Thursday 26 April 2018

Missed Classic: Red Moon - Spelling Bee

Magic works in different ways in adventure games and CRPGS.

No matter whether it hits you during a trip through swamp or if it is caused by a snake bite or a hostile magician, poisoning is an annoying companion. It eats your hit points and doesn’t go away, no matter how much you rest. Luckily, CRPGs have a solution available - one successful use of “Cure Poison” does the trick.

Spells in CRPGs are usually like this. They affect the mechanics of the games - one spell sets a character into a status of being poisoned, another takes the condition away. There’s no specific need to use some spell at a certain place, but you can creatively use them to improve the chances of your characters or make hostile characters approach their final state, that is, death.

In adventure games, we rarely see these type of spells - after all, adventure games rarely have any similar mechanics to deal with. On the contrary, the spells are mostly just solutions for puzzles and can be used only at definite locations. Thus, Loom’s “gold to straw" and “straw to gold” -spells do not exist for the sake of lessening the weight of loot you are carrying, but for solving a single problem (well, the latter spell exists just for the sake of symmetry, but you get the point).

It is just to be expected that hybrids would contain both types of spells. In Quest for Glory games, Flame Dart is a good example of a spell used in battles, while Trigger is something you’ll only need when you have to solve a puzzle with it. Although not even a hybrid, but more an adventure game with CRPGish elements, Red Moon shares this trait with proper hybrids.

Spells affecting mechanics include:
  • Save/Restore
  • Zap: an attack spell
  • Shield: a defence spell
  • Strong: allows you to carry more items for a while
  • Find: forgot where you dropped the item you’ll need for the next puzzle? This spell will take you to it
  • Snoop: gives a description of an adjacent room
  • Escape: takes you to the starting room, and when cast in starting room, to the previous room, where you cast the spell
  • Treasure: secondmost worthless spell in the game. It tells you whether an item is valuable, although you can determine that easily from you score
  • Magic: the most worthless spell in the game. It tells you whether an item is “magical”, but nothing else
Spells, which will probably be used in puzzles:
  • Bounce: “reverse fall”
  • Extinguish: puts out fire
I know what all the spells in the game are, because manual describes them. Still, at the beginning I can cast only Save and Restore, since for most of spells I must have a special item as a focus, such a lamp for Find or a dagger for Zap. Of course, I can still use these items for other things - dagger works as a weapon and lamp as a light source.

In addition to spells, the game has few magic words, two of which I learned in the previous post: “humkaat” and “satarh”, the former of which I don’t yet know where to use. Saying these words diminishes your hit points, just like casting spells.

There’s still one, very traditional restriction for magic use in the game. If I just happen to be in the same room with some object made of iron, magic doesn’t work. Unfortunately, it’s not that clear what objects are iron. Dagger apparently isn’t, since it works as a focus, but an axe is iron.

So, what have I achieved this time?
  • Digging is apparently a thing again, and this time you won’t even need a shovel. I’ve already found a bejewelled crown

  • Just like in Alice in the Wonderland, eating a mushroom makes you smaller and lets you access a secret cupboard with things like chainmail and gasmask
  • There are some rooms filled with water. If I try to enter them, the game notes I can’t breath there and then I return to the previous room. The gasmask wasn’t the answer and also not the flask of air I’ve found
  • It wouldn’t be a Level 9 game, if there wasn’t an item that makes you stronger and lets you carry more stuff. This time it’s bracers
  • The horseshoe I found in the previous post was indeed a magnet. I could use it to get some iron coins behind a grating

  • Nezzon the Healer sell poison pills and a chunk of chalk and asks for three items as a payment
  • I’ve also met wizard Xiiz, whose tower I saw above ground. He stands at the top of a stairway and won’t let me back, if I don’t give him a treasure. Luckily, few rooms above, I’ve found a book he accepts - and later I can get the book back with the magic word “satarh” I learned in the previous post
  • The book contained more magic words: “obis” for opening, “ollabin” for dust

  • Bostog the Dwarf wanted some entertainment and was satisfied with me playing dulcimer. As a reward, he told me that the dungeon contained a spell which would make an acorn into a bridge

  • I found the spell scroll in a library and the acorn under some leaves. There was one chasm where I could use them. A bridge led me to something called Helix of Het. After a while, this cavern ended in a pool of acid, which I couldn’t cross

  • I’ve met Kelf, who is dying of thirst, but I haven’t found any drink for him
I checked the clue sheet to find some hints about the combat. To my surprise, I found out that dead monsters might come back as ghosts. Since there’s a limited number of hit points in the game, this makes me suspect that combat isn’t the optimal choice to deal with the monsters. In fact, I’ve so far found only three aggressive monsters I couldn’t avoid:
  • A reflection of myself in a hall of mirrors. There’s an empty bottle in this room, which might come in handy in getting some water to Kelf 
  • Blacksmith Giant in a forge. There’s also a hot sword, which I can pick up, if I am just wearing gloves
  • A cloaked statue
I’ll try to deal with these monsters without combat, but if I cannot find any, I probably have to attack them and hope that the ensuing ghosts won’t be too much of a problem.

Session time: 3 hours, 15 minutes
Total time: 5 hours, 15 minutes

Treasures found: pearl, crown, book, medallion, iron coins
Focuses obtained: pearl (snoop), dagger (zap), lamp (find), gloves (treasure), dulcimer (escape), medallion (magic)
Other items discovered: axe, magnet, meat, healing potion, bracers (worn), linen shirt, chainmail, gasmask, poison pills, chalk, flask of air, shield, bottle, sword


  1. The worst part about this post is that it is making me want to pull out some Gold Box games again. I have beaten the first three in the "Pool" series and, I think, the first in the Savage Frontier series. I don't remember enough about it to say if I won or not...

    I am looking forward to seeing how Infocom handles RPG mechanics in Quarterstaff and Beyond Zork.

  2. Interesting thoughts on the differences between RPG and adventure game magic. Haven't really thought about that before, but it makes sense the way you explain it.

    Ironically ( or maybe purposefully? ), at the Wizard's initiation in Quest for Glory 2, that you've used as an illustration, most of the spells, including combat spells, are used for puzzle solving.

    1. It was more of a necessity than intention this time. I did originally try to find a good screenshot of the hero shooting Flame Dart, but I couldn't find a good one. Thus, I settled for the ironic option.