Friday, 21 November 2014

The Aielund Saga Walkthrough Guide: Act One - Part I

The Aielund Saga Walkthrough Guide




   T h e  A i e l u n d  S a g a   
   A c t   O n e :  N a t u r e  A b h o r s  a  V a c u u m   

As of June 2017, this 34-part walkthrough has received 80,000 hits and lots of comments by players. Of interest to the readership, both the current authority (Balkoth) and the author himself (Savant) have left many insightful comments, too. So check out the comments section of each post! And here's to another decade of people playing and enjoying the Aielund Saga!

   I n t r o d u c t i o n   

Savant's award-winning Aielund Saga is an epic high fantasy D&D campaign consisting of four sprawling Acts, with Act IV broken up into three Parts. It is THE flagship heroic adventure for the NWN platform and a great showcase for community custom content. If you're just beginning to explore the jungle of NWN campaigns and adventures, I don't think there is a better introduction than the Aielund Saga, especially if you grew up with classics such as Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale

In the Kingdom of Aielund, trouble is brewing. While the king leads an army against enemies in the far west, the poorly-protected realm is under attack from brigands, goblinoids, and barbarians from the east. And rumors of a conspiracy are growing as the remaining military forces do little to stem the tide. Into this vacuum of power steps a small band of daring individuals, who must try to keep the region intact while tracking down the conspirators who seek to divide the land for themselves. - DM Savant.

I'm starting as a first level "sword n shield" Paladin (Human and obviously Lawful Good), initially with Power Attack and Cleave feats, and the Discipline skill with one point in Persuade. I'll probably be saving skills up until I'm ready to commit to something secondary (Update: I chose Tumble but I recommend Persuade, too). My intention is to branch into Fighter and Champion of Torm Prestige Class for maximum average damage and high survivability (ie, saves, AC), maturing the build by about twenty-first level, which I should reach by the time Act Four starts. I've never played a Paladin before, but was impressed by Aribeth in the OC and HotU. I'll be "role-playing" as a Paladin and always choosing Lawful and/or Good dialogue options whenever possible, even if they result in fewer or no material rewards. I will always choose Good over Lawful, however, because a Paladin is answerable to her God first, and Order/government second.
 
So, let's begin at the beginning, it's a good place to start. I'm standing in a warm and cozy room in the Bracksworth Inn - somewhere in the Aielund Kingdom. Rain can be heard outside, and distant sounds of thunder. In here is a chest and an armoire holding articles of clothing. As a Paladin I slip into the bamboo kimono, naturally! I mean, why not? I don't mind strange looks, and I'll swap it out for some real armor when I can afford some. Anyway, on the bed is a "Cushion of Considerable Comfort" where I can rest, but I'm restless because I've been lazing about in this Inn for the past week. Sure, it's raining cats and dogs outside; and sure, the town gates are closed. But there must be some work in town for a noble young Paladin such as myself, maybe the Innkeeper knows of something? Scooping up my 100 gold and then stepping out of my room, I find myself on the second floor of the Inn. The other rooms on this floor are locked, or, as a Paladin, I would at least assume so... Collecting myself, I head downstairs to the bustling common room.

Left: The bamboo Kimono. Right: The common room

Hearing that I'm trying to leave town, the Innkeep asks me to bring him a batch of ale from Culdeny brewery, in the north. But to do that, first I need to find the mayor to get permission to leave town. In the common room I spy two individuals who turn out to be honorable companions who are ready for recruitment at no charge: Dante Colt, a Chaotic Good Human Fighter (1) and Nellise Sanneman, a Lawful Good Aasimar Cleric (1).

This incredibly beautiful woman is obviously only partly human. She returns your inquiring gaze with a smile.

Unshaven, and apparently unwashed, this man seems to care little for social conventions but looks tough and ready for anything.


Long story short, Nellise wasn't needed on a royal expedition and Dante was kicked out of the ranger lodge, so both are happy to join up with me. Having no weapon at this stage, I relieve Dante of his great sword and equip him with his longbow.


I rather like this small town, the people here are friendly and helpful. - Nellise.


Dialogue with Merin. Note the STR check
Now, at least armed and with my companions in toe, we step outside the inn and into the pouring rain. Looking like drowned rats we scurry across to the mayor's office (opposite the inn), and here we're told we can't exactly leave due to floods and banditry - unless perhaps, we agree to help him with a personal problem. It seems a Halfling by the name of Merin is demanding 1,000 gold from the mayor or she'll oust him from office by discrediting him. I use a Lawful dialogue option in agreeing to help out (50 EXP).

Knocking on the door of Merin's unmarked home (small building between the tanner and smithy), she refuses to allow us entry. There are no Persuade checks here so we just bash down the door. Inside, I ask her for the documents using the Good dialogue option (50 EXP). When that doesn't work Dante threatens to smash in her annoying little face. Merin yields and points to the location of the documents but, as we move over to collect them, she and her stealthy associate attack us, and we are forced to kill them both. I loot their corpses of basic items, swipe Olaf's documents and 100 GP from a chest of drawers, and then return the documents to the mayor using Lawful dialogue (450 EXP, 75 GP).

Mayor Olaf Waynolds
The mayor now gives us permission to leave via the south gates, and also a Southgate pass to show the guard, asking us to deliver Requisition Forms to Highmarch. I guess the Innkeep's ale will have to wait...

First though, I head to the Half-orc smithy to purchase a Longsword, some armor and a shield. But he has no shields, and his stock is very limited. He asks us to bring him a node of iron, and we wonder how heavy that is as we accept the quest. Next, I head to the leather tanner and purchase Hard Leather Boots (+1 Discipline) and a Winter Cloak (Resist Cold 5/-). These are quite cheap and it isn't like there's much else to buy, so what the hell.

Wandering around town we come across a farmer and reluctantly accept his request to clear out a barn plagued by rats. We grimly butcher a dozen or so amidst the incessant clucking of chickens. I loot a Dire Rat corpse of its tail and give it to the farmer as proof the deed is done (100 EXP, 50 GP).

The farmer then tells us of an old man who also needs something cleared out of his barn, but all we find when we enter is a Shady Vagabond. I choose the Good over Lawful dialogue option and leave the squatter in peace (50 EXP), then tell the old man the noise he heard was "just the wind" (150 EXP, 20 GP).

Left: Frickin' chickens n rats Right: The Shady Vagabond

Level Up to 2!
I take my first level of Fighter, and the Weapon Focus: Longsword feat. Dante dips into Ranger here, and Nellise takes her second Cleric level.

In the Scribe's house we read a tome (50 EXP) and are assigned a quest we can't embark on just yet (The Tomb of the Exiled Knight). There is also a Grove here, but the rain-drenched Druid has no quests for us.

In the Paddocks there is an oddly mooing cow which we think deserves investigation. It turns out to be two men in costume attempting to catch a wolf. When the wolf actually appears, the two men run off in fear - still in the costume - and leave it for us to kill (100 EXP).

Is it just me, or does that cow there look a little... fake? - Nellise.

Uh, that cow right there doesn't look... real. - Dante.

Cow costume!

With the initial questing out of the way, we head through the south gate onto the southern highway.

Ah, the wind in our hair!

I have this horrible feeling we're being watched. - Nellise.

I don't mean to alarm you but... we're being hunted. - Dante.

We fight off wolves and come across the corpse of a dead guard, who was the mayor's last errand runner. We loot it for armor and a Guard Helm (+1 Discipline, -1 Listen).


I bet this is Olaf's last volunteer. Keep your eyes peeled and we won't end up like this guy. - Dante 

He was a brave man, trying to make the journey alone like that. - Nellise

Up ahead is another corpse and three chests surrounding a wagon, which we loot for +182 GP, a Raise Dead scroll, Gloves of the Tiger +1 (Monk only) and the blacksmith's iron node (weight = 100.5).


Looks like the wolves got this guy. Poor bastard. - Dante.

Alas for this simple merchant. May he rest in peace. - Nellise.

We keep heading south to the snowy Highmarch Foothills, where we encounter yet more wolf packs, and a wolf den packed full of wolves. Killing them all off we come out with 87 GP, a Wand of Magic Missiles and a Darkness spell. At a small bridge we confront an Alpha Wolf and are also flanked by yet more of the ravenous beasts. By the skin of our teeth we scrape through the encounter.

Wolf den

Out of breath, we arrive at Fort Highmarch and use Persuade to give the Requisition Forms to the Guard Captain (+200 GP, +200 EXP) who asks us if we encountered any trouble on the way, to which we respond "Wolves. Lots of Wolves".

Fort Highmarch

Level Up to 3!

I my second Fighter level for Dodge and Toughness feats: Paladin (1) / Fighter (2). Dante is now Fighter (2) / Ranger (1) and Nellise is Cleric (3).

The guard captain now asks us to deliver military documents to the mayor. We are then transported instantly back to Bracksworth.

Back in Bracksworth, I return the iron node to the Half-orc smithy using Good dialogue (350 EXP) and receive an Amulet of Natural Armor +1 as a reward. The smithy's inventory also expands, now offering a wide range of armors and weapons.

We deliver the military documents to the mayor (100 GP, 250 EXP). Judging us as quite capable of not getting killed, he then asks that we deal with the brigands and highwaymen blockading the north, including the leader, of whom he wants the head. He hands us a pass to the north gate.

The northern highway carves a path through a thickly wooded forest, wherein shadowy bandits lurk for sniping and sneak attacks.

Camouflaged bandits

Keep your eyes peeled here chief, bandits usually strike from the shadows. They don't have the guts to face us like REAL men. - Dante.

Dante Colt kicks some low-level ass here, inflicting a successive critical hit on a Cleave. Seconds later, both him and Nellise actually keep me alive against the Bandit Captain with spells and Healer's Kits, after which Dante steals from me the killing blow, then charges and crit-hits the bandit archer to end the fight. We loot the leader's corpse for 193 GP, a Ring of Protection +1, a Great Sword +1, Studded Leather Armor +1, and his ugly severed head. We loot the bandit campsite for the Bardic Slippers (+2 AC Dodge, +1 Perform), a Wand of Lesser Summoning, assorted spell scrolls (Grease, Knock and Melf's Acid Arrow), and misc. potions.

Dante steals my thunder!
Not once, but twice!

Heading to the northernmost part of the map, we bash through a makeshift barrier to cross a bridge leading to Culdeny.

Hard to believe a group of unwashed bandits could pose such a threat. - Nellise.

Those guys were really set up back there. Looks like they were in for the long stay. Until WE came along, that is! - Dante.

The trio arrive at Culdeny

What's this? You made it through the bandit blockade? Good for you! - Culdeny guard.

Ah, it is good to be back in Culdeny again. We should stop by the local chapterhouse at some point; I'd like to check in with the Priestess. - Nellise.

So far, the early questing, encounters and leveling pace are all pretty finely tuned. Mood and atmosphere are close to spot-on - rain, thunder and dark nights outside, with warm interior lighting in buildings. The day-night cycle is also a nice touch. I also like the flavor dialogue by the companions and the experience point bonuses for playing to alignment in dialogue. The writing is also good quality, and humorous. AI is superior to HotU, with companions using medkits mid-battle to stay alive, and overall I have more control of their tactics. This is because Savant has employed parts of Tony K's Henchman & AI mod.


33 comments:

  1. First of all (Magical Master here from the NWN boards) I'm thrilled to see this kind of write-up -- I worked with Savant extensively for updating the series a bit (and obviously I'm personally updating it again) so very curious to see what you think. And I'm sure you'll find a bunch of issues that I never stumbled across!

    "In the Paddocks there is an oddly mooing cow which we think deserves investigation"

    I've seen a fair number of people have an issue spotting it, which seemed odd to me. Did you have any trouble?

    "(similar to Tony K's, which this mod might actually use - I'm not sure)."

    It uses some of Tony K's AI improvements, yes.

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    1. Hi Balkoth, thanks for taking the time to comment!

      Yeah I love Aielund thus far, easily one of the best I've played for both NWN/NWN2.

      I only know of the cow from reading about it in the past, back when I dabbled with the module casually - only getting to Culdeny before quitting. So after reaching Culdeny, this is a blind play. I think the problem for new players is that this quest assumes you're keeping an eye on the feedback window to see the Henchmen comments, then repeatedly click the cow for dialogue to start up. And the cow does not actually look fake, at all. The quest is very easy to miss, imo.

      Good to hear that it uses Tony K's, but it would be sweet if spellcasters could cast specific spells during non-combat buffing instead of a whole battery of potentially useless ones, as even Deekin in Hordes could with Improved Invisibility and the like. Is this a limit for game balance reasons, or just too much work to implement/an oversight/bug?

      Anyway, good to read comments from someone with a deep knowledge of Aielund, keep em coming.

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    2. Yeah, it does assume you read the chat log or notice them saying something above their heads. Examining the cows helps too, but...yeah...new players often miss it. Pondering whether I should make it more obvious.

      I honestly have no idea on the AI thing, I didn't make the modules, but I'm guessing it was seen as more trouble than it's worth. Keep in mind that Deekin was a Bard and thus could spontaneously cast, while all of the Aielund companions memorize specific spells -- so if they have a useless spells then they already memorized it anyway.

      And changing that is a ton of work because it involves trying to fix Bioware's terrible spell selection which is hak work I think.

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  2. To clarify: if I make a level 15 wizard, I can make sure he has all good spells. If I make a level 1 wizard that has to be able to level, I cannot control all of his spells as he levels easily.

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    1. ok, thanks for the explanation.

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  3. Hello, Savant here. Loved reading your first play-through, it brought back a lot of memories! I do recall fiddling with the spellcasters quite a lot to get them working right, but settled on the versions you have seen already. Finicky working with nwn at the best of times ;)

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    1. Hi Savant, thanks for the kind comment!

      Please excuse my skeletal summaries of some of the heavier dialogue segments in your Saga (esp later on), if they come off as somewhat crude: it's difficult to do them justice in blogposts. >_>

      I've taken to posting screens of dialogue more often now, and just giving "the short of it" because, frankly, it consumes a lot of time playing it, recounting combat, story and chars, and listing like every piece of loot and EXP yield (I did that so this could sort of be a guide, too).

      Anyway, thanks again for taking the time to comment. I've really enjoyed recounting and don't feel burnout coming anytime soon, so it should now reach completion. ^_^

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    2. A wild Savant appears! Hope you're well.

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    3. I am, sir! I hope your revision of the saga goes well :)

      That's fine, Lilura, I wouldn't expect you to convey all those words. I consider the series a sort of interactive book, so I would expect you to trim it down a bit for your blog. I look forward to reading more of your adventure!

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    4. Well, it turns out apparently there's a lot more to do than I initially thought. I don't suppose you've ever heard that before, eh?

      How's the sixth book going?

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    5. You've got your work cut out for you mate, now you know why I don't have time to get it done ;)

      Just finished book 6 this weekend - going through the 2nd draft now and will have it released this month :)

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    6. I completely understand, after all once the 6th book is published your time is much better spent producing the next NWN modules of the Aielund Saga. I'll worry about polishing the old stuff, I'm good at the mechanical work, you're the creative genius!

      What's the best way (in terms of benefiting you) to buy that? Through what link(s) and what service?

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    7. Looks like there might be up to four ways to purchase it, when it comes out?

      http://www.stephenlnowland.com.au/index.php/books/the-aielund-saga/tas-book-6

      I'll probably go for something I can read on a smartphone.

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    8. Yeah, there's multiple ways, but clicking certain links can potentially benefit Savant more (like he gets more money from the sale or more advertising revenue or whatever) or certain platforms may get him more.

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    9. After book 6 I'll be doing the story that would have been done in nwn2 if the toolset hadn't sucked ;) But I won't be modding again, it's a massive timesink I I'm trying to earn a living here :D I'm actually getting my work looked at by a local publisher in the next few weeks too.

      I get pretty much the same revenue from any of these sources. Your best bet for getting a smartphone compatible version would be Smashwords, they have multiple formats to choose from. If your smartphone is an iPhone, you can also get them directly from itunes too.

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    10. Hi Savant, I have two questions:

      When was Aielund Saga for NWN actually released, and how long did you work on it? (The readme isn't dated and doesn't say).

      Which NWN modules influened your Saga, if any?

      Thank ye kindly.

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    11. I had started preparing the story before nwn came out, and started work on the first module within the week of the game's release. I don't recall the initial release date of the mod itself, but I think it was roughly 18 months later. At the time I hadn't planned for the series to go on for so long, but it lent itself to an epic story quite nicely :) No other modules influenced the story, though I did use scripts and such from other mods that I tried (I'm a terrible programmer and relied on others to do the grunt work!)

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    12. K, next NWN modules in Aielund series confirmed here, can't wait. Noted on the irrelevance of the source.

      Lilura, Act 4 didn't come out for a few years after the first three acts and Savant worked with a guy named Black Diamond on it. Can't answer the infancy part, though.

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    13. I have just finished "Aielund Saga" and want to use this space to thank Stephen L. Nowland for his grand work. I believe it may be THE BEST among epic, long scenarios for NWN created to date. In terms of complexity of the plot, believability and psychologically chiseled henchmen it is comparable only to "Dance with rogues" (I think of replaying it using e.g. female bard in order to interact with Robert -- an interesting personality). However, in terms of overall experience, the quality of language (after all, RPG should be like a novel), and meticulous aesthetic completness Aielund Saga is unrivaled and seemingly beats everything created for NWN so far (even HOTU). I really liked the fact you kept returning to same places and step by step sewed custom content into an epic experience (think of dwarven mines, spring that affects areas, creaking ships, snow-heavy forests with grand coniferous trees, deserts with oasis, cold and windy barbarian village, soaking wet Bracksford, long highways suitable for mounted travel, other realms etc.).

      One thing, but very technically, what I was lacking stems from limitations of the toolset. Sometimes, especially outdoors when I was walking up or down the hill I could not help an impression this is a world made of tiles and "levels" of terrain. Adam Miller in "Dreamcatcher" series tried to overcome this and managed to create steep hills, valleys seamlessly going up and down (did he use additional coding?). It is just a remark, after all Aielund offered something similar in places (e.g. a way to Culdeny where you meet Spartan --- the road descends towards the riverside quite naturally).

      I am looking forward for a new Aielund story Balkoth referred to... keep the community informed. Stephen, I don't know what your professional background is, but what is clearly visible in the Saga is that you made this game (don't call it a mod, with this amount of work it could be a standalone game on NWN engine) with passion. I wish you inexhaustible loads of artistic vision in the future.

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    14. Aielund Saga is the complete package, that's for sure.

      For epic campaigns of sweeping scope, it certainly beats Crimson Tides of Tethyr & Darkness Over Daggerford hands down (kicks 'em to the curb, actually); but, with only two parts of a projected five completed, Swordflight series is already shaping up to be a strong contender for the mantle.

      These all-encompassing creations demand more players!

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    15. Lilura I checked your posts about Swordflight and it seems to ba a bit... sandy and indoor:) What I really value in Aielund, among others, is the abundance of different landscapes (winter being my favourite!) and skies above your head.

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    16. Ok well, Swordflight Chapter One is set in the desert, but Swordflight Chapter Two has a lil' more variety (Undersea Ruins, Forest of Mir, Mountain Fort, Spider Swamp). I'm not sure where Chapter Three will be set. Apparently, the player faces obstacles en route to Candlekeep, which is a coastal area near Baldur's Gate on the Sword Coast, so I'm not sure if that means we're gonna be shipwrecked in some exotic locale and/or have pirate issues, or what. I guess we'll see! :)

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    17. Hello there, Ahti. Just wanted to give thanks for the exceptionally helpful Aielund download sequence - last time I tried, everything went to the Abyss in Cespanar's handcart! Seriously, I'm not at all tech-savvy, and a late bloomer in the D&D RPG garden (though I do have a DM manual - version 1 - from 1978, and could probably still get lead poisoning from my early heroes), so you've been invaluable. I joined the ECB Guild early on in my endeavours to play NwN decently, and they've all been crackers too. Thanks again!

      Btw, Baldur's is my natural stomping ground, so I like your blatherings thereon too!

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  4. Thank you Lilura for your installation how-to and guide. And, to Stephen Nowland...as someone old enough to play D&D when it first hit the shelf of a comic-book store, your Aielund Saga is the best of many good RPGs I've played on the PC. Skyrim...Pillars of Eternity...Dragon Age...Divinity Original Sin...all fun, all well done, but none have the magic and replay-value of your saga. Thank you! - Nanny

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  5. Hi, Lilura!

    Thank you very much for your walktrough, it's a sheer joy to read. I like your sometimes 'perky', sometimes heartwarming style of story-telling, level of details and useful notes. Actually it was so inspiring that it forced me to download The Aelund Saga immediately and to start playing the same build as yours (PAL/WAR/COT). Playtested this build in Infinite Dungeons first, found it a strong one!

    I have to change my so-so opinion about paladins in general about a year ago, when playing module series Twilight/Midnight. By the way, these ones are very clever designed and polished, and have tough fights as you like. You can truly see the full powers of a paladin there.

    Still play NWN modules from time to time. As for characters - in the past I used to stick with clerics, of course because they can buff and heal themselves and their comrades as well (save some money on potions).

    Have you checked Some Assembly Required, The Book of Shaddowe and Elegia Eternum/Excrucio Eternum modules? If no, I recommend them to you because they are my favourites and have a good replayability.

    P. S. > I apologize for not being word-perfect in English, I'm from Russia. Subscribed to your blog!

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    1. Hi Lanjane, and thanks for your kind comment and recommendations. I do try to bring some emotion to my retrospectives and walkthroughs, so it pleases me that you appreciate that.

      There are many great modules that I have not yet tried, but I hope to get around to them someday. I recommend Rogueknight 333's Swordflight to you, in return.

      Also, your written English is better than many native speakers, so don't apologise!

      Cheers!

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  6. AnonymousMay 09, 2017

    I'm playign this module, the first NWN module I have tried so far since getting NWN a few weeks ago, and I am in Act I. I find there are not many dialogue options to choose from, limiting my character's personality and roleplay choices, and te dialogue is a little corny at times, at one point my character said 'missy' to someone. Without being spoiled, I'd like to know if more dialogue options are available in later acts. And maybe improvements to the dialogue.
    So far my opinion on the module is alright, however.
    Thanks.

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    1. I think the dialogue gets better, yes. As for how much better, I don't remember other than it has its moments. I only played this campaign through once and it was quite a while ago.

      Swordflight is a NWN campaign that has more reactivity in dialogue than most RPGs I've played, amateur or pro. However, its combat, non-linearity and resource management make it more difficult than the Aielund Saga, which is a sweeping, well-paced epic.

      Not sure what you're after in regards to dialogue exploring PC personality. Not even Mask of the Betrayer, Planescape: Torment or Arcanum impressed me in this respect.

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    2. AnonymousMay 14, 2017

      Thanks. I suppose I had a different impression of this module before I began it. It is rather linear, roleplay wise, and ever since playing games that are less 'linear' in feel, I just have to re-adapt. I don't like the casual dialogue in this module, from all sorts of characters. But I'm still playing it since it has fun moments and I like the game play system of NWN a bit (don't like how henchmen cannot be controlled).

      As for dialogue exploring the personal character personality, I simply prefer more choices; generally this module only has one dialogue option for most conversations among NPCs. Also the PC options to talk are inconsistent in personality; for example, in the thieves headquarters, you only get one dialogue choice where your character starts to sound like a sailor, swearing... and then in other places your character sounds like a noble knight, or a barbarian. It seems like PC has some issues, but this fact breaks the immersion of roleplaying, for me anyways.

      I am also playing NWN 2 OC and I feel like I have more options to say different things with my character (I usually play diplomatic/healer cleric type characters). Still, these are two different games so it won't be the same. That's my perspective on the issue though, I can understand some don't feel this way.

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    3. No, I can see where you're coming from; it just didn't bother me. I come from the school of Fallout and Baldur's Gate, where the PC could say all manner of weird and OOC things, drawn from popular culture etc.

      You would probably like Mask of the Betrayer, which I've also done a write-up for. It's not complete, but it's a good starting point.

      Cheers!

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  7. Hi Lilura! Since Tales of Arterra has a TV Tropes page, I figured I created one for The Aielund Saga. Feel free to contribute.

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/VideoGame/TheAielundSaga

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    1. Great effort! I've let Savant know about it. I won't be able to contribute in the immediate future, but perhaps down the track. Cheers!

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    2. Spartan can be equipped with items, just not armor specifically, as an FYI.

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