Temple of Apshai Trilogy, Curse of Ra
Level 2 - The Sphinx
I have finished creating the map of the second level of the "Curse of Ra." All fifty-two rooms have been numbered and accounted for on the map. All treasures and traps are marked on the map too.
On December 4, 2014, I posted the level 1 map, "Well of Forever," that was created from screenshots. I've been playing the second level of "Curse of Ra," off and on, since that time. I originally mapped this second level by hand, back in August of 2014 (when I mapped all of the "Curse of Ra" levels). Getting this latest map laid out exactly as I wanted took more time than I had expected. This wasn't because it was difficult to map, but because getting the layout with the treasures and map keys onto one overall map took some careful organization.
This map of level 2, "The Sphinx," is for the Atari 8-Bit "Temple of Apshai Trilogy" version of the game. Other computer systems can use this map too; the room layouts will be the same (or similar), but some treasures and traps may be in different areas.
By Geb's Beard, Where's Apshai?
In "The Sphinx," the adventurer is seeking another one of the legendary four treasures. Depending upon how you read the Prologue to "Curse of Ra," you're on one of two possible missions in this game. You are either seeking to collect the four treasures to prove that there is only One True God and that no Curse of Ra exists, or you are out to collect the four treasures to break the Curse of Ra. Either way, you're looking for the same four treasures. Here, you're seeking the "Ankh of Zukar" in the Sphinx in the Great Desert. As soon as you enter the Sphinx, you become trapped and the only way out is to find another exit.
Automated Simulations' mythology doesn't have a strong connection between "The Temple of Apshai" and "Curse of Ra." The feeble association is only described in the very short background story on page four of the "Curse of Ra" manual (but not included in the Trilogy manual). A book called "The Secrets of St. Gulik" mentions the Great Desert and the Curse of Ra. Unlike "Temple of Apshai" and "Upper Reaches of Apshai," there are no giant ants in "Curse of Ra," and certainly there is no scent of vanilla to go along with them. This third adventure has a very different feel from the other two games included in "Trilogy."
While playing "Curse of Ra," keep in mind that you're not exploring in Egypt, but a place that is inspired by it. The game's authors were probably just making this game up as they went along. While there is at least one mention of Egypt in the descriptions of level 3 (see the description of the Chariot Wheel treasure), the game's authors picked little details from different places to make their game sound interesting. They weren't worried about real-world consistency. This is great, because it gives me an opportunity; I can name the Sphinx that is explored. I've christened the huge statue, filled with monsters and treasures, as the Apshian Sphinx of the Great Desert. Naming the Sphinx statue after the Apshaians alludes to a deeper connection between the original game and this second expansion pack with Egyptian-themed levels.
I read about the Sphinx located in Egypt when looking for background material for level 2 of "Curse of Ra." I did this because I had hoped to find a quality picture of a Sphinx to include in this posting. I have always presumed that the Sphinx explored in this level is similar to the Great Sphinx of Giza, but this doesn't seem to be so. The Sphinx in this level has the head of a man, the body of a lion, and the wings of an eagle. There seem to be three main kinds of Sphinx. A few have some of these animal or human attributes, but I couldn't find an actual account of a Sphinx as it is described in "Curse of Ra."
Let all the talk of Egypt fall aside. We're looking for snatches of Apshai, which may exist in a world parallel to our own. Close your mind off to our own world as you explore "Curse of Ra," for our domain doesn't endure in the worlds of Apshai and Ra.
Move Along; There's No Back-Story Here
Other than what was provided in the prologue to the "Curse of Ra," there is absolutely no context provided for the Sphinx level in either the original "Dunjonquest: Curse or Ra" or the "Temple of Apshai Trilogy." I'm providing a background created by myself but based on the previous Apshai games, some details dropped like crumbs throughout the "Curse of Ra," and just plain made-up narrative. The following chronicle is of my own devising; it is not canon. Though it wouldn't pass the Automated Simulations or Epyx list of approved reading material, I hope that you'll find it interesting as an unofficial account that makes your exploration of "The Sphinx" more interesting.
Word spread quickly among the people of the desert when William Nailfoot found the legendary Glyphstone in the Well of Forever. Rumors sprouted immediately that this adventurer was someone who wasn't out to plunder the sacred places of the ancient people, but was instead searching for the four mythical treasures to break the Curse of Ra. People came searching for William to find the truth. Who was this man? Were the reports accurate that William had been seen weeks or months before, above the rediscovered Temple of Apshai? Was William related to Brian Hammerhand, the now legendary adventurer who had sought his fortune in Apshai and found it there? Was he out to loot, or was he helping the desperate peoples of the desert? Indeed, did William Nailfoot find the Glyphstone at all?
It was with all of these unanswered questions on his mind that a man, looking like a beggar, found William as he left the Inn. The man, in near-rags, approached William the Warrior (as many had begun to refer to him) and spoke to him quickly in an accent that the Warrior did not recognize.
"Sir, can you spare a moment?"
William was already reaching into his pocket for some coins to give to the vagabond.
"I do not seek your aid, at least not in coin," said the man. "I'd rather have some of your time, if you can spare it. I'm sure that some time spent now will save much of it later." A smile spread across the man's face, which William now saw was shaved and clean. No, he wasn't a beggar at all.
"I'm sure that I can spare a moment for the likes of you. Haven't I seen you around here before?" William asked.
"Oh, you surely have!" The man was surprised to learn that he had been remembered. "I sell trinkets at the market. My entire livelihood is made selling what others would throw away. My name is Nikolas. I've no surname, though many refer to me as the Junkman. I think it's meant as an offense, but I take pleasure in hearing it."
"Junkman, eh? I like it. I've no surname either, but I've acquired Nailfoot, after an unfortunate accident I had when walking on a dock. I've still got a scar. Curse that rusty nail! Lockjaw nearly killed me, but I've come back stronger than I ever was before." William grinned broadly as he remarked on the strength he'd gained through his many exploits, and now, here in the desert, continuing his adventures once again.
Nickolas motioned to William to approach him, which he did without fear. There was little crime here, despite the many wicked tales heard about the desert people. Besides, William had no doubt that he could protect himself from this small man.
The Junkman said, "It's commonly known that you found the Glyphstone. Do you still search for the other three treasures?" A look of surprise passed across William's deeply tanned face.
"And who says that I've found the Glyphstone?"
"Ah, well, everybody says so. Is it not true?"
"Nickolas, I've some bad news for you. 'Everybody' is wrong. I've not found anything called the Glyphstone. I've never heard of it before. Is it worth much?"
"Ah, I suppose it's wise to play as though you've never heard of it. I guess there are some people who might try to fetch it from you. I'm here for another reason. I've come across some 'junk' that just might interest you. That is, for a price."
The friendly smile that William wore broke. "So it comes down to money after all, hey, Junkman?"
"Not at all. I don't ask for your money, though others might ask a small fortune, or keep this information to themselves. I've got enough to get by. I ask you for your time, sir. And a promise." The Junkman eyed William now with a serious gaze, which turned into a stare which William could not break. Before William knew it, he was following Nickolas back into the inn.
The last clear memories that William had when he woke up the next morning in his room were a night of conversation, and drinking with the Junkman. Afterward, there had been laughing and women. Oh, the women! The more William tried to remember it all, though, the farther away it slipped. Finally, all he had left of the previous evening was a picture in his mind of the Sphinx, the Ankh of Zukar and a phrase that made no sense: "The Wrath of the Pharaohs obliges those who seek about it." William didn't know what to make of it.
The same morning, while buying last-minute supplies at the bazaar, William came upon the Junkman, who winked at him and said, "Today I feel that fortune will smile upon you, William Scarfoot." With that, he laughed deeply at his own joke and saw to a customer who was examining some of his trinkets.
Soon after, while William saddled his camel to head out to the Sphinx, the sky began to darken. On other mornings he'd wasted entire days waiting for skies that threatened of sandstorms to pass him over. This was one day that William would not allow to slip through his grasp. He felt as though today was more than just another day of exploring. Today might be a day of which legends are made!
How Do You Spell That?
The "Ankh of Zukar," found in the Sphinx in the Stone Cabinet (Treasure 7 in Room 42) is one of the four treasures required to break the Curse of Ra. The original Dunjonquest manual spells "Zukar" ending in either "or" or "ar." I choose to spell the treasure as "Zukar" when referring to it, unless I'm quoting the manual directly, in which case I defer to the manual's spelling.
For the first view of the Sphinx, I created a picture that a tourist might appreciate. It's an above-view layout of the Sphinx. It doesn't show the rooms, but it does allow the player to see that the level is actually shaped just like a Sphinx. For the colors, I made the bottom level (the legs and lower body) light gray. The second level (the middle and upper body) are a darker gray. The head of the Sphinx is the darkest gray. If you look at the head, you can make out where the ears and nose would be located.
I thought that if I overlapped the three levels of the Sphinx, it would match up and look correct, but it doesn't work out right. My failed attempt at an overview did come close to looking like the Sphinx, but it was just not accurate enough. In upcoming levels of "Curse of Ra" (specifically "The Pyramid" and "Temple of Ra"), there are descriptions of tunnels that twist as they descend and ascend. This means that where the player ends up may not be exactly above or below where he entered the tunnel. I took this into consideration and adjusted the map so that it looks good, or at least looks right to me.
I really like this overview of the Sphinx. It shows what I suspected all along (and why I created the overview to begin with): the person who designed the level probably created an outline of a Sphinx and then filled in rooms to make it function properly as a "dungeon" level.
The map of the "Sphinx" includes all of the room numbers, secret doors, entrances and exits. In addition, all of the treasures and traps in the level are marked among the 52 rooms. The map follows:
On the map is a list of the fourteen treasures available in the Sphinx. Next to each treasure, I have listed its location and value in silver pieces (SP).
There are two small changes that I made to the map of the main body of the Sphinx that required alterations to the screenshots. Room 10 is a hallway with a pivoting stone to the east. As you walk toward the pivoting stone you unexpectedly appear in the western half of Room 11 without even traveling the complete distance of the Room 10. The description of Room 11 gives no explanation of what occurred other than that you wonder "What happened?" There is no way back west and you're now in a room with no apparent exit and a fierce Monster to face.
I figure that either an error was made when programming the map and it was "fixed" with a short explanation in the manual, or it's that old magic of Apsahi working against you again. To make the map line-up correctly with the rest of the map, I had to shorten the length of Room 10 and I made Room 11 slightly smaller.
These are the fourteen treasures included in this level. Here is a picture of the screen after I've collected all of them and then returned to the inn:
Here are the "Curse of Ra" manual's descriptions of all the treasures found in "The Sphinx:"T01 - Quiver of Arrows
(0sp)(Room 4) A very old and dusty quiver filled with normal arrows lies near the upward-leading staircase.T02 - Herbs [Elixir]
(0sp)(Room 41 and 46) As you travel across the room, you chance upon some mysterious Egyptian herb in a pouch, which makes you feel wonderfully well. (When eaten, these herbs act exactly as healing elixirs.)T03 - Two Gold Coins
(20sp)(Room 33) As the panel shuts behind you, it hurls a pouch containing 2 gold pieces.T04 - Silver Tray and Pouch
(530sp)(Room 11) In a neat little pile, you find a silver offering tray and a pouch containing 3 gold pieces and 1 small ruby.T05 - Dagger and Gem
(340sp)(Room 48) On a dusty stone platform lie a silver dagger and a small sapphire.T06 - Jewelry
(200sp)(Room 21 and 22) A collection of gold and silver jewelry are found in the small and rotting wood chest.T07 - Cabinet Trove
(240sp)(Room 42) A small stone cabinet contains a sapphire Ankh of the Egyptian god of darkness, Zukar, 2 gold bracelets and a silver coin.T08 - Coins and Treasure
(410sp)(Room 51) Aha! A small diamond, 3 gold nuggets, 3 gold pieces, 100 silver pieces and a diamond ring.T09 - Coin Pouch
(480sp)(Room 13) A moldy pouch containing 2 platinum pieces, 8 gold pieces and 200 silver pieces.T10 - Gold Jackel
(1,800sp)(Room 52) Could it truly be???!!! Yes! It is a solid gold statue of a jackal.T11 - Clay Tablet
(0sp)(Room 9) In the corridor you find a clay tablet with cuneiform writing on it. Don't even ask! We don't read cuneiform either.T12 - Bronze Ladle
(5sp)(Room 18) Left over from the mysterious pot, you find a bronze ladle.T13 - Chariot Wheel
(7sp)(Room 28) Too bad, you have no use for this broken chariot wheel (except as a souvenir of your trip to Egypt).T14 - Mithril Dust
(0sp)(Room 20) Some dust sparkles of mithril. Deciding to see how long it will last, you apply it to some nearby shafts of rotting wood, and it turns them into magic arrows.
For those who would rather not look at the description-filled treasure list, here is concise listing of the treasures:
Level 2, "The Sphinx" Treasures
Treasure Overview (Listed by Treasure Type)Item Value Room(s)
T01 - Quiver of Arrows 0sp Room 4
T02 - Herbs 0sp Rooms 41, 46
T03 - 2 Gold Coins 20sp Room 33
T04 - Silver Tray and Pouch 530sp Room 11
T05 - Dagger and Sapphire 340sp Room 48
T06 - Jewelry 200sp Rooms 21, 22
T07 - Cabinet Trove (Ankh of Zukar) 240sp Room 42
T08 - Coins and More 410sp Room 51
T09 - Coin Pouch 480sp Room 13
T10 - Golden Jackal 1800sp Room 52
T11 - Clay Tablet 0sp Room 9
T12 - Bronze Ladle 5sp Room 18
T13 - Chariot Wheel 7sp Room 28
T14 - Mithril Dust (for magic arrows) 0sp Room 20
Treasure Overview (Listed by Treasure Room)Room 4 - T01 - Quiver of Arrows 0sp
Room 9 - T11 - Clay Tablet 0sp
Room 11 - T04 - Silver Tray and Pouch 530sp
Room 13 - T09 - Coin Pouch 480sp
Room 18 - T12 - Bronze Ladle 5sp
Room 20 - T14 - Mithril Dust (for magic arrows) 0sp
Room 21 - T06 - Jewelry 200sp
Room 22 - T06 - Jewelry 200sp
Room 28 - T13 - Chariot Wheel 7sp
Room 33 - T03 - 2 Gold Coins 20sp
Room 41 - T02 - Herbs 0sp
Room 42 - T07 - Cabinet Trove (with Ankh of Zukar) 240sp
Room 46 - T02 - Herbs 0sp
Room 48 - T05 - Dagger and Sapphire 340sp
Room 51 - T08 - Coins and More 410sp
Room 52 - T10 - Golden Jackal 1,800sp
Out, Damn'd Trap! Out, I Say!
There are seven kinds of trap in "The Sphinx," but the manual only gives descriptions of four of them. I created descriptions for the Cobra, Scorpions and Tarantula traps.Cave-In Trap
(Rooms 5 and 15) - One of the stone steps under you crumbles, causing you to fall flat on your face.Cobra "Trap"
(Rooms 13, 27 and 52) - With you in mind, the builders of this pyramid created crevices especially for Cobras. These nooks are not exactly traps, although you may find a Cobra willing to bite you to protect itself from being stepped on by a clumsy clod like yourself.Flame Trap
(Room 18) - Quickly and silently, a shape flies overhead and pours a pot of boiling oil upon you.Needle Trap
(Room 21) - As you rummage through the chest of jewelry, you prick your finger on a poisoned needle.Pit Trap (Room 20)
- Watch it! You almost fell out of the nostril! Luckily (?), your fall was stopped by a sharp spear sticking out from the side of the nostril.Scorpions "Trap"
(Rooms 32 and 46) - Most of the floor and walls are covered with Scorpions. They look quite upset with you and their tails are poised to sting. Watch your step!Tarantula "Trap"
(Rooms 7 and 10) - You've seen some giant spiders before, but this one Tarantula seems to have had a special home built for it. There have probably been generations of Tarantulas breeding here over the centuries, with each generation poised to bite the unwary adventurer.
Here are the traps listed by location:Room Description
Room 5 Cave-In Trap
Room 7 Tarantula "Trap"
Room 10 Tarantula "Trap"
Room 13 Cobra "Trap"
Room 15 Cave-In Trap
Room 18 Flame Trap
Room 20 Pit Trap
Room 21 Pit Trap
Room 27 Cobra "Trap"
Room 32 Scorpions "Trap"
Room 46 Scorpions "Trap"
Room 52 Cobra "Trap"Monster Listing
There are nine monsters in "The Sphinx." Four of the monsters are old favorites, and the following five are new to this level: Criosphinx, Gryphon, Lynx, Sphinx and Wild Camel. Here is a description of each of the baddies that will be encountered:Cobra
- This large, green or black snake flattens its head when angry. Its venomous bite can kill a man instantly.Criosphinx
- Similar to the Sphinx, the Criosphinx has the head of a ram instead of a human. While attacking, it is especially vicious, since it is able to attack simultaneously with its paws and sharp horns.Gryphon
- This type of creature has the head and wings of an eagle and torso of a lion. It loves to talk and will start up a conversation at the drop of a sword.Jackal
- This ferocious, dog-like creature scavenges the desert in search of dead or dying flesh to rip apart for its ravenous appetite.Lynx
- This intelligent creature of the cat family prefers an arid habitat. It has the stalking instincts of predator cats and the swiftness of a jaguar.Scorpions
- Relatively large insects with nasty stinging tails, Scorpions crawl upon their victims and deliver many injurious blows.Sphinx
- The Sphinx is a large creature with the head of a man, the body of a lion and the wings of an eagle. It is rumored that a human can pass one only after solving a difficult riddle.Tarantula
- This hairy spider is found in dank passages. Its sting is not deadly, but should nevertheless be avoided.Wild Camel
- Found exclusively in the desert, this typical, everyday Wild Camel kicks viciously with its sharp hooves.
I took screenshots of the Monsters that I encountered during the level and compiled a short bestiary, which can be seen here:
Seeking Two Legendary Treasures
When the Sphinx has been fully explored, half of the legendary treasures have been found. The latest acquisition is the "Ankh of Zukar." When you exit the Sphinx, you see that the sandstorm has lifted, and you've already got the Pyramid on your mind. You hope to find the magic crystal inside the Pyramid, but will you be able to come back from a place that so many others have failed to return from?
Special thanks to Chris++ for editing this posting for errors.