The vials of venom found throughout Britannia have advantages and side-effects much like those other characters warn of; the venom will affect your party's attributes by raising their Strength, Dexterity and Intelligence.
Each vial will raise all attributes by five and then subtract them by six (e.g. an 18/18/18 Avatar will become 17/17/17 at the end of the hour). The cap is 30/30/30, so there's no need for a highly leveled character (or a post-Forge of Virtue Avatar) taking venom.
After one in-game hour the poison will wear off; you will hear a noise somewhat like opening an inventory window and some of your party will comment that the drug user doesn't look too good. Their attributes will have come down to their previous value, but are now one point less per vial taken. Note that in the DOS original the Avatar's attributes will sometimes not come down at all.
However if you take five simultaneous shots that person's attributes will immediately plummet to 1/1/1 as soon as the venom wears off. This can also be achieved by taking a large number of simultaneous doses to eventually whittle them down to this level. It must be five or more; four simultaneous doses will only result in 6/6/6.
The original game had a bug where the attributes would roll over if they reached zero. If you are using Exult none of the following will work, you'll still only get a 1/1/1-stat character.
If you take another 5-vial overdose when the character's now-normal attributes are already low, his/her strength will be forced below zero and thus end up somewhere around 200-255, depending on the attributes he/she had to begin with and how many doses above five were taken once they reached the 1/1/1 margin. This is far more than the 30/30/30 cap training stops at, and even makes a 60/30/30 post-Forge of Virtue Avatar look like a weakling. Other attributes will be affected as well, but strength is the main one. Because of the attribute increase, the character's health points will leap to somewhere around 100-125.
Despite these positive results, drug use does have a downside; all healers will comment that the drug user is "badly wounded", even if the character isn't poisoned and has full health. After a healing, health points will lower to a negative value that is almost the exact opposite of their points before healing (for example 130 becomes -110). The game doesn't class them as dead, but they aren't living either; because they are at an in-between attributee they will be completely immobile. Moving around without them onscreen will cause immense slowdown.
Because of the complexity of fixing them once in this undead attributee it is best to not use healers on them at all, instead rely on amulets, bandages, potions, wells, etc.
- Joseph Morris' Further Drug Experiments, a study of venom's in-game effects
- Ultima Gameplay FAQ, explaining why the venom works this way
Un-virtuous, selfish thief (evil Avatar)
This part of the guide covers how to be an effective evil Avatar.
Iolo/Shamino/Dupre will sometimes say "Avatar?!" or "Is that virtuous?" if they notice you dropping a purloined item into your own inventory. After only noticing this a couple of times they will either call the guards and attack you or else walk off saying they don't socialise with thieves. Sometimes you'll have a chance to apologise to them, but not always.
The most important thing is to minimise observers. For example if you go into a house or a back room be sure to shut the doors, curtains and windows.
If you cannot do this (for example you are in a store while the owner is still awake) wait until they are a good distance away and their back is turned and then open your inventory. This pauses the game world and allows you to loot at your leisure.
Try not to move items around as this will often result in someone noticing your meddling; if you don't want to take it leave it where it is, and if you want it drop it straight into your inventory. If you grab an object by accident you can return it to where it was by attempting to drop it somewhere where it can't go, for example onto a wall or roof or in the water.
Be sure to have no open container obscuring the building's occupant; you need to be able to see them at all times, because when they say "Stop that, or else!" or similar it's time to stop looting.
Now you've dealt with observers, but if you bring your party inside with you they will also be observing! In Serpent Isle this is no problem as they have no qualms about you openly thieving, but it is not always so in The Black Gate. However they won't complain if they themselves are the thieves; therefore you should give nicked items to anyone but yourself. Try to rotate between the three of them so that they will always be used to the idea of stealing.
After an item has been in someone's inventory (not just in a barrel or crate on your ship or carriage) it becomes "yours" and can be freely moved and used without argument. However since you can't put chests, crates or barrels into your inventory without them being empty and having a lot of you cannot very easily "cleanse" them; therefore passersby will often say "Do not touch that!" if they catch you shifting them, even if you've had that container for hours and brought it from another town.
Thief and hypocrite
Sometimes it is hard to avoid party members leaving you. If they do and you can't convince them to re-join simply use your most powerful killing spell (Death Bolt works best but the Black Sword is also a possibility) and then resurrect them with whatever method. This will reset their guilt levels and they'll readily follow the dishonest Avatar once more. The other party members never seem to worry about the virtuousness of this particular action.
Theft in Britain
There are countless things to steal in Britain. Read the page on Stealing if you haven't already and make sure you're familiar with the techniques mentioned there, as for the sections below they'll be put into practise.
Robbing the bank
Follow the moneychanger home (she lives in a brick house diagonally above the bank). If she isn't asleep go and have a nap yourself, using either the sundial (near the shipbuilder's workplace) or the pocketwatch (if you got it back from Shamino) to judge how long to sleep. Then go in and kill her while she sleeps. Be sure to save before killing her, you may need to dismiss your party to avoid them turning on you. It is possible to kill her when she's awake or on duty but this is not recommended as there are likely more witnesses and she has a larger likelihood of calling for help. A blue potion will cause her to sleep on the job but it's just as easy to nap until she also goes to bed (that way you can save those blue potions for the dragons). If help does come merely cast Help yourself and return to finish the job.
Search her body and take the three keys, then rebuild your party (if you dismissed them to do the murder). If you have a carriage place her body on it (easier than constantly dragging it around) and then drive to the mint. The next part can be a little tricky.
- Go around the building to where her desk is and unlock the first two doors.
- Go into the second room. Wait until the guard goes into the first room and lock him in there.
- Clear out this and the next room, using the pocketing trick to make the gold "yours".
- Unlock the first door and dump the cleansed loot there (if you don't have room to carry it on you).
- Go into the third room and once again lock the guard out.
- Cleanse this loot too (if you can't carry it on you).
And that's it! Be sure to check the desks along the way as there's more loot inside them. Once again be sure to shut and lock doors behind you so the guards won't come in and discover you. If they see you stealing they'll attack without warning, so just cast Help and come straight back by which time they'll have forgotten all about it.
It's probably a good idea to have your bags mostly empty for this (or else bring a chest with you, the carriage helps with this) as there are a lot of heavy gold bars to carry. You don't have to take all the loot at once, you can return on successive nights to take more.
Anyway, when you've taken all you want you need to resurrect the moneychanger for those gold bars to be of any use. First of all go have a sleep to make it daytime again so that she will return to work instead of going back to bed. If you have Janna with you simply tell her to resurrect and she will be restored. If you have a Resurrect spell, use it. If all else fails drive the cart to Lord British's castle and dump the body in front of him, then ask for healing. Either way once she's alive follow her back and get her to exchange the money.
Note that if your party's inventory is mostly full any money that can't fit vanishes forever, so be sure to lighten your load sufficiently before exchanging. You may wish to save before exchanging, which allows you to use a calculator and Iolo's abacus to check if you got your money's worth.
NOTE: the key in the moneychanger's house also opens the Mint, but not all of its doors. You can use this to make a less tricky withdrawal, but you'll still need to kill her in order to get the rest.
Robbing the bakery
Simply wait until he goes home at night. There should be a tableload of edibles left over which you can pocket (thus making them yours) and then eat.
Robbing the potion shop
Wait until he's gone to bed and then go in and get them. You can also turn the light outside on (during the day) or off (at dusk) to entice him to come outside and correct it.
Keep in mind that the apothecary will buy up any vials of Silver Serpent Venom you happen to acquire, so be sure to grab and sell all you find.
Robbing the weapons dealer
Simply smash the glass countertops (probably without your party). Once you've done this you can return at your leisure and pocket anything you want as that will merely elicit a "Leave that be!" from the owner, rather than him calling the guards.
Robbing the jeweller
When he's gone to bed smash the countertop (probably without your party) and pocket the gems. Take only the gems, he won't buy any of the other items back from you. Then go and have a calculated nap and sell them back to him.