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Wizardry 8 is the eighth and final title in the Wizardry series of computer role-playing games by Sir-Tech. It is also the third in the Dark Savant trilogy, which includes Wizardry VI: Bane of the Cosmic Forge and Wizardry VII: Crusaders of the Dark Savant. It was published in 2001 by Sir-Tech. Wizardry 8 is unusual in that it does not have a subtitle and that the numeral in the title isn't shown as a Roman numeral (VIII, in this case).
The ultimate aim of the game is to collect the three artifacts mentioned in the story and to place each on its pedestal in the final zone. This allows ascension to the Cosmic Circle, becoming a god.
Characters imported from Wizardry VII: Crusaders of the Dark Savant start in either the Umpani stronghold or in the T'Rang stronghold, depending on the player's alliance. If the imported characters failed their mission in Wizardry VII, resulting in their banishment into space, they will be given a message that they're "still floating in endless darkness" and will not be allowed to start their adventure in Wizardry 8. New characters or unallied characters imported from the previous game start in the Higardi Monastery. Wizardry 8 uses different statistics than the previous games, necessitating conversions from the upper limit of 18 to the new upper limit of 100.
The game has an automap that expands into a larger map that can be zoomed in and out. Players can write notes directly onto the map. The quests are relatively simple to complete (other than the secret areas and the retro dungeons, which are not essential to the game). The game provides a journal system, with highlighted items indicating things that warrant further investigation. Games can be saved easily, with an unlimited number of games able to be saved. When characters die they can simply be resurrected, either with powders and scrolls (expensive early in the game), or by casting a resurrection spell later on in the game.
For the first time in the Wizardry series, players are able to see enemies approaching instead of having them popping up randomly. Combat is turn-based, although a continuous-phase mode can be toggled for those who wish. Because combatants are free to move around during combat, some disadvantages of the combat engine can quickly become apparent. Fights with more than ten enemies can become tedious, while spells that cause fear can cause the enemies to run away, even though the player's party is still flagged as being in combat. Due to the way enemies tend to surround the party, it is often necessary to retreat into nooks and crannies in the terrain in order to prevent being flanked, despite having a very good formation function.
Each race and class has a balance of strengths and weaknesses. The various races and classes are designed to be balanced against each other. The game is designed so that a wide variety of parties can be assembled and still be playable. Characters may change their class as they advance, allowing a variety of combinations.
Monsters are scaled to the party level; higher level parties will face different sets of monsters than a lower level party in the same area. The scaling is limited to allow variation in difficulty.
For players seeking a more difficult challenge, Sir-Tech brought back an option to play using rules from the early Wizardries - the "Iron Man Mode". In this "permadeath" mode, players are not allowed to save the game; instead the game is automatically saved when the player quits. As a result, a death cannot be trivially undone by a simple "Restore Game".
There are four main paths to proceed through the game: Allying with either the T'Rang or Umpani, allying with both, or else being enemies with both. In addition, players can also choose to gain friendship with the Rattkin or the Trynnie, and players can choose whether or not to ally with the Rapax, Rattkin Razuka or Mook (though none of these choices affect the ending of the game).
There are many secret areas, including "retro dungeons". Retro Dungeon refer to the look of the dungeons in the original Wizardry (Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord). Instead of vast open views, players are greeted with a solid, traditional grid-based dungeon in the style of Eye of the Beholder and the old Might and Magic games. Spinners, traps and teleporters combine to make these optional areas a challenge and reward for players who wish to test themselves.
The game received generally good reviews, but failed to increase the size of the franchise's fanbase. New casual gamers had some difficulty adjusting to the old-school RPG feel of the game. With a lack of widespread advertising and limited distribution, the game failed to attract much attention at its release.
As with the first two installments of the Dark Savant trilogy of Wizardry games, Wizardry VI and Wizardry VII, Wizardry 8 has multiple beginnings that continue from the previous games' multiple endings. There are five beginnings in all.
In the final area of Wizardry VII, the Isle of Crypts, the party has a choice to tell their enigmatic partner, Vi Domina, whether or not they have a way to leave the planet Guardia. They have the option of telling the truth and informing her that they found a spaceship, or lying and saying that they have no way to leave. If the party follows the path of truth, the Girl and Globe endings are open to them. If they lie, the Umpani, T'Rang and Globe endings are open to them.
1. The "Umpani" path - In Wizardry VII, the party lied to Vi Domina and said that they had no way to get off the planet. They speak with her again in the Forbidden Zone of New City, where they first met her. The Dark Savant, the main antagonist of Wizardry VII, suddenly appears there with a captive Vi and offers her life in exchange for the Astral Dominae, a deal which the party accepts. Soon after, a group of Umpani and T'Rang, two alien races from Wizardry VII, burst in fighting. The party joins in on the final melee, and choose to side with the Umpani. After the T'Rang are defeated, the party and Vi Domina join the Umpani on a spaceship to follow the Dark Savant to Dominus, the planet where the events of Wizardry 8 take place. Unfortunately, when they arrive there, the Savant blasts the Umpani ship from the sky, and it crashes. When the party is pulled from the wreckage, they are brought to Mt. Gigas, where the Umpani base on Dominus is located. They are released from active duty in the Umpani army, but are informed by the Umpani Sergeant Balbrak that they are welcome to enlist in the army again. Vi leaves soon after for Arnika, the home of the Higardi.
2. The "T'Rang" path - In Wizardry VII, the party lied to Vi Domina and said that they had no way to get off the planet. They speak with her again in the Forbidden Zone of New City, where they first met her. The Dark Savant, the main antagonist of Wizardry VII, suddenly appears there with a captive Vi and offers her life in exchange for the Astral Dominae, a deal which the party accepts. Soon after, a group of Umpani and T'Rang, two alien races from Wizardry VII, burst in fighting. The party joins in on the final melee, and choose to side with the T'Rang. After the Umpani are defeated, the party and Vi Domina join the T'Rang on a spaceship to follow the Dark Savant to Dominus, the planet where the events of Wizardry 8 take place. Unfortunately, when they arrive there, the Savant blasts the T'Rang ship from the sky, and it crashes. When the party is pulled from the wreckage, they are brought to Marten's Bluff, where the T'Rang base on Dominus is located. They are released from the service of the T'Rang, but are informed by a drone that they may serve the T'Rang Empire again if they so wish. Vi leaves soon after for Arnika, the home of the Higardi.
3. The "Girl" path - In Wizardry VII, the party told Vi Domina that they found a spaceship in the City of Sky, the city of the Helazoid, and go to meet her there. Instead, they meet the Dark Savant, who is holding a bloody and battered Vi in his grasp. He offers to exchange her life for the Astral Dominae, and the party agrees. The party and Vi board the spaceship together and take off for Dominus, and arrive only to be shot down by the Dark Savant. Their spaceship goes down on the beach near the Monastery, and Vi leaves by herself for Arnika.
4. The "Globe" path - The party either told the truth or a lie to Vi; it makes no difference. The Dark Savant offers her life in exchange for the Astral Dominae at one of the two meeting points, and the party chooses to keep the globe. The Savant waves his hand, and darkness surrounds the party. In the end of Wizardry VII, the player is told that the party floats in endless darkness. In Wizardry 8, a message appears and similarly explains that the party is still floating in darkness. The game cannot proceed at this point.
5. The "New" path - A party that starts fresh in Wizardry 8, or which did not successfully complete any of the previous requirements, accompanies a Mook named Grimpak as his personal body guards on a space voyage to planet Dominus. The Dark Savant shoots the ship down over the Higardi Monastery, and though Grimpak dies, the party survives.
Whatever the circumstances of the party's entrance into the world of Dominus, the goal of finding the three artifacts needed to ascend to godhood remains unchanged. They must find the Astral Dominae, the key to life and which is held by the Dark Savant, the Destinae Dominus, the key to knowledge and which was stolen by the thief Marten, and the Chaos Moliri, the key to change and which is held by the Mook.
The party ends up procuring each of these artifacts through different means: they acquire the Astral Dominae when the Rattkin, who came to Dominus on the heels of the Umpani and the T'Rang on a stolen T'Rang ship, rob the device from the Savant and sell it to the party. The Chaos Moliri arrives in their hands once they've allied with the Umpani and/or the T'Rang, who provide the party with a letter that allows them access to the Mook compound, and then steal the device from the Mook (alternatively, they may murder either the Umpani or T'Rang leader, steal the alliance letter from their corpse, and then enter into an alliance with the Mook under false pretenses). Finally, they follow the footsteps of the thief Marten to the Sea Caves, and his ghost entrusts them with the safety of the Destinae Dominus.
Once all three artifacts are in their possession, the party goes to Ascension Peak to begin the path to godhood, only to find the path blocked off by the Rapax, a warlike race of demonic beings. After successfully travelling to their castle and becoming Rapax Templars, which involves sleeping with (and impregnating) their demon goddess, the way to the Peak is finally open. The party climbs to the very top of Ascension Peak, places the three objects in their receptacles, and enters the Cosmic Circle on the heels of the Savant. Note that it is actually not required for the party to join with the Rapax, as they may set a portal on Ascension Peak before the Rapax block the path, and can teleport in later as they wish.
In the Cosmic Circle, the Dark Savant has already arrived and is speaking with Aletheides, the cyborg that the party either joins or follows to planet Guardia in Wizardry VII, depending on their choices in Wizardry VI. He demands to know where the Cosmic Lords are, but Aletheides simply says that they are gone. The Dark Savant kills him in anger, and the party approaches. When they do, they find that the Cosmic Forge back in the Circle where it should be (its theft is detailed in Wizardry VI).
The Dark Savant reveals that he is, in fact, Phoonzang, the enigmatic god figure from both Wizardry VII and 8, and a former Cosmic Lord. The other Cosmic Lords cast him down for trying to share the knowledge of the universe with mortals (i.e., Humans, T'Rang, Elves, etc...), and he was forced to become part machine to continue to live past a normal man's lifespan. He then offers the party the chance to join him, and become Cosmic Lords along with him.
The party, at this point, has three choices, all of which lead to three different endings:
1. The "Savant" ending - The party joins the Dark Savant, and together, they use the Cosmic Forge to pen the destiny of the universe. This destiny is a malevolent one, and the narrator explains that the party, along with the Savant, gains great satisfaction out of dividing and setting numerous alien races against one another in violent, unending combat. The game ends with the narrator explaining just how in tune with the Dark Savant's evil the party really is.
2. The "Pen" ending - The party decides to use the Cosmic Forge to write the Dark Savant out of existence, and bring Phoonzang back. They are not quick enough, however, and are forced to kill the Savant/Phoonzang. Luckily, the universe is ultimately saved, and the party ascends to look after its destiny as its gods, doing benevolent works such as making peace between the Umpani and the T'rang and giving the Rapax compassion.
3. The "Book" ending - The party decides to rip out the page in the book of destiny where Phoonzang became the Savant, but in the process, change or destroy all the pages that come after it. As the magic of the Cosmic Forge takes some time to occur, they are forced to fight the Savant to the death. Fortunately, tearing the page out causes the Savant to revert to Phoonzang, alive and well, once more. Unfortunately, a lot of other events were willed out of existence by having so many pages torn from the book, and phoonzang explains that the party has destroyed the Universe. The party ascends at this point, and with Phoonzang's help, they begin the arduous task of restoring the universe's history in order to set the timeline right once again.
The Umpani, T'Rang, Rattkin, Elves, Jastrodons, Exadi, and one Helazoid (Jan-Ette) return from Wizardry VII. In addition, there are some new races.
Higardi: The ancestors of the Helazoi and Jastrodons from Wizardry VII, they resemble Humans and live in Arnika. They oppose both the Dark Savant, who built his machine-creating Tower in the middle of their city, and his bid for Ascension. They also follow a religion that follows the teachings of the Cosmic Lord Phoonzang, though they do not know the truth behind the god. Lord Braffit is the leader of the Higardi, and he resides in the Temple in the center of town.
Trynnie: Like the Rattkin, the Trynnie are anthropomorphic rodents with a penchant for thievery. Unlike the Rattkin, though, their theft is not accompanied by murder and kidnapping, and instead seems more for the desire to acquire shiny objects that delight many a simple-minded Trynnie. They live in the boughs of monstrously high trees along with the Rattkin, who have taken over the holy Sixth Bough from the Trynnie. Their ruler, Chief Gari, stands guard outside the entrance to the tree upon which they live.
Rapax: These horned demon creatures live and thrive on humans that travel too close to their domain near an active volcano, where they built a castle to house their vast army. According to Anselm, a Higardi near their homeland, they were driven there by the Higardi after losing a war with them, only to thrive in the hot and harsh environment. They only grew more powerful after they awakened the demon goddess, Al-Sedexus (who lives in the rift near the Rapax Castle), and gained her favor. The Rapax's leader, the Rapax King, occupies a tent in the Away Camp, which is a temporary fortification that the Rapax are using to launch a final, genocidal assault upon the Rynjin, Trynnie and Higardi.
Rynjin: Fish-men who are adept at martial arts and Psionics, but who have either sub-par intelligence or a very primitive culture (not a one of them can talk). They live on the island of Bayjin, where they worship some kind of sea monster (possibly Nessie, a creature that resembles a plesiosaur, and who the party may battle and kill). Their leader, the Rynjin Chieftain, also lives on the island.
Wizardry 8 was published nine years after the completion of the previous title, Wizardry VII: Crusaders of the Dark Savant in 1992, and 5 years after the completion of Wizardry VII's Windows 95 version, titled Wizardry Gold in 1996. David W. Bradley had been the chief designer of Wizardry VI and VII, but he was not involved in the design of the final installment of the trilogy. Linda Currie is credited as producer of Wizardry 8.
During the production of Wizardry 8, its publisher, Sir-Tech, went bankrupt. The final production process was rushed, and finally Sir-Tech was forced to sell advertising space within the game itself in order to make budget. This advertising appears when exiting the game (but not in the European version).
In spite of a 'final save' prior to the final battle, Sir-Tech has announced that they have no plans to make a sequel. The Dark Savant trilogy is complete, and Sir-Tech is out of business.
Despite the closing of the development studio, Sir-Tech continued to provide support and created several patches or upgrades for the game for years after release. This support was provided with the collective help of the Wizardry 8 developers who dedicated their own time to the overall effort until such a time when alternate employment made this no longer possible. Fans of the series have continued the efforts, providing editors, mods and a wealth of game info.
- Wizardry 8 Official strategies & secrets, Mark H. Walker, SYBEX, Inc. (2001). ISBN 0-7821-2466-6
- Sir Tech - Publishers of the Wizardry series.
- 'Wizardry 8' at MobyGames
- Wizardry 8 at GameFAQs
- Wizardry 8 at Game Rankings
- Wizardry 8 Spoiler Board - can download patches/upgrades from users here
- Flamestryke's Wizardry - Exhaustive strategy and walkthroughs
- Wolfie's Wizardry 8 Info Site - A place to find a lot of mods for Wizardry 8
- mad god's Tiny Hut - Editor for Wizardry VI/VII/8
- "Linda and Ian Currie Interview" at RPG Vault - An interview with two of the game's designers.