Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Arcan Supplement: Really Won

Arcan gives me a dubious "reward."
I confused some readers on my recent entry about winning Arcan as to whether I had really "won." The message provided by the game seemed to suggest that I had accomplished the objective of the game--finding Arcan's treasure chamber--but that there was some optional content "just for fun." Some readers opined that the post-game content was in fact part of the game proper and that the message I received was the equivalent of a "psych!" I started this final session believing they were wrong and finished conceding that they were right.
There were two more large levels and one small one after Arcan's treasure chamber. I had started to explore one when I wrote the last entry, but I got stuck at a locked door. The solution, as with the previous time I got stuck, was simply to go over everything again. I found a pit that dropped into what had been a wall space on the previous level, and in there I found a key that allowed me to move on. The level beyond was almost two-thirds open space, with a random spattering of walls and pillars. There were lots of enemies to kill.
Main +2 with its large open area.

Four levers in this open area opened the way to the more maze-like southern part of the map. Stairs led from there to the penultimate level, where a complex series of button and teleport puzzles led to a series of rooms that spelled "ARCAN" in the wall space. Elsewhere on the same level, if you tilt your head sideways, there's a suggestion of a demon or skeleton. I don't know. It kind of falls apart in the lower half.
Main +3 with its messages in the walls.

The puzzles were more of the same from the previous parts of the game, though intensified. There was an area with eight movable wall squares, for instance, and a very large area in which nearly every square had a pressure plate that caused a fireball to come shooting out of a nearby wall. There were multiple places in which I had to step on a plate, push a button or pull a lever, and step back off the plate before I got roasted. 
Until the end, there were no new enemies. They just got more difficult. Waltzing had been essentially mandatory throughout the game, but in the final two levels, it got so bad that I couldn't even miss a step. There were a few places in which there were too many enemy parties to waltz, or they refused to move past a certain waypoint, and I had to kill them by shooting off missile spells from a distance, retreating to rest and restore my hit points, and then fire off the spells again.
Food became a huge issue again for a while. Although I had found two fountains on the main level, I couldn't return to that area from the treasure chamber. I could open a doorway to it, but there was a pressure plate that closed the same door every time I stepped on it, and there was no other way to get back. Eventually, I found a new spell called "Teleport" which acts like a mark/recall spell. The default "mark" was the starting square on the main level, so I was able to use it to return and use the fountains, then walk back to the treasure chamber--as long as I remembered to open the way from the other side first. That solved the food issue.

The "Teleport" spell brings up options for setting a new marker or returning to a previous one.

Another key spell was "Float," which stops you from falling down pits. It lasts only a brief time, but it was vital to get through a few areas that opened pits every time I stepped on a blank square. Other new spells were "Fire Shield" (which protected a little against the fireball traps), "Cold Shield" (for which I never found a use), and "Fireball."
The characters barely leveled up at all in numeric levels, but they had one more level to gain in their classes. I had finished the previous session at meister & lehrer (master and teacher), and they moved from there to weiser meister ("wise master"). There were a few weapon and armor upgrades, none of which made much difference against the increasingly deadly foes.
The automap makes the "ARCAN" part clearer (it uses a different secret door annotation), but also suggests something going on below it. "FPP7"?

The penultimate level culminated in a slot where I had to insert a gold staff. That opened the way to a final stairway. I groaned when I saw it, anticipating another large level, but the final "level" was just a single room. A message greeted us as we arrived:
You have now really arrived and hope to get riches and treasures as a reward. But you will only find one thing--and that is your end and not mine. My bodyguard has taken on everyone so far. Flee as long as you can; otherwise, your end is predetermined. Hahaha. I can already see you running.

The "bodyguard" was the only unique creature in the game, a figure with red robes, a blue hood (or hair), and a blue staff. Owing to the game's silly combat system, in which only characters in the enemy's literal column can hit him, only two of my characters could participate in the final battle. Like all the other battles, it involved lots of footwork, but he refused to move in predictable patterns. Instead of "waltzing," I had to step away from him, furiously look back and forth between the two squares that he might choose, hit him again, and step away again.
The final foe.

The final messages popped up as soon as the "bodyguard" was dead:
Congratulations! You are the first in a long time to have managed to defeat my bodyguards. As a reward you now have the honor to serve me. From today on you should be my personal bodyguard until others come and defeat you to take your place. But if you manage to fend off all opponents for a year, then I, the great ARCAN, will reward you for your service. I will then dismiss you in all honor and with as much gold as you can carry.

The differing appearance of these final messages is what sold me that this was the true endgame.
Finishing the game took another 12 hours, roughly, so I've updated the previous entry with the new time. I'm not inclined to make any changes to the GIMLET.
Link: to the original report of The CRPG Addict

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