Tuesday, 30 December 2014

The Aielund Saga: Act Three - Part VII


Trinity

We take the three pieces of the Scepter of the Ages back to Sahir in Trinity (+2500 EXP), but he doesn't know how to fit them together and suggests we take them to Terinus in Fort Highmarch for assemblage.

This now triggers a surprising encounter just outside...


The Ironlord himself now appears in Trinity!


The Ironlord wants peace and wants us to swear fealty to him, saying he's the first King and founder of Aielund and that he will be again. Submit or die, basically.

 

We stubbornly refuse to submit or die, telling the Ironlord we'll settle this back at Highmarch (ie, when we have the Scepter to use on him). At this point you're supposed to just run to the exit, but I decided to stick around for a while to fight the Minogon-like immortal and his four Iron Legionnaires (+612 EXP ea).

Here I stand hip-deep in legionnaire scrap metal, tanking the Ironlord and only inflicting divine damage on him...


All shall fall in glorious death! - Ironlord.


You can see my stats here:


We reduced the Ironlord to Near Death status, but he obviously won't die at this stage no matter how much more damage we inflict.


Therefore, we reluctantly take the north exit out of Trinity, leaving the poor village to it's fate.


North of Trinity


In the sandy region north of Trinity, the trio come to the aid of King Seamus and his Knights of the Realm who are engaged in a difficult battle against several Adamantium Shield Guardians (+340 EXP).



I now meet the King for the first time, in person (he's not very likeable, tbqh). We agree on a course of action: the King will retreat to the castle while the heroes attempt to delay the Iron Legion onslaught in the region south of the fort; then we'll all meet up in the fort for the final showdown.



Southern Slopes


On the northern end of the natural bridge stands Captain Gerard Lane along with a contingent of six rangers, two realm knights, one war wizard and two siege engineers manning a ballista each.

 

The construct horde approaches from the south, as the siege engineers fire their ballistae!


We tank and bottleneck a seemingly endless flow of Iron Legionnaires lumbering over the bridge towards us (+612 EXP ea).

On the slope, the Captain and his knights are flanked by Breachers, a stealthy form of golem used to "breach" walls in siege warfare (+340 EXP ea).


Fall back! Fall back to the fortress NOW! - Captain Gerard Lane.

The trio ignore the order of the Captain, refusing to leave the rangers to fight alone to the death.


On the other side of the natural bridge I tank five more Iron Legionnaires, but they just relentlessly keep coming. Even our gallant heroes are eventually forced to retreat back over the bridge and up the slopes towards Fort Highmarch, pursued by the golems.


This last, lone ranger, on the verge of death, started to run away with us as we passed by. We'd like to think she made it to safety behind the great Highmarch walls, just as we did.


Level Up to 24!

(Epic Characters)

Lilura: Champion of Torm (7) / Paladin (12)/ Fighter (4), +1 STR, Armor Skin, Great Strength I
Criosa: Rogue (15) / Wizard (9), +1 DEX, Epic Weapon Focus: Rapier, Sneak Attack (+8d6)
Nellise: Cleric (22) / Paladin (2), +1 WIS, Great Wisdom I



Fort Highmarch (South)


Now that we're back inside the fort, let's take a look at the faithful allies who have turned up to support us against the Ironlord's legion!

.... Valennia Far-Eagle, the headstong human barb whom we first met in Fairloch all those months ago; whose tribe we saved from Erag's usurpation and later from a flock of white dragons; and whom we just recently raised from the dead in Hailstorm's lair... She has come to repay the debt owed to me - and wow, she looks awesome! Welcome Valennia. When the battle begins, rage hard!

I hunger for battle! And food too. I should really go and eat something.

 

...  Hasrinaxx, the loner druid who caused all that rain in Bracksworth holding the portal open for the mighty gold dragon, Salinder; who was instrumental in defending the small town against the mercs; who bravely fought the goblinoid and giant horde with little support; and who gave us access to Acadia and the elves thanks to his wisdom of the oaks... Yep, we're a BIG fan of Hasrinaxx!

It is a rare thing, to see so many, from diverse backgrounds come together in common purpose.


... Carthach, the noble vampire who gave Saffron the gift of half-life. This guy can FIGHT, believe it. His sword glows with the elements and his amulet bestows perma-Haste. You'd better not steal my thunder, bloodsucker..!

I have come, as promised. May fortune favor us all.


... Leif sent two Acadian elf sharpshooters who I now send to perch atop the western turret. I'm sure your bows will sing epically, my pointy-eared friends!


... The rangers of the Calespur, sent by Commander Armin Wise. I send them both to perch atop the eastern turret. I've admired these cats ever since I met them with Dante in the Calespur Lodge - nothing fazes them!


One militiaman I send to the church to defend the front gate; one crossbowman to the top of the watchtower. May your knees not shake at the approach of the Ironlord, muh noobs!


The Stoneguard dwarves whose subterranean city we saved not once, but twice. They will tank at the gate, obviously. That's all I tell them: TANK! They understand.


With the alliance set and their positions assigned, we now retire to the interior of the fort where King Seamus and Terinus await. With the three Scepter pieces handed to Terinus, he now teleports to Culdeny to assemble it using this arcane apparatus:


The fate of Fort Highmarch and greater Aielund is now in our hands.

The Iron Legion has arrived. Let us meet it - HEAD ON.

 


Siege of Fort Highmarch (Highmarch south)


The first wave is coming! Raise the Drawbridge! Catapults, OPEN FIRE! - Captain Marshald.

Four Adamantium Shield Guardians now march towards the (closed) drawbridge, but the catapults are surprisingly effective against them without my intervention - as are the pepperings from our rangers and elves perched high on the turrets. The golems unleash five volleys of Isaac's Greater Missile Storm and three of Firebrand on the turret defenders before they're all turned to scrap metal by catapult fire.

(You can hit the drawbridge control on the turrets and fight the golems yourself [+ 340 EXP ea], external to the fort).



I now have Nellise Mass Heal us and then have both her and Criosa buff me into a hero of epic proportions.

I then self-buff long-terms Greater Stoneskin, Eagle's Splendor, Magical Circle Against Evil and True Sight (Gem of Seeing).


Catapults, CEASE FIRE! My lady, come over here, quickly! - Captain Marshald.

There is a great rumbling; the earth shakes. We all stand still for a moment, in silence.


Suddenly the walls are bombarded by boulders, and from outside our catapult range!



The excited Marshald thinks they might have fifty catapults, but Corporal Smith reports the source as being one boulder-hurling golem - albeit one that stands a full twenty feet in height. A plan is made to lower the drawbridge to allow the heroic trio to take down this titan before it leaves the proud walls of Fort Highmarch in utter ruin.

We charge headlong through the drawbridge to face off against the strongest enemy of the Saga thus far: the epic Siege Golem, supported by one Adamantium and three Irons (+425 EXP ea).

I self-buff short-terms Divine Might, Divine Shield and Divine Wrath (with Expertise activated my AC is 60)...


  ... then waste no time smashing into them with all my might! Where are Nellise and Criosa, you ask? They're tucked away, somewhere safe!


The mighty Siege Golem teeters, then falls to the earth with a deafening thud (+1445 EXP).


Good work! Now, get back inside and defend the walls! Captain Marshald.

We do so.

They've destroyed the drawbridge mechanism! We can no longer raise it! - Captain Marshald. ("They" being the Breachers). 

Hasrinaxx now buffs up and then starts spamming elemental spells all over the place, as the rest of us either swarm the stealth golems or tank the irons at the drawbridge (Breachers [+240 EXP ea]; Iron Legionnaires [+884 EXP ea]).


I now tank several Irons who have emerged into the courtyard as the badass druid continues his AoE assault, unleashing Bombardment and Storm of Vengeance followed by Firestorm, Inferno and Call Lightning.

 

Not one to stop fighting with empty spell slots, he now runs to join me in melee. You can see Criosa uselessly casting Isaac's Lesser (and at spell-resistant golems, no less...)

 

The Ironlord now makes his appearance, cutting through our ranks with his blue beam of death and centering the Epic Spell: Hellball on the watchtower which rapidly expands to consume the whole courtyard, inflicting sonic, fire, electrical, cold, acid and Knockdown.

 

With the construct horde continuing to spawn, the Ironlord only at Injured status and our resources almost wholly drained, things begin to look hopeless, but then suddenly Terinus and the King teleport into the courtyard!

Terinus auto-joins the party: Human Lawful Neutral Wizard (25). Yes! A pure caster - it doesn't get any better than that.

Lord of Iron, you are UNDONE. - Terinus the Black.

What hast thou done? - Ironlord.

(He used the assembled Scepter of the Ages to strip the Ironlord of "immortality").

 

The Ironlord now takes a major beating from me, and is zapped by Ball Lightning cast by Terinus.


I... will not... yield. - Ironlord. (+4610 EXP)

The Ironlord slams into the ground and an old man (Alaric Roebec) crawls out from the hulking metal shell, only to fall down and die from his wounds.


So the man was indeed Alaric the First, progenitor of Aielund, who loooong ago had embarked on an expedition deep into the desert where he found a suit of Ironlord armor, in some ancient ruin...


Nellise is now promoted to Knight-Templar to the crown...


...and I'm awarded with a Barony in Aielund.

 

So concludes the siege of Fort Highmarch.


Act Three: End Cutscene



It is late, Terinus, and I am weary from my long trials. What do you want? King Seamus Roebec.

My reasons will become clear, Majesty. - Terinus the Black.

I don't approve of you fooling around with that thing. It could be dangerous.

I am quite safe, I assure you. Without Alaric to control it, there is no threat. In fact...

I'm too tired for your usual theatrics, Ternius. What is it you want to show me?

Very well. I have concluded that this is quite simply an advanced suit of armor, nothing more. You could, in fact, wear it yourself with no ill effect.

... I could?

Indeed. Try it, there is no danger.

Well... alright, just for a minute.


*The King puts on the armor*


See? I told you there was no cause for concern. How does it feel? - Terinus the Black.

Very strange... but also very good. Imagine what someone of good intentions could do with this power! - King Seamus Roebec.

Truly it is the armor of a King. Perhaps that is why Alaric took possession of it.

I don't feel tired anymore either. I feel... strong!

As I thought. I have some... ideas. Come, let us talk some more.

Yes... lets.

*Fade to black*

And this concludes Act Three of the Aielund Saga: The Return of the Ironlord!


49 comments:

  1. Yeah, the gathering scene where you see the individual characters you've interacted with over sometimes three Acts is a nice payoff.

    "Here I stand hip-deep in legionnaire scrap metal, tanking the Ironlord and only inflicting divine damage on him... "

    Technically speaking, you aren't inflicting Divine damage to him. He resists 50 to all damage types. You're dealing irresistible damage from Divine Might (and other buffs) which (when dealing non-physical damage) cannot be mitigated. If Divine Might was called Fire Might, you could hit a Red Dragon with the fire damage from it.

    Basically, only someone with cleric/paladin spells granting bonus non-physical damage can harm him -- he's supposed to basically be immune to everything but that's not possible to do with the engine without making him plot.

    "The Ironlord now makes his appearance, cutting through our ranks with his blue beam of death and centering the Epic Spell: Hellball on the watchtower"

    I swear I have never seen that happen and have no idea what you're referring to.

    Of course, I've also always just tanked the Ironlord OUTSIDE the fort where he zones in so maybe it's a scripted thing for when he enters the fort proper?

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    1. Yeah, I realize it's just reported as divine dmg but really is actually this:

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

      From Divine Might and Divine Wrath. "Divine" dmg, ftw.

      From my exp, Ironlord Hellball is unleashed when he's in the fort, but it doesn't always happen for me. It's more showy than effective though, as per the last note on this page:

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

      I played around lots with this battle (was fun and interesting) and I can rarely reproduce Hasrinaxx's epic casting performance recounted above. Normally after buffing from behind the watchtower he just boringly "shapechanges: elemental" and wades into the fray with everyone else.

      One other small observation:

      None of the important allies who fall in this battle can be looted for their items, either. Probably a good thing, otherwise I prob couldn't resist setting Carthach up for the fall, for you know what!

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    2. 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.

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

      You monster, looting your allies!

      Can probably try to remove Hasrinaxx's wild/elemental shapes, I suppose, to prevent that.

      Hellball was buffed in both DC and got a fifth element (and the mobs don't have gobs of damage resistance) which makes it better. Gets especially nice for epic casters due to EMS changes which auto empower, auto maximized, and eventually auto empower AND maximize (for 20% more damage than maximize) spells as you go up in epic levels. Greater Ruin is a 250 damage nuke and Hellball is a 360 damage nuke.

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    3. "You monster, looting your allies!"

      I laugh at myself with how I started this Aielund recounting off, talking about how I was going to "role-play" and restrict myself to purely how I perceive a pally should conduct themselves. The problem is, restrictions can often get in the road of fun, experimentation, "power-gaming" and choosing delicious and hilarious dialogue responses. Still, I didn't kill Carthach and I've just hit max Lawful (100) to acquire the Crusader title, which I've never managed before in any NWN module (it means nothing, except I have room to "manoeuvre"..)

      Interesting about the EMS changes, I think whichever campaign or module I play next will be an arcane spellcaster. However, I'd like to read up more on EMS, but it hasn't been separately uploaded to the new Vault, complete with docs yet, right?

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    4. Most NWN modules don't give opportunities for Lawful/Chaotic, to be fair.

      No on the EMS, I can check tomorrow on an old computer to see if I have it.

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    5. atm I can't think of RPGs other than Planescape: Torment that give many Lawful/Chaotic options...

      If you can find EMS, that would be great.

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    6. Technically SoU at had some chaotic/lawful actions, not really recalling many (if any) in HotU. Swordflight (an excellent campaign, in the top five I've played along with Aielund, A Dance With Rogues, and Hex Coda) definitely has some as well.

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    7. The last time I checked (years ago) I was the only one with the enhanced EMS file. The chap who wrote it never released it on his own and I haven't communicated with him since. If it hasn't been separately uploaded to the vault, you might as well do it so others can gain its benefits :)

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  2. Which campaign module do you think I should recount next? Bear in mind I'm not interested in "role-play" ones like ADwR...

    What are your top five combat-centric modules?

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    1. But all the sex!

      In all seriousness, though, I liked ADWR not because of the sex, but because it actually promoted a non-combat centric approach to problems and actually encouraged you to play as a rogue. Most modules are "K, you're a rogue, so you'll be okay in combat early on (EXCEPT AGAINST UNDEAD AND CONSTRUCTS AND SHIT HAHAHA) but I guess you can pick some locks other people just bash and maybe disable some traps and shit that the fighter can just spring anyway. Whatevs. Oh, and scouting/stealth is useless." There was very little experience game from actual combat and instead mostly from solving problems which could range from using stealth to locks/traps to diplomacy to clever use of items. Basically the only module I've played where I actually felt like having the rogue skills mattered (note that while in the *very* combat centric modules I've made I specifically don't have enemies immune to crits/sneaks so rogues don't suddenly suck, so they're still great in combat while flanking).

      I would probably recommend the Swordflight series next by RogueKnight. I have design concerns with the combat in the first module especially (which stem from the RNG problems at low levels in DnD) and the author literally built in a respawn system that assumes you will die a few times due to less favorable rolls and just respawn. Making actually difficult combat without RNG issues at levels 1-3 is actually very hard to do in the default NWN rules, so I can understand his "whatever, you'll probably just die a few times and either respawn or reload" approach because most authors otherwise give you 1 HP rats that do 1 damage.

      I was persistent enough to refuse to respawn and instead just reloaded to beat every encounter "legitimately" which also made the module harder than intended (partially because I'm stubborn and partially because I don't like losing XP on respawn).

      Overall, though, the combat is the most difficult I've seen in a module besides mine (note that doesn't mean it's insanely difficult...just insanely more difficult than most modules) and I can almost not praise Swordflight Chapter 2 enough (only two chapters atm, author is working on third -- and the second module is like three to four times the length of the first). The combat RNG problems are practically non-existent.

      One thing that can turn off players is that items are generally less powerful and there is a heavy emphasis on using lots of consumables, ranging from healing potions to ability buffing potions to things like Death Ward potions. So if you're not used to spending lots of gold on potions and actively using them then it'll feel rougher.

      For reference, I played through as a Druid/Shifter which was suggested as being the worst possible character for the module by the author (I wanted a challenge) so playing even a standard fighter would have been easier (since basically I just meleed everything as a Druid/Shifter with a scimitar and shield).

      Apparently I broke the comment length, continued...

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    2. After Swordflight? Hmm. I made this list a little over a year ago and really need to update it:

      http://forum.bioware.com/topic/490100-magical-masters-rated-module-list/

      The Hex Coda is an absolutely amazing module and the Eternum series is also really, really good. The catch is that they're both by Stefan Gagne who is amazing at writing and characters but doesn't know jack about combat in NWN (and freely admits it). So the modules basically have combat as a formality -- it happens where you'd expect but it's basically faceroll and assumes you'll handily win. Could beat it as a strength based wizard.

      The Penultima series (and subsequent Penultima Rerolled) are Stefan's earlier works and are reasonably good (getting better as you go through the two series, shockingly enough)...but Eternum and Hex Coda are definitely better. Combat is still pretty faceroll and not really interesting.

      Gladiatrix is, if anything, even more sex heavy than ADWR and I don't think as much of it can be avoided as in ADWR. The first two modules, though, are actually fairly tightly tuned for a fighter (given that the series is designed to be played by a fighter means this is possible to do and the author put considerable work into tuning "arena fight"). Third module was not as good but still above average.

      Sanctum of the Archmage: The Sight was very good and fairly difficult combat, I'd probably rate it third in terms of combat modules (behind Aielund and Swordflight)...but it's really heavily story focused (which isn't a bad thing, of course). Kind of funny how the best three campaigns for combat also have really good story. Big drawback is only the first module has been updated by the author (theoretically second will be done "early this year" (series is only two modules)) but the first module is still outstanding and plenty long to occupy you for a bit...but probably not worth playing the second module until it's updated (simply because my understanding is that the update of chapter 1 changed enough that chapter 2 will be a bit wonky since they won't mesh together correctly). So if you want to do the whole thing in one go then may want to wait a bit.

      Caereena...well, you can read my mini-review there. Hack-and-slash module with poorly designed hack-and-slash is meh. Not terrible, but...yeah. Low priority to play.

      Lords of Darkness just has shittons (that's a new unit of measurement) of just killing the same mobs over and over and over and over again during combat segments.

      Dragon Dominant...meh. Don't really remember much but wasn't terrible I guess?

      Recently finished Darkness Over Daggerford. It was okay, nothing to write home about combat-wise and felt like too much side plot, not enough main plot. Better than Caereena/Lords/Dragon, though, but definitely short of the previous stuff mentioned.

      Small Village Woes is good. Combat is nothing amazing but serviceable and some interesting stuff. Very fun small module to play through in a few hours.

      Snickersnack was an even "funner" module that was also even shorter, like 30-60 minutes.

      Snow Hunt is mostly exploration and decent combat for again a short module, by RogueKnight who did Swordflight. Fun but nothing that will blow your mind.

      I realize that wasn't really a "Top 5 Combat-Centric Module List" like you asked for but hopefully it was more helpful.

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    3. ADwR/Gladiatrix: Yeah, sex sells - that's why I won't recount those modules on my blog. They have enough popularity and attention as is from "the masses", regardless of how good they may be. Nothing against the authors, but stuff like Hex Coda 01, Aielund Saga, The Breach and lots of esoteric stuff deserves coverage and appreciation, and gets NONE. So that's my focus. Speaking of The Breach, I hit a showstopping cutscene bug in that bloody thing, was enjoying it SO much too.

      Rogues: Meh, they've performed consistently well in most modules I've played (which isn't many, I admit). Nathyrra devastated as a ranged sneak attacker in Hordes, providing she was within 30 feet. Tomi is vicious in the OC. Dorna can carve em up in SoU. I know what you're saying, if you can add extra mechanics to give them other means of solving problems, it can really improve them. Even Oblivion's Dark Brotherhood was enhanced by allowing you to assassinate marks through unconventional means (well, unconventional for a game, that is). It depends on design as to how effective a rogue is in common combat, obviously.

      Hex Coda 01: Combat is a snoozefest in that otherwise brilliant module.

      Swordflight sounds like my cup of tea, as does Sanctum of the Archmage: The Sight.

      "Lords of Darkness just has shittons (that's a new unit of measurement) of just killing the same mobs over and over and over and over again during combat segments."

      Hah, sounds good for a laugh! Will give it a go, for sure.

      "Darkness Over Daggerford."

      Played it. Solid 7/10 module.

      How about older modules like Crimson Tides of Tethyr, I seem to recall it being amazing - but I was much younger then, and probably more easily pleased. Still, it could be THAT good. Guess I might have to fire it back up and see! What I remember: Aielund-esque military battles with solid writing, characters and story pacing.

      What do you think of Alazander, Adam Miller and Abaddon's stuff, btw?

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    4. The Breach? Never heard of it.

      Rogues tend to do fine at lower levels when they're able to sneak attack -- but then you wind up (especially in epic levels) where people give enemies immunities to sneak attack/crits to "make them harder." So Nathyrra was useless against the beholders, undead, and constructs in Chapter 2 of HotU, for example. Dorna is terrible against all the undead in the interlude of SoU and against the constructs/undead in Chapter 3. Tomi was bad against a lot of things too for the same reasons. And often these same crit/sneak immune creatures are given damage reduction/damage resistance that cripples dex attackers with low damage.

      So yes, how effective sneak attacks are is entirely up to the author (note: none of the enemies in my modules are crit immune or sneak immune).

      Yeah, I think you'd really like Swordflight and would also enjoy Sanctum.

      You won't really miss out on much if you skip Lords. It would be an average or maybe slightly below average module if there wasn't way too much hack'n'slash, but...yeah. There is.

      Assuming we're rating the OC like a 7, SoU 8, HotU 8.5, and Aielund 10, then yeah, Darkness would be about a 7.

      Let's see...CToT was Alazander, right?

      I didn't like Siege of Shadowdale. It seemed to exist more as "LOL CHECK OUT THESE PRE-EXISTING LORE CHARACTERS" than anything else and some of the quest design was stupid. I've played worse but I can't recommend it.

      CToT was pretty good, I think. Better than average but not amazing. Nowhere in the same category of Aielund/Swordflight/Sanctum/Hex, though.

      Tyrants of the Moonsea was obviously very incomplete. And right from the get-go it did something I absolutely loathe -- put the character in a situation where they SHOULD act and you can't do anything. You have to beat some guy in a duel (and you'll just completely wreck him) but then the game makes you stand there as that guy has some lackeys MURDER the guy you were hired to protect right in front of you. I will take all of your damn guards on, I'll take the whole TOWN on if I must, I shouldn't just sit there as that guy gets murdered -- doubly so since it's clear they'll try to do something to me next for humiliating their boss.

      I needed a Paragon or Renegade interrupt there. Was very tempted to just stop the dialogue and attack the corrupt guard but I figured (100% sure I was right about this) that it would screw up the module.

      I really, really hate stuff like that.

      Did Alaz do anything else?

      Adam Miller...was that the Dreamcatcher series or something? I remember starting it, getting a module or two in (weren't they very short) and then I think I just didn't find them interesting at all -- like, people thought that was good back then maybe? But it wasn't. Maybe it got much better later on but I didn't even think it was worth my time to keep playing (which is a fairly low bar for a short NWN module).

      Abaddon isn't ringing a bell, though, at all -- keep in mind I never touched NWN custom content until like 2009 I think. Never even knew about it since there, only played the official campaigns from 2003ish to 2007. Came back to NWN after needing to get away from WoW for a bit, was playing 30+ hours a week.

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    5. The Breach is an innovative module authored by Akkei, best known for his ORCS series (The Awakening of Arak-Hur and Return to Al-Dha - which I still haven't completed...).

      You choose between four custom undead lords and then recruit a party from the Undead Nation to wreak havoc on divine beings and mundane races (yeah you're obviously evil-aligned - no Baelnorns here). The lords are clvl25 and consist of Risen, Mummy, Vamp and Shadow corresponding to warrior/priest/rogue/sorc, and they have special feats for absorbing souls, inflicting pestilence and plague and appearing as poltergeists so they can communicate with humans. You don't get XP, you trade souls for upgrades. You don't rest, you sap souls. You don't die, you lose collected souls. Modules are baked with CEP 1.x..? Just as I was starting to get into it, I ran into a cutscene bug which I couldn't for the life of me fix, or workaround. So, sooo disappointing...!

      "Assuming we're rating the OC like a 7, SoU 8, HotU 8.5, and Aielund 10, then yeah, Darkness would be about a 7."

      That would be my ranking, yeah. I liked the Baldur's Gate-like overland map, more modules need to do that - Aielund would benefit from an overland of the Feydwiir...

      CToT was indeed authored by Alazander, you start the campaign at decent player lvl (6?)- so that was welcome to me. I vaguely recall a sweeping epic story similar to Baldur's Gate 2 (you can tell he was a fan of BG2, the PC visits elven city of Suldanesselar...) and you can recruit I think one or two henchmen (including a troll) from a pool of several who are pretty fleshed out and involved in the story (but you can't toy with their inventories, i hated that!). CToT has similar rest restrictions as Aielund and custom visuals and music (though it doesn't use CEP). Siege of Shadowdale I only toyed with briefly, I remember almost nothing of it. Tyrants of the Moonsea I've always had sitting on the HDD, but never fired it up. Not sure if Alazander made other modules, he might have. I'm not exactly well versed in NWN user-made content, really just scratched the surface.

      "I really, really hate stuff like that."

      Understandably so. Not that I think the dumbed down Para/Rene dialogue wheel thingy is anything impressive.. some rene interrupts were delicious and hilarious, though! (but still not DA:O level, imo).

      Adam Miller authored Dreamcatcher 1-4 and Shadowlords 1-5, god Ima embarrassing noob - haven't played any of them, that's why I asked you. He's also famous for Dark Waters and Lute Hero for NWN2, the former I HAVE played but not completed - his modules seem to exhibit very high tech proficiency with toolset..

      I remember Abaddon for traditional Forgotten Realms stuff, Gates of Myth Drannor and Sorrow of Faerun. I hit a showstopper bug several hours into the former and spent hours looking for a workaround, after which I rage-uninstalled. To that point, I was enjoying his area design - esp the thickly layered ambient sounds in his forests and his lighting use. Only two other things i recall: 1) mundane builds need +1 weapons ASAP due to soak 2) there are rest restrictions but not as strict as Aielund/CToT.

      "keep in mind I never touched NWN custom content until like 2009 I think."

      I played CToT when it first came out (not sure what the year was..), I remember it being highly esteemed by the community. To this day, people continue to cite it. After CToT, I toyed with many mods but none seem to match them. Then I stopped playing NWN and went back to something else, probably Diablo 2... on and off over the years I've gone back to NWN, mainly to play through Hordes with uber build x and casually scope out the community scene which never ceased to disappoint...

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    6. I see (regarding the Breach). Like I said, never heard of it but obviously a lot of effort put into it. Sorry to hear about the gamebreaking bug.

      I'm not sure any module besides DoD has the overland map.

      You can recruit at least a troll initially and a fighter/rogue later on. Don't think you ever had more than one companion, though (because this was early on and things like multiple companions and managing companion inventories wasn't a thing).

      Why do you think the Para/Rene dialogue idea is dumbed down? If anything DA:O pissed me off at times because I picked a dialogue option that I thought meant one thing but apparently I said it in a very different manner to the NPC. The Para/Rene lets you pick the gist of what you want to say without having to trying to guess the author's intent when things are ambiguous. Maybe I like it because the wheel is clearly focused on *choices* -- you're picking WHAT the characters do rather than exactly how they say it (which, like I said, can be problematic when you envision one tone of voice the author envisions another).

      Never heard of Gates of Myth Drannor or Sorrow of Faerun!

      I get the feeling that I managed to avoid some of the not very good (and/or buggy) custom modules that initially came out due to not being involved in CC at the time. CToT was definitely at least above average, though, and worth playing if you like NWN. Siege and Tyrants, not so much.

      Delete
    7. "I'm not sure any module besides DoD has the overland map."

      A travesty.

      The CToT readme boasts of five fully developed companions... don't think I took the troll, but I can't recall the others either..

      On the Mass Effect 2 dialogue wheel:

      There's a scene where female/renegade Shepard is given a wheel option for being what I would call "playfully dismissive/tongue in cheek" of Archangel's wounds. He says something like "How are my wounds?" and she gets to say "Well, scars are gonna show." But when you pick the option it gets voiced out and expressed in the face as if she's full of concern and care for him, the complete opposite of what I thought was gonna happen.

      Sorry, but that's so off-putting and fuckin STUPID. I literally rolled my eyes and stop playing for awhile after that.

      Now I'm not saying moments like that don't exist in Origins, but at least you have dialogue there which you can actually READ before you pick it.

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    8. Really? Five? I remember the troll in the beginning and the fighter/rogue (Elena?) for most of it. If there were others I have no recollection and I only played it like a year or so ago. If neither of us can remember anything else then I think that says something in and of itself.

      Re: Garrus...this scene?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=iF4epVfy9Xw#t=460

      The top option (which that person picks) seems a lot more playfully dismissive/tongue in cheek. The middle one seems a lot more serious (which seems to be what you picked?).

      In Origins, the same line "Well, the scars are going to show, Garrus" could be taken by the NPC as being either "Yeah, whatever, scars will show, who cares?" or "You poor thing, you have those scars, I care about you" and you wouldn't have any control of that either.

      DA2 did it best, I think -- they actually put icons next to choices to indicate stuff like that. Ranges from diplomatic to snarky to aggressive to romantic to lying to whatever. That way you can tell both the general words you'll say and the way they'll be said.

      http://dragonage.wikia.com/wiki/Dialogue_wheel

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    9. I'll probably recount CToT in the future, it was a long time ago that I played it.

      Regarding that choice, to me it just suggests the dialogue wheel is vague and responses can be interpreted by different people differently. It is a Baby's First dialogue system, imo. Dragon Age: Origins' was far clearer and more mature (and you didn't have to wait for a clumsy digital puppet to say it in a cutscene), but I would suggest people play the likes of Planescape: Torment, Arcanum or Fallout 1/2 if they're impressed by the likes of Mass Effect 2 (or DA:O) dialogue.

      Delete
    10. Do you see how saying "Yeah, Garrus, those are some bad scars" can still be interpreted as either snarky/sarcastic (as in "Man up, yo") or caring ("Aw, you poor thing, let me hold you")?

      Pretty sure I have Planescape (sale a year or two ago), just never played it.

      And I was more impressed by ME2/DA2 than DA:O. Are you saying you think ME2/DA2 are bad or that PT is really, really good? Or both?

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    11. RPGs with high quality "mechanical" dialogue:

      Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines
      Planescape: Torment
      Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura
      Mask of the Betrayer
      Fallout 1
      Fallout 2

      Everything else is a distant last. :P

      I wouldn't say ME2 and DA2 are BAD (haven't played DA2, but tbqh, I don't intend to, either, unless I get really desperate, which I doubt will ever happen), but nothing made by BioWare comes close dialogue-wise (or RPG-wise) to any game I listed above.

      Delete
    12. What do you mean by "mechanical" dialogue?

      Mask of the Betrayer? Is that NWN2? Ew.

      I'd honestly suggest you play DA2 before playing CToT again :P Probably can get it for $5-10.

      Delete
    13. That would be dialogue that checks for stats.

      You have played DA2 and ME2 before MotB and the other games on my list? Shame on you! :P

      Delete
    14. ME2 is my favorite game of all time. The problem is that it doesn't have multiplayer or custom content.

      If we're going to get into this, let me list the games I've fully played:

      PC...

      Oregon Trail (1/2/3)
      Yukon Trail
      Amazon Trail

      N64...

      Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
      Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
      Perfect Dark (and some Goldeneye but didn't own it and didn't play it that much)
      Starfox 64
      Donkey Kong 64
      Banjo-Kazooie
      Command and Conquer
      Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer
      Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
      Mario Kart
      Mario Tennis
      Ken Griffy Jr's Slugfest
      NBA Live 99
      Pokemon Stadium 1/2

      Back to PC...

      Lords of Magic
      Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer
      Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
      Command and Conquer (Tiberian Dawn/Tiberian Sun/Firestorm/Red Alert 2/Yuri's Revenge/Generals/Zero Hour)
      Starcraft (1/Brood War/2/HotS)
      Warcraft (3/Frozen Throne)
      World of Warcraft
      Neverwinter Nights (yay!)
      Mass Effect (1/2/3)
      Dragon Age (Origins/Awakening/2)
      Mechwarrior 4 (Vengeance/Black Knight/Mercenaries)
      Half Life (1/2/Episode 1/Episode 2)
      L4D2
      TF2
      Counterstrike: Source
      Minerva: Metastasis
      Civilization V (also woo hoo)
      Hearthstone
      Diablo 3

      I *think* that's an exhaustive list but I might have missed one or two. I'll probably kick myself later for forgetting something.

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    15. Regarding this "mechanical" dialogue, I think we're going to strenuously disagree. I dislike it for several reasons:

      1, it's often biased toward certain stats. For example, in NWN persuasion is based on charisma. Well, unless you're playing a sorcerer/bard/paladin...and possibly a Divine Might/Shield cleric...the game encourages you to leave your charisma in the gutter. Along with at least one or both of the other "mental" stats. But if you play a 14 int/14 wis/14 cha Fighter then you're crippling yourself in combat. But apparently there's no such thing as a fighter who's competent in combat but also wise! A lot of the time the stats don’t even make sense either – yes, a charismatic person is good at persuading people even with bad arguments, but an intelligent person can also persuade people with reasoned arguments. And a wise person can persuade by things like parables/wise saying (think like Confucius or something).

      2, the games often have bad outcomes for failing those checks. It's not a matter of the physically weaker rogue persuading a larger reward for a task to compensate for his combat issues, it's the sorcerer persuading Aribeth to surrender instead of having to kill her. Or, as you may have seen in Aielund, having to kill people you respect and like if you fail to persuade them. Or failing to even see sections of the story because you failed the persuade check.

      3, it’s often not a guaranteed investment. I’ve played modules where the maximum persuade something might have reasonably would be, say, 10 (like a level 7 rogue with 10 charisma and full persuade). I’m on my sorcerer with 5 ranks in persuade but also 6 charisma modifier for 11 persuade. But I’m still failing checks randomly!

      4, even if we lay these issues aside (having to sacrifice your class specific stats, terrible story outcomes for lacking it, randomly determining whether you have to kill someone you don’t want to (and encouraging constant reloading as a result until you get the result you want)), you can still have further problems – like ME’s system. There your class stats didn’t matter and it wasn’t random (terrible results for failing was still a problem), but you had to put combat points into the charm/intimidate options which meant you were still crippling yourself initially (where it mattered most too because ME’s combat system sucked). Even something like NWN has stuff like “Well, you’re a 10 int fighter/paladin/barbarian/etc. You need Discipline or you’re be sitting on your ass the entire campaign…so…do you want to pick up Persuade and thus take 50% more damage or pick up Tumble and have to kill your friends?”

      5, even laying that aside, you can have further traps – where if you do something in the “wrong” order (though you had no way of knowing that and it was presented as being completely valid) then you hit a check that you can’t possibly meet yet due to being too low level. This happened several times in ME and DA:O at a minimum.

      In short, the only time I think I could ever find myself truly liking such a system is if it was actually true choices. Like you can persuade someone to give you more information or you can use your searching/spotting skills to find it yourself. You can persuade a larger reward for quests or be able to make better gear as a crafter. Etc. But even then people usually figure out which option is best (largest benefit) and just go with that. That’s why I liked the ME2 system in general. Your reputation was shaped based on how you behaved. If you were known as a diplomatic and helpful person (Paragon) then people would believe you when you tried to peacefully negotiate. If you were known as being aggressive and “I don’t have time for this shit” then people would believe you if you threatened them. Your actions shaped the world and people’s image of you, not your stats.

      Delete
    16. Here's my PC role-playing experience, and how many times played:

      Neverwinter Nights - OC thrice, SoU twice, Hordes many times
      Neverwinter Nights 2 - OC twice, MotB and SoZ thrice (SoZ soloed)
      Icewind Dale 1/2 - several times incl solo, three times ea HoF
      System Shock 2 - I'm a speed-runner of this, so completed countless times..
      Planescape: Torment - many times, solo, one passive run
      Dark Souls - many speedruns
      Vampire Bloodlines - three or four, can't recall
      Warband - several times, speedruns
      Jagged Alliance 2 - several times, twice with 1.13 - passive, speedrun, solos
      Silent Storm - twice
      Gothic 1/2 - both thrice
      Fallout 1/2 - several times each, easily - quirky builds, passive, gimped, solos, speedruns, you name it
      Fallout: Tactics - once
      Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura - completed four times, lots of experimentation runs incomplete
      Divine Divinity - once
      KotOR 1/2 - both twice - many starts since, I just get bored n quit
      Temple of Elemental Evil - several times, including solos and passive run
      Dragon Age: Origins - four or five times, twice with RAVAge and Advanced Tactics
      Baldur's Gate 1 - a dozen times easily, multiple solos and speed runs, SCS and non-SCS
      BG2 - see above but add another dozen or two, also soloed game without leveling up.
      Morrowind - many times, know it like back of hand. Shame on me.
      Gothic 3 - once
      The Witcher 1 - twice
      Deus Ex - probably a solid ten times, passive runs, can play blind-folded
      Diablo 2 - equiv of hundreds of times, ima LLD PvPer and pker

      Other PC games I've completed that I can recall (not expert on many of these, though):

      Thief series
      Far Cry series
      Mass Effect series
      STALKER series
      Clive Barker's Undying
      Half-Life series
      FEAR series
      Far Cry series
      Amnesia Dark Descent
      Elder Scrolls series
      Fallout 3/New Vegas
      Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of The Earth
      Crysis series
      Hitman: Blood Money
      Medieval 2: Total War
      Resident Evil 4
      Titan Quest
      Torchlight 2
      Soul series
      Severance: Blade of Darkness
      Dark Messiah

      etc.

      Delete
    17. On dialogue stat checks:

      I shouldn't have just given you a short, unclear answer: it IS more than just stats. The games I listed are, more or less, "mechanical" also, in that they check for history of player choice, morality, gender, race and many other variables - things like that.

      Also, you're limiting your response to persuade/CHA - and NWN modules, official and user-created. That's not exactly setting the bar overly high, in this respect. Aielund started off good with a STR check against Merrin, but I don't think I encountered anything after that?

      And top-tier dialogue RPGs like the ones I listed check for a multitude of stats n skills etc, not just your traditional "mental" ones. Planescape: Torment has STR and DEX checks in dialogue (very well done, but not enough of them); Arcanum checks more stats/conditions in dialogue than one can poke a stick at. I'm not saying it's perfect, but I've never played a RPG that let me role-play so many char types as Arcanum. Vampire Bloodlines is known for interesting social mechanics such as Seduction and Dementation disciplines used within dialogue, along with non-token clan-based flavor - a top example.

      I only played ME 2 for the combat, and that on highest difficulty. I played through twice, I think: the second time I used ME2Coalesced editor so I didn't have to mine planets (mind-numbing mini-game) and for infinite storm speed out of combat.

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    18. I'm not just limiting my response to persuade/cha, the same applies to bluff and intimidate as well. And I'm also looking at the Dragon Age and Mass Effect series. And no, I think that was the only STR check in the series.

      In theory, if all characters got equal opportunities for unique stuff based on stats and class that would be fine (just different)...but I've never actually seen that happen.

      The mining bothered you that much? Not like you even had to do much of it with 50k of each resource imported or whatever. And there were so many great scenes in ME2, even if you thought the dialogue itself wasn't good.

      Delete
    19. Bluff and Intimidate are modified by CHA. My point is you sort of focused on trashy NWN dialogue mechanics when there's way more superior stuff out there (that you admit to having not even played. I mean, you say "MotB" and then "ew", but MotB has comparatively amazing stat/condition checking in dialogue. Very flavorful, far beyond the likes of ME2.)

      And yeah, life's too short for banal mini-games... having mined my ass off once legally, I have no qualms whatsoever about cheating in resources for a second run. Like I said, combat is the ONLY reason I played ME2 even as much as I did.

      The best Origins scenes are more delicious than the best from ME2, imo. Especially the evil ones.

      Delete
    20. I was more focusing on *DnD* 3.0/3.5 mechanics (to my understanding, at least -- NWN simplified it a bit but the idea of a few social skills which mostly relate to CHA is how DnD 3.0 works, no?)...and also the ME mechanics...and also the DA:O mechanics. I mean, if anything stuff like ADWR had far more checks including Str/Dex/Con/Discipline/Concentration/Tumble that I can recall offhand.

      I said "ew" in reference to NWN2. There is literally only one game in my life that I simply gave up in disgust and quit playing within 15 minutes, and that's NWN2. The controls/camera were just so...horrid. And that wasn't in comparison to NWN, it was in comparison to NWN/Lords of Magic/Starcraft/Command and Conquer/HoMM3 (that's a game I forgot to mention, wow)/etc.

      Meh. Agree to disagree on mining. I know it bothered some more than others (and I don't really give a shit if you cheated or not on it, not casting moral judgment or something), I found it a diverting break at times for a few minutes. If I didn't have the 50k imported resources I might feel differently.

      I'll "confess" I have no real idea what the "evil" Origins scenes are. But in terms of renegade stuff, stuff like Thane's interrogation, the Krogan clanspeaker, shouting down the Quarian trial board, shouting down Tali/Legion, etc are all awesome. Plenty more I could name for both Paragon and Renegade...but I don't really recall that much from Origins. Mostly I remember just wanting the horrid combat (and way too much of it) to end. If we're talking about life being too short for stuff, it's definitely too short for the goddamn Deep Roads.

      Delete
    21. "I said "ew" in reference to NWN2. There is literally only one game in my life that I simply gave up in disgust and quit playing within 15 minutes, and that's NWN2. The controls/camera were just so...horrid."

      Yes, so you're missing out on a great RPG (MotB) because of a shit engine? I can sort of understand that, though I also worked hard at tweaking my settings so that it wasn't so awful. :P

      You may have also played NWN2 before they patched it up fully, the cam is very powerful and versatile (strategy cam with marquee select, ftw), thought it's still clunky and I much prefer NWN's cam.

      Delete
    22. The difference between an RPG and a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book is the engine :P

      My hope at the time was that it would be a worthy successor to NWN that I could play and...yeah, it definitely was not. If you give me a shit product I'm not going to try to tweak the settings so it doesn't suck, I'm just not going to play it. Difference between thinking "Eh, I wish this was a bit different, maybe I can tweak it" and "Wow, this sucks, no point in playing."

      Maybe I did play before they patched it, no idea -- but keep in mind I was playing Starcraft, HoMM 3, Command and Conquer, and Lords of Magic BEFORE I ever played NWN. And those all had a strategy cam with marquee select as you put it. So I was used to both a camera like NWN (from NWN and stuff like Legend of Zelda/Donkey Kong/etc) and a strategy cam.

      Delete
    23. Your loss, imo.

      Mask of the Betrayer is basically only second to Planescape: Torment with regard to story, dialogue and characters (plus the spirit meter was very well done); and Storm of Zehir is easily an 8/10 RPG which features total control of up to a party of six in combat, full control of their leveling, marquee select, strategy view, the overland map, trading and crafting system, the party dialogue system, Teamwork feats and a worthy end-game boss that no one beats let alone facerolls in their first attempt.

      Still, I am well aware of Elektron's shortcomings. Obsidian did a horrid job on the engine.

      Delete
    24. Maybe I'll try it again someday, but it's a pretty low priority. Would rather build my own NWN stuff, frankly.

      Delete
    25. Apparently (this could be completely wrong, I'm not a modder/developer), the NWN2 toolset is more powerful but not as easy to use. Would you agree with that?

      A NWN2 developer also told me that the toolset and game in general being more complicated was ONE reason NWN2 wasn't as popular as NWN.

      I think it's regretful that many NWN modders had no desire to gravitate to Elektron, regretful that the toolset didn't appeal to them (it's Obsidian's/Bioware's [Obsidian consulted with them during dev] fault, though).

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    26. It's certainly more powerful graphically at least. Slightly improved graphics in general and hand-painting all terrain can lead to more customized areas.

      The problem is that the tile system in NWN coupled with placeables and effects can usually get a result like 80% as good in about 10% of the time. And no one's playing NWN for the graphics anyway.

      The toolset in general is also harder to get into as far as I understand it, yes, so the people who jumped into NWN and started fiddling with stuff couldn't "breach" the initial hurdle of NWN2.

      Hell, I started programming in NWN and led me to change my career into computer science, might not have happened if I started with NWN2 since I might not have been able to get started as easily.

      Delete
    27. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electron_toolset#Improvements_over_the_Aurora_toolset

      Unfortunately, all that means nothing if you don't attract a dedicated community, and they didn't (not on par with NWN, anyway).

      Delete
    28. Indeed, and the initial launch being horrible in a number of ways did not help.

      Plus many of the improvements aren't noticeable by the vast majority of players anyway.

      Delete
  3. Southern Slopes, constructs' attack: "Even our gallant heroes are eventually forced to retreat back over the bridge and up the slopes towards Fort Highmarch, pursued by the golems."

    In fact I somehow managed to stop the whole wave of golems here with my greatsword-wielding Sorcerer (19) with a few levels in Monk and Paladin. Tactics: stoneskin and other buff spells on yourself and allies with occasional unleashing of fire/electricity related offensive spells on group of constructs. I left Criosa with her bow by the stone bridge and Robert Black tanking golems on the bridge. I kept tanking there as well, constantly checking for the Breachers spawning in the back. If Robert run to support me with the breachers (unfortunately I couldnt tell him something like "defend this position"), I had to immediately return to the bridge to block the flow of the golems myself. Slowly, the Breachers and firebals managed to kill the soldiers and hurt my team. Then TimeStop came in handy: I cast it a few times to resurrect/heal/buff Robert who prove very helpful with anti-construct greatsword. I believe that after the last ranger fell, there were only a few waves of golems and the grave silence followed.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, it's possible to defeat every single golem that'll spawn there (which decreases the number you fight at the fort -- but doesn't eliminate them).

      Delete
  4. Any tips for the ironlord fight? I can keep my henchmen alive but I can't seem to stop him from killing Valennia, Hasrinaxx, Carthach, and almost every soldier before Terinus teleports back in.

    I'm afraid to continue on with everyone dead.

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    Replies
    1. Two things:

      1, if the people "die" it's not lore death, not for the main characters.

      2, the easiest way is simply to tank him out in the open across the bridge.

      Delete
    2. Oh, and note that part of the point is that he's SUPPOSED to be killing/destroying things -- being able to subvert that means you may get a situation where not a single person dies but in the next act people talk about all the deaths at Highmarch.

      Delete
    3. Is there a timer for the King and Terinius to port in? They seem to do that when it gets dark in the evening. Also, why doesn't Hasrinaxx run away like Valennia and Carthach once their health is really low? He ALWAYS dies in my save :( Well, I know they aren't dead lore-wise but it still makes me feel terrible!

      Delete
    4. Not sure of it's timed or killcount. Haven't really tested it. Maybe Balkoth will drop by and clear it up for you.

      Delete
    5. I'm looking into some stuff, been a busy past two days, should have an answer tomorrow for both questions.

      Delete
    6. Cheers, Balkoth. No need to rush, just curious, that's all :)

      Delete
    7. Savant is a brilliant and creative designer, but, um, not the best at organizing his code (at least for other people to figure out what's going on). The current timer is 5 minutes (50 rounds) apparently from the time the Siege Golem dies.

      Hasrinaxx doesn't run away because he doesn't have the same kind of event specified that the others do. The others have a custom script which makes them run...Hasrinaxx lacks one. I'll add that to the list to fix.

      Any suggestions on what he should say when running?

      Delete
    8. Thanks for the reply! Yes, I thought it might be the timer instead of kill counter...

      As for what Hasrinaxx say when he runs away.. how about something along the line of "I need to recover my strength to aid you again. I will be withdrawing now" or something.

      Valennia says: I can do no more for this battle! I must withdraw!
      Carthach says: I'm done here. Good luck to rest of you.

      Delete
  5. Never mind, got it after a few tries.

    "The Ironlord: Will Save vs Death: failure (19 + 8 = 27 vs DC:33)"

    Imagine spending hundreds of years being immune to everything and then getting killed by the Death effect of Prismatic Spray.

    ReplyDelete

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