Castle of the Winds

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Castle of the Winds
Stable game
Developer SaadaSoft
Theme Fantasy, Norse Mythology
Influences
Released 1989 (v1.0)
Updated 1993 (v1.1A)
Licensing Public domain (source code unreleased)
P. Language C
Platforms Windows 3.0 or higher with 2 MB of RAM or higher
Interface Mouse, Keyboard
Game Length Several hours for each part
Official site of Castle of the Winds


Castle of the Winds is a tile-based Roguelike role-playing game (RPG) running under Windows 3.x, written by SaadaSoft and published by Epic MegaGames.

The game was released in two parts: A Question of Vengeance, released as shareware; and Lifthransir's Bane, sold commercially. A license to continue using A Question of Vengeance and a copy of Lifthransir's Bane were sold together.

The game is significantly different from most roguelikes in a number of ways. Its interface is heavily mouse-based. Many commands cannot be entered with the keyboard at all, whereas traditional roguelikes are usally controlled completely by keyboard with the mouse being used as a secondary input, if at all. Castle of the Winds also allows the player to save the game at any point, and to restore saved games after dying — features never seen in a traditional roguelike game (see also: permadeath, save scumming)

Contents

Magic

The game tends to favour the use of magic in combat, as spells are the only weapons that work from a distance (there are no bows). The player character automatically gains a spell with each level-up, and can permanently gain another using the corresponding book (found or purchased), until he learns all the 30 spells that he can learn. (The maximum level is also 30.) There are four types of elemental damage: cold vs. fire, and lightning vs. acid/poison. (The player has no acid/poison attacks.) The spells are divided into seven categories:

  • Attack Spells
    • Magic Arrow: The basic magical attack, weak and non-elemental, affecting one target monster.
    • Cold Bolt, Fire Bolt, Lightning Bolt: More powerful, elemental attacks, also affecting one target monster.
    • Cold Ball, Fireball, Ball Lightning: Have a blast radius of one square. Do damage equivalent to the corresponding bolt at its center, and half as much damage in the eight adjacent squares.
    • Sleep Monster: Puts one target monster to sleep. Some monsters are immune, and all will wake in about ten minutes or when attacked.
    • Slow Monster: Slows the target monster's movement and attacks by about half.
    • Transmogrify Monster: Randomly changes the target monster into another type, not necessarily a weaker one, and preserves its relative health.
  • Defense Spells
    • Shield: Temporarily increases the player's armour value.
    • Resist Cold, Resist Fire, Resist Lightning: Temporarily decreases by half the damage the player sustains from these elemental attacks.
  • Healing Spells
    • Heal Minor Wounds, Heal Medium Wounds, Heal Major Wounds: Heal a percentage of the player's hit points. All have a minimum strength, so they can fully heal lower-level characters.
    • Healing: Restores the player to full hit points, but is of limited use in combat because it gives monsters a chance to attack.
    • Neutralize Poison: Stops poisoning. Although the spell has the same mana cost as Heal Medium Wounds, it is effective against any strength of poisoning, even that inflicted by Green Dragons.
  • Movement Spells
    • Phase Door, Teleport: Both move the player to random locations on the same floor, but Teleport is longer-range.
    • Levitation: Makes the player impervious to most types of traps.
    • Rune of Return: Carries the player from the dungeon to town, or from town to the deepest visited level of the dungeon.
  • Divination Spells
    • Clairvoyance: Fills in the player's map of a 10x10 area anywhere on the floor, including any traps and secret doors.
    • Detect Objects: Reveals all movable items on the floor, except those carried by monsters.
    • Detect Traps: Reveals all traps within 10 tiles, and has a decreasing chance to reveal more distant traps.
    • Detect Monsters: Reveals all monsters on the same floor as the player, who can see them move, for a limited time.
    • Identify: Reveals enchantments/curses or lack thereof on an object, and reveals the number of charges of a wand or staff.
  • Miscellaneous Spells
    • Remove Curse: Makes a cursed object "uncursed," meaning that the player can take it off. Normally, cursed items cannot be removed once put on. Its negative effects are not removed, and it is still worthless.
    • Light: Reveals a room, or a 3x3 area of corridor, including any monsters or objects that may be within it. (Rooms and corridors are distinguished not by structure, but by different types of floors with different colours and descriptions.)
  • Non-Character Spells (which can only be cast by items such as scrolls and wands)
    • Create Traps: Fills the floor squares adjacent to the player (up to eight) with traps. If the player then casts Detect Traps and Levitation, he can usually disarm the traps with minimal danger, and gain experience for disarming them. Cast only by cursed items.
    • Clone Monster: Creates a healthy duplicate of the monster; effective even on bosses. Some players use it to gain more experience and treasure against monsters which usually carry a high experience value and a lot of treasure. Cast only by cursed items.
    • Teleport Away: Similar to Teleport, but affects a target monster rather than the player.
    • Haste Monster: Reverse of Slow Monster. Cast only by cursed items.
    • Summon Monster, Summon Undead (not listed in the Spell Directory): Create a random monster in the space next to the caster.

Items and the inventory system

Castle has a very sophisticated inventory system, limiting a player's load based on weight (measured in grams) and bulk (measured in cubic centimetres) rather than number of items, and allowing the character to use different types of containers as packs. The item types are as follows:

  • Containers
    • Packs and Bags (small, medium and large), each having a weight and bulk of their own plus that of their contents, and a maximum weight and bulk
    • Chests (small, medium and large), which occupy their maximum bulk regardless of how full they are
    • Belts, which have a fixed number of slots in addition to the maximum weight and bulk. The Utility Belt and Wand Quiver Belt have specialty slots that can hold only specific types of items. Potions, Scrolls, Books and Wands can only be activated when on the belt, worn in place of a belt, or carried in the Free Hand.
    • Purses, which work the same way as packs, with high capacity, but can only carry money.
    • Enchanted Packs of Holding (small, medium and large), the only magical containers, which weigh less and take up less space than their contents. Enchanted Packs repel each other magnetically, so unlike all other containers, they will not nest.
  • Wearable items
    • Suits of Armour of many types, such as Leather Armour, Studded Leather, Chain Mail, Splint Mail, Plate Mail, Plate Armour, Elven Chain Mail and Meteoric Steel Plate Armour.
    • Shields made of several materials (Wooden, Iron, Steel, Meteoric Steel), each of which can be small, medium or large.
    • Helmets in Leather, Iron, Steel and Meteoric Steel. A Helmet of Detect Monsters also exists.
    • Bracers and Gauntlets.
    • Boots, which add a small amount of Armour Value, and if enchanted, can also increase the player's speed or cause him to levitate. Cursed boots usually slow the player down. All boots are made of leather, unlike some other RPGs which include chain boots, etc.
    • Cloaks, which are worn under armour and provide a small amount of Armour Value. Enchanted Capes of Protection are cloaks with an even higher Armour Value boots.
    • Rings and Amulets, which can be enchanted to increase an attribute, increase armour value or provide a resistance. One Amulet and two Rings can be worn at once.
    • Many types of weapons, with a wide variety of possible enchantments and curses, but all reaching only into adjacent squares (no bows etc.)
    • Staffs, which can function both as wands and as weapons.
  • Items to be Activated
    • Potions and Scrolls, with a wide variety of magical effects. Healing spells, Detect Objects, Detect Monsters and Detect Traps can be performed by both potions and scrolls; Levitation is performed only by a potion; and other spells in the game only by scrolls. In addition, Scrolls of Map Quadrant and Map Level exist, and some special potions restore Mana or allow the character to gain experience or permanently increase attributes.
    • Books, each containing a spell that the player can learn. A player will instantly recognize a book for a spell he already knows, and so will always learn something new from an unidentified spellbook.
    • Wands, which cast a spell and have a certain number of charges.
    • Scraps of parchment, at three key points in the story, each displaying a message when Activated (read).

Almost every item in the game can be normal, cursed or enchanted, with curses and enchantments working the same way is in Nethack. Although items do not break in use, many can be broken or rusted out when the player finds them. Since rings, amulets, potions, scrolls, wands and staffs are valued only for their magical effects, the non-magical Ring of Adornment, Necklace of Adornment, Distillation of Water, Blank Scroll, Dead Staff and Dead Wand are also worthless. Many items in the game can be named, so you can call your sword "Excalibur" if you wish.

Character attributes

The player's four attributes are represented not by numbers, but by a bar graph, with blue and green bar representing the value before and after any item enchantments, curses or drains. The attributes are:

  • Strength — determines how much damage is done in hand-to-hand combat, and the Maximum Weight the player can carry. (The Maximum Bulk is fixed at 1,000,000 cm³ and, in practice, is not a limiting factor.)
  • Dexterity — determines how likely a player is to hit and to block a hit in hand-to-hand combat, and gives the player a chance to avoid damage when he sets off a trap.
  • Intelligence — determines the player's maximum Mana.
  • Constitution — determines the player's maximum Hit Points. If a player's Constitution falls too far below its base level, he dies.

The other standard characteristics include:

  • Special attributes (resistances/vulnerabilities to Cold, Fire, Lightning and Drain Life, vulnerability to Acid, and Levitating).
  • Hit Points. (The Vampire can, by biting a player, decrease the maximum Hit Points, but these extra points are only temporarily blocked and hidden: they can be restored by

visiting the Temple of Odin.)

  • Mana: the player's reserve of magical energy. The player can cast spells that run Mana into the negative, risking a temporary but potentially fatal drop in Constitution.
  • Armour Value: Defense against physical damage, the combined total of armour, braces, gauntlets, cloak, boots, helmet, shield, and enchantments/curses.
  • Weight and Bulk: The player's body weight and bulk are not counted here, only the items he is wearing or carrying.
  • Copper: This includes money carried in the purse and on deposit at the bank.

Towns and Dungeons

As the story progresses, the setting changes twice; there are thus three towns, each with its own dungeon nearby. The game has a total of 40 dungeon levels, some randomly generated, others pre-designed.

The Tiny Hamlet and the Abandoned Mine

The player begins in a tiny hamlet, near which he used to live. His farm has been destroyed and his godparents killed. The first dungeon he will travel to at this time is an abandoned mine overrun with creatures and some weak undead monsters. It is four levels deep and features no boss battles or powerful items.

The buildings in the hamlet are as follows:

  • The Temple of Odin, which offers healing spells and restoration of drained attributes, as well as Remove Curse and Rune of Return, for a price.
  • Olaf's Junk Store, which sells nothing but will buy anything, including the "worthless" items that other merchants reject, for which it pays 25 copper pieces (CP). However, it will not pay more than 25 CP for an item, even when other merchants will. In some cases, such as boots and cloaks, the broken version of an item is worth more than the normal, unbroken version (i.e. 25 CP versus even less).
  • The house of a sage, who will identify any unknown item for a fee.
  • Two merchants, a blacksmith (buys and sells weapons and armour) and a general store (buys and sells scrolls, potions, spellbooks, cloaks, boots, containers).
  • Two farmhouses and a village well, which have no function and are purely decorative.

After clearing out the abandoned mine, the player finds the first scrap of parchment, and returns to the hamlet to find it pillaged. He (or she, as this game allows you to play as either) then travels to Bjarnhaven.

Bjarnhaven

The buildings in Bjarnhaven are:

  • The Temple of Odin, Olaf's Junk Store, and a sage, which work the same way as in the hamlet.
  • A branch office of the First Bank of Crossroads, where the player can deposit money. He will then not have to carry the money or risk having it stolen by a Smirking Sneak Thief, but it will still be available to spend in the four shops.
  • Four merchants.
  • A number of homes and a small fountain, all decorative.

The fortress near Bjarnhaven is 11 levels deep and is held by Hrungnir, the Hill Giant Lord (the only boss in the fortress). Hrungnir carries the Enchanted Amulet of Kings, which grants a resistance to Drain Life (attribute- and experience-draining attacks). When he Activates the amulet, Part I ends, and the game can be imported or started over in Part II. In general, the player will be more experienced if he carries over a winning character, rather than creating a new one.

Town in Part II

The castle near this town is ruined. Only the dungeon and parts of the ground floor remain; the dungeon is 25 levels deep and has been converted by the monsters living in it: the crypt has been desecrated, a Necromancer has set up his home (with a bed and desk), and special rooms for elementals installed. The minor bosses are a Wolf-Man and a Bear-Man; at deeper levels, the player fights the four giant kings, followed by the Fire Giant leader Surtur.

The buildings in the town are:

  • A central keep, where the Jarl will not admit the player at first, but will provide advice and two enchanted items after specific bosses are killed.
  • The Temple of Odin, Olaf's Junk Store, a sage and the First Bank of Crossroads.
  • Ten merchants.
  • A number of apartment buildings and a very large fountain.

Other features

The game keeps track of how much time has been spent in the game. Although story events are not triggered by time, it does determine when merchants change their stock. Also, victorious players are listed on the "Valhalla's Champions" list in order of time taken (with the fastest wins listed first). Castle has a plot loosely based on Norse mythology, but— like most Roguelikes —it's basically just about killing monsters (and buying/selling stuff to kill them with, or keep from getting killed).

Now public domain

In 1998, the author, Rick Saada, decided to make it public domain and allowed the registered and shareware versions to be freely distributed, but he did not release the source code.

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