Ultima VII Serpent Isle nitpicks

“Not Stones again!”

There’s an incredible amount of references to previous Ultimas (even back to Ultima I) in Ultima VII Part 2, and loads of loose ends of the series are tied together! Serpent Isle did what Ascension promised. Unfortunately, the story had to be cut due to a number of deadlines, so expect to discover some unfinished plot threads. Considering that Serpent Isle is a brilliant game despite of that, you have to wonder how excellent it would have been in its complete state. With great love to detail, the game tells a beautiful fantasy story Ultima IX can only dream of. The party system is magnificant and the best in the series; the companions are part of the plot and often comment on things you do. In Ultima IX, there isn’t even a party to begin with.

The following 8 nitpicks are new:

Ignorance of predecessors

  • Maybe it would have been a good idea to take the magic carpet to Serpent Isle... You never know when you’re going to need such means of transport!
    (by Hacki Dragon)
  • Where has all the cool stuff gone that the Avatar found in Underworld II? What about the Sword of Stone Strike, the Jewelled Axe of Firedoom, the Leather Vest of Flameproof, the Leather Cap of Missile Protection, and the Chain Cowl of Valor? OK, Lord British does actually arm you properly this time (which makes the whole thing seem much more authentic), but why not do it big time?
    (by Mimu)
  • In the manual, Erstam describes the people’s flight from Moon, Montor, and Fawn following the proclamation of the Quest of the Avatar. There are some inaccuracies:

    “Lord British proclaimed the kingdom of ’Sosaria’ after the Third Age of Darkness.”

    First, the kingdom of “Britannia” was proclaimed after the Third Age of Darkness. Second, the land was already called “Sosaria” in Ultima I. Third, Sosaria had already been a united kingdom before the Third Age of Darkness (or before Ultima III).
    Besides, it says that the people from the three towns fled after the proclamation of the Quest of the Avatar. At this time, though, the towns were most likely already destroyed by the big upheavals following Ultima III.
    (by Tribun Dragon)
  • Christopher’s ghost tells the Avatar that he must not die because many hostile souls would be awaiting him on the other side. This statement contradicts Ultima V. When you died in Ultima V, you were in fact dead for a while, until Lord British would resurrect you. It also said that no evil existed there and that you had found refuge. I’m fairly certain the Avatar already had his share of hostile souls waiting for him back then.
    (by Tribun Dragon)
  • In Ultima III, it became clear that a burnt body does not have a soul anymore, because it’s instantly reborn. ANJU SERMANI forces the soul back into its previous body, though this costs the newborn’s life, who becomes soulless. This is a pretty cruel thingie, and so it was apparently outlawed, which is why Ultima VI tells us that a burnt body cannot be resurrected. This causes a problem with Dupre’s sacrifice, however:

    Dupre burns himself, so that his soul may be united with the Chaos Serpent. This is totally illogical, because the ash must have become soulless. (Or is ANJU SERMANI somehow casted in connection with the Serpent? Odd, very odd.)

    (Do I think the Serpent Isle developers wasted one thought on Ultima III? Short answer: No, hehe.)

    (by Tribun Dragon)

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Technical shortcomings

  • Perhaps the most popular flaw in Serpent Isle: Why is it that Cantra can never be cured of her insanity by the water from one of the Fountains of Order?
    (The proper dialogue lines are in the game’s usecode but there’s no way to activate them by normal means. EA put the team under pressure to release the game earlier instead of having them fix mistakes like this.)
    (by Evil_Freak Dragon)
  • Torrissio, Harnna, Lady Yelinda, and Ernesto will all respond to you quite cheerfully even after you’ve freed the Chaos Banes, apparently ignoring the fact that their respective towns have been almost completely annihilated...
    (This glitch is due to EA’s deadline.)
    (by Evil_Freak Dragon)
  • Why does the city of Monitor have a guarded gate on its west wall? There’s nothing in that direction anymore since the docks can’t be used because of the storms. (Of course, if they didn’t have the gate, the Avatar would have to find some other way of entering the city....)
    (by Angelo)
  • Why does nobody wonder how the Avatar and his party got to that isolated spot west of Monitor at the beginning of the game? Of course, the Monitorians may assume they were taken there by a teleporter storm, but then why are they so surprised of Iolo bursting into the funeral?
    (by Hacki Dragon)
  • There is a series of books that appear in Serpent Isle but shouldn’t be there, since they are from Britannia:
    • Lord British’s biography, updated until the gargoyle wars
    • The apothecary desk reference by Fetoau
    • The Provisioner’s guide to useful equipement by Dell, a Trinsic provisioner
    • “What color is thy blade?” by Menion, a blacksmith in Serpent’s Hold
    • “Weaving” by Carlyn
    • Brommer’s Flora and Brommer’s Fauna
    • Briggio’s book of astonishing things. Refers both to human-gargoyle cooperation and to a book by Alagner!
    • “Birds of Britannia” by Brother Wayne, the monk lost in Despise
    • Vectron’s guide to weapons and armour
    • ...and many more!

    Guess we can thank EA for getting the game on the shelves as soon as possible. The developers obviously had no time to write a sufficient amount of new books for Serpent Isle.

    (by Artic Blaze Dragon)
  • After the Banes have killed everyone, you can come back to Monitor and discover a strange detail in the crematorium. Click on the newly found ashes and it will say “Renfry’s Ashes”. You’ve got to wonder who had enough time to burn Renfry’s body and write “Renfry’s Ashes” on the urn in midst of a Goblin attack and the following destruction of the town.
    (by Loo)
  • Batlin, Selina and the other guys aren’t wearing anything warm. They should have frozen to death in the northern regions.
    (by Dino the Dark Dragon)
  • Iolo’s Bows must have a very large market indeed, spanning even beyond the Serpent Pillars themselves. Upon scrutinizing any generic crossbow bolts on Serpent Isle, Iolo will happily brag about the IOLO trademark imprinted upon them and engage in the usual gloating drivel. I can’t help but question how the inhabitants of Serpent Isle could have Iolo’s crossbow bolt brand in their possession, unless of course Iolo was lying when he said in Black Gate that his business had only expanded to Serpent’s Hold over the last 200 years.
    (by BlueClaw)
  • The Fellowship cartographer is nice enough to give you a map. It even has “Serpent Isle” printed on the top! But for some odd reason it’s written in Ophidianrunes, not in Britannian ones. Maybe the guy just stole the map instead of making one?
    (by Corwin)
  • New nitpick: In reference to the Fawn trial, I have to get a liiiittle worried when I see that the Fawn judiciary allows defendants to carry around weapons in the courtroom. A very good example of this is when you have outfitted Dupre with a halberd, and when he foolishly babbles that nonsense about paying “homage to our liege, Lord British” and is subsequently brought to court for it, he is still allowed to carry around his halberd in the courtroom!
    (by BlueClaw)
  • New nitpick: In the very beginning of the game, when you still have all the equipment that you brought with you from Britannia, the Avatar has a spellbook which contains several spells exclusive to Serpent Isle, using reagents never seen in Britannia. How can that be?
    (by Azurio)
  • New nitpick: When the Fellowship mapmaker gives you the map, it is labeled “Serpent Isle”, in Ophidian Runes! Does this guy have a terrible secret?
    (by Corwin)
  • New nitpick: If you can’t read Ophidian without a Translate spell, why can you speak to Sethys without any aid?
    (by Corwin)

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General problems

  • Why do you suddenly need a Transscribe spell to add spells to your spellbook on Serpent Isle? It has always worked fine without the spell, hasn’t it? (The magic system of Serpent Isle is very similar to the Britannian one, after all.)
    (by Natreg Dragon)
  • The most important question in Serpent Isle: What exactly is the Guardian’s plan? It transpires that Batlin is trying to gain enough power to overthrow the Guardian himself, so the release of the Chaos Banes was not Big Red’s idea. Likewise, the Banes seem to be serving only themselves after Batlin has been killed. Despite all this, at the end, the Guardian acts as though he was behind the entire Imbalance and that you have thwarted his plans once again.
    (by Evil_Freak Dragon)
  • The King of the White Dragon goes mad shortly after Ultima I. Not very long after that, the Serpents first appear, and the residents of the Lands of Danger and Despair (who henceforth become Ophidians) begin to worship them and their principles. The Great Earth Serpent then disappears and the Imbalance War begins, however, just prior to Ultima III. Unless there are titanic differences between the passage of time on Britannia and Serpent Isle (which is doubtful since they were once connected), it seems next to impossible that at least three vast underground cities could be built and a deep culture developed in so short a time.

    (Maybe time indeed flows differently in both worlds. Note that Gwenno went to Serpent Isle more than 18 months before the Avatar, yet the dialogues there give the impression that she appeared only a few months ago. This difference is still far too small, though.)

    (by Evil_Freak Dragon)
  • The castles of the White Dragon and Shamino look more recent (less worn down) than the Ophidian cities and temples, but according to Serpent Isle’s chronology, they are older than all the various creations of the Ophidian civilization.
    (Several fellow nitpickers take the view that this is easily explained: The War of Imbalance aimed at the total destruction of each other; the Ophidians’ buildings were destroyed in the war, while they did not care for the ancient castles. I, however, think that there’s no way the ancient castles survived such a destructive world war.)
    (by Evil_Freak Dragon)
  • After Batlin has freed the Chaos Banes, they possess three different humans, whom Batlin and his cronies proceed to track down. The Wantonness Bane possesses Gwenno. One of the other two (Anarchy or Insanity) possesses Cantra. Who is the third unfortunate victim?
    (by Evil_Freak Dragon)
  • What happened to Mortegro? As soon as you leave the Temple of Tolerance, he will be struck by a red lightning bolt (according to your tests with Gustacio, that means Teleportation, as opposed to Transportation or Transmutation) and disappear. Where the hell did he go and why do you never find him again?
    (by Evil_Freak Dragon)
  • What is the purpose of growing the Tree of Balance? From various comments, it would seem to imply that doing so will stop the Imbalance, but it never does. Is it one of those complicated problems with time mechanics?
    (Originally, the Tree of Balance most likely did stop Imbalance, judging from several unused usecode fragments.)
    (by Evil_Freak Dragon)
  • How does Karnax travel back in time to assist you in planting the Silver Seed? Time travel should not be such an ordinary thing.
    (by Evil_Freak Dragon)
  • How did the Guardian’s scroll get into Batlin’s belongings? If the Guardian has the power of sending a magic scroll to Britannia, then he should be able to communicate directly with Batlin as well, right?
    (by Avatarsgarbidge)
  • It’s been eighteen months since Batlin fled to Serpent Isle. Why did it take Lord British’s guards that long to find the Guardian’s message?
    (by Sergorn Dragon)
  • Right at the beginning, you discover a cave behind the red bush, which contains a scroll mentioning the Great Hierophant, and an ankh shrine.
    Problem: The ankh was in no way ever related to Serpent Isle. The Ophidians didn’t know it, and Erstam’s people refused it as a symbol of Virtue. Yet the cave seems to date back to the time of the Ophidians.
    (by Tribun Dragon)
  • Why is the Avatar actually taken into the void at the end of the game? Just so that the Guardian can catch him? And why don’t the Serpents do anything against the Guardian’s attack?
    (by Maximus Dragon)
  • Why isn’t the Timelord involved in this whole Imbalance crisis? (Especially seeing as how he interfered in the Black Gate affair, which was nowhere as dire as the current one.)
    (by Maximus Dragon)
  • Shouldn’t the false coin spell be strictly forbidden? Is this the mages’ license to copy money? You’ve got to wonder if they have any problems with inflation in Moonshade.
    (by Tribun Dragon)
  • New nitpick: Why do you find translate scrolls in all the ancient Ophidian buildings? Couldn’t they read their own language?
    (by Corwin)
  • New nitpick: How did Karnax know how to go back in time? One could say that the monks found more writings involving the Amulet of Balance or the Champion of Balance, and they figured out a way to go back via the Serpent Gates, or something, but of course, there is never any dialogue to support this. Furthermore, why did Karnax go back? Granted, he’s the one who gave you the amulet, but he’s also opposed to giving such direct aid to the Avatar.
    (by Derag)
  • New nitpick: If the Gwani are so fierce, as told by the Monitorians, why can Hazard kill them all so easily? Possibly the Gwani have a tougher reputation than they really are, kind of like Yeti legends... but the trapper isn’t very powerful at all. The only edge he would have is the Avatar’s glass sword but he hasn’t used it, since it’s still intact.
    (by Corwin)
  • New nitpick: Just how did the Great Earth Serpent get trapped in that statue? It remains a mystery.
    (by Corwin)

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You discovered a nitpick not yet listed on this site? Send it to me! You are also welcome to use the message board for discussions about nitpicks.

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Name des Betreibers: Christian Hackl
Wohnort: Kapfenberg

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