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The Many Deaths of Lord British

Feature: You can't keep a good man down - but you can try

Richard Garriott's alter-ego Lord British has been appearing in his games since he launched his career with Akalabeth in 1980. The special thing about his in-game incarnations? They're indestructible. You can't kill them through conventional means.

Except gamers aren't very good at accepting the word 'can't'. Over the years, the kill-Lord-British phenomenon has evolved from canny players exploiting holes in the game's logic to game developers actively hiding murder methods for players to discover in an Easter Egg fashion. The Tabula Rasa 'Kill General British' mission is only the latest in a long and glorious history...

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Ultima I: Bored British
He's not indestructible - he's just really hard, with a mass of hit points and an array of guards. Try anything early in the game, and you'll be taken to pieces. But towards the end, when you've developed sufficient power, if you persist you should be able to wear him down.

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Ultima II: The Tedium Strikes back
Same as Ultima I, basically. Persistence is your cardinal virtue here.



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Ultima III: Cannonade Surprise
Yet again, Lord British's apparent indestructibility comes down to high stats. But even the Lord of a magical realm can't resist the wonders of technology. The item in question is the ship in the nearby harbour. Anger British to get him to the coastline, and then - making sure you have open water between you so he can't retaliate - open up with the cannons.

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Ultima IV: Magma Flow
Here British's indestructibility is ruptured by a mixture of cunning and incredible patience. Only a handful of spells can touch him. Filling the area with lava will damage him, albeit only slightly. Do it repeatedly and you can kill him. Quicker results can be had with the Skull of Mondain, which kills everything in the area... but such is its negative effect on your status that it makes the game almost impossible to complete.

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Ultima V: Time Kills
An easy one. The game is all about rescuing Lord British. Spend too long messing around, and eventually you'll be told of the great man's demise. What... I was meant to save you? Sorry, man: I was too busy baking this lovely bread.

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Ultima VI: Keg Party
There are a few neat ways around our target's borderline invulnerability in Ultima's sixth outing. Our favourite is the most industrious. Find kegs of gunpowder. Pack them all into Lord British's throne room. Ignite one, stand back and try not to get bits of Lord British all over yourself.

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Ultima VII: The Killing Joke
Here the true comic potential of offing British came into play. Every day at midday he would walk beneath the castle gate. Click on the gold plaque and it falls, hits him, and kills him. Rumour has it this was inspired by a real-life accident at Origin, where a metal bar fell on Garriott's head, requiring a quick trip to hospital.

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Ultima VIII: Abdication
Ultima VIII upset the fans. For one thing, it was released in a very buggy condition. By a complete coincidence, this was after Ultima developers Origin had been assimilated by Electronic Arts. Another reason the fans didn't like it was that it was set on the world of Pagan, not Britannia, so there was no Lord British to kill.

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