Ultima IX nitpicks in the Journal

“Press ’J’ to read your journal. You will find that it contains a great deal of critical information for your quest.”

Here you’ll find inaccuracies in the Journal (and spellbook) of Ultima IX, which poses an insult for every true Ultima fan, except of the pretty ankh on the cover. Each chapter makes you more confident that the developers don’t have a clue of Ultima history. Most of the images are randomly stolen from previous Ultima manuals. (To add insult to injury, even the cover Ankh isn’t an original one.) And then there’s that pathos! That horrible pathos! What did the author of this smoke when he created suchpomopus, theatrical, and exaggerated sentences?

Ignorance of predecessors

  • There are noticeable inaccuracies and bad inaccuracies. There are horrible inaccuracies and inaccuracies that make you sad. And there are inaccuracies that just hurt good taste. Let’s get to business.

    For Ultima IV, Lord British, and his Alter Ego in Britannia alike, created eight Virtues, which made the Ultima series something special. Those eight Virtues are based on the three principles of Truth, Love, and Courage, whose different combinations form a virtue each.

    The combinations of the three principles are always visible when symbols for the eight Virtues are needed. For example, take the colors. Blue means Truth, yellow means Love, and Red means Courage. The combination of Truth and Love is therefore green. The Codex symbol also illustrates the relations: The three large inner circles symbolize the three principles, all other lines symbolize the Virtues. If you study the Codex symbol for a while, you should have no trouble finding out the principles a Virtue is based upon. In Ultima IX, there are even musical themes for the three principles, which are mixed according to the Virtue of a town. (A nice idea, by the way.)

    • Honesty is respect for em>Truth.
    • Compassion is nudged Love.
    • Valor is the Courage to stand up for your beliefs.
    • Justice is Truth, tempered by Love.
    • Sacrifice is the Courage to give of yourself in the name of Love.
    • Honor is the Courage to seek your own life’s Truth.
    • Spirituality is peacefully striving for Truth, Love and Courage; being benevolent.
    • Humility exists independently of Truth, Love, and Courage, and is their foundation.

    In Ultima IV, you studied the relations. At least you see that someone (that is: Richard Garriott) must have thought a lot about this topic. Ultima IX apparently claims to be centered around the eight Virtues. No surprise it turns out to be such a weird, pseudo-religious story, considering that the designers don’t even know which principles the Virtues are based on!

    “The secrets of Justice can be found within the combination of Truth and Courage.”

    How could they possibly miss that mistake? I don’t get it. After so many years, I still shake my head when I see it. They didn’t just confuse a word. The description of Justice matches the idea of a mix of Truth and Courage as well. Who was responsible for the Journal’s Virtue descriptions anyway? Even if that person had no idea about Ultima (which is very likely), he or she still had to notice it was illogical that two Virtues were formed of the same principles... Or am I asking too much?

    (by Hacki Dragon)
  • The events on Pagan are presented in way so advantageous to the Avatar that it takes propagandistic forms.

    “His faith in the Virtues was tested to the maximum extent as he conjured the forces of darkness to destroy the elementary titans.”

    The Avatar knew very well that conjuring the Titans could lead to Pagan’s fall! But he needed the Blackrock items, which kept a tight rein on the Titans, for going back home. (In Ultima VIII actually: directly to Britannia.) Besides those major crimes, he also committed a few other offences, e.g. betrayal in the Sorcerers’ Enclave... To clarify it once more: The Avatar did not just kill the evil titans but almost made it possible for them to destroy Pagan.
    Faith in the Virtues? Hilarious! (That’s not only my own interpretation, but also Richard Garriott’s own idea behind Ultima VII.
    (by Hacki Dragon)
  • “I tried to hide your location from the Guardian”

    ...Hawkwind writes in the Journal. Did the Guardian forget that the Avatar lives on Earth? (At the end of Ultima VII, the Guardian says that he might attack Earth, and at the end of Serpent Isle, he tells the Avatar that he won’t be able to return to Earth again.
    (by Hacki Dragon)
  • The Journal claims that the moongates ceased to work with the appearing of the Columns in Britannia. It is generally known that the moongates did no longer work at the end of Ultima VII because the Avatar had destroyed the Guardian’s generator. Did they work for a while temporarily?
    The authors could have left out this statement about the Columns in the Journal. But instead of doing so, saying to themselves “Why easy when it works complicated as well?”..
    (by Hacki Dragon)
  • This inaccuracy has been corrected in the dialogue patch: I think it’s lame that the writing of history ignores everything that happened in Underworld I and II. In Underworld I, historical events came to pass on the Isle of the Avatar, and in Underworld II, the Guardian wanted to attack Britannia! Is this really entirely trivial? (The only thing in the game that still reminds you of Underworld II is Altara’s Scepter in the museum.)
    (by Hacki Dragon)

    While the patch can’t change anything about the printed journal, there are now books in the game that tell us about the Guardian’s Blackrock Gem and the like.

  • Chapter “Warriors of Destiny”:

    “While the king defended the land against the evil forces from outside...”

    What evil forces from outside? The Triad of Evil was defeated long since, and the eight Virtues were a new way to block evil forces from inside... Thus, this statement in the Journal is totally senseless..
    (by Hacki Dragon)
  • Is the journal a manual or a riddle magazine? (“Find the 20 mistakes and win a prize!”)

    “Lord British was found chained in the Underworld.”

    Wide off the mark! He was just imprisoned behind a magical mirror; no trace of chains...
    (Yeah, OK, this could just be a metaphor, but I guess the authors of the Journal really didn’t know about the mirror.)
    (by Tribun Dragon)
  • In Ultima V, Shame was a ramshackled mine that turned back to its natural state as a system of caves in Ultima VI and VII. The Journal apparently wants to tell us that Shame has always been that training ground for paladins.
    (by Tribun Dragon)
  • The Journal states that the Blackrock mines of Covetous had “always” been near Minoc. Bullshit! It’s a fact that Blackrock was not found there until Ultima VII. There is no Blackrock in Britannia before Ultima VII!
    (by Tribun Dragon)
  • Chapter “The Abyss”:

    “The Abyss (...) was discovered by a wanderer, who went down and soon noticed he no longer wanted to stay there.”

    Totally wrong. In Ultima IV, when the Abyss appeared for the first time, it was located on an isle in midst of the sea, surrounded by volcanoes and lava. Before you could reach the entrance, you had to conquer a bay tightly packed with pirates. To actually enter the Abyss, you also needed the Book of Truth, Candle of Love, and Bell of Courage. As far as I know, the only person who ever accomplished that, was the Stranger from Another World. Are we really supposed to believe that a simple wanderer got past all those obstacles without knowing he was facing the Abyss? Are we really supposed to believe that he climbed down just to run away the very same moment? How could such a coward achieve the partial Avatarhood of Valor anyway? And what about the pirates in the bay? They must have known the Abyss long since. The Ascension developer team must have had a bizarre image of Ultima IV..
    (by Hacki Dragon)
  • It’s simply stunning how many mistakes the developers have put into one single chapter (“Warriors of Destiny”). It says that the Avatar gathered 8 companions. Heh, they didn’t pay enough attention. In Ultima V, the party could not be larger than 6 people, including the Avatar!
    (by Tribun Dragon)
  • Hard to believe, but there’s another inaccuracy hidden in that short chapter about Ultima V.

    “Lord British did not trust the newly discovered Underworld and led an expedition to seal the gates, through which many terrible beasts entered Britannia.”

    And that’s how it actually happened: The Great Council already had sealed the entrances (of the dungeons) long since. The motivation for Lord British’s expedition was merely the joy of adventuring.
    (by Hacki Dragon)
  • Another wrong claim in the Ultima V chapter...

    “None of the terrorized people sensed the evil hidden behind the throne.”

    That’s simply not true. Take this quote from Camile, an NPC from Ultima V:

    “Blackthorn sends the Shadowlords to some townes”

    That’s as obvious as it can be.
    (by Hacki Dragon)
  • The sorely tried fan is hit by the following mistake in the Ultima VIII chapter:

    “The Avatar was thrown out of the known world of Britannia (...)”

    Actually, he was on Serpent Isle when he was thrown to Pagan.
    (by Hacki Dragon)
  • Guess what! An inaccuracy in the Ultima V part!

    “...Blackthorn was thrown into the ethereal void for his betrayal.”

    Perhaps it’s a little too picky, but Blackthorn was sent to an unknown world (which later turned out to be Serpent Isle), not into the void.
    (by Dino the Dark Dragon)
  • The clever Journal wants to make us believe that each Shrine of Virtue is located in close vicinity of its town. Before Ascension, things were different. For example, the Shrine of Humility was on the Isle of the Avatar, far away from New Magincia. Travelling to a shrine was meant to be a pilgrimage for the people.
    (by Tribun Dragon)
  • “...once again, the shrines were corrupted in the flow of evil.”

    Again? In Ultima V, the shrines could be destroyed, not corrupted. (And even this normally didn’t happen.) In Ultima VI, they were just occupied by the Gargoyles, and in Ultima VII, there was nothing wrong with them anyway.
    (by Tribun Dragon)
  • The Journal claims that Stonegate has always been in the Serpent’s Spine mountains... Which unsurprisingly isn’t correct.
    (by Tribun Dragon)
  • The spellbook was written by some unknown Britannian mage. (Perhaps he was originally supposed to appear in the game as well.) So how the heck does this mage know about the Pyros ritual? Even worse, the book says that bards tell stories about Pyros! How can this be true if nobody in Britannia knows about Pagan?
    (by Tribun Dragon)
  • “The Gargoyles’ most sacred book, the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom, foretold that a false prophet would destroy the gargoyle race...”

    This is wrong. The book that foretold the coming of the false prophet was the Book of Prophecies, not the Codex!
    (by Artic Blaze Dragon)
  • The spellbook really isn’t that much better than the Journal.

    “...in former times, a clever mage could get himself an Orb of the Moons.”

    What the hell is that supposed to mean?
    (by Tribun Dragon)
  • Some spell descriptions in the spellbook mention that the power of the spell comes from a Titan. How’s that possible? First, we are in Britannia here, second, the Avatar defeated the Titans on Pagan - They don’t exist anymore.
    (by Tribun Dragon)
  • Minax was a 10 year old girl when the Stranger killed Mondain. How perverted of Mondain, don’t you think? Having an underage lover... I guess they did not include that anyhwere in UA because it was not good to give such ideas to the 12 year old players.
    (by Gradilla Dragon)
  • The spellbook reads the following about the spiritualism ritual: “Contact to peacefully passed souls”. But Dupre did not die peacefully at all! He jumped into a crematory!
    (by Tribun Dragon)

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Technical shortcomings

  • The Journal claims the following about Cove:

    “The inhabitants once guarded the Shrine of Sacrifice.”

    A clear mistake! The inhabitants guarded the Shrine of Compassion.
    (by Tribun Dragon)
  • Let’s see what the Journal says about the Abyss:

    “The Abyss, drawn to Skara Brae by the powers of Balance within in the universe...”

    Oh yeah, sure, the Abyss is located just in Skara Brae, where else? (They must have meant: “near Skara Brae”.)
    (by Hacki Dragon)
  • The alleged goblin picture in the printed Journal is in fact just a troll picture taken from the Ultima VIII manual. As you can see, the developers not only have no sense of shame when it comes to stealing artwork from previous Ultima manuals, they have absolutely no sense of shame at all.
    (by Tribun Dragon)
  • The alleged illustration of the Black Gate was ripped from the Book of Fellowship (Ultima VII). But it used to serve as an image of one of Minax’ time gates.
    (by Tribun Dragon)
  • The Journal was explicitly written for the Avatar, yet it talks about him in 3rd person.
    (by Tribun Dragon)
  • Britain wasn’t in the center of Britannia in earlier times. This inaccuracy is especially bad because the Journal explicitly points to Britain’s geographical location.
    (by Hacki Dragon)

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General problems

  • The printed Journal and the ingame Journal are supposedly one and the same. However, the ingame journal was/is written by you, not Hawkwind.
    Even more mysterious, the ingame journal already contains a chapter about your Ascension, long before you even know about it.
    (by Hacki Dragon)
  • The journal says that Stonegate has been turned into a place of Virtue. Well... traps, fire, magical barriers, rats, Shadowlord statues, constantly disappearing glyphs that drive you crazy... Not really a place where children go praying on Sunday, is it?
    (by Hacki Dragon)
  • Mob law rears its ugly head again in Britannia lately; When you were attacked on the open road in former times, then you could indeed kill the attacker without having to fear consequences, but in my opinion, it’s a bit on the extreme side of the awfully virtuous and kind Lord to outlaw known bandits via an edict:

    “...Lord British himself drew up an edict against banditry. The death of known bandits remains unpunished.”

    (by Hacki Dragon)
  • There is nothing more enjoyable for me than unmasking dramatic statements in the manuals. For example, under the chapter “Mana”, it reads:

    “In these dark times, controlling the ether, the breath of magic, is but a dream.”

    Now, now, it can’t really be that bad, or how else would you explain that business with magic articles thrives everywhere in Britannia? Do all the merchants make their living by dirty dealing with the evil fellows among the mages?
    (I must keep saying it: In my opinion, the separation of good mages/evil mages is nonsense.)
    (by Hacki Dragon)
  • “What has been there first? The corruption of the shrines or the corruption of the people?”

    Well, from an Ascension point of view, the people’s minds are controlled by Columns and Shrines anyway. There is no such thing as free will in Ultima IX. Thus, that question in the Journal is not necessary. But it’s nonsense anyway (like the whole game), because it contributes a magical element to ethical questions.
    (by Tribun Dragon)
  • The Journal claims that people noticed how malice spilled from Terfin. This kind of pathos sends shivers down your spine! The sentence makes no sense, though. Supposedly, nobody knows that the Guardian is on Terfin, so what were they supposed to notice? How can you notice how malice spills from somewhere anyway? The sentence fails miserably even as a metaphor!
    (by Tribun Dragon)
  • “Someone or something has begun a demonic work deep within the isle.”

    Eww, that’s hard... Hmm... Someone has begun a demonic work on Terfin. Who could that be? The fact that a huge fortress shaped like the Guardian’s head stands there doesn’t help much answering this question, does it?
    (by Tribun Dragon)
  • The journal was written by Hawkwind and is directly addressed to the Avatar. So why does it contain so much information the Avatar already knows (or is supposed to know, see theory)? To give Ultima beginners an easier start, perhaps? (Previous Ultimas always solved this problem in a very elegant manner.)
    (by Tribun Dragon)

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Name des Betreibers: Christian Hackl
Wohnort: Kapfenberg

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