This is where we left off at the end of the last (real) post
Well it had to happen! My run of good luck and correct choices very abruptly came to an end. In case anyone is beginning to doubt my sincerity, I’ll say straight up that this post is a real one, unlike my previous one, which was a celebration of April Fool’s Day. I hope I had at least a few of you for a couple of paragraphs there and I know I had at least one reader all the way through (sorry JosephCurwen, you’re just the unfortunate one that happened to stumble across it first). I may have to put a warning at the beginning of that post soon so that some poor unsuspecting Shadowgate player doesn’t come across it and wonder whether the game is worth persevering with. There is one aspect of that post however that isn’t entirely fabricated, and that’s that I have no real idea what to do next. It’s not for lack of trying either, as I’ve put over two hours into attempting to figure out what I’m supposed to do next without success. So...it’s time for me to swallow my pride and ask for help! Before I can do that, I need to let you know what I’ve achieved, and what obstacles remain in my path...
I wonder if there are trolls out there angry about the bridge toll cliche
At the end of my last (real) post, I’d just defeated the Fire Drake by throwing the crystal globe into the fire. I had no idea what was through the next door, and it turns out there was another bridge. When I attempted to cross this bridge, I was confronted by a troll demanding coins. At first I gave him some coins, but he demanded more, so I decided to try using the spear I collected in the dragon’s lair on him instead. It worked and he fell to his death (I assume), so I was able to cross the bridge without paying the toll. On the other side of that bridge was a courtyard containing a well and a fairly scary looking Cyclops. My immediate thought when I saw the Cyclops was to throw a rock at him, so I used the sling. He hit the deck hard and while the game suggests he’s merely unconscious, I haven’t seen him stir since. With the Cyclops out of the way, I focussed on the well. I found a gauntlet in the bucket, which I subsequently am now wearing, but as with all other items of clothing or armour that I’ve discovered so far, I have no idea what effect that has. I couldn’t see anything else to do in the courtyard, so I entered the castle. Am I right that up until now I haven’t actually been in Castle Shadowgate or am I now just re-entering it?
Yes, I've always considered Cyclops' to be overly materialistic, and to favour conventional social values unthinkingly.
Either way, once I entered the castle, things started to get more challenging. I waltzed into a hallway, full of confidence, and found myself with four doors to choose from. None of them were locked, so the game suddenly opened right up for me, giving me access to a number of new areas all at once. When confronted with choices like this one, I generally go from left to right, for no particular reason. The first door leads to a library, with books lining the wall, a map, and a desk. The very first thing I noticed was a hole in the wall, just like the others I’d found and had used gemstones in previously. I only had one gemstone left (the red one), so I placed it in the slot. Part of the bookcase slid away, revealing a hidden doorway. Before I passed through, I checked out the desk and found a couple of scrolls in the draw along with a pair of glasses and a key! I tried reading the book on the table, but it was in a language I couldn’t read, so decided to move on. Much later I thought to put the glasses on and tried reading the book again, which worked! That’s where I read the prophecy that I included in the journal entry above.
If adventure games have taught me anything, it's that rooms hidden behind bookcases are fair game.
Through the hidden door is the study, with a fireplace and a globe in the centre of the room. I took the goblet from the top of the fireplace, and even lit it with my torch, but I can’t see much else to do here. If I try to operate the globe I’m told it hasn’t been oiled for a long time. I can pick up the poker and the bellows too, but by this stage the inventory limitations are causing me a LOT of trouble. Check out the below image to see how full it is and if I try to add anything else, I’m told that I’ll have to remove something first. This is just not cool in an adventure game that revolves around finding and using items at the right time! I’ve already complained about it in other ICOM games and it’s true that Shadowgate has nowhere near as many items as Uninvited had (most of which you never needed), but it’s extra annoying in Shadowgate because torch management plays such a major role in the game. Basically the better you manage your torches, the bigger your chance of survival, but the more torches you have remaining, the less items you can fit in your inventory. Just this morning I ran through the whole game as quickly as I could (up to where I’m stuck) so that I had enough torches remaining to focus on the puzzles rather than torches all the time. I’ve now got about six torches in my inventory, but now I can’t bloody pick anything else up!
A lot of my recent problem solving has been around managing my inventory rather than the puzzles themselves
I’ve had my rant, so let’s move on. The second door off the hallway leads to a laboratory containing a kettle, numerous bottles containing various forms of liquid and a cage containing a mutated dog (opening the cage does not end well). I can pick up all the bottles but haven’t found a use for any of them yet. I can also pick up a horseshoe from the wall, and exit the room through a stairway leading down. Following the stairway takes me to a garden with a fountain in it. Rather bizarrely there is a flute sitting at the top of the fountain, which I’ve added to my inventory, but can’t find anything else to do here either. I’ve noted that the fountain contains an acidic liquid, but what it could be for evades me. I’m pretty sure the laboratory plays a role in the solution I require, but I just can’t put my finger on what it might be. One of the jars is hot, one is silver, one is oily and one feels as light as air. My first thought was that the oily jar might assist with the globe in the study, but it didn't. Consuming them in most cases results in immediate death, but the oily and light jars simply leave a taste in your mouth with no noticeable effects. Another thing I should mention is there’s a cat chasing a rat around in the laboratory and the study, but once again, I can’t think of any way that I might use this to my advantage or do anything about it.
Shadowgate Death Number 59: Death by Mutated Dog
Onto door number three and this is where things get very interesting indeed. There’s a banquet hall with three locked doors and a shield and mirror on the wall. I can pick up the shield and the mirror, and the iron key I retrieved from the library opens the door on the right. I’m yet to figure out what either of the items are for however, nor have I been able to find any other keys to open the remaining locked doors. Through the unlocked door is a sphinx that demands I answer riddles before I can go up the stairs behind him. I’ve so far received five different riddles and have been able to answer all of them easily, as they involve giving him an item that matches his riddle. I’ll give you two examples: “I at fires attend, am a kitchen friend; when my nose I blow, how the embers glow! When the wind compels, how my body swells.” The answer of course was to give him the bellows from the study. “Eyeless tho’ that I may be, through me once a man did see; my form once thoughts did hold, now I’m empty, white and cold.” The answer for this one is to give him the skull found in the library. The most useful thing to come out of these riddles, and the reason why I’ve gone back to him repeatedly trying to get new riddles, is that I think I could safely assume that the items that he’s demanding are not needed elsewhere in the game. That’s pretty useful knowledge to have, and if I’m right, I know that I don’t need the broom, the skull, the horseshoe, the bellows or the map anywhere else.
Even creatures with the body of a lion and the head of a man suffer from bloating
So what’s up the stairs? Well firstly there’s an observatory, complete with a telescope pointing at the night sky. There’s also a parchment on the table that reads “Observation: half moon-third season. The constellation of the throne appears once every five summers and is believed to be a portal into another land.” It’s yet another document containing a mystery with no answers! Rather oddly, I’m able to pick up a carving of a shooting star from the galaxy map on the wall, and literally fire it around. I’ve tried using it on numerous things, but it always returns to me without striking a target. Speaking of odd, heading up the ladder from the observatory leads into the turret, which is one of the stranger scenes in the game it has to be said. There’s a woman lying on the floor, chained to the wall next to a spike made of precious metals. Any attempt to do anything with the spike or the woman result in her turning into a werewolf and killing me. The fact that she’s chained to the wall with silver doesn’t seem to make any difference, and all of my grand ideas revolving around using silver on her (the silver shooting star, the silver jar etc.) have only resulted in my own death. Apparently she’s guarding the spike, but I don’t have any idea what I would even do with the spike if I got it.
None taken, but did you have to draw attention to it in front of the lady!?
So that’s three doors out of four where I come to a dead end. The answer must be through the fourth right? Not so! In fact, the fourth door is the one that’s baffling me the most. It leads to the armoury, where there are four goblins sitting at a table, and various weapons spread out on the wall. Anything I do in here seems to have exactly the same outcome, which is death by goblin. I can’t give anything to them, say anything to them, touch any of the weapons, or even put anything in the room without them jumping up and killing me. So that’s where I’m at! No idea what to do next and my only leads are so cryptic I can’t make any sense of them. I’m going to have to call on you my fine readers to help me out of this predicament. Remember, any hints or spoilers should be done in ROT13. For those of you that left hints on the previous posts in ROT13, I haven’t even read them yet as I managed to get through unassisted. I’ll be attributing points once I’ve completed the game and can therefore read through the hints you all gave. I’m going back in now to see if I can figure it out on my own, but I’m not holding my breath.
Shadowgate Death Number 84: Death by Goblins
Session Time: 2 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 5 hours 30 minutes