Kingdom O’ Magic: Fighting

As you wander around the Kingdom O’ Magic, various other beings wander too. Elves, orcs, ringwraiths, a few unique characters. The ringwraiths are a particularly sad bunch: they’re desperate to find magic rings, but there aren’t any in the game. You can talk to them about it, though, even tell them lies like “I’ve got a magic ring back home” and watch them perk up and ask if you’ll take them home with you so they can see it. But conversations with ringwraiths tend to turn into brawls if you’re not careful. Conversations with orcs always do.

Fights are simple: two characters are briefly replaced by a churning cloud with various “Pow!” and “Oof!” sound effects, and their health goes down by a certain amount determined by what weapons they’re packing. This doesn’t necessarily continue to the point of death, but if an enemy dies, they turn into a gravestone, which you can loot. You can initiate fights deliberately by selecting a weapon from your inventory and clicking it on someone. Sometimes an enemy will choose to fight with you just because it bumps into you. Sometimes the elves will fight with the orcs or ringwraiths; sometimes I just find a the gravestone of a ringwraith that I never even met in that quest. All wanderers seem to be confined to certain portions of the map, though; elves never venture into the Moria analogue, and the orcs there never leave it, so you can’t just wait for the elves to clear out Moria for you.

So, combat isn’t very strategically interesting. Adding magic spices it up a little. Spells you can find include the following: “Wiz Bang” does direct damage. “Dwarf” temporarily shrinks the enemy’s sprite and cuts their hit points and damage potential in half. “Cabbage” turns them into a cabbage, which can still move by bouncing around but can’t attack at all. “Left the gas on” makes them run back home. So there’s a decent variety of effects, but they all affect combat. If you’re playing Shah-Ron, you have enough magic points to kill the occasional orc without entering melee at all. If Thidney, that’s not a realistic expectation, but you can at least use spells to make fights a little easier and lose less health.

Certain specific places have enemies that fight you using the same combat system but which aren’t really supposed to be defeated. They’re just too strong and too numerous to take on directly, and are more easily handled through some trick, a puzzle to solve. All the important NPCs are simply unkillable. You can still pick fights with them if you like, but all that will happen is that you’ll lose some health.

You can tell which characters can be fought by examining them, which brings up a stats screen. Most of the stats are just jokes, and randomized each time you look, so they don’t have a consistent value per character. For example, there’s a “Made in:” slot that variously displays “England”, “Hong Kong”, “a motel room”, “a nice ceramic”, “just five minutes”, and so forth. But there’s a field for “Health”. If it displays a number, the creature is killable. If it’s something like “more than you” or “I work out”, it’s not.

Also of importance: the stats screen will show any item the person is carrying. Usually this is nothing, occasionally it’s a combat item like a better scroll or weapon. But in one of the quests, the leader of the orcs is holding a vitally important key, and it shows up here, letting you know that you pretty much have to fight him. Moreover, this applies to the unkillable NPCs as well. If you can obtain an item from them by talking to them or trading with them, it’ll show up here. This is a tremendous help for solving puzzles! That is, examining a policeman and seeing that his mirrorshades are an inventory item doesn’t tell you how to get them, but it does tell you that you probably need to do something with the policeman before venturing into the cave of the Gorgon.

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