Wizardry IV: More About Encounters

The random encounters or “wandering monsters” in Wizardry IV aren’t really monsters at all, but adventurers, listed the way player characters are listed in a normal Wizardry, with their status, current hit points, character class, and even alignment. This is a lot more information than you ever get about monsters, including your allies. That’s a pretty big change for combat. In previous titles, you could see who in your party needs healing or other restorations, but not whether you’re close to killing enemies. In Wiz4, it’s the reverse. (Not that Werdna can cast healing spells anyway!)

As a result, I’m not entirely sure what the rules are governing monsters replenishing themselves. I think they don’t retain damage between encounters — which is only fair, because the adventurers definitely don’t. If you don’t kill them outright, they’ll be back to full health the next time you meet them. It also seems like spellcasting monsters don’t use up spell slots from encounter to encounter. In fact, I’m not at all sure that they have spell slots at all. Back in Wiz3, it was definitely possible for the the Priests of Fung to use up their spells and revert to physical attacks in a protracted encounter, but this was only noticeable due to anti-magic fields drawing the battle out. Fights in Wiz4 tend to end before that point, one way or the other.

What about fixed encounters? There are a lot of fights against specific enemies in specific locations in this game; in a previous title, I might have called these “boss fights”, but here, they’re really too numerous to qualify for that honor. These are mostly against monstrous guardians and sentinels of various sorts: things in sarcophagi, hellhounds, golems, something froglike and sort of humanoid. Level 5 is chock-a-block with powerful moths and/or butterflies of various sorts. But the only things really identifying them as monstrous are their name and portrait. The UI treats them just like any other encounter — and that means that every one of them is assigned a character class. That hellhound is a fighter. Some of the moths are ninjas. And the game seems to mean it, too: where the monsters on my side frequently have abilities only available to monsters, like level drain or summoning reinforcements, the enemy monsters are just monster-shaped adventurers, with exactly the powers and limitations of their class.

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