Okay, so my party is complete. I have Spark, Shamino, Dupre, Sentri ('cuz he can train us for free), and Jaana (heals for free). I bumped into Tseramid by chance at the Bee Cave but turned him down because I don't feel like rounding up another set of armor.
I have to say, this game is a lot better than I expected or remember it being. Sure, the combat is pretty boring, but the rest of the RPG elements of the game more than make up for it. This is stunning for me. Normally I am a "gameplay is king" kind of guy, and if you show me a game where something other than pure gameplay is the centerpiece I probably won't be able to get into it. This is my problem with MMORPGs, as they tend to focus on the social aspect while the rest of the game is uninspired. But Ultima 7 rises above. I think it is because unlike MMORPGs, the lousy combat in Ultima 7 is not a center point. It is like the developers acknowledge the lack of depth to the combat, so they don't throw it at the player needlessly and they fill the majority of your game time up with what the game does best: crafting a great story and creating a living fantasy world. In MMORPGs, however, they shove the boring combat in your face every step of the way.
Regarding where I am in the game now: I am off to meet some wisps so they can clue me in onto the whereabouts of the Time Lord. Inventory space and management is the biggest problem I am up against in the game so far. I have TWO characters who carry nothing (aside from their equipment) but gold and Iolo carries nothing but food, yet I STILL am having space issues. Quite annoying. I can't imagine playing this with any smaller a party.
Do you get anything for solving the side quests in the game? I generally help the townsfolk solve any quests/mysteries in every town I stop off at, yet I don't think they have ever given me anything for it. The stories are fun enough that I will continue helping the folks out anyway.