Saturday 10 January 2015

Game 47: Spellcasting 101: Sorcerers Get All the Girls - LOST in Spellcasting University

Written by Aperama

Ernie Eaglebeak's Journal #1: Journals are for nerds.

Ernie Eaglebeak's Journal #1, take two: I've just met the other guys from my dormitory.. yeah, I'm a nerd. But thank god my life has turned for the better since joining the hallowed halls of Spellcasting University! I'm going to be a real sorcerer before I know it, I'm sure. It was just weeks ago that I was being chased down by my evil stepfather, Joey Rottenwood. I'd kill the guy if I had half the chance.. but hey. He's way bigger than me, so maybe I'll just have to find a different way to settle the score. He was trying to get me to join the Dragon Tending Guild.. shovelling dragon dung and rebuilding charred cages isn't my idea of a good time! He tried to lock me in until I got dragged away, but after I.. uh.. made my cunning escape under the guise of a gardener, I was at SU before I knew it. I already feel like I'm a part of the furniture, here. I'm learning so much, even if I can't really cast any spells yet, and.. well, it's nice to be around guys.. and girls my own age. They're all second to my one true love, though.. my next door neighbour, Lola Tigerbelly. I'm going to be with her before I know it.. but I'm still allowed to get some practice in, right? Anyway, there's a girl sleeping next to me – the president of the university's own daughter! Now, time to get some shut eye before I have to make first period...”

Ah, the bliss of old-school 'cutting edge' graphics..

Spellcasting has proven itself to be far less ingratiating than I had feared it might be. The puzzles are reasonable and straightforward (even if the parser is somewhat weighted towards words I might not innately use, I can always double check what might be best fit as a word to use with the rather gigantic)verb lists that sit to the side.) This is actually really nice – I'm far too used to games that leave you guessing in the field of text adventures, so the hybrid nature that comes of the Legend games is actually quite refreshing. Well to me at least. I should also point out that I'm writing this with ten days of the 'poll' left – and as though by fate, the response to 'naughty or nice' has been overwhelmingly weighted towards 'naughty'. 'Both' and 'Don't care but wanted to click on something' both have 5 with 11% of the vote a piece, 'nice' having 3 and 6%.. which according to Blogspot leaves 'naughty' with 30 votes – or 69% of the vote, if you will. This may not add up in simple math (and probably involves a whole heap of rounding down), but the fact that it came up like this tells me that I simply can't ignore the strings of fate. I also tried using the 'script' format, which didn't work as well as I might have hoped – I hit 'restart' instead of saving in the first thirty or so moves I made, and that's where the text file ended. Oops. I can continue to use it and all, but think it'd simply give too much random text to read through.

I'm not sure whether they're going for 'book page' or 'school graduating parchment' here.
Either way!

I'm of the mentality that you take everything possible in an adventure game – and broadly speaking, IF makes this all the more easy by allowing a 'take all' command. Our first room is a nondescript bedroom with a pile of hay and a desk with a drawer. The drawer has an application form to Sorcerer University and a love note to Lola Tigerbelly, the next door neighbour -

"Dearest Lola,

I am a secret admirer. For years, I have worshipped you from
afar. I am not worthy of your attention yet, but shortly I
leave for Sorcerer U, and when I have become a great and
powerful wizard, I will return to claim you. Please wait for
me, my little treasure chest.

-- Ernie Eaglebeak"

It's safe to say that he's not quite the poet he thinks he is. (Yes, 'my little treasure chest'.) Soon after discovering this less than magical prose, Ernie's evil stepfather Joey Rottenwood slams through the door and goes on to snatch the application form from him and throw it on the ground. The first quest of 'run away' becomes pretty obvious, given Ernie has been forcibly pushed towards 'Dragon Tending Guild', where he's to spend seven years cleaning up after dragons. Only right, then, that we instead take a different tact..

Just in case you were wondering how this command works, Canageek – just fine!
 (Typos don't actually take time, though.)

I actually made sure to wait and assure there was a time limit – if you're still in the vicinity of Mr. Rottenwood by 6 PM, you're toast. (I spent most of my first attempt trying to open the windows in Ernie's bedroom and throwing hay down to save me a nasty fall.. it didn't work except to lose me my useless hay.) Moving the potty reveals a small grate full of your own 'waste' (it doesn't use a harsher word even with 'naughty' mode turned on!) which you can move.. and a quick 'take all' garners you a spider hanging over the lavatory. There's really nothing left to do up here, so after pulling the grate out of the way, you take a less than lovely slide down the tunnel and into the main street outside your house, losing your cloak somewhere on the slide down. There's only a few interactibles here – a horse and cart, some cow manure and a gardening shed. Turns out you know where the shed door key is – the game even tells you so. It's underneath the small rock outside the shed. When you go to move it, two things happen. Lola happens to take a stroll down to the gate between your houses, where your evil stepfather explains that he plans to send you away to 'a clinic that specialises in bed-wetting cases' to your would-be paramour.. and the old lady from down the street with bad eyes, Miss Beancounter, puts her foot down on your hand and stumbles for her glasses to make sure that you're not a deviant (though she suspects it to be you anyhow.) Given I had a spider in hand, this one didn't seem so difficult to work out..

I'm by and large typing all of this. 
The abbreviated 'b'counter' works just as well as 'beancounter' though.

After she falls over, the key unlocks the shed. The shed has virtually nothing in it – just some garden tools and some spare overalls. We're not left with too much to do here, so in spite of my repeated attempts to do something with the horse and cart outside (maybe I could have hidden in the cow manure? I'm not sure, but I couldn't get as much to work) Ernie just strolls on by Lola and Joey, and after some hitchhiking (why didn't it just let me steal the old horse and cart?) We're here!

I'll assure that all of the humour is on this line of tact, don't worry

The game starts in full swing from here – the only time limit from here appears to be on things that occur during certain times, like turning up for classes. I've played through the first day a few times now to get a fair idea of everything that goes on. (Technically, the 'first day' is just a copy protection scene, but I'm talking about the first interactive day of gameplay – the enrollment scene is where that 'application form' that came with the game comes in handy.)

My love for you is tick-ing clock berSERK EERRR... Would you like to..

The layout of the campus itself (we come in a couple of months into Ernie's freshman year, where he's already established enough a name to have people know who he is without necessarily having done anything of note) is pretty simple, without too many interactible objects to speak of - at least for now. There's a newspaper in the opening area, the centre of the college / fountain at its center ('Batguano Court'..) To the east is Meltingwolf Hall, where all of the studying itself takes place. The freshman house is to the south (where Ernie's room is), to the north is the cafeteria/enrolment hall (sigh.. Donkeydung hall) and to the west is the sport stadiums and fraternities..

If you guys want me to do this far cleaner I can. This is how I tend to make maps.
I do something super rough to refer to which I can glance at, adding items underneath and making several small maps that link up together. I can also write them more politely.
This is just to show you what you are or aren't asking for)

Our first class is Mythology 101, being taught by Professor Barleybreath. I sincerely hope that there's no real information being thrown out here, because it largely seemed like it had no real information. The world Ernie lives in is 'Peloria', which is part of the body of a goddess who is the daughter of Ocarina and Glockenspiel, another god and goddess.. it didn't really pique my interest, even though I technically sat through the 'whole class' (in my final save, just in case I get graded on these things!) as the game didn't seem too interested in it itself.

Break us some fourth wall, Mr. Meretzky! (The trap door is too heavy to open, and the only spell in your spellbook to begin with is 'BIP' – 'create smooth music'.)

In that side of the university, our advisor Prof. Tickingclock reminds us that we're 'to have dinner with him tomorrow at 7:30'. Next to him is the bizarrely familiar 'simulation lab' from Star Trek – er, that is to say, the extremely serious testing chambers. It's a nice little introduction to the magic system, though. It takes us to a simple 'damsel in distress' scenario, where we're given a large, leaden sword and three spells.

I'll admit, I thought that the spells would be named more tongue in cheek given the examples in the manual

The simulation is on a very tight budget time-wise – you can only make two wrong moves before the damsel is killed by an over-elaborate death trap. Given that the game offers everything you need for this without needing to search up new stuff, it's pretty simple. You knock over a tree to create a bridge, give yourself 'increased fighting ability', wound a dragon, make some creeping ivy overtake the most of a wall, climb up it and then pull the lever before the damsel has the swinging pendulum blade over her descend low enough to kill her. The annoying part for me here is that the extremely tight timing means you can't sit and look at individual things without letting the damsel die. (Including looking at the damsel herself!)

Maybe I shouldn't have stopped to look at her, hm?

But a quick reload gives us a sterling result of 100 of 100!

There's another lecture that goes on about Ethics 101, telling us all about how a sorcerer isn't supposed to use his/her powers to steal things (even when they really think they're right about them) and other such quandaries. There's a rather strange introduction given about, instead of sorcery... how all restaurants work. They explain that all restaurants have six stages. 1) It opens. 2) 'The Golden Stage' – everything's cheap and it's never crowded. 3) It's still cheap, but really crowded. 4) It gets expensive and gives smaller portions. 5) People stop going. 6) It closes. I still don't get this, but hey.. it's out there.

Admin's note: Just to confuse you some more, Aperama...

I'm already feeling like this post could be split into two, but this is only our 'first day' – so I don't feel too bad keeping on and explaining more about the university.

Our fellow freshmen playing inverted-fantasy D&D.. we're not allowed to play without at least 6 months' notice and a devotion to 60 hours a week minimum

On the other side of the campus, there's a party in two of the fraternities to visit – I Phelta Thi is sending a boat across to the 'Balmoral Finishing Academy' to get some girls around, and Tappa Kegga Bru is putting on a party with some drinks. (Go figure, right?) Visiting there first gets us our second spell, which we can't actually cast yet due to our low level, the SKONN spell – a spell for increasing bust size...

Free stuff? TICK!

The I Phelta Thi party has a slightly less liquor-fuelled vibe, though they certainly do have a keg of ale themselves – but if you stick around for a little longer, you get a tap on the shoulder by 'Gretchen Snowbunny', the daughter of the president of the school. She's insistent that she's had an 'intoxication spell' or two cast upon her, and we're to gallantly take her home.. well, maybe not home. (Her father would get the wrong idea.) Take her somewhere she can sleep it off, anyhow..

Corset-back goodne-- uh-oh!

The game doesn't exactly like the idea of you being gallant, here. I did try my best, actually – she didn't want a kiss or a hug, just to be carried to a bed.. where she's insistent on having a little more than just a kiss and a cuddle with you. The game's own description is 'Without being TOO sexist about this: va-va-va-VOOM!' Naturally, I make sure to 'search' her body after she has the fun she expects to have (and passes out accordingly) and she drops an 'embossed key'. Clearly, that's something we're going to have to find the lock to! So, that's the first day of college at Spellcasting U.. and I think it's as good a point to leave off as any.

I'm going to continue my inventory list idea from my last game played here, as nobody complained about it in Countdown, so at the moment, Ernie has:

A spellbook with BIP (plays smooth music) and SKONN (increase bust size)
A cloak
A college registration form
A (full) pack of cigarettes
An embossed key
A notebook

Session Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There’s 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!


  1. I like the idea of that alternate D&D, although with a name like "Malls & Muggers" it's very 90s America.

    The humour and general tone seem a little similar to our old friend Larry, I wonder if Ernie will be as successful as Larry in his quest for "love"...

    1. Just to be clear - I actually found that about five or six statements gave that final screencap. 'Screw' (which is most definitely a euphemism as I'm yet to find a screwdriver) and a certain rhyming word for 'puck' also gave me the same thing - it just decided that 'sleep on bed' was the same as 'sleep with'. (I was -trying- to be a nice guy. But I wasn't going to sleep on the floor.)

    2. Right. I believe you, you hucking liar. XD

  2. What is the era this game is based on? I think there are some inconsistencies in the clothing, for example the dresses in I Phelta Thi and the bra Gretchen Snowbunny is wearing in the last screenshot. Or are they just part of the humor in the game?

    1. I think the game belongs to no specific era. The game world is more based on silly jokes than any real history.

    2. It's set in another universe that advanced in culture differently from ours. It's a good introduction to the next few sequels. And Aperama? The Mythology class is going to come in handy. Hope you 'took notes' in class.

  3. To lessen your confusion, Aperama, I just tried to suggest that the lectures contained some valuable information (also much of not so valuable information) – I won’t reveal what is important and what is not. I don’t think you exactly need to sit through them for score, though, so if you just have once been through a class and transcripted it, you shouldn’t have to go through it another time.

    You can also get Ernie to take notes of the classes (it was either automatic, if you just were there for the whole lesson, or then you had to write “take notes” or something similar; you read the existing notes with something like “read notes”). Ernie’s notes summarize the lectures (and occasionally contain other scribbles, when his mind begins to wander) and are therefore a bit easier to read than transcripts of whole lectures.

    Fun fact: There’s three different ways to get out of the first room, all of them ending with Ernie on the street and covered in filth. One of the trickiest involves getting the manure cart to a right position and jumping in it.

    1. I suggest that all lessons should be attended by first time players. It holds a lot of clues for all the puzzles in the future.

  4. This is weird! That's not how I remembered getting out of the house! I distinctly recall myself hiding in the manure!

    1. As I just said, there's three ways to get out of the house:

      1. What Aperama did
      2. Put out the fire with urinal, climb through chimney to roof and then to a tree branch, which breaks - SPLAT.
      3. Throwing hay to horse, who moves under the window so that you can drop yourself to the manure cart

    2. I repeatedly tried to throw the hay to the WINDOW and the CART... Yeah, I'm a bit miffed I missed that one. (The thought of peeing on a fire did not even come close, I'll admit.)

      I'd never have thought of using TAKE NOTES either, admittedly - I don't know if I should thank you guys or curse you for the minor spoiler in that one.

    3. The command for throwing the hay was a bit tricky - it's something like THROW HAY OUT WINDOW or something like that (you also have to specify which window, because there are two in the room). And you don't have to literally pee, you can just empty the potty in the fire...

      Well, I'll then take it as a thank you! It's really a minor detail, just saves you from reading through all the text in the lectures in search of an important tidbit.

    4. It's not a spoiler if it's right there in the manual as an example.

      You can retrieve the information by typing "read notes".

      You won't believe how well Ernie can summarize and encapsulate the entire lesson so well with his bullet-point summaries.

  5. BTW, I remember that Malls 'n Muggers part. Everyday will see some progress from their session but it's played on a loop daily. I still remember the part about a high leveled Housewife beating the crap out of a Mallrat with an enchanted saucepan.

  6. On an unrelated-to-S101 note, here's something related to KQ1.

  7. "Spellcasting has proven itself to be far less _ingratiating_ than I had feared it might be."

    I don't think that's the word you meant.

    1. "Only right, then, that we instead take a different _tact_."

      I don't think that's correct usage, either.

    2. I'll largely blame my peculiar manner of learning phrases to be the culprit in each instance. I tend to have a blind spot as it comes to certain things, so thank you for raising me on them.

      Ingratiating I've always seen as a synonym for annoying, and I used it as such amidst the whole bunch of largely nonsensical Finnish metal and liquor being imbibed as I wrote it. With the wrong meaning, it makes perfect sense to me. :)

      Tact, on the other hand, should on some short research be 'tack' - apparently, it's a naval term that I've somehow adopted, misheard and then misused. Tack is apparently 'direction' (ergo 'taking a new tack' being a phrase to say 'trying from a different angle) - 'tact' sounds like it makes sense (e.g. a new tactic), so that's what I've always thought to be correct. My sincerest apologies. As a member of Her Majesty's nations abroad, I shall pen a letter to the Queen of England begging forgiveness and asking for the subtle punishment of having cups of tea that are just slightly too hot causing them to burn the roof of one's mouth.

    3. Fry, it takes a lot of balls to correct a guy who piledrives someone for hobby and money.

      Also, I thought 'tack' was iron ration.

    4. I think you are all mistaken, 'tack' is Swedish for 'thanks' ;)

    5. As a sign that I watch too many movies, when I first read your comment, Fry, all I could think of was this...

    6. And, I think the original word you were thinking of, Aperama, might be 'grating'

    7. TBD, I was definitely thinking of that. :)

      Kenny: yes, "hard tack" = "iron ration"