Friday, 26 December 2014

The Aielund Saga: Act Three - Part V


Fort Highmarch (north) cont.

The hung-over trio now peel themselves from the tavern floor, step out of the inn and head over to the main barracks, looking for work. The barracks are overseen by Guard Captain Marshald whom we met briefly in Bracksworth Tavern just after Criosa's kidnapping. After some initial light-hearted banter, Marshald informs us that Baron Alistair has been neglecting his duties since the unfortunate passing of his wife. We offer to look into the matter since it's vital the fort is in tip-top shape if it's to withstand the Ironlord's assault.


Here we meet Alistair who just doesn't care about anything anymore, not even the Ironlord. We take it upon ourselves to inspect the defences of Fort Highmarch, he cares not.


Back in the barracks we meet up with Marshald who is happy to assist with our inspection by showing us what needs attention. What do we know about siege warfare, anyway? We follow him outside and around the fort. A crack in the wall here...


... a crack in the wall there, but... what's this? Lady Saffron, the Baron's wife?


Her voice is echoey and her stare is inward. She is undead,  she is...


... a vampire. According to Saffron an unknown veiled "priest" had tended to her one night, but that's the limit of her recollection. 


Leaving Saffron for now, we head downstairs into the basement where we detect a secret door to another room with a locked door (DC-30) leading to...


... a spiral staircase descending into the Catacombs beneath the fort.


Are you quite certain this is necessary? Not that I'm scared of course.... - Criosa.

We push open and step through a large, squeaky metal gate to reach...


The Abode of the Damned


A haunting choir is heard...

There is evil here, but it is not strong. There's something else, but I can't put my finger on it. - Nellise.

The vampires here are strangely non-hostile.

We are not what you think we are.... do not attack us and we shall not attack you. - Vamp Warrior.

Speak with Carthach, our leader. He will give you the answers you seek. - Vamp Rogue.

Arminus will want to know of your arrival, stranger. Go and meet with him. - Vamp Rogue.

  
About twenty vamps lurk down here, split into two factions with a leader each. Carthach is the one responsible for Saffron's half-life condition (ie, the "priest"). According to Carthach she was going to die soon, anyway, but his prime motivation in "turning" her was to have her liaise with Baron Alistair as ambassador, thereby creating a secret alliance with Fort Highmarch. However, his plan hit a snag when the leader of the other faction, Arminus - who desires the vamps remain hidden and isolated from humans - took possession of a mythical ring which Carthach intended to give Saffron to allow her to walk freely by day in the sunlight.

At this point we can choose to ally with either leader (or wipe them all out), but I choose Carthach's nonsensical, romantic path because it's more fleshed out. So, since vamp code forbids Carthach to directly fight Arminus, we must do the dirty work if we're to acquire the ring.


Therefore, an inevitable battle ensues with Arminus, supported by two vamp rogues and three vamp warriors. Arminus conjures a brutish Half-Dragon Fiend to wreak havoc, but it unsummons with the vamp leader's quick and absolute death (+1632 EXP).


Being undead, the rogues (+476 EXP ea) and warriors (+340 EXP ea) are immune to crits. Still, my high average damage ensures this fight doesn't drag on long.


The corpse of Arminus is relieved of top-tier stuff: Ring of Midnight's Veil (Divine imm: 100% bonus, Fire imm: 75% bonus, only usable by Undead), Cloak of Fortification +3 (+3 AC def, saves +3), The Wind, & the Rain that Falls +4 katana (Keen, on-hit DC 18 Fear, +1d4 dmg), Amulet of Natural Armor +5, Adamantium key.

En route back to Carthach, the trio dispose of the scraps left over from the Arminus faction, namely two more rogues and four more warriors.

The rogue corpses can be looted for a Dagger +3 and Vampire Whip +4 (Regen +3, Disarm). One rogue wore "provocative and trashy" Female Vampire Armor.

Carthach now rewards us with the Head of the Scepter of the Ages (Lightning Bolt Unlimited/day). So there is an anti-Ironlord scepter, this must have been what Lightbane and the Duergar were searching for in Stoneguard. Carthach explains that the Scepter of the Ages is ancient - older than the Eldar - and that it belonged to the race which created the Ironlord, known as The Ancients. For more info on the scepter we should probably seek out an archmage, possibly Terinus.

Carthach also hands us a written proposal to present to Alistair, hoping that an alliance between himself and the Baron can now be formed. He also seems willing to assist Fort Highmarch against the Ironlord.

Now in possession of the Ring of Midnight Veil and the proposal, we take our leave of the Abode of the Damned and backtrack to Saffron's dwelling.


The ring is presented to Saffron.


We accompany her inside the fort where she's reunited with Alistair (+2500 EXP, Bastion of Power +4 greatsword [+10 magical vs. constructs], permission slip to exit the southern gate).

With the Baron recommitted to the defence of Highmarch and the lovers reunited and committed to making things work out between them, we take our leave.


Suddenly the Royal Archmage to King Seamus, Terinus the Black, teleports into the room. Having reprimanded Criosa for disobeying her father's orders, the terse Terinus then advises us to seek out another wizard by the name of Sahir in order to learn more about the Scepter of the Ages. To find Sahir, we'll have to journey south to the desert village of Trinity.


The interior of the fort hosts an armory and library where weapons, armor and magic items may be purchased. Celebrith has also journeyed here from Acadia, offering her enchantment service to the fort as part of our alliance. We sell off some junk here before exiting the south door (bal = 94,000 GP).


Highmarch South


So this is where the battle shall be fought. History will be made here. - Nellise.

We had a rough time of it against the Iron Legion. I lost a lot of friends... damn good people. - Siege Engineer.

 

I left my companion out in the wilderness. He wouldn't be much use in a city fight like this. - Ranger.

There is no sign of Armin Wise yet, however.


The only building we can enter in the south is the Cathedral in which a bishop sells clerical wares, but he offers either nothing we need or nothing we can afford.


We now pass by the catapults, exit by means of a draw bridge into the grounds, then head southward with Trinity as our destination.



Southern Slopes


The slopes have slow traps laid down across their breadth and devious Halfling Skirmishers use annoying hit n run tactics (+10 EXP, Longsword +2 ea).


A natural bridge crosses a gorge to a more barren terrain...



Desert north of Trinity


Emerging from a cave we're ambushed by a band of six Halfling mercs headed up by Thorian Lightfoot.


Leaving the squishier henchman behind, I carve my way through four grunts (+10 EXP, Longsword +2, Composite Shortbow +3 ea) to close in on the sorcerer who I smack down just after he summons a Mordenkainen Sword (+10 EXP, Staff of the Magi [on-hit Dispel Magic DC-14, various charge spells], Black Wizard's Robe, Ring of Protection +5). 

Thorian Lightfoot is then owned for +640 EXP and looted for the Dagger of Assassination +3 (Vorpal DC-14, evil only), Deathwind +5 (Bonus feat: Crippling Strike, Mass crits 20), Dragon Fang +4 (+2d6 acid, Dragon's Breath: acid 2/day) Armor of the Night (Haste, Imm: Darkness, Hide +12, Move Silent +12), Arrow +5 (198) and Thorian's contract (signed by one Angelique).
 
 

I now have Nellise cast Mass Heal, after which we move southward across a chasm and into the village of Trinity, arriving at dusk.



Trinity


I bid you greetings, stranger from the north. - Desert Warrior.

I have heard many stories from this town - the largest oasis in this arid region. - Criosa.

This place has its own kind of beauty. Different than forest, but still magnificent. - Nellise.

Trinity uses art asset from Shadows of Undrentide. The background music is from Fallout 2 - I believe it's the San Francisco track.

A merchant here by the name of Hakim has a buying cap of 20,000 GP per item, the most so far. Unfortunately, I rolled unfavorably.


Anyway, our first port of call is Sahir's tower. He confirms the headpiece is part of the Scepter of the Ages, a rod which can possibly "deactivate" the Ironlord. Sahir also supplies us with two leads as to the location of the other pieces: first, a desert cave to the west; second, an ancient fortress in the southeast desert buried by a sandstorm and inhabited by a fanatical dragon cult.
 

Next stop is Trinity Palace wherein Pasha Shakir briefs us on the strained relations between ambassadors Marquis Angevin Villeancourt (of Tusone) and Sir Nigel Reed (of Aielund), foreshadowing our role in getting the comm-lines open between them.

 


In fact, Sir Nigel's tent is in the south east of the village and it's here we find him in a drunken state, blaming the King for ruining his diplomatic efforts with Tusone, his reputation, his relationship with his wife, his career - everything.


Apparently the King left him in the dark about the Ironlord and used him in his ploy to gain access to the Temple of Eternal Resurrection. However, having been told of the grave threat posed by the Ironlord, Sir Nigel snaps out of his self-pity, realizing that if Aielund does survive the god-construct's assault, Tusone will most likely march on them in their weakened state. Therefore, a prompt peace agreement is paramount. Sir Nigel now requests that we attempt to persuade Marquis Angevin to attend the Palace for negotiations, believing that if we succeed he can seal a peace deal with Tusone.

We now enter the Villeancourt tent, dwelling of Tusonites Marquis Angevin and Marchioness Angelique.

I fail the first two persuasion checks on Angevin before I convince him to attend the negotiations, after which he leaves for the Palace. I can't advance the quest further, at this stage.


Now I confront his wife, Angelique, her name signed at the bottom of the Hobbit hit-man's contract. She denies any wrongdoing, and freely hands me the key to her bedroom trunk to search it.

Inside the trunk I find a contract listing Aielundian nobles (including myself) as targets for some group called The Sand Knives. However, the hand-writing doesn't match Angelique's and it's pretty obviously been planted there - we suspect by a vengeful Ironlord cultist from the west, perhaps not all wiped out by King Seamus as he cut a swathe through them en route to the Temple. Moreover, Angelique saw a strange wanderer from the west arrive just recently, and he's probably still in the tavern waiting to see what happens as a result of his handiwork.


At the Traveler's Rest Inn I confront Drake who stupidly admits he hired Thorian to kill me. A duel bar-room brawl ensues.


Drake's Epic Dodge and cheap Heal-quaffing didn't prevent him from crashing through the bar as a dead man (+0 EXP, Jovial Evil, Dagger +4, Drake's Armor, +55 GP). The death of this last remaining Ironlord cultist caps off the quest (+0 EXP).

 

From Trinity the trio can either head southeast to Socahreb or west to Tusone. We decide to take on the sandstorm and dragon cult, first, so the former direction is chosen. 


45 comments:

  1. "At this point we can choose to ally with either leader (or wipe them all out), but I choose Carthach's nonsensical, romantic path because it's more fleshed out."

    Out of curiosity, which part seemed nonsensical to you? Leave aside the romantic part, you have these unusual vampires who live down there and fight to survive but harbor no grudge against the humans above. But they'd rather not have the humans try to wipe them out if discovered, so they try to arrange for a trusted liaison when they seem an opportunity.

    Meh.

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    1. The part where I suffer the vamps to live, who admit to feeding on Highmarch residents when the blood-stocks get low below their halls, and which Nellise actually seems ok with as a Lawful Good Aasimar Cleric, providing they're not killin anyone...

      I got some giggles out of the quest, but it's definitely designed around the idea of not wiping out the vamps. But yeah, meh sums it up.

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    2. Think of the townfolk as being blood donors for a defense force! I mean, it's not like there's been any kind of major issue -- no rumors of people getting sick or whatever. Only the Baron's wife, which was out of desperation on their part in terms of INTENTIONALLY contacting the surface folk.

      I agree it's designed around not wiping them out, but technically it is still an option.

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    3. The vamps also make claims of being there for centuries, before Highmarch above was even built, and having defended the fledgling Aielund from superior Tusonite/Athkalatran forces and even "darker things" since it's inception... but why should we believe them, what proof do they have?

      Sort of hard to believe, too, that a ravenously hungry vamp hasn't done occasional harm to people, when it couldn't find food down below.

      Unless you look at it from the perspective of "zomg Amulet of perma-Haste!" (Carthach corpse), wiping out the vamps is extremely unsatisfying, mainly cuz you have to execute Saffron for her vampness and it just feels morally bad to do so the way the quest and dialogue are presented at that point. The journal doesn't even update when you kill both leaders...

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    4. Usually in tales that involve vampires you have townsfolk who talk about people going missing or mysterious figures seen at night or something. No rumors like that in Highmarch. Is that proof the vampires aren't doing anything bad or are actually helping? No, but it is a reason to think they might be telling the truth.

      I mean, the very existence of baelnorns means all undead are not inherently evil.

      Also, I checked the code, you don't have to execute her as long as you have the ring (or that's how it should work). I admit I've never actually tested it, nor did I realize Carthach had a perma-haste amulet...you monster.

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    5. And as you may know, since Nellise salvages small items from your executed corpse (rings, belt, cloak, AMMY), that means mundane builds can have the extremely valuable Haste status effect on them as soon as they're Raised, without waiting for Pascal's Blademaster armor, which bestows haste too, but which isn't exactly optimal armor for many build types... still, I'm currently wearing it for the foreseeable future. ^_^

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    6. Interesting. I will point out I've soloed the whole campaign as a fighter/weapon master and managed quite fine without using that amulet, so it's hardly needed.

      And yes, I often use Pascal's armor, the Haste is something like a 40% offensive increase and your AC is about the same due to the 4 AC bonus.

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    7. Yep, you lose only -1 AC by wearing Blademaster over Ancient Full Plate +4, you can't even get better AC from armor for quite awhile in Act 4: the Antique Armor choice reward from the archmage is unimpressive. And yeah, Haste boosts offense and also exploring is faster. imo, every module should have everyone perma-Hasted.

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    8. Be warned: someone's posting spoilers like an idiot in the NWN forum thread, might want to avoid it until you get to the beginning of Act 4 Part 3. Will let you know if he removes the offending comments.

      ----------------------------

      I'm not sure if I'd agree that every module should have everyone perma-Hasted, but I do think that either everyone should be permahasted or the effect shouldn't exist at all. It's too powerful and gamechanging of a buff/property to only give to some people (note that in Aielund everyone will be permahasted in the mid-to-upper-20s which is something I've always liked about it).

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    9. That's what I mean, have every single enemy perma-Hasted. You see, I'm a veteran of the Infinity Engine games (Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, Planescape: Torment), which can be set to update AI 60 times per sec. This means combat is FAST, but not unplayably or stupidly so (you can still pause at any time, assign commands, unpause, rinse repeat. You DO need to be a ninja on spacebar, though). I never really got used to the slowness of NWN combat, without Haste. In the OC I picked MONK and Grimgnaw the first time I played because I just couldn't stand plodding through all those large open areas with nothing to see or do in them. Great Cleave helps SO much to push things along against mind-numbing trashmobs (Grim gets the feat before Daelyn). Aielund is different though, the world and combat is interesting and engaging. I CAN play without Haste, but I much prefer it.

      mmm.. Maybe you could write a script to haste all actors in Aielund Saga? lol... that would not go down too well with purist Aielund veterans, unless it was entirely optional.

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    10. I could script everything to have Haste in Aielund, but I won't. Would require rebalancing the entire campaign. Also brings up other issues like casters running out of spells twice as fast while warrior types get a general offensive increase -- so you either have too much burst from casters or casters get even weaker relatively speaking early on.

      My modules are designed with permahaste, mind you, but they're built from the ground up assuming it.

      I do think the whole "one attack per round" at low levels causes it to feel incredibly slow. Would be much better if you started with at least 2 attacks, though that can again cause burst damage issues.

      I admit I also have another more...unusual...worry -- can most people cast fast enough in the NWN system to keep up with Haste. In something like WoW, you select your target and then you just hit the keybind for your spell. Even casting a spell every second isn't an issue.

      But in NWN you have to manually target your spell each time -- click the spell (because the F keys are terrible to try to press), then click on the ground, and repeat. Can most people actually manage to cast every three seconds given the poor interface for doing so?

      Half tempted to do something like give a movement speed bonus and an extra attack per round to people without the spellcasting speed bonus from haste or the AC bonus. Also helps make each spell more significant. Something to ponder, curious what your thoughts are.

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    11. "My modules are designed with permahaste, mind you, but they're built from the ground up assuming it."

      Nice! Gonna check your module out after Aielund complete, hopefully within a week or so.

      "I do think the whole "one attack per round" at low levels causes it to feel incredibly slow. Would be much better if you started with at least 2 attacks, though that can again cause burst damage issues."

      I prefer modules to start at lvl6 when warriors get their first +attack from BAB, obviously with encounters balanced accordingly. Surprising just how many campaigns/modules don't do this... fighting bags of rats at lvl1 gets old quick without clicky feats and special abilities and such.

      "I admit I also have another more...unusual...worry -- can most people cast fast enough in the NWN system to keep up with Haste. In something like WoW, you select your target and then you just hit the keybind for your spell. Even casting a spell every second isn't an issue.

      But in NWN you have to manually target your spell each time -- click the spell (because the F keys are terrible to try to press), then click on the ground, and repeat. Can most people actually manage to cast every three seconds given the poor interface for doing so?"

      I can actually do that fine, even with Quicken Spell. But then I'm used to the ultra-spammy nature of BG2 and even Dragon Age: Origins which is REALLY hard to keep up with, even with the tactics framework screen, since you have full control of 3-4 units. Oh, and in Storm of Zehir you can have a six unit party whom you have full control of, I found it ok.

      Don't forget this, either:

      http://nwn.wikia.com/wiki/Action_queue

      So hit spacebar, target enemy multiple times, unpause -> devastation.

      "Half tempted to do something like give a movement speed bonus and an extra attack per round to people without the spellcasting speed bonus from haste or the AC bonus. Also helps make each spell more significant. Something to ponder, curious what your thoughts are."

      Not fazed either way, but bear in mind I'm really rusty on NWN1 spellcasting mechanics as I haven't built a caster for years... I'll build a solid arcane caster when I try out your module.

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    12. No rush! If anything I'm a bit hesitant since I'd prefer to finish the second half first and improve a few things on the first (released) half...but chances are that if you'd like the full version then you'll like the half version. And if you hate the half version then the full version probably won't sway your opinion. Plus I won't have it done for at least another month or two.

      I think a lot of players like the fantasy of working up from level 1...despite the fact that DnD low level combat is awful and that level 1 isn't very experience at all. And yes, fighting rats with one attack per round or a few magic missile spells...meh.

      What I find really amusing is when people complain about modules that move through the early levels quickly -- actually had someone complain that Aielund was way too fast on leveling and that people getting to level 3 within like 30 minutes of starting was "unbalanced."

      Low level rules also cause some other issues like Cleave being wildly more powerful whereas it becomes mostly useless at higher levels.

      Regarding Quicken Spell..that's identical to Haste in terms of casting speed.

      And the Action Queue doesn't apply in multiplayer where pause is disabled. Can't have a PW where people are pausing all the time.

      I didn't find DA:O spammy at all, actually, found the combat dull and tedious. Nightmare, I assume?

      Final note: arcane casters are certainly fine in my module...but given that I didn't want to go about making any major mechanical changes as a spellcaster 95% of the time you're going to be spamming IGMS. Plus some defensive stuff like Elemental Shield/Acid Sheath/Improved Invisibility (and Epic Warding when things go south). Ideally I'd like to rebalance the spells to make them all useful at high level (and I have in *other* modules) but I didn't want to rewrite stuff that much for a relatively short module like Siege of the Heavens.

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    13. Perhaps I'll wait until you've polished your module up and finished the second part, before I recount it, then. I'd hate to be commenting on - or worse being critical of anything - simply because it wasn't yet complete. And my offer still stands - if you need it play-tested/proof-read.

      "What I find really amusing is when people complain about modules that move through the early levels quickly -- actually had someone complain that Aielund was way too fast on leveling and that people getting to level 3 within like 30 minutes of starting was "unbalanced."

      I don't agree with those people, but I can see where they're coming from. Some people just like to take it real slow, and plod along. I thought the early pacing in Aielund was almost perfect, though I admit to not reflecting on the Saga much at this stage, since I'm still going through it.

      "Low level rules also cause some other issues like Cleave being wildly more powerful whereas it becomes mostly useless at higher levels."

      Not in Hordes of the Underdark, from my experience. My weapon master was inflicting great cleaves on epic packs for over 300 dmg (brandishing upgraded scythe)...

      "Regarding Quicken Spell..that's identical to Haste in terms of casting speed."

      Oh, you see? I told you I'm not really up-to-speed with caster builds and mechanics...

      "And the Action Queue doesn't apply in multiplayer where pause is disabled. Can't have a PW where people are pausing all the time."

      Didn't consider MP, but that makes complete sense yeah.

      "Nightmare, I assume?"

      Yeah, nightmare with this setup:

      http://lilura1.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/modding-dragon-age-origins_26.html

      Can be fun, but I think I prefer NWN to DA:O in almost every way.

      "Siege of the Heavens."

      Have you developed other modules other than SotH, and what modules have you rebalanced spells for? Just curious.

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    14. It’s been polished, it’s basically just making some balance tweaks for some of the weaker character builds to help them out. The module has a pretty clear cut-off point halfway through – you don’t find incomplete stuff after that, it just says “Hey, you’re done, take this item and come back later – it’ll let you resume at this point with the full module”).

      I’m probably just nervous more than anything else – I think you’ll like it, but I also suspect you’ll find it fairly easy. It’s meant to be beatable solo by any reasonable character build which means I can’t tune things all that tightly. Of course, it also has unique boss mechanics that you actually have to adapt to, which means I got many messages initially about how it was impossible. People in NWN are usually used to standing there and auto-attacking stuff until it dies, maybe hit a healing potion or two. When you actually have to think and react to what’s going on…well, that’s out of the comfort zone for most people. Not for you, though, I think (I will mention that the boss difficulty ramps up throughout the module and I COULD have made the first bosses harder – I actually saved a “first version” of the sixth boss (which is the first boss in the second half) which is WAY harder than I’ll release it as. I can beat it, probably 90-95% of NWN players could not. You might enjoy it, though).

      And, if I’m being honest with myself, it’s probably more useful for you to play it now because I’m changing/improving systems, tuning/designing the later bosses, and building the module in general – so easier to incorporate feedback about what works and doesn’t work.

      “Some people just like to take it real slow, and plod along.”

      Sure, but that has nothing to do with balance. You could balance a module around having +10 weapons at level 1 if you wanted.

      “Not in Hordes of the Underdark, from my experience. My weapon master was inflicting great cleaves on epic packs for over 300 dmg (brandishing upgraded scythe)...’

      So what, though? You’ll *scythe* through those packs quickly as is and they’re basically irrelevant. Initially Cleave is often a 50-100% overall damage increase at low levels (since you can kill an enemy every hit or every other hit) but you’re lucky to get 10-15% out of it versus tougher enemies at high levels. And it’s worthless versus single powerful enemies and/or in group situations where you might not land the killing blow and thus Cleave doesn’t trigger.

      “Didn't consider MP, but that makes complete sense yeah.”

      Yeah, MP is my big concern, especially when trying to click on the correct enemy (and not the wrong enemy or your fighter friend in melee with them) for spells.

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    15. “http://lilura1.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/modding-dragon-age-origins_26.html

      Can be fun, but I think I prefer NWN to DA:O in almost every way.”

      Yeah, I played DA:O through once with no mods. No inclination to play it again, really, though those mods might have helped. Combat was terrible. For the most part my party consisted of myself (mage), Wynne, Alistair, and a random fourth. Usually Leliana, because redhead (or maybe it was her bard song granting mana/stamina regeneration while shooting with a bow from range, who knows?).

      General strategy was send Alistair in, have him taunt, make him invulnerable with Force Field, and then rain AoE on the bad guys. Can keep Alistair immune 100% of the time with two mages except for when he taunts for more agro. Versus bosses just plink away with mage staves and bow shots.

      Contrary to many people, I vastly preferred DA2 over DAO. DA2 had some massive issues, but they were generally different issues and there were fewer of them. Done 2.5 playthroughs of DA2.

      And yeah, even with NWN combat engine not being the best, it’s still generally better than DA:O. Main drawbacks are no full party control (which I don’t even really care about, frankly, I loved the ME series) and lack of spell AoE circles on the ground to see the area it would effect.

      That’s not even getting into the actual campaigns – I’d rate Aielund, Swordflight, and Sanctum above DA:O any day. Would even rank Hex Coda – sure, the combat sucks, but so does DA:O’s!

      “Have you developed other modules other than SotH, and what modules have you rebalanced spells for? Just curious.”

      Let’s see…

      I started building stuff while playing on a PW (with a level 20 cap). I liked the world in general but thought some of their dungeons were awful. They fell into the trap of making monsters with like 20 resistance to everything and called it hard. So I made a module that was just basically an exhibition of better monsters and called it “Mercenary” something. Don’t remember the second half. Made mercenary enemies that were fighter, rogue, and cleric types that could be used as enemies and some boss enemies that were fighters and mages. Idea was that you could combine the “trash” mobs to make different combos and then you had a 3 person fighter boss, 3 person mage boss, 5 person fighter boss, and 5 person mage boss. No special scripting, just good balancing of AB/AC/damage/feats/spells.

      I then moved onto some more complicated stuff and made a five person dungeon called “Elemental Trouble.” It was a gauntlet type of dungeon – had to defeat four mini-bosses to unlock the final boss’s chamber but you could not rest during it. Had to preserve spells and beat it all before buffs expired. However, the mini-bosses dropped some nice rings that gave elemental resistance – so even if your group couldn’t beat the whole thing for whatever reason (lack of skill, general lack of gear, bad group composition) you could still get a progressively better ring to help with that dungeon (and was generally useful). Last boss dropped the best version of the ring. Technically no real scripting yet either, just careful design of enemies (mages were excellent at clearing out swarms of lesser enemies with death magic to preserve healing spells/potions while physical attackers were good at sustaining damage on mage bosses, for example).

      Both of those are sadly lost to time as far as I know.

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    16. I then decided to figure out this scripting thing (had never coded before NWN) and made another five person dungeon model called “Into the Abyss.” Luckily, I still have it! Had nine bosses total (seven initially, added two “bonus” bosses that were more complicated later on once I learned how to code better) which each featured at least one unique “twist.” Well, technically the first boss was purely a tank and spank and basically existed as a gatekeeper – if your party couldn’t beat this boss (no potions of Heal, needed a cleric or druid plus a decent tanking character) then you’d be screwed inside. Then had to defeat four bosses in separate wings which would unlock the penultimate boss, which then led to the (initial) seventh boss.

      Long story short, I wound up leaving that PW along with half of its playerbase. The lead admin went missing and one of the other admins went power crazy. So I got involved in another project for another world that people were trying to revive (specifically, some of the people who left with me). They put me in charge of mechanical stuff and so I made another module as a testing ground for class/spell changes which I called Fire Mountain.

      Fire Mountain was where I really, really dived into scripting for the first time. Basically rehauled the entire spell system to make things more consistent and to properly make higher level spells actually…well, better. Made epic spells epic. Did a bunch of class changes (mostly buffs, some nerfs) to improve things and created a unique healing system. To get feedback on this, I wound up making a bunch of stuff. The easy/simple stuff was a level 4 (starting level for the module) solo dungeon, level 20 solo dungeon, and level 40 solo dungeon. I also made a hard mode (tougher monsters but better rewards) for the level 40 solo dungeon. I then also made a pair of five man dungeons and a pair of seven man dungeons. I then expanded that by adding in two three man dungeons (one that thematically went with the other four group dungeons and one that was its own unique area and basically featured an escort quest with an NPC you find in the dungeon).

      Most of the bosses basically involved summoning adds – the type of mobs summoned and when they got summoned created the difference between the fights along with the boss’s “class.” There were a few exceptions that had more complicated scripting but that usually revolved around the idea of the boss pulsing group wide damage as his health lowered or making the boss invulnerable/retreat while you dealt with the adds or something simple.

      I then also made another encounter (which you can’t access by default) that had more complicated scripting that involved three NPCs with unique abilities (a rogue that would vanish and sneak attack a random party member, a mage that would teleport a person away, and the main fighter-type boss who would occasionally reflect all damage dealt to him).

      But then the lead admin for THAT project (who was not part of the previous server) disappeared and we lost access to the server and I gave up in disgust after a few weeks of waiting.

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    17. Fast forward a year or two and the Adventure Building Challenge piqued my interest and thus Siege of the Heavens was born (level 40 only module). Made it in a month of WAY too much building, wound up tweaking some tuning things and adding extra little features in a few additional releases. Main focus was on some systems like percent signs for NPC health and scripted boss combat with unique abilities – in the hopes of eventually making a PW.

      In another ABC I then made a module called A Peremptory Summons which was for a warrior type and would take you roughly from 1 to 6. Long story short RL got in the way, I wound up releasing it late, there was some silly drama from the person “in charge” of the ABC, and I withdrew it. I suppose I could republish it at this point. Developed some more systems in that module including scaling weapon enchants (larger weapons get more damage) and a very cool final boss encounter in-my-humble-opinion. Play time is probably 90-120 minutes I’d guess.

      Then I have a few other random mods where I tested various systems and ideas that I’d never show to the public :P

      Fire Mountain is the only one where I did a massive overhaul of game systems to make it much better (not perfect, but much better), though. Siege/Peremptory do feature some minor tweaks, though.

      THE END.

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    18. 1) On Siege of the Heavens:
      I've downloaded your module and will give it a whirl sometime in the near future, looking forward to it! Need something at least remotely challenging to muck around in.

      2) On Great Cleave for WM:
      Great Cleave is still highly effective in the latter stages of Hordes where you have swarms of damage sponges with no srs soak.. I've taken out packs of epics in the blink of an eye with Great Cleave, which without it I'd have to individually target and wait for each boring swing. Maybe in REAL TRU epic campaigns where foes are coated in stone and shrug off a few 300 dmg hits no probs, Great Cleave is less relevant, but not in the easy-ass Hordes. non-buffed WM dmg: 2-8 +34 +2d6 acid +10 phys (crit 16-20 x5), ftw. See how my Arcane Archer facerolled the HotU epic party (w/grimgnaw) and Big Meph; now consider the dmg of WM with improved power attack activated..

      3) On Dragon Age: Origins:
      I played similarly to you in the base game, though I had Morrigan instead of Alistair. Warriors are a wasted slot in Origins and rogues are overrated (optimized or not), at least from a power-gaming PoV. Mages rule supreme.

      Never played DA2, it doesn't have tactical view or tactics framework screen -> rubbish. 2.5 runs of DA2, you must really love it! lol

      I do like NWN combat, though. Full party control is not true D&D, but it just facilitates tactics. And yeah, I love how in Temple of Elemental Evil you can see exactly the AoE of the fireball before you launch it.

      4) On your experience with NWN:
      That was an interesting read, you make me feel like a NWN pleb. I guess Aielund Saga is in capable hands, right? You should also release A Peremptory Summons to the public, I mean why not? Not sure about scaling weapon enchants for larger weapons, though, cuz they already get the STR bonus... also, why did you go for low lvl (1-6) combat, was it a condition of contest entry? Also liked your descriptions of the bosses in Fire Mountain, do they summon from "themed" pools or completely random from monster manual? Damn, you make me wanna toy with the toolset...

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    19. 1. Cool, good luck, looking forward to hearing about it.

      2. For the sake of science I went and tested it carefully. I picked a scenario where Great Cleave was ludicrously overpowered -- the best example that came to mind was the pack of like 25 zombies in Shaori's Fell Wizard Tower on level 3. You always one shot them and I also made sure I let them surround me first to maximize Great Cleave's advantage (otherwise could run the risk of running out of things to cleave before some of the zombies reached me if I charged in). Recorded it if you want proof.

      Great Cleave time to clear the zombies once I started swinging: 18 seconds

      Without it: 55 seconds.

      So in your absolute best case scenario you wind up tripling your rate if you can continuously cleave -- and it speeds up the longer you continue to one shot things so fewer enemies give less benefit. Of course, without Great Cleave you're still killing a target every 2 seconds anyway.

      That just does not seem worth it to me -- it's not three feats to triple your AoE damage (which would be amazing), it's three feats to triple your AoE damage on mobs you one-shot. Which are irrelevant anyway and you're still mowing through them. Throw in mobs that don't die in one hit (and sure, a scythe crit may kill them but that's less than 25% in the case best scenario -- because there will be times where you'll crit with the scythe on an attack that would kill them on a normal swing anyway) and other party members (PCs or NPCs) that can land the killing blow and suddenly it's not looking very good at all.

      But yes, in insanely easy HotU with a 2H weapon master it's quite powerful at times.

      3, warriors aren't a wasted slot, they exist to stupidly run in and get the attention of everything and then literally do nothing for the next minute because they're force-fielded!

      It's stupid how hard warriors get hit -- even a full tank specced warrior cannot actually tank anything.

      What do you mean DA2 doesn't have a tactics framework screen? It has the same kind of tactics as DA:O does -- better, even. By "tactical view" I'm assuming you mean that you cannot completely unhook the camera from the characters? It mean, it's basically NWN's camera except you can shift between party members. Not sure why that's rubbish?

      First playthrough was as a mage, second was an archery rogue, third was a 2H warrior. Got sidetracked during the warrior playthrough -- and to be fair, I had seen basically everything during the first two playthroughs. I may go back and finish the third.

      Of course, I've done Aielund and ME2 over half a dozen times :P

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    20. 4, I suppose I will (re)-release Peremptory Summons. 1-6 wasn't a condition, I just wanted to prove you could create engaging and reasonably difficult low level combat without leaving the player at the mercy of bad RNG.

      Regarding weapon scaling, think about it this way...

      Level 1 fighter-type with 16 strength. Greatsword is 11 damage, Longsword is 7.5 damage along with 3 AC. Choice between 47% more damage or 3 AC.

      Level 20 fighter-type with, say, 30 strength. Figure +4 weapons with 1d8 bonus damage. Greatsword is 30.5 damage, Longsword is 23 damage along with 7 AC. Choice between 33% more damage or 7 AC.

      Level 40 fighter with 46 strength, +7 weapons with 2d8 bonus damage. Greatsword is 50 damage, Longsword is 38.5 damage along with 10 AC. Choice between 30% more damage or 10 AC.

      Now let's say we find even better weapons at 40 -- +9 weapons with 2d12 bonus damage for all! Greatsword is 56 damage, Longsword is 44.5 damage along with 12 AC. Choice between 26% more damage or 10 AC.

      Notice the pattern? The damage advantage of the 2H keeps getting worse and worse while the defensive advantage of the 1H keeps getting better and better.

      And this isn't even factoring in stuff like Weapon Specialization, Bard Song, Prayer, Divine Favor, etc which add static bonuses.

      That's also only half of the issue -- the other half is the fact that at level 1 a Longsword will do 15% more damage than a Shortsword initially but only about 2-3% more damage at high levels. Using a longsword and shield over a short sword and shield basically gains you no real advantage in the end -- whereas you can dual-wield short swords effectively and then swap to shortsword and shield if you need extra defense.

      Long story short, weapons get damage bonuses appropriate for their size -- if a longsword gets 1d8 bonus damage, a greatsword gets 1d12, shortsword 1d6, dagger 1d4.

      The Fire Mountain bosses (usually) aren't really "summoning" monsters, they're summoning adds for the fight. Probably easier to show than to tell, so here's a video I recorded of the first area of the first dungeon:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=rYi5lSPv6mI#t=387

      (that should start at the beginning of the actual boss fight which is at about 6:30 into the video, but obviously you can watch the rest if you so desire. And yes, I realize the quality of the video and the audio is bad, was still figuring out how to record stuff)

      If that looks interesting to you, we could play through some of the dungeons in multiplayer. The two of us should be able to handle the three person zones (with it being rough at times) and I know I can whistle up at least one person to help with the five person zones (plus the module has hireable henchmen which can help...but a real person is much better). Obviously if you know anyone else then the more the merrier.

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    21. On Great Cleave:
      55 secs versus 18 secs? Just saved 37 secs of precious human life - that's a decent argument for Great Cleave's efficacy in the later stages of HotU, imo. But a better example would have been the waves and waves - a full EIGHTY in total - of halberd-wielding Devil Warrior spawns on the windswept battlefield. Plus all those secs saved over the length of a campaign add up to minutes... life's too short and combat's too trashmobby NOT to take Great Cleave with that kinda build in HotU.

      On DA: Origins
      You shouldn't need warriors to hold back the waves, though. And yes, warriors take damage no matter what. Wasted slot from power-gaming PoV.

      On DA2 tactics screen and perspective
      Oh, I read somewhere it doesn't have a tactics framework screen, like the one pictured here:
      http://lilura1.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/modding-dragon-age-origins_26.html

      How about the perspective, I heard they did away the Origins' option to have the strategy cam angle (top-down view that oversees battlefield)?

      On 2hander dmg scaling.
      Interesting, and I agree with your reasoning. People undervalue AC, too!

      On multi-player.
      Would like to, but my connection isn't solid enough in some locations, so... But when I get it sorted out I'll drop you a line for sure!

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    22. No, actually the Devil Warrior spawns are less advantageous for Great Cleave. Why? You simply kill them too fast and run out of cleaving targets, meaning you stop attacking and you need to go chase down the mobs.

      And I pretty specifically said (in my very last comment) that it was pretty good in HotU, just bad in general :P

      Re: DA:O -- what tactics did you use, then? I would just use the warrior to taunt everything, then forcefield him and AoE the shit out of stuff with the two mages. And it would keep the bosses focused on the warrior rather than attack the mages.

      DA2: Tactics!

      http://dragonage.wikia.com/wiki/Tactics_%28Dragon_Age_II%29

      http://img3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20110411135059/dragonage/images/5/51/Tactics_-_Merrill1.jpg

      Yes, they don't have the top down camera that's independent of a character, but you can still zoom in and out from any angle from any character. The only times I ever missed the overhead view was when I was trying to position some AoE very carefully and I had a bad angle, which was less than 1% of the gameplay.

      I actually think you’d enjoy DA2 overall. I’d still recommend Aielund/Swordflight/Hex/Sanctum over DA2, but DA2 I thought was much better than DA:O. Still had massive problems, but different (and fewer) massive problems. DA2 would certainly be better than the original NWN campaign, possibly SoU. Not sure about HotU.

      Indeed on the 2H (I also I realized I made an error, the final AC bonus should be 12 AC not 10). And yes, people vastly underestimate AC. 1 AC basically means you can take 10-15% more damage against reasonable opponents. Conversely, 1 AB basically means you do 10-15% more damage versus reasonable opponents. Which basically means it’s incredibly stupid to wear a non AC neck and non AC boots if available (unless that’s your only option for Haste perhaps) in 99% of situations.

      Sure, just let me know – and NWN multiplayer doesn’t exactly require an amazing connection.

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    23. I was only ever talking about HotU because, unlike you, I haven't played anything other than Aielund at epic levels.

      1% of game-play? Even the Dragon Age: Origins perspective and control could be frustratingly limiting 5% of the time. Do you even have marquee select? Can you double-click units to "snap" to them? And does the camera pan gradually to center on the selected unit in DA2 (not a good thing, btw).

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    24. Hardly limited to epic either, it's not very good past like level 10 in most modules.

      I have no idea what marquee select is. I'm not sure what you mean by snap -- you can click to switch between party members or click on your target. I don't recall the camera ever panning.

      And yes, like 1%. I can remember maybe 2-3 times the entire game where I wished I had the overhear view because it wouldn't let me place the AoE properly without it.

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    25. Marquee select is when you drag a box over one or more units to group them. Most people who play non turn-based "tactical" games appreciate the inclusion of it.

      Origins lets you select units by clicking on them but also "snaps" to the unit when you double-click it (ie, immediately centers on the unit). This sort of control and versatility reflects the 2d isometric Infinity Engine games (eg, Baldur's Gate) of which Origins claimed (both rightly and wrongly) to be a "spiritual" successor.

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    26. Ah, I know what you mean (I've played the Starcraft, Warcraft, and Command and Conquer series). DA2 has marquee select for your party, yes.

      You can also "snap" to any party member by clicking on them or their portrait. You cannot "snap" to a non-party member.

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    27. "The part where I suffer the vamps to live, who admit to feeding on Highmarch residents when the blood-stocks get low below their halls, and which Nellise actually seems ok with as a Lawful Good Aasimar Cleric, providing they're not killin anyone..."

      Yes, this quest is really messed up, in terms of believability. Undead that are humane and want to just live without being evil, yet confess in passing that they sometimes hunt for people when they have to. And even Princess Criosa is OK with this... I think Balkoth is right here that Arminus's standpoint of fear of humans might just as nonsensical or even more believable in terms of roleplaying.

      Personally, the option with persuading Baron to kill himself and be reunited with his love and leaving me in charge of the defense is very interesting, but a bit wicked. Anyway, I've chosen an option with leaving Saffron with Baron in the fort out of curiosity to check if there are consequences of this in the future. Still, I wonder why there is no option to relieve the undead from their torment in a peaceful way. Such as (example): letting them rest forever by persuading this existence is twisted and allowing for the last meeting between Saffron and her beloved in order to make them reassure each other they are to meet in afterlife/paradise. This could be in order especially that Savant seems to have abandoned D&D polytheism and introduced monotheistic "God" as a deity instead.

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    28. "This could be in order especially that Savant seems to have abandoned D&D polytheism and introduced monotheistic "God" as a deity instead."

      Since you're playing Act III presumably you finished Act II...where the cleric in the final fight is definitely getting spells from someone or something other than what most people in Aielund refer to as "God." RB will comment on it as well. Just sayin'.

      "Yes, this quest is really messed up, in terms of believability."

      Well, in Savant's place, what would you have changed? That's not a "you don't know better than him!" type comment but a serious question -- what would have kept the basic scenario the same while making it more believable for you?

      "And even Princess Criosa is OK with this..."

      My thoughts were that (especially given the LACK of problems/concern in Highmarch) she was more worried about the *definite* threat of the Ironlord than the *possible* threat of those undead. Especially when half of those undead want you to kill the other half (and vice versa).

      "Still, I wonder why there is no option to relieve the undead from their torment in a peaceful way."

      Presumably because Savant didn't think the undead were in torment (and thus those undead didn't feel that way). Those undead are generally content to "live" out their existence and fight against horrors lurking beneath as needed. The idea of some kind of ancient defenders sworn to defend a place eternally is fairly common -- and they're often undead or constructs or something that's not alive.

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    29. "the cleric in the final fight is definitely getting spells from someone or something other than what most people in Aielund refer to as "God."".

      Yes, this might be some demonic entity. But, again Demon/God interplay is present in almost all monotheisms. My reference to God here comes from the fact Savant uses term "God" himself. I noticed he also seems to have transplanted to Aielund the theme of medieval church/state tensions in Europe. Also, there are crosses present in the temples. Hence my thought he meant the God after all.

      "Well, in Savant's place, what would you have changed [in "good vampires" quest] ?

      So my idea is that vampirism is ALWAYS related to overwhelming impact of dark mystical that cannot be cured or even put to stasis without exorcism or other force of good external to the affected one. There is always tension and torment, as well as constant inner struggle in the people affected, as this "condition" progresses in them. Treating vampirism as something easily neutralized ("click, oh, it stopped to progress, let's have a beer") does not bite, so to speak :). No, even if you resist vampirism, you must fight with its spread within you constantly, daily, forever. As I understand the plot, Savant assumed there is something around/under Highmarch that prevents this ultimate vampirism-related degeneration and keeps people in a stasis between empathic humanity and inhumane vampirism. But does this mean they just don't sense the seed of darkness in their souls?

      I would consider firstly correcting some minor inaccuracies which are already there: /1/get rid of Carthach's remark they occasionally consume people, as it kind of suggest they might be evil, you can also get rid of a line "don't mistake my actions for compassion". Why to say this? After all he seems to be a compassionate person, guarding Highmarch voluntarily (?) instead of joining whatever lurks below. As you write yourself, they seem to be content to "live" their existence.

      /2/ In terms of believability: I would make their self-satisfaction with "life" conditional, adding at least a trace of "inner struggle" as this struggle is needed daily to make them oppose progression of vampirism. In current version they seem to be just plain simple guys sipping whisky and enjoying coolness of the cave, sometimes whacking baddies from below, ok, every now and then they also hunt people, but they do not feel guilty conscience, if I remember correctly there is even a suggestion mating is possible;) Come on, it's too harsh. One could change it a bit e.g. through adding dialogue section about their self-noticed spiritual distortion and explanation WHY they became ancient defenders. For example, /A/RELIGIOUS line: they escaped death through strike of fate and their current state is caused by what Hegel called "cunning of reason", so their fate became purgatorium for them; they hope this service might one day relieve them of their burden/sins after eons of service. /B/CHAOTIC line: you have this esoteric idea that if the spirit dies in emotional upheaval, it somehow remains attached to the place to set this particular, final thing right. So they would be such entities, victims of entropy, who very instinctively stay there unless the threat from below would be vanquished. /C/ LAWFUL line: you could paint them as people who had been sworn to do good/defend this place in the past etc. who on their death were kind of united to their pre-mortem goal, as their spirits did not realize they are in fact dead. In this vein of explanation weird vampirism half-sustained their bodies, but its spread could not thwart their strong souls eternally devoted to their final stand.

      Whatever you do, making these vampires more reflexive as to the ambiguity of being a half-vampire and adding a trace of internal struggle (even if they generally enjoy their state) to their perception of the world would help.

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    30. "Hence my thought he meant the God after all."

      At the risk of sparking a confrontation, you might want to define what you mean by "the God" in this case.

      Warning: no matter how you define it, over 4 billion people will disagree with you.

      Addendum: as a minor spoiler for Aielund, "God" is actually female.

      "There is always tension and torment, as well as constant inner struggle in the people affected, as this "condition" progresses in them"

      What do you mean by "progresses?" From what I know of NWN/D&D...you're basically a vampire or you're not a vampire. Any "progression" would be very swift upon initially being bitten or whatever (Saffron is "fully" a vampire, for example).

      "As I understand the plot"

      My understanding is that something near Highmarch prevents those vampires from being in thrall/beholden to the one who "turned" them. There's no "vampire lord" who can literally compel the actions of other vampires that he or she effectively enslaved. And due to the fact the vampires are independent from each other they effectively decided to form their "code" to preserve their collective existences. Part of which included "Don't bring down the wrath of a fort of soldiers/clerics who could bring in reinforcements from across the entire nation if needed."

      "get rid of Carthach's remark they occasionally consume people, as it kind of suggest they might be evil"

      Are you referring to this line

      ---

      Although we do not make war upon humanity, we do still need to feed upon the living to sustain ourselves. There are caves below this complex that allow us to hunt, and stay alive, but that is not always enough. When this happens, we go out into Highmarch and feed there. Feed, but not kill. We know that our survival depends on not calling too much attention.

      ----

      Sounds like they're specifically avoiding consuming anyone?

      "you can also get rid of a line "don't mistake my actions for compassion". Why to say this? After all he seems to be a compassionate person, guarding Highmarch voluntarily (?) instead of joining whatever lurks below."

      Because he's a Neutral being, not a Good one. He's primarily concerned with preserving the vampire's existence and that sentence in particular is saying that he didn't vampirize Saffron out of a desire to remove Saffron's suffering but rather to use it as an opportunity to forge an alliance, however tenuous, with Highmarch.

      ----

      But do not mistake my actions for compassion. I did what I did because I needed her to survive. Our numbers here are dwindling, and our code does not allow us to simply harvest more people to increase our numbers.

      ----

      Even if he was Evil with a capital "E," that doesn't mean he'd get along with whatever evil lurks in the depths. In fact, he could easily hate them more than the "Good" beings on the surface for various reasons. Somewhat relevant:

      http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0668.html

      "Whatever you do, making these vampires more reflexive as to the ambiguity of being a half-vampire"

      I don't understand why you think they're half-vampires. They're vampires...but some power in the ancient ruins prevented them from becoming thralls to the vampire who raised them.

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  2. "God" is actually female."

    Ha, this was really funny, considering the fact God in Abrahamic tradition transcends human limitations like sex. II wonder if Savant was making fun of the Church of England (eg. Rev Emma Percy, who wants to rewrite Bible with female gender added). I am now in last Act, and in Nine Hells it was revealed to me that the evil cleric that resurrected Robert was taking power from Maecal (or sth like this). So it seems now there are two highest deities in Aielunds God and this Maecal. Now it seems to me Savant could not decide whether to stick with D&D polytheism or go for monotheistic duality of ultimate powers. (God/Devil). Btw. don't ask me about nature of God, I have background to endlessly speak about first cause, arche, attributes of in/finite entities etc. :)

    "What do you mean by "progresses?" From what I know of NWN/D&D..."

    Point. I did not refer to D&D, I was more referring to literature and generally to the topos of vampire in the arts. I kind of assumed author of Aielund transcends D&D. I meant that there is a short evolution involved from "not being vampire" to "being a vampire" (always related to torment) and also that state of existing as a vampire could not be portrayed as calm or tranquil per se, due to the rotten/evil nature of this transformation. My point was that as long as we assume "good vampire" is like "black snow", the plot becomes more believable only if a good vampire is not portrayed as a jovial, fulfilled, self-satisfied chap, but he suffers due to this duality, at least a little bit ;)

    "Are you referring to this line .. Feed, but not kill"

    Yes. Balkoth. I really appreciate your analytical approach to things... Well, the truth is I understood this line "Feed, but not kill", as tantamount with "we feed upon them, but don't treat is as killing, but survival". It seems it was my misinterpretation.

    "I don't understand why you think they're half-vampires. They're vampires"

    Ok, so if they are vampires and being good does not make them half-vampires... so if I was to accept without pain in my heart that they are vampires and they are good, I would need to hear about their pain caused by realization of their existential ambiguity. Btw. nice comics :)

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    1. "Ha, this was really funny, considering the fact God in Abrahamic tradition transcends human limitations like sex."

      Yet you referred to "God" as "him," the Abrahamic God is usually depicted as an older Caucasian male with a white beard, and the Christian incarnation of God (aka Jesus) was male. Supposedly Adam (male) was also made in God's image as well.

      People (especially those in charge, which has usually been men) like to anthropomorphize things.

      "Now it seems to me Savant could not decide whether to stick with D&D polytheism or go for monotheistic duality of ultimate powers. (God/Devil)."

      Polytheism is hardly unique to D&D -- it existed long before any kind of monotheism for that matter. The short version is that Aielund has polytheism and there could easily be other gods (beyond the known two) worshiped in other lands that we don't know of yet.

      "Btw. don't ask me about nature of God, I have background to endlessly speak about first cause, arche, attributes of in/finite entities etc. :)"

      I don't really think this blog would be a suitable forum for such a discussion regardless.

      "I kind of assumed author of Aielund transcends D&D."

      It does whenever Savant wants something to be different from D&D. I don't see you complaining that Orcs aren't depicted as tortured and mutilated Elves, though.

      "so if I was to accept without pain in my heart that they are vampires and they are good"

      They're not good. They range from neutral to self-interested evil (meaning they no desire to crusade for an Evil cause). Most of them are simply looking for the best way to preserve their own existence long term.

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  3. "Yet you referred to "God" as "him",
    Yes certainly, I did, but this is a language convention, nothing mroe, and there is nothing wrong about it. Sex-specific depictions in theology serve to personify things in order to make philosophical concepts more understandable for the folk. So from the idea of "source/origin" (Greek arche) you take "father". That's it. Anyway, you're right, this blog is not a place for such distractions.

    "They're not good"
    Aren't they? Well, if I remember correctly, on your way to Trinity to hire mercs there is a dialogue line by PC on meeting the vampires underground: "Ah, so you're the good vampires that live under Highmarch" :)

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    1. Yes, that's a tongue in cheek comment.

      "Yes, I wasn't completely human before I became what I am now. But I am not what you may suspect. For you see, I am -"

      "A good vampire. Yes, I've met your kind before."

      From both a literal and technical standpoint, at *best* some of the vampires are True Neutral (as indicated in the toolset) and many are still considered Evil. The comment is more talking about how they aren't complete monsters like many other vampires (or are at least *less* evil).

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  4. Oh well, you're the DM here :) Can't wait for another installment of the Saga. Greetings!

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    1. As Lilura mentioned, I'm merely the "caretaker" for the Aielund Saga as Savant is focused on his novels. And at this point I don't expect to see a new NWN module series for it.

      Maybe down the line it's possible that if/when Savant releases his next series I could convert them into NWN modules...but I don't know when that will be or how popular NWN will be at that time or anything. Rather unlikely.

      Delete
  5. Another installment, do you mean Balkoth's upcoming overhaul? Because Savant isn't gonna make anymore, as far as I know (he's too busy writing novels).

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  6. In regard to possible solutions to the Vampire quest, I dont see an inherent problem. I don't know anything about D&D vampires in particular, but logically a sapient undead, evil or not, should have the abilitiy to attempt to act civil and make alliances purely out of self-preservation. As long as lawful good characters have the option to smite them all with extreme prejudice, I don't see an issue (for the record my CN sorcerer followed Carthach's plan, then convinced the Baron to become undead and live with his wife under the city forever, leaving me in charge of the fort. Have to admit I was a little disappointed when Terminus showed up and took control of the fort right after.)

    What struck me as odd though was how my character instantly diagnosed Saffron's condition as vampirism and then chalked it up to adventuring experience. To my knowledge Saffron is actually the first vampire my character ever encountered. I don't know, in D&D are all undead similar enough that I'd be able to spot vampirism at a glance after having dealt with liches, mummies, and skeletons?

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    Replies
    1. my very same reaction. My PC is meta-gaming… with scripted convos!

      Dunno. Anyway… some recounting & random toughts:

      In Culdeny, Kora (human Rogue/Ranger/SDD) "dumped" the princess: that remark of her before entering the sewers seriously made her reconsider taking her majesty to somewhere really dangerous.

      Before that, the blue dragon was killed by Kora alone, who trusted the two nemesis to "stand their ground" at the beginning of the area while scouting ahead… and spotted it from the distance, set up a mild but well placed field of various traps (not too much stacked together, it would be just too easy) and lured the unpersuaded beast to its demise. The dragon who was invading the dwarves was harder, no place to put traps (True Seeing…(*)), can't lure it in the smaller hallway but since Kora told Criosa to use her bow and to retreat in case, she was pretty much wandering aimlessly while Black and her painTakingly killed the dragon.

      Right, Nellie is just so much better and well, I'll see what Black has to offer on another play through, I'm pretty sure his lines are spectacular (I have no idea, but I imagine him getting married with the princess, after the big battle ends… until next playthrough I suppose).

      So, for now our trio is Kora, Nellie and Spartan and it will stay as is. Very nice interactions Spartan vs Environment, I suppose that the combo Black/Nellie must be good, church/inquisition hater vs… paladin/cleric, so many combinations! So much re-playability! That's what's all about in the end… Decisions. You can't get it all, you must make mutually exclusive choices (but you can play as many times you like!)

      Back in "track"… somewhat… shall we?

      The vampires bit was so damn easy, Spartan spammed fear and knockdown, Nellie was doing her thing (cleric vs undeads, she knows a tinybit right?) while Kora was being… dominated eh, poor will thingie… and "she" forgot to quaff some Orange Juice (Potion of Clarity).
      Quickly done so after the first effect ended, then helped finishing off the wandering, helpless foes.

      (*) Note on True Seeing: on various persistent worlds, True Seeing is nerfed down to not include auto spotting stealthy creatures, but adds like 10 or 20 to spot and listen instead…
      Otherwise, once the most powerful foes/players start getting True Seeing it seems (to me) almost pointless to continue pumping up hide/move silently.
      In this serie, however, True Seeing is well balanced, and some foes, where appropriate, have very high spot/listen anyway… It keeps you on your toes, for sure.
      In the end, it also makes sense you can't hide (at least easily) from an ancient dragon, right?

      Delete
  7. Unrelated question: is it possible to use ioun stones on henchman, and are there stones that boost attributes other than strength? Seems something of a waste to have 2 strength stones on my sorcerer.

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    Replies
    1. And that's a general NWN issue, not Aielund specific.

      Delete
    2. What about the second question? Any other (!= pale blue) stones in later acts? Well, I will find out soon enough :>

      Delete
  8. It seems that the description of Pasha Shakir is missing his name:

    «The leader of the small village of Trinity, Pasha xxxx is usually in the precarious position […]»

    ReplyDelete

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