Might and Magic Book One: The Secret of the Inner Sanctum (variously abbreviated to Might and Magic, Might and Magic I) is a role-playing game, the first title created and published by Jon Van Caneghem and New World Computing. Initially released for the Apple II in 1986. It is the first installment in the series.
Received positively in comparison to fellow RPGs on release for its large-scale game world and non-linear freedom of exploration, Might and Magic was ported to numerous platforms based on its popularity, remade for the Nintendo Entertainment System, and later re-released with special editions of Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven.
The premise of the game involves six adventurers embarking on a quest to locate the Inner Sanctum of the land of Varn, ending the reign of Sheltem, a tyrannical usurper, in the process. Its direct sequel is Might and Magic II: Gates to Another World.
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Gameplay begins by creating or choosing six characters to enter the world of VARN. Creating a character begins with the game rolling random numbers between 3 and 18 for each of the seven stats of the game, determining the classes that the character may become. The stats are:
- Intellect: A character's general knowledge. Of particular importance to sorcerers and archers, as it affects sorcerer spell points.
- Might: A character's strength. Of particular importance to knights and paladins, as it affects the damage done by a character in battle.
- Personality: A character's general charisma. Of particular importance to paladins and clerics, as it affects cleric spell points.
- Endurance: A character's stamina in battle. Of particular importance to knights and paladins, as it affects Hit Points (the amount of damage that can be sustained before death).
- Speed: A character's quickness and agility. Higher speeds increase a character's Armor Class. Speed also determines the order of combat during the battle, with the fastest character or monster going first.
- Accuracy: A character's ability to land a blow on the enemy during combat. Of particular importance to archers.
- Luck: A character's chance of succeeding, when all else fails. A random element whose effects cannot be predicted.
Once these attributes are decided, the player may choose for the character any one of six classes for which the character may qualify. Characters must have at least 12 points in the main attributes of a class in order to become that class. The classes are:
- Knight: Prime Statistic: Might. A knight begins with the greatest number of Hit Points and best all-around fighting skills of any character. He/she can use any weapon or item of armor, unless of opposite alignment or designed exclusively for another class. At higher experience levels a knight gains the ability to attack more than once in each combat round.
- Paladin: Prime Statistics: Might, Personality, Endurance. Spell skills: Clerical, at higher levels. A paladin can use any weapon or item of armor, unless of opposite alignment or designed exclusively for another class. General fighting skills are equal to an archer's except that a paladin cannot use missile weapons during hand-to-hand combat.
- Archer: Prime Statistics: Intellect, Accuracy. Spell skills: Sorcerer, at higher levels. An archer can use any weapon, unless of opposite alignment or designed exclusively for another class. An archer can wear only chain mail or lighter armor, and cannot carry a shield. An archer can use any missile weapon, even during hand-to-hand combat.
- Cleric: Prime Statistic: Personality. Spell skills: Clerical. A cleric can use chain mail or any lighter armor, and can carry a shield. Weapons are restricted to club, mace, flail, staff and/or great hammer. A cleric may not use missile weapons. At higher experience levels, a cleric gains the ability to use higher level spells.
- Sorcerer: Prime Statistic: Intellect. Spell skills: Sorcerer. A sorcerer may wear only padded armor and may not carry a shield. Weapons are limited to club, dagger and/or staff. As a sorcerer advances in experience level, he/she gains the ability to use more powerful, high level spells.
- Robber: Prime Statistic: None. A robber's armor is limited to ring mail and shield. Weapons include sling, crossbow and all one-handed weapons, such as a short sword or dagger. As experience levels increase, the robber increases his/her ability to pick locks and disarm traps. A robber's fighting abilities equal those of a cleric.
The player may then decide the race of the character, which can affect the stats of the character and affect their resistances to certain attacks. The races available are as follows:
- Human: Does not affect the attributes of a character. Humans have a strong resistance to fear, and some resistance to sleep spells.
- Elf: Increases Intellect and Accuracy by 1, while decreasing Might and Endurance by 1. Elves have a strong resistance to fear.
- Dwarf: Increases Endurance and Luck by 1, while decreasing Intellect and Speed by 1. Dwarves have some resistance to poison.
- Gnome: Increases Luck by 2, while decreasing Speed and Accuracy by 1. Gnomes have some resistance to magic spells.
- Half-Orc: Increases Might and Endurance by 1, while decreasing Personality, Intellect and Luck by 1. Half-Orcs have a moderate resistance to sleep spells.
The story of the first game concerns the adventures of a group of warriors who hail from the town of Sorpigal. The game consists of their traveling across VARN, trying to find out the source of all the chaos that has enveloped the land, eventually discovering that the apparent leader of the chaos is the king of Castle Alamar.
They manage to confront King Alamar, but discover it was a fake. In doing so, they discover the location of the real king, who gives them the ability to travel to the Astral Plane, where they overcome the traps of Sheltem, whom they rob of power to afflict VARN with his evil, though he manages to escape to the world of CRON.
The game setting is set in VARN (a biosphere on a spacecraft, the acronym stands for Vehicular Astropod Research Nacelle)
Might and Magic premiered to positive critical reception, with Compute! magazine praising its vast content and non-linear nature, while criticizing its lack of animated graphics. Dungeons & Dragons source material magazine Dragon lauded its scope in an initial review, remarking that it is "one of the top five games ever produced for a computer," and later awarding its Apple II incarnation 5 stars out of 5 (with the IBM, Macintosh II, Macintosh Plus and Sega Genesis ports receiving 5, 4½, 3½ and 5 stars respectively).
Computer Gaming World appreciated its expansiveness, though remarked on the contrast of early-game difficulty between ports (with initial versions equipping new party members with just clubs), later inundating it into the CGW Hall of Fame along with its 1996 descendant, Heroes of Might and Magic II. Gamasutra editor Matt Barton included the game and its legacy in his Golden Age column when documenting the history of CRPGs, praising the immense scope of its world and its pioneering involvement of player characters' race, gender and alignment into the gameplay. Good Old Games' Might and Magic 6-Pack, which includes Might and Magic, currently holds a 4½ out of 5 star rating based on over 1000 customer votes.
- ↑ Compute! - August 1987 issue, #87
- ↑ Dragon - June 1987 issue, #122
- ↑ Dragon - October 1987 issue, #126
- ↑ Dragon - April 1988 issue, #132
- ↑ Dragon - December 1988 issue, #140
- ↑ Dragon - November 1991 issue, #175
- ↑ Computer Gaming World - April 1987 issue
- ↑ CGW's Hall of Fame. Computer Gaming World staff - Mar 23, 2005
- ↑ Gamasutra - The History of Computer Role-Playing Games Part 2: The Golden Age (1985-1993)
- ↑ Might and Magic 6-Pack at Good Old Games