"Hero business like eating peanuts. Once you start, it's hard to stop." -- The Dervish

"Raseir, I fear, is very queer, and if you do not interfere, I think that it will disappear." -- Keapon Laffin

Full Title: Quest For Glory II: Trial By Fire
Platforms: MS-DOS/Amiga/Atari ST
Genre: RPG/Adventure Game
Developer/Publisher: Sierra Online
Release Date: November 1990

Warning: Spoilers for both this game and the previous one follow.

Back in Sierra's glory days, games rarely spent as long in development as they do now, and so it was only a year after the release of the first game that Sierra published Quest For Glory II: Trial By Fire. This second game is widely considered by fans to be the best in the series, despite (or perhaps partially because of) its EGA graphics and text-parsing interface. It is also the hardest to find an original copy of - my own copy (outside of the Anthology) is the one I've had since I was nine or ten. Besides the normal things you'd expect in a game box, it came with a beautifully drawn poster of Shapeir (the city in which most of the game takes place), with a street map below it. The game itself came on nine double density 3 1/2" floppy disks. During its run, it sold over 100,000 copies.

Trial By Fire picks up where you left off in QFG1. Having freed the Baron's son and daughter and driven Baba Yaga from the land (thus fulfilling the countercurse), you are proclaimed "Hero of Spielburg". With the brigands fighting among themselves after their leader and warlock return to their rightful positions in the castle (as Baroneta and Jester, respectively), their stolen treasure is returned to its rightful owners, including a magic carpet owned by your newfound friends, the merchant Abdulla Doo and the Katta Innkeepers Shameen and Shema. You journey with them to their Arabian homeland of Shapeir, a desert nation blessed with two magical fountains around which two great cities have been erected: Shapeir and Raseir. But as you may well imagine, all is not right here.

A year before, the Emir Arus Al-Din, ruler of Raseir, disappeared under mysterious circumstances. It is not known what became of him, nor is it truly known in Shapeir what is going on in its sister city. The Sultan's army journeyed to Raseir to ascertain the situation and, if possible, restore the rightful ruler of the city, but it was destroyed by an unknown magical force.

It is up to you to protect Shapeir from the Dark Magic that threatens it, and to restore Raseir to normal - before it's too late.

Gameplay

Character creation is the same as in the previous QFG game; you may create a new Fighter, Wizard or Thief and alter their characteristics and skills with a small allotment of points. If you completed the EGA version of the first game, you can import your saved character to QFG2; in addition, imported Fighters can train to become Paladins during the game. (Paladins are Fighters who are One with the Essential Rightness of the Universe. From this alignment, they derive special powers, like the ability to sense danger and to make their sword burst into blue flame.) Just as in the first game, different character types will have different side-quests, and will have to approach many of the same problems in ways suited to their abilities.

Unlike the first game, Trial By Fire makes you operate under time constraints. That is, while in QFG1, nothing new would happen unless you acted, in this game, many events will take place on their own, and it will be up to you to figure out how to deal with them in time. Meanwhile, you will have to work in time to complete side-quests like helping Julanar the tree-woman to "feel" again, or passing the initiation tests of the Wizard's Institute of Technocery. When the time comes, you will join a caravan to Raseir to see if something can be done about the situation there.

The battle system in QFG2 is far superior to that of its predecessor; its only real flaw stems from the rather primitive state of computer graphics at the time. It's a little difficult to explain, but during battle you can swing your weapon, parry, or dodge in different directions (high, middle, and low), which will be successful or not depending on whether the enemy is standing or attacking from that vantage. It's a little difficult to tell if they are, unfortunately - due mostly, as I noted, to the quality of graphics available - but after playing for a while one gets the hang of it. It also helps that in Trial By Fire, you have someone to practice with: Uhura, the Guildmaster. Unlike the Weapons Master of Spielburg, Uhura will not charge you for practice, so you can get in as much combat as you need without risking your life. (Don't try using magic against her, however.)

Getting the Game

The easiest way to get the game legally is by getting the Quest For Glory Anthology, which also includes the first game, as well as QFG 3 and 4. Unfortunately, Sierra no longer exists except as a brand name, and Vivendi Universal is intent on ignoring all 20th-century Sierra IP, unless they want to mangle it beyond recognition. So the only way to get that is through secondhand dealers. If you don't have any qualms about downloading abandonware, you can find it in some places; however, Vivendi cracks down pretty hard on such sites, so it may be difficult (though not as difficult as some of Sierra's less popular games, like Gold Rush!).

And now for some helpful content for those of you who have gotten the game, but can't find a manual. I suppose you could get some of this information from a walkthrough, but those kinda suck the fun out of the game.

Background

You need to know this - or rather, names from it - to complete the game. This was a strategy commonly used by Sierra to curb piracy; instead of having questions at the beginning that could be circumvented relatively easily, copy protection was incorporated into the game itself. This sort of thing was also done, for instance, in Leisure Suit Larry 5 and King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow - not to mention Quest For Glory IV.

One thousand years ago, there was a great Marid - a powerful variety of Djinn - named Iblis, who sought to rule the world and make humanity slaves of his kind. Iblis built a city in the middle of the Shapeirian desert, and brought as many Djinn to him as possible. The great Wizard and Sultan, Suleiman bin Daoud, in turn summoned as many Djinn as he could, and a great war occurred. In the aftermath, Iblis was defeated, and Suleiman magically trapped him in the form of a small stone statue, left in the ruins of what has become known as the Forbidden City.

But there is a prophecy proclaimed by Suleiman himself, that one day a Hero from the North may come, and be led astray; through this betrayal, Iblis may be set loose upon the world once more, by one both foolish enough and powerful enough to do so...

Spells

Most of these appear in Quest For Glory I; the only additions are Force Bolt, Levitate, and Reversal. I've included all of them here for the sake of completeness.

Calm
Mana Points: 4

If you need to make a break for it, Calm will give you a few seconds headstart; this spell will temporarily cleanse an enemy of all thoughts of violence, causing them to stand around for a bit, momentarily confused. It does not work once you are already in combat, however; to quote the Advanced Adventurer's Manual of the Famous Adventurers' Correspondence School, "A calmed opponent will just calmly eat you." With higher skill levels, even inanimate objects can be affected by Calm.

Dazzle
Mana Points: 3

Erasmus' Razzle Dazzle is a scintillating little spell that will temporarily blind your opponent. This can be used either to avoid combat entirely, or to disorient your enemy, giving you a chance to get in a few free hits.

Detect Magic
Mana Points: 2

A very basic spell which allows you to use a "sixth sense", as it were, to ascertain what (if anything) is magical in a given area. This is most useful for detecting magical traps and the like.

Fetch
Mana Points: 5

Lowenhard’s Lariat of Legerdemain will lasso the object you long for with laser-like precision. (Using it on yourself will make you the object of much derision.)

Flame Dart
Mana Points: 5

A ball of fire, used to toast enemies and marshmallows. The more skill you have in Magic and this particular spell, the more damage it will cause.

Force Bolt
Mana Points: 6

Aronson’s Arcane Arbalest of Action and Reaction is a more advanced projectile spell, force bolt creates a ball of magical energy which can be used both as an attack and to push things in strategic places. Well-placed Force Bolts will ricochet several times before dissipating.

Levitate
Mana Points: 7 to cast, additional points to stay in the air

Ellen’s Enchanted Elevator allows you to rise to any occasion. Unfortunately, this is no Superman spell - you can't use it to fly, only move straight up and down. It also requires too much concentration to do anything complex while floating (like, say, casting another spell). A creative spellcaster may be able to circumvent these restrictions in certain situtations.

Open
Mana Points: 2

As the name suggests, this handy little spell will push doors, unlock locks, and otherwise open up new possibilities. It has a few other uses as well which are not immediately obvious.

Reversal
Mana Points: 8

Kirkov’s Cosmic Karma Cookies will give naughty wizards what's coming to them - namely, what they tried to cast on you. You may recall the Kobold using it against you in Spielburg. It reflects all targeted attacks back to the original caster. However, a Reversal will not protect you from magic which is not directly focused on you - a Dazzle spell, for instance, will not be blocked by it.

Trigger
Mana Points: 3

R. Rogers’ Reactivating Ritual will cause any long-term spells in the area to activate. This is particularly useful for disarming magical traps (or rather, activating them without becoming a victim of them).

Zap
Mana Points: 3

Leyden’s Latent 'Lectrical Discharge will imbue magical energy onto your sword or dagger, giving the taste of steel just the extra "zing" it needs to triumph over your opponent.

Monsters

Note: Difficulty is listed with Fighters in mind. For most Thieves and Wizards, increase the difficulty level by one; e.g., "Medium" becomes "Hard".

Desert Brigands
Difficulty: Easy

Just as in Spielburg, brigands will attack unwary travelers. However, they don't seem to be as much of a threat here. Your typical Desert Brigand has little or no armor and no shield, making his battered sword his only means of defense. They may give you a little trouble at first, but a little practice with Uhura and they'll be no match for you. They usually drop a few Dinars and a handful of Centimes.

Ghoul
Difficulty: Hard

Undead skeletons come to prey upon the living foolish enough to cross the desert at night. Each time a Ghoul's claw hits you, you slow down. A few hits, and you're dead. Don't take these things on until you're sure you can kill them. If you do defeat one, you can sell its claws to Harik (the apothecary) for a good amount.

Griffin
Difficulty: Hard

A griffin is a semi-intelligent cross between a lion and an eagle. They'll usually leave you alone... unless you do something to make one mad. Then it will attack you repeatedly, fleeing when injured, only to return again. It is best not to provoke them at all.

Jackalmen
Difficulty: Medium

Jackalmen seem to be relatives of the peaceful Katta, who you will encounter often in the bazaars of Shapeir. While the Katta make their livings honestly through trade, Jackalmen prefer to steal from passing travelers. They attack in packs, so even though one Jackalman may not be too much for you to handle, you may want to run if you see them coming and aren't prepared for a fight with multiple attackers. If you defeat a group of Jackalmen, you will gain whatever money they have stolen from previous victims.

Scorpion
Difficulty: Hard

The Giant Scorpions of Shapeir are deadly foes, with huge crab-like claws and a powerful venom. Do not engage these creatures unless you are well-prepared, and even then, remember to take a Poison Cure Pill beforehand. If you manage to "sting" the Scorpion, you can sell the stinger to Harik for a handsome price.

Terrorsaurus
Difficulty: Hard

While the lesser Sauruses of Shapeir are used as mounts, the Terrorsaurus is far too dangerous to even attempt domestication. While not as big a threat as the Supersaurus Rex of Spielburg, it is still quite dangerous, and not for the inexperienced adventurer.

Command List

Because some commands are not obvious - indeed, a few you might only think of if you've read the game's manual - I've put a complete (I think) list of those available to you during the game here, and made special notes about some of them. Note that while many of these are global, some of are specific to a certain screen of the game.

ASK ABOUT (common subjects: Shapeir, Raseir, Monsters, Magic, Name, Money, Weather, Katta, Sultan, Emir)
BARGAIN (Note: Bargaining over an item automatically makes you buy it at whatever price you settled on.)
BUY
CAST (spell)
CLIMB
CLOSE
DISMOUNT
DRINK
EAT
ESCAPE (run away if in combat)
FIGHT (automatically enters combat if monster on screen; randomly attacks during combat)
FILL WATERSKIN
GET (same as TAKE)
GIVE
KISS
KNOCK
LISTEN
LOOK
MAKE THIEF SIGN
MOUNT (Saurus)
MOVE
OPEN
PAUSE (Pauses game)
PICK LOCK
PUSH
QUIT (Quits the game)
READ
RESTART (starts the game over from the very beginning)
RESTORE (loads saved game)
RUN
SAVE (Saves game)
SEARCH (body)
SIGN BOOK
SIT
SNEAK
STAND
STEAL
TAKE (same as GET)
TELL ABOUT
THANK
THROW
USE
WISH
WRESTLE

Easter Eggs, References, and other Fun Facts

  • From the QFG Anthology readme file: "In Trial by Fire, Ad Avis was actually named in honor of Bill Davis. Al Scurva was Bill Scurvin, and Khaveen was named after Rick Cavin (the head of Production at the time). The evil city of Raseir was an anigram of Sierra. Incidentally, if you wander the darkened empty Sierra Oakhurst hallways at night, you can see the resemblence."
  • Several characters are the Marx Brothers in disguise. Ali Fakir is obviously Groucho Marx, Alichica is Chico Marx, and the guy you see roaming the streets of Shapeir honking a horn (if you have Silly Clowns on) is Harpo Marx.
  • Throw a rock or dagger or cast an offensive spell on Julanar, the tree-woman. There will be an odd sound, and your monitor's screen will appear to shatter. You will then get the "death music", with this message: "Off you go to the computer store for a new monitor. By the way, real Heroes don't throw things at ladies (even rather stiff ones)." (This is, to this day, my favorite example of a game breaking the fourth wall.)
  • As in the first game, you can try Try picking your nose with the lock pick.
  • Try buying things from various merchants without having enough money, or when you haven't yet exchanged your Spielburgian gold for Shapeirian Dinars.
  • Try giving flowers to various women in the game. Try kissing them.
  • Scoree and Sloree, the food sellers, are plays on the names Corey and Lori, the couple who designed the Quest For Glory games.
  • Buy the X-Ray Glasses from Keapon Laffin's shop. Wear them when you visit Zayishah in Raseir. Note: If you do this, you will not be able to become a Paladin.
  • Refuse to buy a saurus from Ali Fakir. This will eventually cause you to lose the game, but it's rather humorous.
  • The black picture in W.I.T.'s halls represents the "Dark Master", who will be encountered in Quest For Glory IV.
  • When the Wizards of W.I.T. ask you to choose a sponsor, try all of those pictured in the halls. Houdini and Merlin, of course, are from outside QFG's universe entirely. Ad Avis and Aziza are characters in this game. Zara is the magic shopkeeper from QFG1. Erana is a legendary enchantress who, while not appearing to be dead, cannot be found; you will encounter her works throughout the game (as you did in the first).
  • Having "Silly Clowns" turned on will cause random humorous items to show up in the desert (such as the "Persian Golfer" and random signs of dubious meaning). It also has your character insert some sparse dialogue in a few conversations.
  • Check out the books and various curios in the Apothecary, the Magic Shop, and Aziza's house.
  • When at the Dinarzad the Money Changer's place, type, "look at breasts". ("Look at tits" also works. Between this and the X-Ray Glasses bit, it's a good thing the ESRB wasn't around when this game was published.)
  • When breaking into a certain house, do everything wrong. Some of the consequences are pretty funny.
  • Randomly right-click on the cosmos during the Wizard's Initiation for some interesting tidbits.
  • Try talking to Simba, Uhura's baby.
  • It is actually possible to reach Raseir on your own, before the caravan arrives in Shapeir. There's no point, however, because the guards won't let you in.
  • In Raseir: After stealing the Black Falcon, come back to the bar, and type "Give Ferrari the bird" for interesting results.
  • As a thief, try throwing dirt at Ad Avis instead of rocks, daggers or sand.

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