(This is part of my journey playing through Ultima VII. You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lane page.)
After watching that weird, weird passion play, my motley crew and I resume our journey north to Britain. We cross a swamp in the pouring rain, hoping that this skeleton wasn’t going to come alive and try to eat us or something. I wouldn’t be surprised in this game.
Wet, confused, and homesick, we stumble into the town of Paws (motto: “Woof! Good doggy!”) and run into the inn. Happy music plays as we shake off the rain and take in the cozy atmosphere. One of the things I’m coming to appreciate about this game is how all of the NPCs go about their business, talking and performing actions and walking around. It definitely feels more “alive” than some MMOs I’ve seen. As I stand there, the innkeeper comes out, puts food on the plates for two fellows, and watches as they eat.
Another thing I like about the game is how it handles conversations between you and NPCs. Basically, you start out with a limited number of topics (“job” and “name” usually), but as the NPC talks, more topics come up in conversation that you can ask about. For example, this shopkeeper gradually reveals that he’s a hard-working, lonely guy who pines after the innkeeper, has refused to join the Fellowship, and thinks that the town of Paws is for less-fortunate folk. He also mentions a recent theft of snake venom, which is I guess what gargoyles use.
Because he’s been so helpful, I do a little cupid work between him and the innkeeper, revealing to each other that they have a thing for each other. So they’re going to start courting, I guess, and I’m going back to 7th grade to trade more notes between classmates.
Paws is not a very big town — it’s a suburb of Britain, really — and it’s certainly quite poor. We’re stumbling over a few beggers as we go about (and yes, I donate). Probably the most interesting thing is the House of Items, a shop with toys and musical instruments in them. It’s a fun place to visit because practically everything you click on does something. The old shopkeeper was asleep when we came in, but she woke up long enough to talk, then closed the windows and went back to bed.
I close out my session by chatting up the dairy owner. He’s a cheerful lot and suggests that the victim of the theft — the slaughterhouse owner — might be hiding something. I noticed there was a locked room back there, I think that warrants closer investigation.