missile protection, followed by armor and (mass) invisibility.
After that, the fun started with offensive spells. The thing to
do was make sure that once in a while you got a dispell magic in
between - this ensured some safety as the other side would have
to start all over again.
But this was magic-user stuff; me and my fellow priest spend
most of our time using prayers (bless often came in handy) for
safety and healing; when the enemies had closed in I took my
spear and let them feel the just wrath of a true disciple.
It took a long time before I got to the point where my
ability with a bow equaled the effectiveness of my prayers, but
when I had finally mastered the intrument many an adversary was
felled before ever threatening my companions.
When we had travelled and fought for more than sixty days, we
felt ready to enter the Mansion. The stone golems that we
encountered proved much too strong; we ran and escaped with our
Fortunately for us, the inside of Gozaroth's house was less
threatening. At first, we all followed Swordlock, but soon each
of us was hopelessly obstructing his examinations and we decided
to play it independently and waited in the hall, alert and ready
to assist at the slightest sign of animosity.
Gozaroth's Mansion consisted of three stories, and although
there were relatively few encounters we did do some interesting
discoveries - though not all of these were pleasant; wearing a
particular robe resulted in one of our sorcerers losing his +2
Other things were more interesting: a wand to improve
spellcasting, a gold ring improving alchemy, some other work on
chemical experiments, then we found three different parts of a
Golem Staff that, once assembled, proved to be a very effictive
weapon against these nasty creatures.
And finally, up in the attic, we met the pained remains of
Gozaroth, and I set him free by praying for his immortal soul.
Thus we gained the entry word needed for our last and major
challenge: the Palace.
Between the Mansion and the Palace we needed lots of practise.
The first good deal of practise we received when we exited the
Mansion - it was night and you've no idea how busy the ruins get
when the big light goes down. We barely made it to the temple.
We decided that, before considering ourselves fit for the
Ultimate Challenge (Tarmon's Palace) we should at least be able
to freely explore every part of the ruins, even far south. Many
were the surprises we had; it started off with a very interesting
find in a field of bones (guarded by sweet-looking but deadly
white rabbits) and soon we were put to the test by veteran
adventurers, imps, demons, liches, vampires, ancient vampires,
gargoyles, hell hounds, fire giants, dragons, evil arch-mages and
a whole bunch of other creeps.
Different enemies require different approaches, and where some
monsters were effectively deterred by fireballs, wounds and life
blasts, others needed the bite of my storm axe to cut their
shields in two - thus making them vulnerable to the swift strokes
of my neighbor, Hakke Boeuf.
But magic is the best thing; once my magic axe had been
improved a number of times in the wizard's shop (heard that one
on the town square, I think) it may have been an effective
weapon, but nothing works as well as a fireball in a hive of
opponents; even if some sturdy individuals may survive as many as
five or six of them.
The only opponents that we really tried to stay away from were
giant spiders (very hard to kill), gnarled trees (nearly
impossible to kill) and wardpact demons. The first two could
always be found in the same place and didn't pose a real threat.
But those wardpact demons are hell: once we managed to kill them
all (four of them at that time) but by the time we'd finished
they had shattered nearly every weapon we had. And we spent
hundreds of gold pieces getting some reasonable equipment - most
of us felt like throwing in the towel right there and then.
But you know what they say, the show must go on. And we
definitely wanted to speak to Tarmon.
Magic is a beautiful thing. I've had wands, scrolls and vials
with fireballs, regeneration spells, and a whole range of other
goodies; we've found demon swords, lightning flails and a
complete armory of life-blasting weapons. And don't you know it,
one of the first things we found in the Palace (after we
discovered that weird map that guided us through the maze) was
the information that Tarmon himself could not be hurt by magic.
So back we went to gathering sharp, fine and very fine non-
magical weapons, and stored them all in the Crossed-Swords Inn.
Now I'm not going to tell you all that happened to us in the
Palace; let it suffice to say that it was a large, six-storey
deathtrap and we had a hard time killing demons and solving
(more or less) innocuous but complex puzzles. But it was all
worth it in the end.
There's just nothing as sweet as freedom.
Well, okay, that's it - everybody knows how to play Wizard's
Crown and it's a piece of cake solving it. (Well, not really, but
then you can't expect me to give away all the clues; I just try
to arouse curiosity.)
A technical remark. As you all know, I don't generally comment
on game quality; it's not my style to hand out grades and
frankly I think the whole idea of making polls & stuff is rather
ridiculous because no matter what you try, people are people and
no two of the species have yet been found to have identical
taste. But I will comment on general characteristics and possible
technical shortcomings - because bugs annoy anyone. Wizard's
Crown has no bugs that I know of, but fact is that there's too
much disk activity to ever really get "into" the game. If disk
activity is restricted to entrance of certain areas (dungeons,
land-pieces, the Inn) then that would be an acceptable hindrance.
But in Wizard's Crown the disk is accessed every time you enter
and leave combat. This means that one hour of play will include
literally dozens of irritating pauzes. Now I understand that
solutions in this field are not easy, but when you look at, for
instance, FTL's Dungeon Master (you'll hear more about this game
in an upcoming issue) you see that crunching opens up whole new
worlds of graphics. And in Dungeon Master you can play for hours
on end without disk reading (unless you want to save game, of
course). It is my suggestion that an upgrade version of the
Wizard's Crown include a better alternative - that and, perhaps,
graphics that do more justice to the name of Andromeda.
So far so good, I hope you enjoy Wizard's Crown because it is,
on the whole, a well-conceived game and one of the very few that,
once you've finished it, you will take up now and again just to
do a couple of tactical combat simulations. Talking of these
combats, here is some last advice: train all characters as
fighter or ranger; don't waste points on intelligence, get a high
dexterity, wear +5 plate mail when you get the strength; get 250
scores for everyone in their weapon category; get 250 for one
person in each of the following: haggling, read ancient, search,
stealth (and scan, same person), unpoison, shield (for the guy in
the end of the front rank), disarm traps, pick locks. Get 250 for
all those who have the abilities in scan, combat awareness, cast
spell, karma and luck. Magic power should be around 100.
Have a nice day in Wizard's Crown.
All correspondence that might conceivably be considered
fanmail can be send to
Lucas van den Berg
6511 RL Nijmegen
-- The Netherlands --
All other mail: pick any politician you like. Ah, what did
Get thee glass eyes;
And, like a scurvy politician, seem
To see the things thou dost not.