Saturday, 11 February 2017

Gateway - Digging Up Secrets

Written by Reiko

Broadhead Journal #8: "Three down, one to go. How much worse could it get? This last one is habitable at least. And I’m not the first one to end up here, either, although from the look of his ship, the other guy might have met a messy end. I’d better keep my eyes open as I look for the shield generator."

Before I go to the last shield generator planet, I decide to follow up on the repairman's clue about someone doing something interesting at midnight on Level Babe. There's not much there, just an east-west corridor with blue Heechee metal at both ends. One end also has a large shipping crate that I can hide inside, so I hide and wait until the appropriate time.

A scientist named Gordon Perry appears and hits an artifact on the Heechee wall, making a pure tone. Sounds like another tuning fork! He puts the artifact into the blister and then does something I can't see from the crate that causes a portal in the wall to form. As he passes through, he conveniently drops a slip of paper. I run out and get it [5] and then hide again until he passes through again and disappears down the corridor. The paper contains a five-digit numerical code.

You can't tell in this picture that I'm hiding inside a crate.

Out of the crate and duplicating what Perry did.

Well, I've got my own tuning fork and now I've got Perry's code. Let's see if I can duplicate what he did and see what's back there! I get out of the crate and hit the fork on the wall. The blister appears [5], so I put the fork in [3], which causes a keypad to appear. I enter the code and the portal appears [10]. I enter the hidden room and find a large, bare room with nothing except a panel on the opposite wall [5].

The panel shows a mysterious diagram with three vertices illuminated and the last one dark. This seems to be displaying the progress of my work to activate the shield generators. I probably can't do anything else here until I activate the fourth one. The tuning fork does nothing at the other end of the corridor, either. I guess this is a dead end for now.

Anyone getting vertigo from this illustration?

The fourth shield generator control is on another terrestrial planet, this one more barren and mountainous. I land on a plateau. Nearby I find a ledge overlooking a deep chasm with a glint of something on the other side [5]. One path down from the plateau only leads to a pit containing a pickaxe and an odd little bush. I take the pickaxe [5] but don't find anything to do with the bush. The other path winds down toward the valley. At the halfway point, a cairn of rocks points southwest [1].

Rolf seems like a friendly guy.

Two of the other paths lead nowhere, but the last exit to the northwest leads to a trailhead, at which I find an old man who greets me cheerfully. It's Rolf Becker! Looks like I've managed to find him. I shake his hand politely [1]. He tells me a bit of his story and then invites me to his house. Before he disappears down the trail, I give him the magazine, which he eagerly takes, wanting news of home [1]. He's been stranded for decades, after all, and somehow managed to survive.

That's a lot of techno-babble, so I know some of it's going to be important.

I go back and follow the southeast path, which takes me to Rolf's crash site [3]. The Heechee ship is in pieces, almost entirely disassembled. The only useful part seems to be an actuator chassis with a panel attached by grommets, but I don't have a tool to remove the grommets. There's also a cactus with a whistle hanging from it and an empty nest. I take the whistle [7] and then continue exploring. West of the mountain trailhead is the river trailhead, where I find a wooden tiller, which I take [5]. The cairn here points southwest [1].

A garden in the desert...

Northwest of the mountain trailhead I find Rolf's garden, full of plants and tools. I take the shovel [5]. There's also a metal pail that's being used as a garden pot, but I empty it and add the pail to my collection of tools [5]. Rolf doesn't seem to mind. I also take some leaves from the "jubifruitus" plant [5]. I can eat them myself ("vanilla"!) but I'll need some for later.

Good thing I didn't touch the cactus near the wreck.

Up from there Rolf has built a tree house. I find an axe and a desk with a notebook on it. The notebook contains a number of detailed observations of various local flora and fauna, including all the creatures I've seen so far. The drawer in the desk holds actuator calipers and a discharger, which will probably be needed later, so I take them. I take the axe too, just in case, even though I don't get any points for any of those items.

North of the mountain trailhead is a bleak meadow with one elm tree that has a long limb overhanging the chasm. I can see the glint across the chasm again from here. I think I'll need a rope or something. I keep going north from the meadow and reach a cliff trailhead. The cairn here points northeast [1].

Looks like the pterodactyl is guarding the bridge.

I go that way and reach a rope bridge across the chasm, but it's guarded by a pterodactyl-like creature. There's also a coil of rope, which I take [6]. Convenient. Since I found the whistle in a place with another nest, I try blowing it. The pterodactyl immediately flies away to the nest in this location [1] and I can cross the bridge and enter Rolf's house [5].

We're going to see a lot of Rolf's house.

Rolf has made his house in the area right by the shield generator controls, but I think I'm going to have to actually repair the controls before I can activate the shield this time. I'm also going to have to deal with his pet. He's got a miniature dinosaur who lounges on the panel.

I can ask Rolf about a lot of interesting things. When I ask him about his pet, he tells me he feeds it the jubifruitus leaves sometimes as a treat. So I should be able to stuff the poor thing silly to get it out of the way later.

Rolf also has the lens cover for the shield controls, but he won't give it to me unless I find him some vermaculite, a purple mineral he mined from the mountains that makes his pots stronger. He also wants me to find his cane that he dropped in the chasm. He built a raft to travel down the river, but it doesn't float.

Jamming with Rolf and his bird.

I can also play drums with him [1] if I ask him about the music stand and say yes when he asks if I play and yes again if I want to play. If I play with him for several turns, a bird called a parroo flies in and sits on the stand and squawks along with the music. Pretty funny. I play long enough for Rolf to finish his song. He seems very pleased that I would play with him.

If you cut the tree down instead of using the rope, Rolf is upset.

I go back to the elm tree and tie the rope to the large limb [1]. It's not long enough to climb down, but it is long enough to swing across to the other side and grab the shiny thing, which turns out to be a Heechee focal lens [12]. That's one of the three items I'll need to fix the shield generator panel. I could use the axe to cut the tree down and make a bridge over the chasm instead, but that's not necessary and only upsets Rolf.

When I go back to Rolf and ask him about his wife Adriana, he admits he misses her, and asks if I'm wondering if he'll be coming back with me to Gateway. I say yes, and he says I greeted him properly, I didn't harm his pterodactyl, I got my lens without harming the tree, I let him read my magazine, and I jammed with him. He's keeping a close eye on what I'm doing, apparently.

So he's leaning toward coming back with me because I've been solving puzzles the non-violent way and being nice to him. It's possible to do things like shoot the pterodactyl instead of driving it away with the whistle, or cut the elm tree down instead of using the rope, which lowers his opinion of you.

It takes an awful lot for Rolf to hate you enough to want to stay instead of being rescued, if this isn't enough.

It's a nice change from the icky planet with all the dangerous creatures. This place has its dangers, too. For instance, it's not a good idea to sleep outside, because there are large carnivores around. And those crazy cacti aren't much better than the spikeball plants. But it's not like something's actively trying to kill you every step of the way.

Rolf is strangely oblivious to the second mendobrillium bush right in front of him...

I spent a lot of time trying to dig in various places with the shovel and pickaxe before discovering that I should use the pickaxe at the river overlook, the only other place with an odd little bush like the one in the mine near the landing site. Seems obvious once I figure that out. I guess the bush likes the kind of rock that holds vermaculite. Anyway, I dig once [12] but the pit isn't deep enough yet. I dig twice more before I find some vermaculite ore, which I take, of course [12].

When I give the ore to Rolf, he tells me to meet me in the garden so he can verify it. I can take this opportunity to read his journal, just in case there's something useful there. He wouldn't like it, and in fact if you try to touch it when he’s there, he’ll ask you very seriously not to read it. But the fate of humanity may be at stake!

Probably this incident is most of why he didn't want me to read the journal. Or maybe it was the poetry.

Most of the personal stuff is just bad poetry. There's more background on how he survived than in his scientific journal, which is pretty interesting. He also mentions how he killed a large creature using a Heechee actuator core, but he was appalled at the result and buried the core with the animal. That could be useful if I can't find a way to get the actuator core out of the ruins of his ship. Apparently that's a rather delicate operation.

Rolf's got standards.

I put the log back and follow him to the garden. By the time I get there (he's one spry old man), he's already made some new pots. He gives me the lens cover [12] and wanders back home after warning me to leave the pottery alone.

He's a pretty handy guy if he made his own raft. Even if it leaks.

I follow him back and talk to him some more. I say yes when he asks if I'm willing to help him find his cane, and yes again when he asks if I'm really going to help. He has a plan involving a raft, but he can't do it by himself. We just need to find the raft, since I already found the tiller. Fortunately, that isn't too hard. I go back to the cliff trailhead, with Rolf following. West of there I find the river shore, and there's the raft. I try launching it by myself, but it doesn't float, like he said. Let's see if we can do it together.

Bailing for dear life!

I give Rolf the tiller, step onto the raft again, and ask Rolf to do the same. Then I launch the raft. This time we proceed down the river [7]. I start bailing like crazy (every turn) with the metal pail to keep the raft afloat while we make progress. After several minutes of this, we pass the place where Rolf had dropped his cane, and he scoops it up [1]. Soon after, while I keep bailing, we approach a waterfall. We dive off the raft toward land just in time, before the raft and tiller are swept over the waterfall and destroyed.

This place is only accessible by taking the raft trip.

Rolf happily thanks me for my help, saying, "I'll make me another raft in no time. Then we'll do it again." Then he disappears, while I'm left admiring the waterfall [7]. The only exit is a steep climb that takes me back to the crash site. I noticed later that there's another raft at the river shore immediately, although when he would have had time to build it that quickly is anyone's guess, given that the first one took months. (Probably the programmers just forgot to remove it from the graphic.)

So now I've got the lens and the lens cover, I've helped Rolf with getting his cane back, and I have leads on two actuator cores, which means one is an alternate solution. I suspect I know which one is better. Let's see what happens if I go dig up that actuator core he buried. The journal said it was west of the trailhead leading to the crash site, which turns out to mean the river trailhead, which is west of the mountain trailhead.

Digging, again.

When I get there, I immediately identify the location, so then I can dig with the shovel to uncover the animal's grave and retrieve the cell [12]. But then if I go ask Rolf how I'm doing, I realize that digging up the grave is not only a negative in itself, but also reveals that I read the journal.

So that's not so good. It's better to get the cell from the crash site. Because I haven't done anything else he doesn't like, he still calls me friend and would go back to Gateway with me, but it isn't ideal.

So next time we'll get the final shield generator activated.

I was unable to cause a death from the killer cactus, unfortunately.

If you kill Rolf but not the pterodactyl, it kills you. [#11]

If you sleep outside, a carnivore attacks. [#12]

If you fail to bail while on the raft trip, you and Rolf both drown. [#13]

If you are deliberately stupid, you can “jump to gruesome death.” [#14]

Score: 967 of 1600
Balance: $16,541,450
Status: Orion Program (green badge)
Missions: 11
Shield Generators: 3 of 4
Deaths: 14

Session Time: 2.5 hours
Total Time: 10 hours 30 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 comment:

  1. Hey guys, the Zork III final post was delayed because of some issues on my end. It should be coming out in a few days. Don't forget to do score guessing if you haven't already as we had relatively few guesses this time around.