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Serpent Isle Nitpicks

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IntroductionEdit

Since Serpent Isle does not take place in Britannia, a lot of the more fruitful areas for nitpicking (geography, people, etc.) are absent. However, Serpent Isle boasts a wonderful, complex story that tries to tie-in various elements from Ultima I&III. However, it does not always succeed.

Ignorance of PredecessorsEdit

Missing UW2 EquipmentEdit

Where has all the cool stuff gone that the Avatar found in Underworld II? What about the Sword of Stone Strike, the Jewelled Axe of Firedoom, the Leather Vest of Flameproof, the Leather Cap of Missile Protection, and the Chain Cowl of Valor?[1]

Kingdom of Sosaria?Edit

In the manual, Erstam describes the people’s flight from Moon, Montor, and Fawn following the proclamation of the Quest of the Avatar: "Lord British proclaimed the kingdom of ’Sosaria’ after the Third Age of Darkness."

In fact, the kingdom of Britannia was proclaimed after the Third Age of Darkness. The land was known as Sosaria before that, and had been since Ultima I.[2]

Christopher's WarningEdit

Christopher’s ghost tells the Avatar that he must not die because many hostile souls would be awaiting him on the other side. This statement contradicts Ultima V. When you died in Ultima V, you were in fact dead for a while, until Lord British would resurrect you. It also said that no evil existed there and that you had found refuge. I’m fairly certain the Avatar already had his share of hostile souls waiting for him back then.[2]

Dupre's SoulEdit

In Ultima III, it became clear that a burnt body does not have a soul anymore, because it’s instantly reborn. ANJU SERMANI forces the soul back into its previous body, though this costs the newborn’s life, who becomes soulless. This is a pretty cruel thingie, and so it was apparently outlawed, which is why Ultima VI tells us that a burnt body cannot be resurrected. This causes a problem with Dupre’s sacrifice, however: Dupre immolates himself, so that his soul may be united with the Chaos Serpent. This is totally illogical, because the ash must have become soulless. (Or is ANJU SERMANI somehow casted in connection with the Serpent? Odd, very odd.) (Do I think the Serpent Isle developers wasted one thought on Ultima III? Short answer: No, hehe.)[2]

ResponseEdit

Actually this makes perfect sense. If you're going to unite Dupre's soul with the Chaos Serpent, then you must first free Dupre's soul from his body. Since it was previously established in Ultima III that burning a body releases the soul from the body, it's perfectly consistent for burning a body to release the soul from the body in Serpent Isle.

Technical ShortcomingsEdit

Insane CantraEdit

Perhaps the most popular flaw in Serpent Isle: Why is it that Cantra can never be cured of her insanity by the water from one of the Fountains of Order? (The proper dialogue lines are in the game’s usecode but there’s no way to activate them by normal means.)[3]

Unusually Warm WelcomeEdit

Torrissio, Harnna, Lady Yelinda, and Ernesto will all respond to you quite cheerfully even after you’ve freed the Chaos Banes, apparently ignoring the fact that their respective towns have been almost completely annihilated... (In the original plot of the game, the towns were not supposed to be destroyed. The shortened deadline required this section of the game to be simplified, however, resulting in an annihilation with inconsistencies.)[4]

The Contrast between the Avatar's and Iolo's EntrancesEdit

Why does no one wonder how the Avatar and his party got to that isolated spot west of Monitor at the beginning of the game? Of course, the Monitorians may assume they were taken there by a teleporter storm, but then why are they so surprised of Iolo bursting into the funeral?[5]

Renfry's AshesEdit

After the Banes have killed everyone, you can come back to Monitor and discover a strange detail in the crematorium. Click on the newly found ashes and it will say “Renfry’s Ashes”. You’ve got to wonder who had enough time to burn Renfry’s body and write “Renfry’s Ashes” on the urn in midst of a Goblin attack and the following destruction of the town.[6]

ResponseEdit

Maybe it was one of the Goblins who did it.

Batlin's Missing Fur CoatEdit

Batlin, Selina and the other guys aren’t wearing anything warm. They should have frozen to death in the northern regions.[7]Reply, I have a theory on this... In the potion book there is a potion "Blue/Black" that allows one to withstand the cold. Seeing that both Selina and Batlin are mages of sorts could have aquire these potions from Moonshade or brew them there selves, and use it on there journey to the north.

Iolo's Bows in Serpent IsleEdit

Iolo's Bows must have a very large market indeed. Upon scrutinizing any generic crossbow bolts on Serpent Isle, Iolo will happily brag about the IOLO trademark imprinted upon them. The inhabitants of Serpent Isle couldn't have Iolo’s crossbow bolt brand in their possession, since Iolo's Bows was only established after the events of Ultima IV.[8] This error extends even to The Silver Seed, which is set not only in the Serpent Isle but also 400 years in the past.

Weapons in the Court RoomEdit

The Fawn judiciary apparently allows defendants to carry around weapons in the courtroom. If you equip Dupre with a halberd before the Fawn trial sequence, for example, he is still seen carrying his halberd in the courtroom.[8]

Unusual SpellsEdit

In the very beginning of the game, when you still have all the equipment that you brought with you from Britannia, the Avatar has a spellbook which contains several spells exclusive to Serpent Isle, using reagents never seen in Britannia. How can that be?[9]

Speaking with SethysEdit

If you can’t read Ophidian without a Translate spell, why can you speak to Sethys without any aid?[10]

General ProblemsEdit

Can't see anything wrong with herEdit

In the crystal ball scene, Batlin talks with Cantra while she's possessed by Bane of Madness. Yet there doesn't appear to be anything particularly wrong with her appearance (for example, no glowing eyes or grin, as with Mad Iolo) and there's no separate portrait; Batlin has to push Cantra before the Bane reveals itself. The transformation of other characters is, shall we say, a little bit more dramatic.


Counter: I don't think this is an error. My interpretation of the events is that the three banes of chaos were dormant, essentially, in three people. I believe it was only after Batlin collected them, and subsequently lost control over them, that they became much more active. I could be wrong.

Modern technologyEdit

Captain Stokes has a computer... which, when clicked upon, is described as a "humming box", "rune buttons", and a "glowing cube". Avatar is supposed to be a representation of yourself; one would wager that few people used these terms to describe their computer (at least before playing the game). The Avatar is clearly familiar with this mysterious modern technology, as evidenced by the intros to Ultima VI, Ultima VII and the Earth section of Ultima IX...

ResponseEdit

This is (arguably) an easter egg, so it might not be fair to nitpick it, but it's a bit of a quest that people probably realistically run into without cheats.

Fedabiblio the UninterestedEdit

Fedabiblio says he can't read the Ophidian writing. In itself, it's a curious trait for a scholar and teacher; who knows what magics and curious bits of knowledge the Ophidians knew, and one might expect Fedabiblio to be a little bit more interested about them. Also, he says that Erstam translated "portions" of the Scroll of Serpent, as if this was somehow difficult and painstaking and something not to be attempted by an ordinary mage. But the other mages know the Translate spell.

Hawk's careless duplicityEdit

Captain Hawk gives the key to his trunk to Fedabiblio for careful safekeeping, yet has the same key on his person - where anyone may rob it from his corpse.

Karnax the AmoralEdit

Karnax says one of the anti-virtues of the Ophidians is "Amorality". Similarly, the bane that troubles Iolo is called alternatively Insanity and Madness.

It's "wooden ships and iron men", not the other way aroundEdit

According to the ghost of Gannt the Bard, Captain Stokes' ship is a "rusty old bucket" called The Mustang. The problem is, of course, that the Serpent Isle hasn't quite progressed to building iron ships yet...

Reply: Although boats on the Serpent Isle consists mainly of wood, they may make use of iron for small parts such as nails, braces, ligaments, et cetera ad nauseum.

Melino's WrongheadednessEdit

Melino says Columna's Intuition is the only spell that bears its inventor's name. Wrong - Erstam's Surprise does, too...

The Guardian's PlanEdit

The most important question in Serpent Isle: What exactly is the Guardian’s plan? It transpires that Batlin is trying to gain enough power to overthrow the Guardian himself, so the release of the Chaos Banes was not Big Red’s idea. Likewise, the Banes seem to be serving only themselves after Batlin has been killed. Despite all this, at the end, the Guardian acts as though he was behind the entire Imbalance and that you have thwarted his plans once again.[4] Reply: Possibly to get Batlin killed as punishment for his failure in Part I.

Ophidian CivilizationEdit

The King of the White Dragon goes mad shortly after Ultima I. Not very long after that, the Serpents first appear, and the residents of the Lands of Danger and Despair (who henceforth become Ophidians) begin to worship them and their principles. The Great Earth Serpent then disappears and the Imbalance War begins just prior to Ultima III. Unless there are titanic differences between the passage of time on Britannia and Serpent Isle (which is doubtful since they were once connected), it seems next to impossible that at least three vast underground cities could be built and a deep culture developed in so short a time. (Maybe time indeed flows differently in both worlds. Note that Gwenno went to Serpent Isle more than 18 months before the Avatar, yet the dialogues there give the impression that she appeared only a few months ago. This difference is still far too small, though.)[4]

ResponseEdit

It should be noted that Ultima II featured time travel and temporal disturbances. Plus the length of time between Ultima I and Ultima III is never established.

They Don't Build Them Like They Used To!Edit

The castles of the White Dragon and Shamino look more recent (less worn down) than the Ophidian cities and temples, but according to Serpent Isle’s chronology, they are older than all the various creations of the Ophidian civilization.[4]

ResponseEdit

Several fellow nitpickers take the view that this is easily explained: The War of Imbalance aimed at the total destruction of each other; the Ophidians’ buildings were destroyed in the war, while they did not care for the ancient castles.

The Bane's Third VictimEdit

After Batlin has freed the Chaos Banes, they possess three different humans, whom Batlin and his cronies proceed to track down. The Wantonness Bane possesses Gwenno. One of the other two (Anarchy or Insanity) possesses Cantra. Who is the third unfortunate victim? [4]

ResponseEdit

Wantonness takes Gwenno, Anarchy takes Angus, and Insanity takes Cantra

The Disappearance of MortegroEdit

What happened to Mortegro? As soon as you leave the Temple of Tolerance, he will be struck by a red lightning bolt (according to your tests with Gustacio, that means Teleportation, as opposed to Transportation or Transmutation) and disappear. Where the hell did he go and why do you never find him again?[4]

Tree of BalanceEdit

What is the purpose of growing the Tree of Balance? From various comments, it would seem to imply that doing so will stop the Imbalance, but it never does. Is it one of those complicated problems with time mechanics? (Originally, the Tree of Balance most likely did stop Imbalance, judging from several unused usecode fragments.)[4]

ResponseEdit

It's not a complete answer, but after the tree is planted the amulet of balance no longer takes a week to recharge.

Karnax's Time TravelEdit

How does Karnax travel back in time to assist you in planting the Silver Seed? Time travel should not be such an ordinary thing.[4]

Guardian's ScrollEdit

How did the Guardian’s scroll get into Batlin’s belongings? If the Guardian has the power of sending a magic scroll to Britannia, then he should be able to communicate directly with Batlin as well, right?[11]

Police IncompetenceEdit

It’s been eighteen months since Batlin fled to Serpent Isle. Why did it take Lord British’s guards that long to find the Guardian’s message?[12]

Response: They were too busy with the problems in Underworld II

The VoidEdit

Why is the Avatar actually taken into the void at the end of the game? Just so that the Guardian can catch him? And why don’t the Serpents do anything against the Guardian’s attack?[13]

Time LordEdit

Why isn’t the Timelord involved in this whole Imbalance crisis? (Especially seeing as how he interfered in the Black Gate affair, which was nowhere as dire as the current one.) [13]

False CoinEdit

Shouldn’t the false coin spell be strictly forbidden? Is this the mages’ license to copy money? You’ve got to wonder if they have any problems with inflation in Moonshade.[2]

Why Do Ophidian's Need Translate Scrolls?Edit

Why do you find translate scrolls in all the ancient Ophidian buildings? Couldn’t they read their own language?[10]


Response: To translate non-Ophidian scrolls.

Karnax's Time TravelEdit

How did Karnax know how to go back in time? One could say that the monks found more writings involving the Amulet of Balance or the Champion of Balance, and they figured out a way to go back via the Serpent Gates, or something, but of course, there is never any dialogue to support this. Furthermore, why did Karnax go back? Granted, he’s the one who gave you the amulet, but he’s also opposed to giving such direct aid to the Avatar.[14]

Gwani: Fierce and FurryEdit

If the Gwani are so fierce, as told by the Monitorians, why can Hazard kill them all so easily? Possibly the Gwani have a tougher reputation than they really are, kind of like Yeti legends... but the trapper isn’t very powerful at all. The only edge he would have is the Avatar’s glass sword but he hasn’t used it, since it’s still intact.[10]

ResponseEdit

The Gwani's fierceness is, pretty clearly, a myth spread by Hazard - both to bolster his own reputation as a great trapper (and no doubt inspire subservience in his men) and to protect his lucrative monopoly on the Gwani hide market.

Earth Serpent StatueEdit

Just how did the Great Earth Serpent get trapped in that statue? It remains a mystery.[10]

ResponseEdit

It's not a mystery at all - just not answered in a simplistic, direct fashion. Exodus imprisoned the Great Earth Serpent and used it to guard the entrance to the Castle of Fire in Ultima III.

Lists of BritannianismsEdit

This lists all of the "Britannianisms" found in the game - things from Britannia that can't be justifiably found in Serpent Isle.

Ankhs Edit

  • Right at the beginning, you discover a cave behind the red bush, which contains a scroll mentioning the Great Hierophant, and an ankh shrine. Problem: The ankh was in no way ever related to Serpent Isle. The Ophidians didn’t know it, and Erstam’s people refused it as a symbol of Virtue. Yet the cave seems to date back to the time of the Ophidians.[2]
  • An anachronistic ankh pendant can be found in The Fiend's Domain.
  • The ship journey from the Sleeping Bull to Moonshade begins with unfurling of a great sail... with a giant ankh on it. I guess the ship graphics hadn't been updated...
  • Several ankh pendants in Shamino's castle.
  • Ankh altar in Castle of the White Dragon.

Reply: Since the Serpent Isle was originally the Lands of Danger and Despair (pre-Ophidian times, it appears,) it makes sense that they would share some cultural symbology with the other Sosarian lands, especially in Shamino's castle and the contemporary Castle of the White Dragon.

Books Edit

There is a series of books that appear in Serpent Isle but shouldn’t be there, since they are from Britannia[15]:

  • Lord British’s biography, updated until the gargoyle wars
  • The apothecary desk reference by Fetoau
  • The Provisioner’s guide to useful equipement by Dell, a Trinsic provisioner
  • “What color is thy blade?” by Menion, a blacksmith in Serpent’s Hold
  • “Weaving” by Carlyn
  • Brommer’s Flora and Brommer’s Fauna
  • Briggio’s book of astonishing things. Refers both to human-gargoyle cooperation and to a book by Alagner!
  • “Birds of Britannia” by Brother Wayne, the monk lost in Despise
  • Vectron’s guide to weapons and armour
  • ...and many more!

Retort Edit

Much (if not all) of the above can by explained away if you accept the simplicity with which Batlin, Gwenno, and the Avatar's party reached Serpent Isle. It's not that hard to consider the possibility that others from Britannia had explored into Serpent Isle and either kept their mouth closed about their origin (thus they weren't noteworthy to the locals) or were simply not taken seriously.

References and original contributors to Hacki's pageEdit

  1. Originally submitted by Mimu
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Originally submitted by Tribun Dragon
  3. Originally submitted by Evil_Freak Dragon
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 Originally submitted by Evil_Freak Dragon
  5. Originally submitted by Hacki Dragon
  6. Originally submitted by Loo
  7. Originally submitted by Dino the Dark Dragon
  8. 8.0 8.1 Originally submitted by BlueClaw
  9. Originally submitted by Azurio
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Originally submitted by Corwin
  11. Originally submitted by Avatarsgarbidge
  12. Originally submitted by Sergorn Dragon)
  13. 13.0 13.1 Originally submitted by Maximus Dragon
  14. Originally submitted by Derag
  15. originally submitted by Artic Blaze Dragon

External LinksEdit

This article includes material originally taken from Hacki's Ultima Page, and is used with permission.

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