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Monday, 24 November 2014

The Aielund Saga Walkthrough: Act One - Part II

Continuing from Part I.

Culdeny Questing

Puffed out from the journey and low on health, the trio pay a visit to the Seaspray Inn.  


The Innkeep hands me the key to the master suite for 5 GP, and I assure him we'll do no damage (+1 Lawful, +50 EXP), after which we head upstairs to rest.


Aielund Saga does not let you rest to recuperate in the gutters of streets, but the good thing is that resting at inns is pretty much instant - none of this waiting for a progress bar like in the official campaigns, and some other modules.


Feeling refreshed, we head back downstairs into the common room where we meet the Dwarven merchant, Clavis MacTavish, who sells fancy crossbows and axes. He inquires as to why we're in Culdeny, and we tell him we're lending a hand (+1 Good, +50 EXP). The dwarf then asks us to find his brother who was last seen in some abandoned mines. The mines are located in the Calespur ranges, but we have other quests to complete before venturing into the wilds.


We now enter the Culdeny brewery and are given an ale keg by Chelland Walters (weight = 50.5) for delivery to Bracksworth's Inn.


Since we're in possession of both the bandit captain's head and the keg of ale, we decide to head back to Bracksworth to cap off those quests before progressing in Culdeny. (I'm positive at this point that the creator of this module designed (at least early) Aielund Saga with the expectation that the player is fairly diligent in finding the content and completing it before moving on and getting in over their heads.)

Anyway, there's a Halfling standing by his ox-drawn wagon who can time-lapse us back to Bracksworth for a 10 GP fee. He is also grateful that we broke the bandit blockade. I tell him he's welcome (+1 Good, +50 EXP) and we set off.

Upon arrival in Bracksworth we deliver the keg of ale to the Innkeep (+200 GP, +300 EXP), and present to the mayor the grisly head of the bandit captain (+500 GP, +500 EXP). The mayor mentions a barbarian threat to the east, but we're asked to report back later when he's heard more news from Highmarch.


Cashed up and back in Culdeny, we run across a fisherman at the docks, Kipper Bob, who, having been informed of our good intentions (+1 Good, +50 EXP), hands us a key to the home of the missing Dockmaster to investigate the disappearance. The trio enter the Dockmaster's home and notice poorly-concealed blood on the floor, under some books. Kipper suspects smugglers are behind the violence and directs us to a Halfling smuggler (Luther) who has currently docked Midnight Runner at the pier, nearby.


No-one here but us honest, hard-working sailors friend. - a "sailor."


You be real nice or else I whomp you. - Luther's maul-wielding Half-orc bodyguard.


At first, and as expected, the diminutive Luther isn't forthcoming with info, but by threatening to have the town guards inspect his ship he is persuaded to reveal the name of "Black Pete", another smuggler who is aboard The Raven - also currently docked at the pier (+50, +300 XP). 

Level Up to 4!

Lilura: Paladin (1)/ Fighter (3), +1 STR
Dante: Ranger (1) / Fighter (3), +1 STR
Nellise: Cleric (4), +1 WIS

We enter The Raven and confront Black Pete, a rather unsavory character backed up by two bodyguards.
Gorgeous ship interiors

Annoyed by our questions and refusal to leave until we find out what happened to the Dockmaster (+1 Lawful, +50 EXP), he admits guilt and unsheathes his gleaming scimitar.


The trio defend themselves, then loot Pete's corpse for a Scimitar +1, a warehouse key, and the Sash of Shimmering (SR 12).


Having now completed our investigation, we return to Kipper with the bad news that Black Pete had the Dockmaster killed (+300 EXP), telling him we're glad to be of service (+1 Good, +50 EXP).

Bug: I found the Dockmaster's body in a warehouse crate but my journal didn't update and Kipper had no dialogue when I brought him the body. This means I'm unable to cap off the quest in the journal, oh well.

Time for some retail therapy. We sell off unneeded loot at the Master Chaplain's smithy, dragging ourselves out of abject poverty. With a weighty purse of 5,000 GP I can now finally purchase some gear more befitting of a Paladin. Since the King's army was assigned most of the full plate, the poor smithy only has two sets left to sell, one of which is far beyond my budget. So I just settle for Masterwork Full Plate and also purchase a matching Masterwork Tower Shield, Masterwork Longsword and Masterwork Visored Helm.

That's it lad, put your back into it. You're doing fine. - Blacksmith to apprentice. 



Yes, masterwork. Now that's what I'm talking about. This splash-out gives me +3 AC, which is a decent low level tanking boost.

My Aasimar Henchman, Nellise, earlier expressed desire to visit the Priestess of Culdeny, so the trio stroll over to the church and meet with Priestess Celeste.


I put in a good word for Nellise (+1 Good, +50 EXP) and gladly accept from Celeste a quest to investigate "digging sounds" tonight in the nearby crypt (+1 Good, +50 EXP).


The crypt is unremarkable but for a statue upon which an item can be placed, and faint hammering sounds in the distance, below us. At the back of the crypt we spot a secret trap door leading down into goblin-infested tunnels.


Seeing us butcher a few of his wretched sappers, the leader goblin (Urak) screams out for the remainder to cover him and high-tails it...


... but is then crushed to paste when his own tunnel exit collapses on him. On his corpse we find a Short Sword +1, a gem-studded necklace and an order signed by one "R.B", revealing a plan to breach the town walls by tunneling under them.


Having placed the gem-studded necklace onto the statue to make it glow once again (+300 EXP), we head back out to inform Celeste of our success (+300 GP, +350 EXP). Pleased as punch, she then directs us to the garrison commander who can further inspect the goblin order.


The commander matches the initials R.B with one Ronald Bartlett of the North Shore Trading Company...


... so we head directly there.


We learn from Bartlett's secretary that he's in attendance at the Gentleman's Club upstairs, but that we can't simply enter unless we're a member or are sponsored by one. She also lets it slip that the mayor is a member. We could simply bash down the door here, but that is both Chaotic and has negative consequences (Bartlett is an influential fat cat who can order town merchants to stop trading with us. Not good, since the ability to buy n sell is already very limited in early Aielund.)

 

So we skip over the streets to the mayor's office and find the mayor engaged in an argument with a ranger.
 

Dammit man, you're just not listening to me! - Donan Marshall.

The grumpy mayor refuses to speak with us much, so we placate Donan instead (+1 Lawful, +50 EXP). It turns out Donan and Dante know each other, both being rangers. Donan has traveled from the Calespur wilderness to seek aid from the mayor against brazen game hunters, but the stubborn mayor refuses to send aid.

Bureaucrats. Don't get me started on bureaucrats. - Dante.  

The trio of course offer to lend a hand and Donan thanks us, gives us directions to the The Lodge and the name of Armin Wise, and then slips away. Now alone with the mayor, I persuade him to follow his civic duty and give me the key to the Gentleman's Club (no +EXP).

Back at the Trading Company, we use the key and head upstairs to the Club.

The air in here is thick with cigar and pipe smoke. - DM.

 

How on earth did you get in here? I'll be having words to Ronald about our entry policy concerning women, don't you doubt! - Nobleman.

Confronting Bartlett, he sort of succeeds in holding his composure under questioning and refers us to his security advisor (Robert Black, another R.B), who turns pale in the face when presented with the order, awkwardly thanks us for bringing the issue to his attention, and then hurriedly leaves the Club with Bartlett in toe.

Goodness me, that WAS strange! - Bartlett's secretary.

We take this information to the barracks Commander (+800 EXP) and she issues a warrant for both their arrests. The commander has no idea where they could be based but warns us they are perhaps one hundred strong in number. As Paladin, I tell her we'll bring their operation down. However, at this stage the quest is capped off in the journal, so hopefully we're given the chance to catch up with the two R.B's later in the module, as they're in need of a killin'...


We're done with Culdeny for now, at least as far as I can tell. The plot and quests now seem to lead west of where we broke the bandit blockade, in the Calespur Ranges.

This was obviously a very "questy" segment of the module (though I still found it pretty entertaining), but the killin' and dungeon crawlin's coming up next. If the module can strike a balance between combat and questing, I'll be happy. And by balance I mean 70% killin', 30% questing. That's just the kind of module I prefer to play. But I've committed to this now, so, unless I encounter some show-stopping bug that can't be fixed or I get major burn-out (it happens), expect Aielund to be continued Act-by-Act, and eventually finished.

Just a note on the Henchman AI... Aielund implements Tony K's Henchman & AI mod (though I'm not sure to what extent) so I have more control and flexibility than most other NWN content I've played, except for the fact I can't tell Nellise exactly which spell to cast out of combat, as I can with spellcasters in HotU. But during fights, Dante and Nellise seem to react more quickly to my commands than my Henchmen did in HotU. Nellise buffs the party sensibly out of combat, casting spells in the correct order based on their duration. Her spell choices in combat are also appropriate thus far, and in testing out her Turn Undead I found she wasted no time. Both Henchman are also proactive in healing each other (and me) during combat (I'll be stocking up on medkits before any dungeon crawls, since they're very fast to use and effective, and resting is restricted). I might have something to say on the combat in the next update - it can be fairly brutal, at times.

Next Up: Part III
The First Dungeon Crawl: Calespur Caverns.

11 comments:

  1. " (I'm positive at this point that the creator of this module designed at least early Aielund with the expectation that the player is fairly diligent in finding the content and completing it before moving on and getting over their heads.)"

    More or less, yes, though there's really only a few big important landmarks at this point.

    1. Get to level 2 prior to leaving town.

    2. Get to level 3 prior to going after the bandits.

    3. Ideally hit level 4 prior to fighting Black Pete (if you choose to do so) since it can definitely be a hard fight otherwise.

    "Bug: I found the Dockmaster's body in a warehouse crate but my journal didn't update and Kipper had no dialogue when I brought him the body. This means I'm unable to cap off the quest in the journal, oh well."

    Yeah. Sorry : /

    Somehow managed to not hit that bug during testing so Savant didn't fix it.

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    1. No, probs. I expect bugs. I also welcome the oldskool design of thoroughly scouring areas for quest/loots/etc or you might find yourself in deep water.

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  2. How about some EASY MONEY? I found you're complaining about shortage of gold in the first Act. It is true, but there is an easy - and seemingly legitimate - way to make easy money early in the game thanks to light gems sold in the shop with exotics in Culdeny.

    This way of earning money along with making traps was vital for progression e.g. in "Dance with Rogues" module. Anyway, I believe if Savant put light gems into Aielund Saga, he assumed it is a legitimate action to earn money this way.

    Light gems cost ca. 10 gold each and are - more or less - an equivalent of Continual Flame cast by clerics and wizards. All of the light gems add a constant property to an object, thus raising its market value. Pure gain on normal weapon is around 200 gold, and the better the item, the better the added value. Some weapons treated this way can gain even 3000 or more in value (unfortunately most merchants, apart from the druid in the town we start in, have a 5000 item cap attributed to them). Thanks to this trick I boarded a ship away from Culdeny with more than 100 000 gold and I already had in my pocket expensive gimmicks such as unlimited-magic-missile crossbow praised by my Paladin/Sorcerer.

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    1. "Anyway, I believe if Savant put light gems into Aielund Saga, he assumed it is a legitimate action to earn money this way."

      You would be wrong. He put light gems into Aielund Saga so that you could apply a source of light to gear and not be walking in darkness at night or underground if you wished to avoid that circumstance. It was absolutely not intended to be a way to make money -- using it in that method is at legitimate as just giving yourself gold using console commands. Same validity, same end result, and a lot less time needed.

      The problem is that avoiding that issue would require doing one of six things (possibly more options that I'm not thinking of off-hand):

      1, remove the light gems. This sucks for people who actually do want to use them legitimately and get some light around their characters.

      2, make the light gems massively expensive. Again, this sucks for people who actually do want to use them legitimately and get some light around their characters. It doesn't even necessarily fix the problem longer term on even more expensive items (like you noted, items can easily gain over 3000 gold in value).

      3, rewrite the item property cost 2da so that light does not add value. That's a considerable amount of effort to try to avoid people cheating in a game where they can already just give themselves gold via console commands.

      4, make items that get light added not able to be sold in some fashion (could mark it as plot for 0g, stolen and not have any merchants accept stolen goods, or cursed so the player can't even get rid of it). Again, this sucks for people who actually do want to use them legitimately and get some light around their characters.

      5, the same as #4 except create an item that will remove the light property (and the plot/stolen/cursed flag), meaning that the item could be sold at its usual value. Again, this sucks for people who actually do want to use them legitimately and get some light around their characters and again takes more author effort.

      6, the same as #4, except making an item that automatically calculates the value of light, gives you the gold value of the item directly without counting the light, and destroys the item. Again, this sucks for people who actually do want to use them legitimately and get some light around their characters and again takes more author effort.

      The common theme here is "if people really want to cheat then trying to stop that is more effort than it's worth, particularly in a game with easy access to console commands anyway where you can just flat out give yourself gold."

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    2. Interesting remark, but I have not considered myself cheater so far. My line of thought was that removal of light gems would not hurt at all - I mean you could have left players only with torches as a pure, genuine, realistic medieval source of light and they would still manage to complete the game :) Or you could have presented gamers with only a very, very limited set of light gems. This would be quite easy to do when preparing a module. Still I wonder if Stephen L. Nowland would agree with you. Especially that in e.g. "Dance with Rogues" selling items enhanced by light gems as well as capitalizing on making and selling traps was a strongly suggested thing, advised in every walkthrough. It seemingly was supposed to be a part of game experience.

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    3. "My line of thought was that removal of light gems would not hurt at all - I mean you could have left players only with torches as a pure, genuine, realistic medieval source of light and they would still manage to complete the game"

      - 2H using characters would have to unequip the 2H to pull out the torch and vice versa.
      - shield using characters couldn't have the torch active with the shield, which makes them more vulnerable
      - dual-wielding characters would need to keep unequipping the torch in their offhand and equipping their actual offhand weapon
      - crossbow/bow using characters fall under the category of 2H, see above
      - gnome/halfling mages would have to unequip their magic staff to pull out the torch (2H for them)

      Yes, that can be set up on the action bar, but that's having to use up two action bar slots and creating an annoyance for the player to have to switch like that.

      "Or you could have presented gamers with only a very, very limited set of light gems."

      Or he didn't even realize that was possible (and apparently I never noticed the gems on my beta testing)...or knew it was possible but agreed with my logic above about how at a certain point people can cheat if they want and it's not worth the effort to stop them.

      "Still I wonder if Stephen L. Nowland would agree with you."

      He would. At this point the only person with a better understanding of his intentions with Aielund than myself is...Stephen Nowland himself. Literally played through each module several times (ranging between 3 and 5-6 times per module) with constant (lengthy) feedback/bug reports during and between each playthrough during the beta testing for his 2.0 release. And he would reply back with emails that ranged from mentioning the bug(s) had been squashed to saying something was changed based on feedback to explaining his intentions for something in order to open a dialogue on how best to fix/improve/polish something.

      I never mentioned using light gems during all that and he never asked me about them.

      Nor does anything of my general understanding of the man suggest he intended that at all.

      But, if it would make you feel better, I could bother him with an email so you could be sure you were abusing something he never intended.

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    4. "Especially that in e.g. "Dance with Rogues" selling items enhanced by light gems as well as capitalizing on making and selling traps was a strongly suggested thing, advised in every walkthrough."

      I've played/beaten ADWR with no combat difficulties and never did either of those things. It did not seem to me that selling traps (outside of recovering them through disarm trap and then selling them) was an intentional thing.

      However, as I have not exchanged hundreds of emails with ADWR's author I'm not going to make any claim about knowing her intentions specifically.

      That said, any time you apparently find an "infinite money" or "infinite XP" opportunity in a game that has non-renewable resources...alarm bells should probably start ringing. Why? Because in a game with renewable resources, it's about opportunity cost. If you're making those traps you're not doing a dungeon with the other people online, for example. You are always giving up *something* no matter what you do (in terms of game consequences) because you *could* be using that time for something else.

      But stuff like buying infinite vendor mats and making traps and selling the traps in a campaign? The campaign won't progress on its own (usually, some games defy that trope -- see Majora's Mask as a partial example). You're not falling behind on anything. You could sit there for a RL year and make traps and the game's plot will just wait and act like the events of the game took place within a few days or months -- even if you've literally spent more time making traps than that.

      Or, in other words, you're literally creating something (gold) from nothing (no actual in-game cost/consequence). Might as well use the console and save yourself some time.

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  3. You might have convinced me. TO defend myself I can only say that while playing games I always look for all logical consequences of the system and try to use them to benefit without really cheating (you know it's comparable to a mindset by investment banker: you start from operational analysis of capitalist system's money generating procedures and this logics ultimately leads you to creating an investment software, which generates income with rapid investment decisions almost automatically --- hey, is this cheating? :) )

    But if you are so sure this was not intended, I will have guilty conscience (still, if you could obtain answer from Stephen that would be great). Anyway, you know what? I am in act II now and I may just consider finding an empty chest and leaving there next 150 000 gold I find as a form of penance (this is approximate amount of gold I "created")

    Also, thanks for the remark about "time factor" and alternative cost. If time passes independently, things really look different. I wonder if NWN engine could be capable of simulating something like this at all (e.g. could there be procedures triggered by in-game dates)

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    1. "Hi Bal! Yes, I didn't intend that to be a money maker, it's just a quirk of the system. If you can fix that, do so. Feel free to drop me a line anytime, I'm mostly just writing my novels these days :)"

      There you go.

      "TO defend myself I can only say that while playing games I always look for all logical consequences of the system and try to use them to benefit without really cheating"

      Part of the issue in a game like NWN especially is that module authors are often not as familiar with the game and especially with the game's quirks as a professional company can be. And even professional companies wind up not spotting everything -- in WoW, for example, shadow priests developed a new playstyle (that was slightly better than the obvious playstyle) never thought of or intended by Blizzard. It was only like a 2-5% increase in power overall and Blizzard didn't change it, they liked the emergent playstyle...but they never intended it.

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    2. I'm not quite sure what happened to my other comment, but whatevs. Great find, Greg! I agree with you that it isn't cheating, but it is cheesy. :P

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    3. It's no more cheating that giving yourself gold with the console is, no. People quibble all the time about whether you can even "cheat" in a single player game in the first place.

      I mean, Lilura, the simplest "solution" here is to just remove the light gems. Sucks for people who would use them legitimately but all other options either hurt legitimate users more than the current (or removed) situation or take way too much time/effort.

      Delete

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