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Dungeon Type: Cave
Associated Virtue: Compassion
Word of Power: VILIS

Despise, typically portrayed as a natural cave system, is a dungeon in the Serpent's Spine mountains north of Britain. As one of the eight greater dungeons of Britannia, it is the corresponding symbolic counterpart to the ideal of Compassion. Throughout its history, a number of artifacts relating to that particular virtue have been found within it.


Ultima IV[edit]

Main article: Despise (Ultima IV)

Despise came into being contemporaneously with the christening of Britannia, and was traversed by the Stranger in the course of questing toward Avatarhood. During the hero's explorations in this age, the dungeon contained the Yellow Stone of Compassion, in addition to numerous magical orbs that gifted those who touched them with supernaturally enhanced dexterity. At its lowest levels, it connected to the great Altar Rooms of Love, which interlinked it with the dungeons Covetous, Wrong and Hythloth.

Ultima V[edit]

Main article: Despise (Ultima V)

After the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom was taken from its seat in the Great Stygian Abyss, the Great Council placed a seal over Despise and its seven subterranean cousins, hoping to shield the surface world from the horrors that lay within. The influx of magic required in raising the Codex, however, had the unforeseen outcome of creating a vast and expansive Underworld beneath Britannia's soil, providing a haven for the selfsame evils the Council sought to banish.

After Blackthorn's rise to power, the members of the Council were criminalized, and suffered persecution at the hands of the Oppression. With those who knew how to unseal the dungeons forced into hiding, the returned Avatar had to search out the reclusive Annon, who knew the Word of Power that would reopen Despise: Vilis. Once armed with knowledge of this evocation, the hero could use the dungeon—also known in this era as the "Maze of Lost Souls"—as a means of reaching the Underworld below it, where the shipwrecked Ararat could be found, and its guilt-wracked Captain Johne recruited to the quest to restore Lord British to power.

Ultima VI[edit]

Main article: Despise (Ultima VI)

By the time of the Gargish conflict that came to define the Age of Enlightenment's twilight years, Despise had been opened to commercial mining, and supplied much of the gold used by Britannia's Royal Mint. In this era, the dungeon sat over-top one of the largest underground lakes in the world, and those who wished to explore it in search of treasure were well-advised to carry a skiff.

Ultima VII[edit]

Main article: Despise (Ultima VII)

As well as its traditional location in the northernmost reaches of the Serpent's Spine mountains, the cavernous Despise came to incorporate the dungeon historically known as Shame as its western region by the early Age of Armageddon. During this time, the extensive caverns were home to the rogue mage Selwyn and his band of rebels, who had also built a fortress atop the mountain range with the hopes of laying siege to Castle Britannia. More importantly, it housed the Guardian's Sphere Generator, which the Destructor of Worlds had used to create a temporal loop that he might imprison the meddlesome Time Lord.

While an assortment of spiders, gazers and trolls found their place in these caverns, Despise was also treacherous for its maze of locked doors, teleporters, false leads and dead ends. Many an adventurer had descended into the cave system never to return, having starved to death after becoming lost in its labyrinthine depths. Two missing persons, the monk Brother Wayne and the mage Garok Al-Mat, could each be found wandering disoriented within the dungeon and assisted to the outside world by the Avatar.

Ultima IX[edit]

Main article: Despise (Ultima IX)

In the years before the Great Cataclysm, Despise was largely fortified and converted into a walled dungeon. A mage by the name of Kiran saw fit to ensconce within his father's magic shield—an artifact that would lure many a treasure hunter to the former caverns.

At the dungeon's lowest depths, the Avatar would encounter former comrade, Iolo, who had been seduced by the power of the Guardian's nearby corrupting column, and would have to determine whether or not to kill the old man in battle.


The Ultima 6 Project[edit]

  • Adan: miner (deceased)
  • Sadon: thief (deceased)

Ultima VII[edit]

Ultima IX[edit]


Deep within the crags of the mountain range known as the Serpent's Spine lies the dungeon Despise. A seemingly featureless series of dank caverns, Despise houses a variety of fierce creatures that have strewn the bones of many an explorer throughout the underground. Thou must find the room of serpents in order to gain entrance to the Altar Room containing the yellow stone on the 5th Level. Care is of the utmost necessity on this level as there are many perilous traps scattered about. The bravest explorers can gain access to the Altar Room of Love if they persevere.
The cavern Despise is a featureless maze of twisty passages and dizzying corridors. Its entrance lies among the mist-shrouded mountains of the central Serpent's Spine.
The old mine still provides much of the gold for the mint in Britain, so be sure to take a pick and shovel if you go explore it. A good supply of weapons and armor wouldn't hurt either, as quite a few varieties of wild animals and monsters make their home in Despise.

Actually, if you can find a good spot to mine without going in very deep, you can avoid the worst of them. There is an underground lake down at the bottom that I hear may be the largest of its kind in the whole world. I haven't been down that far, nor would I care to carry a skiff such a distance. Such exertions are more properly undergone by warriors than a delicate soul such as myself.
- Mandrake

Do not even bother attempting this dungeon without the ability to unlock magic. Within the chambers, my companions found keys that helped to unlock some of the doors locked by more conventional means. Sadly, however, when I lost a few of my fellows in the dungeons, their keys were also lost. The corridors are filled with an assortment of nasty creatures: spiders, gazers, trolls and more. I found one room via a teleporter that provided me with a key. Oddly enough, I chose not to use the key on the door in the room, but to explore the formation of the walls. "Never choose the obvious," a friend once said. One wall turned out to be an illusion, and led to another set of teleporters. At the end of all that was a rather pleasant sum of treasure ... which I was forced to leave behind when the headlesses showed up. If thou dost find this loot, speak kindly of me in the taverns.

I remember seeing a few fountains, but I reflected upon the story of Fulgrihm and his search for the sacred Fountain of Wealth. If thou dost know the story of which I speak, and of his horrible death at the foot of a trapped fountain in Despise, thou wilt understand my disinterest in fountains of any kind.
A book I once read in the Lycaeum told of a magical flying carpet that was lost in the river area near the western entrance to Despise. Shouldst thou acquire this useful item, thy travel time would be lessened considerably.

Britain, the capital city, expands in all directions save one: towards the dungeon of Despise. Since time immemorial, this dungeon has drawn creatures fearful of the world above. Herein, their fears gather strength and force and are directed at all who dare to enter. The fearful beasts save special attention for the forces of light, for those who with a weakness for the truth. They must endure nasty traps, terrible pranks, and direct assaults as they search for the many treasures contained herein.
- from Journal (Ultima IX)


The cliffside entrance to Despise, as depicted in early Ultima IX concept art


  1. White, Robert. Ultima IX: Ascension Dungeons - Despise. May 2, 1995. Page 1.

Cities YewMinocSkara BraeBritainNew MaginciaMoonglowJhelomTrinsicMagincia
Castles Castle BritanniaEmpath AbbeyLycaeumSerpent's Hold
Towns BritannysBuccaneer's DenCoveDawnPawsTerfinVesper
Shrines CompassionHonestyHonorHumilityJusticeSacrificeValorSpiritualityShrine of the Codex
Dungeons The AbyssCovetousDeceitDespiseDestardDoomHythlothShameWrong
Lighthouses FogsbaneGreyhavenStormcrowWaveguide
Caves Ant MoundBee CaveBuccaneer's CaveCyclops CaveDesert DungeonHeftimus CaveHeroes' HoleMoonglow CatacombsSpirit TunnelsSpider CaveSwamp CaveVesper Mines
Islands AmbrosiaIsle of the AvatarDagger IsleDeadman's IslandIsle of Deeds
Isle of FireJanus IslandMarsor's IsleSpektranValarian IslandsValorian IslesVerity Isle
Lakes Lake GenerosityLock LakeLost Lake
Major Areas Bloody PlainsBog of DesolationBritanny BayCape of HeroesDeep ForestDrylandsFens of the DeadHigh SteppesLost Hope BayRealm of the GargoylesSerpent's SpineSpiritwoodUnderworld
Serpent Isle
Cities FawnMonitorMoonshade
Settlements Inn of the Sleeping BullIsles of the Mad MageMonk Isle
Dungeons SkullcrusherSpinebreakerFurnaceKnight's TestMountains of Freedom
Ruins Shamino's CastleCastle of the White DragonShrine of BalanceTemple of DisciplineTemple of EmotionTemple of EnthusiasmTemple of EthicalityTemple of LogicTemple of Tolerance
Islands ClawIsle of CryptsGwani Death TempleIce Dragon's Lair
Isles of the Mad MageMonk IslePenguin IslandSunrise Isle
Interesting Areas Gorlab SwampGreat Northern ForestIce PlainsKnight's ForestSerpent Isle Guard TowersWestern Forest
Settlements Argentrock IsleDaemon's CragTenebrae
Other Carthax LakeCatacombsCemeteryFishermen's ReefHall of the Mountain KingHerdsman's ValleyPlateauShrine of the Ancient OnesStone CoveTreasure CoveVengeance Bay