A couple of levels later and some judicious upgrading of equipment, and I was able to down OrcBoy on the first try! Not with a single blow, mind you, although at over 400 points (thanks to improved Slashing Weapons and Slam technique and getting a much-deserved critical) the first blow was a doozy. Guggle to zatch, baby, guggle to zatch! Too bad he was able to get up and walk away afterwards, but that’s cut scenes for you.

So of course, now I wonder if I would have been able to do it on the first go round if I had spent more time on improving Slash and Slam instead of Bind Wounds–I still don’t think I had a good enough weapon for it. There’s a big difference between a weapon with max damage 30 and max damage of 51. I’m sure that it’s possible in theory–or even in practice if you’re Doug–but whether I would have been capable of it, I don’t know.


I can’t beat the Orc Boss in the ruins beneath the forest with my Barbarian! After about a dozen frustrating attempts, I gave up and went back in time to try and level up some more. My Shadow Knight character managed it after about four tries–I don’t know whether it’s because the disease spell is just that effective, or whether I had lucked out in the armor and weapons the monsters dropped up to that point. Is there some trick that I’m missing? Because that stupid glowing blade of his that knocks you down, back ten feet, and whacks about 3/4 of your hp–even when you’re blocking–is ridiculous.

And up ’til that point, I thought that the Barbarian was just going to cleave the boss from his guggle to his zatch, since the the giant spiders that had been such a pain for the Shadow Knight were pretty easy for the Barbarian to wade through….stupid orc. I cleave him from his guggle to his zatch yet, just you wait!

Champions of Norrath

Snowblind Studios, who brought us the magnificent Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance never did manage to bring out the sequel, and eventually split with Bioware (and in the process, the D&D license). So instead they hooked up with Sony and the Everquest license, and this is the result. Essentially an enhancement of Dark Alliance, with a different dress. Cooperative play now allows for up to four players, and may be played over the net. More customizable, with five classes (Barbarian, Ranger, Cleric, Wizard, and Dark Knight) which can be either sex and adjustable skin and hair color and hair style, plus somewhat adjustable stats (four stat which have starting values in the 20’s-40’s and another 20 points to divide between them), plus a skill-tree-ish method of levelling up. Possibly this derives from Everquest, but I wouldn’t know.
The controls are essentially the same as in DA, even down to which shoulder-button controls drinking the healing potion and which the mana rejuv potion (same color potions on screen, conveniently enough). This makes it easy to jump into for DA fans, which is good, because the game is considerably harder at low levels than DA was–or at least than I remember it being. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve died; essentially any time I get swarmed by monsters, it’s over for me. And the monsters are objectively tougher than the early ones in DA; after clearing the initial training passel of goblins you immediately run into monsters that have ranged and magic attacks, and the pests have AI: they know how to block, and if you just stand there blocking they will (if they have room) sidle around you to get a clear shot. The AI isn’t brilliant; I lucked out at one point and just as I was about to be rended by giant badger-thingies stumbled into an alcove that they couldn’t fit in. They just kept running around, trying to attack. What’s more, they kept stumbling into a nearby open fire, and eventually killed themselves in it (I helped by shooting a spell every time I’d regenned enough mana, but I really think the fire did most of the work).

Now I have to split my time between this and Dark Alliance 2, which so far is much easier for solo play. Low level characters in DA2 seem unbelievably tough after having played a bit of Champions of Norath.