FAQ/Walkthrough by ASchultz

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    FAQ/Walkthrough by ASchultz

    Version: 1.4.0 | Updated: 08/16/16 | Search Guide | Bookmark Guide

    Bard's Tale (Apple) FAQ/Walkthrough

    version 1.4.0 by schultz.andrew@sbcglobal.net

    This FAQ should be functionally complete. It is part of my efforts to create guides for any Apple RPGs I've come across and can map. Please do not duplicate this guide or its corresponding maps for profit. Okay, please do not try to duplicate this guide or its corresponding maps for profit. It should also be largely valid for other systems, although bugs individual to the system may be different, and the big difference is that Sorcerer/Wizard levels seem to be harder to come by on the PC.

    INTRODUCTION

    This is a guide for the original Bard's Tale game, from way back in 1985 or so. Not the updated PC 21st-century version. The really old-school one. It's an RPG that is quite hard to start. It has maps along with it. It's also not quite NES Bard's Tale, which has different, moderately simpler maps.

    Bard's Tale is hard without proper information, so I hope this guide helps dispel a lot of confusion. I've tried to include paths both with APAR (teleport) and without, so in case your platform has teleport restrictions on certain levels, or you just want to plow through/enjoy a specific area, you'll be okay either way.

    OTHER RESOURCES

    I'd like to refer the reader to some really cool sites out there that hit details I'll gloss over. They helped me determine things I'd otherwise balked at trying.

    http://brotherhood.de/Bardstale/talefiles/board/viewtopic.php?p=4069#4069 contains information about how the bytes determine items, and oh yeah, it also says what items are for and even might help you learn assembly a bit.. The main site is also quite good. http://bardstale.brotherhood.de/talefiles/ is a great resource in particular to learn more about the game in-depth. The maps helped me through the game, and I hope the ones I created add something significant to them.

    http://bardstale.wikia.com/wiki/ is a very good wiki as well. It has monster information and so forth that I didn't include here. While the information is for the PC, the games should be very similar.

    WHY THIS FAQ?

    Because I'd written for the other two games in the series, including the spiritual descendants Centauri Alliance (by creater Michael Cranford on moving to Broderbund) and Dragon Wars (by Interplay, with the same feel.) DW is awesome and tries cool new stuff and has a ton of humor. CA is okay and feels more like Bard's Tale.

    Also, I was scraping the bottom of the barrel for new stuff and finally decided why not? There wasn't a super big guide that takes you through the start. And I wanted to take up the challenge of making starting less painful. It turns out, there are a few ways to do so. Turns out this was a much nicer game than I remembered from the first time I played it. The game itself turned out to be not so bottom of the barrel.

    WHY'D IT TAKE SO LONG?

    Well, I got into the series at BT2. I had no end of trouble when I played BT1 on an emulator years ago, though. There were lots of maps on the internet, and a wawlkthrough, too, but the maps (disclaimer: they are very good and work well. To make my maps, I read save states. The maps have helped a lot of people solve BT) would be missing a door or something, so when I tried to plan, I got sidetracked and confused by this silly detail, because I am that way. Plus starting out is hard! They softened it for BT2, but you get killed a lot early by big monster groups you can't run from. Then there were so many other games, too. Including the NES version, which has different maps and is a lot gentler on starting players. I liked it so much, I wrote it up for the NES completion project.

    But then I got an email from someone asking about BT1, and I looked at it, and things started falling into place. I extracted the maps. I used the Internet maps and figured I could actually add where random and fixed combats were. I planned through. I tried winning without cheating, and I also found good places to grind. If I'd looked around a bit and tried mapping the special areas, I'd have found the better ones earlier!

    However, I'd had experience writing Bard's Tale II and III maps by looking at the disk images, and this was just another step in recreating the (lost) map extractors based on my mapping program. It was a lot of techy fun without getting too technical. I wish I'd done it sooner, but it was a nice game to come back to after a long break from PC RPGs.

    WHY APPLE EMULATION?

    Well, you can probably use DosBox at a cranked up speed on DOS/Windows. But I like Apple emulation because you can mark a save-state while exploring, as opposed to going back to the inn to save after each whopping 100 experience from Kobolds. Plus cheating is not too bad. There are many disk swap tricks you can use, but even better, you can turbo-run AppleWin (my emulator of choice) so that you can easily regenerate spell points. Basically, push F8, alt-u, and the end key. Then push C to wait. Then F8, alt-u and the left arrow. I think almost-maximum is the best speed--day and night don't change too quickly, and you still get pretty quick spell regeneration. Toggling between this and ultra turbo should become second nature pretty quickly.

    This trick is key, because Roscoe's is kind of far away, and he's expensive, anyway. Your conjurers' first-level ARFI spell does a power of good.

    But perhaps the #1 reason to use save states is that this gets around a rather nasty trick the Apple plays on you if you take your adventurers out and don't save at the inn and reboot and retry. Everyone loses all his gold! This is ostensibly a way to avoid cheating, but people wouldn't need to cheat if the game weren't so tough early on. And of course later on, it doesn't discourage much, since it is easy to build a fortune back up once you've got level 15+ characters. Saving states gets around this, though I still recommend disk-saving every now and then.

    I'm pretty sure this nuisance occurs on the Commodore and PC, but even if it doesn't, emulation gets around the game's initial limitation (rectified in Bard's Tale III) of not being able to save anywhere but the guild. Part of this was probably technology, but it's neat how Ultima V and Bard's Tale III came out around the same time and both added this feature. Perhaps so many customers asked for it, they decided to give it a shot. I remember being entirely too pleased about this feature when it came out--especially after I lost my Code Wheel! And it was neat, years later, to see emulation allowed the equivalent of this feature. You can even use descriptive names on the save state files.

    Commodore emulation is also quite good as you can use Alt-W to speed up the disk-load bits. DosBox is a fine program--I've used it for other games--but doesn't (AFAIK--maybe I ought to download the latest version) let you quasi-save outside of the guild.

    For AppleWin, F11 saves the state and ctrl-F12 reloads it.

    And the only setup you need, beyond going to http://applewin.berlios.de, is to go to ftp://ftp.apple.asimov.net and get the disk images. Then F3, boot disk. F4, dungeon disk. Put the character disk in with F3 when told, and when the game asks for the dungeon disk, push 2.

    A small caveat is that if graphics go funny after a save state, you will want to shut AppleWin and reload the state. In that case, you don't need to do F3/F4, just push F11 to load the state, then F2 to (sort of) reboot--though in this case the emulator will restore your state. If it's still fuzzy, reboot the right way and reload the save state.

    I recommend saving to disk after a long session in any case, just so you have a backup in case you get trapped in a certain save state.

    Note: the Apple does have a bug where if you resurrect someone who was withered, they are shown as healthy but all stats are 1. So you need to heal that too, though the game doesn't show it. Also, don't level-up someone who is withered. They won't get the permanent stat point. They may also get HP based on 1 constitution.

    Also note: if your stats are all 1 but you are not "old" in the status, this is a bug in the game--the temple has probably removed the dead condition, but not the old condition. It has, however, neglected to replace your MaxHP with "old." Once you're resurrected, you need to be de-olded.

    I've seen glitches where being old stays permanently, somehow, so be on the lookout for that--it can hose a character. I'm not sure how, but leveling up sometimes ruins them. Maybe it's if you stop off at the guild--or maybe a save state glitch. Or maybe if you get withered, then withered again. But--the moral is, getting old sucks. I recommend having backup save states every time everyone gains a level, if only to be able to track the binary values for character stats so you can reload just in case.

    TERMINOLOGY

    SP=spell points. HP=hit points.

    Classes may be abbreviated to their first two letters.

    5N means go 5 north. N* means go all the way north. N- means go north to the first intersection. NSEW = north, south, east and west.

    BT=Bard's Tale (of course)

    CHARACTER AND PARTY CREATION

    First of all, it's okay to use the pre-set party.

    I recommend starting with a paladin, a monk, a bard, a warrior and two conjurers. The bard is a human, the fighters are dwarves, and the conjurers are elves. I don't think any stats are really preferred, though I like constitution for HP in general and dexterity for the latent AC bonus. I generally settle on 13 dexterity/15 constitution for paladin/monk and 15 dexterity/IQ for mages, and if the other stats aren't too low, I take that. You also want 10+HP for your front line, 12 preferred, although your bard can have lousy HP since he won't be in the front line til level 2. Low HP for your front line mean a lot more risk of one-hit kills to start. Similarly, spellcasters don't need HP. They'll build it up in the back line, then gain a lot more when they switch classes and gobble up the early levels easily. They should hit 18's across the board pretty quickly, since class changes that kick them back to level 1 mean they get the early levels quickly. The warrior can just have lots of HP/Dexterity since you're not keeping him anyway.

    The bard should always be playing the -AC song (#5) as that means less chance to get hit, which is critical, and you'll want him to have 16 dexterity not just for the AC bonus but so he can sing the song first. You'll need to run from big fights at first, or fights with the wrong sort of enemy. You'll want to go to Garth's ASAP. You want to be reasonably equipped, too, as good AC stuff pays back its investment in temple fees quickly. If you want to use the hoard gold and buy the best stuff cheat, that is probably a good idea.

    Another strategy I haven't tried is three conjurers, but that seems to be a big problem if one person is killed. I think having the bard who can heal himself can work well.

    You'll want high intelligence for your conjurers to get a lot of spell points early. That will mean fewer trips to recharge them later, and it may allow one more ARFI in batle.

    When conjurers get the first level-up, ARFI is double as effective, and they increase their max spell points, which is huge. That should help you fight a bit tougher fights. So that is why I don't go with a magician right away. If you are using an Apple emulator, you will want to have it at very high speed. A trick is to push C to pretend to cast a spell, then wait. Or you can sneak into a building and sit there. Or sit there after a fight.

    Put your warrior in the first slot so that if he dies, you can just replace him. Since you're not keeping him, experience is no big deal. You'll want the conjurers firing on all cylinders. I would speed up the emulator so they can constantly cast ARFI. Keep in mind that you will be spending a lot on healing early on, but it's even worse to spend on resurrection. The bard can also pinch-hit in the third slot if someone dies.

    You should note that the first player gets attacked the most, the third the least. So you will be putting a paladin/warrior in the first slot, then shuffling them back once the monk starts losing AC. The bard should always be in the third slot, and not just because the paladin will have slightly better AC. If the bard gets killed (or even gets HP knocked to zero,) you'll lose its -AC song playing.

    Also, you never need to use the "P" slot for an extra monster. These guys, in fact, are worse than useless for the most part, since they take their share in experience.

    There's a lot of building up to start the game, so, after some useful spells, let's get to it.

    CONTROLS

    This section is about small pitfalls as well as the basics.

    I = forward, J/L = left/right, K = enter a door (kick). E/D (up/down portals) is also useful. 1-6 shows you player stats. C casts a spell.

    V turns off volume on bard songs. I sometimes hit this mistakenly when I want to type B.

    Having your bard play a song then canceling costs a bard song. Also, (N) to give a party a new order will ruin your bard's song, as will equipping or unequipping. So you may want to be near a tavern if you're low on songs.

    The game isn't super polished about these and other controls, which is kind of a nuisance, but there's a way around. Most annoying is "T" for trap zap after every fight, then you need to type TRZP and O, which should sort of be understood.

    SPELLS AND BARD SONGS YOU NEED

    Conjurers get cool spells right away.

    • Conjurer level 1, MAFL is good for dungeons to start, ARFI is great against single strong monsters, and TRZP is critical in dungeons to get treasure.
    • Conjurer level 2, WOHL helps you save money you'd spend in temples. Cast it in combat to avoid a keystroke. MACO is more useful later on, but above ground, you'll have a compass.
    • Conjurer level 3, LERE is nicer than MAFL as it takes longer. LEVI helps avoid traps, but WAST is the coolest since it blasts a group of enemies.
    • Conjurer level 4, FLRE is a far more efficient heal than WOHL (average heal 15/6 vs 5/4) and cures poison too.
    • Conjurer level 5, GRRE lets you see more, but SHSP may be the best--20/7 vs WAST's 10/5 damage per spell point.
    • Conjurer level 6, MALE is nice as it lasts longer than LEVI
    • Conjurer level 7, FLAN heals everyone and is not as good as REST, but it's more efficient than FLRE, especially if your party just hit a trap or fought spellcasters something. APAR is a great teleport spell to save time.

    Magicians don't have as cool combat spells as Conjurers, but they have good defensive spells.

    • Magician level 1, you might as well cast Vorpal Plating VOPL so a fighter can get in a hit. You're not ready for a dungeon yet, but when you are, STLI is a decent light spell. SCSI is also useful if you are lost, but you won't be in a dungeon for a while.
    • Magician level 2, HOWA is handy against undead. AREN would be useful if you didn't have maps.
    • Magician level 3 is where it starts to get good. MYSH is a great spell for reducing armor class, and STFL is the first cool group spell. It's a bit more expensive than WAST, but it does more damage per spell point (15/6 vs 10/5.) MIMI is also good in a long fight, or one where you want to disbelieve sorcerer illusions for experience, but you can probably strike quickly with STFL.
    • Magician level 4, SPTO is good against one enemy. DRBR is, however, cheaper and does more damage if there's more than one of them. It is also more efficient than STFL. 20/7 damage per monster per spell point. STSI reveals secret doors, but you don't need that, unless you are lost.
    • Magician level 5, ANMA is a cool spell if you want to soak up illusions. STTO is trumped by more normal damage spells.
    • Magician level 6, PHDO helps you move around quickly, which is quite handy to avoid fights that would sap your magic before you got to the areas you really need to explore. YMCA is also strong since it has almost no expiration til you get back to the inn. The game says it's forever, but I found it wears off.
    • Magician level 7, REST is a fantastic healing spell. Better than what your conjurer gets. DEST is good against strong foes but not the strongest.

    Sorcerers have awesome offensive spells against individuals or groups.

    • Sorcerer level 1, MIJA is an improved ARFI and would become a staple quickly but for MIFI. PHBL helps with AC, and LOTR is good so you don't forget where traps are in a dungeon.
    • Sorcerer level 2, MIFI is a very powerful spell. It's great against single bosses.
    • Sorcerer level 3, SESI is a good dungeon spell in case you get lost. I mean, MACO is better, but SESI can identify special areas, which can tell you what is beyond the wall. That coupled with actual maps is a big help.
    • Sorcerer level 4, CAEY is a super light spell. INVI can be good for combat.
    • Sorcerer level 5, DIIL exposes doppelgangers, which you should always run from. MIBL, however, is the big one that attacks all enemies. It is perfect for experience farming in low level dungeons.
    • Sorcerer level 6, MIWP is good against possessed party members.
    • Sorcerer level 7, SOSI is the best "find cool stuff" spell.

    Wizard's summon spells actually are not so hot until the end, but they're useful there. BEDE is nice, because though you have enough money for the temples, it's a pain to go back down.

    • Wizard level 1, REDE is a great bargain for the cost, if only against undead. It's useful in one area where you need to grind.
    • Wizard level 2, DEBA is also strong vs. demons.
    • Wizard level 3, DISP is better than MIWP for in-party combat.
    • Wizard level 4 has nothing too practical.
    • Wizard level 5 SPBI is cool to get monsters on your side, but DMST is super awesome, especially in Mangar's.
    • Wizard level 6 BEDE saves you from the temples' racket.
    • Wizard level 7 GRSU is actually not so useful.

    Bard songs: the best is the Traveller's Tune (5) which you should play right away, but don't neglect Kilnfest (4). You can play Kilnfest then semi-pause the game to heal your bard. That's only one player, but it's still a nice saving early on, especially since he'll probably have a pretty high armor class.

    These songs also work in combat, dropping AC again by however much it would drop in noncombat (for example, if you played in Tarjan's, then had a combat in Skara Brae, you wouldn't get another 2 points, just 1, since playing Traveller's Tune aboveground gives only 1 AC), or restoring a HP per round. Because of this effect, where you can get double the goodies, it's usually a very good idea to hang around near a tavern early on.

    I really didn't use any of the other songs, though #2, the Seeker's Ballad, is probably nice to have in a pinch.

    WHAT TO BUY

    Garth's is easy to find. He is north. and it's the spare building in the open area. You may want to spend a bit of time getting used to the GUI, which is really primitive. Here is what you'll ideally get.

    • bard: mandolin, scale, gloves, weapon, helm, tower shield.
    • paladin/warrrior: plate, tower shield, helm, gauntlets, weapon. Gauntlets are a bit cheaper than leather gloves since not every class can equip them, but otherwise there's no difference.
    • conjurers: nothing. They won't be in the front row.
    • monk: buckler, leather armor, leather gloves.

    In terms of value for price, gauntlets are great (40 for 1,) helm is good, leather armor is very good (70 for 2, but you can get more +AC later, so buy everything else and see what's left,) and a tower shield/buckler represent good value. You'll quite possibly stumble across plate mail as you win a fight, so that is another reason to hold off. You should have gold in the kitty for buying healing. Leather gloves are a good purchase for your monk a bit later.

    I think you can assume you'll have 700 gold to start. Then:

    • Leather armor for front row = 3 * 70, 210
    • 2 gauntlets, 2 helms = 2 * 90, 180 makes 390 total
    • buy everyone a mace to start. Better weapons later. You want to be sure to kill with one hit. 390+180=570
    • buy bard a mandolin. 570+130=700. You can ditch the helms/gauntlets if you aren't quite to 700, or you can just create another character, take his gold and delete him.

    YOUR FIRST LEVEL GAINED

    You should always have bard song #5 running (note a cheat for this below which really helps), and you should always have a spare drink. So after Garth's, find the tavern by the review board, sing #5, then drink. Drinks are free, and anything but ginger ale recharges your bard. Also, as a side point, gaining a level may give one more maximum drink, but it does not give your bard an extra drink. But that is not a big deal, since there's a tavern next to the review board.

    It's tricky to know what to fight. You need to be careful to save frequently, as the wrong combination of enemies and not fleeing can take you for a spin. And sometimes you only remember you should've sved when an enemy pops up. However, enemies like kobolds (who give great gold--well, unless you get a bad random modifier) should be okay, as should any spellcasters. One or two of any enemy also can be handled without too much pain. Fighter humanoids are bad news, except maybe thieves. Mad dogs are also nasty. As you get better, you can tackle the tough monsters, especially ones that appear in two groups. But it is better to flee if you can. In fact, you may want to flee even after taking damage, as the sunk cost of lost HP may not be as bad as getting killed or reloading to a previous save state with less experience.

    You will want to use bard songs in combat, since they stack with the bard song for travelling. If the monsters are very weak, cast heal (#4, but if they are strong, use #5 for an extra AC point. You should hang out near the bar by the review board so you can refill your bard after each fight. It can make that much difference. You may, if you are using an emulator, want to use save states, too. And if HP get very low, of course, head to the temple.)

    One other thing about bard songs, at least on the Apple: if you equip anything with your bard, they cut off. I don't know if this is an attempt at realism or what, but it is an obvious nuisance, and you'll run into it despite trying. So be sure to be right by a tavern when you do, if a bard song is going--losing the extra AC point can undo the good of equipping something. Reordering your party also kils a bard song.

    You will also want to go to the temple after each fight. South, west, north and west--then on the right when things open up. That's closer than the other temple in the southeast.

    You can also use a semi-cheat if you are low on money: go to a tavern, have your bard drink, party combat, have him play song 4, and then drink again. It's only one hit point per front line player per song, but that's not bad. You can also play bard song 4 and push C and wait in order to regenerate HP and MP. It's a bit slow even with an emulator at full speed, but it saves gold early, which may allow you to buy the next armor up. In general, you can hit C to semi-pause the game and not get attacked.

    When you get a lot of max SP, you will find you heal 51 SP per "day," which can be just 4 seconds in turbo-emulator mode. Well, it is on my computer, which isn't particularly cutting-edge.

    I would prefer buying stuff at Garth's over visiting the temple unless you're under 1/2 your hit points--not buying actual armor, but accessories to reduce AC. You should get an easy fight soon enough, and you can use the gold to heal later. Don't be scared to run a lot, or even to run after a round of a tricky battle. And, as noted, there's a way to regenerate HP for free if you must. It's a pain if you're really low, but I like the idea of playing the song until everyone's healed, and only then healing your worst-off player.

    One odd thing I found was that if you stay on a square, you can get the same fight again. So if you want to warp-speed the emulator, and you got a manageable fight, that is a possibility. Just recharge spell points, etc.

    Also, don't stay out at night. Monsters are tougher then. You're not ready for them, yet.

    Level 1 is the toughest level. You can't just win. You need to win outright. Getting killed is too expensive.

    You can also cheat slightly in order to get a bit better armor class to start. If you try to enter the catacombs and say TARJAN, you can play the bard song for an extra AC, then get out. But maybe slow down the emulator to avoid random fights. You don't actually need to get the information his name is Tarjan to say it--the game doesn't check off. So that may be handy for a small boost. S W N W of the ale/review board.

    ENEMY EXPERIENCE REVIEW

    This is experience shared per person. So a party of 6 beating 5 hobgoblins would get 70*5=350/6=58 experience. Enemies are listed from most desirable to least.

    • Kobold = 60
    • Hobbit = 70, good gold
    • Magician = 100, but watch, they can wither you
    • Conjurer = 100
    • Gnome = 120
    • Spider = 150, tough but not too tough
    • Skeleton = 110, much easier with HOWA
    • Hobgoblin = 90, rather tough
    • Orc = 100
    • Dwarf = 100
    • Nomad = 120
    • Mad Dog = 180
    • Barbarian = 200, tough
    • Mercenary = 220, not the worst enemy if <4 of them

    Finally, two special mention monsters:

    • Swordsmen = night monsters, tough, but they make everything else worth more experience. 512.
    • Similar for Zombies, so it's possible to kill them once you get better for extra experience. 512.

    Conjurers and magicians can also semi-randomly be worth 512. This may have to do with fighting at night. I'm not sure. But either way, their magic can't one-hit you, so they are worth fighting. While I mentioned it's bad news to get killed, and the magicians may wither you, I think it's a good risk overall.

    One note about going to the review board: it's handy to have the a1a2a3a4a5a6 pattern down (left index finger on A, right on the numbers,) but beware if a player is dead and advances a level. It will cost 900 more to resurrect him, and you don't get the benefit of his level for a bit. On the bright side, though, if someone with 1 HP gains a level, his current HP goes up with his max HP, which may give you some breathing room.

    Also, it's too early, now, but you want to start saving for level 2 conjurer spells. They are 1000 for each player and high priority since WOHL saves so much at the temple. You also probably need to pool gold to whoever needs it, which is kind of fiddly, since it may require exiting the review board. But you should always get spells immediately, since they are the biggest things tha improve your party. And you should always sell stuff to Garth as soon as possible. Don't bother with identifying unless you are sure it is something you can equip--Garth's ID fee is the sell price.

    LEVEL 2 TO LEVEL 3

    The extra HP you get should allow you a bit more freedom to attack larger groups of monsters. The extra bard song is nice, too, as you can recharge 2 points vs. weak enemies per fight (or outside the tavern) and not one. You'll find yourself going to the temple a lot less.

    Once you hit level 2, you should try to beat the Samurai. He is worth 170 experience, which is not a bad chunk. He reappears every time you leave and save at the inn or, if you use the cheat of going to the catacombs and playing the bard song, he pops back up. He might be too easy an experience mill if he just reappeared after you visited the inn. Warning, though. The samurai does 16 damage or so. ARFI is a bit more effective against him, now. He's not great for gold, but if you have some to spare and don't want to level grind, knocking him off a few times is a nice way to save real-world time. You can visit the Scarlet Bard tavern past here, and if you order the wine, you'll go to the first dungeon. You'll need MAFL to see, but don't waste spell points. It is too tough to win fights there, although there are some good fixed squares for fights. That'll be later.

    Note that you may want to ditch your warrior for a magician now. There's no right or wrong way to do this (well, except to sell his stuff before you ditch him,) because it's easier to win fights with a stronger front line, but the bard can also regenerate his own HP whenever if you semi-pause the game with bard song 4. So he may be a weak fighter, but he's a good cheap bunker.

    You will hit level 3 at 4000 experience. This is a big one, as you can get healing spells (spell level 2) for your conjurers. Just get the one with more spell points, first. Recharge SP wherever and however you want, then heal your party. It's a bit annoying, and you'll probably put it off and get someone killed, so still, save when you can. You can now attack bigger groups more regularly. Also, ditch the warrior if you haven't, sell his stuff so a conjurer can afford spell level 2, and put the bard in the front line. Create and use a magician. He is weak, but he'll get stronger.

    Also, though you have WOHL, don't get too cocky. It's easy to forget to heal as you take on more enemies. But I always get burned when I don't. The time spent re-resurrecting is more than the time it takes to push F11 then return, especially since you have to pay 900 per level, and you are gaining levels. It's ok if you get withered or something, but death is really going to set you back. Unless you can pay for it immediately. Or if you want to use the cheat where you can keep people in the back rank for the first round.

    If someone gets killed and you have spare money, definitely heal him. Whether it was your fault or just bad luck. In fact, if you just need a fight or two to get him back, the experience from each isn't wasted, especially since more probably goes to your magic users.

    LEVEL 3 TO LEVEL 5

    You need 10000 experience to get here. It should be getting easier. Humanoids are still nasty, and so are orcs, but you can pick off weaker groups. You still want to use the bard song. Gold should not be a problem, either. The samurai is still a decent way to get experience, though.

    Once you hit level 5, you will have WAST for your conjurers. This group spell means you can take out piles of enemies you couldn't before. HOWA is also good for your magician. I wouldn't recommend going into the wine cellar except for a fight or two where you use War Strike and come back out. That's all you can do before you need to come back up, recharge, and try again. There aren't any particularly interesting items down there, either. But there are reliable fights if you kick down doors. The wine cellar is a pretty simple area to explore. If you find the stairs, don't take them. The only annoyance is casting TRZP to get treasure, though there are no special items that improve your party here. Just stuff to sell at Garth's.

    Another option, which I like, is to walk around at night. Again you can use the emulator to speed things up. At the very fastest, it regenerates SP quickly, and when SP don't regenerate, it is likely dark. HOWA will be useful against the undead types you meet. You may get a cool item that improves AC or something, too. I can't say for sure. I found a few mithril swords, which help make sure you kill with one blow.

    Incidentally, if you find a torch or lamp, you might as well keep it to save on light spells. And in fact it is a good investment for your mages to buy a few lamps at Garth's. But it's not critical. The thinking is, the cost of a torch/lamp in SP = one trap-zap, which can be a lot more than 5 or 15 gold. So just in case you need an extra 2 SP, it will be there and worthwhile. And it is not like you are full up on items--while you aren't going to find any upgrades, you should be selling them as soon as you get them, so you have a rainy-day kitty for stuff your mages can't (yet) heal, like old age or death.

    MAGICIAN TO LEVEL 5

    This won't take long if you started your magician just 4000 experience behind. But it's useful to note MYSH (mystic shield) is extremely valuable once you hit level 5, assuming you have the 2K gold to pay for it. Everyone drops 2 AC. This makes fighting even easier. You probably have plate mail for your paladin, and your monk has dropped several AC, too. If your monk does not have the best AC by now, he soon will, and it'll keep getting better.

    You can probably start exploring the wine cellar a bit more now. If you want, you can pick a few fights in a row, or find fight squares. They are behind doors. Try to use only two group spells per combat. Flee if there are too many opponents, and they are too tough. You can just build characters up a bit here. Detailed exploration of the sewers is probably a bit too tough. But with a magician at level 5, every spellcaster now has a range spell, and you can smash-and-grab in the sewers.

    You may notice now that the spellcasters take a bit more time to pump up than the warriors. Spellcasting levels are more valuable. You also may find that you may not have the money for the new spells, especially if someone got killed. I think it's important to get that money, so keep fighting until you have it. You may be able to fight in the dark, now, so you may wish to try that. Just turbo the emulator and wait and explore once you stop regenerating HP. There's a possibility of better items, too. Of course, you can always just create and destroy new characters. I won't judge. Neiter will the game. And, in fact, if someone is dead, I would get the level5 magician spells before anything else--the AC is that good. And if you can only afford two level 5 spells, go for magician and conjurer. You don't need two people casting warstrike yet. The second guy can still cast ARFI or WOHL.

    One thing I didn't notice for a while: your conjurers may not be created equal. The one with the lower dexterity should cast the auxiliary spells (healing, light, etc.) because the one with the higher dexterity is more likely to cast it before the monsters attack. This can be a big help and save a lot of hit points and spell points for healing, so it's worth noting.

    WINE CELLAR

    The wine cellar does not have a particularly treacherous map. There's very little to do other than cast MAFL for light and find (but not take) the stairs down, although there are some forced fights. E 5N E is one of them. You can go in, fight and retreat. Alternatively, you can go north to the next door for a fight, or for the next after that for two (E, then E.) Monsters aren't appreciably tougher here than outside, but there may be more than two groups, so you really don't want to skimp on the WAST. Fortunately, for all the fixed combats (which reload once you leave and reenter--via the stairs up or down, which holds for any dungeon in Bard's Tale) random combats are very rare, so you can probably get away with burning all your SP against one set of monsters.

    You can also go 1E from the stairs, 10N 10, 3E, N- 2E S E (fight) 2N to hit the stairs. The sewers are harder to navigate, and you have some tough monsters, so we won't concentrate on them yet.

    You may also want to explore the east side--there are a few random fights, but nothing big. The notes about 10- and 50-year old wine are just for local flavor and stuff.

    If you've never really mapped things out, the wine cellar is a great introduction, but there are no actual puzzles. Oh--and there is a spinner square in the center. You won't be able to tell which way it turns you, since every way looks the same. Later on, you will be able to, and this plays a role in mapping/navigation puzzles. But for now, be warned that the spinner is a real pain, since you will need to walk six or so squares away to determine where you are, due to the symmetry in the center. Well, unless you have cast MACO.

    Also, the wine cellar monsters don't drop anything you can buy at Garth's, so they're only good for experience, both for you and your characters.

    There's an obligatory fight before the stairs to the sewers. If you want, you can beef up by fighting, then going down the stairs and up, until MP is low. It is quicker than bumping around town, but the fights may be harder, and you don't regenerate MP without stepping out and in.

    SEWERS

    The sewers are full of icky spiders, but that's a good thing for leveling up a bit quicker. In the sewers you'll learn how to deal with darkness, teleport squares, portals (use MALE/LEVI) and even a trap based on the time of day.

    Note that if you know the important word to access the catacombs, you don't actually have to find it. But you will want to get to level 7 before trying to find it or visiting the catacombs.

    LEVEL 1

    The sewers have an odd map. It loops around itself. But they also have reliable fights. Black widows can be nasty if they poison you, so keep MYSH up at all times. Speaking of poison, you need a spell to cure it, which is FLRE at conjurer level 4 (actual level 7.) Once you have that, the fixed fights work much better, though you may have to budget spell points and run from several groups of monsters. You will, if possible, want enough for a FLRE spell in case a black widow hits you.

    So here are two fights in particular that will help the level grind. Three black widows are W S W S 4W 2S 2W S, then return. That's pretty good.

    But if you want to explore and maybe kill a few more, W S W S 3W 4S 2W 3S W and go north. There'll be 5 black widows--this is a good fight that nets 850 experience. You really want to have spare HP and SP, too, in any case.

    TRZP on the black widows is also pretty fruitless. I don't get many items, and there aren't any really new items on this level of the sewers. You should have enough gold by now. So it is a waste of spell points, especially if you are getting low. In general, fights may get you gold but no new items.

    Note that these fights are recharged if you return up the stairs and come back down. So you can continue here as you are comfortable. I would still use at least one group spell per black widow fight, here, with STFL/DRBR having priority. Having a bard song, if available, is not a bad thing--especially since the bard song recharge is nicely located above the dungeon. You can also recharge SP there, too, just by waiting. You should also be able to beat enemies in the wine cellar with ease or at least be able to flee them with little damage. But if you are killing the black widows, it is actually more efficient to run from wine cellar fights.

    In order to recharge the black widow fight, you could also go 4N W 3S W N 2W 2N D U 2S 2E S E 3N E S*, but you may have to run from or hack through lower-experience fights. You can also use the trick of putting dead guys (guys you won't use) up front and reordering after each fight to improve your spellcasters by double the experience. They are the most important ones, so if you're comfortable with this, it'll save time.

    You can also attack a Spinner if you take the door instead of going 2W. There's a random fight, then you can destroy the statue at (4,9). It's only one enemy, so it's not so much experience, but it's pretty good.

    I can't think of a better way to build characters up while on level 1 and without FLRE which cures poison. You probably need that in case you get killed.

    And while you don't find terribly good items this way, but it's better than nothing. You should be able to get your monk to where he's very hard to hit, and your paladin and bard's maximum HP will be hard to wipe out. You need to be very careful exploring further, but around level 7, you should hit level 2 for an easier grind, and around level 9, you can try getting to level 3 of the sewers--4 levels down in the dungeon. You will want to make a few runs like this. If you are going more than one level below in the sewers, you definitely need MALE, and MACO, while not strictly necessary, will help you avoid getting lost.

    Also note that your gold may lag behind what you need to buy new spells, especially if someone gets withered. Don't worry about this. You'll find somewhere even better later that lets you pile up gold quickly. If you have a choice whom to give a spell to, I would go for the next best offensive spell you don't have. My pattern is conjurer, magician, conjurer.

    Fixed combats are at:

    • 13, 1 4 black widows (682)
    • 17, 4 3 black widows (512)
    • 11, 8 8 spiders (200)
    • 21,10 5 black widows (853) worth it
    • 0, 12 3 black widows (512) worth it
    • 9, 16 8 spiders (200)
    • 18, 20 5 spiders (125)
    • 6, 21 6 spiders (150)

    Messages (don't worry about them) are at:

    • 14, 0
    • 7, 4 (random fight)
    • 0, 9
    • 17, 7
    • 13, 9
    • 19, 10 (random fight)
    • 14, 12
    • 13, 21

    Getting to level 2 is not bad. Go through the black widow doors, then W 3S W N and the dark is not too bad. 2W 2N. If you've mapped this out, you'll know this area isn't explored yet. There are only a few squares left to look. You can also use these stairs as a way to reset the black widow fight, as it's a good exercise in visualization without a light spell. Of course, going up to the cellar and down is fine, too, and it helps you visualize, but this is (ahem) the next level.

    LEVEL 2

    The level 2 grind is pretty simple. Once past the stairs, S 2W 2N 3E S E S E S E. Beat 7 black widows, then W N W N 3W 2S 2E N. Up, down and redo. There's a bit of risk of getting poisoned, so head back up once your MP is at 30 total or so.

    If you get to level 9, see the next bit for a big hint getting to the catacombs. Much better fixed fights are there.

    Fixed combats are at:

    • 20, 0 9 spiders (225)
    • 3, 3 6 black widows (1024) guards the magic mouth, so, worth it
    • 6, 10 16 spiders (400)
    • 6, 13 6 black widows (1024)
    • 20, 13 7 black widows (1194) recommended, the fight you want, go up and down the stairs
    • 21,16 13 spiders (325)
    • 3, 4 is the big message
    • 6, 0
    • 12, 1
    • 18, 10
    • 2, 14
    • 18, 21 has a fight then a message.

    The square at 0, 19 is flagged, but nothing seems to happen there.

    LEVEL 2-3

    S 2W 2N 3E S E 2S 3E 5S (5S 3E 2N from here is a big hint how to enter the catacombs--though I'll spoil it shortly--go and return if you want. You don't want to cross the beam, which nails you for hit points. But the beam is only there during the day. So if you want to see what's behind here, wait til it's dark to enter the tavern and wine cellar, and you should make it here when it's dark.) W 4N and down the stairs. You don't actually need to be here, but you can try a few fights to see how they go.

    But frst, play bard song 5, even if you already have it running. Yay! An AC point lost. Now you want to throw all your spells--and the bard song--at the enemies. Your goal is not so much experience as new items. Poke around a bit, run through doors, get a few fights. You will be getting experience, too, but the big treat is the armor boost.

    Don't spend too much time here after you hit level 9 and/or get the password. It may be more quick and productive to visit the Catacombs. But you can beat up fixed black widow fights if nothing else.

    Level 3 fights:

    • 2, 1 2 spinners (597)
    • 7, 1 4 spinners (1194)
    • 1, 6 3 spinners (896)
    • 9, 8 5 black widows (853)
    • 11, 9 4 spinners (1194)
    • 1, 15 7 black widows (1194)
    • 12, 17 3 spinners (896)
    • 8, 20 8 black widows (1365)

    Messages: (nothing important)

    • 5, 0
    • 7, 13

    4, 10 is a spinner. Note it's asymmetrical, so if you want to go north on it, keep hitting the arrows til you see an open space instead of a wall on the left. This sort of judgement will be useful in tougher and more critical areas as well.

    There are also three teleports. You won't need to use or go near them.

    • 13,00 -> 14,10, however, may give a few good forced fights.
    • 17,07 -> 17,13 actually gets you closer to the stairs far up
    • 15,17 -> 19, 3 is from one area you don't need to be to another

    17,16 leads up to Mangar's, but without an Onyx Key, you can't do much there.

    CATACOMBS

    South of the review board, then W N W and on the east side of the plaza is a temple. Say TARJAN.

    You can break the game open a bit here by fighting the right enemies. I've listed them in the approximate order you can tackle them. The experience and gold should tide you over a while. I wouldn't worry about if a fighter got killed, as that is more experience for your spellcasters. The goal here is to get them to level 13 so they can change class. You may only be able to tackle the first two encounters at first, but you'll be able to move better on things later.

    The catacombs have several places that help you build levels quickly, and I actually opt to finish Harkyn's before the Catacombs, since once you're at a certain level, Harkyn's is even more lucrative--and you can teleport around to the critical areas, while Catacombs level 3 is blocked off. But you can do things in any order. You need to make sure your bard has all his drinks, since a better AC from the bard song may mean the difference between a frontline who get killed by all those monster attacks and a frontline who don't get touched.

    I'll post this generic warning at the start of every dungeon from now on, because the one thing you do not want is a level drain. I'd rather mention enemies that aren't in the dungeon than avoid ones that are. Phantoms, Spectres, Vampires, and Vampire Lords drain levels. This doesn't just take away 200k experience you can recoup later. It kicks you down to the floor for the previous level. Which means you lose a lot of accrued experience. Just run from these guys.

    LEVEL 1

    There are a lot of good fixed encounters here. But there is an even better one on level 3 once you get some spell points and can cast APAR. Have an item slot open to get any random items dropped, as an extra AC point or two can be terribly helpful. You may have to visit temples and taverns after a few fights, but you gain experience so quickly, it shouldn't be an issue.

    Each way to get fights is a bit of a gamble. For the encounters at 6,0 and 9,0, you can just go along the south border. The wights/ghouls may wither your players, which costs money, but they drop enough gold to partially recover, too. It may be a losing proposition, and if you're close to broke, visit the skeletons at 3, 12. The skeletons are easier, but they are behind a trap at 5,6, and there's no way to avoid this trap. So you need to be fully healed to get there, and you still risk a player possibly getting killed. But I think the risk is worth it, if you have save states.

    A couple group spells should do for the enemies you face. I like having the magician cast a spell and a conjuror cast the other. Then conjuror #2 can cast TRZP and FLRE. Don't skimp on spells, though, because at this point you can even go to Roscoe's to recharge. The gold accumulates quickly, as the skeletons give about 6000 gold per fight, which should even make up for anyone getting killed. The only problem is that this is random, and gold seems to be 1-99% of some random number When visiting the skeletons, have LEVI running--MALE once you get that. MACO is nice if you get lost but not necessary.

    You still want MYSH and double bard songs going in combat and so forth. An actual temple is just north of the exit, so that's good news, too. If you get a random fight and can't flee, throw everything at it, though if you face just a couple monsters, they're worth fighting to get the items. Also, have LEVI or, better, MALE running. Traps can kill you. MACO is a help here too. Use the best group damage spells you have. Also, be sure to keep a few item slots open. Monsters drop good items here, and for your fighters, this will be big for improving AC.

    Good items include mostly mithril stuff as well as a bardsword. The bardsword will let your bard sing the AC song (#5) in combat, thus giving a double dose for free, because your bard recharges songs when he equips it. You don't really need another weapon along with it, too, since your bard isn't an especially heavy hitter. He only gets one attack. Other guys will get multiple attacks. So save the item slot for finding something cooler.

    The only thing you need to consider once your bard gets a bardsword is if your bard is killed. Then you have to unequip and re-equip.

    The big circuit, with main fights in the top outline:

    • 3, 12 = 66 skeletons (1210)
      • 6,16 = 11 wights (1877) -- they age you, but you can pay for that, now. (this is a bit out of the way and should probably be used only when you know your way around)
    • 18, 9 = 28 zombies (2389) (cut off here if not enough spell points--you probably just need SHSP for the next two. Also, with PHDO, a zombie fight is 3E N.)
      • 21,10 = 45 zombies (3840) (note: 3E and phase door north from the zombies)
      • 6,0 = 9 wights (1536)
      • 9,0 =5 ghouls (1920)

    Players starting out may want to avoid the traps. The wights are 3E N E S E N E S from the start. The ghouls are 3E N 3E S 2W S of there. So it's not bad to get there since the corridors are marked.

    The wights are 3E N E S E N E S from the start. The ghouls are 3E N 3E S 2W S of there. So it's not bad to get there since the corridors are marked. Basically this is a 7k loop, 11k with the zombies, so it adds up quickly. It's not worth fishing for fights in my opinion, since multiple monster groups drain spells quickly, although you can hit the doors north of the stairs if you want. The less desirable:

    • 14,6 = 39 skeletons (715) -- not too out of the way after PHDO, but not really great experience
    • 19,2 = 52 skeletons (953) -- not advisable, in a dark area.

    E* N* E S E N* W 2N W are the skeletons. Hit them with 2 group spells. E S* W N 3W N W and do the same to the zombies. E S 3E S E 2N E 6S W N W S* W* and retreat. This is the basic way to get ~4K experience per trip. That's pretty good. You can also go east near the stairs to hit up the wights and/or ghouls.

    You can do a bit better once your magician gets phase door. After beating the zombies, 3E, face north, cast PHDO and go north. More zombies! N* W* 2S W* 2S W S 4W S and now a detour E S E N E S E N E can clean up skeletons but may not be worth it. 4W 4S 2E S W S.

    This should tide you over until your spellcasters hit level 13. Each trip through can get 9000 (?) experience. Level 13 is at 230k. So that is <25 trips through. Getting killed or withered is not a worry, because a couple fights will give you enough gold for a long time. However, any experience over 230000 is wasted for your mages, who should change classes. Don't monitor too closely--you might as well just pile up experience once you have your pattern--but check before each entry and keep rough figures in your head.

    Also, after a time or two through, you can still use the emulator trick to speed up regen, or you can just visit Roscoe. You should be filthy rich.

    And at this point you may wish to track experience--remember it will be a multiple of 10000 by now, so you need to look at the first two digits. A trip to the review board should clear up who needs what. It can be useful to track this so you can just go in and out a few times until your party has the experience they need to hit your goals.

    Once you hit level 6, YMCA and MALE mean you won't have to re-cast spells, which saves you more spell points and time. If you feel very brave, you can drop down to level 3, but I think the preferred path is now where you can use PHDO after the zombies. It's worth the spell points cast.

    Also, you should have some mithril items for your front line now. Plate for the paladin, scale for the bard, two mithril shields. But I did not find a mithril helm or gloves.

    One other thing: don't worry if your front line gets killed. You should have enough gold, and it's more experience for the backline, so they can get new classes.