Legend of Lothian

Title           Legend of Lothian
Category        RPG
Author          David W.Meny,1991 (Freeware)
Players         1
Compatibility   All
HD Installable  Yes
Submission      Joona Palaste (palaste@cc.helsinki.fi) Profiled Reviewer

Legend of Lothian, written by David W.Meny in 1991, is a freeware Ultima
clone. It is simpler and shorter than the official Ultima games, but a
good roleplaying adventure nonetheless.

The story goes like this: Once upon a time in the land of Mercia, an evil
sorceror cast a spell on the good king Lothian, causing him to fall fast
asleep. You can't rule a land in your sleep, so Mercia soon fell prey to
various evil monsters who now litter the land. It is up to you, a brave
adventurer (either male or female), to kill the evil sorceror and steal
his spellbook, so you can lift the sleep spell on king Lothian and restore
order to Mercia.

In practice, the game consists of walking around in the land of Mercia,
visiting towns (of which there are seven: Larkspur, Rastun, Asraela,
Marlot, Wenhea, Trubly and the ruins of Heslon) and castles (of which
there are two: Lothian and Forlorn), fighting monsters and using various
items to solve puzzles.

The user interface in the game is extremely easy and effortless to use. You can
either use the mouse to point-and-click at various icons, or steer the whole
game from your keyboard, using the cursor keys to move your character and
letters to interact with your surroundings (for example T to talk, O to open a
door, and so on). You'll get the hang of it in about five seconds.

When you are in a town, you're safe from harm. No dangers abound within
towns. Here you can visit the weaponsmith or the armourer to buy a better
weapon or better armour, visit the healer or the inn to restore your
hitpoints, or hit the bar for a few mugs of good old ale (and to pick up
valuable information from other patrons). However, the game has a serious
bug: Inns don't work properly. Even if you pay for a room, the doors still
stay locked. This bug renders inns unusable. Luckily, some towns have
healers, who cast a spell on you for a modest price, curing all your

Out in the open, monsters attack you every couple of steps. How many and
what kind of monsters depends on your experience level. At the start of
the game, you only get attacked by one or two orcs (sword fodder) at a
time, but later, you get to face giant insects, mummies, skeletons, giant
worms and even dragons.

More advanced monsters do more damage and take more hits to kill, but this
is easy to live with. Even the dragons aren't unbeatable and can be dealt
with with a good enough weapon and armour. What is irritating, though, is
the sheer numbers they amass in. When you're close to the end of the game,
it's not unusual to be attacked by more than a hundred (I'm not kidding!)
monsters, of about five or six different types, at a time. The only way to
get out of combat and continue your journey is to either kill all the
monsters or flee, which gets the more difficult the more monsters there
are together, as usually one will eventually hold you off. Since you can
only ever fight one monster at a time, these large combats become an
experience of tapping the A key (for attack) so much that you're in danger
of wearing the key out.

Every monster that you kill awards you both a couple of experience points
and a few gold coins. Experience counts towards your level - the more
advanced your level is, the more hit points you have. Gold is pretty much

To be able to complete the game, killing monsters is not enough. You have
to solve puzzles along the way, in order to be able to reach and enter the
evil sorceror's fortress on a distant isle. These puzzles usually consist
of using an item (which you've either bought from some guy or found lying
around) to get your hands on another item, and this advances you towards
your ultimate aim. The only real challenge is finding out which item is
hidden where.

There is not much of a magic element in this game. Your character is a
warrior, not a wizard, therefore he (or she) knows no spells. The monsters
don't attack with magic either. The only combat magic you'll ever find
comes in the form of two shrines. Each of these has a secret mantra that
you have to chant. If you chant the right mantra, one shrine gives you a
really good weapon, the other really good armour.

The presentation of Legend of Lothian is excellent, given its age (13
years) and the fact that it's freeware. Visually, the game could pass for
Ultima IV or V (not necessarily VI or later, though). The graphics are
really colourful and easily identifiable. The only real problem is the
people and items, which are shown as white blobs with no features
whatsoever. Maybe this is to enhance their contrast with the background,
or maybe because David just can't draw realistic humans. (He does a much
better job at drawing than me, however. I'm one of those guys who would
need help to draw a recognisable Pac-Man.)

As for the sound - well, there is no sound. In the entire course of the
game, Legend of Lothian is completely silent. Not even the slighest beep
can be heard. Luckily, this does not detract from the sense of adventure,
given that this is an RPG, not a fast-paced platformer.

I've completed Legend of Lothian years ago, and played it very thoroughly,
so I have pretty much memorised the entire plot by now. If you search the
web for "Legend of Lothian", you're bound to hit one of two solutions for
this game: one written by me, the other by some other guy. The one that I
wrote seems to come up more often.

In closing, Legend of Lothian is a really nice Ultima clone. If you like
RPGs, then you won't be disappointed with this game. It'll keep you hooked
until you complete it - but not necessarily longer than that. After all,
once you've completed the game, you've pretty much seen it all, as there
are no "secret" bits. Still, it's worth playing through once.

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