Hezarin: Such Earthly Considerations Seem Worthless Trifles   6 comments

I always try my best to cajole my game-playing sessions into a narrative form, but vast puzzle-fests like this can be … maybe not anti-narrative, exactly, but they pull in some sideways-diagonal direction which makes my job harder. The story is painted by lore and place as much as the events that happen.

About 30 yards ahead the river disappears over a magnificent waterfall, at least 1000 feet high, which is illuminated by powerful arclamps high out of reach. A fine mist hangs in the air, quickly soaking your outer garments, but the sheer impressiveness of the falls makes such earthly considerations seem worthless trifles, and you venture right to the edge of the falls.

ONE THING I NEGLECTED TO MENTION LAST TIME

I discussed a marsh where HOLD TWIG gave a pointer to the right directions (“The twig twitches sporadically, and comes to rest pointing in a southerly direction.”); what I didn’t mention was this was cojoined with a bad parser issue. When HOLD TWIG is used anywhere else, the game acts in a very different way:

>HOLD TWIG
You’re already holding the small forked twig.

This is extremely deceptive parser practice; essentially the verb means an entirely different thing (and behaves the same as TAKE) when it is not being used as a puzzle. Even though both uses are “fair” in a grammatical way, there’s no reason for a player to think the verb will suddenly mean something different just because they’re in another location.

Something similar happens with CLIMB while in the hall of torches.

The tunnel levels out here for a while, and the going is a bit easier.
>CLIMB

The tunnels continue dead straight for several miles, and you are forced to rest every now and then.

This is interpreting CLIMB the same as UP in the location. However, there’s a different use of CLIMB, where you can CLIMB WALL:

Your Adventurer’s training stands you in good stead here, and you are able to make full use of the plentiful hand and toe holds available to you. You are perched several feet below the lowest of the torches. Above you the wall becomes smooth and featureless, and you are unable to progress further.

A wall isn’t even mentioned in the room description; you just have to suppose it is there. Urrrgh.

After this you can JUMP and get one of the torches. The torch falls to the ground and goes out, but a bright green light briefly appears and the torch lights up again. This resolved my issue last time with a lack of light.

Lighting up the darkness to the south leads to an open area with an east and a west section; let’s start with the east.

ANOTHER THING I NEGLECTED TO MENTION LAST TIME

I mentioned the plot is to defeat Anjith, and grabbing treasures is somehow part still part of the game, but there’s one other paragraph from the intro I was saving for when it became pertinent:

RUMOUR HAS IT that the Ruling Council of Hezarin, an omniscient body that works in mysterious ways, foresaw the rule of the old tyrant and crafted a magic device, in the form of an old panelled box, which could be used to overcome him; but over the passage of time the box has been lost and the secret of its use forgotten. Other sources say that Arijith himself has consigned the box to a secret location deep in the bowels of the earth, and has woven dark spells and set hidden traps so that no ordinary man may chance upon it…

I admit I thought the moment of pertinence would come MUCH later, but the very first thing I found upon exploring the underground with a torch was:

You are in a small, musty room. There is a large vent set into the eastern wall, and a corresponding one facing it.
There is a box here. The box is locked.

I don’t know for certain if it’s the box, but given the two-word parser isn’t great with adjectives, I think it’s likely the Big Fooble is here in the open early. Figuring out how to use it, then, is the great mystery.

While we’re in this part of the caverns, I should also note some “fun” doors leading to grumpy cats:

You are in a small room. To the south is a large door, decorated with scenes of brave Adventurers fighting huge lions. The only other exit is to the northwest.
>S

As you open the door a large and ferocious lion leaps out. Against his superior bulk and razor sharp claws you stand no chance…..

a music room with a “bonger”

As you walk in through the door you are greeted by the hideous clash of long out of tune clarinets, bassoons and a euphonium.
The room is covered with scenes of people playing various instruments, some of them very odd. The only exit is to the south.
Lying on the floor here is an object which I find myself unable to describe as anything other than a ‘bonger’.

and a pipe where I can use the wheel I found in the rubbish heap to turn it on. Turning it on results in the room with the box being filled with black smoke. (I don’t know if this is useful or just a trap for players who didn’t get the box first.)

This activates something on the west side of the starting underground map, so let’s turn over to that:

The “Poohsticks” bridge is over the same river you can jump into from aboveground to get the magic word SKCITSHOOP.

There’s a curious cabinet where FILL CABINET gets an interesting response:

The passage ends here in a small chamber, hewn out of the bedrock. A large display
cabinet has been mounted on the west wall.
The cabinet is empty.
>fill cabinet

Sorry, only members of the Council are allowed to fill the cabinet.

If you leave there’s a BANG sound, and if you come back you find there’s a “vorpal blade” inside. This implies that The Council of Hezarin is helping you from afar.

You can use the vorpal sword to slay some orcs:

The passage comes to a dead end here. Chiselled into the otherwise blank wall at the far end of the passage is a small alcove, which contains a sparkling crystal.
There is a large orc, sleeping fitfully, chained to the wall of the passage below the alcove.
>get crystal

You creep past the monster, and reach for the crystal, but as you touch it, it emits a bell-like chime, waking the orc. You whirl around just in time to counter its wild leap for your throat, and the orc impales himself on your sword, the blade sinking deep into his soft underbelly. Sword, monster and chain vanish with a loud crack.

although there’s four orcs in total, and I haven’t been able to do anything with the last one.

Finally, there’s a small hole. If you go in you get stuck. If you haven’t turned the pipe valve from the eastern part of the caverns yet, the hole fills up with water and you eventually drown. If the pipe has been turned on, the result is different:

You are stuck in the hole. The water is up to your nose.
Below, you can feel the pressure slowly building up.

Just as the water reaches your nose the pressure finally because too great. With a loud >>POP<< you shoot out the hole like a cork out of a champagne bottle, execute a graceful triple somersault and crash heavily into the side wall of the cave. When you recover sufficiently you discover that you have sustained only minor bruises after all, though they do not feel so yet.
You are on a small ledge above a large, water-filled cavern. Steam curls upward from the surface of the water creating intricate patterns. A dark tunnel exits north.
There is a wooden torch mounted on the wall here.

>GET TORCH

As you take the torch it suddenly flares bright green, and you see a face solidify
in the flame. The face turns to look at you, and pronounces in a solemn chant:
THE WAY TO LIGHT
IS THROUGH THE DARK
THE WAY THROUGH DARK
COMES FROM THE DARK
THAT WHICH IS NOW DARK
WAS NOT ALWAYS SO
The face then turns away from you, and as it fades so the colour of the flame returns to normal.

This leads to an entirely new and large section. I haven’t done much mapping further so I’ll save discussing it next time. I have already worked out what the chant is referring to, but I’ll save discussing that for next time too, other than me pointing out the green glow has occurred twice now: once for picking up the torch after it briefly went out, and once for the poem/hint. This suggests to me the torch is another avenue the Council of Hezarin is using to help.

Posted January 16, 2020 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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6 responses to “Hezarin: Such Earthly Considerations Seem Worthless Trifles

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  1. This game’s parser seems to swing back and forth between overly friendly and decidedly mendacious.

    On the friendly side, I appreciate how it has called out certain verbs as never needing an object – like JUMP, DIG, and DIVE. If you type “JUMP ” the game explains the verb is used intransitively only – so only “JUMP” itself is the required command (where jumping needs to be done).

    On the mendacious side… have you encountered this yet?

    “: save
    It’s getting much too exciting to save the game here.”

    I’ve pinpointed what seems to *start* this happening (xvyyvat na bep naq trggvat n pelfgny), but I’ve yet to calm things down sufficiently thereafter such that I can save again. It doesn’t *sound* like a “you’ve screwed things up irrevocably” warning, so hopefully that’s not what it is.

    Finally, I think there’s also some subtle randomizing going on as well. I’ve noticed at least two descriptions so far that are slightly different in my playthrough than they are in yours. Whether those are meaningful remains to be seen.

    • I originally used a different text quote for my title, but when I went back to try to paste the larger paragraph in my post, I found the text had changed.

      I need to investigate further what’s going on.

  2. In relation to HOLD TWIG, this must be the only text adventure to recognise DOWSE as a verb; I remember trying that when I first played the game back in the nineties. I can’t remember if DIVINE worked as well or not.

  3. Seeing as how there is a “POOHSTICKS” bridge, I wonder if dropping the stick in water has any function in this area? (similar to the game played in Winnie the Pooh)

    • Yes, throwing stuff off the bridge is helpful! I had worked it out via the fact that in the prior fall-in-river scene all your stuff ends up intact in the Fountain Room, but now that you point it out I see how the name of the bridge is a hint. That’s neat!

      It lets you transport nearly all your stuff to the next area (which I will talk about in my next post); the catch is I haven’t found a way to get back yet.

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