Every now and then, as I walk past the small alcove at the end of the hall in my flat I catch a glimpse of the corner of a grey plastic box poking out of the top of one of the boxes piled there. Waves of 8-bit nostalgia wash over me as I recognise it as one of my ZX Spectrums and I'm soon plugging it all in to my TV. So given the huge amount of games I can play on the thing, which is always the first cassette slotted into the tape player? I've lost the box and the manual over a decade ago, but Lords of Chaos is always the one.
Lords of Chaos
Author: Julian Gollop
Platforms: Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48/+/128/+/2/A/3
, Commodore C64/C128
, Amstrad CPC 464
, Atari ST
, Commodore Amiga
Cassette, 3" disk, 3.5" disk
£9.95 tape / £14.95 disk
Released for the Sinclair Spectrum, Commodore C64/128, Amstrad CPC, Commodore Amiga and Atari ST, Lords of Chaos was written by Julian Gollop basically as a sequel to his still-popular and Spectrum-only Chaos. It's a turn-based fantasy RPG/battle game for up to four players. Each player controls a wizard which can move around the game world (which is wrap-around) and cast spells, many of which summon various creatures to help. After a certain amount of turns, a portal appears, and the aim of the game is to exit through the portal with the highest score; scored are awarded for killing opponents and their creatures, and for collecting treasure during the game.
As a multiplayer with up to four players the game becomes a brilliant battle between armies of creatures. The complexity of the game is pitched just right: easy to pick up but with enough depth for me and my friends to still be playing fourteen years on. As a single player game, it takes on a more RPG-ish feel, each level is played one by one against ai opponents, and scores achieved can be used to increase the wizard's power and knowledge of spells for the next scenario. Three of these scenarios come with the game (the first two of which can be played multiplayer) and an expansion pack with 2 extra could be bought separately.
Each wizard knows certain spells (these can be individually designed, or randomally generated). A wizards knowledge of a spell is to a certain level, when you cast a spell its level is decreased until it's level reached zero, when it may not be used for the rest of the game.
When a summon spell is cast, the number of creatures summoned is equal to the level of the spell. The following is a table of creatures that may be summoned and their properties...
AG AF ST CN CT DF MR CL PC VP MT RM UD UW UO WT LT RT
GOLD DRAGON 38 40 86 90 50 42 82 30 10 09 no no no no yes no yes no
GREEN DRAGON 32 36 80 82 40 43 75 26 10 08 no no no no yes yes no no
RED DRAGON 34 40 90 72 32 34 90 32 18 07 no no no no yes no no yes
PIXIE 34 00 40 16 04 06 67 30 02 01 no yes no yes yes yes no no
DWARF 26 00 57 25 06 06 40 35 02 01 no yes no yes yes no no yes
GOBLIN 30 00 45 32 09 09 46 42 02 01 no yes no yes yes no no no
TROLL 32 00 88 47 12 16 46 40 02 02 no yes no yes yes no no no
GIANT 30 00 48 66 21 15 50 50 04 03 no no no yes yes no no no
CENTAUR 48 00 62 36 08 10 54 34 03 01 no no no yes yes no no no
UNICORN 56 00 72 40 12 09 42 00 03 01 yes no no no no no no yes
PEGASUS 46 56 80 40 08 09 50 00 03 01 yes no no no no no no no
GRYPHON 42 52 73 53 24 21 57 00 04 04 yes no no no no no no yes
ELEPHANT 36 00 55 73 14 22 40 00 06 02 yes no no no no no no no
GORILLA 34 00 56 38 15 14 43 26 04 01 no no no no yes yes no no
LION 54 00 64 34 21 14 46 00 04 02 no no no no no yes no no
BEAR 38 00 70 48 22 26 48 00 05 03 no no no no no yes no no
CROCODILE 26 00 52 62 26 20 55 00 04 02 no no no no no no yes no
GIANT BAT 24 62 75 20 09 07 41 00 03 01 no no no no no no no no
HARPY 28 52 60 28 22 14 60 16 04 03 no no no no yes no no no
GIANT SPIDER 44 00 74 52 41 24 55 00 07 06 no no no no no no no yes
ZOMBIE 24 00 90 50 06 05 50 30 03 01 no no yes no yes no no no
GHOST 36 36 92 30 08 18 60 00 06 02 no no yes no no no yes no
VAMPIRE 34 40 85 60 18 17 65 30 05 04 no no yes no yes no no no
SPECTRE 38 00 80 72 28 24 70 00 07 05 no no yes no yes no no no
DEMON 30 00 90 78 38 31 78 00 09 07 no no yes no yes no no no
Extra things to note: Dragons also benefit from being able to breath fire as ranged attack and as a way to start fires. They cannot be cast without a Dragon Potion (A cauldron and a dragon herb in the same place). Pixies are invisible to opposition players. Ghosts can move through rock, walls and other solid squares (although not roofs).
In order to cast a potion spell, the casting wizard must be standing on a square with both an empty cauldron and a specific ingredient. The amount of servings created is three more than the level of the spell.
POTION NAME INGREDIENT EFFECTS
Strength Potion Mistletoe Boosts combat
Protection Potion Clover Boosts defence
Invisibility Potion Crystal Creatures cannot be seen by enemy
Speed Potion Sulph Doubles Action Points and triples
Flying Potion Fairywing Enables airborne movement
Super Potion Ambergris Boosts combat and defence, doubles Action Points
and triples stamina recovery
Healing Potion Apple Restores constitution and Stamina,
cures fatal wounds
- Magic Fire
- Causes the target space to catch fire. The fire will spread and will cause severe harm to creatures it catches, and will turn all terrain to wasteland. It will not harm your own creatures. It burns Tangle Vine but can be put out by a flood spell.
- Causes the target square and some around it to become flooded. Non-water creatures may drown in it. It will put out Magic Fire but is 'soaked up' by Gooey Blob.
- Gooey Blob
- Similar to Magic Fire, but spreads over different terrain. Soaks up Flood, but is destroyed by Tangle Vine.
- Tangle Vine
- Changes terrain to thorny vines. Destroys Gooey Blob, but can be burned away by fire.
- Weapons in the target space become magic; their power is doubled and it can be used to slay undead creatures.
- Can inflict a fatal wound on target creature. In my experience, not likely to work, and not much use if it does.
- Magic Attack
- Attacks all creatures of same type as target creature even if they are yours. Unlikely to work unless very high level and used on weak creatures.
- Magic Bolt
- Ranged attack on target creature.
- Magic Lightning
- As bolt but affects the surrounding squared too.
- Inaccurately teleport your wizard to target square. Use with caution as after teleport you will have no action points left.
- Magic Eye
- Allows you to see as if you had a creature at target square (so you can see what's behind a door, for example). Also lets you see an invisible creatures.
- Magic Shield
- Temporarily increases wizards defence rating.
The first two scenarios can be played as multiplayer maps, or sequentially as a one player RPG. The third can only be one player, and can only be played by a level three or higher wizard.
Scenario One: The Many Coloured Land
Four diamond-shaped rooms with a door at each compass point provide the starting point for wizards. In each gap between the diagonals of each room is a feature: a shadow wood, a small, rectangular, unlocked room, a swamp surrounded by tall grass, and a magic wood containing a room with four locked doors. The room with the locked doors contains four locked chests which in turn contain treasure. The room also contains a Giant Spider and there are a couple more lurking outside. The Portal appears in one of these four places at random.
Scenario Two: Slayer's Dungeon
No use for flying creatures in this dungeon. Many passages and rooms and many independent creatures wandering around. Watch out particularly for dungeon things. These are invisible, and quite strong. Never leave you wizard unmounted and/or undefended in this dungeon. The points, in this level, are in grabbing the slayer. This is a particularly potent weapon and is found in the room with the square of lava. The room has a locked door and is defended by a demon and two spectres. It is also hidden in a locked chest, the key to which is found in the other locked room with a couple of vampires for company. It can be pretty wearing to go through all this and defeat Elbo Smogg, but the points bonus is worth it. The portal appears in the clearing over the lava just South-West from the room with the vampires in.