Wizardry 8 is a first-person RPG that pits an initial party of six adventurers against an otherworldly being known only as the Dark Savant. After assembling their party of adventurers, the player will confront many challenges and puzzles as they attempt to find a means to stop him and his army of automatons. This would also be the last game in the series by Sir-tech. It should not be confused with the Japanese version of the series which had long since spun off from the main franchise.
It was completed and published by Sir-tech Canada when the publishing arm of the company in New York had closed its doors in 1998. Unfortunately, soon after Wizardry 8 was finally published, Sir-tech Canada would follow suit in 2003. One result of the financial difficulties that the company had been under was the sale of ad space within the game itself, something that appears when exiting the North American version of the game. The European version did not have any such advertisement.
The game is notable for being considered to be one of the last of the "old school" RPGs on the PC for both its detailed combat mechanics and the exceedingly deep character development system of classes, skills, personalization, and atmosphere. Although it utilizes both elements of sci-fi and fantasy within its story, the game manages to balance both of these against the backdrop of an epic quest that easily crosses between both genres due to its vast scope. The game also utilized extensive 3D graphics to represent its world and aside from the interface, everything was rendered in this way making it the first, and only Wizardry title to do so.
The game was also, according to Charles Miles who was a member of the team behind it, "unapologetically hard" in order to make "surviving each level to feel like an achievement.". Unfortunately, some of the mechanics that had been introduced within its gameplay (monsters with line of sight detection, using the 3D landscape to actually hide and sneak by enemy patrols) had been overlooked by players unused to having such conventions within an RPG like this one. The first section of the game that takes the player from their starting point from a Monastery to the city of Arnika, Arnika Road, had been called by RPG-reviewer Scorpia "The Terrible Road' for its incredibly tough encounters.
The game was also notable for featuring an import mechanism that allowed veteran players to bring in their saved parties from Wizardry VII which had been released approximately nine years earlier. Parties could also be imported from Wizardry Gold, a remake of Wizardry VII that had been released in 1996. Depending on what choices were made, the starting point for the player could be determined by their save. Also notable were the multiple endings that could be experienced depending on the player's choices at the end of the game.
Among the other features of the game were:
- Over 100 spells were available for casting
- 15 classes to choose from
- 11 races to create classes with
- Over 40 different skills to master
- Skill point based upgrades to skills and statistics
- Scaled encounters to a pre-set limit; many areas would have enemies that would level up alongside the player's party but only as far as a certain limit would allow depending on the area in question. While it would keep combat challenging, many players saw this as a poor and rather unrealistic method of extending the life of the game at the expense of the immediate sense of empowerment that a sufficiently well developed party could deliver.
Wizardry 8 also features spoken lines for nearly every character in the game from the NPCs that the player encounters to the reactions spoken aloud by the personalities chosen for their party members.
The manual was also notable for presenting the credits of everyone that had worked on the game within the first few pages.
Wizardy 8's quest arc is notable for being fluid in how the player handles certain situations when confronted with a decision. As there is no alignment to worry about in the game only the consequences of the player's actions mattered. For example, an important NPC may have an important artifact in their possession for sale at an exorbitant price. The player can opt to sell equipment and slowly earn the monies needed to buy it. Or, they can opt to kill the owner (if they are strong enough) and take the artifact anyway, but earn the wrath of their faction for the rest of the game.
The story of Wizardry 8 completes the "Dark Savant" arc that had started with Wizardry VI: Bane of the Cosmic Forge. In that adventure, the party had to recover the Cosmic Forge, a relic created by the Cosmic Lords that could make anything that it wrote literally true. At the end of that adventure, the Cosmic Forge had been taken away by Aletheides, a servant of the Cosmic Lords. It was later revealed that the Cosmic Forge had been used to hide another powerful artifact, the Astral Dominae, and with the theft of the Forge, the planet where it was hidden was revealed. In Wizardry VII: Crusaders of the Dark Savant, the Astral Dominae is found, but the Dark Savant steals it away and the party go off in pursuit of him.
Depending on what kind of ending the player may have experienced at the end of Wizardry VII, their save state will determine where they begin in Wizardry 8. If the player did not play through Crusaders of the Dark Savant, they would start off as bodyguards to a Mook named Grimpak who takes them on his starship to pursue the Dark Savant to the world of Dominus where the final clues lead. Unfortunately for Grimpak, the Dark Savant had already beaten everyone there and has set up defenses to ensure that no one should interfere with his own quest. The ship is shot down over the Higardi Monastery. Grimpak dies, but the party survive to continue their quest.
For veterans that had finished Wizardry VII, there were other ways that the game could start for them depending on what they did at the end of that game:
- If the party had told Vi Domina, a character that they meet on Guardia, that they had found a way to get off of Guardia and go to meet her at where the ship is at, they find the Dark Savant waiting there. Vi Domina is nearly dead and the Dark Savant offers to trade her life for the Astral Dominae to which the party agrees. The Savant leaves, but Vi and the party take off in pursuit and are shot down over the city of Arnika instead.
- If the party had chosen to keep the Astral Dominae instead, darkness surrounds them as the Dark Savant casts a powerful spell, and so they float in darkness as a result. When Wizardry 8 starts with this save, the party is still floating in darkness with no escape and the game effectively ends.
Upon arriving on the world of Dominus, the party eventually discover that many other races are there from the last game, all of which have their own reasons for following the Dark Savant. In exploring the Higardi Monastery, they discover that Aletheides had been waiting for them and he tells them why the Dark Savant is so interested in Dominus. He is there for the Ascension, the rite of passage that would enable him to ascend to the Cosmic Circle and become a Cosmic Lord himself. But to do so, he needs three relics: the Astral Dominae which is the key to Life, the Chaos Moliri which represents Change, and the Destinae Dominus which represents infinite Knowledge.
The Dark Savant already has the Astral Dominae, so he is feverishly searching for the other two relics that he knows are on Dominus. The Chaos Moliri is held by the scientifically minded Mook who had discovered it and was brought to Dominus in order to continue their studies of the artifact. As for the Destinae Dominus, it was held at the Higardi Temple until it was stolen by a Higardi called Maarten who consequently went mad after using it on himself, his mind unable to grasp the knowledge that had flowed into it. Much of the quest will involve trying to track down Maarten's last location as it had been many decades since that he had disappeared with the relic as well as dealing with several other problems.
For one thing, there is a titanic bomb on Dominus, built by the Dark Savant and protected by traps and an army of automated soldiers. If the Dark Savant event suspects that anyone is approaching Ascension at Ascension Peak, he has threatened to destroy the planet with it. That becomes one of the party's more pressing quests, but there is no way inside the bomb and it is impervious to any attack.
The second problem is that the Dark Savant's ship is somewhere in orbit, busily shooting down anyone that either tries to arrive as the party had or leave. Destroying his ship becomes another quest that they must succeed at, if only to trap the Dark Savant on Dominus and to keep him from escaping when the time comes for them to mete out justice. This will require some way to track his cloaked vessel as well as feeding those coordinates, once found, into an appropriate weapon powerful enough to blast it from the sky.
As the party explores the world of Dominus for clues, the Dark Savant appears before them and mocks them with his power, threatening to destroy them if they dare to reach Ascension. He brandishes the Astral Dominae in front of them, but then realizes that it is actually fake and hurls it to the ground before leaving to find out just what happened. The party picks up the fake Astral Dominae and keeps it in their inventory. It's a convincing fake with just enough magic to make it appear real, but upon closer inspection, it is merely a pretty bauble. Still, it can be useful in the right hands.
As for who made it, the answer becomes obvious when the party discover that the Rattkin had followed the Dark Savant to Dominus by stowing away on the T'rang ship when it had come to the planet from Guardia. The Rattkin had a deal with the Dark Savant on Guardia to help locate the Astral Dominae, but the Dark Savant had welched on the deal leaving them empty handed. In revenge, they manage to steal the Astral Dominae from him and replace it with the fake that the party now has in their possession. They offer to sell the real Astral Dominae to them for the price of what the Dark Savant had owed them which is an astronomical number.
During the course of their adventures, the party discover that the warlike Umpani have also arrived on Dominus. They are busy gathering their military strength on Dominus not only to deal with the Dark Savant when the time comes as the evildoer has betrayed them as well, but to deal with their insectoid rivals, the T'rang. The T'rang, the party later discovers, are holed up in an old fortress that used to belong to Maarten and his followers before he had disappeared in the battle to arrest him. The fortress still holds many secrets and the party eventually discover his old journal that leaves several clues behind for those to follow.
However, both the Umpani and the T'rang, while they have many things to offer the party and freely allow them to explore their respective bases, also want to send the party as emissaries to the mysterious Mook who have also arrived on Dominus. Making them an ally could tip the odds in either of their favors, something that they want in order to deal with their hated rivals. With another ally, they could do what is needed to finally put an end to the meddling of the other side. However, the party sees the mission as an invitation to get into the highly secured Mook base in Arnika and upon doing so, discover that they have the Chaos Moliri in the vault.
All three races are concerned about the "Ascension", although none of them are sure what it really means on Dominus and dismiss it as something of a local legend. What matters, however, is that the Dark Savant thinks it important enough for him to risk everything, so they are also doing what they feel is needed to find out as much about it first. As a result, one of the requirements for the "treaty" between one of these races and the Mook is to take a look at the Chaos Moliri. The Mook, of course, are happy to oblige.
Within an anti-magic vault where none of their spells will work, the party enter to find the Chaos Moliri hovering in a beam of light. It's obviously trapped if they attempt to leave with it, the technology of the vault immediately detecting any such theft, but with the fake Astral Dominae in hand, they easily make the switch and leave without the Mook ever suspecting a thing. With the Chaos Moliri in hand, and a possible ally of their own, they finally pursue the clues to Maarten's final resting place deep within the Sea Caves far beyond a treacherous island filled with brutal sea men and an underwater network of caverns, tunnels, and Nessie.
They meet Maarten who warns them of the power of insanity that it holds and only the character armed with a special helmet may grasp the Destinae Dominus without going mad. If anyone else holds it, its power flows out and turns the party into a pack of raving goons as long as it is in their possession. Once it is safely kept with the responsible party member, the party then return to the Rattkin at this point with enough money to buy the final relic. After several other adventures, they are finally ready to make their way to Ascension Peak and complete the ceremony themselves before the Dark Savant can even guess at their intentions.
Unfortunately, the way to the Peak is protected by the Rapax...a race of horned and and highly violent warriors...who have been convinced by the Dark Savant that they would be the ones to inherit the world of Dominus once he ascends. The only way through the castle is in battle, and the only way to Ascension Peak and the colossal bomb that the Dark Savant still has under his thumb is in becoming Rapax Templars. Little do they know is that one of the requirements for becoming a chosen Templar is to lie with the Rapax' demon queen, leaving the choice up to the player as to which character they want to send in alone.
After becoming Templars, the party eventually discover a portal that ties the castle directly to the inner mechanism of the titanic bomb sitting outside Arnika. Making their way inside and defeating the Savant's servants, they manage to disable the weapon by solving a puzzle requiring them to withdraw a set of rods from the central shaft allowing them to leave. Several other adventures see them rescuing the Rapax Queen from captivity, stopping the Rapax King and his plans for conquest, and making their way to Ascension Peak. Veterans of the previous game will also discover that Bela is also there and is ready to help them.
Amid the many dangers on Ascension Peak, they face three gates and three temples; each one protected by deadly challenges including one very angry Rapax Prince and his host of spellcasting minions and soldiers. The dangers protecting each temple are unique to their nature and once the party is able to defeat each one and enter them, they replace the relics where they belong, opening the way to Ascension. Aletheides also appears at each temple to greet the party and to tell them that they are drawing close to the end.
Once all of the artifacts are in place, the party make their way to the top of the mountain only to see the Dark Savant already waiting for them. He laughs at them and enters the Cosmic Circle through the glowing doorway at the top of a hewn staircase and the party quickly follow after him. They find themselves on a floating pathway, surrounded on all sides by the universe, a single way forward into what appears to be a hovering structure. Inside, they find the Dark Savant confronting Aletheides and asking him where the Cosmic Lords are. Aletheides gives him an answer that he was never expecting: the Cosmic Lords are gone. There is no one there for him to exact his revenge on.
In fury, the Dark Savant vents his frustration at the android servant, destroying him and then quickly disappearing afterwards to find any trace of the Cosmic Lords. However, they also discover that the Cosmic Forge is back where it should be, atop the book in which is written the destiny of all things, and with an ally who urges them to act quickly, they decide to use it to write their own ending. At that moment, the Dark Savant appears behind them and tells them to stop, revealing the truth of who he is.
It turns out that the Dark Savant is actually Phoonzang, the legendary Cosmic Lord that had dared to share the gift of knowledge with the races of the universe in the hopes that one day, they may rise up and become Cosmic Lords themselves. For what they saw as an abuse of his power, the Cosmic Lords banished Phoonzang from the Cosmic Circle and stripped him of his power...but not his knowledge. Thus began his thirst for revenge, but it would not arrive in his lifetime. Over the many centuries of his preparation, he eventually replaced most of himself with machinery in order to live past what his now-mortal frame was capable of doing in order to achieve his goals. Now that he almost has, he turns to the party and offers them a deal: to join him instead and become Cosmic Lords together.
Depending on what the player chooses to do, three different endings will play out:
- Join the Savant - If the party does so, the Dark Savant and his new allies use the Cosmic Forge to sow chaos and discord throughout the Universe, setting race against race, world against world, in an unending bloodbath. An appropriately evil end-screen is presented to the player as a result.
- Write their Enemy Out of Existence - The party decides to erase the Dark Savant and write it so that Phoonzang is restored, However, the Dark Savant does not want to end, his evil having subsumed what was left of Phoonzang, and fights the party who are then forced to destroy him in combat. If the player succeeds in the final battle, they are left with the Cosmic Forge and ascend to become the new Cosmic Forge, using its power to spread peace throughout the Universe such as between the T'rang and the Umpani. The Rapax are also made to know compassion.
- Tear out the Page - The most drastic measure is in simply tearing out the page where the Cosmic Lords had written in Phoonzang's banishment. This also has the effect of destroying all history that had occurred after his exile. But as the change slowly makes its way through the Universe, Phoonzang separates from the Dark Savant who then fights for his existence against the party. If the player is successful, Phoonzang thanks the party for saving him from what he had become but also tells them that they must now tend to what they had done to history and offers to guide them as a mentor in becoming the new Cosmic Lords. At first, he says that their ability to use the Forge is crude and would need much practice. But he also says that they also remind him of himself when he had first started to write.
Wizardry 8 is a free-roaming, first-person RPG set on the world of Dominus. The player must stop the Dark Savant from achieving Ascension by recovering three powerful relics, but in order to do, must negotiate the many side quests and explore nearly every dungeon to find what they need as well as gain the power to survive the final confrontation.
Saves could be made anywhere and at anytime in the game, except when playing in Iron Man mode.
Wizardry 8 was notable for giving players an active parser in which they could type in words or phrases for NPCs to provide answers for. An active list of topics was added to when required by the game, but the player could also add to the list themselves for later reference with other NPCs. In doing so, this interactivity allowed the player to simulate having a conversation with an NPC on a very basic level (such as that found in text only adventures or adventure games with similar parser driven mechanics) as opposed to simply selecting from a preset list of possible responses.
Several easter eggs were also included in the response list for veterans of the series. Entering in words related to the previous Wizardry (such as referring to certain races or worlds) would sometimes elicit a response that added to the collected lore of its backstory.
For an RPG, Wizardry 8 was also notable for the many puzzles scattered throughout its gameplay. They would range from simple tasks such as finding the correct item to riddles, fixing broken machines or in finding and then using certain items to repair bridges, and in piecing together scattered clues in order to generate the appropriate response to another puzzle much later on. Some quests, or important pieces of knowledge pertaining to them such as where the party should investigate next, were hidden within item descriptions or conversation phrases, making it easy to overlook them.
Wizardry 8 came with three different difficulty levels which could be adjusted at any time during the course of the game:
- Novice - perfect for squishing monsters or getting past particularly tough encounters. Even at this level, however, many encounters were still quite brutal.
- Normal - the normal level perfect for RPG veterans or longtime fans
- Expert - expect your characters to die often
Aside from determining how hard monsters hit you, the difficulty levels also affected several other aspects of the gameplay such as the hints that you might receive on your next quest or the difficulty of lock picking in general. It also determines just how many monsters decide to show up for your party's impending funeral.
The game also used difficulty scaling to ramp up the toughness of its encounters, although only up to a certain limit. For example, the rats that you might have stomped all over at the Monastery may be just as tough five levels later. Weapons, skill sets, and spell choices among other development options largely determined how effective your party was in a fight other than the raw level.
Iron Man Games
One notable feature of the game was the Iron Man Game setting. This is the ultimate challenge for players that want that sense of realism that an impending character death could smash their world with. In this mode:
- You can no longer save the game yourself unless you exit. The game will occasionally save at random intervals, however, but that's it.
- No loading. You can only load a game when you start one.
- If someone dies in your party, you can still bring them back to life. If your entire party is wiped out upon dying, it will also take your Iron Man save with it. There is no coming back after that unless you start all over again. Everyone die at the last battle? That's too bad.
- Setting the game on Iron Man is "like marriage". There is no turning back unless you start a new game.
However, the difficulty levels could be freely adjusted during an Iron Man session to help tilt the odds in your favor if only for a little while. The manual even came with a disclaimer saying that the developer and the publisher will, under no circumstances including but not limited to "acts of the Cosmic Lords", restore a lost Iron Man save.
The inventory system was divided into two parts: that belonging to a character and the general pool of items belonging to the party. There are limits to both in terms of how much the party can carry as a load. In addition to the load directly carried by a particular character, the party's shared inventory has a weight that is split among everyone. Load determines how much the party can carry before they either have to sell what they have or, if they can find a safe place, dump the items and come back for them later.
Wizardry 8 had the advantage of being able to "remember" where dropped items and loot would be allowing the player to literally thrown anything they didn't need on the ground and it would still be there for them to pick up later. However, load limits would only be increased depending on how strong a character was and even though there were no lockers or chests to store items in, it could be a challenge to safely drop certain items where you were certain to be able to return for them later once you hit the limit.
Moving around the world of Dominus was as easy as using the keyboard to move the party. The 3D rendered world of Dominus was also filled with a variety of hot spots to interact with whether it was a lever or a locked chest that required a little lockpicking. Players could tilt the camera up and down and examine things with the mouse. Anything that wasn't nailed down could be added to the inventory of a character or to the shared inventory that had no limit.
Picking Locks and Disarming Traps
Thieves and others with the ability to pick locks will first need to set a series of tumblers in place. Making a mistake causes either one, two, or all of the tumblers to fall and this is predicted by the character's inherent skill.
As for disarming traps, when one is suspected, the thief is presented with a series of tiles upon which are inscribed a rough estimation of part of the trap's mechanism. If it is highlighted in green dashes, it likely means that clicking on it would disarm the trap. However, many traps range in complexity and several of these tiles may have to be clicked on, one after another, as the trap is disarmed.
Depending on how well the character's skill for detecting traps is, the highlighted tiles that they believe to be the 'correct' ones are usually what the player will need to look for. However, one or all of them can just be as bad a guess as any, resulting in the trap going off.
The Races of Dominus
Dominus is inhabited by several native races in addition to the otherworldly visitors that have come on ships, such as the Dark Savant. All of them have their own reasons for either making the party's life difficult or in giving them an unexpected helping hand during their quest.
- The Higardi - These are the human inhabitants of Dominus. They are technologically advanced (they have a spaceport in Arnika) although they also tend to live in a mix between medieval trappings and sci-fi inspired technology. The arrival of the Dark Savant has thrown their capital of Arnika into chaos with his soldiers patrolling the streets and the Higardi fighting them at every turn.
- The Trynnie - Tribal mice that stand as tall as a short human on two legs, the Trynnie make up for their seemingly primitive lifestyle with a peaceful and friendly attitude towards newcomers. Unfortunately, this has also made them victims of whoever decides to smash their homes to pieces such as the Rapax or the Rattkin.
- The Rapax - They resemble walking minotaurs with even larger horns and worse dispositions. They believe themselves to be masters of Dominus and their warlike nature is well served in being some of the best swordsmiths and blacksmiths on the planet. They would rather kill first before thinking twice about what they had just put to the sword. They are hated and feared by everyone else on Dominus.
- The Umpani - Resembling walking rhinoceros in military dress, they rule a galaxy-wide empire based on strict military discipline and are considered exceptional traders if not sticklers for the rules. Because of their militant natures, they probably have one of the best equipped and most powerful armies in the galaxy. They are also bitter enemies of the T'rang and have lost their leader, General Yamo, several years before. They have come to Dominus after hearing of rumors concerning the Ascension and seek to make themselves the first ones to achieve this lofty goal.
- The T'rang - The insectoid T'rang also rule a vast empire that dwarfs that of the Umpani and are often secretive about their motives and ultimate goals. They were, at one point, allies of the Dark Savant, who asked their help in finding the Astral Dominae. However, they were ultimately betrayed and now seek both revenge as well as more knowledge on what the Savant has to do with the Ascension. Whether they are also seeking to Ascend is anyone's guess. They have found that their rivals, the Umpani, are also on Dominus and are just as wary of their intentions as anyone else's.
- The Rattkin - They resemble walking rats of near humanoid size. They had played a role in the three-way war for the Astral Dominae before they, too, were betrayed by the Dark Savant. As thieves and assassins, the Rattkin have vowed revenge. How they had arrived on Dominus is something of a mystery as is most of what they do.
- The Mook - Galactic explorers and researchers, the Mook are investigating a local legend on mortals becoming Cosmic Lords, that of the Ascension. They are also renowned psionicists given their keen intelligence and are continuing their work on Dominus.
- The Dark Savant - No one knows much of who or what he is, only that he is driven by a dark purpose that has betrayed entire civilizations towards whatever goals his dark heart desires. His quest for the relics of the Cosmic Lords has finally brought him to Dominus where he has sworn to destroy anyone that seeks to ascend. With his seemingly limitless army of mechanical automatons terrorizing the population and searching the land in his name, the Dark Savant is the party's deadliest opponent.
The player can opt to start with the batch of pre-made character provided for them by the game or create their own. As noted earlier, they could also import their party from Wizardy VII or Wizardry Gold, but if they picked the bad ending where they were simply floating in darkness, they might as well start over.
Fifteen classes awaited the player. The player was also allowed to change professions during the game at which point they start out at first level for that class, but earn levels based on the total number of experience that the character is at. Each class is also an expert at certain skills and come with bonuses in those skills for when they start out.
- Fighter - High hit points and experts at using any weapon and piece of armor, they also have the ability to go berserk and deal double damage while leaving themselves vulnerable to attack. A grounded class that can dish out the damage as well as take it. They also boast improved stamina regeneration so as to avoid getting too tired in combat.
- Lord - Skilled as a fighter as well as being pious enough to cast a few spells, they are likened to paladins and crusader knights. They start learning priestly spells around the fifth level of experience and can heal wounds over time without the need for magic.
- Valkyrie - Only for women, Valkyries are first rate warriors and experts with a lance allowing them to deal damage over a decent range. Also around fifth level, they start learning Priest spells. Occasionally, upon dying, they may even cheat death and return to life immediately afterwards.
- Ranger - An expert at ranged weapons and in sniffing out the hidden, these are decent fighters who also boast of the ability to kill enemies with one shot once they become expert enough in their field. At fifth level, they may even learn a few Alchemy tricks.
- Samurai - A true swordsman, their speed and accuracy give them multiple attacks in combat. They never succumb to fear, magic or otherwise, and have the ability to seek out the weakness of an enemy for a critical strike that can kill them in an instant.
- Ninja - An assassin and a rogue, they can kill with weapons or their bare hands, sometimes sending a shuriken at an enemy and killing them in an instant. As they become more experienced, they also begin dabbling in Alchemy.
- Monk - A spiritual warrior, they fight best with little to no armor and with only their bare hands. Their martial arts skills allow them to critically hit opponents when the opportunity presents itself and their armor class is determined by their sheer will.
- Rogue - No party is complete without a thief who can pick locks and disarm traps. While they aren't the greatest of fighters, they rely on their sneakiness to backstab their enemies.
- Gadgeteer - They can make weapons out of bits and pieces found on the battlefield and come equipped with their own invention that they can tweak the better they get at engineering things. Their intelligence also makes them equal to a thief in disarming traps and opening complex locks.
- Bard - A decent fighter, their true strength is in the magic of their music as it blesses the party with beneficial effects and their enemies with even worse ones.
- Priest - Long known as skilled healers, their talents are important for any party heading out into danger. They can also dispel the undead.
- Alchemist - They use their knowledge to mix up potions and invent mixes on the fly. As a result, they are unaffected by troublesome silencing spells and learn the skills of their craft much faster than others.
- Bishop - Like a Priest, they are able to heal their friends and dispel the undead. They are also able to uncurse items that become permanently stuck to a character, freeing them. They can also learn any spell from any of the other schools. The downside is that their learning rate is also a bit slower, so the selection of spells that they may have will take more time to develop. But with their uncurse ability, they're nigh indispensible.
- Psionic - Focused on the power of mind, they are the experts in illusion, fear, and in burning the brain of anyone that dares to challenge their power. They learn mental spells faster than anyone else.
- Mage - The classic wizard. Their long exposure to magic has given them some resistance to the same and their focused study ensures that as they become more powerful, their spellbooks will continue to add many new pages filled with deadly spells.
There are eleven races to pick from in Wizardry 8, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
- Humans - Balanced without any serious flaws, a good, even keeled race that can belong and excel at any profession.
- Elf - They excel at the intellectual classes, such as Alchemists, Psionics, Mages, or Bishops. Keenly interested in study.
- Dwarf - Gruff, short in stature, but tough and reliable, dwarves make excellent Fighters while their piety can also find them a career as a Priest
- Gnomes - Found underground and often overlooked by the larger races, their quiet and studious nature make them ideal as Mages or Alchemists
- Hobbit - Friendly, nimble, and otherwise unassuming, they make surprisingly decent Ninja, Samurai, or Rogues.
- Faerie - Tiny and delicate, their magical nature, high intelligence, and fast reflexes make them tremendous Mages, Alchemists, or Psionics. However, it also isn't unusual to see a few as Ninja or Monks, either.
- Lizardman - Tough, reptilian, and not very smart, they often make tough Fighters
- Dracon - They resemble humanoid dragons and have a number of unique abilities such as being able to hurl a breath weapon at their enemies. They make excellent Fighters.
- Felpurr - Catlike humanoids that are both fast and nimble, their inherent abilities make them ideal for being Ninja or Samurai
- Rawulf - They are devout and hearty creatures resembling humanoid dogs. Their strong vitality, keen senses, and unwavering piety make them ideal Priests, Lords, or Valkyries.
- Mook - Magical creatures resembling hairy sasquatches with wise faces, their intelligence makes them formidable Psionics and fine Rangers
Attribute scores ranged from 0 - 100 and determined a variety of effects and class eligibility requirements. Many of these attributes were particularly important across many classes across a variety of skills. Characters can improve their attributes thanks to the investment of points earned with every level.
When an attribute hits 100, it bestows an additional bonus skill that can also be improved during the course the game, such as a skill that can improve a character's ability to empower their spells with additional strength making them even deadlier in battle.
- Strength - Determines how much damage a character can lay into a monster as well as how much weight they can carry around with them. It also affects certain weapon skills and plays into stamina
- Intelligence - Important for spellcasters and affects skills such as artifacts, mythology, music, and even a character's skill with picking locks and disarming traps. Ranged combat, close combat, and even engineering are also affected by intelligence as they are often derived from complex actions requiring a keen mind as well as a strong arm.
- Piety - This is important for a character's ability to concentrate on the task at hand. It also affects how many spells a character may be able to learn and their effectiveness with them.
- Vitality - Very important for hit points, the chance for resurrection, the ability to resist damage and disease, and general health.
- Dexterity - Being nimble and quick is an important attribute to have in combat as it can also determine how many attacks a character can make per round. The ability to dual wield without cutting off your own leg, picking locks, and disarming traps so as not to poison everyone in the party is also largely determined by this attribute.
- Speed - Initiative, the number of swings that a character can hurl at an enemy, and some combat skills. Being particularly quick can also affect armor class (defense).
- Senses - Awareness of everything around them; important for detecting monsters
Upon finishing the process, the player had several options to toy with.
- Portrait - Depending on the sex and race of your character, several animated portraits were available for the player to pick from. These would be visible from within the onscreen interface when they had something to say, or when something nasty would happen to them...such as death.
- Name - Characters actually had two names: their full, impressive sounding one, and the nickname which acts as the shorthand display for who they are in the interface.
The next step was in picking a personality for your character. Wizardry did not use an alignment system and picking a personality did not mean that a particular character followed a specific ethos. It was simply used to represent their attitudes to the world around them, whether it was as a jaded cynic or an open minded explorer.
But more importantly, it would also determine the voice set used with any particular character (two voice sets per personality). None of these were set in stone, either, as the game allowed the player to change the voice and portrait of their characters. Character voices would also react to many other things, such as if a party member's spell fizzled and hit a friend in the face, someone's death, or in coming back to life and complaining that there wasn't anything there to get excited about. The humor in Wizardry 8 was decidedly cheeky.
The personalities available were:
- Aggressive - Eager to smash faces in and lay waste to anything in their path.
- Chaotic - For characters that you want sounding a little more evil. They tell everyone that their power grows stronger whenever they level up. Fun to have in your party.
- Kindly - Nice, friendly always happy to help out. They're even nice when they die from a death spell and are then resurrected by your party.
- Intellectual - They're smart, they know it, and it's why you picked them or rather, why they picked you. The fun part about this voice is that their elitist attitude actually sounds better as a part of your party, especially when something goes wrong.
- Cunning - They've got a silver tongue and a smart attitude to go with. Death only inconveniences them, but don't ever let it happen it again. Now, about that coin purse that just happened to fall into their backpack...
- Laidback - Peaceful, quiet, contemplative. Nothing fazes them, not even after getting roasted to death by a fire spell. When they return to life, they're just as calm as when they had first turned into ground beef. Perfect for a Samurai type character.
- Burly - They don't have much to say because they don't need to say anything when their fists and the closest table leg can do the talking.
- Eccentric - A little absentminded and just more than a little off in the head one most things, at least they're on your side. Besides, they're fun to listen to.
- Loner - They don't say much else other than what they have to fight against, but don't expect them to cry for anyone, either.
As with many RPGs, character development was driven by experience points which translated levels. When a character gains a level:
- attribute points are earned to help customize them
- additional bonus points are earned for skill development
- Spellcasters may be able to learn a new spell
- Depending on their statistics, a character may even change their class
Although the player was required to spend earned points on their attributes and skills, they could save the number of spells that they could select for later if they are waiting for a particular spell to unlock during the course of the character's growth.
Wizardry 8's skill system allowed the player to customize each character's strengths depending on how they wanted them to develop. Skill points were earned during each level and it was up to the player to distribute them as they saw fit. There were also unique skills that belonged to specific classes and would have considerable bonuses to their starting condition because of that, but for the most part, it was up to the player to decide what they should specialize in. If the player wanted to invest points in another skill other than Dual Weapons for their Samurai, they were free to do so.
The maximum score for any skill, as with attributes, was 100, although special bonuses could push it above that level. Additionally, as noted above, when an attribute hits 100, a special bonus skill was unlocked for the character that had reached it. Skills were divided into several groupings:
- Sword - determines a character's ability with, well, a sword
- Axe - chopping skill useful in combat
- Polearm - Determines a character's ability to hit and penetrate with a polearm such as a halberd or a lance. Valkyries get a starting bonus in this skill.
- Mace & Flail - Determines the character's ability to hit anything with a mace and flail type weapon
- Dagger - Determines the character's ability to hit with a small, edged weapon like...surprise...the dagger
- Staff & Wand - Determines the character's ability to bash baddies with a staff or a wand
- Shield - Improves a character's shield handling ability
- Modern Weapons - Affects the character's ability to use modern weapons such as muskets or the Gadgeteer's personalized Omnigun
- Bow - Determines the character's ability to use a bow in combat
- Throwing & Sling - Affects the character's ability to throw weapons and in using a sling to annoy bad monsters
- Martial Arts - Affects a character's ability to punch and kick their opponents into submission without looking like an idiot.
- Locks & Traps - The ability to successfully detect and disarm traps as well as pick through locks without getting a face full of death sprayed into it
- Stealth - A character's ability to conceal themselves in combat making them harder to hit
- Music - The ability to play enchanted instruments and coax them into unleashing their powers upon unsuspecting enemies
- Pickpocket - Determines how easy a character can give themselves a five fingered discount either in the store or from a random victim (i.e. NPC). Beware, a poor thief caught in the act will usually get a dose of street justice along with their friends.
- Scouting - Largely determines the range at which monsters are detected and hidden items and doors are found. Largely useless in the game.
- Close Combat - Affects the success of an attack using a melee weapon such as a sword or mace as opposed to how well the character can simply hit their target
- Ranged Combat - Determines the success of attacking with a ranged weapon.
- Dual Weapons - Affects the character's ability to use a weapon in each hand effectively
- Critical Strike - The knowledge of seeing a vital weakness in an enemy and then exploiting it, killing them in an instant.
- Artifacts - Determines a character's ability to identify on the fly what something is as opposed to relying on a spell for the answer
- Mythology - The higher this score, the better able a character can be in identifying a particular monster and gauging what their weaknesses and strengths are
- Communication - Can affect the ability in influencing an NPC and goading them into revealing what you want to know
- Engineering - Determines a Gadgeteer's ability to build things out of bits and pieces and improve their Omnigun
- Wizardry - Affects the learning and casting of Mage spells and those from the individual realms, such as Fire or Water, to a lesser extent
- Divinity - Affects how easily Priest spells are learned and cast as well as contributing spell points to every other discipline
- Alchemy - Determines the ease of learning new Alchemy spells, the use of the skill, and the success of casting them as well as contribute spell points to every realm
- Psionics - Affects the learning and casting of Psionics as well contributing spell points to every realm
- Fire Magic - The ability to handle and cast spells based on Fire. To a lesser degree, it also affects their resistance to the same element
- Water Magic - The ability to handle and cast spells based on Water. To a lesser degree, it also affects their resistance to the same element
- Air Magic - The ability to handle and cast spells based on Air. To a lesser degree, it also affects their resistance to the same element
- Earth Magic - The ability to handle and cast spells based on Earth. To a lesser degree, it also affects their resistance to the same element
- Mental Magic - The ability to handle and cast spells based on Psionics. To a lesser degree, it also affects their resistance to the same discipline
- Divine Magic - The ability to handle and cast spells based on the Divine. To a lesser degree, it also affects their resistance to the same discipline
These skills were unlocked once a character had become an expert. This was accomplished by mastering one of their main attributes by raising it to 100 which would unlock its associated skill.
- Expert Power Strike - Using any close combat weapon, this determines the ability to deliver a powerful blow that negates any chance of blocking or reducing its damage
- Power Cast - The ability to cast spells with such power that it becomes even more powerful than it normally should be
- Iron Will - A strengthened will allowing the character to absorb and deflect magical damage allowing them to emerge relatively unscathed. Has no affect on physical attacks, though.
- Iron Skin - A strengthened mental and physical will that allows a character to absorb and deflect even more physical damage than they normally should be able to. Has no affect on absorbing magical attacks, however.
- Reflextion - Increases a character's armor class by moving so quickly, enemies see two of them at the same time.
- Snakespeed - Allows a character to move as fast as lightning, improving their initiative in combat
- Eagle Eye - Improved ability to hit an enemy with a ranged weapon
Combat in Wizardry 8 was handled from the FPS window and can run in one of two modes: phased combat or continuous combat. In phased combat, orders are given to each party member and are executed on a turn-by-turn basis in the next round. In continuous combat, characters will continue to attack and follow their previous orders until interrupted by the player to execute something else in their queue. Movement was handled with a movement bar that would come up onscreen and measure how much "movement" the party had left as they maneuvered onscreen. The party could either run, which ate the movement bar at a much faster rate, or walk, which consumed the bar at a predictably slower rate.
Party formation also played a part in combat as the player could arrange their characters to protect their flanks, place their mages in the back, or in stick them in the center surrounded by fighters. Direction facing was also important since, because it was a 3D game, attacks could come in any direction and easily expose less well defended characters to a surprise from behind or from the sides.
Characters with ranged weapons, such as lances, could sit in the "middle" of the party and be able to strike enemies. Gadgeteers with their musket-like weapon could fire from the rear, and Rangers could also pelt enemies with arrows from the safety offered by a row of formidable fighters in the front row.
PC System Requirements
- Windows 95, 98, or 2000 , and XP
- Pentium II/Celeron 233 or better
- 64 MB of RAM
- 4x CD drive
- A soundcard
- A 3D graphics accelerator is required