1. Q: I've just been given the task of going to the Swamp of Zagar. However, I was able to get to the door to Castle Vilor and all the keys are already there. I can get all the way through the dungeon, but there is no boss, and a Key of Truth is lying on the floor. However, none of my knights are able to pick it up. What do I do?
I've just been given the task of going to the Swamp of Zagar. However, I was able to get to the Cape of Death dungeon. None of the enemies surrounding the area are invincible, the boulder has already been destroyed, and I can get to the very end of the dungeon. There is no boss, and a key is lying on the floor, but none of my knights can pick it up. What do I do?
1. A: Due to a glitch in the way the game is programmed, you're getting too far ahead of yourself. Under normal circumstances, you should not even be able to get to either of those areas until you've completed your tasks in the Swamp of Zagar, beaten the boss of Stone Keep and gotten the Key of Truth there. But there's a quirk that was overlooked when the game was made. I'll try my best to explain what I believe is happening here:
As you already know, there are gates scattered throughout the game's overworld that prevent you from going past the current area until you've completed all tasks, beaten the boss, and recovered the Key of Truth. Due to the layout of the overworld, in most cases, there is only one set of gates that needs to be toggled on to halt further progress. The problem is that in the area surrounding the Swamp of Zagar, there are TWO sets of gates that must be turned on - one for the area surrounding Castle Vilor and one for the area surrounding the Cape of Death. However, a glitch or oversight in the program causes only ONE set of these gates to be toggled on, therefore allowing you to gain early access to the one that wasn't. Sometimes, it will be the Vilor gate that's open, other times the Cape of Death. I believe whichever one is toggled on is determined by what password you have at the time you get this far in the game. (I could probably even prove this if given enough time to experiment with it - I know for a fact that certain passwords can activate other glitches.)
But why does it appear that the scenario for each area is "pre-completed", ie, all the keys already being at the Vilor Gate or the boulder already being destroyed? My guess is that ALL areas of the game are set up to be "pre-completed" EXCEPT the one you're currently assigned to. Only when you've beaten the boss of the current area does it trigger the next area to become "active". When it becomes active, all components of the area are put into the proper place so that you can solve the puzzles, fight the boss, and get the key. One very good piece of evidence to support this theory is that sometimes the game fails to reset items to their proper places. A major example is the Staff of Rhiothamus glitch that causes one of the pieces to disappear if you do not get all of them before beating Warlord Viper and have to redo that part on the next quest. I have also had a situation once where the Earth Key mysteriously appeared at the Castle Vilor gate even though I had not yet found the Gnome King or his son.
There are several logical reasons to set the game up this way. One is that I imagine it made playtesting easier. It seems the programmers could just simply deactivate the gate switches, then travel into any area they want and look for glitches and problems without being hindered by having to do the puzzles (even though they obviously missed quite a lot.) Another reason could be to safeguard against earlier areas accidentally "resetting" themselves so that you'd have to complete them again to move on, or worse yet, getting stuck with no way to move on.
As for why the boss does not show up - I'm guessing it's because ONLY the boss for the current area is loaded into RAM, and the next one will not appear until the current one is defeated AND the Key of Truth is recovered - which is what triggers the next event to begin.
So why was this glitch missed? Either someone forgot that TWO gates needed to be active in this area, or there was some problem with having more than one active at the same time, so it was just left the way it was on purpose. The moral of the story is simply that you'll have to ignore the Cape of Death or Castle Vilor for now and complete the tasks in Merlin's requested order.
2. Q: Okay, so now I have to destroy the boulder that makes the Warlords invincible. But when I go to the area west of the Swamp of Zagar, sometimes there is a glitched up graphic on the gates there, and when I walk through them, the game crashes. How do I get around this?
2. A: Unfortunately, this part of the game was not programmed nor bug-tested very well. Until you find all of the necessary ingredients and break the boulder, you should NEVER EVER confront any of the Warlords wandering around these screens. I do not know why the graphics on the gates glitch in this area sometimes, but the reason the game crashes when you walk through them is because there is a group of warlords just beyond them on the next screen, and for some reason, the game almost ALWAYS crashes when you confront any group of invincible warlords. What I believe is really supposed to happen is that you're supposed to be unable to kill the warlords, thus you end up getting killed and sent back to Camelot and have to start sneaking around all over again. It's basically this game's twisted version of the part in Metal Gear where you had to escape from the prison cell and avoid the guards to find your belongings (or the similar part in Chrono Trigger on the Blackbird if you don't put Ayla in your party). However, this almost never happens because any of the following glitches may occur:
The good news is that it is entirely possible to get through this area without ever once encountering a group of warlords until you've destroyed the boulder, since that is what you are "supposed" to do anyway. Refer to the guide if you need help figuring out how to do this.
3. Q: I can't find the last piece of the Staff of Rhiothamus and I've looked everywhere! I've checked all the places in your guide and it's not there. Help!
3. A: Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, sometimes this game fails to relocate items back to where they originally are supposed to be located. Technically speaking, there are only TWO things that will change your current password and save progress - One is obtaining a Magical Shield and the other is getting a Key of Truth. That's it. Nothing else you do affects your password. Once you obtain a Key of Truth, your password changes to one that saves all important data from the quests prior to obtaining that key. When you get a shield, the password changes to add that shield to your inventory, but does not change anything else. What this means is that some things are NEVER EVER stored by your password. For example, no matter how many of the elemental keys you obtain for the Castle Vilor quest, your password will not change. Should you quit during the middle of that quest and restart from your current password, you will have to do the whole quest all over again, no matter how much you had done before. The keys to Castle Vilor only all stay in place forever AFTER you've beaten the boss and gotten that Key of Truth. But since the shields are optional items, and you may not necessarily find them all, that means that there are many different possible passwords to have at any given moment in the game, and herein lies the problem: For whatever reason, some passwords cause glitches that can screw up the game!
The biggest example of this I know of is with the Staff of Rhiothamus. If you do not collect all of the pieces of the staff before beating Warlord Viper, you will need to get them before you can begin the next quest. The problem is that, depending on what password you have after beating Viper, the staff pieces may not properly relocate. The one that I've consistently heard disappears is the one that's lying underneath of a tree. I'm almost wondering if the problem isn't so much with that piece as it is with the piece that Merlin gives you. I wonder if it's possible that since Merlin doesn't repeat telling you that he'll give you a staff piece, it means you don't actually get it from him again. But there's one in your inventory, which the game "thinks" you got from the wilderness, so it removes one from the field. Just a theory, but I honestly think that's what's happening.
Whatever the cause, if this does happen to you, you will not be able to progress any farther in the game, as the Staff is needed to access the final area. There is one of two suggestions I can give: Either start over again from the previous password and try to find some of the shields you are missing. This should alter your password and hopefully circumvent the glitch on your next attempt (I am sorry that it might mean having to fight Warlord Viper again as he is one of the most difficult parts of the game). The other suggestion is to simply use the guaranteed-good password I have available in my guide to get you up to spec so you can move on with your quest.
4. Q: I got an item earlier in the game and it's disappeared from my inventory. What do I do?
4. A: As I said under #3, the game's password only stores the Keys of Truth, Magical Shields, and some other very important event items. You will lose other items if you quit the game and restart with a password. Sometimes, it doesn't matter. For example, you will never need the Warlord Armor again once you've completed the task that requires it, so don't worry if you find it missing later on. But if you got the Nightshade or the Scroll or the Map Scrap (or other items) earlier, you might find it missing once you finally reach the point where it's needed. You will simply have to go back to where you originally found it and get it again. Refer to the guide or the items page if you can't remember where they were. If there's any bright side to this, it's usually only items that are found lying around or gotten just by talking to someone. It's never something you have to fight a boss or go solve a series of puzzles to get again.
5. Q: Where do I get the Staff of Life that Blaise asked me about?
5. A: Blaise tells you to go to the bakery in Crownhorn Village and bring him the Staff of Life. "Staff of Life" in this case means "bread", so that's why he said to find it in the bakery. However, there is no way to do this. Yes, there is a bakery in Crownhorn, and yes, there is bread lying everywhere, but it's only background tiles and cannot be interacted with. No "Staff of Life" exists in the game's code (see the Oddities page for proof), and while there does exist a loaf of bread that you can find lying in the woods later on, Blaise will not react to its presence in your inventory, even if you bring it to him. (It is actually needed for another character in the same area where you go it.)
So why does Blaise ask you to do this if you can't? One of two possible reasons: First, it could've been a step in a quest that got excised from the final cut of the game. There is evidence to suggest that originally three items were needed to get the Water Elemental Key from Druas: Copper, Platinum, and Pitch Blend, but only Pitch Blend was used in the final version. Perhaps, Blaise would have given you one of the others in exchange for that Staff of Life. Who knows? That would've required Crownhorn Village to be accessible at this point of the game, and well, sometimes it is due to a glitch, but I really don't know, and I'm just taking guesses. Maybe it could've been for another quest entirely, such as Lug's Key, which is curiously found lying on the floor in an empty house.
The second possible reason is just for the sake of bolstering the personalities of Blaise and Arthur. Arthur seems to have this offbeat streak in which he'll do whatever it takes to get people to work with him, even it's slightly dishonest or unethical (witness that he gives a half-eaten loaf of bread he found lying on the ground in the woods to a hungry traveler, and that he cons a guy out of his precious Dragon Gem by exchanging it for an item the guy already owned.) Perhaps Arthur could get that bread for Blaise if he wanted to, but never had any intentions of actually doing it, despite promising that he would.
6. Q: I got stuck in a wall while fighting a boss. How can I avoid this?
6. A: Try not to get too close to the walls when fighting any boss, especially at the left and right sides of the room. If you do, your knight could get pushed into the wall by the boss's attack and get stuck (sometimes, I think it's even possible to simply walk into the wall and get stuck.) If this happens your only hope is to get killed by the boss so you can try again. If the boss can't reach you, you'll have to reset.
7. Q: Due to an unexpected glitch, I was able to get to an area early and complete a quest before doing the required previous tasks. Could this cause problems later on?
7. A: I have heard rumors that it's possible to do this and that eventually the game will lock up. Now, it's certainly possible to sometimes get to Castle Vilor or the Cape of Death before you should, but normally you would not be able to complete them as the areas are already "pre-completed", so I'm not sure exactly how this could be done (and some exact instructions would be appreciated if anyone has them). However, the very first time I ever played this game, I walked right through the Wall of Flames in front of Shield Heights without gathering the ingredients from the forest and getting the Fire Protection Spell. I got all the way to the dragon boss at the top, but died and got sent back to Camelot because I didn't have Breeze's shield and couldn't beat the dragon without it. I have since been unable to duplicate this glitch. Therefore I do not know what repercussions there could have been for beating him early, and nor do I know what problems could occur if similar glitches happen elsewhere. Therefore, I strongly recommend just simply doing the tasks in Merlin's assigned order, no matter how "rebellious" you may be feeling.