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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Elfhelm's Bane Character Creation

Okay, now the important stuff. You have to Create a Character Disk from the main menu. This gets kinda weird to explain with the Apple Emulator. So I'll just tell you what I did- there may be a better way. Elfhelm asks you to insert a blank disk after you Create a Character Disk. In Windows Explorer, I made a copy of my disk image file and renamed it to Character. Load that up and then follow the disk drive instructions.

Then from the main menu, Create New Character. Enter the name of your new character. This is very important, and you should remember it, since this is your saved game file. Easiest way is to name your character your own name. Next, we have randomly generated stats for you character.

If you want to be a Warrior, you need a high STR, CON, and DEX. High as in, 95 or more for at least STRength and CON. Warriors can be extremely dumb, so don't worry about INT or Magic or Spells.

A Magic User needs high Magic Ability and Spell Bonus.

A Priest is truly an all-around character, so you need to have decent stats all around.

Notes on stats: The higher STR, the more you can carry. If you have very low STR, you won't even max out on 20 items in your inventory if you're not careful.

There are scrolls in the game that can increase some stats, and your stats increase with Level ups, so don't worry if you don't have 90 on everything. The key is to get high scores on magic if you are a non-warrior, and to have the strength to carry a heavy backpack. A low CON may result in low Body Points. Hit and Damage Bonuses can really help your character win battles. INT is the least important of all the stats.

You can keep rolling for random stats for as long as you'd like. In your mind, pick a class and then roll for stats.

Here are my stats for my Priest character I created just for this blog:

My STR is totally awesome, my INT is fine, my CON is good, and my DEX is okay. I have no penalties or weaknesses. My Hit Bonus and Damage Bonus is SUPER. My Magic Ability is excellent. My Spell Bonus is good (I believe the only stats were 0%, 5%, and 10%). My carrying capacity means I can wear heavy armor and carry a bunch of treasure.

The Realm of Angbar by Elfstone

The fictional history of the Realm of Angbar is eaccessible from the main screen. Here's a summary: the narrator is named Elfstone (also the programmer's alias). Elfstone says that a little known evil priesthood has set up a huge temple in the heart of Elfhelm. They worship the evil Wormlord. You job is to invade the temple and slay the Wormlord. Elfstone goes ahead and tells us that this adventure series is brought to us by Share Data, and that your character can move around to other disks in the Realm of Angbar, such as Quest of the Dragon's Run, The Mountain-Lord of Eriath, Fangwood, and The Crystal Realm. [Unfortunately these disks were never published.]


For the record, the game does not end if you kill Wormlord. Long before Worlds of Warcraft, Elfhelm's Bane is a game that doesn't end.

Elfhelm's Bane Instructions and Setup

Assuming you have the computer skills to unzip and install the Apple II e Emulator, and you have Elfhelm's game files from my previous post, let's go ahead and open up Disk 1. [Leave a comment here for technical support if you don't know how to do this.] You should get the Green Valley Publishing Screen. Hit SPACEBAR to get to the main menu. Remember for the Apple Emulator, F11 SAVES you game (so you don't need to make a save game disk, and F12 loads it back up. F12 can be done at any point once you open the disk.)

Quick note: I like to have Disk 1 and Disk 2 put in their respective virtual drives, so all you have to do is switch/swap drives when asked to "insert Disk 2".

If you want to learn about the Realm of Angbar in the game, use your arrow keys to go to INSTRUCTIONS. Then display on screen. Here is a summary of this screen:

The Realm of Angbar takes place in the alien world of Orthos, a special place in the universe where magic exists. You are a young person who is in the capital of Angbar, Elfhelm. You had sold your old boat at the wharf for a few pieces of gold, and you have clothes.

Before you start the game you have to create a new character. What details next are your character's attributes:

STR- Strength, used to hold weapons, carry a large load, break down doors, etc. [Warriors need this]
INT- Intelligence, used to think, deduce, reason
CON- Constitution, you health, used to generate Damage Points and be resurrected.
DEX- Dexterity, used to dodge blows and run
MAG- Magic ability [Magic Users and Priests, and probably for Warriors who use magic scrolls]

Three classes to choose from: Warriors, Priests, and Magic Users

Warriors: High Damage Points, wield any weapon, high damage, can't memorize spells
Priests: We learn that Magic Points is a value used to cast spells. Each spell is worth a point, and you regenerate a point each turn. Priests have less magic points than Magic Users, and Warriors have none. We learn Magic Bonuses give more damage and increase the success-rate of a spell. Priests have less MB than Magic Users, and Fighters have none. Priests can wield any weapon like Warriors, however. Priests start the game with one spell, Vigor, which heals.
Magic Users: Lowest Damage Points, lowest damage, highest Magic Points, Magic Bonuses, and they start with 3 spells: Vigor, Haste, and a random one. Wizards cannot wield edged weapons, such as daggers, battle-axes, or swords.

Next, we are briefed on the basic RPG concepts that we are all now familiar with, such as Levels and Experience. Kill a monster and get experience. As you increase levels, your character's stats increase and you become more powerful. The only difference with Elfhelm is that you can also get experience by depositing gold pieces in the bank, and you need to pay a training fee to advance to the next level. Priests and Magic Users gain a spell for level advancement. Also, depending on how many times you use your weapon, you get damage bonuses (so using a club many times against foes, may give you a +1 HP damage for Blunt Weapons next level). The three classes of weapons are thrusting, edge, and blunt.

Here's the list of alpha-keyboard commands:

To Attack:
(H)it- Standard attack
(P)arry- Defensive hit, lower damage, but increases the chance of blocking the next attack
(B)ash- Based on your STR and DEX, it knocks your foe down for a turn
(S)mash- HULK SMASH! High damage attack, but you are left open

(B)uy Equipment:
This can ONLY be done at the Elfhelm Weapons and Supply Shop in town. You are allowed to (B)uy equipment as long as you are carrying under 20 items, you have enough gold in the bank, and you have enough strength to carry the weight.

(C)ast Spell:
Priests and Magic Users can eventually learn all of these spells:
Vigor- Heal Damage Points
Haste- Double your speed (1 turn = 2 actions)
Plague- If hit, your foe dies in 10 turns
Fireball- Nice damage to one opponent
Blast- Great damage to one opponent
Fear- Causes a foe to run
Invisibility- Fade from this plane of existence for a few turns (very hard to get hit)
Neutralize Poison- Prevent your death by flushes poison from your body
Doomkill- Turns foe to ash (no chance to pick up their treasure)
Identify- Cheat mode- find out details about items (how much charge it left, what spell it casts, or in the monsters' case- its level and damage points)
Lightning- Most damage against a single foe
Mesmerize- Foe gets confused, can't fight back, and may flee
Terror- Clears all monsters from an area
Health- Cure disease before you die

Spell rules- Each spell uses 4 Magic Points. The success rate is based on your Level and your Magic Bonus. However with offensive spells (fireball, doomkill, etc.) your foe has a chance to dodge it.

Movement Commands
Each room or area has a list of permitted directions.
(N)orth, (S)outh, (E)ast, (W)est, (U)p, (D)own, (O)ut, (G)o to a special place
You can also (F)ind a hidden exit to special room or area, based on your INT.

Your Character
You can (P)rint your character to the screen to see all of your attributes, stats, money, spells, experience needed for next level, weapons and armor you are holding, your backpack capacity, and more.

Weapon Damage and Armor Class (AC) Explained
This was always complicated to me when I played Dungeons and Dragons. Elfhelm's Bane makes it easier to explain; each weapon has a number in brackets, such as Dagger [2]. That means a dagger can inflict 1-2 damage points against a foe. If you had a Magic Dagger +5 [2] that means you can inflict 1-2 damage points PLUS a bonus of 5, meaning the Magic Dagger has a range of 6-7.

Regarding armor and shields, just wearing clothes = AC 25, which is the worst, meaning you have no protection. Wearing armor such as chain mail [7] using the formula 25-7 = 18, for an Armor Class of 18. The lower the number the better deflection of blows. AC0 = a tank!

(Q)uit results in leaving the game and getting a chance to save it. Doesn't work in the middle of the fight. Don't bother using this if you are using an emulator. Just hit F11 to save.

(R)eturn equipment to your backpack without dropping it on the floor. Great to use before you (V)amoose and run away (you lose your weapon and shield if you are holding them).

(T)rain: can only be used in Town Square. If you have the right amount of money and no experience points left to earn for the next level, you can advance.

The best way to make money in the long term is not depositing money to Elfhelm's bank; you need to go to the Elfhelm Pawnshop and (H)ock your items.

To see a list of all of your items, including their weight in your backpack, use the (I)nventory command. You can also drop items using this command.

Use (J) key to examine a monster or item for a basic description.

After you (A)ttack a monster, use (K)ill to continue fighting it.

Use (L)ook to pick up an item or object from the floor or area. This command also tells you which monsters are in the area for you to (A)ttack.

(W)ield mean hold in your hands. If you buy or pick up a weapon, armor, or shield you MUST wield it before you can use it. To switch weapons, just wield the new one.

(H)ide in the shadows so monsters can't see you. Some monsters attack on site and gangbang you. If you are weak, you can hide. Great for surprising. Note: if you perform an action, wielding a weapon or casting a spell, you will become unhidden.

(Y)ell to be a cocky adventurer and attract monsters.

(Z)ap allows you to use magical items or tools. All classes can do this. Each item has a function (keys can unlock doors, staffs can heal, scrolls can cast spells, etc.). Each item has a limited charge. Each time you zap a charge is used. If you have the spell Identify, you can know exactly how many charges are left and what the function of the tool is. Otherwise, it's trial and error. Be careful- some items can blow up in your face. Zapping is the only way a Warrior can use magic.


Your bank is like a debit card. Deposit the gold in the bank as much as you can. The supply shop and pawn shop have access to your bank account, and don't deal with cash that you have on hand. If you die, you lose all of your possessions, but the local priesthood will happily resurrect you for half of your bank account [you also lose 1 point from your CON stat]. Remember, at lower levels going to the bank is extremely important because you gain experience for every gold piece you deposit.

Every turn, you regenerate a Magic Point (except while Haste and Invisibility are working) and Body Point. Once your Body Points reach 0, you're dead. You have 10 rounds to cure disease or poison (using a spell or zapping a scroll or item). Multiple poisonings at the same time lowers the number of turns you have to cure yourself.

EVERYTHING counts as a turn, EXCEPT actions like (P)rinting character to monitor and (I)inventory. Generally, after any other command, a turn occurs, which means you regenerate, a monster can attack, a poison/disease counter passes, and a new monster can appear. There are three ways to get monsters to appear: keeping (H)iding, (Y)elling, or hit [ENTER], which is sit around.

Hints from the Creator:

Make a map, don't leave the city until you advance a few levels, big trouble if you fight a monster that is 2-3 times your level; use the J command when you encounter a new monster to see what its level is. Press SPACEBAR for this full list of commands.

The Realm of Angbar: Elfhelm's Bane for the Apple

This is an Elfhelm's Bane fan site. This is a work in progress, since I have 1,460,000,323 other things that I am working on. Since Elfhelm Bane's fan audience is SO minuscule, and there is NO demand for new fans to play Elfhelm's Bane, it makes no sense for me to even invest a minute into a blog talking about Elfhelm's Bane. Yet we as humans as illogical. So here I am.

My own personal experience with Elfhelm's Bane started when my mom bought me the Apple II C game in the mid-1980's. Elfhelm was superior to regular text adventures like Zork in that the game had a battle system with hit points, damage, and spells. It was like Dungeons and Dragons. In addition to the excellent character, monsters, spell, and battle system, the story itself and room descriptions were awesome. Although the game is clearly a parody of Lord of the Rings, Dungeons and Dragons, and other fantasy works, the death and violence are very real. As easy it is to say "it's tongue and cheek", once you start playing you see how serious your survival is.

As far as the history of Elfhelm's Bane goes, there used to be an old explanation up on The Strange Saga of The Realm of Angmar, Elfhelm's Bane, Swords of Chaos, Lords of Cyberspace, Galactic Conquest & The Muinet Entertainment BBS written by the Creator, Mark Peterson. However, that is now being blocked by a robots.txt file and is no longer accessible. That's a shame. I actually had e-mail correspondence with him (I think- it could have also been a fan who had direct contact with him; the e-mails were on my work e-mail, which I no longer have) a few years ago, and he managed to find the original discs and sent them to me in the mail. I believe he was shocked anyone remembered Elfhelm's Bane.

So as far as the history of Elfhelm goes, I'm forced to find third-hand sources on the net:

Mark Peterson was "hooked on Scepter of Goth" in 1984, and after running out of money playing Scepter he wrote his own. His first MUD, "The Realm of Angmar", was written in Pascal and began as a clone of Scepter of Goth, though soon he added his own ideas. This was ported to Unix, then to an Apple ][ in assembly language (renamed Angbar), rewritten in C on Xenix as "Angmar". It was then rewritten to run on DOS to be compatible with the MajorBBS (and other BBSs of the time) and renamed "Swords of Chaos", which for many years was a successful commercial MUD sold to various BBS operators until widespread Internet access eclipsed local BBS systems.

The Realm of Angmar, was written in Pascal by Mark Peterson in 1984 as a clone of the MUD game Sceptre of Goth. It was then ported to the Apple II assembly language and renamed Angbar due to concern of legal action by Tolkien Enterprises over copyright infringement over the name and then ported to the C programming language. It was released to the public and had some popularity but it was aUnix game and so it wasn't compatible with common bulletin board systems which were run on DOS. By 1994, Peterson had again rewritten the game to be compatible with DOS and renamed it to Swords of Chaos, again out of concern of legal action by Tolkien Enterprises. The game was distributed to BBS around the world until the growing popularity of the Internet caused a die off among BBS systems. Rights to the game were sold to a Canadian company named Vircom, which later sold it to Metropolis Gameport which still sells the game today. Mark Peterson also developed a game called The Mage Connection, which was a Magic: The Gathering type of game played over BBS, and a game called Lords of Cyberspace.

In other words, Elfhelm was born out of the the BBS and MUD culture of the late 1970's and early 1980's. Elfhelm in a way lives on in Swords of Chaos, but it's a multi-player game (Elfhelm was single player).

Let's see some other tidbits I remember from the Creator's history page:

The programmer didn't get paid a lot of for the game itself, either. There was some crazy royalty payment from Green Valley Publishing and Broderbund Software which resulted in the Creator getting paid chump change (literally).

There is an issue with the spelling: Angbar vs Angmar.

He wanted to program more games for the Apple (in fact in Elfhelm's Bane, if you move into certain areas the screen prompts you to insert those other game disks) but due to low sales, it never happened.

Based on the original history page, Elfelm's Bane is public domain now for a lot of reasons.

You can now play Elfhelm's Bane on your PC using these files:

Download Elfhelm's Bane two original disks:
NOTE, you need to copy one of the disks and rename it to "Character Disk". It takes 3 disks to play Elfhelm's Bane. (If using Windows, just right click and COPY and rename the file Master.dsk)

I will be working Elfhelm's Bane Guide. This blog is a page dedicated to OBSCURITY, and all fans of OBSCURITY.