Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Timequest - 1588 and 1798 (Dover)

Written by Reiko

Temporal Corps Private Journal #10: I encounter yet another prostitute, as well as the Queen of England, who happen to be staying in the same hotel. I am both polite to the queen and insulting within a few minutes, but in the process I save Sir Francis Drake from the consequences of his carnal failings, which also happens to save England and further my own mission. I later break a window and don’t get into any trouble for that either.

Before I tackle the dual Rome/Dover missions, I'm going to fill in the last non-mission gaps, starting with Rome in 1588. As always, I check the circus, to see who the current pope is. The sign says Pope Sixtus V. That caught my eye: is Sixtus a real papal name? Yes, yes it is. Sixtus V was only pope for five years, but according to one site I found, he was a really interesting pope. Take a look at this page, I'll wait:

To summarize, he rearranged the city, built new roads and an aqueduct, but is best known for his iron fist of justice. He single-handedly wiped out a group of bandits that had taken over the Colosseum, among other things. There are a number of interesting stories about this guy. Hey, I learned something from playing this game after all, but again mostly from my own research external to the game.

The Vatican looks very paved and modern here.

The square in front of the Basilica looks very different in this time period. There's a soothsayer wandering around here, handing out leaflets. They're apparently a proclamation in Latin about the end of the world, but the printer's mark is ZSV with an additional message in English: "Will it mean the end of the world? Nein!" There’s my point for this time period.

Next up is Dover, starting with 1588. After this next bit, I realized that the mission briefing data I'd read previously had been incomplete as well, as it had skipped this mission. I later found another copy (with pictures! at and discovered the omission. So I didn't realize at first that there was a mission here.

History of Dover in 1588, which also summarizes the mission scenario.

When I arrive, I find that it's the day that the Spanish Armada is threatening England, anchored across the channel in Calais, and I've arrived at 5 pm. From the notes: "Intel-Ops believes that Queen Elizabeth herself gave [Sir Francis] Drake the idea of using fireships to scatter the Spanish fleet. It is believed that Vettenmyer intends to prevent Drake from meeting Elizabeth by creating a diversion."

That’s quite a diversion for Drake.

When I check the bedrooms in the tavern, I find that now they're both occupied. The woman in the west bedroom appears to be a prostitute. The east bedroom, with the loose floorboard, is occupied by Queen Elizabeth. I'm not sure why the queen is staying in a water-damaged room in the middle of nowhere, with no visible attendants or anything. The writer's notes admit that she was not likely to actually have been in Dover on this day, but history doesn't tell us exactly where she was, so liberties have been taken with the scenario.

Doesn’t anyone lock their doors?

The queen objects, of course, when I try to just walk into the room, but she lets me in when I knock. I have to bow, of course, before I can interact with her at all. Then when I show her the plaque I got from Rome with the papal benediction, she has the innkeeper throw me out, saying that she never would have stayed in the room had it been there when she arrived. She's Protestant, of course, which is why Catholic Spain is trying to invade. That tells me I need to leave the plaque in the room in 1519. If I wait until 6:00, I find that a Spanish sailor has appeared in the tavern, carrying an intricate helmet, and if I try to use the interkron, I get a failure future where England became a province of Spain. The picture looks like a torture scene.

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. I certainly didn't expect this failure scene.

Let's try again to figure out what's going on. Instead of interacting with Queen Elizabeth, I wait in the tavern to see what happens with the sailors. After just a few minutes, the same sailor appears, this time with his captain, who seems to be expecting to interact with the prostitute at six. I also notice the captain is wearing a time transponder bracelet. If I go up to the prostitute and wait, I find out at six when he enters that the captain is Sir Francis Drake, captain of the English armada. So Vettenmyer arranged for Drake to have a personal liason instead of meeting with Queen Elizabeth to work on defending his country against the Spanish.

Most annoying interaction in the game so far.

So I go back to Dover in 1519. I try putting the plaque under the floorboard, which doesn't work. I try pulling on the floorboard, pushing it, hiding the plaque under it, etc. I know the plaque has to go under there somehow. Finally I "lift" the floorboard and it comes up, revealing a cache, where I can place the plaque. Seriously? This is terrible puzzle design. In text adventure terms, this is a "guess the verb" puzzle. I knew exactly what I was trying to do conceptually, but only one exact verb gave any useful response. "Pull floorboard" only says, "You try to give the floorboard a tug, but nothing comes of it." A useful response would have been, "You try to give the floorboard a tug, but it looks like it can only be lifted." Or just make it work in the first place.

The queen matches her red room very nicely.

Anyway, back in 1588, I knock on the queen's door, give her a bow, then lift the floorboard again and show her the plaque. Appalled, she flounces out to switch rooms. I leave the room and immediately encounter the prostitute being evicted from her room. Then I check on the captain again. Apparently I was still carrying the floorboard (if it can be carried around, WHY can't it be pulled up??), so the innkeeper takes it and nails it back into place. Now if I wait until six, from the upstairs hallway I see Drake go into the west bedroom again, but this time the queen protests that she never sent him any such note, and sends the bracelet flying back through the curtain in the doorway. Thirty more points for me, and the score says I've now completed four of the ten missions.

Not that you can see the Spanish helmet in the picture, but I’m sure it’s important.

A remaining oddity is the sailor with the Spanish helmet. I thought he was a Spanish sailor at first, but no, he's with Drake, so it's a trophy for him. He says he'll give it to me if I give him something "special" though. I don't know why I'd need it, but hey, a helmet is bound to be a handy thing to have around when you're encountering fatal scenarios as often as I have lately. I wondered briefly whether maybe the Roman helmet from 44 AD might be what he'd like, but I never found a way to get it away from the charioteer during the races. The circus is closed once the races are finished, so I can't get back in. The sign mentioned "Gladiators vs Lions" would take place "tomorrow," but I tried waiting more than a whole day (that's a lot of wait commands) and the gates never opened up again, so either the sign is lying, or there's some other way to trigger a day to actually pass. Surely I haven't been in a walking dead state this whole time for failing to get the helmet in the first scenario.

One more non-mission time to visit: Dover in 1798. Only, as I find out immediately when I get there, what happens here is also critical to the Napoleon mission. Not only do I have to make sure that Napoleon invades Egypt instead of England, I have to make sure Admiral Lord Nelson is there to meet him. If I fail, England will become a province of France. In 1588, it was Spain that was the major threat to England; now it's France. And apparently the admiral is sitting here in Dover for some reason. So really, both of the later two missions in Rome are split with parallel interactions in Dover.

I talk to the admiral for a minute, but don't get very far. (I have trouble initially because the game doesn't understand "admiral" to mean Nelson, so none of my inquiries were understood until I used "ask Nelson" instead of "ask admiral.") Probably if I can prove Napoleon's going to Egypt, he'll go there too. So now let's approach Napoleon directly.

I jump to Rome in 1798, and immediately in the main street, I find a rounded rock that I can pick up for five points. I also notice I appear at 3:30 in the afternoon. The city is occupied by Napoleon's French army (did you know he was actually Italian by birth, though?).

Ugliest goons this side of the Tiber.

The ancient circus is still in ruins, but nearby is Napoleon's Palazzo Venezia, guarded by two of his soldiers. They're quite bored, but I don't think the pleasure house trick from Peking will work here. If I ask them something, they reply in an exaggerated terrible French accent. ("Vous cannot entrer"? Seriously? Presumably they're actually speaking either French or Italian anyway.)

The Basilica is also available, but doesn't look any different than in 1588 and doesn't appear to hold anything important. Clearly the action here is with Napoleon himself. I notice the palace has one significant triple-paned window which probably looks into Napoleon's study or receiving room or something. I throw the rock at the window, which causes the guards to grab me and bring me inside to Napoleon. Perfect. I get another five points for this as well.

The chart is useless to me, unfortunately, and at this point, so is Napoleon.

Napoleon is in the "Sala del Mappamondo" or room of world maps, I take it. He's looking at nautical charts and wearing another one of those bracelets, discussing the invasion quietly with an aide. He will make his decision at sundown, so that tells me approximately how much time I have. Well, depending on season, that might be anywhere from 5 to 7, in theory. In Mexico, sunset was at 6:30.

I don't know what I'm supposed to do for Napoleon at this point, except that he has documents that he doesn't want me to see (understandable, as I could be a spy or something). After a few minutes, he calls me a fraud and his goons kick me out. The rock is thrown down to me again, although I can throw other things through the window too, like the Molotov cocktail. In fact, I think I ran into a bug when I did that for fun. I pulled the stopper out of the bottle, threw the bottle through the window, and then was kicked out again. Down in the street, after intervals of twenty minutes, I got messages saying that a third, two thirds, and the last of the ether had evaporated from the bottle. But I'm only holding the stopper now, not the bottle.

Sunset is indeed at 6:30 here also, at which point Napoleon settles on England. The failed future is one where the French flag flies from Big Ben.

French used to sound more like English before the French screwed it up to spite them.
But in this future, English will sound like French. Ou, non!

We’ll get this right next time, maybe, as well as finishing visiting every available time period by dealing with the 1940 mission.

Mission status and score so far.

Session Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 16 hours 0 minutes

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. What I find most laughable in these alternative futures is the assumption that the cultural development just doesn't happen after the big event. I just don't think we'd still have Spanish Inquisition around anymore, even if Spain would have won England in battle of Armada.

    1. Defeating the English navy and conquering England are two very different things too. Far more likely that a Catholic pretender to the throne would have been put in charge, but defeating a hostile population would be a difficult task!

  2. Napoleon wasn't really Italian though, was he? He was born on the island of Corsica rather than the mainland. At that time, when Italy wasn't the nation it is today, would they really have considered themselves Italian?

    Should we be recognising who those two soldiers are? They certainly have very unique features...

    1. Yes, he was Corsican and not from mainland Italy, and technically France owned the island, having bought it from Genoa just before he was born. However, his birth name was Napoleone di Buonaparte and his family was of Italian blood. According to Wikipedia (good enough for general historical facts), his family was minor Italian nobility from Florence. He went to a French school, but he had to learn French first and always had a Corsican accent and never learned to spell properly (I don't really blame him, spelling French is far harder than spelling Italian). He became French and rose through the ranks of the French military, but he wasn't born French. Whether he would have considered himself "Italian" or not I don't know, but certainly Corsican, and later he had Italian support due to his heritage.

      That's a really good question about the French soldiers. I was unable to find anything about them.

  3. ... Wait, wait. You guys missed the real shocker in this post. Pope Sixtus 'single-handedly removed a group of bandits from the Colosseum'?

    Three words that will taint every announcement ever to come again from Vatican City in the minds of those who read them, methinks.

    Kung Fu Pope.

    1. Not really how it was said to happen, though I wished it was. He's a Monk. And according to Wizardry, he should be able to kick immense arse.

      Anyway, if he had lived longer, I'm guessing that most of his grandiose plans would actually come into fruition. He was way too cunning for a Pope.

    2. Haha! Exactly. He's legendary out of proportion to the time he was actually Pope. That's what I found so interesting about him.

  4. Big adventure game sale on GOG, including the Deponia and Blackwell games and others.