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I've been fooling around with this game for the last week. I did play it in the day (more than a decade ago), but had forgotten how horrendous the wandering monsters are. (e.g., you can finish one battle, be entirely depleted, and have another party of wandering monsters come up on you that are faster than you are). Turning difficulty down to novice doesn't help much with this. Is there some way to tone this down? Otherwise, going to have to give this game a failing grade with my old-man sensibilities... just am not willing to grind like I once was.
The difficulty won't change spawn rates.

You can't reduce the frequency of wandering monsters directly, but the first time through an area is usually the worst because there will be a large number of groups already present, along with any set-piece encounters. Subsequent visits will only generate the occasional replacement.

Using Camouflage to reduce their detection radius toward you, NOT using Light so as not to increase it, and applying detection spells so you can see where they are and how they're moving will also allow you to avoid some of them, as will sticking to the periphery of some road areas, which lets you duck into side areas and let them go by.
The X-ray spell should be up... shows the buggers as red dots on the map.
The Teleport spell can take alot of the walking out of the game as well but at the end of the day it's about building a party that doesn't need a rest after every battle.
^ This
And get a mod that makes them moving and attacking X times faster (for example from here: => patches & utilities => wiz8fast). Can't do anything with a spawn rate though unless you're willing to edit whole locations with Cosmic Forge, but I doubt that ;)
Post edited May 24, 2015 by Hemaka
OK, thanks. Maybe I'll play it occasionally or something, but it's hard to bother with a game that is 90% meaningless wandering monster fights. They don't even make any sense (Crimson Poppies allied with Highwaymen?) It's stupid.

I suppose I was newer to the genre the first time around and better able to bear the extraodinarily repetitive gameplay. Now it puts me to sleep (quite literally).

It's a shame, because in other ways I quite like Wizardry.
You don't necessarily have to fight every group of monsters. If there's enough room to move around, you can spend your entire turn running for 3-4 turns, which will generally cause the monsters to stop pursuing you and retreat. You may incur some damage during this time and your stamina will take a large hit, but you will very likely survive. You can also exit the zone during a fight, which will automatically stop combat (though it may resume when you reenter if the monsters haven't wandered off again). Just be careful not to get too close to any new wandering groups.

If you want or need to fight a group, consider wedging yourself into a corner. It's a somewhat counter-intuitive tactic, but it prevents the swarms of enemies from flanking your group and allows you to concentrate incoming hits on your high-AC characters. A regenerating Lord with a good shield as the only character in the front slot works wonders if you have several polearm users and spellcasters to support him. As a bonus, this strategy allows you to maximize the effectiveness of cone-shaped spells. Some of the more difficult areas in the early game like the Arnika Road are absolutely full of nice tight corners built specifically for this purpose.