Wizardry III is a first-person, grid-based, RPG that is part of a series that had helped to set many standards within the PC-RPG genre with its graphical interface and gameplay mechanics. At the time, the series' graphical capabilities and gameplay mechanics were considered revolutionary and innovative for PCs. Wizardry III continues the story begun with the first game and allows players to import characters in from Wizardry I or Wizardry II to continue the quest in a new scenario. Unlike previous games, however, players CANNOT create new characters in this game. They must import characters from either of the previous two games. The mechanics, detailed below, remained the same.
After assembling their party of adventurers, the player will confront many challenges and puzzles as they attempt to penetrate the dangers in a bid to survive the challenges of another dangerous dungeon in a bid to find the dragon, L'Kbreth, and recover the Orb of Earithin to help the Sages of the High Council discover the cause of the disasters facing the City of Llylgamyn. The gameplay style of the title has been compared to that of a dungeon crawl in which players simply fight monsters for experience and treasure. It is exactly the same as the first game, only now with a different scenario.
The relatively simple and clear interface is organized around a series of commands and actions listed at the bottom of the screen as well as a combined inventory and statistics screen.
Players could import characters from either Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord or Wizardry II: The Knight of Diamonds. It would be the last game in the "Werdna" arc to allow players in doing so. As a part of the story, the imported characters are referred to as the descendants of the original characters in order to maintain continuity.
Among the other features of the game were:
- Over 50 spells were available for casting
- 4 basic classes to choose from and four elite classes to upgrade to
- 5 races to create classes with
The game did not have any copy protection and creating a Scenario Diskette was needed in order the game on. The CD-ROM version of the game automatically circumvented this by creating one on the drive when installed. The console iterations of the game, such as that released for the NES, featured better graphics particularly in replacing the wireframe dungeon visuals.
The manual was also noteworthy for being written in a way that made Wizardry appear appealing to newcomers with little to no experience with an RPG. Illustrated with humorous drawings and a great deal of detail worked into its text. A section walked a player through a fictional scenario that might occur within the game while explaining its concepts with several examples.
The NES version, by an odd twist of fate, was the second Wizardry game to be released for that system. It was called Wizardry II: The Legacy of Llylgamyn - The Third Scenario to reflect that it was both the second Wizardry game for the system and the third game overall. The actual Wizardry II would be released for NES later as Wizardry: The Knight of Diamonds - The Second Scenario, without the numeric.
Wizardry's story is firmly rooted within fantasy and is considered the second module in a set of four linked by a story arc that would end with Wizardry IV: The Return of Werdna. Legacy of Llylgamyn takes place a generation following the events of the second game, although experience with it was not necessary to begin this scenario.
A generation has passed since a brave band of adventurers had managed to regain the fabled armor of the Knight of Diamonds and return the legendary artifact, the Staff of Gnilda, to its rightful place in protecting the city from evil. Under its power, the City of Llylgamyn has become a place of light and beauty where war and the horror that it brings have become long forgotten. But the peace has been rocked by nature gone awry. Over the past several years, freak earthquakes, changes in climate, and thundering storms have reached the ears of the kingdom's people. Most have ignored them.
But when the gentle seas surrounding the prosperous island colony of Arbithea suddenly rose and swamped the island, no one could ignore these signs for much longer. The tidal wave had washed away Arbithea's cities leaving only its highest peaks above the roiling waves. Soon after, Llylgamyn itself was shaken by an earthquake so powerful that the sacred Temple of Gnilda was damaged. Nearby, ancient volcanoes rumbled themselves awake. Soon, self-appointed prophets spoke of divine wrath, demanding that the people repent. Mystics consulted the Tarot, astrologers warned of great comets falling from the heavens bringing with them utter destruction, and priests of the old religions talk of the death of the Great World Serpent and the end of existence.
Wiser heads called for a new generation of adventurers from all walks of life and creeds to seek the cause of these troubles. Like their ancestors long before them, these new adventurers would quest to save Llylgamyn from the perils facing the mighty city. The greatest Sages and Wizards of the kingdom came together and had agreed that only one thing could reveal the truth behind the dangers facing them: a mystical orb taken by the mighty dragon, L'Kbreth. L'Kbreth, one the World Serpent's five children, is dedicated to the preservation of balance in the world and had deemed that the great orb, left in mankind's hands, might upset the balance. According to legend, the dragon took the orb with her to her lair and there, invoked the powers of both good and evil to protect it from would-be thieves.
The leaders of Llylgamyn appeal to these new adventurers, the descendants of the heroes and heroines of the Knight of Diamonds, the children of the survivors of the Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord, to take up their memories and their skills to seek out L'Kbreth. Only by facing the dragon and beseeching its aid may they receive the Orb of Earithin.
These new adventurers proudly step forward and accept the burden given to them by the Elders. Aided by the spirits of their ancestors, they feel confident that they will be able to succeed. From this day forward, they will take the name of their legendary forefathers and through a mystical ceremony, will be able to speak with their spirit and ask for guidance. But from then on, they and their fellow descendants will be alone. They must make their way to the ruined palace and from there, climb their way to the top of the mountain. But only both good and evil can hope to reclaim the Orb.
After many adventures, such a party did succeed in facing the dangers of the dungeon. By solving riddles, they created a magical crystal that allowed them to pass the dragon, L'Kbreth, who greeted them as heroes. A final riddle faced them before the Orb could be theirs and by answering it, were able to reclaim the relic and return with it to the City of Llylgamyn.
With the Orb of Earithin, the Sages of Llylgamyn will be able to find the true cause of the disasters facing the kingdom. In appreciation for their help, Queen Beyki, gave each party member the Star of Llylgamyn and invited they and others to share in the reward for a hard fought end to their quest.
Wizardry III is exactly the same as its predecessor; a tile, or grid based movement, first-person RPG starting out within the Castle that serves as the base for party management and the Maze in which the adventure takes place. Party size is limited to six members, although smaller parties are even allowed but not suggested for survival. The player must find penetrate the dangers and mysteries of a new dungeon in order to find the dragon, L'Kbreth, and recover the legendary Orb of Earithin.
Wizardry III, however, was aimed squarely at veterans that had experienced either Wizardry I and Wizardry II. This was reflected in the fact that only characters created in either of those titles could start the game.
The dungeon comprises the central theater for the adventure and is comprised of several levels, each with its own distinct dangers and puzzles to solve. The lack of an automap means that the player is required to draw his or her own maps or otherwise rely on unofficial game guides and walkthroughs in order to navigate the mazelike multi-level dungeon.
Saves could only be made anywhere, but Wizardry III's setup on PCs had an additional side-benefit to doing so. It would allow players to quick-save their progress and quit out of the scenario and if they chose to start at the Castle with a fresh party of imported characters, they could wander back into the Maze and even encounter their old party where they had left them. This was also treated as a backup in case of PC failure. The party would be marked as OUT until the player decided to restart the group or create another party of adventurers and headed down to find them.
Levels were earned after gaining the requisite experience as well as resting at the Inn back at the Castle. It was possible to continue adventuring well after the previous experience limit was met and earning several levels at once after a restful stay at the Inn.
This was the central location for the player's management options concerning their party. Here, several locations were available by hotkey:
- Gilgamesh's Tavern - A dim and smoke filled place with a perpetual haunch of boar roasting over the fire, small groups of adventurers congregate here discussing their latest exploits or hoping to join a party. This is where the player will build their party from characters they create.
- Adventurer's Inn - Rest is offered as long as the party can afford their stay. Several different rooms are provided ranging from the Stables to a Royal Suite, each with their own rate of healing. This is also where resting characters can level up once they have the requisite experience.
- Temple of Cant - More severe ailments are handled here, again for the right 'donation'. Paralysis, poison, and even the dead can be brought back to a sense of normalcy after enough coins are shared with the faithful.
- Boltac's Trading Post - A friendly dwarf named Boltac operates this in the Castle's market area, providing his services to anyone that can afford them. Arms, goods, and even his experience in identifying certain items can all be purchased with the right coin. The party can even sell their ill gotten gains here to free up their pockets for even more loot that they might come across. Boltac can even remove cursed items, although the party will also lose the item once it's "uncursed."
- Edge of Town - From here, the party can visit the Training Grounds, enter the Maze, or head back to the Castle.
- The Maze - Many adventurers seeking fame, glory, and experience eagerly dive into the dangers of the Maze otherwise known as the Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord.
- Training Grounds - New characters are created here and players can also inspect older characters to see if they need a few changes of their own.
Picking Locks and Disarming Traps
There were no locks to pick in the game. Disarming traps, on the other hand, on treasure chests, was much more different. A character with the proper skill could inspect the chest and determine what kind of trap was on it. Once they made their assessment, it was up to the player to disarm the trap by opting to do so and then typing the trap's name in. If they are correct, the trap is disarmed. Spells could also be used to help disarm chests.
This command allowed the party to camp out in the middle of the dungeon. This also enabled the player to inspect their party members and also re-order their party's marching order. This also allows the player to equip their entire party at once if they so choose.
Unlike previous games in the series, players had to import characters into Wizardry III from either Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord or Knight of Diamonds. All of the other mechanics, however, remained the same.
Characters can actually age in Wizardry II if they rest too much. Resting at the Inn can last anywhere from a single day to a year depending on how much gold you have in reserve. Resting replenishes a party's health and stamina, readying them for the road ahead, but rest enough times and a character will start to age. But when they first start out in the game, they are at an extremely young age. Death by old age is hardly expected, but it is a possibility.
Although alignment was a choice that helped to determine what classes a character could become, it has an expanded role in Wizardry III. Party mix was now impacted by the alignment of its member characters (good and evil characters would be unable to be in the same party, although they could be a member of a neutral one). Certain areas within the dungeon were accessible only to parties of certain alignments.
The second and fourth levels of the dungeon, in particular, were only accessible by parties with no evil characters among their ranks. The sixth, and final, level could only be accessed by a party with at least one character devoted to either good or evil. Neutral parties were able to traverse into all areas except for the final level.
Imported Characters: The Legacy
Imported characters were treated as descendants of the original adventurers that had traveled the dungeons of the Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord or had quested to recover the armor of the Knight of Diamonds. They would basically start out as first level characters with only the barest of essentials as if they had begun as a freshly rolled party.
The character classes belong to one of two categories; Base or Elite. Base classes (Fighter, Mage, Priest, Thief) are often considered the 'starting' class for a character whereas Elite classes (Lord, Bishop, Samurai, Lord, Ninja) typically benefit from having better fighting skills and eventual proficiency in magic. The initial statistics requirements for Elite classes are noticably higher than for the Base classes, making the former much more difficult to create at the start of the game.
As with the first game (and what would become an integral part of its gameplay formula), Wizardry III includes the option to change character class during the course of the game at the Training Grounds when inspecting a character. The incentives to do so in Wizardry are comparatively strong as many abilities are retained from the original classes, and since characters who recently changed classes during mid-game can often gain levels rapidly (thus enabling the player to raise skill points and fill out spell books much faster than would otherwise have been possibly).
Alignment largely determines what kind of class a particular character can be.
The four basic classes are:
- Fighter - High hit points and experts at using any weapon and piece of armor, they are a grounded class that can dish out the damage as well as take it.
- Thief - No party is complete without a competent thief to help disarm traps. While they aren't the greatest of fighters, they rely on their sneakiness to backstab their enemies.
- Priest - Long known as skilled healers, their talents are important for any party heading out into danger. They cannot be of neutral alignment.
- Mage - The classic wizard. As they become more powerful, their spellbooks will continue to add many new pages filled with deadly spells.
The four elite classes are:
- 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 they can identify items without fear of being cursed. They must not be neutral.
- Samurai - A true swordsman. At the fourth level of experience, they begin to learn Mage spells. They cannot be of evil alignment because of their adherence to the code of Bushido.
- 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 fourth level of experience. They can also only be of good alignment.
- Ninja - An assassin and a rogue, they can kill with weapons or their bare hands, sometimes being able to kill the strongest enemy with a single blow. They disdain armor and become far harder to hit and tougher to kill as they gain levels. They also have all of the skills of thief and are able to disarm traps. They can also hide in shadows and ambush enemies. They must also be of evil alignment.
The races include familiar fantasy characters such as the Elf, the Dwarf, the Gnome and the Hobbit. Although Wizardry III's characters were imported, the race descriptions below were still useful references for players.
- 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 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 Priests.
- Hobbit - Friendly, nimble, and otherwise unassuming, they make surprisingly decent Ninja, Samurai, or Thieves.
Attribute scores had a maximum value of 18 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.
- 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
- I.Q. - Important for spellcasters.
- 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.
- Luck - Ambiguous but it also has mysterious effects on many other factors
As with many RPGs, character development was driven by experience points which translated into levels. When a character gains a level after resting an an inn:
- Spellcasters may be able to learn a new spell
- Depending on their statistics, a character may even change their class
- Hit points will also improve
Combat in Wizardry III is a turn based affair with random encounters providing the cannon fodder that would feed the party's thirst for experience points. When enemies encountered the party, a list of enemies along with a picture showing what they were onscreen would appear.
Similar to other RPGs of the era, its strict turn-based system halts the passage of time until the player performs an action (such as moving around or casting spells). In combat, the order in which characters act is determined primarily by their statistics, although the player issues orders to every character in the party before commencing a turn. Besides using melee and/or ranged weapons and casting spells, characters with the appropriate skills can hide (which means enemies cannot hurt them), use items in their inventory, equip new weapons or items or try to run away from battle which, if successful, results in the entire party fleeing from the enemies. It is not possible to save the game or restore a saved game while in combat mode, but there are no other restrictions on when and where the player can save the game.
In each round of combat, everyone makes their selection of actions as the game calculates who will have initiative and then executing their orders.