As I’ve mentioned before, I really used to love the Ultima series of games (at least I-V… I don’t think I played the later installments), and along with Telengard, Phantasy, The Bard’s Tale, and a few others, mostly on the old Commodore 64, I played a lot of the older CRPGs.
Much later, while I was in grad school, I discovered an amazing CRPG – Nahlakh — that was released as shareware and emulated all the best things about Ultima and the old CRPGs but which ran on IBM/PC compatibles. I downloaded it to my trust 486 (back when downloading less than a megabyte still might take an hour!) and later sent my $15 for the manual, although I never completed it, as my 486 died.
So I was more than happy to find that Nahlakh is still out there in cyberspace in its 1994 glory. Here is Tom Proudfoot’s site* where you can download the game and order the manual.
Anyway the graphics in the game were somewhat primitive by the standards of 1994 or so when it came out, but quite good compared to the CRPGs of the 1980s it emulates.
The character generation was fairly interesting, relying on a sort of RuneQuest style “use it to improve it” for a host of skills. Every character began with a least a single digit in each skill, as I recall it, but certain character races and classes (which were basically determined by the icon chosen to represent the character, which is itself pretty awesome) had better skills in certain areas. The half-orc was going to be better at brawling and axes; the little blue man is a great merchant but lousy at fighting, etc. The skill system was a bit incomplete by design. Alchemy and a few other skills were listed on characters but not actually used; the idea was there would be a sequel at some point which would use them.
This post gets its title from one of the many weapons available in the game — the flyssa, an African sword I’d never heard of before playing the game. I was very appreciative of the fact that there were a large host of weapons available (although there weren’t many for sale; you just found new weapons and had to figure out which was better than the others. A tulwar or a flyssa? A halberd or berdiche?) The weapons mostly followed logic but I did not spring the $15 for the manual for quite a while and actually enjoyed all the trial and error. I don’t think the book actually spelled out the weapon damages either, come to think of it.
The game’s story line was pretty good for the standards of the times, and although I never finished it, I still recall puzzling out why some monsters bled green and others bled red, and other little clues to what was going on.
I was also very glad to see Mr. Proudfoot has not abandoned games, and apparently was working on a d20 “Roguelike“ game & other projects that would fit right in with OSR. Some details are at his web site.
*I’m just saying, but isn’t Tom Proudfoot actually a Hobbit name?