Scorpion's Tale #1 (Serpent's Star)
Feature by Scorpia
Computer Gaming World Volume 3 Number 4 (July - August 1983)
Ah, I see you made it! That's right, just step inside and close the door; it's pretty chilly out there. No, nothing I can do about that; outside, it's always foggy November twilight. Comes with the territory, you might say. But we have a remedy for that: pull a chair up to the crackling fire, and I'll have Fred pour out a tall one for you (don't worry about Fred; he's only halfgrue and really quite civilized). Err...no, we don't carry Diet Pepsi, you'll have to settle for something else. How about some dwarvish beer, straight from those little old brewers in Colossal Cave?
Good! I'm sure you'll enjoy it! Now that you're all settled in, tell me about your plans. What adventure did you have in mind? Ah, heading off for Tibet and the Serpent's Star, eh? I've made that little expedition myself, and I'll be glad to give you some advice about it.
First, you'll find it helpful to know a little about Buddhism. There are some riddles in the game that are based on a knowledge of that religion, and if you aren't familiar with some of the concepts, you will have a very tough time indeed! Also, keep in mind that not everything in this game is of significance or has a bearing on winning. For example, you can bypass the first monastery entirely and still complete this adventure. Whether or not the game was designed that way is a mystery, but the fact remains that you needn't visit the Yerpa monastery. Because of this, you will find it isn't necessary to buy everything the merchant has for sale. In fact, besides the very obvious horse, you need only purchase three items. Just be logical in your choices; there are no hidden traps here.
What to do at the inn should be apparent; you certainly have enough money. Only one of the men is really important; if the one you're talking to doesn't soon produce something of value, go to the other man. Then just sack out . for the night. The wolf is another problem. You have two choices here: kill it or go around it. He can be killed, but the timing is important, so it's best to save the game before leaving the inn: you may not manage it the first time (mean, those wolves!). Going around the wolf requires some careful mapping, but will save you the frustrations involved in trying to kill it.
The monk on the mountain road is also important; he has something you need, so take your time here and don't move on until you get the item from him. You won't get a second chance: if you leave and come back, he'll be gone. So, check your inventory carefully, and consider what he might want. You will also have to say the right thing, and that might be a bit tricky. However, there aren't too many topics you'd want to talk about, so it shouldn't take too long to come up with the proper phrase.
Ah yes, the avalanche! Well, I'm afraid there's no way around this time; you'll just have to dash past it. It takes good timing and VERY careful observance to get through, but you can do it. However, since it might take you more than one try, it's a good idea to save the game before leaving the ice cave.
Now, at last, you've made it to the fabled monastery that holds the Serpent's Star! You just have to find it, and that won't be easy. The first thing to do is search all rooms THOROUGHLY! Read descriptions carefully, and act accordingly. One thing you can ignore is the armor; you're too big to wear it and it isn't useful for anything, anyway. Also: there is a little trap in one of the rooms, so be careful what you open up!
Once you've been everywhere else, you should be ready to tackle the silver door. Of course, you must get rid of the guardian demons first, but if you have visited all the rooms, you know what to do here (if not, go back and try the rooms again until something happens). Once you've taken care of the demons, you will be able to open the silver door. At this point, you should have four gems. If you don't, I suggest you search around carefully for the missing one...you will certainly need it later on! Now, just make your way through the rooms, past the exercise yard, and into the building with the old monk. Now here's where it starts to get mean.The monk will ask you three questions, and you had better know the answers the first time. This is when a familiarity with Buddhism will help (but if you're really stuck and the library is closed, the answers to all riddles are included at the end of the column).
Once past the monk, you will find yourself in the bane of every adventure game, the maze. You will have to map this one extremely carefully, as you can become confused quite easily. There are two rooms in here that you must visit; the one with the door is the one you should come to last. There are also two items to be found in the maze, but you only need one of them (hint: when you reach the room with the door, you should have six stones). By the way, this maze also has a little trap in it: make a right at the tsampa.
Ok, you're almost there! Open the door (a little experimentation should do it), and you will be in a room with a pool....and a jade claw sticking up from the pool holding the Serpent's Star (if you DON'T see that, you haven't done something: go back into the maze until you find the other room). But don't try to get it yet! First, make a little music. Aha! The dragon appears....and he won't think very much of you, either. He's got a couple of riddles for you, too...and again, you will only have one chance to answer them. But once you do, the Serpent's Star is yours! Of course, there' still the little matter of getting out of the monastery, but the Star will help you there, if you know what to do with it (read the room description very carefully). After that, you can come back here, hoist a few, and brag about your success!
Now, while you're pondering that, I'll'just make the rounds and see what the regulars need.....
ZORK II - Don't waste time on the rose, flask and grue repellent; they aren't useful at all.
DARK CRYSTAL-The same can be said for the sling and the pouch, you don't need them.
ULYSSES-You need the gold coin to get the map, but not from the shopkeeper.
WIZARD & THE PRINCESS-There are two ways to get to the treehouse; the easy way is the wrong one.
MYSTERY FUN HOUSE-The fortune-telling machine is really broken, but it's the sign that's important. Think about it.
And now, the hints to Serpent's Star in slip code:
2) ZJO BOE ZBOH
Well, looks like it's closing time, folks. See you next issue, when the feature adventure will be: Zork III (I'm going backwards just to be perverse). In the meantime, if you need help with an adventure game, there are three ways you can reach me: 1) Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Scorpia 1319 Second Ave, Suite 540 NY,NY 10021; 2) On the Source: ST1030; 3) On Compuserve, Go GAM-310, or EMAIL 70001,1263. Happy adventuring!
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