Wizardry V: Death of NPCs

I had a bit of a surprise recently. Remember how I said that there was an NPC (named the Ruby Warlock) blocking a passage, and he wouldn’t move unless I have him something to drink, and after a few iterations of this I got tired of fetching drinks for him and decided to try fighting my way past him? Well, once you’ve killed him, he doesn’t show up at his post any more, the encounter replaced with a pack of “demon imps”. Before this, it had been a rule throughout the Wizardry series that enemy deaths aren’t permanent — that anything you kill in a fixed encounter comes back when you leave the dungeon level. Even Wizardry IV, the one game in the series to have any persistent effects on game logic that weren’t embodied in inventory, kept all deaths temporary.

That isn’t the surprise I mean, though. That came later, when I had occasion to go to the Temple of Cant in town for the first time in a while — my Priest had gotten paralyzed, and my Bishop hadn’t learned how to cure that yet. The UI for the Temple is a menu of all the dead or otherwise disabled characters who you can pay the priests to help. And there in the list was the Ruby Warlock.

I’ve confirmed since then that other NPCs show up at the temple when killed, and can be resurrected. (In a way, it seems a little unfair. When my guys die, I have to drag them out of the dungeon before the temple lists them.) So it’s basically an elegant general way to accommodate the player’s desire to solve problems through violence, and still provide an undo button in case you kill someone with important dialogue. Wiz5 is the first game in the series to need such a system, because it’s the first one to have killable NPCs who have functions other than being killed.

A few other random observations on this:

  • If you’re the kind of person who does genocide runs in Undertale, you can use the temple as a sort of trophy case, preserving the bodies of those you’ve offed.
  • The whole Wizardry system supports passwords on individual player characters, presumably to support multiple players playing from the same disks. It’s easy to imagine two players getting into fights over whether a given NPC should be dead or not, one player repeatedly killing them and the other repeatedly resurrecting them.
  • I’ve talked with enough NPCs to get the impression that the final boss is a demonic being known as the Sorn. I wonder if the Sorn is resurrectable?

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