Written by Alex
Outside, Little John and Alan remind Robin that he needs to find Maid Marian’s scroll. They also tell Robin that the Widow is going to bake them pies as thanks for saving her children. When pressed further, Alan says he saw a whole lot of monks walking up and down Watling Street. His mission clear, Robin wastes no time getting down to business.
|Where’s my pie, dammit?!|
Master of Disguise
It doesn’t take long before a black-clad monk starts sauntering up Watling Street. Robin springs into action for some good old-fashioned outlawing.
|I love Robin’s derpy little smile here.|
The black-robed monk of Sherwood Forest is more aggressive than your garden-variety brown-robed type, not as willing to hand over his clothes and other possessions. This particular specimen knows who Robin is, vowing that soon Prince John and his men will exterminate all of the Merry Men. He won’t take Robin’s money, he won’t take Robin’s gemstone, he impugns Robin’s manhood if he calls for help, and he’s ready to defend himself.
|Did you call me a chicken? Nobody calls me chicken.|
What’s an outlaw to do? Come on! There’s only one sensible thing here: Whip out that longbow!
The monk was not impressed. The ensuing conversation went something like this:
Robin: Your clothes. Give them to me.
Monk: Oh, big man threatening me with a bow. Too scared to fight a guy with a staff, huh? Chicken.
Robin: What? I—
Monk: CHICKEN! Bah-KAW!
Robin: Come on! I’m serious!
Monk: Yeah. A serious chicken. BOK BOK BOK BOK BOK!
Robin: Um . . . er . . . uh . . .
Monk: Let’s settle this like men, not chicken. What do you say . . . chicken?
I paraphrased this for brevity’s sake, but you get the idea. What’s an outlaw to do?
|The answer to all life’s problems.|
In my playthrough of day five, I shot the guy before reloading and doing the brown monk encounter first. The Merry Men come and, as is the trend with this game, bust Robin’s balls for being a dishonorable wimp. Robin gets the robes, but loses 75 points (not to mention 500 ego points).
This time, I agree to duel the monk like a man. Robin summons his crew, borrows Little John’s staff, and gets down to business.
|En garde! Or something.|
You use the numerical keypad to control this fight. The manual goes over each specific strike and parry, but I just mashed buttons. Eventually, Robin subdues the monk.
Did I say subdues? I meant to say straight-up murders. This monk is dead, folks, killed by a long shaft of wood. Damn! Couldn’t Robin have just incapacitated the guy? Does he have to end the life of all comers who dare stand in his way?
|“You said ‘shaft of wood,’ bro. I’m out.”|
Robin’s final strike was so strong it broke the monk’s staff. If you’re going to kill someone, at least kill them with style, I guess. Oh well. Robin takes the ex-monk’s clothes and possessions (100) and prepares to infiltrate the monastery in the fens. Will Scarlet wonders why Robin doesn’t take Little John’s staff so he’s not defenseless. Robin replies that the designers didn’t want him to, so he’ll just have to rely his wits instead.
In the monk’s robe, Robin finds a small flute and a leather bag. The bag contains a variety of gemstones. These gems and their meanings are described in the manual, a prelude to a puzzle/copy-protection scheme. I have to say, though, that if a game is going to use its documentation for puzzle and copy-protection purposes, it should do so like Conquests of the Longbow. Unlike Manual: The Game III, the manual-based puzzles here are integrated far better, are more interesting, and don’t feel like a law school exam.
A Side-Questing We Will Go
Just for the hell of it, I check out how the denizens of Nottingham respond to one of the monks from the friends, hitting each hotspot. Lobb’s is uneventful, since the cobbler is still away on his mission and the old tailor says the same thing she did when Robin was dressed in the brown robes.
The bartender at the pub glowers at Robin, saying he fought in the Crusades with some of the brothers who are “as black-hearted now as you were when you slaughtered children.” Robin tries to explain that he is not like that. “Change your colours,” the bartender tells him. “I will good man, I will,” says Robin. “But not just now.” “You talk strangely, monk,” the bartender replies. They gaze longingly into each other’s eyes and moisten their lips. But now is not the time, I guess. It’s a very romantic scene, and one that makes me eager to see how this burgeoning relationship develops, especially once Marian reenters the picture.
|“Dude, I am like so out, bro.”|
At the castle, the guard won’t let Robin in, telling him that Prince John, furious about the loss of Hal, Hob, and Dicken, will see no one, especially no monks. He’s still willing to take Robin’s cash anyway.
|At least there were no nut-kicks.|
Finally, at St. Mary’s Robin is granted an audience with the Abbott. It goes really well, actually!
The monastery remains out of reach in the massive swamp, but this time Robin has the black brother’s little whistle which he blows to summon a ferryman (25).
The ferryman is more than happy to take Robin to the monastery. He comments that he doesn’t recognize Robin’s face. Robin says he is new and, slightly nervous, let’s himself be poled across the swamp.
The brother guarding the monastery gates is suspicions. He demands that Robin turn over the tokens that he bears for “The Guardians of the Gate,” whoever they are. First, I hand over the whistle. Next, I fork over the gemstones, which initiates a test Robin must pass to prove that he is actually a member of the order. The rules are simple: The brother will pose three riddles. Each riddle contains three questions that must be answered by pointing to the specific gemstone. The reward for success is entrance into the monastery. The price for failure is . . .
|OKAY WE GET IT SOFTWARE PIRACY IS BAD!|
Like any good manual-based puzzles, this one is not unduly cryptic, but it is pretty easy. The manual tells you what each stone does. For example, sapphire cures boils, preserves chastity, preserves secrets, cures diseases of the eye, and is the Stone of Destiny. If a part of the riddle says “I have boils,” you would point to the sapphire in order to answer that part of it.
Before too long, I pass the test (100) and enter the monastery.
- The Torture Chamber: In the upper-left tower, a brother is guarding a semi-unconscious little dude hanging from a rope. The brother kicks Robin out before he can investigate.
- The Refectory: In the center of the monastery is the brothers’ dining hall. Robin finds the Prior kicking it with a few of the bros.
- The Torture Chamber Redux: Robin indeed finds the Prior questioning the little man. Señor Evil gets angry when the prisoner won’t talk, tells Robin to guard him, and then heads up to the Scribes’ room with instructions to notify him if the prisoner speaks.
Robin frees the prisoner (100), a dwarf named Fulk. It turns out Fulk here is King Richard’s court jester. He accompanied Mr. Lionheart on the Crusades and, on the return journey, was sent ahead and thus avoided Leopold’s men but was captured by Prince John upon his return to England. Tough luck, Fulk! Robin really wants to help Fulk escape, but Fulk doesn’t trust Robin, even when he reveals his true identity. Hey, shorty, I saved your life, alright? What more must I do?
Sigh. This is an adventure game, after all. And besides, conflict is good. To prove himself, Robin must return a scroll containing Fulk’s verses. The Prior swiped it upon Fulk’s capture in order to decode their secrets, but has been unable to do so. Hence the torture. So that’s two quests for the price of one.
- The Scribes’ Room: The only other place I can go is the lower-right tower, the Scribes’ room. I figure this’ll be as good a place as any to find Marian’s hand scroll. Maybe Fulk’s verses are here, too.
Marian’s scroll is indeed here (100). The other visible scrolls are readable as well, so I decide to acquire some knowledge while I’m here. It’s not like Robin has urgent business to attend to! Robin reads the following things:
- A history of the Crusades.
- A history legendary Amazons.
- The philosophy of atoms.
- A poem entitled “Curse on the Chef!” and another one called “Take It Easy” from a 6th century book of verses.
- The story of St. Martin.
- The duties of a Cellarer of a monastery.
- A legend about a village by the Tweed River where the corpse of a poor but evil man would rise and walk around each night, sucking people’s blood. The frightened villagers eventually chopped up the corpse and burned it, but then the village got the plague, which they blamed on the dead guy. I guess the moral of this story is that poor people are evil vampires who spread disease?
- The origin of glass.
- The death of Attila the Hun.
- The history of King Vesores of Egypt.
- Information about a palace in Constantinople called Magnaura
- The habits of Charlemagne, ruler of the Franks (no, not those habits, you perv you!)
- An Anglo-Saxon manual of astronomy.
I have to say, I appreciate the attention to historical detail Christy Marx and friends put into this game. It’s like in-game lore, but about the real world. Games! Fun for the whole family, and you might even learn something!
Most interestingly, though, is a history of the monastery, which used to be a Norman fort. My eyes light upon a discussion of The Guardians of the Gate, the mysterious entities the monastery guard alluded to earlier. Their names are COGITO the Thinker, MALITIA the Malicious, INEPTUS the Foolish, VOCALIS the Speaker, IEIUNUS the Hungry, HILARIS the Jolly, and DEFORMIS the Ugly. PAUL the Cute One was unavailable for comment.
There’s also this bit of doggerel:
“When you’ve touched the face of wisdom and the face of that which hungers, then will the fool’s tongue be loosened and the path made clear.”
This is obviously important, so I made sure to take a screenshot. I like how this game doesn’t exactly hold your hand, but doesn’t make things frustratingly obscure.
Anyway, reading is for nerds. I need Fulk’s scroll and then I need to skedaddle. I have the idea to see if the Prior wants me to refill his wine as a way to distract him. Robin has a better idea.
Ahh, the classic “Let me get that for you—oops!” move! It never fails! Except for that one time I tried it on my accountant during tax season. Those IRS agents were not amused, let me tell you.
The Prior jets off to his room like a crybaby, so I swipe what he was looking at (150). It turns out to be Fulk’s scroll! What is so mysterious and secret that is written up on it? Beautiful words of love? A sweet devotional to the Lord? A revelation of the secrets of life, the universe, and everything?
“The trees argued amongst themselves to decide who was first amongst the trees.”
Better! It’s the inspiration for a Rush song!
“In Latin they spoke:
“‘Red is my crowning beauty,’ Luis claimed.
Idho cried, ‘The power of the bow sleeps within me.’
Beth bragged, ‘Men become drunk upon my sap.’
Eadha said, ‘The Romans loved me dearly.’
‘Music hides within me,’ said Ruis.
Ochtach said, ‘Much is made of me.’
“So the trees argued, but the key is this,
Every tree is first among trees,
And first they are in order spoken.”
I figured out instantly what to do with this because I am, ahem, a rather clever individual: It has to do with opening the Abbott’s puzzle box and, presumably, getting the ring within. And while I have played this game before a million years ago (1,000,000 = 15), I did not remember this puzzle.
And the Prior must be seriously dumb if he can’t figure this out: Take the word that is formed by the first letter of each tree in the poem. Doing so gives you the word “LIBERO.” I can’t wait to get back to Sherwood Forest and open that box. But first, I guess I’ve got a dwarf to save. Before leaving I case the rest of the room. There is nothing in the three writing desks, and the chest in the lower-right is locked. I cannot find a key anywhere, so I ignore it and head back to the torture chamber. If I missed something, please ROT13 it in the comments below.
The Not-So Great Escape
Fulk is psyched to have his scroll back (300) and decides that he trusts Robin by taking him to a secret door that the monks brought him in through (10).
This seems a little contrived, and makes me wish for a more daring escape sequence like the previous day’s. But a way out is a way out, and Robin is very eager to get the hand scroll to its rightful owner, if you know what I mean.
The secret passage takes Robin and Fulk to an underground waterway where a boat is waiting. The two eagerly hop in, and Robin comes face to faces with The Guardians of the Gate.
Looking at each of the seven stone gargoyles around informs Robin about their expression; one is pensive, another deep in thought, and so on. If you talk to them, they talk back, revealing a little bit about their personalities. It’s like a medieval game of Guess Who?
Thinking back to the history of the monastery I found upstairs, I click “Hand” on COGITO (“the face of wisdom”) and then IEIUNUS (“the face of that which hungers”). With each tap of the pole, Robin feels the gargoyle’s shift slightly. He then tugs (but not too hard) on the tongue of INEPTUS (“the fool’s tongue be loosened and the path made clear”).
What do you know, it worked! The portcullis opens (100) and Robin and Fulk are home free, right as the monks raise the alarm.
Fulk is overjoyed, and basically becomes Robin’s new BFF (Best Fulk-ing Friend). On the shores of the fens, he gives Robin two gifts: His verses and a ring hidden in the scroll’s cylinder. He also tries to give Robin his undying love, but Robin is having a hard enough time juggling Marian and the bartender.
The ring is a beautiful lapis lazuli, one of two rings that King Dick (his name is Richard; I can call him King Dick, right? Right?) got as a gift for saving a magician’s life in Jerusalem. One ring held the power to command fire, the other the power to command water. The ring Fulk gives Robin is the water ring (175).
Fulk goes on to tell Robin that the Abbott of St. Mary’s filched the fire ring, which will protect the wearer from flames. The water ring, on the other hand, lets the wearer command the elemental spirits of the water. I think it would be more useful if it let the user breathe underwater, but maybe I’m wrong.
In any event, Fulk heads back to crack jokes for Queen Eleanor, telling Robin that the key to finding the ring of fire lay in his verses. Which I already knew because I’m a Fulk-ing genius, but thanks anyway you rhyming little fool you.
Robin heads back to camp where his men, in an uncharacteristically pensive mood, say a prayer for King Richard’s safe return instead of busting Robin’s balls. Satisfied with a good day’s work, Robin heads to bed, dreaming about Maid Marian’s ladyparts.
Oh, and the King. No, not his ladyparts. About how to save him. I think.
Session Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 6 hours, 30 minutes
Inventory: Horn, money, gem, puzzle box, golden net, hand scroll, Fulk’s scroll, water ring
Score: 3200 out of 7325
Problems Conquested by the Longbow (as of this post) – 3: Not enough skewerings lately.
Day 1: Saved a peasant woman from being raped and murdered by one of the Sheriff’s goons.
Day 2: Rescued Maid Marian from an evil monk from the fens.
Day 4: Saved a poacher from being executed by one of the sheriff’s men.
Day 5: Get the brown robe from the monk of St. Mary’s by scaring the urine out of him (but lose points because only cowards threaten a helpless monk with a longbow, so this doesn’t really counts because the monk lives).
Day 6: I got to threaten a black monk with the longbow, and then murder him with a quarterstaff. Does that count? I mean, technically you can shoot him and steal his clothes, but the game implies that doing so is dishonorable. Murder is murder, though, right. So what’s the difference?
Corrections and Omissions: “Hey Alex! You’re a loser! Give me CAPs!”