SotSB: After the Mines

I’m almost ready to wrap up Secret of the Silver Blades for the time being. I don’t expect to finish the game this weekend, though. Judging by the number of teleport gates I’ve liberated, I’m still a bit less than half done with the game. That might not be a very good way to judge progress, though, because the teleporter density varies a lot. The game seems to provide a new teleporter whenever it would be inconvenient to redo your progress from the last one, and how often that’s the case depends on the game design. There was only one teleporter for all ten levels of the mines, even though they took me the better part of a week to clear. This is because the mines were basically arranged around a single hub, the mine’s central shaft: a teleporter near that hub could serve all the levels. In a more linear section, like where I am now, providing the same level of teleporter access means putting a separate teleporter at the beginning of every major section.

The sections immediately after the mines go back to the established 16×16 block design, and the constraint seems to have inspired some of the creativity that the mines were lacking. We’ve got riddles and illusions — on more than one occasion, I’ve gone to rescue someone only to fall into an ambush. I’ve accepted into my party a man in a Black Circle uniform. He claims that he donned it as a disguise while he searched for his captured companions. His story seems to check out so far, but trusting anyone or anything around here makes me a little nervous.

For a while now, the main theme in the enemies has been monsters with petrification attacks: cockatrices, basilisks, medusae. This is something that really started back in the mines, but they were just spicing on the normal encounters before, and now they’re the bulk of the monsters, and appear in quantities I used to associate with kobolds. I’ve contemplated equipping everyone permanently with a mirror, but this doesn’t even seem all that necessary: my saving throws are good enough by now to survive most petrification attempts, and I can generally take out the bulk of the monsters beforehand with a couple of well-placed fireballs (still my bread-and-butter spell, despite having higher-level stuff: its range and area of effect are unmatched, and it’s low-level enough that I can memorize a whole bunch of them). And to top it all off, both of my mages can cast Stone to Flesh. Supposedly the shock of being unpetrified can sometimes kill the patient, but I haven’t yet seen this happen. I think the game is starting to phase out the petrifiers in favor of driders and other spellcasters, but they’re still vulnerable to the same general tactics — that is, kill or disable them before they can do anything.

Anyway, I’ll give it one more day before I go on to 1991.

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