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This is a simple blog for my headcanon of the Ultima series. It's not meant to be interesting to a wide audience and I suspect it's ...

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Time Line and Time Loop


There's not a whole lot to explain about the original timeline of Ultima that can be learned in better detail from reading wikis and watching Spoony's Retrospective. Linguistic Dragon's Blog offers a perhaps the best synopsis of the series and eras within that I have ever read.

Seriously, stop reading. Read his. Bask in the glory. Come back if you have time.

I'll be here.


Hey, long time no see! No, I had the beard when you left, don't worry.

I hope you enjoyed it, but if you just skipped it and kept reading, here's the quick rundown.

Ultima 1-3 you are a stranger from earth (Depending on the version of the game). You save the world!

Ultima 4 You are declared the AVATAR! And you make the world safer.

Ultima 5 & 6 You make the world of Britannia a better place for everyone... committing accidental genocide is in there somewhere...

Ultima 7 The Guardian Appears! You thwart his plans!

Ultima Underworld 2 More Thwarting!

Ultima 7 Part 2 Yet more Thwarting! And you restore balance by patching up the serpent gods' breakup by Exodus. Once the band is back together-

Ultima 8 The guardian drops you into the conquered world of Pagan where you gather magic power to become the Titan of Ether!

Okay I'm going to stop there for a moment and just state...I have no clue why the guardian didn't just pinch the Avatar's little head off right there. Just, POP! I'm totally missing some lore here. The only thing I can come up with at this moment is the whole two sides of the same coin plot of Ultima 9. I know, I know, I'll work on it, but if anyone has some info on that I'd appreciate it.

Ultima 9 You return to Britannia. Titan of Ether no longer...for some reason. FINAL THWART! And you fuse your energy with the Guardian's with some special blend of the armageddon spell.

This is GROSSLY over-simplified, but if you see anything false here, please comment it. I'd like simple, not inaccurate.

That over with, time for -


The Time Loop

I love the Ultima series, I really do, but if you step back from it, there seems to be a bit of something out of order. I stated this in my Guardian origin post, the most powerful baddies are the 3 Original ones. Mondain, Minax, and Exodus. Sure the Guardian conquered worlds, be he did so away from the powers that could defeat him. He also had a lot of time, centuries even. where as the the first three games seem to span fifty years or so.

Somewhere along the way, and after the games were finished, game studios started doing something Hollywood caught onto pretty fast. They started remaking older games. At first it was simply updating graphics and re-mastering, but, especially around the time Squaresoft released a demo for a possible Final Fantasy remake, games started getting more than just facelifts.

What if I could pitch an Ultima Remake?

So I returned to that old nagging issue I had with the buildup of the Ultima series. The biggest baddies coming first, ending with the Guardian. He was powerful alright, but not world-wide reality-space/time-bending fusing-two-planets-together powerful. Compared to Minax, Mondain's apprentice, pulling down the moon is like the difference between splattering paint on a canvas verses Rembrandt.

If I were to reorder it someway, however, maybe it would work better, flow more smoothly. It really didn't take me long to find the perfect starting point.

In Ultima 4 you are drawn from Earth to Brittania. The world is new, the people are getting on the feet at the start of a new era. The land has been renamed with a nod to it's ruler, Lord British. The ancient wars of the three evils defeated by a legendary warrior. Now is the time to name an adventurer protector of the realm and paragon of the eight virtues.

Seriously, if there was a game that felt like the tutorial level for a modern game, it's 4.

No huge conflict, twisty plotline, or heavy feels. Just a journey of self exploration and the betterment of the world.

You learn what's great about the virtues in 4, then how they can be twisted in 5, and how even the best intentions can start wars in 6.

Ultima 7-9, you face the Guardian. At this point, if you haven't read my post on the Guardian's origin, I suggest you go check it out, because this next part isn't going to make much sense.

My theory is that the Guardian is an attempt at synthetically creating a god for the purposes of Mondain's hopeful ascension to cosmic power. He is imbued with powers of immortality, space and time manipulation, and interdimensional travel, but in the span of a god's eternal existence, he is still young. Powerful enough to enslave Britannia, but with possibly only one weakness. His origin point.

It is my theory, that at the end of Ultima 8,the Avatar, now harnessing the powers of the Titans, arrived back in Britannia too late. The Guardian had already won. But an opportunity for speculation came with the opening of Ultima 9. You appeared back on Earth and before the cataclysmic event that had wiped out a world (Possibly two since the Guardian did threaten Earth as well).

The answer could be as simple as time travel. The Time Lord has the ability to work with and see the fabric of time, but possibly didn't have the strength to fight the Guardian for control of it until the Avatar collected it on Pagan. With that amount of power, the Time Lord could gain ground and send the Avatar far enough back in time to face the Guardian as he first came through from the void in some kind of weakened state from travel. This gave the Avatar enough time and opportunity to defeat the guardian at a more vulnerable state.

But what about immortality? I like to think the Guardian wasn't destroyed. Banished maybe, or incapacitated, sure, but not killed. Just out of the way for the Time Lord to hurl the Avatar back in time again. Far back to face the three evils of the age of darkness.

To become the Legendary Hero the world needed in it's darkest hours. To put a stop to the Guardian before its genesis.


The beauty of changing the timeline around in this manner is that there isn't much to change. The Guardian's origins were somewhat thin in detail in the final game. There's a sizable hole between 8 and 9 that fills up quite nicely. And the first three Ultimas were not plot heavy. In fact, limitations of the time they were written pretty much forbade a complicated story.

There are no longer the same limitations so we are free to add in our own stories if given the chance.

The biggest change, I suppose, is simply the ending of Ultima 9. There are those who liked the idea of the Avatar Ascension into Godhood, but may I make just one last Observation about that particular plot point. Although it's layering headcanon on top of more headcanon driving the idea further away from the source material, what if the Avatar ascends following the defeat of Exodus, the god creating machine?

What powers would a machine capable of god creation be containing that the Avatar might require? That depends on whether the Avatar is successful in stopping the creation of the Guardian.

Now let THAT idea sink in, what if he FAILS. He's too late. He's not powerful enough, not virtuous enough, the entity that would become the Guardian slips away into the void through a vortex and out of reach.

Enter the Loop : The Avatar takes on the role of a god-like being and must seek out another hopeful soul of destiny. Another potential Avatar to send to Britannia to test their mettle by completing the Quest of the Avatar.

Ultima 4

- The Pitch -

To be completed if/after the rest of the headcanon is complete.

The Guardian's Origins (Formally Unrelated Headcanon)

Formally posted on the Ultima Dad blog, reposting here for the sake of keeping things together.

- Synopsis -

The Guardian is the main Antagonist working from behind the scenes in 7 & 8 and in person in Ultima 9. The official story of the Guardian's purpose and origins remain uncertain. In Ultima 4, as the player became the Avatar, an evil half of the character was separated and took on a life of its own. That evil half became the Guardian, which is why in Ultima 9 the Avatar is unable to destroy him.

This idea has inconsistencies, not surprising considering that 9 had some pretty glaring plot holes and, in my humble opinion, lazy writing. While it could simply be dismissed as a bad Superman 3 rip-off, there are other sources that conflict more...officially.

Ultima 7 part 2 contributed evidence the the guardian had been around since before the Avatar's quest. Also, and excerpt of the Ultima 9 hint book detailed Richard Garriott's original idea of the Guardian's origins being linked to the Gem of Immortality and the Shadow Lords of Ultima 5.

See the Wiki entry concerning the Guardian for more details.

Excitingly for myself, Richard Garriott's original story fell close to my own without my knowledge, somewhere between my idea and the canon presented in the final game. Even now, however, the idea that the Guardian's Origin was an unintended side effect of the destruction of first the gem and then the resulting creatures is, to myself, too flimsy. I've always enjoyed intelligent design gone wrong more than random happenstance. The mad scientist makes a more compelling story than the weird monster that resulted from radiation for some vague reason. And so I still enjoy my own explanation I came up with around the time of Ultima 8's release more than the official story. I hope you like it, and I hope I don't come off as egotistic...mostly.

- Headcanon -

To start, I'd like to discuss the three other biggest powerhouse baddies of magic: Mondain, Minax, and Exodus.

Mondain was the evil wizard who started it all. Master of life and death, he distilled his twisted magic into a gem that made him immortal. With this ability, his bid for power over the world was inevitable. With enough time, any challenges could be overcome and by the time an effective resistance was formed he effectively ruled over all. It  took several space battles, several odd moral compromises (Seriously, why did we rescue a princess from Lord British?!), and FREAKING TIME TRAVEL to stop him.

There are some seriously odd things going on here, but I actually just think the technology and space/time wibbly wobbliness has to do with the next boss, Minax.

Minax twisted space and time to create an Earth/Sosaria past/present/future hybrid. If that included the time of Mondain's reign, it's somewhat haphazardly explained. If the hero in the first game was running around a time blended Sosaria, Ultima 2 has him running around time bent Earth, and the two don't interfere. The hero wins the day again only to find out that there is one last trick up their collective sleeve: Exodus.

I have to stop a moment and wonder...why? What was the motivation to build a machine with the powers of life, death, space, and time. A computer mind powerful enough to enslave the earth serpent and threaten the world. 

The world wasn't enough, Mondain wanted to be ruler over multiple worlds, and the best way to achieve that is omnipotence. Mondain wanted to become a god.

I'm certain Minax wasn't %100 savvy of this, her rage fueled conquest over two worlds with her powers cost her the long play, Mondain's plan required time, waiting, and patience. I'm sure he would have warned his apprentice of doing anything foolish like conquering multiple planets, calling attention to Exodus, or leaving it vulnerable. Instead, some punk in a time machine stopped him from finishing his gem of immortality and then went on to slay Minax after she had a multidimensional temper tantrum. Oh SNAP! What's an artificial demon computer hybrid to do?

What it was designed to do, carry out it's directive. I don't think revenge was the true plot behind Exodus' motivation. From the perspective of the player, or even the denizens of Sosaria, that may be what it looks like, but we are talking about an evil computer intelligence. I can't imagine it having feelings of attachment to its creators. It was given its purpose, the death of its creators is an inconvenience, but Exodus was essentially a slave. A tool. It's goal wasn't conquest.


It had to follow its purpose, but its masters could no longer supply it with specimens. No more fuel. No protection. Only the directive. Only the single question its creator demanded it find an answer to: How could Mondain become a god?

It gathered, studied, and experimented with creatures and forces beyond the understanding of mortal beings. People disappeared, monstrosities were summoned, and finally it was close to an answer...

And then it shut down. It's work unfinished, untested, doomed to the abyss of the Sosarian sea...

Until it's final creation found its way home...and it rose from the depths to meet it.
I'll just let that sink in a bit...
Good? Excellent!

Let's face it, the Guardian is still a huge mystery. I believe Exodus created it within the void, a cosmic barrier serving as a sort of magical radiation containment. If the thing created exploded, no harm done. Exodus would experiment, test, and most likely destroy each iteration. Tossed as what it could learn from each subject dwindled. I say destroy, because anything within the realm of artificial deity is not something you want in existence long enough to become self aware.

Exodus's untimely shutdown probably left a very immature guardian fending for itself as it started it's slow trek through the multiverse. It would first learn about itself. What it could do, how it could survive. Then it would learn how far it could go and the amount of power it held over mortal beings. A slow process, one that took too long before finding his home world, now renamed Britannia, and protected from outsiders by the shrines or virtue.

The guardian focused on conquest of other worlds, gaining strength, power, and knowledge. All to pierce the veil of virtue, influence corrupt hearts, weaken the virtues, and disrupt the aether.

All to come home in Ultima 7. And at the time of his return, the Isle of Fire, containing the dark core of Exodus, rose from the sea once more. Erethian claims responsibility for the island's reappearance. He believed it necessary to study the core further in order to fuse it with Exodus' psyche. What kind of lunatic would want to restart the Armageddon machine? A Lunatic under it's spell.

- Changes -

While not a terrible shift from Richard Garriott's idea, this origin story is a huge change from canon. But the changes are from simple hand waves of "Because Magic Stuff" to a full plotline with mysteries, strategy, and motivations. And, to be honest, the motivation to discover one's own origin, to find one's way home, may have been an innocent life long motivator. The Guardian had nothing save for maybe other beings in the void or vortex to learn from. Good and Evil may not have been a priority lesson. Gaining power and strength could have been the only way to survive, and those instinct stay with someone raised in terrible situations.

I'm not entirely suggesting that The guardian could have been turned from the dark side. Just noting one thing. If you follow this head canon, born from 3 evil sources, thrust into the black, cut off from home. Evil my have been to only way to survive. The lessons learned from Ultima 6, and even the Wing Commander series, if you will, give credence to one idea. Being able to empathise with the bad guys makes a better story.

- The Pitch -

To be completed if/after the rest of the headcanon is complete.

Saturday, May 13, 2017


This is a simple blog for my headcanon of the Ultima series. It's not meant to be interesting to a wide audience and I suspect it's only use will be as fodder for DnD-like campaigns run by pie throwing enthusiasts.

On that note, SPLUT!- and well met, friends.

Nothing in this particular blog is going to be static. Over time entries will be updated as I get more of my ideas scooped out of my brain and organised.

Most posts will have their focus as the title and will be split into categories such as:

Synopsis - My understandings and observations of the subject. Please let me know if I get something factually wrong here!

Headcanon - How I think things worked out behind the scenes, between the lines, in between games, etc. Please send feedback, conflicts with source material, and your own ideas if you'd like.

Proposed Changes - Ideas I'd like to see added to, corrected, or stricken from the story. This is my playground. I don't expect anyone to take these entries too seriously as they would most likely only be used in the event I run an Ultima inspired tabletop RPG.

Pitch - This category might be used at some point in the future as a theoretical sales pitch to whomever hold the rights to Ultima (EA I believe, currently). This is how I'd sell the idea of a remake and/or reimagining of the game series.