ToEE: Once more unto the moat house!

The problem with just doing town quests is that they don’t yield any XP. The rewards tend to be either goods or services, or even just discounts on future purchases. In one case, the armorer who refuses to sell you masterwork items until you slay a giant, it isn’t even a discount; it’s just an opportunity to spend more money. And so, despite a couple of quests that took me outside into monsterland, my party is still level 1.

I’ve taken them out to the moat house again anyway, largely on the strength of a couple of level 2 NPCs helping me out. As in Wizardry, this makes a big difference. I’ve actually survived the bandits, and now I’m getting killed by the slimes and zombies in the dungeon underneath. I’m guessing that this is where you find out that the Elemental Evil cult, previously thought wiped out at the Battle of Emridy Meadows ten years ago, is still active. I’m not at that point yet, though. I’m taking it slow. After every successful fight, I’m heading back to town to rest up and heal, and sell any loot. In other words, I’m using the same approach that Wizardry demanded. But it somehow, it feels more wrong here than in Wizardry. ToEE is a bit less of an abstract set of rules and a bit more like a world. When I take a day-long break in the middle of clearing out a dungeon, and find it completely unchanged on my return, it feels like I’m exploiting a flaw. But it also feels necessary.

I’m a little surprised that Wizardry is the game comparison that keeps coming to mind, because the presentation is more like Baldur’s Gate or Pillars of Eternity: third-person view with isometric perspective, finely-detailed bitmap backgrounds with 3D human and monsters, combat mode only slightly separated from exploration, no obvious grid. The 3.5e combat rules are really designed for playing on a grid, but if there is one here, it’s obscured. There are a whole lot of games in this vein, and the only immediately obvious way that ToEE deviates from the formula is that combat is always turn-based. But take a step back, and it looks more old-school than any of them. Which makes sense, considering its source material.

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