Saturday, 17 January 2015

Game 47: Spellcasting 101: Sorcerers Get All the Girls - Pheasant and SCONNs

Written by Aperama

Ernie Eaglebeak's Journal #2: Wait.. what just happened? This journal was supposed to be about how I was learning all of these new spells, and about how my dinner with Professor Tickingclock went a completely different way to how I was imagining (given that his wife Hillary was definitely more interested in me than in the dinner she'd made) – but now I'm stuck trying to work out why the back of my head hurts so bad more than anything. Okay, so after I'd finished my usual schedule of classes, I decided to use that key I.. found that Gretchen dropped.. and found my way into the President's House, where I got to see the Sorcerer's Appliance itself! Plus I picked up another spell, which led to another one after some work finding my way through dusty passages and a weird, corn-filled room or two. If I can work out how to use all of these new spells, I'd be way on my way to being able to kick the living heck out of Joey Rottenwood – but instead, I was sure.. my mom was there, I got hit in the back of the head, and now everything's trashed? After I get over this headache, it's time to find some answers!”

Told you I was being gallant, Kenny!

I definitely don't feel like I'm very far into Spellcasting, and I already get the feeling that having played previous Steve Meretzky games in the past is helping me. (I played The Hitchhiker's Guide as a younger man, and fondly remember a puzzle requiring me to have 'tea' and 'no tea' at the same time.) In that way, I suppose that I 'get' the idea of humour being interlaced into puzzles, if that makes sense – there is one that I looked at, rolled my eyes and immediately went on to solve as I realised that they were actually using an immense double entendre. I'll admit that after the pointer (thanks, Ilmari!) that the command 'take notes' would literally provide me with an in-game set of notes, I reloaded and received some extra notes on the classes that I'd already attended. My own notes were similar (albeit without pointers like '**GET ACNE CREAM BACK**' or little love poems to Lola Tigerbelly) but having them there makes me feel a little better about myself. It also makes me feel less like I missed out on anything.

A simple little set of notes on the 'Math and Science 101' class. Peloria sounds an awful lot like Discworld at this point!

When I last left off, we were going to bed after our first 'on screen' day of school at Sorcerers University (and our first in-game incident in a boudoir). Ernie appears to be very consistent – you can keep him up until around about 11:30, where he unceremoniously passes out until just after 8:00 every single day. The first screenshot in this post explains why we're sans one Gretchen as we wake up as she left us a note – she didn't re-steal her key back, which I think of as really quite nice of her. I noticed a 'President's House' when I was out on the boat dock near the Sorcerer's Stadium earlier, so I've got a fair idea of what the key unlocks – but first, class! Being the titular 'Spellcasting 101', this is (probably rightfully) the 'premiere' class of SU – the one where all of the people who don't really turn up to class miraculously find their way into the lecture hall. Ironically, for all that I was sorta looking forward to it, very little seems to come of it. I've got Ernie's notes in front of me, and aside from a few little jokes (such as telling people not to cast while drunk, as HURVON, 'clean tarnished silverware', can easily turn to HURBOM, 'summon a cloud of flesh-eating locusts', which I think could actually come into play eventually as I was told I couldn't cast BIP after drinking from a keg at Tappa Kegga Bru due to not being able to properly enunciate my words).. there's not too much to go off of. I'm looking at Ernie's notes here and the only three things I noted down that link in with this were 'we get MUK – 'raise dough' – on Monday's class, try casting a spell in a thunderstorm at 11:50 PM (impossible due to Ernie's sleeping schedule) and Sunday at noon will be the Junior Spelling Bee'.

I need to remember that you need to get a 'spell box' to learn a spell. Not that I think 'WIX' will exist in truth.. or will it?

The game takes five minutes per action.. and I have between 11:30 and 1 PM to explore – or in other words, 18 actions. This is actually plenty to run down to the docks and open up President House (5 actions, or 7 if you struggle with things like 'unlock door' – with what? - 'key' as I am quite wont to do) and rush back to class without missing out on anything between lectures. I was a touch disappointed with the insides of President House – though I was quite pleasantly surprised when a 'Graduation Nymph' popped out of nowhere and gave a little message explaining that Ernie is now a level 2 sorcerer! (The 'levels' matter as they enable you to cast spells, as I touched on briefly in the previous post.) There was a spell box with 'FRIMP' in it which I swiped before I was even able to take any more stock of the room I was in, giving me a new spell in levitation. The rest of the room seemed remarkably uninteresting – some books, a desk.. and what I can only assume is this game's MacGuffin, the 'Sorcerer's Appliance'. According to the game, 'The Appliance is about the size of a small closet. None of the five Great Attachments are in place. There are two buttons, one black and one white, on opposite ends of the Appliance. As always, its purpose is impossible to divine.' (The manual explains that it was first built by Waldo Nimblefingers in the years of the Great Melon Shortage, but doesn't actually let you know what it does.)

Oh, the most powerful item in sorcery might be there.. but I just graduated for breaking into a room with a stolen key. Best school ever!

The next lecture is on General Magic 101 – or to put it in a slightly different fashion, 'more lore under a different name'. This one has a little more information, I'm thinking, giving a list of assorted nasties (Mud Devils, Pufferslugs, Hellhamsters, Cankersaurs..) and ways in which to defeat them. I already know that one is to be paid attention to – the 'atomic dragon' which we took out in the simulation room was killed with a 'lead-lined sword', which the game makes mention is its hidden weak point. Does this mean that we're going to be fighting the Vamoose, 'a creature that is half moose, half gorgeous woman that lures its victims in with spells promising sexual delight only to gore them on its great antlers'? Perhaps, though I rather doubt it. Again, it feels largely as though I'm not going to have to worry about this too much. Still, it seems like we've got plenty to do on campus grounds yet, so I'm just keeping my three sets of notes (the ones I'm making, the in-game ones and having a full transcript of each play session) and worrying about it later. There's one thing that a 'levitation' spell seems like it'd come in handy for – the trap door in the lecture hall was 'too heavy', so my mind immediately flashed to trying out my new magic fingers..

I love it when a plan comes together

The notion of a foreboding empty hole to jump into was rather a strong force to ignore, but Ernie's schedule explains that between 4 and 6 he's to have 'Physical Skills 101' – and I've been such a stickler for forcing him to attend classes, so I simply can't explore. Turning up only gives us a short message about how 'he's excused due to a rather severely bruised pinky finger', though, so we're off to the deep, dark tunnels..

Caption contest? I think so!

You'd never believe it – it's a MAIZE. Yes, no good (or bad) adventure game can go without a ma(i)ze. This one is somewhat less egregious than most, though. It's a 5x5 square with no exit except for the manner in which you enter, with each room having a letter assigned to it. I'll include the little map I haphazardly scrawled to work my way through it – more fool all of you for not complaining about my handwriting earlier!

Once the letters were in front of me, there was no other way through I could see apart from 'TEX KIK QUIK(ISH)'

About five minutes of scribble later, and the obvious lettering (you probably can't read my terrible handwriting, but I assure you it's there) leads you down 'THIS WAY OUT'. When you go to the final and second 'T', an opening appears underneath you, leading you to yet another trap door and the 'Secret Society Meeting Room', along with a DISPAR spell box ('remove magical protection'), though again I feel like I'm expecting something more out of the room that I'm just not seeing. I'm mentally listing here and President House as 'come back to later' spots.

I feel like 'skull and corn' is some sort of pun I'm not getting...

I almost managed to get myself stuck, here. The next goal is to get to Professor Tickingclock's dinner – the only problem I had was finding where he'd actually invited me to come to! My first thought was the President's House – no such luck. He wasn't in his office – a whole bunch of running around finally led me to realise that I could actually go UP in the dorm hall. (I didn't see the tiny arrow in the top left of the screen – my bad.) I'd timed my maze run quite well and was perfectly in time to have dinner – a lovely affair with pheasant and potatoes. Prof. Tickingclock seemed a little tired, though, so after briefly discussing the Sorcerer's Appliance and his prized mystical surfboard of Spittul (both being 'magical', 'legendary' and 'dangerous'.. though I do note given our most recent spell that the surfboard has a protective enchantment on it), we leave the room.

Oh, like you actually thought we were here for the PROFESSOR...

The professor, it turns out, has a little bit of a snoozing issue – as soon as he gets his potatoes into him, he conks out almost straight away. This is, it turns out, why he has potatoes almost every night. Hillary makes no bones about it – Ernie is not there for every night, he's there for tonight and.. well, maybe he can make his way onto a schedule after that between the masseur, and.. maybe someone else.

This game's parser is very limited. Apparently, it doesn't understand the word 'be'.

I was willing to call it a night with the luscious splendour of Hillary's expensive crockery (she breaks several pieces) and sweating (I'm imagining we did some minor home redecoration whilst the good Professor was asleep), I felt like there was still more to be had from the day. With the revelation of 'up', I ran around like a crazy person looking for upstairs rooms. Above Meltingwolf Hall was what I feel I should have been looking for far before this point – a library! Inside wasn't an awful lot to look at, just a 'popular book' (points!) which reads like.. popular fiction. Enough said, methinks. No other books actually come up as interactive. However, there is a BUST..

I actually thought I'd be SKONNing it to read the bust – it turns out all I needed was a ladder...

KABBUL is to 'restore lost souls' – at this point, I'm not going to be surprised if it involves 'fixing shoes'. If there's more to be had 'In the Stacks', I couldn't find it – and after this discovery, we're about due to head to sleep. The next day seems like it'll go off without a hitch, so I head us off to the final class we have yet to cover, 'Math and Science 101'. We get a free map for our troubles (which is apparently the one that comes with the game box). It gives a short idea of some areas surrounding SU along with some ideas of how the seasons work, using a whole bunch of references to gigantic ice monsters, dragons and rodents controlling the seasons. It's more in the 'note this down for later' basket in my mind, with one lone exception that definitely caught my eye, albeit not due to THIS game..

Uh.. Corey Cole, do I detect a hint of homage here? I feel like my original QFG2 manual did delve into what we all know to be the true fifth element, but it might be my mind being revisionist..

I was looking forward to the second set of classes at this point – all of them had quite a bit of character to themselves, with each day having new things to search for. With an open mind, I started searching around for new things to interact our new spells with..

And a nice little cliffhanger to leave off on!

A spellbook with BIP (romantic music), SKONN (statuette enlarger), FRIMP (levitation), DISPAR (remove magic protection) and KABBUL (restore lost souls)
A cloak
A college registration form
An almost full pack of cigarettes
An embossed key
A notebook
A scribbled note
An ancient map

Session Time: 1 hour 30 min
Total Time: 2 hour 30 min

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. Caption contest:

    Time for a bath... Where is the water? Where is the BLOODY WATER?

  2. Aperama, Quest for Glory 2 had several mentions of the five elements - Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Pizza - and even of Pizza Elementals. See

    However, according to mobygames, Spellcasting 101 and Quest for Glory 2 came out in the same year (1990), so Steve Meretzky would not have played QG2 prior to writing SC101. (QG2 released in Nov. 1990.) We likely talked to Steve at GDC in March or April 1990, but most likely we both came up with the idea of food/pizza as the fifth classical element independently. Meretzky is a very funny man.

    1. I was fairly certain that it did, though wasn't completely sure, which is why I had to throw the note in. (I loaded up a copy of the QFG2 anthology manual to quickly cross-reference, but it didn't come with the full manual I remembered from my youth.)

      I do like the thought that both of you came up with the idea independently. It just adds credence to the truth of the matter. :)

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. I guess even ideas ofr the 5th Element also got multi-passed.

  3. "KABBUL is to 'restore lost souls' – at this point, I'm not going to be surprised if it involves 'fixing shoes'."

    Seems like you are in for a good start, since you will have to do lot of that sort of thinking, when you actually get to use KABBUL. V zrna, vg vaibyirf chaf. Ybgf bs gurz.

    1. As I say. Tea and no tea. I'd be in trouble if I was expecting puzzles that didn't directly involve impossibilities and puns as outright necessities. :)

    2. Whoa, Ilmari! That's pretty spoilerific, ain't it?

    3. Well, at least I tried to put the really spoilerific part in ROT13. Naq gur npghny chmmyr vf bar bs gur rnfvrfg, fvapr vs lbh qba'g trg, snvel jvyy pbzr naq fbyir vg sbe lbh - rira vs vg unf gb unccra qbmraf bs gvzrf.

    4. Yeah, I know. Speaking of puns, I find Legend Entertainment's love of it is... well... legendary. Almost all their games require using them to solve puzzles.

    5. I just worked out what I had to do (no, I didn't look at any of the spoilers) when I found a certain island. My umpteenth guess ended up working, and.. yeah, I sorta want to cry. Just a little.

    6. If I am reading you right, you are in the most grating phase of the game. Trust me, it gets better after this.

    7. Have written up most of a post on it. I think I'm going to need a couple of name clues, but I'll divulge further in said post.

    8. I agree with Ilmari. Also, get your Cat gifs handy. There are gonna be oodles of NSFW artworks in the latter half of the game once you have gone past that tedious and repetitive part of the game.

  4. Caption contest: These puns sure are corny.

  5. Also, don't show us the scribbles! Spare a thought for old geezers like me who can't make head or tails!

    1. I like the scribbles. Reminds me of the crappy maps and notes I make for my own games.

      The X's confused me though, until I realised they were just direction lines.

    2. Urgh... Don't remind me about that. I write like a doctor. I can't even see the Words Of Power I wrote down for Ultima 4 or the passwords for The Magic Candle from my games notebook.

      That said, how many of you guys actually still keep a copy of your game notes since your first game?

  6. Did I actually post that I guessed SKONN would be used on a statue head, or did I just think it? Tossup whether KABBUL will be used to repair shoes or find missing fish.

    1. Ah... I see that at least one of you have lost faith with Legend that their spell can't just be interpreted as it is.

  7. Very late caption contest entry: ... And this room with the rubber floor is were we hold the campus orgies...

  8. I feel like 'skull and corn' is some sort of pun I'm not getting...

    I'd say it's almost certainly a reference to the Skull and Bones Society of Yale University.