Star Saga: One, third session – Monkeys in flying cars

2011 July 20
by JJ Sonick

I’ve been neglecting Star Saga’s tale (and this blog) for *months* now, I know, I know. Setting aside a big block of time yesterday to finally return to it, I gave myself an unnecessary shock. Forgetting how the Star Saga Kit I made worked, I started it up and was instantly befuddled. All my planet name notes were gone! F12 (toggling the names on and off) did nothing. I tried several different save files and the autosave. Finally I decided it was a sign to move on. Because I have to admit, it wasn’t just other projects and the busyness of real life that has kept me from playing again — it was also the sheer work the game requires of constantly shifting between the Apple II monitor, the Game Kit map (on my PC laptop), and flipping through the 13 text booklets. I actually wrote a blog post about that issue, and warning of this anomalous bug (even though other users of the Kit have no reported), and then…

…I remembered that my notes were on the expanded version of the map, which you get to by pressing PageUp. Doh! The dangers of returning to a project after six months…

No Cthulhu Helmet for me

So now that I was back into text-booklet-flippin’ business (yes, it would be easier to use the DOS version + the Kit + the HTLM version of the passages, which would keep everything on 1 computer, but this is the Apple II blog, for frak’s sake). I reloaded my game and headed for Baphi, because I now had Mind Shield and figured I could take on the full vision that helmet in the abandoned colony could give (I was warned last time that its imparted knowledge would probably drive a human mad). Unfortunately once I got there, investigating the abandoned colony was no longer an option – it was a one-shot deal apparently. I was also unable to visit the nearby planet at 389-R, told I would need a Tri-Axis Drive Booster to venture that close to the edge of the galaxy. I’m guessing this Booster is another object you have to find a construction recipe for and assemble out of various items using a special action code.

I then travelled to/discovered Hemindore, whose sentient monkey inhabitants live in tree-villages AND drive flying cars (they have their scientific priorities straight). I learned some of their history, and gained some Phase Steel from investigating a underwater city ruin of theirs. Next on the discovery train was Fiara, yet another Darscian colony, this time on a planet with extreme gravity (Hal Clement is calling), which spurred them to invent their anti-grav tech. I also learned that explorer Vanessa Chang (whose map-data I’ve been using to head to all these ‘unknown planet’ locations):

a) Crash landed on Fiara in a ship seemingly and ominously built by large, war-like race
b) Headed for the planet Cordethar when she left Fiara
c) Buried a perished crew-member on Koursh

Regarding the last bit of Vanessa news, the game encourages me to be a grave-robber: if I’m ever on Koursh and find the burial place of Chang’s crew-member, I can enter the special action code B8YH9A to dig him/her/it up.

Quit Exploring So Much!

I headed to the next nearest un-named planet dot on the galactic map, and discovered Gen, suffering ominous vision-y nightmares on the way. Interestingly, as I mucked about on Gen, the game had me read a passage that reminded me I should go to the planet Cordethar. The game phrased it as “you are realizing you are forgetting something…” Hello, game, I don’t know where Cordethar is yet, discovering shit is the only way I’m going to make progress. I hope this is a nudge to keep players somewhat on track of the main plot, and not an indication of an actual time limit. I believe Star Saga: Two has some actual turn limit for completing the game, but I couldn’t find mention of any such thing in the Star Saga: One manual. Nevertheless, I may take a peek at the map Ben linked to it in a comment on the previous post, which has all the planets named, just to make sure I’m not too far way from Cordethar. Anyway, it’s interesting that the game has some kind of feedback for being on track of the major plot.

Beat the Teddy Bear, Join the Club

So there’s a spooky, cowled, medieval-ish order of mysterious monk/cult figures called the Brethren on Gen……and I’m gonna be one of them! Unfortunately, you need to know the correct answer to a certain question when you visit their temple. This is another case of computer-only interaction with the game, where you enter your answer directly via typing. I thought maybe “dream” or “dreams” might be it, since visions seem to be part of the uber-plot. I was wrong:

How does one know the way to truth

The examiner kicked me out after this.

Another element of Gen culture is ‘trundling’ which apparently boils down to treasure-hunting in a cave. I’m given the option to try this out in an ‘already cleaned-out’ Titanic Cave (suitable to noobs, natch). When I tried this, I encountered and must battle a giant Teddy Bear. Yes, a Teddy Bear.

Teddy Bear Battle

Fortunately, with my Exploder, Inertia Control Belt, and Mental Shield, I kicked his fuzzy ass (and learn that Mental Shield is a combat item – again I should checked for this on the Status Screen!). Defeated, he went away, pouting. He was guarding a message scrawled on the cave wall: “Tell the Brethren: ‘I do not know the answer.’”

OK, that’s helpful, but this is the first passage that has felt throwaway, and like the clumsy, surreal illogic of the sloppier of the era’s adventures and RPGs. Why would this helpful info be scrawled on a cave that’s been Trundled recently? And why guarded by a giant Teddy Bear? I’d be less judgemental if they’d played it for laughs or *something*.

Enlightenment through Audrey II

I returned to the temple, gave the answer, and was preliminarily accepted into the order! If I successfully “undergo an ordeal” I can truly enter the Brotherhood. Role-playing wise, Laran might balk at joining these people, even given his already being branded a heretic. But I said, “full anathema ahoy!” and accepted undergoing the ordeal.

I was left alone in a desert, told something about ‘facing my fears.’ When I took off my blindfold, I faced a huge, venus-fly-trap like plant. I was given several computer-only choices of action, one of which is climb inside the carnivorous-seeming plant. I did this, which turned out to be the right choice, as the plant protected me from the heat by gulping and not digesting me. The brothers returned, and I was further initiated into the Brethren. The whole sequence as pretty cool, and made up for the non-sequitur Teddy Bear.

OK, I’m out-of-town and away from the Apple II for the rest of the week, but I’m hoping when I return to finish up Star Saga: One.

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