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Video Game: Ultima VII

"Avatar! Know that Britannia has entered into a new age of enlightenment! Know that the time has finally come for the one true Lord of Britannia to take His place at the head of His people! Under My guidance, Britannia will flourish. And all the people shall rejoice and pay homage to their new... Guardian. Know that you, too, shall kneel before Me, Avatar. You, too, shall soon acknowledge My authority - for I shall be your Companion... your Provider... and your Master! MUUUHAHAHAHAAAAA!!!"
-The Guardian

Ultima VII:The Black Gate is a PC game released in 1992 by Origin Systems. It is largely considered to be one of the best games in the Ultima series, and possibly, one of the best PC RPGs.

Ultima VII is the first game in the "Age of Armageddon" or the "Guardian Saga." Two-hundred Britannian years after the events of Ultima VI, the Avatar returns to Britannia through a mysterious red portal that s/he did not summon. The Avatar arrives in Trinsic, and finds Britannia in a state of peace - well, except for that string of brutal murders s/he just walked into! As the Avatar attempts to solve these mysteries, s/he gets to the root of Britannia's various problems - as well as their connection to the mysterious force calling itself "the Guardian."

Ultima VII later came with an expansion pack, Forge of Virtue. This added a new location, the Isle of Fire, to the map. Here, the Avatar could create the Black Sword as well as get rid of the core of Exodus, the Big Bad from the third game. A year later, a "sequel" was made in the form of Ultima VII Part II.

The original game was released for MS-DOS, and was never ported to any other contemporary operating system, particularly due to a unique memory management system that made it nigh unlaunchable even on Windows 95 machines. A fan-made engine called Exult makes it playable on most modern systems (and adds several gameplay enhancements such as on-screen life bars.) A not-at-all-very-good adaptation was produced for the Super Nintendo, which suffered greatly due to Nintendo of America's censorship policies of the time. This version was ported to the PSP in 2006. An updated version compatible with modern PCs was released by EA in 2011. It is also now available for everyone along with part two over at Good Old Games.


This game had examples of:

  • Affably Evil: The Guardian, who even tries to help you in the beginning of the game. He stops being so polite once his plans are foiled, however.
  • Alien Lunch: If you talk to the farmer about the spaceship in his field, he'll tell you that he ate its dead pilot.
  • All in a Row
  • Apocalypse How: The Armageddon spell kills everyone in the world but you, Batlin and Lord British. Lord British can call you out on this reckless act: (paraphrased) "You fool! Now we are all alone on this world! Britannia is ruined!"
  • Apocalyptic Log: The diary found in the tower in the center of Ambrosia Isle
  • An Interior Designer Is You: Yet again, you could set up in any old vacant house you chose. The furniture wasn't quite as easy to move around as it was in Ultima VI, though.
  • Anti-Magic:
    • The Tetrahedron Generator disrupts magic throughout the land, making it unpredictable and causing mages to go insane.
    • Blackrock can negate the effects of magic altogether.
    • Kissme the faerie also creates anti-magic dust.
  • Ascended Glitch: Smith gives you helpful hints... for Ultima VI and Martian Dreams.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Armageddon spell, which kills everyone except you, Lord British, the ferryman, and Batlin.
  • Berserk Button: Your entire party will turn on you if you kill Kissme the faerie.
  • Betting Mini-Game: The House of Games in Buccaneer's Den. One of the games is hilariously broken once you join the Fellowship. Joining ups your winning payout, which, on the rat race, goes up to 6 times your bet, with 4 options to bet on. This means you can consistently make half again on your original bet by betting on all four lanes. Using this loophole, it is possible to generate enough money to break the game engine, so that walls and scenery flicker on and off.
  • Brown Note: The Cube Generator's "security system" consists of a loud noise that does damage to your party.
  • Brutal Honesty: Parodied by Frank the Fox just outside Lycaeum, who proudly announces that he is a devout follower of Honesty, but actually does nothing but tell unpleasant things about other people.
  • Calvinball: "The Game", as played by the king's court fool. Solve it to win skill points and a clue to the main quest. The goal is to use no words but those that, when spake, need but one sound.
  • Chain of Deals: To reach the Time Lord you need help from the Wisps, who want Alagner's journal, who wants to know the secrets of Skara Brae, where they're having a bit of a lich problem...
  • Church of Happyology: The Fellowship
  • Copy Protection: In order to leave the first town, and to join the Fellowship, you have to answer questions about Britannian geography and herbology from the manual and from a map included as a feelie with the original game.
  • Costume Copycat: The impostor Avatar. Thankfully, you don't have to worry about him much because the Fellowship has already caught him.
  • Crap Saccharine World: Britannia is finally at peace...or is it?
  • Darker and Edgier: As well as Bloodier and Gorier (the Test of Courage has a room full of bloody corpses) and Hotter and Sexier (there's lots of sexual references, and there's actually a brothel). Surprisingly it's good.
  • Debug Room: Can be found through the Trinsic cheat. Stack a bunch of crates up to the roof of the blacksmith shop in the southwest corner of town, and climb on to the roof. Walk up to the chimney to a room with lots of goodies in it. Then walk to the north side of the room to be warped into the Debug Room.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Among other things, you can actually harvest wheat with a scythe, then mill it into flour, mix it with water pulled from a well (or any liquid, really) to make dough, and bake it into bread.
    • They clearly didn't think of everything. For example, you can set up a superb staircase made of wooden boxen in order to get to a bridge that connects two mountain lairs, but while you can get on the railing, you can't jump down on the crossing.
  • Dialogue Tree
  • Disc One Nuke: If you know where to look, you can get the best weapons and armor very early in the game.
    • Getting the magic carpet, which is not only free, but also allows you to travel almost anywhere.
    • If you have the Forge of Virtue add-on, going to the Isle of Fire as soon as it becomes available, which allows you to pick up the best weapon in the game, to raise your Dexterity and Intelligence to the cap without any training, and to raise your Strength to twice the cap without any training.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The three all-important generators that you need to destroy (and their Plot Couponus) are prisms in the shape of a circle, a triangle, and a square. Hmmm...
  • Dungeon Crawling
  • Dungeon Punk: In contrast with the Heroic Fantasy setting of earlier installments of the series, Britannia now has Renaissance-level technology. Industrialization, pollution, labor relations, homelessness, class struggle, racism, and drug use are recurring themes.
  • Easy Impersonation: Throughout the game, you hear stories of a con-man pretending to be the Avatar fleecing various people around the world. When you finally find him, you find that he looks nothing like any of the selectable Avatars...especially if your Avatar is female.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Guardian. Though he's not quite as scary as others.
  • Empathic Weapon: The Blackrock Sword only becomes usable after a demon is bound to it.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: The Emps are somewhat monkey-like.
  • Evil Gloating: The Guardian's monologue at the top of the page, which occurs before you even start the game.
  • Expansion Pack: The Forge of Virtue.
  • Fantastic Drug: Silver Serpent venom, which is used recreatively by a few NPCs, and to dope the Britannian Mining Company's labouring gargoyles.
  • Fantastic Racism: Between humans and gargoyles, picking up where Ultima VI left off. Gargoyles are used as nearly slaves by the Britannian Mining Company. The largest gargoyle settlement is on an inhospitable rocky island where Blackthorne's castle used to be, presumably because it was an open plot of land which nobody wanted.
  • Fetch Quest: The Prisms. And the Talismans in Forge of Virtue.
  • Flaming Sword: The Fire Sword
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: The Guardian introduces himself by sticking his head through your computer monitor, telling you how he's going to rule your life just as he rules Brittania.
  • Friend or Idol Decision: Happens at the very end of the game. You're given the choice of entering the eponymous Black Gate and returning home or blowing it up and preventing the Guardian from entering Britannia.
  • Funetik Aksent: The gypsies and Gorn.
  • Gay Option: In the bath houses at Buccaneer's Den, you can have an Optional Sexual Encounter with the hookers of the same sex.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Rated T despite having fully naked male and female characters (yes, fully detailed, though pixellated). The Avatar may also kill children in a graphic manner.
  • Global Currency: Gold coins
  • Healing Spring: Played with. Some heal you, others put a protection or invisibility spell on you. Other flat out poison you.
  • Hook Hand: Soon after arrival in Britannia, you find yourself looking for a man with one of these.
  • Hospital Surprise: What happens if the Avatar's HP drops to 0.
  • I Need You Stronger: Initially, the Guardian's voice chimes in with genuinely helpful (if imperious) advice ("Yes, Avatar, that is the correct direction to travel") and warnings if you do stuff that negatively affects your Karma Meter.
  • Infinity+1 Sword: The Blackrock Sword. Also counts as a Sword of Sidequest Advancement.
  • Isometric Projection
  • Karma Houdini: Batlin manages to escape at the end.
  • Karma Meter: Somewhat done away with here (which in itself is a good indicator that the world isn't as happy and peaceful as it claims to be). However, stealing or killing causes the civilians to call the guards on you. It may also cause your party members to leave or even attack you.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: The game gives you a lot of opportunities to do so. But beware, there ARE consequences if someone catches you!
  • Lethal Joke Item: The Hoe of Destruction. The farmer (Mack) who owns the hoe in question took his hoe to a mage to be enchanted at the same time a warrior brought his sword to the mage to be enchanted. The mage got mixed up due to the in-universe disturbance to the ether, creating a hoe of destruction and a sword of weedcutting. You never find the sword, but you can get the Hoe of Destruction.
    • Which is a Stealth Pun. It's implied the sword is the Grasscutter (aka the Kusanagi), a legendary Japanese weapon made for the goddess of the sun.
  • Lord British Postulate: In this game, you can kill Lord British by dropping a plaque on his head while he's walking around the courtyard. Rumor has it that it's based on a real event in which a metal bar fell out of the ceiling and whacked Richard Garriot on the head.
    • It's also worth mentioning that this is the only Ultima with two different ways to kill Lord British. The alternate method is more sinister. The Black Sword's special powers can kill him.
  • Love Interest: Nastassia for the male Avatar. Sadly, this storyline doesn't go beyond a short dialogue and you getting your First Kiss.
  • Made of Explodium: Blackrock when Rudyom's Wand is used on it.
  • Magic Carpet: Found outside the Dungeon Despise
  • Many Questions Fallacy: Batlin administers a personality test to supposedly determine whether you need the Fellowship's guidance. It's full of loaded questions of the "Have you stopped beating your wife?" variety.
  • The Maze: Several dungeons and the inside of the Cube Generator are this.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art
  • Minus World: The "land of the dead" where dead characters are sent. You can get there through the teleport cheat.
  • Money Spider: Largely averted, as most monsters don't drop money. However, certain ones (like dragons) may have gold nuggets or gems.
    • Gazers are literal money spiders, being spiderlike monsters that leave gold nuggets or stacks of coins instead of corpses.
  • Multiple Endings: Right at the end of the game, you get to choose between letting the Guardian take over Britannia and go back to your home dimension, or stopping his plans and abandoning any hope of you going back home.
  • Name of Cain: Caine, the alchemist in Skara Brae. He's a ghost who puts himself through a self-inflicted hell because he blames himself for the town's destruction. He also accidentally caused Batlin to turn evil.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: The gargoyles Foranamo and Anmanivas.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: If you give Alagner's notebook to the Wisps, The Guardian has Alagner killed.
  • Nietzsche Wannabe: Batlin's motivation, which you find out if you talk to him after casting the Armageddon spell.
  • Non Standard Gameover: The Armageddon spell.
  • Not in Front of the Parrot: Bopping a parrot on the head with a gavel will make them reveal the location of hidden treasure.
  • One Size Fits All
  • Optional Sexual Encounter: At the bathhouses in Buccaneer's Den.
  • Orcus on His Throne: The Guardian, though he does have an excuse. He's stuck in another dimension.
  • Organ Drops: Deer drop five legs (or are they just strips of meat? It's hard to tell!). Rabbits drop beef.
  • Pacifist Run: Can be completed with no fights whatsoever if you're Sequence Breaking. Even if you don't, there's only about two creatures that you absolutely have to kill. (One of them in the Expansion Pack).
  • Path of Inspiration: The Fellowship
  • Passion Play: A group of Fellowship minstrels outside of Trinsic will do one.
  • Power Glows: Most magic weapons glow, as does all magic armor.
  • Precision-Guided Boomerang: Magic Axes and Juggernaut Hammers, as well as regular boomerangs.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: A retired soldier in Jhelom sews as a hobby. He can sew you a new flag in one of the sidequests.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The demon inside the Blackrock Sword
  • Sealed Good in a Can: The Time Lord is imprisoned in the Shrine of Spirituality.
  • Secret Test of Character: Batlin gives you one if you ask him. It's a sham of course; either way, he suggests that you should join the Fellowship.
  • Sequence Breaking:
    • If you know where all the story items are, you don't have to bother with joining the Fellowship or getting Alagner's notebook.
    • You don't actually have to talk to the Time Lord first to free him.
    • If you have the Forge of Virtue add-on, it's possible to reach the Cube Generator without getting a Caddelite Helm.
    • When you talk to Penumbra, she will ask who sent you to see her, and you can answer Nicodemus or the Time Lord. Except there is nothing stopping you from seeing Penumbra before meeting either of those, and will probably truckle through her locked door puzzle for no other reason than the fact it's there.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Soul Jar: The Well of Souls
  • Stealth Run: The Invisibility spell is made for this.
  • Strange Syntax Speaker: The Emps and the Gargoyles.
  • Stylistic Suck: The Fellowship's Passion Play.
  • Sword of Plot Advancement: The Blackrock Sword is needed to complete the Test of Courage in the Forge of Virtue.
  • Take That: The Fellowship is supposedly a satire of Scientology as well as Electronic Arts, who were trying to buy out Origin at that time.
  • Take Your Time: The planetary alignment of course does not actually occur until you reach the chamber of the eponymous Black Gate.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: Kissme is an in-universe example. Your characters even find her cuteness rather annoying.
  • Tech Demo Game: This was the first ever game to require the (then) relatively new 486 processor (the predecessor to the first Pentium) rather than the older 386. It was the largest and most complex game that had ever been released, and had to use unorthodox memory management to get around DOS's limitations.
  • Thriving Ghost Town:
    • Britannian towns do not seem as heavily populated as they look.
    • A literal example of this is Skara Brae.
  • Treacherous Advisor: The Wisps
  • Truth Serum: The Cube Prism forces lying people to tell the truth.
  • Unobtanium: Caddelite and Blackrock
  • Unreliable Narrator: The description of the world in The Book of Fellowship (the game's manual) is written by Batlin, who has a very biased view of certain aspects of Britannian life and history.
  • Vendor Trash: Gold nuggets, gems, and Silver Serpent venom
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: There's plenty of opportunities in this game for Evil Avatars.
    • A particularly bizarre example regards the suicide of Owen the shipwright. After his death, you can resurrect him and have the exact same conversation, which will end with him killing himself again. You can do this as many times as you like.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Stealing, attacking innocents, joining the Fellowship and wasting wine by pouring it into the floor will trigger this reaction from the Avatar's companions.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: In this game, you directly feed the characters with a food item. How full the character is depends on what you feed them. Fruits and vegetables are hardly filling, and it won't be long until the character is hungry again. Meat and cheese, however, are very filling. Just watch out for the characters saying they're hungry when they're actually not.
  • Wide Open Sandbox
    • Quicksand Box: Can happen to you if it's your first time playing.
  • You Bastard: If you use the teleport cheat to access an otherwise unreachable room in the tip of a mountain range, you'll find Lord British, who will yell at you for cheating. He will also try to kill your entire party.
  • Your Cheating Heart:
    • Patterson, the mayor of Britannia, is cheating with the museum curator, Candice.
    • Also, the chaimbermaid Nell is cheating on her husband with none other than Lord British himself!
  • Your Costume Needs Work: You can have the Avatar try out for his/her own role at the theater in the town of Britannia...but no matter what you do, you'll get declined anyway.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The fate of Skara Brae, thought it's more of a localized Ghost Apocalypse. They all died at once too, no-one killed one another.


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alternative title(s): Ultima VII
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