Ultima VII: The Black Gate Technical Documents

Ultima Aiera continues to bring us internal technical documents from the development of ORIGIN's iconic series, and this time we're treated to a window into some of the early design ideas behind Ultima VII: The Black Gate. Where else would you get these amazing character plot details for the city of Moonglow?
Observatory: Brion

Brion is a very idealistic individual, believing in any possibility. This is what lead him to study the heavens. However, this doesn't mean he's gullible. Brion is very friendly and usually offers information without hesitation. He's a bit of an eccentric and, before demonstrating his self-made orrey, he will show off a few trinkets, such as his cheese block carving of one of the moon's, his magnifying glass, his stain glass lenscoverzkaleidoscope for his big telescope, his kite, and his portable orrery. The last object is near completion, but he's short one crystal.

He will be so enthusiastic about the orrery that he will offer to sell it to the party. However, he needs the crystal. He will offer to reduce his price if the party will go to the tavern to see if any of the merchants/adventurers who usually supply him with the crystals are there.

If the party brings him the crystal, he will sell them the orrery at half price. In game terms, that is the only way to buy it, since it will remain incomplete otherwise.

If the Avatar mentions Zelda's name, Brion will seem uninterested.


Head: Rankin (F)

Rankin is a second level Fellowship member, and has the generic knowledge and attitudes attributed with such. However, on the surface, he acts very disarmingly. He is known for being open minded towards his organization, and often pretends to agree with sceptic's concerns. He has found that, quite often, this allays the suspicions of prospective members, who quickly grow to trust that he will help them if they have problems in the Fellowship. Of course, once they've joined, he employs the more traditional cult tactics to maintain their loyalty.

If the party mentions Balayna's accusations, he will deny them, calling her a disuniting troublemaker who does not belong in the Fellowship.

Clerk: Balayna (F)

Balayna is an ambitious first level member. As the branch clerk, her duties include recording observations as well as meeting minutes. She once heard Rankin admit concern for the Fellowship's dehumanization process in front of a potential member, and wonders if he has lost his faith in the inner Triad. (She didn't realize he was employing his usual tactic of "identify with the prospect and convince him you share his fears") She is waiting for the chance to tell another second level member, and hopes she will be rewarded with Rankin's position. Of course, if questioned, she will speak only of the positive aspects of the Fellowship, for she knows nothing else.

If the party tells/convinces her that they are Fellowship members, and she knows they are travelers, she will reveal her suspicions to them, hoping it will get to someone important.


Head: Nelson

Nelson is Brion's identical twin, not only in looks, but also in personality. He'll offer free reign of the library, but only after showing you his favorite trinkets: his bookstand with overhanging candleholder, his opened-book shaped table, his gold sheet (or perhaps blackrock?) bookmark, his serpentshaped hand-carved oak quill holder with matching letter opener, and his signed, first edition copy of Stranger in Strange Land, given to him by Lord British.

If the Avatar mentions Zelda's name, Nelson will reveal his attraction to her, tempered by her icy disposition. He will ask if Zelda finds him attractive and whether he should propose a date. If the Avatar responds affirmatively, he will thank the Avatar for the information. Otherwise, he will shrug, try to appear indifferent, and look gravely disappointed.

Adviser: Zelda

Zelda epitomizes the by-the-book, shhh, it-better-not-be-Iate librarian. Her first words to anyone state the rules and policies of the Lycaeum, and she continually interjects them into follow-up sentences. The one -- and only -- way to change the subject is to mention Brion. Despite the personality differences, she is deeply attracted to him, but admits that she is afraid to approach him. If the party agrees to play Cupid, she will give them four gems (X-ray) that she once found in the basement of the Lycaeum.

If the party mentions Nelson, she will act surprised, and ask if he's attracted to her? If they respond that he is, she will shrug, saying that Nelson's not a bad second best. If they don't tell her he's interested, she will not be concerned.

Trainer: Jillian

Although friendly and polite, Jillian is far too involved in her studies for pleasant conversation. The only diversion for which she has time is to train party members. She is married to Effrem.


Once an adept magician, Mariah has lost not only her spell casting ability, but also much of her mental faculties. Nelson permits her to remain at the Lycaeum mainly out of pity and concern. She is allowed full use of the facilities, but Zelda keeps constant watch over her, for Mariah's well-being and the Lycaeum's! Mariah is actually harmless, and spends most of her time babbling about how pretty all the books and shelves are.
And these map sketches are nothing short of awesome.