Instructions for

Dark Sceptre

Firebird, 1986

Written by Chris Owen, HTML'd by Arnt Gulbrandsen.


Keyboard, Kempston

Aim of the game

Tranquil year after tranquil year, the Islands of the Western Sea slumbered. Then, on the wings of a winter storm, came ships from the north, tossed and broken by the icy seas. The Lord of the Isles smiled upon the Northlanders, harboured them and gave them shelter. Then came the spring. The Lord of the Isles offered strong, oaken ships to the Northlanders, yet they chose not to leave, coveting the riches of the Western Isles. They drew their swords and demanded land to make homes upon. The Lord of the Isles smiled no longer. The Northlanders were too many for even his enchanted sword of lightning and dragonsfire to chasten. In secret, fearing more treachery, he gathered the finest smiths he could muster and bade them forge him a magical sceptre of terrible power. Five long years passed, during which the Northlanders grew in boldness and power. Then the Lord of the Isles summoned the Northlanders to attend his court. "By the Dark Powers", cried the Lord of the Isles, "Let the Hounds of Hell harry you to the end of time itself!" Upon his words, lightning leapt outwards from the sceptre, touching each one of the Northlanders with fire. One of the Northlander warlords, maddened with pain, leapt upon the rostrum where the Lord of the Isles stood. "Powers of Death, I call upon thee!", cried the Northlander. "Save us and we will serve you forever!". Now the darkness that had gathered around the sceptre twisted into long fingers that reached out to touch the burning, writhing Northlanders, soothing their pain yet at the same time causing their flesh to become shadowy and vague, glowing faintly like the embers of a fire. The Lord of the Isles had made a terrible mistake. Seeking to destroy the Northlanders, instead he had given them a strange and evil power. The sceptre had touched the Northlanders with its dark force. No more were they mere men; now they were Lords of the Shadow, gripped by evil and ruled by the Dark Sceptre that had created them The Isles of the Western Sea would know no peace until the Sceptre was destroyed and with it, the evil of the Shadow Lords.

Game play

You control a company of warriors, your task being to find and destroy the Dark Sceptre. When (if?) you find it, you must beware - its dark powers may destroy yoou if you have not taken the proper precautions. What those precautions are you will have to discover on your quest. To hinder you, the computer controls other companies of warriors. Most of these are neutral towards you but the Shadow Lords (coloured red) are implacable enemies. The other companies may become friends or enemies, depending on the events that take place during the game. You can recruit new members to your own company, but you can also lose warriors by desertion to other companies. The action takes place on the top three quarters of the screen, with the bottom quarter being given over to a status display. The features on this are, from left to right: 1) Control options - WATCH, SCAN, CHECK, PLAN and QUIT. 2) A scrolling map, showing a close-up of your warrior's position. 3) Your warrior's rank, location, object carried and the date. 4) A time-of-day indicator. The control options control the basic functions of the game: i) WATCH - Allows you to watch a fight. If you hear the sound of clashing metal, then one of your warriors is in battle. Select this option to WATCH the combat. ii) SCAN - Allows you to see a full map of the Isle. The positions of each of your (alive) warriors is shown in yellow. The white square indicates the position of the currently selected warrior. iii) CHECK - Allows you to check the personality of the current warrior and the last orders he was given. iv) PLAN - Allows you to plan your orders for the current warrior. A question and answer session happens in the viewing window until your orders are complete. If you select the GO TO command then the map will appear in the viewing window. You must move the cursor to the place that you want to go (you may only select junctions) and press fire.

PLAYING DARK SCEPTRE: All play in Dark Sceptre is indirect; like a true commander, you have no direct control over your warriors' movements. They use their own skills and personalities in carrying out your orders. Nonetheless, their strategic thinking is poor and without your commanding intelligence, they cannot complete their quest. You must choose your orders carefully, bearing in mind the nature and personality of the warrior in question. To give orders to a warrior, first get him in view. Then select PLAN - this enables you to "contact" the warrior. He will tell you his current orders and you can then change his orders or issue further ones. You can select from a large variety of orders, any of which can be given to any warrior. Some can only really be carried out by certain warriors, however; the magical orders, for instance, can only be carried out fully by those with magical powers.

THE ORDERS: There is a large number of orders available, which should fit virtually any situation you encounter: FOLLOW warrior - attach yourself to him as helper PROTECT warrior - attach yourself to him and guard him in battle STALK warrior - go wherever he goes, a few paces behind HARASS warrior - follow and get in his way as much as possible AVOID warrior * - stay out of his way FIND warrior * - find him and do no more KILL warrior * - find and kill him BEWITCH warrior * - find and magically turn him into your spy PETRIFY warrior * - find and magically turn him into stone CURSE warrior * - find and magically change good qualities to bad CHARM warrior * - find and magically recruit him to your company RELEASE warrior * - find and magically release him from the effects of bewitchment, petrification or cursing THREATEN warrior * - find and take what he carries by threat of force CHALLENGE warrior * - find and recruit him to your company by theat of force PERSUADE warrior * - find and recruit him to your company by persuasion BRIBE warrior * - find and recruit him to your company by gift JOIN warrior * - find him and join his company GIVE TO warrior * - find and give him what you carry BEFRIEND warrior * - find him and give him a message pledging friendship of your company to his INSULT warrior * - find him and give him a message ending any friendship of your company to his WAIT FOR warrior * - wait until he arrives AMBUSH warrior * - wait until he arrives and then attack him TRACK object - find it, do not take it, but follow it if it is taken elsewhere GUARD object - find it, do not take it, but let no others take it SEEK object - find it but do not take it TAKE object * - find it and take it but do not use force GRAB object * - find it and take it by force if necessary USE object * - find it, take it by force if necessary and use it BLOCK place - go to place, stay there and let none pass DEFEND place - go to place, stay there and let only friends pass WAIT AT place - go to place and wait there GO TO place - go to place ROAM - wander around at will WAIT - wait wherever you happen to be Where "warrior" is marked with an asterisk (*), the order can also be chosen to refer to "friends", "enemies" or "anyone". Where "object" is marked with an asterisk, the order can be chosen to refer to "anything". When an order has been completed, successfully or not, the warrior will automatically follow his next order; if he has no further orders, he will go into WAIT mode. Thralls are simple souls who can only remember one order at a time; other warriors can remember a number of orders.

RANKS: There are eight basic ranks of warrior - all have the same body (a programming cheat!) but can be distinguished by their headwear: THANE - Wears a crowned helmet. The commander; without a Thane, the members of your company are more likely to desert. MYSTIC - Wears a pointed wizard's mask. Possesses magical powers. HERALD - Wears a winged helmet. A messenger and a fighter. ASSASSIN - Wears a turban/headscarf. A hunter and a killer. REAPER - Wears a skull-faced mask. The executioner. Strikes fear into others. FOOL - Wears a crown. A charismatic talker, not as foolish as his name suggests. SAVAGE - Wears a wolf's head. The wild man of the woods, tough and resilient THRALL - Wears a cowl. An underling, a pawn. Being simple people, thralls do not have complex personalities - they are however numerous.

FRIENDS AND ENEMIES: Six other companies of warriors are at large. During PLAN mode, you can specify whether an order is to do with friends or enemies. The purpose of this is so that you can refer to friends or enemies in your orders without being long-winded. However, friendship pledged by a BEFRIEND order is different. If you attack a pledged friend, you will be marked for the rest of the game as treacherous and other companies will be wary of you. To avoid this, you must officially signal the end of the friendship with an INSULT. This may anger the offended party but you will still be regarded by others as an honest dealer. The BEWITCH order turns someone else's warrior into a spy for your company. Even so, he remains a member of the other company and behaves as such. You cannot give him orders but you can watch him as he goes on his travels and see what he does. This can be a valuable source of information. You can be kind to others in a number of ways - you can give them objects, send warriors to join their companies or simply pledge friendship. In return, they are likely to be kind to you. The motto is: scratch my back and I'll scratch yours for you. There are seven teams in total. Their colours are: UMBRARG'S (the Shadow Lords) - Red VERDAN'S - Green TYRIAN'S - Purple KUANO'S - Cyan AURIC'S - Yellow GRISUL'S - Grey YOUR OWN - White

USEFUL TIPS: Some (possibly) useful information: 1) Only Mystics can successfully CHARM, CURSE, BEWITCH or RELEASE. 2) You will hear the sounds of any fight which one of your warriors is involved in, even if it's off-screen. Pressing fire during WATCH will get you straight to the fight. 3) You will hear a snatch of music whenever any warrior changes sides, even if he's off-screen. Usually this will be someone joining your side; if you want to find out who it was, check on your warrior's orders. Warriors with orders you haven't given will be the new recruits. 4) Petrified warriors will not move off or take new orders. However, they will fight if forced to and can kill or be killed. 5) Warriors en garde are either in a fight or about to fight. They will ignore further orders until the fight is over. 6) No more than one fight is in progress at any one time. This allows you to keep a better eye on what's happening. 7) Warriors will chivalrously not attack a warrior who is already in a fight or waiting to fight. This sometimes means you can find a whole bunch of warriors standing by near a fight, all waiting their turn to try their luck! 8) The outcome of a fight depends entirely on the qualities of the two warriors. There is no random element. If both warriors have exactly the same fighting qualities, the attacker wins. 9) Just setting off to KILL ENEMY or GRAB DARK SCEPTRE without preparing the way first is simply suicidal!




% (CRASH #, month 198)


A little like LORDS OF MIDNIGHT, but with some huge and very nicely animated graphics. It's a neat game, even if a little too difficult...



Nettverksgruppa, 10/9-94,