Theldrow



  • Several months ago, we briefly discussed the old RPG Theldrow on the Cipher Manuscript thread. Theldrow is an RPG that Gandreas made before he made Cythera.

    It is possible that the Cipher Manuscript made a mention of Theldrow. What it says is "Th L Dr W" - which may have nothing to do with Theldrow, but seeing as we don't have any other theories for what it may mean (do we?), for now I will assume that it means Theldrow.

    But of course that doesn't mean it's referring to Reality of Theldrow that was made up for the Theldrow RPG. It seems likely enough that the word "Theldrow" is referring to something else in the context of the Cipher Manuscript.

    Recently I played through the Theldrow RPG for the first time. I had attempted to play it a few times before, but this was the first time I "beat" the game. I was just playing it for fun, but I also kept my eyes out for any mention of what the name "Theldrow" means. I still have no idea. The only time the world was even referred to as Theldrow was in the "about this scenario" file. I never found the word "Theldrow" in any items or dialogue in the game.

    I can't find any mention of what the name might mean or how Gandreas came up with it. Does anyone have any ideas?

    Anyway, here's my Theldrow review:
    At first I didn't give it much chance because I didn't like the interface (I was constantly getting turned around and had no idea which direction I was facing), and because I could hardly go two steps without dying. But when I decided to be patient and really try to beat it, I thought it was pretty fun. I severely cheated using Pandora's Box in order to make myself "invincible" (I still died sometimes, but not as often), & I started mapping out the areas using graph paper. I couldn't find any real graph paper, so I made the maps on another computer using virtual graph paper. Finally I found the guy who sells a compass, and things started progressing better from there. Searching for secret passages can be really hard - sometimes simply "searching the area" isn't enough, you have to leap across the room, twirl counterclockwise twice, snap your fingers, and then search the area. I can't say if I found all the secret passageways or not, but I guess I found all the essential ones. I was really starting to have a lot of fun with this game. It seemed like I had so much more to learn about, so many loose ends - when suddenly the game ended with a card saying I'd continue my search in the next scenario, which is coming soon to a Mac near me.

    Turns out the game is quite short ^_~ I suppose I recommend it anyway, just don't expect much from the ending, it is very unsatisfying. Worse than Cythera.



  • It's obviously a reference to the Drow, an Evil D &D race who apparently feed their kids to giant spiders.



  • BW, what is Theldrow's plot? From the tiny portions I played, I couldn't understand much of anything about it.



  • "The Drow" theory sounds quite logical. Apparently the main character's dad was captured by "Ettercaps" who planned to sacrifice him to something called "Thelos" which could likely have been a giant spider.

    Wizzy- Open Theldrow, and before you proceed to the savefile, click the "help" button. From there you can navigate to the section that explains the game's plot.



  • I kept thinking about how fun it would be to transcribe that little section, so I did. I'll post it here in case anyone who doesn't have an old computer (or SS) is curious:

    Quote

    General Background

    The known history of Theldrow stretches back to the beginning of the Age of Magic, starting after what is commonly called the Devastation. No one really knows exactly what cataclysmic event took place then, other than the name. All that is known is that two centuries of darkness followed this event. From that world sprang a new one, one rich in magic. Though the Age of Magic is long since past, (it too ended cataclysmically in the Battle of Kah), another age, the present one, has since arose from the dust (though some speculate that this age is approaching an end as well).

    Of the Age of Magic, much is known, but of the Age before it, little is known. It was referred to as the Age of Might, and it ended very abruptly. Some speculate that Good and Evil sought control and the result was the terrible waste of a world. There are a few others, however, that suggest that this was not the case. They suggest that some other force was to blame, and that Good and Evil joined forces to stop this force, and in the end decided that the world would be better to perish rather than succumb to this unknown power. All this is a matter for speculation, for almost nothing remains of that age long ago.

    Player Background

    You remember little of your father, the scholar Leoric, mostly just that he was often up late at night scouring through ancient books. You remember his telling your mother that he would be off, researching a lead, and would be home in a few days. You were seven then. You are now seventeen. He has never returned.

    Some time after this, you and your mother had to leave your family house, and live in a monastery. There you learned the ways of the gods and goddesses that interact with the affairs of mortals on Theldrow.

    Recently, your mother passed away and, you choose to find out what happened to your father. From the few books of his that remain, you know that he researching a remnant from the Age of Might, and found a lead. In the ten years since he left, time has been hard on those old books of his, and about the only things that you can figure out from them are the world 'portal', and a reference to 'Cravenshaw overlooking Boden'.

    So you have sought the help of sages and ancient records, in an attempt to find information on Boden. From those sources, you have managed to put together a rough map of the area. Boden is a trading city, giving its name to the rivers that meet there (the North Boden and the South Boden, although the South Boden approaches Boden from the west), far from your farm, in the Duchy of Arapos. It has two entrances, one to the east, the other to the south. For some reason, however, the entrance to the south has long since been abandoned. The town has seen better days, especially since the southern trade route that leads there is now abandoned, what with the recent problems down south and all. No longer do merchants travel the South Boden River, coming from Dragonia, to trade wares with merchants from the north and west. Perhaps this is why the southern entrance has been abandoned. Perhaps there are other reasons...

    Of Cravenshaw you know nothing, although you seem to remember that "crav" means castle, and there is an old castle, south across the river from Boden - certainly this is Cravenshaw? The old castle has three parts: a main inner building, a smaller building attached to the walls in the south west, and a tower in the south east. You will have to explore it to gain further information.

    <Map>

    You have left the monastery, and learned the ways of combat and magic since then. With you, you have an old dagger, a family heirloom, and a small sack of gold. You have set out to find what happened to your father, and so have arrived on the trail to the northwest of Boden (to left corner of the map). Your adventure begins...



  • Interesting. Again this just makes me think Andreas was influenced by the game Chrono Trigger and maybe later Chrono Cross given what he's said about Cythera 2 if it ever existed..



  • It would not surprise me if the apparent use of "Theldrow" in Cythera was simply an easter egg, but one never knows. The story behind the game sounds interesting. I'm sorry to hear the ending isn't satisfying.



  • I recently played Theldrow a little bit more. My main curiosity was what the spell "The Void" did. I figured in order to use it (my previous attempts had failed), I'd need to be the highest level in magic. I decided to try to get my character to the highest levels in all three categories (fighting, magic, & cleric), which took a very long time. I finally decided to speed things up a little with Pandora's Box. That in itself was pretty difficult for me because I didn't (still don't) understand how the game keeps track of experience at all. In fact, I get the impression that all your experience in your current level gets erased every time you close the game? And of course, closing the game is the only way to save the game. So if my theory is correct, it'd be pretty hard to level up without cheating. I may be completely wrong though.

    I finally got to the highest level in fighting and mage, but not cleric. Much as I tried, I could not find the values for cleric experience. I also failed to find the value for "divine favor" (which controls how many cleric spells you can cast). Divine favor is shown in the game as a bunch of squiggly lines emanating from the symbol of your deity. I wonder if each different squiggly line controls a different spell, and has a separate value. In this case, maybe there are several different values for cleric experience relating to different spells. Probably it would make more sense to someone more geeky than me. I really know nothing about game programming, I can't even figure out how to hack Cythera. Anyway, in my savefile, I'm level 4/5 on cleric and 12/12 on the other two.

    So I tried casting "The Void" - the first time my soul was ripped apart or something, and I died. The second try, I survived, and "felt stronger." That's it. I was hoping for more information about the void ): I still haven't tried the Cleric version of the spell because I need to be the highest level.

    Another thing that bugs me is that the instructions say that you may change your religion mid-game by finding a temple for another deity. I never found any temples except my own and an abandoned temple that was "no longer holy." I wonder if he meant in the sequel? Or could there possibly be a zone I haven't discovered?



  • Interesting research, 453. I'm looking forward for what you'll discover next and once again it seems like Gandreas's games tend to have that level of deepness that only dedicated fans (dedicated to exploration) seem to love.



  • Another gravedig... but after trying some Ultima, I started thinking about Theldrow and decided to look at it again.

    Theldrow is too difficult if you ask me, and I"m honestly not sure if anyone's ever finished it without cheating. It's just too easy to lose your character to corruption or getting stuck, and there's no reliable way to build up a character given how limited resources like money are.

    Following BW's lead, I played through with Pandora's Box. I was able to find almost all the stats that influence you, which made me invulnerable. BW, you're right that there are multiple variables affecting clerical spells, one for each of the five levels, a general one for divine favor, and a measure of devotion to gauge experience. I also agree that experience tracking doesn't seem to work correctly. The only thing I could find was a spell usage counter that probably increments your magical ability, but it resets when you save/quit. The chance-to-cast calculation eluded me as well; it's some combination of values, possibly including ones I've missed.

    Regarding your other comments, The Void and Improvement both apply minor changes to your stats, only The Void has a chance to fail and de-improve your character or kill you outright. And it seems only Berabaku's temple is in the game. I bet you're right that he planned to add more as he was continuing to add new features and spells up until the last release before he decided to focus on building Delver instead.

    --

    Anyways, my brief review:

    Complaints about difficulty aside, I enjoyed Theldrow. It's strangely captivating. When trying the black and white version, it has a really nice atmosphere, even without music or sound effects. There's elements reminiscent of Cythera (picking locks, bashing doors, or using magic to proceed) but a completely different setting and plot.

    It is very short. There's a lot of spells and options the player has, but in reality, you'll only end up using a few of them. The bugs and occasional crashes hinder an overall fun experience, especially around the ending when you're trying to open the portal. Once you do reach the end, it's far too abrupt. He definitely planned to expand it and release a sequel in some form, but while I would like more of this story, we got Cythera instead, so I don't mind!

    --

    Since so little Theldrow material is out there, I recorded my play through and posted a Let's Play Theldrow! (Cheater's Edition) video of the complete game.

    Additionally, it seemed a shame not to share all my findings about relevant values and ways to cheat in Pandora's Box, so I made a small Theldrow - Tips & Cheats page on Cythera Guides.

    Thanks to mrdav from Macintosh Garden, I was also able to upload a copy of Theldrow's mythology. It's an interesting read. There's really nothing in the game that suggests a shared universe with Cythera, but parts of this document do in my opinion. Lots of -ari's and -ali's, but it seems possible to me that Cythera could be yet another Outari within the Void. That matches with the Elemantali being part of the Outari (elemental beings in Cythera?), which would make the Outari something like the "barrier" and the Eldari the "chimera" in Cythera's lingo. Finally, I'd point out that Theldrow's god of the Void, Yeqy, was a mortal wizard who learned control over the Void through magic... maybe like the author of the Cipher Manuscript?

    That discussion may be worth another topic in itself, but for now, I hope everyone likes the abundance of new Theldrow content to explore!



  • I like that you named your character Bellerophon :p



  • @Wizard said in Theldrow:

    Thanks to mrdav from Macintosh Garden, I was also able to upload a copy of Theldrow's mythology. It's an interesting read. There's really nothing in the game that suggests a shared universe with Cythera, but parts of this document do in my opinion. Lots of -ari's and -ali's, but it seems possible to me that Cythera could be yet another Outari within the Void. That matches with the Elemantali being part of the Outari (elemental beings in Cythera?), which would make the Outari something like the "barrier" and the Eldari the "chimera" in Cythera's lingo. Finally, I'd point out that Theldrow's god of the Void, Yeqy, was a mortal wizard who learned control over the Void through magic... maybe like the author of the Cipher Manuscript?

    That actually seems quite likely. The existence of the Void in both would suggest a potential shared multiverse. It is also possible that the Cypher Manuscript makes a reference to Theldrow with its incomplete text.


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