Timing in the Temple of Elemental Evil

The Temple of Elemental Evil (video game)
The proper way to pronounce this title is as if "Elemental" only had one syllable. All at a rush. Don't ask me why this is. It just the way it is.

So I’ve gone back to playing Temple of Elemental Evil.  It’s for that age old, completely anal reason: I hate playing a game and not beating it.

Let’s take that a step further.  I hate owning a game and not beating it.  It feels like I wasted money, some how.

In any case, a little intro to the game might be in order, if not really necessary.  Temple of Elemental Evil is a Computer Role Playing Game (from here CRPG) in which a party of adventurers take on the evil forces located within the accused titled location.  The player creates said party and guides them through various traps, battles, and the occasional faking of courtships.

It’s… complicated.

As with any CRPG in which I can name the main leader character, I have myself a Cullen acting as avatar for me in the game world.  My companions include Quintis, a female Human Paladin; Lenore, a Half Elf Cleric; Penny Pure, a Halfling Thief; and Kyna, a Elf Wizard.

And no, that stench of uber-geek won’t wash off you.  It’ll fade after a while.  Just… just read up on sports, you’ll be fine.

You might notice that all four of my companions are female.  There is a reason for this.  A very sad, very pathetic reason for this.  I’m not telling you what it is.  But you probably can guess.

In any case, my party, for reasons obscure, head off to this moat house outside of town.  Rumor has it that there were bandits there and, worse, evil from the Temple of Elemental Evil.  Both prove all too true as my party is ruthlessly and repeatedly slaughtered by bandits, giant frogs, and a giant tick.

Yes.  A giant tick.

In due course, we beat back the evil horde and discover a passage further down.  Where we’re greeted by an Ogre.  An Ogre is a huge man-like creature that just loves to stomp on adventurers.  We outnumber it, we have nifty weapons and spells, and you’d think the Heavens on our side.

He kicks our tail.  Repeatedly.  It’s almost embarrassing.  But in time, we prevail.  Because anyone who can beat a giant tick can beat an Ogre.

In time.

Lots of time.

Further exploration follows.  We find another, secret exit from the moat  house.  And here I took a small break from being slaughtered.  Did a little this and that.  Listened to the music on my playlist.  Wrote gibberish.

Typical day’s work.

I return to the game, only I pause briefly to turn down the game’s sound track.  Not that there’s anything wrong with it, mind.  It’s just Little Lion Man had come up on my playlist and you don’t turn off Little Lion Man.  You just don’t.  It’s against the rules.

So I’m back in the game world, exploring beneath the moat house that already has contained so much death you’d really think my people would, I dunno, rebel at the notion of taking another step.  We stumble across stairs leading what looks like a small crypt.  Where you have the dead, you have Undead gnawing on them.  Specifically ghouls.  And while ghouls just wanna have fun, they wanna have fun without pesky adventures bothering them, mmkay?  Thanks.

Book cover, The Temple of Elemental Evil by Ga...
Never played the pen-and-paper version of this game. Wonder if I'd be eaten by frogs as much in it...

Now it’s in this battle with the ghouls that I become painfully aware of the failings of Temple of Elemental Evil over the other CRPGs I’ve played (specifically Baldur’s Gate).  In previous games, I could click on an area and my party would happily traipse over to where I want them.  Here there’s a very real danger that they will take a route completely and totally in the wrong direction.  At one point that left Cullen alone against, paralyzed, with only Penny Pure to protect him.  And while Penny has a lot of spunk, she’s a very little Halfling.  Tiny.  Frodo would tower over her.  Even if she saves me… Cullen… whatever, I’m not sure the shame that would cause would be worth living through.

But I’m fighting the good fight, hoping that Quintis and the others will finally get over to where I’m before I die for realsy.  As I do, I notice that, by coincidence, the music on my playlist has change to really striking music.  Action music.  Perfect for fighting the undead.

Then I recognize it.  It’s from the band known as Goblin.  Appropriate, no?  Considering I was playing a fantasy CRPG.

But wait, it gets better.  The song itself?  Was Zombi.  The theme music to the original Dawn of the Dead.

Sometimes in life we are given perfect moments, when things come together just right.  Moments that tickle.  Moments that make you think maybe, just maybe a higher power is at work.

Then the next song came up.  Finnegan’s Wake.  Not really what you want to listen to while being slaughtered by ghouls.  Or ticks.  Or giant frogs.


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