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Wizardry is one of the very first computer RPGs. It was a hit in the early 1980s and spawned a trilogy, an infamously hard (and decidedly different) fourth title, a fifth that returned to the style of the original trilogy, and a final trilogy of fantasy/sci-fi hybrid games. They are:

  • Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord (1981)
  • Wizardry II: The Knight of Diamonds (1982)
  • Wizardry III: Legacy of Llylgamyn (1983)
  • Wizardry IV: The Return of Werdna (1986)
  • Wizardry V: Heart of the Maelstrom (1988)
  • Wizardry VI: Bane of the Cosmic Forge (1990)
  • Wizardry VII: Crusaders of the Dark Savant (1992)
  • Wizardry 8 (2001)
  • Wizardry Online (2012)

The titles, up to Wiz V (excluding Wiz IV), were immensely influential, and countless tropes established there are still common today. The remaining three games did away with the old engine, spell system and story, added a mix of sci-fi and insane gods to it, but retained the sense of wry humour, resulting in something with a different feel, but really enjoyable nevertheless.

The Japanese loved Wizardry as well, and made over 20 sequels of their own, sadly most being only in Japan. Dragon Quest writer Yuji Horii states Wizardry was a big inspiration, and one of his earlier games "The PORTOPIA Serial Murder Case" had a direct shoutout in a maze section. There's even an Anime OAV based on the first game although it's somewhat dated.

The first three games are very hard. The Big Bad can deal 100 damage to your party with one spell, and your Squishy Wizard characters rarely get more than 60hp, so he can kill half your party in the first round of combat and the other half in the next. Random high level encounters can be similarly deadly. For instance, ninjas can kill party members instantly with a critical hit. Resurrection spells don't always work, and come a stat penalty when they do. Your mages have a limited supply of spells, especially early on, which can only be restored by returning to town at the top of the dungeon. Standard Status Effects are crippling and often deadly if you don't have the magic to cure them. The dungeons are confusing non-euclidean mazes with dark zones, antimagic zones, spinners, teleporters, and generally defy efforts to map out. And your characters can die of old age.

Some of the most recent Japanese sequels have been greenlit for a release, most prominently Wizardry Labyrinth of Lost Souls, which will be released in the US on the Playstation 3 now that the the Playstation Network is no longer a molten pile of slag.

A MMORPG has recently been announced, Wizardry Online, which will see a US release in 2012. Notable for being the first MMORPG with permadeath as a central concept -- Adaptation Decay is averted; the team involved is the same team that created the very faithful Class of Heroes and Wizardry Labyrinth of Lost Souls, and have flat out stated they're mostly working on adding multiplayer to the existing games, with a stated goal of recapturing the early, lawless days of Ever Quest and Ultima Online -- open PVP is also confirmed.

The "original trilogy" plus the fifth title in this game series provide examples of:

  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit, only six members are allowed to a party.
  • Awesome but Impractical, in Wiz I especially. Haman is easily the strongest offensive spell in the game, giving you the option of picking one of three effects (chosen out of a potential five), or in the original Apple II version, simply picking one of the five possible effects at random. The spell effects (which are guaranteed not to fail, regardless of the enemy) include offensive boons such as destroying/teleporting away every single enemy in the fight (including the final boss) while giving the party all the exp and treasure, silencing all enemies, or completely nullifying all enemy magic defense (no more seeing Greater Demons resist your Tiltowait spells). There's also Mahaman, which acts like a Haman spell with two additional defensive effects in the list for a total of seven, the best of which revives all your dead party members (even if they've been reduced to ashes) and heals your party to full health! The downside? You have to be at level 13 or higher for either Haman or Mahaman to work and you lose a level every time you cast one of them successfully. In order to use these insanely powerful spells, you basically have to be prepared to grind like crazy as every level above 12 is essentially a spell charge for them.
  • Bonus Level of Hell, in Wiz V. Contains a Bonus Boss with the best item drops in the game.
  • Character Alignment, in-game; on the good/evil axis. As explained in the first game's manual, a good PC helps an old lady across the street, a neutral PC crosses the street and helps an old lady across while doing so, an "evil" PC helps an old lady across the street for a fee, and the evil they all oppose helps an old lady halfway across the street. It's actually more along the lines of law and chaos rather than good and evil.
  • Character Level
  • Classic Video Game Screw Yous: Teleporting into solid rock, either on your own accord or via a "Teleporter" trap in treasure chests, resulted in the total loss of your party.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: Averted. The final boss of Wizardry 1 can be killed instantly by a ninja's random instant-death critical attack.
  • Continuing Is Painful, resurrecting fallen party members is expensive, permanently lowers their stats, and doesn't always work, resulting in Final Death
  • Copy Protection, if you don't know the name of the spells, you can't cast them.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Your characters are assigned a random number of stat points at creation, from 6 to 60. It's heavily weighted towards lower numbers. Many, many players over the decades have accidentally canceled the screen (rerolling the numbers) right before consciously realizing they had a character with 30, 40 bonus points or more.
  • Deader Than Dead: The "lost" status, given to characters that have failed Resurrection twice, or have ended up in some situation they can never recover from, such as teleporting into solid bedrock.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Werdna
  • Guide Dang It: especially in V.
    • It's also combined with Viewers Are Geniuses, as the clue to one particularly annoying puzzle happens to be written in Latin. "Contra Dextra Avenue" means, roughly, "Don't go right".
  • Hit Points
  • Katanas Are Just Better, as the Muramasa blade easily outclasses the best non-samurai weapons.
  • Level Grinding: lots of it. It's made worse by the presence of the extremely useful Haman and Mahaman spells, both of which drain a level permanently as part of the price of casting them.
  • The Maze: The entire game is one very large 3D maze, devoid of landmarks or even non-repeating textures, and is filled with plenty of nasty devices designed to make mapping the maze impossible like darkness, spinning tiles, teleporters, chutes and ladders, deathtraps, etc.
  • Nintendo Hard: though Wizardry predates Nintendo games by a few years.
  • Old Save Bonus, notable in that 2 and 3 are practically impossible if you *don't* import a party that successfully completed the previous game.
    • At least some of the older computer versions required imported characters. On the other hand, some of the later releases allowed player to create new characters. Probably every version developed after Famicom/NES versions has this option. While Japanese releases of Famicom/NES versions support both created and imported (through additional peripheral released in Japan) characters, the import function was left out when NES versions were released in the West.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: The above description of character alignments adds that Wizardry is "an equal-opportunity universe where female adventurers are not only common, but have been known to help old men across the street!"
    • And this little gem in the first manual, after noting that it uses male pronouns by default when referring to characters: "Wizardry is not a sexist game. English however is a sexist language."
  • Sdrawkcab Name: The Evil Wizard Werdna and the Mad Overlord Trebor. Also Author Avatar.
  • Standard Status Effects: Possibly a Trope Maker and also unusual in that these are really, really bad - if your party leader gets poisoned or something, you're not standing right next to the dungeon exit, and you don't have a powerful priest handy to cure him, your leader is toast.
    • Equally unusual is that the Wizard's Standard Status Effects inducing spells are far more useful than most of their damage inflicting spells.
  • Total Party Kill: the dreaded Tiltowait and (to a lesser extent) Malikto spells. A number of enemies with magic resistance (like Greater Demons and the final boss in the first game) can resist these, though.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Averted completely. Every spell is useful - traditional Useless Useful Spells being especially so.
    • Some monsters later on have magic resistance out the wazoo and will ignore uber-nuke spells like Tiltowait, but a few debuff spells like Morlis/Mamorlis bypass magic resistance and make nasties like Greater Demons a whole lot easier. You won't see many other console games where you're ever better off bypassing the Big Damn Nuke in favor of a fear spell.

Wizardry IV is in an entirely separate class from the four other games. You play as the villain, and the rules are turned upside down, as you now must rely on summoned monsters to escort you *up* through the dungeon, while being constantly assaulted by powerful parties of heroes.

This game is so hard it makes the first three look easy. At least in those, you could Level Grind to improve your odds of surviving. Not here - the evil wizard Werdna is your only character, and you only level up at 9 specific plot points throughout the game. Your only allies are the monsters you summon, who cannot be directly controlled, never level up, and are gone forever when killed in battle. As a mage, Werdna has little HP, so if you run out of monsters, one hit can kill him. (Fortunately, you can summon replacement monsters for free at any pentagram, so your mini-horde of monsters essentially doubles as your HP.)

Your magical abilities are quite powerful at the highest level, but each of your 9 circles of power may only be used nine times, and no more - you must treat each spell as if it were one of your 9 last drops of water in a desert that goes on forever.

Since you're a villain, your adversaries are heroes - the same variety of heroes who slaughtered hordes of monsters in the first three games - the same variety of monsters that are your only allies now. Ninja heroes will still kill you instantly on a critical hit, mages will destroy your whole team with one powerful spell, fighters will hit 16 times per round, each strike enough to kill you once, thieves will steal your items you need to finish the game, and when you've killed them, clerics will bring them back to life. And since there are no experience points, there's no reward for defeating these heroes. In a nutshell, to play Wizardry IV is to play as a party of generic random encounter monsters against the party of heroes.

The fourth game has examples of:

  • Guide Dang It. Big time. Most players won't make it out of the first room without help.
  • Level Grinding averted as you now only level up at specific plot points. There are no experience points or any other tangible reward for winning battles against heroes.
  • Nintendo Hard doesn't do this justice. You face ninjas who can kill you instantly, mages who happily blow away your entire army with a single spell, thieves who will steal Plot Coupon items and disappear with them forever, and have little for defense but a small Mook army (the same Mooks that are expendable in the other games) and a finite book of spells.
    • All while being chased by an evil spectre through confusing and unmappable non-euclidean mazes and having to solve fiendishly hard puzzles that render the game Unwinnable if you make the slightest mistake. While being killed by heroes. Did we mention that said spectre can walk through walls, stalks you relentlessly, and kills you instantly and automatically if it catches up to you? Also, you can save anywhere, which sounds great... but loading a save causes every hero group on the level to respawn. Generally, between you and the magic circle you need to heal and resummon monsters. Which means that the game can easily become unwinnable as a result of you saving your game.
    • The Many Deaths of You, there are lots and lots of ways to die in this game, death by hero notwithstanding.
  • Not Completely Useless, there is only one monster Lord Hawkwind is afraid of...
  • Platform Hell, of sorts.

The Dark Savant Trilogy (VI, VII, 8) has notable examples of:

  • Anticlimax Boss: The Dark Savant is a deeply underwhelming final battle for the trilogy.
  • Author Existence Failure: Sir-Tech did not survive to see Wizardry 8 published; the Sir-Tech that released Wizardry 8 renamed themselves to that name for the sole purpose of getting Sir-Tech's name on the box before release.
  • Bag of Spilling, explained with long space voyages and crashing spaceships. Or the greediness of your hosts.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animals: Several examples, but the Trynnie from Wizardry 8 definitely count.
  • Big Boo's Haunt: The Isle of the Dead in 6 and Isle of Crypts in 7. The Sea Caves in 8 are a borderline example, with lots of crabs mixed in with the undead.
  • Bonus Boss: The Chamber of Gorrors in Crusaders, containing six bosses ranging from surprisingly easy (in fact the very first boss you fought) to two incredibly difficult, all with Names to Run Away From Really Fast.
  • Bubblegloop Swamp: 6 and 8 both have swamp areas.
    • Swamps Are Evil: The swamp in 8 is home to some of the more evil enemies in the game.
  • Build Like an Egyptian: The Amazulu Temple in 6.
  • Captain Ersatz: Umpani are spacefaring militaristic rhino men -- rough, reliable and loving uniforms and primitive firearms... similar to the hippo-like Giff.
  • Catfolk: The Felpurr race, with excellent stats across the board, make particularly good thief classes.
  • The Chosen One: The party in 8 is revealed to be the "Third Messengers", which are the ones who will recover the Destinae Dominus from Marten's Tomb. All knowledge is contained in the Destinae Dominus, but it requires the helm of serenity to safely wield, lest the party learn all there is to know too soon go insane. The first and second messengers are the Dark Savant and the Mook, which wield the Astral Dominae and the Chaos Moliri, respectively. All three macguffins are needed to win the game.
    • The Trynnie believe they are chosen to inherit the planet when the Ascension happens and the Higardi believe they were destined to ascend and become "Cosmic Lords" (gods) themselves... which really just means they get to go the the Cosmic Circle and write in the book of destiny.
  • Cosmic Keystone: The Cosmic Forge.
    • The Astral Dominae, Destinae Dominus, and Chaos Moliri (8).
  • Dead Man's Chest
  • Death Mountain: Giant Mountain in 6, the Witch Mountains in 7, and Ascension Peak in 8.
  • Demonic Spiders (Potentially any monster in enough numbers or if you're unlucky, but some enemies really take the cake)
  • Distressed Damsel: Vi Domina in 8 although she fights back against her captors and can join your party as a formidable fighter. Nevertheless, she still needs to be saved.
  • Divine Parentage: The child of a party character and Al-Sedexus in 8.
  • Down the Drain: The seafaring sections of 7 feature very tedious battles, while the underwater sections of 8 are irritating due to some very nasty residents, including Nessie.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: In 8, the Umpani set up shop in a mountain honeycombed with caves, while the T'Rang expand existing underground catacombs beneath an abandoned castle.
  • Enemy Mine: The T'Rang and Umpani allying in Wizardry 8, if you complete the necessary quest.
  • Evil Is Hammy: And how! The Dark Savant has really turned it into an art form.
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: Averted in the eighth game, which can result in an Unwinnable situation if you are really unlucky.
  • The Faceless: The Dark Savant.
  • Final Boss New Dimension: The final battle with the Dark Savant takes place in the Cosmic Circle.
  • Final Death: Iron man mode in 8.
  • Five-Finger Discount: Used by name to describe the Trynnie's thieving skills in 8. One of them steals a tracking module from a spaceport that is needed to solve a optional puzzle later on in the game, and another sells stolen merchandise in an abandoned monastery.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: *S P O T*
  • Game Favored Gender: Female characters get -2 Strength, +1 Personality and Karma: worse for melee, but better for psionics and divine magic. Interestingly, females get access to a number of useful pieces of armor and accessories that males do not, and have access to the gender-specific Valkyrie class. The only advantage males have is having a slightly easier time rolling stats for some of the classes, and that advantage pretty much disappears after a class change, or when playing Wizardry 8.
    • Women still get plenty of unique equipment in Wizardry 8.
  • Guide Dang It: Mostly in VII, in or around the Isle of Crypts.
  • Hidden Elf Village: The City of Sky in 7. Slightly subverted in that they're there to protect an artifact, and go chasing after the Big Bad when he steals said artifact.
  • Hobbits: Straight Lord of the Rings style, down to the name.
  • Horned Humanoid: Rapax and some demons in 8.
  • Human Aliens: The Higardi, though the manual says they're highly spiritual. (But that doesn't account for the staggering amount of bandits in the population...)
  • Inescapable Ambush: the characters are just musing about the perfect suitability of road for these types of attack, when suddenly...
  • Infinity+1 Sword: the *Light* *Sword*. (Written just like that.)
  • Izchaks Wrath: shopkeepers in 8 don't like if you try to sell back their own items. In fact they have special dialogue just for this occasion.
  • Killer Rabbit: Faeries are horribly lethal in 6 and 8.
  • King Mook: Several of them, most notably the king crab and gregor in the monastery. The former is a giant crab and the latter is a giant roach; smaller versions of each creature infest the monastery.
  • Knight Templar: Subverted somewhat 8. While there are literal templar rapax in the game, there is no serious indication that they think they are serving the cause of righteousness, only that they are serving the will of their goddess Al-Sedexus.
  • Large Ham: The voice actor for The Dark Savant in 8.
  • Lethal Lava Land: The Rapax Rift in 8.
  • Level Down at Intimacy 5, overlapping with Horny Devils.
  • Lizard Folk: The Lizardmen race, and the Dracons have a draconic flavoring.
  • Lock and Key Puzzle. You do have the Phoenix egg / Bone comb and brushes / King's Diary with you, don't you?
  • Ludicrous Gibs in 8.
  • Mono-Gender Monsters: All Dane, Munk, Gorn, and Rattkin (until Wizardry 8) you meet are male, while the Helazoid are a specifically all-female race thanks to advanced technology.
    • And all the Higardi raiders/bandits/cutthroats/etc in 8.
      • Although the Higardi roustabouts look a bit different from the other rogues.
  • Mooks (There are multiple enemy types that increase in power and abilities of their members as you advance through the games)
  • More Dakka: The gadgeteer's omnigun in 8 will provide the ability to send increasing amounts of bullets or what have you downrange at your foes.
  • Multiple Endings, resulting in an Old Save Bonus. There is one exception: if you choose the Astral Dominae over Vi Domina during the endgame of Crusaders, you can't import to Wizardry 8. But it isn't that surprising...
  • Nonhumans Lack Attributes: Surprisingly averted. Sprites appear as entirely naked flying women with butterfly wings, a demoness fights your party while topless and carrying a whip, and a recruitable female character (Private Sparkle) wears nothing but a pair of pants. It should be noted that in this last case, Sparkle can be given more clothes and there isn't much to see on her chest, due to her white fur. The fact that she sounds like a saccharine seven year old while wielding a small hand axe and spouting semi-fascist military slogans (duty! power! victory!) while having a propensity for petty thievery (a common trait among her species in the game) is a bit disconcerting.
  • Nonstandard Game Over, if you act as a complete idiot with the Big Bad of Bane of the Cosmic Forge, the game rules you Too Dumb to Live and opens a pit under you for Total Party Kill. The creators even include a short explanation and a clue: 'take a look at the box'. Yeah, you had to type in the name of the game or a variation of it.
  • Noob Cave: The Bane Castle in 6 and Monastery in 8. 7 goes one better and only refers to its example as "The Starter Dungeon".
  • Offing the Offspring: If someone in the party slept with Al-Sedexus in Wizardry 8, their pissed-off demonic daughter shows up at Ascension Peak with the Rapax Prince to attack.
    • Homosexual Reproduction: The above happens even if you had an all-female party, and so Al-Sedexus took a woman instead.
  • Old Save Bonus, characters could be imported from any of the previous games non-bad endings to the next one, keeping some really useful items and alliances. (Although Bag of Spilling was used harshly between seven and eight, it was averted for items between six and seven: you could begin Crusaders with the Muramasa Blade and multiple Rod of Sprites.) You could save even at the end of 8, although a sequel is highly unlikely and the characters are gods
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Wizardry dwarves are par for the course, though they also make good priests.
  • Our Elves Are Different: The player race of elves are said to be easygoing, friendly, and excellent mages.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: The Gorn are militant, xenophobic - and happen to live right between two mortal enemies...
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: The Rawulf race (not literal werewolves, but posessing all the qualities to LOOK like them) are kind, have high piety and make AWESOME healer classes.
  • Palmtree Panic: Bayjin, the resident Scrappy Level of 8.
  • Petting Zoo People: The Rapax and Trynnie in 8, and the Rawulf, Felpurr, and possibly T'rang and Umpani. The Mook might be a borderline case.
  • Reality Writing Book: The Cosmic Forge. Anything written in it will become true, albeit often not as the writer expects. If written pages are torn out, history itself will be Ret Conned.
  • Rewriting Reality: The Cosmic Forge allows this. However to prevent it from being used for evil, if not used while in the Cosmic Circle, it will interpret the writing in a way the writer will deeply regret.
  • Shout-Out: A recurrent enemy in 7 is the Demented Munk(sic).
  • The Lost Woods: Any wilderness area in 7 aside from the mountains.
  • The Maze, the 3D labyrinth Hall of Past in seven certainly qualifies. Also the Rattkin Funhouse, Rapax Castle (especially the King's Apartments), and pretty much every other dungeon area in all three games.
  • Tomes of Prophecy and Fate: The Cosmic Forge and Tome of Fate.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Private Sparkle is the only female Trynnie in Wizardry 8, and she isn't even found living with the rest of her kind, as she left Trynton to get help from the Umpani. Strongly averted with the many female Higardi and Rapax.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The Temple of Ramm in 6 and Isle of Crypts in 7. 8 oddly doesn't really have one, with Ascension Peak standing in for a final dungeon.
  • Temple of Doom: The Isle of Crypts. Justified in that it was designed to protect the object resting at the bottom.
  • Tree-Top Town: Rattkin Ruins in Wizardry VII; Trynton in Wizardry 8
  • Trick Boss, you might notice something is wrong, as there are two of him if you play on Expert.
  • Underground Level: The Mines in 6, and the various caves in 7.
  • Under the Sea: Wizardry 8 finally takes the party beneath the waves with Umpani-issue scuba gear. Watch out for sea monsters.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment, you have probably fought at least a hundred Rattkin Leaders with Vorpal blades until you actually find one. And then it is a letdown.
  • Useless Useful Spell, averted again, every spell is useful if you know where to use it. For example the hardest monsters could be killed by critical hits easily if you cast one of the seemingly less useful spell at them a couple of times.
  • When Trees Attack: Wood spirits look like humanoid trees in 8.
  • World of Buxom: Pretty much all of the females in Wizardry 8, including Vi Domina and just about all other human women (including the purple-robed cultists), Al-Sedexus, the female Rapax, the female Trynnie Sparkle (large for her small size, at least), and many statues of humanoid females. Even the giant breeder rats technically count as this.

The OAV provides examples of:

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