Home, sweet home
I’ve had my first go at Conquests of Camelot, and I’m not really sure what to think just yet. It’s interesting for sure, but it also seems a little clunky at times, particularly after the polish of Loom. Before I walk through my experience so far, I need to spend a bit of time describing what occurred in the game’s lengthy introduction. It starts with a view of King Arthur’s castle in Camelot (Arthur is the game’s protagonist in case you hadn’t guessed). The narrator, Merlin the wizard, described the vast kingdom that Arthur has earned through “strength, spirit, skill of sword and quickness of mind”. Not only has he defeated numerous armies on the battlefield, but he also has the beautiful Gwenhyver as his Queen. However, not all is well in Camelot, as Gwenhyver has fallen in love with another man… Sir Launcelot! Launcelot holds a place at the Round Table, along with the likes of Kai, Ector, Gareth, Percival, Gawaine and Galahad. He is such a “chivalrous, brave and true friend”, that King Arthur chooses not to bring harm against him. Merlin informed Arthur that this choice not to put a stop to the love shared by the Queen and Sir Launcelot has brought a curse upon the kingdom, with rotting fruit, diseased grain and foul wells the result. Yet just as all appeared lost, a vision of the Holy Grail covered in a white cloth appeared in the centre of the Round Table. Thus did the search for the Grail begin!
Yeah, she looks pretty hot! Not sure about the huge bushy beard though.
Some poor dudes worked their whole life to become a knight, only to be included in the "many others" collective.
As your king, I demand to know this secret!
Arthur liked to ride by his adoring fans
Three knights ventured forth to seek the Grail, being Sir Gawaine, Sir Launcelot and Sir Galahad, yet none have returned. It is now up to Arthur (aka me), to begin his own search. For anyone to find the Grail, they must surpass tests of physical, moral and spiritual strength. The introduction finished with Merlin informing Arthur that he would be with him throughout his journey, if only in spirit (ie. he’s not coming). With all that done, I was given control of Arthur, but found myself with a strange view of proceedings. I could see the layout of Camelot from above, and could move around from room to room using either the arrow keys or the mouse. On entering a room, I was given a brief description of what it was, but what I didn’t realise at first was that clicking on it again would cause me to enter it. I therefore wandered from room to room, finding out what each of the white shapes represented, but not actually seeing anything within it, until I accidentally entered one. It was the Queen’s Bower, and within it I found Gwenhyver seated in front of a dried up fountain. It felt strange to use a parser again, but I quickly discovered I could also get a description of anything onscreen by right clicking on it. Right clicking on the red rose in the foreground revealed that “There is only one rose left in her garden, but I have no doubt she would be glad for you to have it”. I typed “get rose”, and added my first item to my inventory.
I'm sure there are other knights that I can send first!?
Really? This is my kingdom? What is it...about 10 metres squared?
Is this meant to be some sort of metaphor for my marriage?
As I picked up the rose, Gwenhyver spoke: “Wear it next to your heart. In time of need, it will guide you through danger if you recite the Message of the Rose.” I then typed “look at gwenhyver”, and was told that “If there is any news of Launcelot, Gwenhyver is bound to know it.” That seemed a hint that I should ask her about him, so I did. “Ah… uhmmm… we are just good friends. However, it is true that I was the last person to talk to him before he went seeking the Grail. He said he would seek information from the Lady of the Lake. The watery tart.” This seemed important, so I noted down that Launcelot went to see the Lady of the Lake. Since I now had something in it, I decided to see how the game’s inventory worked. It was basically a list, and selecting an item on it merely showed me a small image of it. To get a detailed description, I would have to type “look at rose”. I couldn’t find anything else to do in the Bower, so I left and made my way to the next room of interest. It was the Treasury, where my coins and other valuables are kept, yet the room’s description made a point of telling me that the “bundles on the right are new, though”.
You could have at least tried to be convincing!
Very simplistic inventory, but it will do
What?! This cannot be all the treasure I have!? I've defeated nations!
I was more interested in the chests on the left, which were surely filled with treasure. When I tried to open them though, the buff looking treasurer told me to leave them alone. “Nay, leave it be. Your mission must be kept humble, for safety as well as your soul’s sake.” I got over that disappointment quickly, and wandered over to the bundles to the right of screen. When I tried to open those, the treasurer interjected once again! “It was sealed by Sir Gawaine when he left it here, and he charged me to see that the seal is not broken except by his own hand… unless he is dead.” Hey, isn’t this my kingdom!!!??? *sigh* Well, surely I would be able to wander over to the treasurer and take handfuls of those coins he’s guarding! I tried, but found I was a little bit stuck behind the bundles. I’d walked around the pillar in case there happened to be two different bundles that needed investigation, but didn’t appear to be able to get back out. I tried everything I could, but I was stuck!!!! To make matters worse, I hadn’t saved my game at all, so was forced to restart. This was not a massive deal, as I hadn’t got very far, but it was an annoying sign that Merlin might have been correct when he told me things were going to get rocky in Camelot! I hoped this would be the only bug that I’ll come across.
Know your place Treasurer!
I'm just glad I didn't get stuck here after gaining eternal life!
I started again, and still not realising that I could enter the room that I started on, made my way counter clockwise around Camelot. The first location I found was the Chapel of the Two Gods, which held two thrones side by side. Interestingly, these thrones reflected the “power struggle between an old and new religion”, with the one on the left holding the symbol of Mithras while the one on the right the symbol of Christ. I didn’t know much about Mithras, but further investigation revealed that “The symbol of Mithras has emblazoned many a warrior’s shield, for he has been primarily a soldier’s god.” There were two pads to kneel upon in front of the thrones, along with offering bowls, so I thought I’d try praying at one. I kneeled in front of the symbol of Mithras and typed “pray”. “I suspect that an earthly gift may help your prayers to reach the heavens.” The same thing happened when I tried praying at the symbol of Christ, but since I didn’t have anything in my possession since restarting, I could think of nothing to do. I left the Chapel and continued my way from room to room. The vast majority of them held nothing of interest right now, so I wasn’t able to “enter” them. Eventually I ended up back in the Treasury, and this time I avoided the pillars altogether. I decided to focus on the large man that was defending my treasure, and in doing so discovered that the three barrels in front of him contained (from left to right) copper, silver and gold coins.
If you say so.
Gee, what a surprise!
When I spoke to the Treasurer, he had the following to say: “My king, if you seek my advice, I say this – take with you coins of all three value: copper, silver and gold. Each has its use.” This seemed like good advice, so I tried to get some copper. “Aye, gladly, if you will but provide me with the purse to fill.” I of course didn’t have a purse, and hadn’t seen one anywhere in Camelot. Perhaps I would find one in the small tower room in the north east section?! Inside I found Merlin, standing amongst a whole variety of beakers, flasks, herbs and other items associated with magic and alchemy. I starting right clicking on everything I could see, not certain which ones might turn out to be useful. Merlin told me that the herbs hanging on the wall were for both medicinal and culinary purposes, and that I should ask him about them if I wanted to know more. The map on the wall was of the Summer Lands (my kingdom), and Merlin suggested I study it in great detail before searching for the Grail. The chest to the right of screen belonged to Merlin, but he seemed happy for me to look inside. There I discovered a lodestone, which he described as “a magical stone that will always show you where true north lies”. He told me to take it, so I did!
This screen just screams Sierra for some reason. Perhaps it's just reminiscent of both Hero's Quest and King's Quest.
Oh...you mean a compass!
I’ve realised while writing this post that I never tried to interact with the dragon skull or the crystal sitting on the shelf behind Merlin. I’ll restore a game and try to do so at the beginning of my next session, although they both appear too large for me to carry. As he’d suggested I should, I asked Merlin about the herbs on the wall. He described the medicinal and culinary uses for each of them, being mint, basil, marjoram, sage and bay. As an example of the level of detail, this is what Merlin had to say about bay. “To the Greeks and Romans it was the laurel and they would crown their victors with laurel wreaths. Young girls have been known to burn leaves to make lovers return to them. Prophets, diviners and the priests of Apollo considered it to have magical properties. The dry leaves make an excellent flavouring in stews.” Whether or not I need this information at some point in the game, I don’t yet know. The fact that Merlin wouldn’t let me take any of the herbs suggests perhaps not. Having checked out all the items in the room, I decided it was time to study the map. Doing so brought up a full screen view of Britannia Australis, with a bunch of green dots representing places of interest. Clicking on each of them gave me a heap of information about its history and what I might find there. There are way too many, with far too much information, for me to describe upfront here, so I’ll insert images that describe each location as I visit them.
Merlin: The wisest of all men!
Will I really be visiting all of these places? I'm excited by that prospect.
At this point I visited Gwenhyver to get the rose (as I hadn’t since restarting), and the only extra thing I managed to do on this occasion was kiss her (which didn’t appear to achieve anything). It was also at this point that I noticed the game has a unique scoring system. I was going through the menu when I discovered an option to Show Score. My score was split into three distinct headings, being Skill Points, Wisdom Points and Soul Points. I’m not clear on what actions might be allocated to each set of points, but so far I’d only gained 4 out of 368 Skill Points, 3 out of 293 Wisdom Points and 0 out of 358 Soul Points. After leaving the Queen’s Bower, I finally figured out that the starting square was actually my own room, and that I could enter it! *facepalm* It turned out to be incredibly important too, as inside I found my mail tunic, my sword and shield, and my purse! My quest for the Grail would likely end pretty quickly without this stuff, so I went about picking it all up. At first I wasn’t able to get the armour: “You cannot wear armour over your court clothes. Your travelling clothes are in the south corner of your room.” I had to stand out of site down the bottom left corner of the screen and type “get clothes” to change into my travelling clothes, and only then would Arthur put the tunic on.
What a coincidence! I do believe 0 is the exact amount of "soul points" I have in real life too.
What? Sleep...alone!? Surely you jest!
Arise Sir Knight!
As you would expect (if you know anything about the King Arthur story), the sword was Excalibur, given by the Lady in the Lake. The shield was described as the Red Dragon, “in token of your surname, Pendragon, which comes from the Welsh words meaning supreme war chief”. I was particularly excited about having the purse, as now I would be able to get the coins from the Treasurer. I quickly made my way to the Treasury, gave the purse to the man, and then asked for copper, silver and gold coins. The man obliged, and once he’d filled the purse, I made my way to the chapel to see if I could donate a couple of coins for blessings. I forgot to get the purse back off the Treasurer before going to the chapel the first time, which was a bit stupid! Once I did have my coins on me, I found I could choose which type of coin and how many I would like to put in the bowl. Trial and error led to me figuring out that the correct choice for both shrines was a single silver coin. When I placed a silver beneath both symbols, a message stated that “The sacred flame is lit. You and your mission have been blessed.” I felt like I was ready to depart Camelot at this stage, but there were a couple of things I wanted to try beforehand. Firstly, I refilled my purse with coins, negating the two silvers I’d just given away. Secondly, Merlin had told me to see him once I’d finished my preparations.
Come now, don't be shy. You can fit a few more in there!
Surely both religions can't be right!
I made my way back to the magician, and he had the following message for me: “The search for the Grail will be long and difficult. Though I will not physically travel with you, my spirit will be with you to guide and advise as I am able. Choose carefully where your search will take you, for once you leave Camelot, you may not return.” This speech wasn’t as inspiring as I’d hoped, and didn’t give me any clue as to where I might travel to first. I knew from Gwenhyver that Sir Launcelot had gone to visit the Lady of the Lake, but I didn’t know where Galahad and Gawaine had gone. I asked Merlin about Galahad, and he responded with: “He is very popular among your guards and they would be first to hear rumour of him.” That was good to know, but I hadn’t actually come across any of my guards just yet. Perhaps I would later. I asked him about Gawaine, and was told the following: “I believe the Treasurer is a good friend of Sir Gawaine and would have the latest news, if any.” Of course! Gawaine had left a bundle with the Treasurer, but I’d not asked him any questions. I raced over to the Treasury and asked. “I was the last to see Sir Gawaine. He made sure to take copper coins along with silver and gold. He told me he planned to search for the Grail in the ruins of Glastonbury Tor. That is the last that I, or any man, had heard of him.”
Is there any other information you are withholding peasant? Be out with it!
Well at least now I knew where two of the three knights had gone. With nothing else to do, it was time to exit Camelot into the outer courtyard. On arrival, I found a mule and a horse awaiting me, alongside four guardsmen. I immediately wondered whether these guards could tell me where Galahad had gone! I approached the first one and typed “ask about galahad”: “I have no news of him, m’lord.” Well that was disappointing! The second and third guards gave me the exact same response, which didn’t give me much confidence that the fourth and final one would have the answer. “His horse was sent back to our care by the Harbourmaster of Southampton, along with a message from the Harbourmaster that Sir Galahad took ship to the Far East.” There it was! I had all the items and information I needed to head off in search of the Holy Grail! I hopped on my horse, and trotted out through the gate, with my mule slowly following behind. As I’d assumed I would, I was shortly afterwards confronted with a map of the surrounding landscape, able to click on my first destination. Alas, since this has already been a very lengthy post, I shall cease typing for now. I think I’m actually more excited to get back to the game after writing this post than I was prior. The aforementioned bug got me off on the wrong foot, and I needed to get accustomed to the big drop in visuals after just completing Loom, but there’s no doubt a lot of effort was put into building the world I’ll be spending the next days / weeks adventuring in. My search for the Grail begins now…
Well that's where I shall go...or should it be Glastonbury Tor...or maybe Ot Moor? Decisions, decisions!
Session Time: 1 hours 00 minutes
Total Time: 1 hours 00 minutes
Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: I've written a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!