Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

[Archive] Wizardry 8, Episode 13: Lucky Thirteen, Unlucky Rapax

Posted by Rampant Coyote on July 22, 2015

Back in 2008, I did a playthrough of Wizardry 8, a game I’d missed the first time around. At the time, it was hard to acquire (yay for getting it brought back as a digital title!), and I felt (correctly!) that I’d missed out on a classic title. I blogged my efforts, but with the Great Blog Reboot we lost those articles. Since they’ve been requested, I’m re-posting them now. I hope that with the game now made available again via digital distribution, this may help other people discover this overlooked “final” game in the Sir-Tech series.

This is a continuation of my experiences delving for the first time into the now-classic computer RPG, Wizardry 8. I expected this series to go about nine or ten posts, but we’re now on post thirteen. So here we go:

Fifty-five minutes, fourteen seconds.


That’s how long this particular random patrol encounter took. I thought my complaining about the excessively long combats in Wizardry 8 might have been exaggerated. I wasn’t really sure how long these fights were taking – I was more focused on winning than keeping time. So I timed this one.

The battle was an encounter with a patrol – consisting of, as you can see, twenty-nine enemy … uh, Rapaxes. Rapaxi? I have no idea what the plural of Rapax is supposed to be. I started the stopwatch function on my watch when the battle began, paused it when I had to pick up my daughter from her play practice, and resumed it when I sat back down to finish the battle.

The battle took nearly an hour. That would be an unpardonably long boss battle. But for a run-of-the-mill fight against wandering monsters several levels below me? Ye gods! No wonder turn-based combat gets a bad rap.

I nearly lost the battle about forty minutes in. Having to replay that much of the game (since you can’t save in mid-combat) would have probably made me quit for the night. That’s happened before. Fortunately, the monsters decided to attack my water elemental at that point (or each other, succumbing to the effects of insanity I kept hitting them with) long enough for me to resurrect one dead party member and to “heal all.”


Almost worse than the loss of health was the entire party running out of stamina very quickly during the battle – and both of my primary casters having to take a quick swig of Magic Nectar to restore magic points about two-thirds of the way through the battle (just to have enough mana to cast Rest All to keep everyone from taking a nap at the same time!)

The screenshot to the right is from about that point – right after the resurrection, when I managed to fear enough rapax (I think I’ll use that for both singular and plural) to thin the crowd so I could actually stage a comeback.

So that’s my excuse for not having enough progress to report this time, and I’m sticking to it. Too many combats like this one!

So I finally found the wilderness section and Rapax Rift. That was a feat unto itself, especially when facing fire-breathing flying snakes in groups of four that are several levels higher than me. 25th level flying serpents or some such nonsense. While they may have been the same level as Nessie, they weren’t nearly as tough, though they were hard and exhausting to bring down. I could usually manage two fights in a row before needing to rest, but resting in the wilderness was nearly impossible.

Since I have three characters who can now cast spells to set and return to portals, I would have one character set a portal at my current location, and then have my other caster teleport us directly back to the tavern in Arnika – right in front of Vi Dominae, after she left us again when we approached Rapax Rift. I keep coming back and waving to her, just to prove to her that we’re still alive and let her know what a chicken she is. Then we rest up, and teleport back to our previous location. It saves on long, nasty, brutal combats that end up with us dying because we don’t have any magic left when enemies stumble across us in our sleep.

Yeah, the game can be a little brutal.

Rapax Rift is a land of deadly lava floes. Besides patrols of high-level Rapax berserkers, warlocks, initiates, priestesses, and archers, there is a temple complex and some occasional groups of “fire ants.” Which aren’t like real world fire ants at all. These fire ants are literally on fire, walk through lava, and are the size of dogs.

The other scary monster here is the Lava Lord, who is (or should I say, was) sort of an unholy enforcer-sort summoned by the priestesses to take human – or, rather, Rapax – sacrifices on behalf of some priestess / demoness / goddess named Al-Sedexus. We found several prisoners who were pretty much past usefulness, dreading the moment when they would be made the sacrifices to this Lava Lord guy.

We found another prisoner, long on information and short on spirit, who was in the process of becoming the next sacrifice. He’d had a mark placed upon him by the Staff of Ash by Al-Sedexus, which would allow the Lava Lord to eventually just burn him from the inside out. The only way to remove that mark was to use that staff to erase it. We unlocked his door, but he refused to budge without having the mark removed, as it would only hasten the inevitable. On our way out, the Lava Lord materialized from a river of lava, walked over to the prison / sacrificial area – walking right past us – roared a bit, and then returned from whence he came.

Much blundering about and re-fighting patrols led us to a spot where the supports of a cave next to a lava-puddle were weak and sagging. Knocking out a brace let the roof tumble in, which covered the lava-puddle and providing us with a step up to the other side, taking us inside a nicely-carpeted temple area. We battled rapax patrols and priestesses to the top with some teleporters. And a key.


One of the teleporters us to the central island with force-fielded area which was unlocked by a wand which looked mysteriously like a key on the end (as noted in the description!). However, unlocking the barrier field also summoned the Lava Lord, who in turn summoned a trio of fire sprites (which looked like fire elementals to me), and the whole group then began playing whack-a-mole with our heads. However, liberal use of Banish and Dehydration (I didn’t know you could dehydrate fire and lava…) saw us to a pretty easy victory. Honestly, while tough, this boss wasn’t as tough as some of the random patrols. Then we went back to the formerly-force-fielded spot, and retrieved the staff of ash and a rift key that this guy had been protecting.

Next, we took another route to a trapped lava trap. Fortunately, I saved first. While I avoided dying to the trap, I found myself well-and-truly trapped with no exit, walking around the edge of a depression which had filled with lava. I restored, found the secret mechanism to deactivate the trap (which was itself trapped!), and mad the area navigable. Proceeding forward, I ran into the high priestess, a delightful Rapax who kept us entertained by casting instant-death spells on us while her minions kept healing her (and each other) and hexing us. We killed her, and found something called a beckoning stone.

We returned to the guy who was going to be sacrificed, who took the staff to remove the mark, let us know to go north to Rapax castle, and let us know how to use the beckoning stone (I think) to summon a beast that would let us into Al-Sedexus’s lair.

That should be fun!

Design Notes:

The puzzles and fixed encounters in this area were actually pretty neat and well-designed. The non-interactive sequence when the Lava Lord first appeared was perhaps a little heavy-handed, but it served to make him seem impressive and scary. There’s a lot to like.

But really, there’s only one story here, and that is the length of combats. Now, I happen to be someone who likes a good, meaty, turn-based encounter. And I’m a fan of games with big tactical combat components, like the X-Com series, where a battle (which is the focus of the entire game) can take a couple of hours. But this is way, way too much in an RPG, and an Achilles heel to what was otherwise a pretty awesome game. It reminded me of the final fight with Sephiroth in Final Fantasy VII, where he’d invoke a spell with minute-long non-interruptable cinematic every other round. Kinda cool once, kinda making you want to throw your controller through the TV screen the twentieth time.

If I find myself opening a door and finding four groups of 99 berserkers in this game, I’m going to be really, really disappointed.

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