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Low-Spoiler Wizardry VIII Guide: The Swamp

There are five exits from the Swamp: back west to Trynton, south to Marten's Bluff, southeast to the Southeast Wilderness, north to Bayjin, and northeast to the Mine Tunnels. Look out for cracks and black spots on the earth as you travel this map, since swamp gas can injure and sicken your party if you're low-level.



Points of interest:

1) Soon after entering this map, you should see a sign warning you about the aforementioned swamp gas, and the Dark Savant will appear to bitch at you about his problems. Laugh at him and carry on; he won't hurt you (yet). One or two of your characters may comment on him and his travails, and if you have wacky personality types in your party, these can be hilarious, so you may want to reload it a couple of times to hear what everyone has to say.

2) To the south of the map there is a big puddle of goo you can click on. You can do something with this; just click on it with the right item to collect some of it into usable form (gadgeteer not necessary).

3) To the east of the map, as north as you can get without crossing the bridge, you will find a house with an NPC called Crock in it. Crock sells a lot of good, ofttimes pricy items, including one special item, and can provide some information on Marten. You can't get into the rest of his house without killing him, which you'll lose a later quest by doing; a friend told me you could lure him away from the door he's standing in front of by getting monsters to follow you into his house, but in later versions of the game, that doesn't work. There is some good loot in his house but nothing worth losing a quest over. There are so few in this game anyway. You can always kill him when his frog quest is over if you want.

3) Across the north bridge there are your first fights with the Rynjin (they can be tough for low-level parties), a few huts with items in them, and a beach littered with hidden items and what appear to be pieces of another crashed starship.

The next area on your quest agenda is the Mine Tunnels, but you can wander through the wilderness areas first if it suits you. It won't screw anything up if you do.

Southeast Wilderness

This area is primarily just a haven for wandering monsters, but there are two structures here:

1) a pagoda with a musical instrument on it, and

2) a winding road up from it that leads to a temple. Save before you go up there if it's this early in your game; there are some really bad-ass monsters in there, as well as some worthwhile items (especially if you have a gadgeteer) and a special item for later use.

Wilderness Clearing

This area is accessible from the beginning, but changes dramatically later in the game. If you wander in here in the early game, you'll find a few monsters to fight and one friendly Hogar named Rex (?) You can't talk to Rex, or do anything else with him. I have no idea what he's there for; probably an in-joke about a programmer's large dog.

Mountain Wilderness

This is really the road to Rapax Rift, where you don't need to go yet. I wound up here early in the game because I was trying to accomodate travel-shy NPCs. It's a good place to get loads of XP and good items, though. You can get to either the Northern or the Southeastern Wilderness from here (the road to Ascension Peak is blocked). The Rapax and Savant Minions who wander this area may attack you or may just taunt you and go their way. Trying to speak to them further just makes them attack you anyway. Some of their taunts are entertaining, though, as are your characters' responses.

Oh, and use your common sense and don't step on the pools of lava. They will kill you.

1) There's a cave with priests and Rapax fighting a pitched battle inside. Join on the side of the priests and their leader, Anselm, will talk to you about the plot till you get bored with him and go loot the cave.

2) There's a bunker in the side of one hill with some monsters and items in it.

3) There's another NPC, Bela, on this map, who has a trove of plot information. I have a vague memory of him being an NPC from Wizardry 6. Be sure to question him thoroughly. He'll be important later.

4) There's another stupid Wizardry 8 Easter Egg puzzle on this map. Touch the blue runes in the correct order (trial and error works), put a plain longsword into the rock, then step on the mushrooms. This throwback dungeon isn't very good either, but it does have one boss monster, Nebdar, who you can't fight any other way, and she has a unique amulet you can loot.

Mine Tunnels

The name of the area may throw you, because there are no mines or tunnels readily apparent. Be patient, they're at the very end of this map. Before you get there:

1) The huts contain some items and a broken Savant Trooper, RFS-81, who will stand around complaining that he needs repair until you use a special item to fix him. You can (and should) pump him for information extensively--though he knows nothing useful to you, it's interesting to see how the Savant programmed him to react to various races, individuals, items, and so forth. When you're done talking he'll join the party if you like.

2) Up the hill is the T'Rang base. The T'Rang should be green and friendly; if they're not you probably accidentally attacked one of them and may want to reload. It's more interesting if they talk to you, and there's plenty to kill out here anyway. There is a secret entrance to the base, which you'll find if you search the area carefully. There is also a trap, which if you somehow fail to notice you deserve to be killed by, since it's not only plainly visible but marked with a warning sign. If you want to try it out anyway, save first. You can avoid being killed by it if you run away when the screen starts shaking, but you still won't be able to pass the trapped area. Go in through the secret door instead and come out on the other side. (What I did get killed by, moronically enough, was the door to the T'Rang base. Don't be stupid like me and stand in the doorway while you push the glowing button to see what it does. What it does is close the door, and it will crush your party if you're standing there.)

Inside the base, you want to talk to Tantris, though he won't join you yet, and you want to play with the buttons on the wall. I was unable to ascertain what either of the bottom two buttons do, but one of the top buttons pops open a hatch with a little map on it and the other zaps you for some damage. Jot down the map, as you'll use it once you find the mine tunnels.

3) There's a grate you can't get through as you continue down the path; don't worry about it, as you'll approach it from the other side if you take one of the extra mine tunnels. There's nothing behind it anyway.

4) You'll finally get to a building, inside which are three mine carts and a map with dials on the wall. This map is actually rather cool. Think of yourself as starting in the top left corner, and then set the dials so that the arrows lead you to one of the four exits from the map. Then get into the mine cart, pull the lever, and go. The map you found in the T'Rang base tells you how to set the dials to get to Marten's Bluff, but you may want to try out the other three exits first, since there are a few items there. You can ride the cart as many times as you want without any problem; it magically returns to the building once it's dropped you off, and the three non-Marten's-bluff exits of the mine will all drop you back on the path you came from when you're done (one of them through that grate you saw, the other two by a short hop off a hill onto the trail). Once you take the cart to the entrance to Marten's Bluff, though, there's no turning back--you will have to continue on to the next map (well, that or use a spell to return to a previous portal).

Lower Marten's Bluff

You enter this area through what looks like a sewer line. As far as I can tell there's nothing you can do with the glowing green sewage. This area belongs to the T'Rang, but they aren't hostile, and in fact will take your side in a fight (this can make fights take forever as 27 nearby T'Rang guards move while you're fighting three centipedes--take out the wimpy enemies in here in one round if possible to avoid this lag.) Following the corridor you arrive in, you will eventually reach a central room with many doors. Working your way clockwise around the room:

1) The first three doors lead to cubicles holding some treasure, including a key item. The T'Rang don't mind if you loot them.

2) The fourth door, due west, leads to a T'Rang control room. You can talk to the computer controlling the T'Rang mothership, but you can't actually change any of its settings yet. The leader, Z'ant, is in one of the side alcoves (you can also see him through a little window), and he will suggest an alliance. I strongly recommend taking it, since A) the T'Rang are behaving quite civilized in this game and hate the Dark Savant anyway, B) agreeing won't prevent you from changing your mind later and allying with the Umpani, and C) you can get quests by agreeing, and there aren't enough quests in this game. The first quest, fetching an Umpani flag, seems oddly like a children's game, but what the hell, it's work. Z'ant has information for you about most of the players on Dominus, or his take on them, anyway.

3) There's another, larger room accessible from the control room that you can get into with the pulse card. When you enter here, do NOT step on the glowing circle on the floor--it's an elevator to Marten's Bluff, but to a section that is blocked off until you open it from the other side, so stepping on the portal will just cause you to have to load two areas needlessly to get back where you started from. The water will heal wounds, and do so much more effectively than other fountains you've encountered to date. The last door here won't open, zapping your party for damage if you try. There's no way to open it at this time. You'll come back here later when you've found an item to open it with.

4) Back in the central room with all the doors, there is one more exit, a corridor to the north with no door. Following this corridor around will lead you to two alcoves containing treasure, two restricted areas you don't need to worry about yet, and the stairs to Marten's Bluff. The first restricted area, the one off the c-shaped side hallway, can't be entered at all. The guards will shout a warning to you and if you approach the door they will attack. You probably won't be able to open the combination lock anyway, unless you've already killed Z'ant. Just do like they say and move on. The other restricted area, the northernmost room, can be entered without provoking an attack, but it's basically useless to do so. The machine in there doesn't have a purpose you can figure out yet.

Moving on down the stairs...

Marten's Bluff

You will arrive here by way of the stairs (you can also come via the elevator, but since the elevator is blocked off by glass panels until you open it from the other side, you'll just have to turn around and take the stairs anyway). The stairs lead up into the east castle, from which there oddly is no exit. You'll be able to escape through a hole, eventually, so be patient. Besides looting it for treasure, the east castle has four features:

1) There's a column with mouths set into it which periodically spits arrows at you. They don't do much damage and almost never hit you, so I wouldn't be overly concerned about them.

2) There's a lever to pull. It has no immediate effect to do so; the best I can tell is that this opens a door in the west castle, which looks like it was once shut.

3) There is a second staircase leading back to Lower Marten's Bluff. Be sure to actually take both staircases! The second one brings you to a room with a teleporter, which, once you fix it, can be used to teleport to a few locations including the locked building on the Arnika-Trynton Road, which has a few choice items in it. You can't get to this room from the rest of Lower Marten's Bluff without turning the T'Rang hostile, so if you're not planning on betraying the T'Rang you definitely want to take the second staircase to explore this area.

4) There's a room with a sword floating in it, and a hidden hinged pot that one of your characters will probably notice. Stop and look closely at the floor, then collect those two items stepping carefully around the discolored panel, which is a trapdoor. There is no way back up into the east castle once you go through the trapdoor, so if you've already fallen through and you want those items (or haven't finished exploring the rest of the castle yet), you'll have to go back to the Lower Bluff and up the stairs again--or, better, reload and avoid the trapdoor till you're ready. Once you're done here, step on the trapdoor, and you'll fall down into the moat.

5) There is nothing in the moat, except some monsters to slay. You can run up the shallow bank to the grass outside the castle.

6) You can use the catapult to get into the west castle. Play with it a while to figure out how; you can't screw it up badly enough to strand yourself, so don't panic and reload, like I did, if your first strategy doesn't pan out. Just keep trying. Once you're inside, things of note in the west castle (besides items to loot, obviously) include:

7) The body of a T'Rang slain by an arrow trap, with a couple of important items nearby. The trap will probably hit you too as you grab them, but never fear: the T'Rang was apparently 1st level, as the arrows deal very little damage.

8) An idol called Marten's Idol. Picking it up will trigger a subplot in which one of your characters mysteriously disappears. Don't panic, this is part of the plot, is inevitable (well, almost, but I don't want to give it away by telling you who you'd have to kill before arriving here to prevent it from happening), and you'll be able to get the character back soon. Examine the idol and pick up the new items on the floor for some clues as to who has kidnapped your character.

9) The three rooms housing the elevator are a very odd construction. The leftmost one contains one button that lowers a dummy onto the elevator and a control board that will cause the glass panels to close like a trash compacter. The rightmost room has the elevator controls, and I haven't completely figured out how they work, but if they are both green the elevator will function and if they are both red it won't. The middle room has the elevator, and it must be opened from the outside.

Now, why would anyone build an elevator with movable glass walls and a crash test dummy, you may wonder? Were the T'Rang testing the elevator for consumer safety? Do they like to play practical jokes by squashing each other between glass panels as they exit the elevator? No matter; this is clearly the perfect place for an ambush, and you probably have an item that will lure someone into the middle room, so you're welcome to play with it. You will get assigned this ambush as a quest later, but trying it now won't ruin that, and you also get more XP for compacting the unfortunate being than for killing him in a fight, so there's no reason not to do it if you've figured it out (and really, Crock told you all about it back in the Swamp).

10) You can take the elevator back to Lower Marten's Bluff to do a couple of previously inaccessible things there, if you like, then go north over the stone bridge from the castle to get back to the Swamp and set about finding your missing companion (you'll get another side quest involving a frog from someone who offers to help you find him/her, or else you can just find and kill the kidnapper yourself). You may also want to return to Trynton now that you have the information the Shaman told you to retrieve. Once you've finished with all that business, you'll eventually want to go to the Northern Wilderness and take the bridge to the Umpani area to continue with the main plot.

Umpani Base Camp

The Umpani camp was actually accessible much earlier in the game than this, and you can go there before you go to Marten's Bluff if you so desire; it makes no difference which one you start with, though I think the plot makes a little more sense if you go to Marten's Bluff first.

You don't have to worry about choosing between the T'Rang and the Umpani yet. You can do both sets of quests right up until they ask you to destroy each other, if you pay off that blabbermouth He'li in Arnika (make sure you visit her and pay her asking price, though killing her may also work). There are two T'Rang quests ("Capture the Flag" and "The Rapax Assassin") and three Umpani ones ("The Obstacle Course," "A T'Rang Artifact," and "Mt. Gigas Training Exercise"), and you can complete all five without a problem. Then there are two quests that you can do for both groups: "Mook Alliance" and "Underwater Adventure." Not until you have finished both of those do you have to decide to destroy the T'Rang, destroy the Umpani, both, or neither.

This map, unlike the others, rewards you if you use the Mindread spell on everyone--you can learn the Umpani's computer passwords, learn about a possible traitor, and learn enough information from the traitor to be able to pretend to be his contact. If you do this successfully and pay him what he asks you to, he'll give you a bunch of XP, some information, and a quest to destroy the Umpani. (You could also get this quest from the T'Rang eventually, but I enjoyed ferreting it out for myself.) You can narc on the traitor to Balbrak for an extra 75,000 XP if you like, too (though he will then disappear forever).

Other things to do in the camp:

1) First off you'll be accosted by a private guarding the door. Answer his questions however you like; he'll let you inside regardless. The clickable crank belongs to the flagpole. You can click it once, lowering the flag and getting a reprimand and a clue from the private, but if you click it again it will steal the flag and turn the whole camp hostile, which is probably not what you want right now.

2) You want to go to the recruitment office once you're inside, since none of the other Umpani will talk to you until you're enlisted. Talk to Balbrak to enlist. You can also talk to Sparkle, a recruitable NPC, in this office. She talks and acts pretty much like a hyperactive Powerpuff Girl. My three-year-old son likes her, but she can grate on the nerves of any other demographic group. Take her or leave her. You can scope out the office for some maps of the area and the like, but nothing important. Balbrak won't talk to you again till you're done with the Obstacle Course.

3) In the same building as the recruitment office (this camp is very well signposted), there is a barracks with 30-40 lockers and chests in it, most of them locked or trapped. You can rob this place blind with no repercussions (well, none unless you miss a trap, that is). The loot is unimpressive, but it's a good spot to practice your locks and traps skill.

4) Across the road is another building with the commissary and a bar in it. You can use either once you've enlisted. In addition to the shopkeeper and the bartender, you can find Saxx the bard in here. He's a recruitable NPC with the coolest voiceset in the game, and he's one of only three NPCs who will finish the game with you, so you can take him along if you like (be warned, he won't go into the T'Rang areas--his comments if you teleport him in there anyway are priceless, though.) The locked door in the commissary can be opened if you pickpocket Kunar for the key, but there's nothing in it other than a clue you can find another way.

5) There are a locked shed (actually the end of the obstacle course) and a locked black castle (the entrance to the Mt. Gigas caves) here. You can enter the castle once you've finished Balbrak's "T'Rang Artifact" quest for him, and/or if you get a forged pass. The shed you don't have to worry about at all; you'll come out of it once you finish the obstacle course.

6) The last building is the entrance to the obstacle course. Speak to Sgt. Rubble here once you've enlisted, and he'll show you in. The obstacle course is very annoying since it's primarily edging your way along a very narrow path and some moving blocks over hot lava. If you fall into the lava, you will have to run back to the beginning and start over (that or reload). Once you make it past the lava and slay some laughably easy monsters, you can pick up some fairly crappy loot and your security clearance card and exit through the shed.

Eventually, either by winning security clearance, forging it, or forcing your way in, you will enter the black castle to Mt. Gigas.



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