Spoiler warning! This section of the article contains spoilers, or hints about the game's storyline or progression.
You might want to skip down to the next heading if you do not want facts about the game's storyline or plot revealed to you.
In any fictional work where time travel is involved, it obviously makes sense from the point of view of the main character. It does not always makes sense from a strictly historical/chronological point of view, though.
Chronology of the First Age of Darkness
The player learns the events in Ultima 1 from the point of view of the time-traveling Stranger. Here, the same events are listed in historical order. As it can be seen, they still make perfect sense, without the need of any "change in the past".
The time of Mondain:
- Mondain created the Gem of Immortality.
- A time traveller (the Stranger) appeared, destroyed the Gem of Immortality and killed Mondain himself.
Between the death of Mondain and the arrival of the Stranger:
- Mondain's followers, creatures and beasts kept ravaging the lands of Sosaria for 1000 years.
- Eight princesses appeared; they are the only ones who know the secret of the time machine; they are imprisoned by eight different kings.
The time of the Stranger:
- Now that the time machine is a reality, Lord British summons the "Stranger from Another World", so that he can travel back in time and defeat Mondain.
- Mondain is nowhere to be found in present time; that's obvious, because he was killed 1000 years earlier.
- The Stranger completes eight quests given by the eight kings.
- The Stranger frees the eight princesses; as a reward, they reveal to the Stranger the location of the time machine.
- The Stranger gets in the time machine and leaves.
Apparent anachronisms in Ultima 1
The first two Ultima games were sometimes criticized for including several anachronisms. Nevertheless, the presence of time travel can explain most apparent anachronisms in any work of fiction, including Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness.
List of anachronisms:
- The time machine (including the four gems from it);
- The five weapons from the Pillars of the Argonauts (triangle sword, pistol, light saber, phaser, blaster);
- The laser-armed aircar;
- The space shuttle, the vacuum suit and the reflect suit (Richard Garriott said in an interview that he included space travel in Ultima 1 just because he had still some unused memory on the game disk; therefore, their importance must be minimal).
A further, 5th mystery is the reason for imprisoning the princesses.
Hypothesis for explanation
- The eight princesses are the only characters in Ultima who know the secret time machine;
- The eight princesses are not willing to tell such secret easily.
- The eight princesses came from the future of Ultima using the time machine.
Anachronisms and facts explained by the hypothesis:
- Possible reasons for imprisoning the princesses:
- 1. They could have started divulgating their superior technology, thus threatening the power of the kings;
- 2. Vice versa, they could have refused to tell their technological secrets to the kings;
- 3. Lord British needed to know the location of the time machine so to send the Stranger back in time and defeat Mondain.
- The kings took the four time-machine gems from the princesses they imprisoned.
- Laser-armed aircars are built using the technology learned (or extorted) from the princesses.
- The high-technology weapons were hidden by the princesses at the Pillars of the Argonauts.