Swords of Glass
Swords of Glass is a classic, some would say archaic, PC game from 1986 in which you explore dungeons and evolve characters as you search for the mythical Sword of Glass. By today's standards its wireframe walls and painfully simplistic 3-color non-animated monsters are nothing short of laughable. Yet it has to be acknowledged that in this game lays the seed that grew into today's ubiquitous World of Warcraft. Just as in the online game you go on quests, fight monsters, buy and sell items in a store, learn about them in a temple, rest in a hotel, and in so doing evolve a character into either a warrior or a magician. Set the primitive graphics aside and you have a game that in many ways is every bit as entertaining as modern games.
My interest in Swords of Glass began in 1987 when I purchased and played it with my son. I can still feel the thrill of excitement when, after two months of painstaking effort, we finally surmounted the last obstacle and captured the Sword of Glass. We continued to explore the various dungeons in the game for months after that but in time, as always happens, interest faded. Decades passed and suddenly I found myself hip-deep in grandsons. Their appearance dredged up long forgotten memories of things I did with my son and one of those was Swords of Glass. Wondering if it was still available, an Internet search turned up an outstanding site by Dean Tersigni (The Glass Shrine) that provides unparalleled detail about the nature and history of the game, complete descriptions of the weapons, spells and potions, as well as descriptions of many of the monsters that inhabit the dungeons. Best of all he provides a free download of the game and a link to a site with a free DOS emulator program on which to run it. I heartily encourage anyone interested in Swords of Glass to visit his site.
Since Dean did such an outstanding job describing the game, I thought a page designed to help people play it would be appreciated. That's what the following page is about: providing maps of all the dungeons, pictures of the various monsters one is likely to encounter and a few suggestions on playing strategies.
Why should anyone want to play a PC game from the dark ages of computer gaming? There's always nostalgia value for those, like me, who cut their gaming teeth on this classic. It's also instructive to play the game many consider the prototype for World of Warcraft and similar games. Quite apart from these reasons is the fact is that this game is still both challenging and satisfying to play. No, it doesn't have the dazzling eye candy of today's games. But in the final analysis it's not a game's look that gets your heart pounding, it's the sense of danger when you've invested weeks or even month building up a character only to discover that you've gotten him a situation that may kill him and in so doing, loose all that invested time and effort. Jeopardy is what makes a great game, and in its own humble way Swords of Glass has it in abundance.
As for the graphics, in today's world they mine unintended humor in that even after playing for hours the ridiculously simple images still make smiling at them irresistible.
How to Get Started:
The following instructions are how I got Swords of Glass up and running on my computer. The only real trick is in setting up a DOS emulator on which to run the game. If you don't, the game will still run in Windows but the messages that appear on screen when you encounter an artifact, treasure or enemy flash on and off so fast you can't read them.
(For anyone who doesn't know what DOS is, it was what we used to run computers before Windows. It was a very simple text-based system, no pictures or icons. When you turned a computer on all you got was C:\ on the screen. To run a program you typed the program's name and hit return. Groups of related programs and data files were organized into subdirectories, similar in concept to folders. To open one you typed the subdirectories' name preceded by C:\ and hit enter. DOS wasn't much to look at but it got the job done. The great thing about it was that it didn't eat up much in the way of memory and ran blindingly fast even on the 1 megahertz and slower machines back then.)
Step 1 for Running the Game. Read all of Dean Tersigni's webpages dedicated to Swords of Glass (The Glass Shrine.)
Step 2. Download the free version of it available at the bottom of his home page. It ends up as a zipped icon on your desktop. Immediately under this is a link to a page where you can download the DOS emulator software. Get it as well.
Step 3. Download the copy of Doug O'Hara's Vault Editor program at the bottom of Dean's page about Cheating. It'll download as an icon on your desktop.
Step 4. Follow the instructions for installing the DOS emulator on your computer. I had a little trouble doing this so here's how I got everything running:
A. Click on the zipped Swords icon on your desktop and run the installation program. You want to click on the recommended "All Files" option. It'll create a new icon on your desktop.
B. Place your cursor on the Windows "Start" button and click on "My Computer."
C. In "My Computer", click on the "C" drive.
D. In "C", create a folder named "swords" and move all of the Swords of Glass files created in step "A" into it.
E. Move the Vault Editor program into the "swords" folder.
F. Move the DOS emulator icon from your desktop to the "C" drive, but not in the "swords" folder.
G. Click on the DOS emulator icon and install it on the same drive.
You're done and ready to play!
Starting the Game:
To start playing, double-click on the DOS icon created when the DOS emulator was installed. A window will appear with some text. The last line will be Z:\.
After this type: "mount c c:\ swords" without the quotes and hit enter. A line of text will appear followed by another Z:\. (The first time I tried this I got an error message. Nothing I did fixed it. The next day it worked perfectly and has ever since. I suspect my particular system required a reboot to get things settled.)
After this second Z:\ type "C:\" without the quotes and hit enter. A C:\ will appear.
Type "swords" after it, without quotes, and hit enter. The Swords of Glass cover page will open. Just press "enter" one more time and you are playing the game. You have to repeat the "mount C:\swords" command sequence every time you want to play the game. This reads like a lot of work to start but it really only takes two seconds. The game appears in a small screen. You can toggle between that and full screen and back again by simultaneously hitting the alt-enter keys.
Playing Swords of Glass:
Dean Tersigni has already done such a great job of describing game I won't waste time repeating it. What follows are maps and suggestions that will make playing it less frustrating.
The first question a player needs to ask him or herself is whether or not to cheat by using the suggestions Mr. Tersigni provides on his Cheating page. My answer to this question is YES! The reason I firmly believe that it's alright to cheat is that the game cheats too. There are traps scattered throughout the dungeons which, when you walk over them, permanently put you to sleep or paralyze you. No armour, spell, or potion can prevent it or cure it. There are no warnings for these traps. The argument could be made that this is part of the character building challenge and that every time you discover one you can note its location and avoid it next time. The problem with this argument is that in level eight, 60-percent of the dungeon changes every time you enter it. The location of these deadly traps are scrambled and no matter how many times you visit it you can never be sure if the next step you take will be your last. In short, the game has hidden traps that no matter how well prepared and protected you are they will kill you over and over again. I claim that if a game's written so that no amount of preparation and planning can protect you from dying, the game has been set up unfairly. Therefore a little cheating on a player's part is justified.
The next question is: "How much should you cheat?" As a minimum I believe that saving your character in a backup of the "People.dat" file is always justified.
The next step would be whether or not it's appropriate to use the maps of the dungeons you're about to see below on this page. Again, I say yes because they only represent a shortcut. You could sit down with a piece of graph paper and draw the maps yourself as you explore each dungeon. Using the ones I'm about to provide only saves a little time, ink and paper. Besides, one of the most frustrating aspects of the game is how easy it is to loose your orientation and get completely lost. This happens in part because the crude and limited representations of the dungeons do not provide the visual landmarks available in modern games to help you keep track of where you are. Using ready-made maps really isn't as helpful as they might initially seem because they don't tell you where treasures or artifacts are located or which rooms are filled with death. These you still have to discover for yourself.
Finally, you need to decide if you want to commit major cheating by using the Vault editor to almost instantly load up a character with endless wealth and weapons. Key to answering this question is how you prefer to play. If you are into character development, then I suggest no. Building a character from scratch is more challenging and rewarding if you have to struggle through the dungeons to collect wealth and weapons. If you just enjoy the simple pleasure of exploring and don't care for the work of character building then I recommend raiding the vault and getting on with your explorations. Be warned, though, that going this route still isn't a cake walk. It's going to take considerable character building anyway because you can't buy hit points, dexterity or intelligence, all of which are needed to use the best weapons and spells. (Note: Even using maximum vault editing for extreme cheating it still took me over a week to make it to level 8.)
Enough talk... let's take a look at the maps and see what some of the things you'll find there look like.
All of the maps on this page are shown in the same orientation as they appear in Swords of Glass: with north pointing up and west to the left. The dungeons are stacked on top of each other with level 1 at the top and located immediately below the text-based city in which you start the game. Each dungeon is 25 by 25 squares in size. If we assume a character stride of 3 feet, that gives each dungeon the dimensions of 75 by 75-feet. Not huge but believe me, that's plenty of room in which to get lost or horribly killed. The squares that make up each dungeon are laid out on a coordinate system with X=0 and Y=0 located on the upper left corner. The lowest right corner is X=24, Y=24. This is important to know because the mapa, pocomudar and mudar spells all use coordinates. Additionally, many messages tell you where treasures or weapons are located using this system. The "start" point where you enter the game is located at X=4, Y=19 near the lower left area of the map. There is another set of stairs that go down to level 2 in the upper right section of the map. The yellow square with an "E" inside it is an elevator. Pressing "A" leaves you on level 1, "B" takes you to 2, "C" to three and "D" to 4.
Be warned that ten percent of level one is in darkness, meaning that you won't be able to see anything.
A good way to use this and the following maps is to copy them into photo processing software like Photoshop, invert the colors so the dark areas or now white print them out on white cardstock. This provides a durable map on which you can make notes about what you discover.
Like all of the dungeons, level one is filled with many features and monsters. The following screen shots provide you with an idea of what you'll encounter.
Alchemist. Killing him awards you 95 experience points. The same image is used for a Robed Figure, 75 points. Many of the same images are used on different levels but given different names and experience point values.)
Brawler, 123 points (The same image is used for a cutthroat, who is worth 113 points.)
Bruiser, 93 points
Dog, 76 points (Also rodent, 33 points, and weasel, 56 points.)
Garter snake, 43 points (And rattle snake, 189 points.)
Hunter, 130 points
Roiling smoke, 89 points
Swarm of flies, 110 points (Also a swarm of Giant bees, 98 points.)
Swarm of gnats, 150 points
Ooze, 87 points
Insubstantial form, 140 points
There is also something called a Wispy shape, but I've never encountered it. The experience points are important because by collecting them you increase the level of your character and in so doing increase his strength, dexterity and intelligence.
Monsters aren't the only things you'll find.
Walking into stalactites can injure you if you don't have enough protection.
Statues usually give you the option off finding out where there is treasure or stairs.
Gargoyles, walking into one costs you a hit point. I haven't figured out how to kill one of these and indeed, it may not be possible.
Walk into a treasure and you walk away with gold. The lower the level or the harder it is to get to usually means there will be more gold in the chest. Sometime there is also a weapon or other artifact included. Again, the harder locations to get to usually mean the artifact will be more valuable and useful. Unfortunately, artifacts do not appear on the screen.)
Note: the screen-capture process I used unfortunately altered some of the colors in the images.
You can find a much more detailed map of level 1 on the Map page of Dean Tersigni's The Glass Shrine.
Level 2 has at least five places where as you walk over a certain spot the walls change. It's very disorienting. Here's what happens:
along a corredor..............................
when the walls..............................
change from this..............................
This may not be a bad thing in that it may make it easier for you to get where you want to go... or maybe not. The spots marked WCA, WCB, WCC, WCD and WCE are the locations I've found where the walls change. Spend enough time in this dungeon and I'm sure you find more.
The "UGK" and "RK" mean to use a green key or red key to unlock a door.
Here are few of the nasties you're likely to encounter in this dungeon:
Land shark, 290 points
Large cat, 324 points
Vampire bat, 324 points
Crocodile, 256 points
Back away from your monitor and look at the entire map rather than a small part of it and you'll see that the creators of Swords of Glass decided to have a little fun with the dungeon design. There's a vague outline of a smiling face in the layout of the walls. See it? The elevator is near the tip of his nose.
Many of the squares that are all doors make you dizzy when you walk in them because they spin you around so you're facing a different direction.
Golum, 314 points
Alligator, 275 points
Smog, 476 points
Crazed human, 286 points
Jelly fish, 286 points
Archer, 326 points
Giant ant, 246 points
Rhinoceros, 357 points
Magic user, I've never been able to kill one of these guys so I don't know what he's worth in experience points. What happened several times was that I was trapped in a room with only one door and the Magic user was on the other side. I couldn't hit him often enough with my axe to have any effect and the door prevented me from casting a spell at him. Three times I had to abandon a player because I was hopelessly trapped this way. The teleportation spells Devancer, Pocomudar or Mudar would be needed to escape situations such as this.
The three similar blocks of rooms at the top of the map are all nine-room puzzles with the clues in code. The two on the left require a green key to enter and the one on the middle-right requires a red ky. An Eye of Truth is needed to decypher the clues once you're inside.
I have spent hours working through the sets of clues provided to these puzzles and while I've been able to eliminate some of the rooms I've never managed to figure out solely from the clues where the treasures are. The problem is that each of the three puzzles have two doors with signs that say something like: "Either A is true or B is false." If other clues determine that this statement is false then there are so many ways it could be false that working through them all is impossible. Consider:
"Either A is true or B is false."
If this statement is false then there are five different ways it can be false:
Either A is true or B is true.
Either A is false or B is false.
A is true and B is false.
A is false and B is false.
A is true and B is true.
The instructions provided never clarify whether a statement like this can be made false by the falsity acting only on the true or false statements or if the overall statement can also be rendered false by the falsity acting on the "or" part of the statement by turning it into and "and." In this case the puzzle is logically underdefined and unsolvable. (There's probably some genius out there laughing at me right now for not being smart enough to solve these things.)
Even knowing where the treasure is doesn't help much. It's as if the game writers selected which rooms would be empty, have fire or treasure and wrote up the clues to be consistent with their locations, but never examined the clues to make sure the treasure could be found using them. For these reasons I consider these puzzles unfair. Anyone sharing this opinion can scroll down to the bottom of this page where I've posted the rooms where the treasure is located.
Another thing that's unfair about these puzzles is that considering how hard they are it's disappointing that all you get from solving them is gold, not artifacts.
One positive note is that if you boost your defense up to above 500 the rooms with fire I visited only nail you for 46 hit points. If you have enough to survive this and a cure potion or spell you can recover and continue treasure hunting.
There must be a way to get down to level 5 from level 4 but I've never discovered where it is.
Mosquito, 422 points
King cobra, 345 points
Squid, 324 points
Giant spider, 342 points
Dragon larva, 356 points
Rabbit, 459 points
Giant ameba, 579 points
No-see-ums, 187 points
Cougar, 524 points
Scorpion, 487 points
A final warning about level 4, there are many pits with poisoned spikes in them that impale you. (I hate it when that happens.)
The WC refers to a spot where the walls change. The QS means quick sand. You can get out of it by throwing away almost everything you have. The small "rope up"
near the elevator suggests a way to get back up to level 4 but when I tried it the rope broke. When I visited the corresponding coordinates on level 4 there was no rope going down. The yellow square with an "E" in it on the right hand area of the map is an elevator going down. Pressing "A" takes you to level 5, "B" takes you to 6, "C" to 7 and "D" to 8.
Mutant, 324 points
Man-o-war, 436 points
Jack O' Lantern, 551 points
Walking tree, 589 points
Storm cloud, 746
Giraffe, 642 points
Killer weed, 546 points (There are also some Venus people plants on this level.)
Translucent image, 679 points
Rabid dog, 434 points
Giant scorpion, 654 points
Wise octopus, 624 points
Elusive archer, 359 points
Skeleton, 567 points
Albino tiger, 740 points
Lion, 702 points
Moving bones, 670 points
Killer weed, 1223 points (also the Venus people plant, 546 points)
Giant slime, 546 points
Leach, can't be killed. If you walk into it it'll make you sick.
Seasoned warrior, 1542 points
Foul smelling gas, 970 points
Wall spider, same as the leach. Some of these will get you even if you don't walk into them.
Kangaroo, 450 points
Pterodactyl, 1020 points
Sorcerer, 650 points
Level 8 is a nightmare because its map changes every time you enter it. The following six images of the area around the elevator show this:
I've visited this level dozens of times and never found the same layout duplicated. Evidently the creators of Swords of Glass added a randomness generator to the map algorithm for this level. As bad as this looks, there is some hope. Focus on the rooms immediately surrounding the elevator and you'll notice some of them are the same in all the pictures. Evidently some of the features on level 8 are constant while others vary. I made three complete maps of this dungeon and compared them to see which areas are always the same. In the map that follows the grey areas are those that are constant.
My recommendation would be only travel the constant areas, making notes about hazards and treasures. Hopefully all the good stuff is in this zone. Somewhere on this level is the Sword of Glass itself... good hunting!
Killer weed, 1223 points There are dozens of these things on this level. (also the Venus people plant, 546 points)
Teste flies, 1670 points
Lion, 702 points
Moving bones, 670 points
Yup, there are lots of leachs on this level... almost as many as there are wall spiders.
Seasoned warrior, 1542 points
Foul smelling gas, 970 points
Wall spider, same as the leach. Some of these will get you even if you don't walk into them.
Pterodactyl, 1020 points
Sorcerer, 650 points (Also Wizard apprentice, 2133 points)
Mutant cockroach, 2560 points
Were-rhinoceros, 2300 points
Rogue elephant, 972 points
Giant coral snake, 1982 (In some areas these things come at your three and four at a time.)
Tyrannosaurus, 2942 points
Furball with teeth, 457 points
Raunchy Giraffe, 632 points
Demon, 2349 points
Once I found a Jewel:
and was able to get it by walking into it. Unfortunately, I was horribly destroyed in a burning room before I could get back to the Temple to learn what it does. I found it in the changing area so unfortunately this indicates some of the better treasures are located in it. (Rats.)
A "diadem" is head armour slightly less powerful than a crown.
Many times I get a message saying: "You hear a hideous sucking sound." This is a sign that quicksand is close.
Avoid wasting spells and potions by driving strength beyond 100. It doesn't seem to matter and it's very common in level 6, 7 and especially 8 to hit areas were almost every step you take robs you of your strength. Using resources to keep strength up in the high hundreds quickly uses up those resources. An exception is when you venture in the lair of dragons. They take a lot of hits to kill so load up on the strength to around 400.
"Mapa" is almost as useful as a map because it tells you in which direction you are facing. This can be critical if you want to make sure you don't step in the wrong direction where a known trap exists.
Teleports sometimes go wrong and you get sent to an unknown location. This happens more often with pocomudar than mudar.
Devancer is the only teleport that works in level 8 and it's critical to have because using it is the only way to escape many of the traps on that level.
One of the great things about the teleport spells is that if they drop you into a room that normally has some sort of horrible death-dealing hazard, that hazard won't be activated. To do so you'd have to exit the room and then re-enter it. Unfortunately the same is true for any treasure in the room.
When using the Vault editing software, when changing the type, level or quantity of an item avoid deleting all the numbers in that box or you'll get a runtime error and the program will shut down. Instead, type the number you want after the existing number then delete the first number. Also, avoid entering numbers greater than 256. It doesn't like them. Finally, you can create items with levels of 20, 30 and higher. Some of these are great for building wealth quickly but be warned that the game sometimes acts up when it senses such high levels.
The elevator to Level 3 drops you off in a walled area that you can get out of but can't get back into unless you have a teleport spell so plan where you travel very carefully. There may be another way out of that level but I haven't found it yet.
Several doors in Level 8 warn you that you are about to enter a construction zone and a hard hat is required. If you don't have some sort of head protection you won't be allowed access. The problem is that on two occasions this ended up getting me trapped because I didn't have a helmet so I couldn't go forward and the way back out was blocked by some horrible beast that I couldn't defeat.
In Utility, Wait (set at 1500) determines how long in milliseconds a message remains on screen so it can be read. The default is 1.5 seconds. I've tried setting this to a very high number to make the messages remain on long enough to be read when running the game in Windows but it didn't help. That's because the highest number the software can accept only works out to 1/3-second on a 3GH machine.
In Utility, Quick Plot turns off and on the little overhead projection of where you are in a dungeon.
Also in Utility, if you are paralysed, hitting the "mons" letter many times may speed healing.
In the Vault, JDE Manptn is a potion that will revive a character named JDE. Changing the JDE to the name of one of your characters may enable this potion to revive him or her. All revival potions are named after the character they can revive.
(Note: the last four explanations were graciously provided by Dean Tersigni. Thanks Dean!)
These maps, monsters and hints may help you survive Swords of Glass should you attempt to play this classic game, but in this game there are no guarantees so beware! Also realize that there are many more villains to fear and treasures to discover than what's listed on this page. Most important, of course, is the great "Sword of Glass" itself.
I hope you found this page interesting and helpful. If you haven't yet visited his page, please be sure to check out Dean Tersigni's The Glass Shrine. My page wouldn't have been possible without Dean's and even after playing the game many hours I still refer to his outstanding pages.
Return to home page:
Super Cheating Hints Caution! Enter at your own risk. This page contains spoilers.
Scroll down to learn the rooms in the three puzzles on level 4 that have treasure.
First nine rooms on the far left: treasure is in room 7
Second nine rooms just to the right of the first nine-room puzzle: treasure is in room 8.
The third nine-room puzzle on the middle left: treasure is in room 2.