6.0 Summary of Darklands Hintbook
Garrett R. Le-Page: I have purchased many hint/clue books over the years for computer games. I made it a policy to buy books for those games that I enjoyed completing enough to want to have a hard copy of what completing the game entailed. The Darklands clue book stands forth as one of the best I have owned. It covers the details of the game in depth. At 124 soft-bound pages, it encompasses everything from character generation, to what bonuses every Saint gives, and to the answers for every riddle. The version I purchased included a 3.5 disk which had the Version 6 Upgrade, a Character Editor, a program that allowed visualization of all Screen Backgrounds, and a program that allowed you to play all the Darkland Tunes. The date of printing is 1992 and the book is textual in nature with no illustrations.
The layout of the clue book is as follows:
Below is a brief summary of each chapter with relevant examples.
A few pages of fiction which describes the making of a game party.
This chapter is divided into tables which give all the information about each choice made in character development. I have copied excerpts from each table type to give you a sense of the information contained.
So, a Wealthy Urban character would start with Heal=1 and would get Heal +2 free by becoming a Monk with the possibility of buying up to +8 more for a total of +10. Every occupation is covered in the same complete detail. These tables are followed by a Occupations and Age section. This lists the bonuses for early ages and penalties for older characters.
Reaching age 50 would reduce your Agl by 3 and you would have lost 10 total by age 50.
The next section deals with occupation requirements (e.g. Physician - Character must have healing 15+, and experience as either a student, clerk, professor, physician, alchemist or master alchemist). Therefore, mapping out a strategy for developing a specific occupation is easily accomplished using this information. The chapter concludes by listing the equipment each profession begins with and a suggestion of important skills.
This chapter contains an extensive list of the cities in the game. For instance:
Sizes range from 1-8 and the numbers below the various weapon shops are the quality of wares that they sell. Of note, Clothmakers sell non-metal armor in versions higher than 6 only. Squinting at the map in order to find a city is alleviated by the location numbers. Finding which cities offer those wonderful 40+ weapons and armor is also a breeze. The Saints offered by each location are randomized at the beginning of each game. The end of the chapter describes the various locations found with in cities and in the countryside. The descriptions are short and concise.
EQUIPMENT AND COMBAT
Once again, tables are used to cover the specifics of each type of weapon and armor.
Where lower # for speed are faster, and str above the range receive bonuses.
Other mundane equipment is briefly described, as are the encumbrance levels. The chapter goes on to describe combat in great detail (6 pages). All "To Hit" and "Damage" probabilities based on str, weapon skill, equipment quality, type of weapon/armor, situational effects and speed are spelled out. Admittedly, this section is a bit tedious. I prefer to just build up my skill, buy good weapons/armor and just assume that this is a good thing to do.
A very interesting chapter. After all, we all want to know just what is behind all those nasties that have been trashing our party. Replaying the game after buying the manual, though, I did notice that some levels of enemies are not covered. The information is presented entirely as tables like so:
Templar or Preceptor:
Templars in Darklands are demon-worshipping monks. Types B and C are formidable warriors, with type B sometimes carrying noxious aroma potions. However, type A is the Preceptor, the Templar overlord and leader. He may have noxious aroma and/or eater water potions. The Preceptor also carries one of the most powerful weapons in the game. Unfortunately, over half of it's quality comes from satanic attributes unavailable to you (if captured it is 45q).
Each enemy has such a table and description. Quite thorough and interesting reading.
Have a question about alchemy? Then, this is the chapter for you! Nothing is left out. There are three parts: alchemical formulas, probability of success equation, and potion effect description. Here's an example of each below.
Probability of Success = k + ps + int + alch + mn, where k is a constant and the max is 99%.
Fleadust: Anyone within the relatively small cloud loses skills based on the thickness of vitals and limbs armor. Amount varies from 10% lost (if leather and/or padded) to 50% (if all plate). The exact formula is:
Skill lost = 5*(vitals thickness + limbs thickness)
Duration of fleadust effects varies with the potion's quality:
As stated, this is a very complete listing. As in the chapter concerning combat, the specific information about potion lengths of effect, % increases to stats, etc. is not really something that you need to know. However, the fact that the information is there to be referenced is a definitely appreciated.
A brief description of the factors influencing prayer success and the length of the effects gained through prayer. This is followed by the complete listing of Saints, for intance:
St. Peter [53v, 25-75df, 55%]: Str +(12-19), Chr +(8-15), SpkC +(10-19), SpkL +(10-19), Heal (skill) +(10-19), wEgd +(15-29), but Per halved (temporarily). If imprisoned, this Saint may aid in party's escape.
So, it is all there. Need to know what a Saint does, calculate how effective you would be at praying to a Saint, or find a Saint that gives the best particular bonus? Then, just look it up.
20 pages detailing the various quests and objectives of the game. Some minor spoilers are given in these pages. An example would be particular saints that might aid in a given situation. For greater spoilers, you are referred to a particular number in the answers section of the next chapter. Larger quests (Dragon Dens, for instance) are subdivided (intro, dragon lairs, dragon fighting, dragon causes, rewards). For instance, the Dragon Lairs section tells you that finding dragon lairs is mostly a matter of blind luck.
It also refers you to the answers section of the next chapter where you find:
Dragon lairs may be found in the following areas:
This information is nicely described and only read it if you choose to go to the next chapter and look it up. I am very fond of the approach that allows you to peruse the general info without major spoilers present. The information that is given is well constructed and thought out.
Actually, I found Dragons in the two games that I completed before buying the book. Kept on refighting them too ;) The book mentions locations (it also mentions the High Sabbat locations, etc.). When replaying the game after buying the book I visited one of the locations and got the "burned out and lifeless area message", but I could not track down the lair in that location. I think you just have to look at each until you find the right one(s) in a given game.
PUZZLES AND ANSWERS
This chapter is structured much like the last. Each puzzle is listed out with a verbal work through. The answers are not given directly, but are referred to in the latter half of the chapter. Check this out:
Look up #27 and you get:
"#27: 'My father's son' must be me. Thus, the painting is saying '...that man's father is 'me'.' Hence, the other painting is his son."
Wow! Not only the answer, but an explanation to boot. All answers in this section are handled in this manner.
The book concludes with a description of the various versions of the game, minor system tweaking, the use of type mem.log to check the power (1-10) of your party (sixth column) and thanks to those individuals that worked on Darklands without being mentioned in the original manual.
I hope that my examples have given you a feel for why I rate this clue book so highly. It essentially removes all the blindspots from the game and gives you solid information to fill them. The writing is excellent and great effort is given to make all the material easy to interpret and a pleasure to peruse. My only complaint is that it appears as though the authors of the book were never listed and they did such an excellent job. Kudos.
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