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3/20/2015

Spoony Plays Ultima VII Part 2: The Serpent Isle, Part 1

After the Guardian's little kerfluffle with Britannia (as chronicled in Ultima VII Part 1 and Ultima Underworld 2), we discover a scroll in Batlin's belongings that leads us to a place called the Serpent Isle.  We of course follow him there, looking to stop whatever scheme he plans to unleash as well as find the missing Gwenno.


Unusually for the Ultima Series, Serpent Isle reuses an engine from an earlier entry in the franchise (albeit modified to allow for scripted events and numerous performance improvements).  It's also fairly linear for the most part and possesses relatively few sidequests in comparison to its predecessor.  However, it does make for a more dynamic storytelling experience, so it's not too bad of a tradeoff.

Some things to keep in mind.

  • There are a lot of key items in the game.  A lot.  If something seems even remotely important, keep it!
  • There is no resurrect spell in this game, so don't go around killing people without a good reason (especially since many of them have plot relevant dialogue and can make the game unwinnable if you kill them).  You do have a means of resurrecting key characters, though - see below.
  • The hourglass you get at the beginning of the game allows you to resurrect allies (and yourself) at no charge.  Key word being 'allies' - it will not resurrect most people.  A good rule of thumb is to only kill people if they attack you first.
  • The maximum party size is now five instead of eight.  This means that in addition to the mainstays of Iolo, Shamino and Dupre, you have room for just one more.  There are a few worthwhile candidates, though in a pinch you can always just fill it with an Automata.  (and on the plus side, having fewer allies generally makes the game less laggy than Part 1).
  • There are now four different currencies in the game - Gold coins, Monetari, Guilders and Fliari.  Each town accepts a different currency.  Though you can exchange money, there is usually a small service charge.  Not that this will matter much once we get the False Coin spell...
  • There are far fewer trainers in the game than there were in Part 1.  The majority of them are found at the List Field in Monitor, and raise your combat statistics.  The only Magic trainer is found in the game's add-on, the Silver Seed.
  • Stealing works much differently than it did in Part 1.  Your allies no longer care if you steal; however, the townspeople most definitely do.  If you move things around or drop them straight into your backpack, people within sight will take notice and will either attack you or call the guards.  So if you must steal something, make sure people can't see you first - either steal while they're offscreen* or shut a door or window so they don't see you.
*There is one exception to this, namely the armory in Monitor.  No matter where the guard is in that building, he will see you if you attempt to steal anything.

Teleport Storm Items

At the beginning of the game, most of the valuable items in your inventory get whisked away by a teleport storm.  Sadly there is no way to avoid this (short of the debug menu), but the items you get in exchange do at least provide clues to find your missing stuff.  So just for the hell of it, I'll document our missing stuff and the item we got in exchange from the Teleport Storm, as well as where we found it.

(Harnna gives you quite a few clues to go on, so be sure to talk to her!)

Items Recovered

  • Magic Bow -> Bear skull - Found just outside of Monitor
  • Iolo's crossbow -> Urn of ashes - Found in Monitor's crypt.  Was swapped with the ashes of Caladin's grandfather.

Items Still at Large

  • Magic Armor -> White breastplate - Was made for Kylista in Fawn.  We'll have to pay her a visit.  But in the meantime, it makes a pretty good piece of armor!
  • The Black Sword -> Ruddy rock - ?
  • Spellbook -> Pumice piece - Krayg mentions the dungeon of Furnace, said to be an extremely hot place where rocks like this appear.
  • Magic Helm -> Fur cap - Frigidazzi in Moonshade is said to have had such a cap.
  • Magic Gauntlets -> Silver ring - Seems to be a wedding or engagement ring.
  • Torches -> Filari - It's the currency of Fawn.
  • Blackrock Serpent -> Fine stockings - Unknown.  Andral mentions possessing a similar serpent statue until recently, when Batlin and his cohorts passed through town...
  • Glass sword -> Pinecone - Most likely came from the forests to the north.
  • Dagger -> Severed hand - Said to not be dead by Renfry, kept alive by some kind of magic.
  • Map of Britannia -> Ice Wine - Said to be made by the rangers of Moonshade.
  • Rudyom's Wand - Lab apparatus - Ask around in Fawn and Moonshade.
  • Magebane -> Blue egg - Presumably came from a bird from the north.
  • Dupre's Shield -> Monitor Shield -  Could be from anyone in Monitor.
  • Swamp boots - > Slippers -> Ask around at the Sleeping Bull.
  • Burst Arrows - > Hairbrush -> Made by the goblins that plague Monitor.


As a bonus, here's the original version of Serpent Isle's intro, which was changed for the final product due to its enormous size and 364kb floppy discs still being the standard medium at the time (of which this intro would have taken up more than twenty).



And here's a "complete cut" I made that composites the in-game version with the extra footage from the "uncut" version.




Serpent Isle on GOG (bundled with Ultima VII)