HELLO AGAIN ADVENTURERS AROUND THE WORLD TO
THE TENTH ST NEWS ISSUE OF
WHEREIN WE EXAMINE THE PARAGON OF ROLE-PLAYING, THE FABULOUS
Faster Than Light
"He's left of us!"
"Okay, right and back. Move behind the pillar."
Behind the pillar, we waited. A couple of times I thought I
saw movement to the right and left, but never long enough to be
sure. After a while, Axident got nervous.
"Where's he now?"
"Shut up, Axe, he's not deaf. Let's take a peek left."
We did so, and immediately a great belch came forth from the
dragon's widespread jaws - we stepped aside just before the
immense fireball would have hit us. Behind the old pillar again.
"Smart, Slither, real smart. Now what?"
"Let's do it this way: first we take a short peak left. He'll
come out, we step aside and walk around this thing to get him
from the back. You and I go berzerk, and Snoutzy and Barbanq use
"Our last fireballs, Slither. We're all out of mana."
"That can't be helped; we've hurt him pretty bad so it's just
a matter of time before he bites the dust. If need be, we can
just try to keep at his back and..."
"Watch out; to the right!"
"Okay, everone - left, now!"
We walked around the dragon's back and after Axe and I had
made some dents in the animal's hide, Snoutzy released a maximum
power fireball. The air of burnt flesh filled our nostrils, and
before the hideous monster had turned Barbanq released his own
Mon Ful Ir. In a tremendous explosion, the animal was killed.
"Looks like we've got something to eat again," was all Barbanq
Snoutzy, who had been without food for too long, was cutting
up the animal in large dragon steaks. What with a dozen fireballs
expended on the ancient beast, they should be medium rare by now.
"Any good?" I asked her as she took the first bite and chewed.
"Well, it's old flesh - not as good as the drumsticks we got
from those giant rats, but it sure as hell beats eating screamer
"Don't forget the worms," Axident remarked with an expression
of remembered disgust on his face, "what I hated most were those
For once, he had my sympathy. Killing monsters is one thing,
having to eat them another. Next time I go on an expedition I
take my own food, like it or not.
Welcome all to this ST NEWS issue of Crimson's Column.
Regardless of whether or not you belong to the category of people
who have been anxiously waiting for many long months to see the
FTL's Dungeon Master,
you may cherish the outcome. As a multiple character role-
playing fantasy simulation, DM is unparalleled. On one single
sided disk there is (according to the newsletter supplied with
the game and I'm sure they're not kidding) more than a full
megabyte of graphics and sound, plus the program itself. Talking
about data compression, here it is.
Dungeon Master is a game where four heroes set out from the
Hall of Champions and start their long way through the (3-
dimensional scroll) dungeon where they must locate the Firestaff,
solve its secret and finally defeat Chaos. DM is full of animated
monsters (real time; don't think too long or you've had it) that
actually follow you or seek you out; digitized sounds,
interesting and potentially powerful items and intriguing
puzzles. What else can I say, Dungeon Master is a world in
itself. Thank you, FTL.
Those interested in other issues of this column are urged to
refer to the section of ST NEWS where the making of back orders
is explained. All reactions pertaining to adventures (or the ST
in general) can be send to my address, as given below. But first,
let's have a good look at the intestines of the Dungeon.
Our little rescue force consisted of four. First there was
Axident Brownmold, race undescript (we name them Horoou but they
aren't up to the point where they have a name for themselves) but
strong and tough and when he went berzerk all you saw was a brown
haze next to you; dangerous as death itself but I'm not
complaining 'cause he never really hit me.
In our second rank we had Snoutzy Foxtrot, a small cute female
Bika with much more mana than strength. She was our best priest
and although everyone agreed with me that we should all get as
much experience as possible in each of the major fields (even
Axident realised the logic) she always stayed one step ahead of
us with potions and the like. An invaluable asset to the party,
And then we had Barbanq the Bald, a male Human - of all races
- and he was a good man, strong, a perfect aim with missile
weapons and soon an outstanding wizard.
Such was our company. As you see, a strange combination of
creatures; a Horoou, a Bika and a Human. I was the only decent
Lizar in town.
And by the way, I'm Slither Smith.
Passing through the Hall of Champions, gathered there for the
purpose of restoring balance in the world, we held a long
meeting. I was choosen as chairman or something (meaning I was
immediately put in the most vulnerable position) and decided on a
policy. Seeing how we were bound to have a long and hard trip, we
should train to a maximum - the Hall was filled with those who
had taken their plight to lightly.
From the very first minute on, I ruled that mana should never
reach its maximum. Completely filled mana just sits there; I was
our duty to use it as much as possible. So every time someone
could make a potion (Snoutzy had a flask) or do a spell such as
Lo Ful, whether this particular spell was needed or not, it would
be cast. The only way to gain experience is to train, and we
started training before we were out of the Hall.
Beyond the Hall, we soon found a staircase, but passed it.
There was more; we read some scrolls with simple advice, and then
we opened a door. At this point, I thought it necessary to give
everyone's backpack a destination: Snoutzy wasn't too strong so
she could keep all things magical - flasks, wands and other gear.
Barbanq would stow away all the food, and Axident would take
spare weapons and the like. Me, I took the torches and
And down we went.
The first level was relatively easy; perhaps it was my earlier
incarnation playing tricks on me but there seemed little
difficulty fighting Mummies and Screamers once we had some
experience. As far as keys were concerned, it was just a matter
of locating them. There were two things that weren't immediately
clear to us: a door that said "none shall pass"; Axe solved that
problem with his falchion. And then we found a lever that seemed
to have no direct purpose, but after a thorough search we found
an extra room with a pleasant surprise.
Things started getting interesting on level two. Apart from
some gadgets and the secret rooms that held a compass (in the
beginning) and a sword (near the end) there were six
major "caves", all branching off the main hall where it said
"choose a door, choose your fate."
The thing was, we cleared out the creature cavern (where
Snoutzy surprised us all with her first successful fireball) and
found a gold key. Seeing how at least four doors obstructed
progress between our present location and level three, we figured
there would probably be a key in each of the six caverns. And we
figured right - finding hidden knobs, opening a door from a
distance with a Lo Zo spell, reflecting an Eye in the wall and
retrieving a gem were some of the things that kept us busy for
many hours. Also at this point, we found out that lots of puzzles
could be solved by throwing or putting something in the right
Like I said, we only needed four keys to get to level three;
the fifth we used for a little extra at the end of level two. And
the last we used on level three for a shortcut.
Monsters were getting more ingenious - on level two they were
nasty with poison and clubs, but they could all be killed if you
took the right tactic (mostly hit & run, we took a lot of steps
backwards). On level three there were some surprises; it was only
the use of the proper spell (as found in a scroll) that killed a
Wraith. The wasp was easy, but it seemed there would never
come an end to the multitude of worms.
These worms were good for one thing, though: we killed so many
of them that their dried remains could no longer be carried. So I
figured that we might as well excercise a little, and by the time
we came at the end of level three we had all gained three ninja
levels by throwing the stuff ahead of us all the time.
And by the way, throwing stuff in front of our faces revealed
three hidden rooms, unseen behind illusionary walls. And each
room held an interesting surprise in the form of potions or
magical boxes and the like.
Onto level four and here at last we found some worthy
opponents, though my scales still creep when I think of Axident,
so fascinated by the magnificent twists of a flying Couatl that
he just stood there and gawked - while the rest of us swallowed
fireballs and tried to save our skins.
Puzzles were getting harder to solve. Some of them needed
Barbanq's logical deductions, others required Snoutzy's hunches
or Axe's straightforward disbelief. Many solutions were done in
more than one step; it was the level where the first complex
combinations occured. And things could often be brought down to a
process of trial, error and elimination. For instance, getting to
know just what our location was in the Blue Hall was simply a
matter of leaving large items on several floor spaces. Not hard,
just a lot of work.
Level four yielded its prizes reluctantly, but some things we
found were valuable indeed.
Beholders and skeletons lived on level five, where the access
was gained through "The Riddle Room". Four items were needed,
three to open the door and one more to gain the first of five
iron keys. The other keys were gained by pushing buttons, giving
gold to a long-dead King and putting (not throwing) an item in a
blue screen (by the way, here's where we discovered that a lot of
interesting things could be found by jumping or climbing down
The keys opened the most magnificent gold doors, and I
remember vividly how Axident remarked, "Well, these doors look
like the bad guy is right behind them. I think we're almost
there." It was not until level seven (where we found stairs to
level 12) that Axe swallowed that remark.
Behind the doors, a junction. We took the right side, and had
some trouble guiding a couple of skeletons to the place where
they would trigger a secret door. And when we found some torso
plate, I knew that we had only just begun our explorations.
We also found two vorpal blades on this level, as well as some
slayers and a crossbow. Nice equipment for the right foes.
We got down the stairs to level six and found that this was
the Tomb of the Firestaff. Our use of the first Ra key opened a
magic door and beyond it we found an ominous message on a scroll.
Finding no further entrance, we descended onto level seven and
were attacked with swords, undead screams (here our vorpal blades
proved very efficient), zig-zagging fireballs and, finally,
thieving Imps. After we had lost our shields and arrows for the
second time (and retrieved them after chasing the little rascals
all across the enormous cavern) we made it a rule to have a
fireball and a magical box ready. Just in case; it was no good
running across a room where a dozen or more direction-change
devices transported fireballs from one corner to the other.
But the fireball machinery could be stopped, and after we got
some rest we found a Mace of Order, a Delta (that was a tricky
corridor; we had to walk slow and turn back at the right
point) and several less exclusive items, such as a key carelessly
left on the floor.
Onto level eight where we puzzled a long time solving "when is
a rock not a rock" until Axe once more tried the easy way -
disbelief - and got us to the next piece of trouble. A direction
changer almost had us fooled but Snoutzy noticed something weird
in the lenth of a hallway and soon we were deep into the
corridors. Giant rats formed little trouble because they hated
fireballs - we built up a good supply of drumsticks from these
animals, which we could use well as we'd all but run out of food.
Then there were crazy creeps that looked too much like rust
monsters to let them get anywhere near us so we never really did
find out what tricks they had up their tails, and finally the
Gnome magicians yielded a good many cheeses and corn ears which,
with the help of our ever voracious Snoutzy, soon turned into
The only interesting puzzles on the level were a gate that
needed either a gem or a jump to open, a fireball mechanism that
could be tricked with small items and a gate that was opened by
putting something on it that weighed nothing - found elsewhere.
And then there was the skeleton key, and we came back to our
Level nine started with a warning "Beware my twisted humor -
the Deceiver, the Snake" but the route that had to be followed
was hidden in the warning so we had little trouble, except for
the fact that a couple of skeletons and spell-casting beholders
needed a stern lesson in manners.
A Key of B opened one of two doors, behind the door could be
found another Key which opened the one not initially selected,
and then (after killing the first vicious, poisonous, far-too-
quick and well-armored giant scorpion) a third key brought us to
"Zoooooom". It took us a long time before we got the idea to make
a right turn and then step forward.
We entered a room filled with all kinds of nasties and by the
time we were finished Axe and I had both gained some fighting
experience. We found a speedbow and a helmet, and further down in
the bowels of the twisted stone passages we found mail, a Shield
of Lyte and a Hardcleave - not to mention all the less
spectacular items hidden in secret rooms.
Down the stairs and here we got to a point where Axe, had an
exit been present, would have given up and gone back. But then we
all got a little irritated, it didn't matter because with some
logic and some testing we soon found out how to "turn back"
"clockwise", it all depended on how you interpreted the words;
you could do a lot of turning without moving. Of course, you did
need to do it all on the right places, but then I honestly admit
I never did quite find out whether our solution was pure logic or
just plain luck.
Anyway, old acquaintances had made some new friends on level
ten and armed with a Fury and a Diamond Edge (don't ever move) we
cleared out one of the Cross Caverns. Never seen so much blue in
my life. Later on we finally used that magnifier and still later
a second Cross Key; we cleared out another cavern and were once
more very grateful for the existence of our vorpal blades;
elementals are a nuisance.
Level eleven and here's where we trained our leg muscles; we
did a whole lot of running from one side of the dungeon to the
other just to push buttons and find keys and open doors. Our
efforts were rewarded with both armored opponents (Knights
wearing cursed armor, as we soon found out) and immaterial
whatchamacallums, they were either dispelled or disrupted but
anyway very noxious and fiery.
We did find a lot of goodies and while Axe wore Lyte's armor I
donned Darc's. Heavy protection any way you looked at it; after a
lot of running to and fro and discovery of the third Ra key we
came near the end of the level where "cowards will be hunted down
and killed"; remember Kesey: Never Give an Inch.
The approach for the giant spiders was locked off by pushing a
button and without too much trouble (there was something tricky
with a moving traphole but a quick step was all it needed) we
opened the skeleton door onto the staircase and then went to the
Tomb of the Firestaff.
The Firestaff Tomb held guarding stone golems only; beyond
that it was deserted. Useful and, indeed, essential items could
be found in abundance once the correct door was opened with the
Ruby Key. After that it was merely checking walls to see what
secret passages (one entire multi-level stairway came in handy)
could be found and what lay behind them. We found the winged key
and some very interesting scrolls; also the last Ra key and then
we went to the Firestaff itself.
Once we held the - incomplete - Firestaff, we studied how it
should be used and went to level twelve.
Level twelve seemed much like the elemental plane of fire; we
killed some devils or demons or whatever they were but soon we
heard a sound like a massive electric discharge and then we stood
eye to eye with Chaos incarnated. We managed to walk around him
for a short while but this guy was fast; the only way to survive
was jumping down a hole in the ground - no time to use rope.
From the frying pan into the fire: we plunged right into the
dragon's lair and it was chase and be chased, we drank lots of Vi
potions and just when we were all healthy again I heard a great
belch and we managed to escape his breath weapon by inches.
The thing that saved us in the start was a single pillar in
the hall; it was relatively easy to hide behind. Seeing how we
didn't feel up to fighting a monster of such gargantuan
proportions, we took the easy way out - a staircase, and we
once more found ourselves in the "Fire Hall". To the left was the
original entrance and we made it before fireballs hit us again.
For several hours, we didn't do anything but rest.
Finally we got up, opened the last Skeleton passage, went
downstairs and used our winged key. This time we knew the danger
we would face, and we were prepared.
After we slayed the dragon we found the Power Gem, firmly
fixed in the mountain's flesh. Barbanq remembered the right spell
and Snoutzy set if free; when she held the Firestaff on the
radiating Power Gem they both seemed to melt. In the end, we held
the real, complete, flaming Firestaff in our hands. Although
every way up was now blocked, we feared not: armed with the
Firestaff and the knowledge how to use it, we did not hesitate to
confront Chaos and end its reign of terror.
And I say, we do look kinda pretty in the History Gallery.
That's it; let's hear it for the Dungeon Master. And before I
forget: if you come to the point where you hold the first part of
the Firestaff, walk back to level 0, the entrance. I won't tell
you what you see, but it's worth it (thanks, Rinus). Also many
thanks to Henry for making accurate maps (mine are always
reasonably complete but never much use to anyone else), to Wim
Denie for ordering the original, to Hans and Erik for work on
spells and puzzles and to the rest of our wet froggy country for
bothering me day and night with all sorts of questions. Reminds I
should have an answering device installed one of these days.
Astute readers (where? where?) may notice that I no longer supply
my telephone number; a man needs some sleep.
Thanks most of all to the Faster Than Light team because if it
hadn't been for them we wouldn't be able to ruin our minds,
bodies and social life with this exquisite game. I daresay that
even those who aren't really interested in (or up to?) solving
role-playing games will still realise that Dungeon Master is, in
the first place, a great technical, graphic achievement. It seems
impossible to have all these sounds and graphics on one single-
sided disk; makes you wonder what they'll do with a couple of
double sided disks. I mean, by the time I reached level 6 I was
convinced that surely every nook and cranny of every umpteenth
sector had been used; I was worrying about my drive. And then I
found those stairs - all the way to level 13.
Enough of these compliments; people will start to think that
I'm soft in the head (soft-where?). Until next time I'd say and
if any of you feel the urge to send reactions or requests of any
kind please include a stamped, self adressed envelope (or
international reply coupons) and send them to
Lucas van den Berg
6511 RL Nijmegen
-- The Netherlands --
And when you enter the Dungeon, walk the straight and narrow
and remember that
If one should be a prey, how much the better
To fall before the lion than the wolf!
Twelfth-night; or, What You Will