We will be starting as a Ranger, as it grants us some solid starting equipment (a sword and leather armor) and an ideal starting location.
Enter Skara Brae and talk to the townspeople; a beggar north of the town gate will tell you one of the ingredients for the Tremor spell if you give him a gold piece. Stop by the herbs shop and buy the following:
- 50 Ash (2*50=100)
- 15 Ginseng (5*15=75)
- 15 Garlic (6*15=90)
- 15 Silk (3*15=45)
- 15 Moss (6*15=90)
Now enter the moongate near Skara Brae during the first moon phase to reach Jhelom. Here, we will search Zircon's forge for the Rune of Sacrifice and recruit Julius, who will be one of our party members for the duration.
Now return to Jhelom's moongate and enter to wind up at Moonglow. Find the Rune of Honesty here. Now exit the town, walk into the nearby swamp to get poisoned, and let your main character die.
...No, really. Let yourself die. You'll respawn at Castle Britannia with 400 gold in your pockets, which will save us a substantial amount of grinding. Get the Rune of Spirituality from LB's vault, then head to nearby Britain to recruit Iolo and find the Rune of Compassion. Now head east to Britain's moongate and wait until the third phase; enter to reach Trinsic.
In Trinsic, we should recruit Dupre, find the Rune of Honor and stop by the smith to purchase four Slings (90 Gold each, total of 360). Equip one of these on each member of your party. These will give us ranged combat ability, which in turn will make combat far more time-efficient and greatly reduce the damage we take; I'm sure you can see the value in that.
Our next task is to get the main character to Level 4. This requires 400 experience, so we'll need to do a bit of grinding. Thankfully, with the aid of a Sword and a Sling, it isn't too bad. Just stay relatively close to Britain to do battle with enemies, and talk to Lord British about "health" if your HP gets low. It shouldn't take too long.
Once you reach level 4, ships will start to spawn, which allows us to reach some previously inaccessible areas. More pressingly, it allows us to reach a very efficient spot to grind gold. This is a good thing, as we will need to grind a lot of gold (on the order of several thousands) for what comes next.
To start our gold-grinding adventure, head to the west coast of the continent and wait for a ship to approach. Defeat the pirates aboard to make the ship yours, then sail to the entrance to Shame. Enter and go down the ladders inside to reach level 7, then go East through the room there. Step on the tile in the lower-right corner (behind some poison traps) to open the wall, then go up the ladder you find here to Level 4.
Step through the east wall, then go south to a four way intersection; head west from there. Take the ladder down and head west to another ladder; take it down to level 6 once again. Take two steps south and go through the fake wall to the east. You have reached our favorite treasure room, which has a total of 22 chests, each with a random amount of gold. An average visit here earns you about 1000 gold. Nifty.
At this point you can exit the room and head two squares south to a ladder. Take this down a floor, then head east to another ladder. On the 8th floor, follow the path to a room with some dragons and a hydra. Defeat them and go north, then through the east door to reach the Altar Room of Courage. Go back through the door you came in to return to Shame and all of the chests will have reset. Collect them all again for more money!
Repeat this four or five times and we should have well over the amount we need. Return to the Altar Room of Courage and head north to end up in Destard, then cast an Exit spell to quickly get back outside. Return to Britain to heal up and save your game (resist the urge to talk to Lord British; being above Level 4 is counterproductive as it will cause stronger enemies to spawn). Return to Trinsic and buy bows for your three teammates (680x3 = 2040 gold, minus the 135 you can get for selling back your Slings) and hijack another ship. Now we need to sail to Buccaneer's Den, located south of the Shrine of Compassion.
Once we reach Buccaneer's Den, we'll be making another big purchase in the form of the Key, which allows us to unlock every door in the game. It's definitely not a cheap investment at 2000 gold, but we will need it to complete the game, so we'll have to bite the bullet. If you have any money to spare, buy as many herbs as you can; you'll probably want to top off your supply of Ash at the very least.
Buccaneer's Den also has a very nice selection of weapons, but the only one we're interested is that +1 Bow, which will nicely fit our main character. This will require another gold-farming session, but with the Key in hand, we can greatly expedite the process.
Enter Lord British's castle and go right, then up through the cracked wall there. Look for another cracked wall in this room and enter it as well. Take the stairs here up, then go the fake wall to the left. Head down the other set of stairs to end up in the courtyard. Use the Key to unlock the door and enter Hythloth.
Take the ladder down to floor 8, then go west to the end of the hall and north to the Altar Room of Truth. Exit the Altar Room of Truth to the east to end up in Shame. In Shame, follow the path east, then go South to the dragon room. Exit this room west and follow the path to a ladder leading up. This will take you to floor 7. Go straight west on floor 7 to the ladder and take it up. You will now be on Floor 6.
Take two steps north from the ladder here and go east through the fake wall , and you will have reached our favorite treasure room once again! Farm a few more times here until you have over 4,000 Gold, then exit through Destard again and buy us that nifty +1 Bow. Once again, any extra cash on hand should go to herbs.
Step 2: The Quest of the Avatar
Now it's time to begin the titular Quest of the Avatar. Backtrack to Britain, then hop on a ship and sail south to Paws. Here, you should get the Rune of Humility and talk to the townspeople to learn the last ingredient of Tremor. Now return to Lord British's castle and enter the secret passage to the east of the entrance, and take the stairs up. Explore the southern end of the castle up here for a false wall; enter it to end up in the jail cell with the Reaper. Talk to him and answer "no" to his question to boost four of your virtues (Justice, Honor, Spirituality and Humility). Do this about ten times and you should be maxed out in all of them.
Check in with Hawkwind to confirm this, then head to Britain. Donate blood at the healer to boost Sacrifice (requires you to be at Level 4 or higher), then talk to the beggar outside the inn and give them a gold piece to boost Compassion. Unlike the tree, however, these cannot be done back-to-back; you must take at least 16 steps on the world map to reset the cooldown period. So walk around on the map a bit, cast Heal twice on your main character, then donate blood and money again. Do this about ten times each and you should max out Compassion and Sacrifice (again, check in with Hawkwind to confirm this).
Now gate from Britain to Yew. With the Key in hand, we can now get the Rune of Justice. You should also talk to Flamis (the campfire) and answer "No" to his question to boost your Honesty. Do this roughly 10-12 times and that should be maxed out as well.
Head to Yew's moongate and wait for the second phase, the enter to reach Jhelom. Enter the inn here, use the Key, head downstairs and follow the path all the way around get Rune of Valor. Another townsperson here should also give you the final ingredient for the Tremor spell, which means we can return to Moonglow and transcribe it into our spellbook later.
Valor is generally the most annoying virtue to raise, as it requires you to fight random encounters and only goes up by 1 point at a time (and running will dock you several). If you haven't run from any battles thus far, you should have a maxed out Valor stat by now. If not, return after clearing a few more shrines and you should be there by then. And if you're still not there... well, grind outside of Britain for a bit and check in with Hawkwind every ten fights or so until you are.
Once all of our Virtues are maxed, it's time to visit the eight Shrines and officially become eight parts Avatar. The shrines are generally in relatively close proximity to their respective towns, though there are two prominent exceptions to this that I'll detail below. At each shrine, meditate three times and you should attain Avatarhood for that virtue (indicated by part of an ankh appearing on your status screen). Also keep in mind that you must "rest your mind" (ie take ~100 steps outside on the map) between each one, so you can't do multiple shrines back to back.
- The Shrine of Valor is just south of Jhelom, though it's on a separate island so you'll need a ship to reach it.
- The Shrine of Compassion is a shot walk east of Britain across two bridges and a bit of poison swamp, near Lock Lake.
- The Shrine of Honesty is north of Moonglow on a separate island. Sail a bit north from the eastern bridge (past the dungeon of Deceit) and you'll see it. While you're in this area, you should also pick up the Black Stone and the Silver Horn (see below).
- The Shrine of Honor is a pretty long ways southwest from Trinsic, between some mountains on the western sea and a river surrounded by poison swamp.
- The Shrine of Sacrifice is a long ways southeast from Minoc; you'll have to cross a bridge over some rivers, head between two large mountain ranges and across two bridges to reach it. If that's a bit too vague, it's also north of Vesper.
- The Shrine of Justice is a long walk northeast of Yew; go south around the rivers here and continue north to the edge of the continent, then go all the way west to find it. It's behind a few poison swamp tiles.
- The Shrine of Spirituality is nowhere to be found on the map; instead, you must enter the moongate near Minoc when both moons are full.
- The Shrine of Humility is on the Isle of the Avatar, accessible by an entrance on the north side. However, it's also guarded by demons who will attack you every step unless you blow the Silver Horn before approaching.
If you've been following my walkthrough so far, you should be at Jhelom. So my recommended route here is as follows:
Go south from Jhelom with a ship, hit the shrine of Valor. Go through the moongate on the third phase to reach Moonglow. Enter Moonglow's moongate when both moons are full (it will "teleport" you to the same place) and search the ground there to find the Black Stone. Stop in at Moonglow and transcribe the Tremor spell (ingredients Ash, Moss and Manroot). Board a ship and sail west from the bridge just north of Moonglow to the island north of Magincia; search here for the Silver Horn. Go to the shrine of Honesty, then sail due south from Moonglow to reach the entrance to the Shrine of Humility. Follow the path south until you reach a wide open area, blow the Silver Horn to ward off the demons, and enter the Shrine of Humility.
Return to Moonglow and enter the gate at the second moon phase to end up near Britain. Head east to the Shrine of Compassion. Return to Britain's moongate and enter at the first phase to reach Yew. Head Northeast to reach the Shrine of Justice, then moongate back to Britain (first phase) and wait for another moongate; enter at the second phase to reach Minoc. Go southeast to reach the Shrine of Justice, then return to Minoc and wait for double new moons; enter the gate to reach the Shrine of Spirituality. Re-enter the gate at the second phase to reach Trinsic, then head southwest to reach the Shrine of Honor.
With all of that, we should now be eight parts Avatar and get 99 MP to cast spells with (regardless of our starting class).
Step 3: Key Item Cleanup
If you've been following this walkthrough, you should have the Black Stone already. If not, go to Moonglow and search the spot where the moongate appears at double new moons to find it.
Board a ship and head to Buccaneer's Den. Restock all of your herbs here, and don't forget to press Select so you can buy Manroot as well; they're not cheap at 20 gold apiece, but are needed to cast some of the best spells (including the all-important Tremor).
Now head to Moonglow by way of moongate or ship and continue north to the Lycaeum. Here, we have two important items to pick up: The Book of Truth (search for it in the middle row of shelves in the library on the right side) and the Sword of Paradise, which is the ultimate weapon that only the Avatar may use.
Pick up both, then sail southwest to Serpent's Hold. From the east end of the small island east of Serpent's Hold, sail west to a small inlet of shallow water, and search there to find the Bell of Courage. You should also head east and a bit south to find an area with three volcanoes, and search in the center to find the Skull (of Mondain). However, you should not, under any circumstances, use the Skull; doing so will wipe out all the Virtue points you've obtained! Keep it with you, but do not use it!
Finally, head to Yew, then head west-by-southwest (around some rivers) to reach Empath Abbey. Here we collect the Exotic Armor, the ultimate armor that only the Avatar may use. Father Antos also gives us an important clue to the location of the Candle, saying that it's in a town off of Lock Lake.
That is a bit of a problem, however, as we can neither sail to it nor walk there. Your only options are to find the whirlpool that randomly moves about the world and sail into it (very tedious and annoying) or fly there via the balloon. The latter requires some Wind spells, but is generally much less annoying, so that is what we will do.
Return to Britannia and enter the secret entrance to Hythloth. Immediately cast the Exit spell and you'll be deposited on a small mountain range on the Isle of the Avatar containing the Balloon. Now, using Wind Spells (remember to direct the wind from the opposite direction of the one you want to travel - South to travel North, etc.), direct the balloon to the vicinity of Britannia. We want to head just west of Britain to the mountain range there, then head north to a small plateau in the mountains that is otherwise inaccessible. Land the balloon here and enter to find the White Stone. The Scale can also be found here, which can be refined into the second-best weapon in the game that only a Fighter can equip; if that interests you, pick it up as well. The next time you're in Minoc, show it to Zircon and he will craft the +2 Axe for you.
For now, though, get back on board the Balloon and head East of our current location to Lock Lake. Go a bit south to spot Cove and land there. Here you should head to the Shrine and head through the fake wall on the left; from there, go north through another fake wall and you will find a chest. Inside is the Candle (don't worry about "stealing" it - this one does not count against your Virutes)
Step 4: The Stones and the Three Part Key
Note: In the dungeons, there are often hidden exits that allow you to continue on the paths written below, generally activated simply by stepping on them. So if I say "go west" and there's no exit leading west, just walk around once the room is clear of enemies and you'll eventually trigger a hidden passage going that way. Some are also hidden behind fake walls and the like, so look out for those!
With the best gear equipped, the White and Black stones in our possession and the Skull, Book, Bell and Candle in hand, our only remaining task before the final gauntlet is to find the Three Part Key. This requires us to venture into the eight dungeons, find the six remaining Stones and solve the puzzles of the three altar rooms to get the three parts. This sounds daunting, but remember that all of the dungeons are connected on their bottom floor, so it's not as much of a grind as you might expect. Still, we do have a pretty long journey ahead of us, so this is probably a good time to heal up and possibly even level up to get some extra HP for our characters; you should have enough experience to get most of your characters to Level 7 or 8 by now.
*Go through the secret path in Castle Britannia to reach Hythloth, go all the way down to the eight floor and enter the Altar Room of Love (west and then north at the first branch). Go out the left exit to reach Covetous. Go south to a room and exit west, then go up the ladder. Go east through a room, keep going east through two fake walls to find the room with the Orange Stone.
Rule of thumb: Always answer YES, no matter how bizarre the questions are! This part is either badly translated or just intended to misdirect you, as some of them don't make much sense (you have to answer "Yes" to not being willing to sacrifice yourself for a friend, for example).
Backtrack to the Altar Room of Love and go north to reach Despise. Go north and east to a room, north to another room, then exit east and follow the path here. Go south to another room, then south through there to a ladder. Climb up it. On floor 7, go south through a fake wall to another ladder and go up. On floor six, go east and then up another ladder all the way to the top.
On floor 4, go south and up either ladder, then on Floor 3, go south and down that ladder. Here, go south to a room and exit east. Follow the path southeast to a ladder and go down it. Head north through a fake wall, east, down and east again to a set of three rooms. Go through the second door, clear the enemies in this room, and search for a fake wall; this will open a passage to the room with the Yellow Stone.
Backtrack once again to the Room of Love and exit right to reach Wrong. Go up the ladder, go east and south through a room, head further south to another room, then exit east. Take this ladder down and follow the path here through three rooms, exiting west from all three. Get the Green Stone here and backtrack once again to the Altar Room of Love. Here, use the Orange, Yellow, Green and White stones (answer Yes to the question) to get the Key of Love.
Head south to return to Hythloth, then head west and north to the Altar Room of Truth. Exit east to Shame. Go east and south to a room, then exit west. Follow the path to floor 7, then go up to floor 6. On 6, go north to another ladder, go up. On 5, follow the path to a ladder in the midst of a 4-way intersection and go up. On 4, follow the path to a room, go south, then go up. On 3, go north to a room, then go west and up this ladder. Head east from here, then south, east and south to the Purple Stone.
Go all the way back to the Altar Room of Truth, then exit North to reach Deceit. Go east and south to a room, then exit south. Go west and through another room and exit west. Go north to a ladder and go up. On floor 7, go southwest as far as you can to reach the Blue Stone.
Return to the Altar Room of Truth and use the Blue, Purple, Green and White stones (answer Yes) to get the Key of Truth.
Only one to go. Go south once again to Hythloth, then back to the four-way intersection. Go north to a room, then exit East and north to reach the Altar Room of Courage. Exit north to reach Destard, follow the path all the way to the end, and walk west through a false wall. Go south and east to a ladder and go up. On Floor 7, go North and West through another room, then go south and east to another ladder. On Floor 6, go west past the first ladder and down the ladder at the far end. Back on Floor 7, go south to a four-way intersection, then head East to find the Red Stone.
Backtrack to the Altar Room of Courage and use the Red, Purple, Orange and White stones to get the Key of Courage. Exit south and cast the Exit spell to return to the exit of Hythloth. Board the balloon and return to Britannia once more.
Step 5: The Endgame
Talk to Lord British and level up; you should be at level 7 or 8 by now, and the extra HP will be very handy in the Abyss. You should also stop by Buccaaneer's Den to replenish your supply of herbs (don't forget Manroot!) so that you can cast the all-important spells of Heal and Tremor.
Now at last it is time to set sail to the Isle of the Avatar. Sail south to Serpent's Hold, then head due east to reach a small cove where you can enter. Follow the path here through some lava to reach the entrance. Now Ring the bell, read the Book and light the Candle; the Skull in your inventory will shatter and you will be taken into the Abyss.
Unlike other versions of Ultima IV, the Abyss is done solo in the NES port. Thankfully we do have a Bow +1 and the best sword and armor in the game, as well as a boatload of herbs and 99 MP, so we are very well equipped for what's to come. Also keep in mind that you can restore your MP by taking steps and enemies will not spawn in a cleared room, so once all the enemies are gone, just walk around a bit and heal yourself up if needed. Tough enemy can also be quickly mopped up with Tremor and Quick spells, so combat isn't a huge concern either.
Head east through two rooms, then south and east through two more. Continue down the hall to a healing fountain, then head north to the first altar. Answer "Honesty" and place the Blue stone here to continue.
On the second floor, head south, east, south, east and south through a series of four rooms, then continue on. Two steps before you reach a ladder down, head south through a fake wall to find the next altar. Answer "Compassion" and place the Yellow stone to be taken to floor three.
On the third floor, head north to a series of two more rooms, heading east through both, to reach the next altar. Answer "Valor" and place the Red stone.
On floor four, head east through a fake wall, then continue on to two rooms; exit both to the north and follow the path tot he next altar. Answer "Justice" and place the Green stone.
On floor five, feel free to heal up at any of the fountains and head to the southeast corner of this area to reach two potential rooms to enter. Go south, then east twice, then south again to reach the next altar. Answer "Sacrifice" and place the Orange stone.
Floor six is the toughest floor of the dungeon; there are nine rooms here that must be entered in a specific order to follow the correct path through to the end. Start by heading east to a door, but do not enter this room; instead, take one step north, then go east through a fake wall into the first room. From here, head south, then west, then south again. Now continue east, north (you'll cross back through the second room on another path), east again, down twice, then east twice and you'll make it out. Answer "Honor" to the altar here and place the Purple stone.
On Floor 7, we simply need to head northwest through four rooms to reach the altar. Exit the fourth room north, then follow the path. Answer "Spirituality" and place the White stone.
Alright, last floor. Head southeast and enter the south room, then continue east twice and north once. Heal up here, then continue north, east and south around the corner to find... doppelgangers of yourself and your seven companions? ...Yep, but they're no tougher than any other enemy we've fought here. Take them out with a Tremor spell and mop up whoever's left, then continue south through one more room to reach the altar. Answer "Humility" and place the Black stone.
Now you have reached the chamber of the Codex. Collect it and exit to finish the game. Congrats!
Honesty - Search three spaces south of the brick square in the northeast side of town (where Mariah is).
Compassion - Search the bottom of the stairs in Britain's inn.
Valor - Unlock the door in Jhelom's inn with the Key and go downstairs. Follow the path all the way around to find a ghost and talk to him, then search in the corner of the room to find the rune.
Justice - Search in the cell with Vorpal the thief. Requires the Key.
Sacrifice - Search the upper right corner of Zircon's forge (you will take some damage from fire here).
Honor - Search in the center of the crop field in the southeast corner of town.
Spirituality - Search in the corner of Lord British's vault; it's accessible via a hidden wall in the upper-leftmost room on the first floor.
Humility - Search the mountains in the southern part of Paws behind the stables; requires the Key.