|Betrayal at Krondor|
|Composer(s)||Jan Paul Moorhead|
|Release||June 22, 1993|
Betrayal at Krondor is an MS-DOS-based role-playing video game developed by Dynamix and published by Sierra On-Line in the summer of 1993; it was re-released in 2010 on GOG.com with support for Windows. Betrayal at Krondor takes place largely in Midkemia, the fantasy world developed by Raymond E. Feist in his Riftwar novels. The game is designed to resemble a book, separated into chapters and narrated in the third-person with a quick-save bookmark feature.
Although neither the dialog nor narrative were written by Feist himself, the game is considered canon, having been novelized as Krondor: The Betrayal five years later. Events in the game were also written into the Riftwar novels.
PyroTechnix completed a sequel, Return to Krondor , which was released by Sierra in 1998. Its protracted development experienced considerable delay, and the finished product was not nearly as warmly received as Betrayal.
Gameplay occurs mainly from a first-person perspective while traveling the overworld, dungeons, and caves, but switches to a third-person view during combat. The user interface is mouse-driven, with keyboard hotkeys for each action.
The game has two possible views, the 3D first-person view and the 2D top-down map view, where the player is represented with a triangular marker. The overworld is completely mapped, but other locations are automatically mapped in the top-down view as the player explores them. The player can also view the full map of Midkemia and see their location.
Each chapter's main plot usually takes place completely within one or two regions of the game world. However, the player is given enormous freedom to explore the world however they wish, with ample opportunity to perform optional sub-quests and enhance their characters' abilities, gain cash, upgrade weapons and armor, and so on. Only certain locations are accessible in each chapter, though the player is free to explore anywhere within those boundaries as well as take their time performing quests. While traveling, the party camps in the wilderness to rest and recover lost health and stamina, provided that there are no enemies in the vicinity.
One of the game's unique features are the large assortment of Moredhel wordlock chests, hidden throughout the land. These chests have combination locks with letters on each dial, and a riddle written upon them whose answer opens the chest. Wordlock chests can hold valuable items and equipment, as well as quest items essential to completing the game. If no member of the player's party can read Moredhel, the writing on the chest will appear untranslated, although it can still be opened by a brute force method of systematically cycling through each tumbler. The Moredhel alphabet is a character substitution of the A-Z alphabet. Gorath, a Moredhel, can read it, and casting the Union spell allows Patrus to do so for short periods of time. Wordlock chests containing essential quest items are relatively easy to find, either located near roads or their locations being disclosed through interaction with NPCs. However, "bonus" wordlock chests are typically hidden in areas where the player is not likely to travel unless they are assiduously searching for treasure.
The storyline is advanced primarily through literary cutscenes. Each chapter begins and ends with a cutscene, consisting of text, dialogue, and animations. The player meets various NPCs during their travels. Dialogue is text-based and some NPCs have their own pictures as well. Conversation is tree-based: in some cases, the player can choose between various dialogue keywords. This is used to get information, training, and items, sometimes for a price.
There are two or three characters in the adventuring party at any time. While the player meets various non-human characters during the game (including dwarves, elves, goblins, and dragons), five of the six player characters are human. The exception being Gorath, a dark elf. There are two classes of characters: fighters (Locklear, James, and Gorath) and magicians (Pug, Owyn, and Patrus). Fighters use swords and crossbows, while magicians use a staff. The only long-range attacks magicians are capable of are magic spells.
The character system is unique. The main character attributes are health, stamina, speed, and strength. Speed determines how many combat grid squares the character can move. Strength influences the amount of damage the character inflicts in mêlée combat. Spell-casting, swinging one's weapon, and combat damage first use up stamina. Once stamina is depleted, you begin to eat into health. Once it decreases, the character's skills (such as the crucial trait of weapon accuracy), as well as their movement speed, are adversely impacted.
In addition to attributes, each character has a set of skills expressed as percentages. Skills can be emphasized, causing them to improve faster, while de-emphasized skills improve slower. Unlike many other role-playing games, skills are improved by using them rather than through a leveling up system. For example, fixing weapons will improve the weaponcraft skill, which in turn will make the character more effective at fixing weapons in the future. Skills include defense, crossbow accuracy, mêlée weapon accuracy, spell-casting accuracy, enemy assessment, weapon and armor repair, barding, haggling, lockpicking, scouting for ambushes, and stealth. Some NPCs offer training in skills and items can increase skills permanently or temporarily.
Characters can acquire various status effects that affect their health or skills. Characters whose health drops to zero in combat are knocked out and acquire "near death" status, making them ineffective in combat, and their health recovery rate drops virtually to nil. If the health of the entire party drops to zero, the game will end. Improved healing rate is handled as a status effect as well, as are poisoning, drunkenness, sickness (from eating spoiled rations), and plague, which is an extremely serious condition that can reduce the party to moribund husks incapable of any productive action.
Spells are organized into six groups, grouped by magic symbol. Four groups of spells are combat spells and two groups are non-combat spells.
Spells first drain the caster's stamina and then health. Some spells have variable strength; the player can choose how much energy the spell consumes. Some combat spells also require that the target being within line of sight of the caster.
Spells are learned from scrolls that are found in caches or on enemies and can be bought from shops or NPCs throughout the world.
The game features a wide variety of items, including equipment, food, treasure, and magical artifacts. Each item also has detailed background information available by right-clicking it.
The inventory management allows transferring items between the party characters. In the case of stacks of multiple items, there's also an option to distribute them evenly within the party. The game also manages money and keys independently.
Each weapon and type of armor has modifiers affecting its combat effectiveness, such as accuracy, damage, blessing, and racial modifiers. After combat, most weapons and armor must be kept in shape with a whetstone or armorer's hammer respectively. There are also items that enhance weapons and armor, such as the poisonous silverthorn or fiery naphtha.
Player characters must carry and eat rations every day or their health starts dropping. Rations are sold in taverns and can be found on enemies and in caches. Rations can also be poisoned or spoiled and will sicken characters if they eat it, adversely affecting their health, although careful inspection of all packages of questionable provenance will avoid this possibility.
Combat is turn-based and takes place on a grid, similar to tactical role-playing games. The characters can move to a different location on the grid and if they can reach an enemy, can attack in the same move. There are two options for attacking: a thrust and a swing. The thrust is the default attack used when moving to attack an enemy. The swing often does more damage but is less accurate and uses up one point of health/stamina. Fighters can use crossbows and magicians can cast spells, but only if there are no enemy units in adjacent squares. The player can also rest, which regains health and stamina, defend against enemy mêlée attacks, or assess an enemy's capabilities.
Injured enemies may try to flee from combat, and will escape entirely and permanently from the player's grasp, unless they are killed or otherwise prevented them from reaching the upper edge of the battlefield. Defeated enemies remain on the ground after a battle, allowing the player to loot their remains. Salvaged items of little use to the party may be sold at shops in order to boost cash reserves.
The combat interface is also used to solve magical traps. Traps involve various types of hazards, such as fireball blasters and laser crystals, and the player either has to disable them using the objects provided or otherwise navigate through the trap and reach the top of the combat field.
Although the game uses a GUI, many actions can be performed using keys as well. There is a glitch (or intended hidden feature) that allows the player to make certain combinations of two moves in a single turn—one using the mouse and another using the keyboard—or rest twice by pressing 'R' before the turn begins and holding it through the turn. Computer opponents also seem to use this in some instances (like moving and defending in the same turn).
Another type of character-environment interaction, that could be considered a trap or a bonus, are the graveyards scattered around the landscape. The player is able to read the inscriptions on the gravestones (usually in the form of a short poetic eulogy), and then decide to dig up the grave (if someone has a shovel). Some graves reveal items and/or money, while others summon a ghost (in some cases, multiple ghosts), which must be fought using the standard combat interface.
Temples offer a variety of services including healing and blessing equipment. They also sell a relatively expensive teleportation service; the player is able to teleport between any temples they have already visited, with the price based on the distance traveled. This operates on the principle that a person visiting a new temple will memorize a unique pattern upon the wall, and by recalling this pattern at a different temple, be transported to the first temple with the aid of a priest.
Stores buy and sell various kinds of items; some also repair equipment. Inns and taverns allow characters to buy food and alcohol, gain information on local happenings, gamble (in some inns), talk to some NPCs, earn money by playing the lute, and sleep, which allows full healing of wounds and fatigue, whereas resting in the wilderness only restores 80% of health and stamina.
The game runs in 256-color 320x200 VGA mode. The graphics engine uses textured 3D graphics to draw the terrain and uses sprites for most of the detailed objects. The engine does not support multilevel terrain as such, but obstacles such as hills and mountains are supported. Most shops, inns, temples, special locations, and large cities are navigated though pictures usable through hotspots, while smaller towns have 3D buildings.
NPC and character art is based on photographs. Environments are a mix of captured images and hand-drawn. In combat and puzzle screens, all characters are animated, except for movement - characters do not appear to move their legs while walking.
The game models illuminate to a certain extent: in the overworld, day and night are modeled, and in underground locations, the player needs to use a torch or a light spell to illuminate their surroundings.
The game runs in protected mode, using Borland C++'s Ergo DPMI / RTM DOS extender.It remained quite compatible with Microsoft Windows up to the 9x series and works very well in DOSBox and VDMSound. A playable version for Mac OS X DOSBox is also available.
xBaK is a game engine recreation which allows Betrayal at Krondor to be played natively under the X Window System, using the original data files.
Ten years after A Darkness at Sethanon , Seigneur Locklear is serving at a northern Kingdom garrison when he saves Gorath of the Ardanien from an assassin. Gorath has brought a warning of an invasion planned by Delekhan, leader of the moredhel, so Locklear agrees to take him to see Prince Arutha in Krondor. Injured from numerous attacks, they ask for help from Owyn Beleforte, a young magician from Tiburn. The game begins in their camp north of LaMut.
Owyn is bandaging Gorath's and Locklear's injuries when they are attacked by a moredhel assassin whom Gorath dispatches before the three of them set out south. Surviving multiple assassination attempts, they eventually reach Krondor. Finding the palace gates sabotaged, they enter the palace via the sewers with Seigneur James' help. Upon meeting Prince Arutha, another moredhel assassin sneaks in and attempts to kill Gorath, only to be foiled by Pug.
Gorath informs Arutha of Delekhan's plans, but Arutha does not trust him because he does not know the location of the attack. Gorath thinks they can find out by intercepting Delekhan's Nighthawk spies in Romney. Arutha arranges for James to escort Gorath to Romney and meet with a group of the king's soldiers investigating recent Nighthawk activity in the east. Arutha will muster his army and await word of where the attack will occur. James, Owyn, and Gorath secretly slip out of the city through the sewers and head east. Arriving at the tavern in Romney, they discover that the king's soldiers have all been murdered.
Two clues were left behind at the murder scene: an enchanted spyglass and a silver spider. James, Owyn, and Gorath follow the trail of the spyglass and the spider north to Cavall Keep and uncover the leader of the Nighthawks, the merchant Navon du Sandau. After killing him, they enter the Nighthawks' hideout in the caverns beneath Cavall Keep, where they learn that Delekhan plans to attack Northwarden. Realizing that Nighthawks probably infiltrated the fortress, they split up. James heads to Northwarden while Owyn and Gorath head south to warn Arutha. Before they can reach Arutha though, Owyn and Gorath are captured by Narab, one of Delekhan's chieftains.
Gorath and Owyn are taken to Sar-Sargoth, where Narab presents them to Delekhan. Delekhan, enraged that Narab has ruined his plans, tells him his life is forfeit. Narab turns on Delekhan and, unbeknownst to them, frees Owyn and Gorath. They escape Sar-Sargoth and head south to the Inclindel Gap, where they meet a Kingdom patrol and are taken to Arutha's camp. Learning of the impending attack on Northwarden, Arutha readies his army and sends Owyn and Gorath to Krondor to seek Pug's help in case the moredhel employ magic.
James and Locklear arrive at Northwarden and are sent by Baron Gabot to find his magical adviser Patrus. The three of them help Duke Martin prepare for the attack by poisoning moredhel food supplies, finding the minstrel Tamney, stealing the moredhel battle plans, and killing six moredhel magicians hiding behind Kingdom lines. Returning to Northwarden as the moredhel siege begins, they discover that Nighthawks have murdered Baron Gabot, leaving James in command. The battle goes badly and they are about to be overrun when Arutha arrives with his army in time to drive off the moredhel.
Makala visits Pug in Krondor, telling him that Gamina is considered an abomination by the Assembly of Magicians and that he has imprisoned her until her fate can be decided. Pug is enraged at Makala's betrayal and vows to find her, blasting the words "The Book Of Macros" into the wall. When Katala is unable to find him or their daughter, she discovers his message and informs Owyn and Gorath. Following clues from the libraries at Sarth and the Abbaye Ishap, Owyn and Gorath head west to Elvandar, where Gorath completes his "Returning" and pledges his allegiance to Queen Aglaranna and Prince Consort Tomas. Tomas shows them the Book of Macros, a gift from Pug to find him should he leave the message to do so. Recently injured by a poisoned blade in a moredhel skirmish, Tomas asks Owyn and Gorath to go in his stead. Owyn and Gorath read the book, which teleports them into the unknown.
In Northwarden, the moredhel raiding leader is captured and reveals that they plan to use a rift machine in the Dimwood to bypass Arutha's army, enter Sethanon, and free Murmandamus, whom they believe is alive and imprisoned there. Realizing that the attack was a diversion engineered by Makala, Arutha orders his troops to Sethanon and instructs James, Locklear, and Patrus to find and destroy the rift machine. After learning that the machine can be disrupted by a Tsurani device called a Waani, they find the machine and disable it. However, as the rift collapses, it pulls in everything nearby before exploding. James and Locklear grab onto trees but Patrus is sucked into the collapsing rift and is apparently killed. At the same moment, three figures appear in a flash of purple light.
Owyn and Gorath are teleported to Timirianya, where Owyn realizes that magic does not work and Pug would be powerless. Owyn and Gorath eventually find Pug, who has figured out that by abducting Gamina and manipulating Delekhan, Makala has lured Pug away from Midkemia and Arutha's army away from Sethanon and is free to enter Sethanon unopposed and seek out the Lifestone. Using the Cup of Rlnn Skrr, Owyn restores Pug's powers and they find Gamina imprisoned in a crystal cage in the underground ruins of the Temple of Dhatsavan. Gorath smashes the cage and, using a special pattern stone Pug has brought, the four of them return to Midkemia.
In a flash of purple light, Pug, Owyn, and Gorath appear before James and Locklear in the Dimwood and tell them to wait for Arutha and let him know that there is no magical threat to his army; Makala will be waiting for Pug at Sethanon. Pug, Owyn, and Gorath travel to the underground caverns beneath Sethanon and kill the Tsurani Great Ones ("the Six") protecting the Lifestone Chamber. Gorath remains behind to protect the Oracle of Aal, which was incapacitated by Makala, while Pug and Owyn confront the magician. Makala believes that Pug was keeping the Lifestone hidden to use as a weapon and wants it destroyed, but Pug refuses because it would release the Valheru souls trapped inside. Engaging Makala in a magical battle, Pug and Owyn eventually kill him.
Afterward, Gorath enters the chamber locked in combat with Delekhan. When Delekhan reaches for the Lifestone, Gorath tries to stop him and they begin to transform as the Valheru within try to escape. Pug and Owyn are forced to kill them both with a blast of magic in order to prevent the Valheru from being released. Returning above ground, Pug creates magical illusions of Murmandamus and Delekhan which are then incinerated by the Oracle of Aal. Having seen their leaders killed, the moredhel retreat, during which Narab kills Delekhan's son Moraeulf, fulfilling his plans for taking over the moredhel. Owyn is left alone with Pug, who reveals that since Owyn now knows about the Lifestone, Pug must ensure that the secret is safe and suggests that Owyn become one of his students at Stardock. Owyn laughs and replies that he's never wanted anything else.
Although the game was licensed from Raymond E. Feist, a long held myth was that the text and the story of the game were actually created by Feist himself. Feist states in his afterword to Krondor: The Betrayal that he was busy writing The King's Buccaneer during the game's production and that the plot, text, and new characters were created solely by designers Neal Hallford and John Cutter. Feist did have editorial final say on the game, but most of what Hallford and Cutter created was left intact.
The following commercial editions of the game have been released:
Contrary to popular belief, Vivendi Universal Games has stated that the game is not free to be redistributed by others.
Feist later wrote Krondor: The Betrayal , a novelization of the game and the first in a series of new Midkemia books called The Riftwar Legacy . Feist credited Hallford and Cutter as co-authors of the original story for Krondor: the Betrayal, and dedicated the book to both of them.
The game and book are set approximately halfway between A Darkness at Sethanon and Prince of the Blood . There are minor differences, such as Owyn's last name being Belefote rather than Beleforte and the towns of Tanneurs and Eggley are changed to Tannerus and Eggly, but the novel largely covers the main plot of the game accurately and ignores most of the sidequests.
The game first introduced Lysle Rigger, Jimmy the Hand's long lost twin brother as well as Kat and Abbot Graves, whose granddaughter was Katherine "Kitty" Graves. Both Lysle Rigger and Kitty Graves would play significant roles in Feist's Serpentwar novels.
Sales of the original 3½" floppy disk release were slow, leading Sierra to sell the Riftwar rights back to Raymond Feist, but the game became a hit when it was re-released on CD-ROM.
Pelit gave Betrayal at Krondor a 94% score, calling the game citing "the wonderful game system, lack of bugs, and the book-like atmosphere" and said "Krondor is as big a revolution in turn-based role-playing games as the Underworld s were in 3D role-playing games." [ citation needed ]Computer Gaming World in October 1993 called Krondor "a fantasy role-playing game unlike any other ... a new high-watermark in RPG design". While noting that the graphics "are not going to knock players out of their chairs", the magazine praised combat as "the best I've seen in a fantasy CRPG". It concluded that the game was "a rare gem ... and has set new standards for others to follow. For once, a game actually lives up to, even exceeds, its advance billing". A less enthusiastic review by Sandy Petersen appeared in November 1993 in Dragon magazine #199 in the "Eye of the Monitor" column, in which he gave the game two stars out of five. Though Petersen praised the graphics for being "well-rendered" at times and for its "rather entertaining plot", he chastised the gameplay for being slow and for subjecting the player to "dull maintenance activities", such as armor polishing, as well as quests that he found frustratingly hard to understand how to complete. Quandary gave it a 4.5/5 in its 1996 review, calling it "no ordinary role-playing game" with its "complex" immersive environment, traps, and riddles replacing "the usual pits and levers and rolling rocks that are more common in role-playing dungeons." They also called the strategic turn-based combat "very satisfying" though "it takes a little getting used to."
Betrayal at Krondor was named 1993's best role-playing game and overall "Game of the Year" by Computer Games Strategy Plus . 's Role-Playing Game of the Year award. The editors wrote that it "is the quintessential example of how a computer game should be built from a fantasy novel", stating that they thought it took the most creative risks while readers liked "its play value and non-linear story". The magazine ranked Krondor #43 on their list of the 150 best games of all time in the magazine's November 1996 Anniversary Edition. The magazine added the game to its Hall of Fame in 2001, saying that Krondor was the "first role-playing game to offer a 3D environment and...one of the first games to use digitized images effectively in the context of a role-playing game." In 1994, PC Gamer US named Betrayal at Krondor as the 31st best computer game ever. The editors hailed it as "a pivotal title in the evolution of role-playing games", praising its "interactive plot and characters that stir the emotions of the player." The magazine later included it on its 1997 "The Best 50 Games of All-Time" list. In 1998, PC Gamer US declared it the 44th-best computer game ever released, and the editors called it "a classic that will last through the ages."In June 1994 Betrayal at Krondor won Computer Gaming World