Dino's Guide to The Savage Empire

Celebrating 21 Years

Fun

Contents

Easter Eggs

The Avatar's Companions

Three of the Avatar's companions from Britannia make an appearance in The Savage Empire, even though they are no longer their former selves. They are not Eodon natives, but arrived there long ago and adapted to the savage tribes. Similarly to the rest of the Ultima games, these three companions represent real people.

NameTribeUltima companionReal person
TrioloKurakIoloDavid Watson
DokrayPindiroDupreGreg Dykes
ShamuruBarakoShaminoRichard Garriott

Spector

Spector, who plays a key role in the game, is actually supposed to be Warren Spector, the man who came up with the idea for The Savage Empire, and who was behind great games such as Serpent Isle and Deus Ex. An interview with Warren Spector at Through the Looking Glass sheds some light on his involvement with the game as well as the in-game character that represents him.

Warren Spector speaks of his involvement with The Savage Empire: "...I came up with the idea for Savage Empire then passed it onto another producer. I had nothing to do with the game beyond the first 20-page design papers. That was kind of my baby."

Seggallion

Asking Seggallion about Origin
Asking Seggallion about Origin
A peek at Seggallion's raw dialogue
A peek at Seggallion's raw dialogue

Seggalion is located in a secret area of Eodon, accessible only by throwing an explosive over a chasm to knock down a great tree that serves as a bridge. With Seggalion you'll find lots of valuables and rifle bullets, as well as two entrances to the Myrmidex caves and the broken teleporter plate. He is recognisable as a recurring character in Origin games (i.e. Seggallion in Ultima 5 and 6 as well as Knights of Legend and Bad Blood; and Jack Segal in Martian Dreams), although the name is spelt differently here. He also serves as an in-game joke because you can ask him about Origin and the company's employees and games (according to the game's data files, the StrategyWiki page about the Myrmidex caves, and the Codex of Ultima Wisdom's Savage Empire page). In the game, Seggalion is not very socialble, as he is furtively looking for diamonds. The game does not explain how he got to the Valley of Eodon or why he suddenly has the appearance of a modern man.

SMB

The initials "SMB" in the caves map belong to Siobhan Beeman, who at the time was called Stephen Beeman and had a part in worldbuilding (including the caves).

Denys

Visiting Denys in his cave.
Visiting Denys in his cave.

Denys, an Urali outcast living in a cave southeast of the Yolaru village, is most likely an easter egg for Denis Loubet, who did the art for most (if not all) the Ultimas. The in-game character is a painter - clearly indicating a connection with Loubet's talent in art.

The Mystery Eohippus

A long time ago, someone told me about a special eohippus hiding in the unused gargoyle map from Ultima 6 (accessible only with MDHack), which had its own portrait and was supposed to be an Easter egg for Smith.

During my investigation of the Gold Falls Bug in July 2022, I did find the eohippus, but disproved the theory about the Easter egg. While the investigation contains all the details, here is a summary:

This eohippus has nothing whatsoever to do with Smith the Horse.

The Three Stooges

Moe Howard and Larry Fine of The Three Stooges appear as Disquiqui chieftain Chafblum and shaman Larrifin respectively. Chafblum responds to keywords related to The Three Stooges (see the Savage Empire transcript at The Codex of Ultima Wisdom).

Cleese

According to the Easter Eggs and Cultural References page at The Codex of Ultima Wisdom, the parrot Cleese is named after British comedy actor John Cleese, "who is famous for a skit involving a dead Norwegian Blue parrot".

Parrots

Cleese responding to "ultima" and "pizza"
Cleese responding to "ultima" and "pizza"

Parrots have a lot of insightful, fun and weird responses depending on what you ask them (the dialogue system on this site does not yet include all of them). Gallara Dragon points out that you can ask them about "Ultima", in which case they provide a reference to the famous Spam, Spam, Spam, Humbug cheat system from Ultima 6. I also noticed that you can ask parrots (including Cleese) about pizza, and it seems they don't like anchovies very much.

Nitpicks

The Savage Empire has an interesting and well-made story. However, Hacki's nitpicking community still managed to dig up some Savage Empire nitpicks. You can find them at Hacki's Ultima Page in English or in German.

Bugs

Gold Falls

When I first dropped the boulder on the Thunderer, the text "Eohippus falls" appeared. When I replayed the game to write the walkthrough in this guide and dropped the boulder on the Thunderer again, the text "Gold falls" appeared. It seems that some bug causes "[object] falls" to be written whenever that particular boulder falls.

This bug is actually described and/or recorded further at the following locations:

Apparently this bug causes the last party member to get stuck and omitted from the party. This can be solved by hex editing; see the 2018 GOG thread for details.

After a week-long investigation (9th July 2022), I managed to reproduce this bug and identify what triggers it.

Lost in the Grass

A more well-known bug is that if you try to leave the Myrmidex caves after having beaten the Great Drum, you will be stuck in an infinite, self-repeating grassland.

According to StrategyWiki's Savage Empire wiki (at "The Myrmidex caves") and The Codex of Ultima Wisdom (at "Bugs"), this bug happens anytime you exit the Myrmidex caves with a vine you never used to get in. Therefore you could run into this problem before beating the Great Drum, if you enter the Myrmidex caves via one hole and exit from another.

Entering Kotl with the Crystal Brain

In its list of Savage Empire bugs, the Codex of Ultima Wisdom claims that you can use the crystal brain instead of the giant gem in the gem holder on the Great Mesa to open the way to the Underground City of the Kotl.

I have tried this in both 1.6 and 2.1 versions of the game, and this does not seem to work.

Freeing Aiela Solo

As Mao Lim reported, if you open Aiela's cage while in solo mode, the game automatically enters combat mode, which you normally can't do in solo mode. Thus, you end up in a state where you can't break off combat (because you're in solo mode) but you can't switch to party mode or change your solo party member (because you're in combat mode).

I have confirmed this bug in both versions 1.6 and 2.1 of the game. It seems like the only way to get out of the state described above is to die.

Loving Tristia

In version 1.6 of the game, there is a bug in Tristia's dialogue which causes it to loop indefinitely. This has the following consequences:

This bug seems to have been caused by a missing keyword in Tristia's dialogue file, and was fixed in version 2.1 of the game.

Portraits

Aiela's portrait.
Aiela's portrait.
Kysstaa's portrait, with a blank line at the top.
Kysstaa's portrait, with a blank line at the top.

Some NPC portraits have an extra row of pixels, resulting in a blank line at the top when compared to other portraits. A video I recorded on 17th July 2022 demonstrates this.

I first noticed this glitch when extracting The Savage Empire portraits using Nuvie's tools. I initially thought it was a bug in the tools, but was later able to verify it in-game as well, as the video shows.

Most character portraits, when extracted using Nuvie's tools, have a size of 7878 bytes. However, a few have 7958 bytes instead, corresponding to the portraits with the extra row.

The affected portraits include:

Disappearing Items

If you leave items lying around, it's possible they might disappear. This is especially problematic with quest items whose loss may render the game unwinnable.

This problem also exists in Ulitma 6, and is carried over to The Savage Empire because it uses the same engine. This disappearance of items might possibly be some kind of cleanup routine.

Pulque Logical Error

Disquiqui tribesman goes nuts when asked about pulque
Disquiqui tribesman goes nuts when asked about pulque

Vulcan Dragon came across a bug in a dialogue while playing The Savage Empire, and asked about it on Twitter on 9th July 2023. If you talk to a generic Disquiqui tribesman and ask about pulque ("pulq" keyword), it shows the text "Try to print out a control char" twice, then "Logical error occured." [sic], and ends the conversation.

This bug has been seen in both versions 1.6 and 2.1 of The Savage Empire, and has no known tangible consequences.

External Links

More bugs can be found at:

Mysteries

Hardcoded text

The GAME.EXE file contains a lot of the written text you will see in the box at the bottom-right corner of the screen in the game. You can see this text by either opening the file in a hex editor (such as Irfanview, which is mainly an image viewer but can also read text and audio files, and has an in-built hex editor; or the DEBUG tool in the Windows command line), or renaming the file to .txt and opening it with Notepad. Opening the file reveals some things not encountered in the game:

Remnants of Ultima 6

The (messed up) Gargoyle Lands
The (messed up) Gargoyle Lands

Using the MDHack cheat, one can teleport to the Gargoyle Lands from Ultima 6. This area is unused in The Savage Empire, but still exists. Since all tiles were changed in The Savage Empire, it is obvious that an Ultima 6 map with Savage Empire tiles has to look like a mess.

The head section in the inventory is useless. You can't wear anything on your head in The Savage Empire. The Oddities in Savage Empire page at The Codex of Ultima Wisdom further elaborates that the footwear and ring inventory slots, as well as the intelligence attribute, also have no use in this game.

Cheating

Using a program called MDHack, you can activate the Alt codes or use the item creation cheat.

Finishing the Game Early

The normal way to finish the game is to unite the tribes and assault a weakened Myrmidex force. You can enter the Myrmidex caves before uniting the tribes, but the Myrmidex would easily overwhelm you.

Despite that, it is still possible to enter the Myrmidex caves early in the game and brute force your way through. In fact, this suggestion by Mao Lim is what led to my second speedrun. I later found that the same approach I used in this speedrun was mentioned a long time ago in a few different places:

For an early run of the Myrmidex caves, you'd best be well-prepared because the Myrmidex spawn in incredible numbers, and you have a long and arduous fight ahead of you. Here are some tips:

© by Daniel D'Agostino 2002-2024