Sunday, 29 March 2015

Mask of the Betrayer Retrospective Walkthrough Guide - Part I

Mask of the Betrayer Retrospective Walkthrough Guide




Initial, weakened status
The following walkthrough intends to cover the entire Mask of the Betrayer campaign as I have played it.

For this adventure I'll be attempting to role-play a newly-created female Neutral Good Air Genasi starting as Fighter (6) / Bard (1) / Red Dragon Disciple (9) / Weapon Master (1) - a strong and dexterous dual-wielder of scimitars with solid investment in Spellcraft, Lore and Tumble. I manually leveled this character to seventeenth (Level adjustment +1) in the Lobby preceding Act I, which is what most people do unless they import from the original campaign or some other module. For a campaign featuring many crit-immune undead, elementals and fey, my choice of build - and a slowly maturing one at that - isn't exactly the easiest to play, but the upside is I'll look to my companions a little more for crucial support. This late-blooming build owned the end boss in record time, though!

I invite comments and criticism about how I played MotB. I don't mind being corrected if I missed something, or the point of something. I freely admit to not being a pro; in fact, I'm pretty much just a newbie compared to some players out there. Just so you know, I'm running NWN2 with the final official patch (1.023 [1765]) on D&D "Hardcore" Rules difficulty with no cheats - and only a little cheesing! Mod-wise, only two bugfixes are installed [1] and a few visual mods. Some meta-gaming or power-gaming may be evident in my approach, but I haven't played in a while and certainly haven't mapped out the game in my mind before diving in, so there will be sub-optimal choices and outright mistakes made, I'm sure. Anyway, let's get on with this!

[1] MotB: Ice Troll Lodge Bugfix, MotB: Lurue Bears Bugfix.

Act I: Wrath of the Bear God

Bear God's Barrow - Lower

The shard of Gith (see Story So Far, below) has been removed from my chest, which has then been crudely stitched up. I feel great pain, and an insidious presence of... hunger... wells up inside of me.

The Story So Far

I find myself at an ancient Imaskari outpost located in a barrow deep beneath Rasheman - hundreds of miles from the Sword Coast. A red-robed wizard named Safiya has come to rescue me, and now we need to escape the barrow before the earth spirits down here begin to stir; so let's hop to it!

Ancient Imaskari Outpost, older than the barrow itself

Safiya is my first companion, a True Neutral Human starting as Wizard (7) / Red Wizard of Thay (10). She is clinical, but compassionate. Her spell selection is a little silly, so I have her commit to memory Persistent Spell Haste and Persistent Spell Fox's Cunning, as well as Premonition and especially Empower Spell Disintegrate and Extend Spell Slow, along with the usual Delayed Blast Fireball (DBFB), Stoneskin, and Extend Spell Greater Invisibility. With those spells cast liberally, we can tackle these initial dungeons with more confidence. Safiya is accompanied by her construct, Kaji, whom she assembled from "twigs and clay". Kaji is talkative and quite useful, capable of opening locks and detecting and disabling devices (+17, +15, +15), so he'll go some way to filling the role of Rogue during the adventure.

Safiya, Red Wizard of Thay

Starting Gear

The party is not exactly resting on the poverty line; the default gear supplied is generous.

Lilura: Full Plate +3 (AC +3, iron), Ring of Protection +3 (AC def +3), Amulet of Natural Armor +3 (AC nat +3), Nasher's Ring of Strength (Str +3), Cloak of Resistance +3 (all saves +3), Sash of Shimmering belt (SR 12), Bracers of Dexterity +3 (Dex +3), Boots of Striding (Con +3)

Safiya: Quarterstaff +3, Safiya's Robes (AC +3, all saves +2, Conc +8, Human and Red Wizard of Thay only), Bracers of Armor +6 (AB +6), Luckstone (all saves +1, assorted skills +1), Ring of Wizardry 4 (Bonus fourth level spell slot for Bard, Sorc, Wiz), Ring of Protection +3 (AC def +3), Potion of Heal (3), Healer's Kit +10, Light Crossbow +3, Composite Shortbow +3, Short Sword +3, Bolt +3 (99), Arrow +3 (99).

Of greater interest is the Shaper's Alembic, Enchanter's Satchel and Brilliant Water Essence carried by Safiya. Essences vary in type and potency; they are collected (ie, looted from corpses) and can then be combined into greater ones, divided into lesser ones or converted into Power essences - using the Alembic - to ready them for crafting. Weapons and such can then be placed into the Satchel, along with the essences, at which point a spell is cast on the Satchel to craft the desired item. Anyway, more on crafting later.


Starting Status

What's this - stat penalties? How dare they... the removal of the shard of Gith from my chest has caused a "weakened" status, resulting in -10 AC and -4 to physical attributes and saving throws. Nevermind, this will be corrected soon.

Cam n Control

I disable Party AI to put Safiya, Kaji and myself in "Puppet Mode". This ensures I won't be annoyed by deselected combat units doing stupid things; they will just stand there, still, scratching their heads like idiots until I tell them to do something - which is better than getting themselves killed. I also turn on "Marquee Select" for both Exploration and Strategy camera modes. This enables me to "drag a box" to select one or more units without having to individually select which ones I want (just like in the Infinity Engine RPGs, actually).

OK, Ready To Roll

Safiya, Kaji and I are attempting to escape the Bear God's Barrow before the spirits awaken. Before leaving the Imaskari outpost, I reach out and touch one of the runestone pillars to experience a vision (+250 Exp).

A laughing boy. A woman with golden skin. A wall of screaming souls...

No sooner have we begun our ascent of the barrow, the earth violently shakes - an announcement that the subterranean spirits have indeed begun to stir...

I gain Influence (Inf) with Safiya through an interjection with Kaji ("you seem to care for him" [Inf +6]) and then by engaging in direct dialogue with Kaji ("you could be useful" [Inf +6]). I want to build up Inf with companions whenever it's reasonable to do so, as it can lead to feats that grant powerful bonuses. I also equip myself with the basic gear Safiya lugged down for me (eg, the Short Sword +3).

Our first encounter consists of a single Barrow Guardian lumbering around a long-abandoned campfire, which Safiya promptly Disintegrates (+132 Exp, Volatile Earth Essence). From what I can gather, most barrow spirits drop, upon being vanquished, between one and five of the weakest kind of essence ("volatile"). Volatile essences fall into your lap; they can be farmed through provoking on-rest ambushes and during key events, so I won't be recording such common loot from now on. Suffice it to say that the average player will probably have accumulated about one hundred volatiles, many of the "earth" variety, upon exiting the barrow. At the campfire I loot a pile of scrolls for a Dagger +3, Premonition scroll and The City of Judgment tome (see right) which opens up the Betrayer's Crusade quest. It seems there may be a connection between the crusade and my presence in the barrow. I'll need to seek out a Kelemvor priest and locate the scrolls of The Lamentations of the Dead; but we lay that aside for now, as we have more pressing, immediate concerns. Anyway, a second hulking Barrow Guardian is Disintegrated by Safiya en route to the exit, before which Kaji also detects and disables a DC-15 Lightning Trap (+75 Exp).

Our first "enemy", a Barrow Guardian

Middle Barrow

Emerging into the middle barrow, the hunger inside me lashes out and consumes the wolf spirit, Nakata (+403 Exp, Brilliant Spirit Essence) - also removing my "weakened" status and beginning the Dark Hunger quest. If I can discover how I arrived in Rasheman and who tore the Gith-shard from my chest, I might learn the secret of this hungry presence within me. Again, we lay this quest aside for now.


This barrow branches off to the west and to the east. Exploring the eastern tunnels first, I tank two incorporeal Telthor Wolves (+205 Exp ea) and two more Barrow Guardians as Safiya warms the tunnel with Empower Spell DBFB; and Kaji looks on, flapping his wings in excitement.


A Telthor Bear is vanquished in the south-eastern burial chamber (+283 Exp), after which we loot the ancient offering chest for the Skin of Shadow armor (AC bonus +5, SR 24, Shadow Shield [13] 3/day).


Backtracking and now exploring north a little, another Barrow Guardian is slain outside a small burial chamber, wherein an ancient wooden box is looted for a Telthori Totem (Mind Affecting saves +5, Will saves +3) and Potion of Greater Heroism. Kaji now deftly disables a DC-20 Strong Electrical Trap (+100 Exp) as we continue northward to the Pool of Offerings chamber in which a mischievous Orglash resides. Safiya and I decide to vanquish it (+205 Exp, Water Essence [2]).

I find two offering piles on the icy floor: one containing a Sacred Pouch, the other a Star Sapphire and Ring of the Frozen Falls (Cold 25% imm bonus, Hypothermia 3/day, Polar Ray 1/day)

Safiya nukes the Orglash from safe distance
We now backtrack to the entrance and wind our way west, reaching a central burial chamber occupied by three Barrow Guardians. I quickly loot the ancient wooden chest for the Frost Harpoon +4 spear (cold +2d6, Keen) and then wield it against the earth spirits as Safiya unleashes Empower Spell ILMS.

Kaji now disables the DC-20 Lightning Trap (+100 Exp) en route to our descent into the Imaskari Forges in the far southwest.


Imaskari Forges

These ruins are no doubt Imaskari in origin. This hill was a city in eons past. - Safiya.

To the immediate east is the Imaskari golemworks, frozen in time. Four inert golems occupy the workshop, one a little taller than the others. I ask Safiya to awaken the construct from its long slumber, and she gladly does so (Inf +6, Total Inf +18). We now welcome a temporary addition to the party, a True Neutral Construct (15). We'll be back to use the alchemy equipment after we find a specific ingredient.

The golemworks

Floating in the northern forge are hostile animated weapons, dispatched by the construct and I. Kaji now unlocks the DC-18 lock box containing the Hellfire Powder ingredient, Adamantine Ingot (3) and Mithral Ingot (2).

The weapon rack is relieved of Arrow of Detonation (on-hit Fireball [10] x5), Bullet +3 (99), Bolts +1 (99), Arrow +1 (99), Bolt of Piercing (Piercing [1d6], x99); the armor rack of Breastplate of Hidden Imasker mithril medium armor (AC bonus +6, acid 10% imm bonus, Immunity: Poison); and another weapon rack of a Longsword +3. (That last one is supposed to be tailored to the weapon you have focus in, but in the case of the scimitar it defaults to longsword). 

The floor of a small chamber to the side is laced with a DC-36 Spike Trap which Kaji fails to disable, even under the effect of Cat's Grace. I just tripped it, then looted the blacksmith's workbench for a Belt of Frost Giant Strength (Str +4), Elemental's Ruin +3 adamantine rapier (Bonus Feat: Elemental's Ruin, vs. elemental +5, Keen) and Mage Protector tower shield (AC bonus +5, Int -4, Str +6, Mind Affecting saves +4). A statue is also looted for the Imaskari Rod (Greater Dispelling [15] 3/day).

Animated Weapons

Now back at the golemworks' alchemy workbench, I have Safiya mix together a Rejuvenation Salve from the Hellfire Powder and then apply it to the Construct to make it slightly stronger (Str +2). Whoop de doo.. we now take our leave of the forge.

Middle Barrow

Heading north, two more Barrow Guardians are slain; and Kaji disables a DC-20 Lightning Trap (+100 Exp). We descend into our second Imaskari ruin...

Imaskari Library

More Imaskari ruins. This area must have been uncovered by accident, like the other one we saw earlier. - Safiya.

An archive in a side chamber is looted for an Extract Elemental scroll.

Five crossbow-wielding Helmed Horrors lurk in the north, switching to their greatswords when in melee range (+193 Exp ea, Volatile Power Essence [10]).



Two more archives are looted for scrolls of Mass Death Ward, Avasculate and Power Word: Petrify; the other for scrolls of Cacophonic Burst and Avasculate. Safiya adds what she can of these to her spellbook, after which we take our leave of the library. 

Middle Barrow 

In the central chamber, the barrier blocking our way to the Upper Barrow can be opened in three ways: use the Sacred Pouch and Offering Bowl, bash the bear skeleton, or strike the barrier with the Imaskari Rod. I use the third method, causing the barrier (and rod) to be destroyed (+1,000 Exp), but also causing "High Artificer Maric Inupras" to manifest. I pick a fight with the Lich, who is then burned to a crisp by Safiya's DBFB castings (+327 Exp, Imaskari Battlemage Armor mithral light armor [AC Bonus +3, Spell Failure -10%]).


I now hit eighteenth level, taking my second level in Weapon Master: Fighter (6) / Bard (1) / Red Dragon Disciple (9) / Weapon Master (2) - Greater Two Weapon Fighting.

Guarding the tunnel that leads to the Upper Barrow are two berserking Telthor Wolverines who don't put up much of a fight (+264 Exp ea).

 
Upper Barrow

We're now close to the surface of Rasheman, having now reached the third and last barrow. En route to the northeastern chamber, two Telthor Bears made the mistake of ambushing us.

In the chamber itself, Safiya's IGMS and her Vampire Warlock's Eldritch Blasts make short work of the Telthor spirits, including a badger (+205 Exp), three wolverines (+205 Exp ea) and two bears (+283 Exp).


Kaji disables a DC-20 trap on the ancient wooden chest, then picks the DC-20 lock for a Duskwood Longbow, Fire Arrow (99) and Amulet of Unyielding Will (Armor bonus vs. Fey +5 nat, Spell Immunity: Charm & Dominate)

Safiya now also hits eighteenth level: Wizard (8) / Red Wizard of Thay (10) - Maximize Spell, Isaac's Greater Missile Storm (IGMS), Create Greater Undead.

En route to the southeasternmost chamber, we fight through four wolverines and a badger. Kaji picks the DC-20 lock on another ancient wooden chest, yielding us a Sapphire, a Blue Diamond and the Shroud of the Leopard light armor (AC bonus +5, Listen +8, Spot +8, Greater Cat's Grace [11] 3/day).

In the northeastern chamber we dispose of three Telthor wolves. I now buff Kaji with Greater Cat's Grace from the Shroud of the Leopard, but he's still unable to disable the DC-35 Lightning Trap. Kaji does succeed in picking the DC-30 chest, though, from which we gather the Hide Armor +4 and Telthor Leg Bone +4 club (Ethereal Jaunt 1/day).

As we approach the large north-central chamber, I gain +6 Inf with Safiya for asking if she's all right (it seems she's hearing voices in her head).

The Bear-God

We spot a large, colorful bear up ahead - Okku. Before approaching it, I have Safiya summon a Vampire Warrior.


A fight is inevitable. The construct, vampire and I charge to meet the Bear-God head-on as Safiya hangs back to unleash Maximize Spell IGMS and the brittle, twig-like Kaji hides in a corner. 


The mighty Okku calls out to his spirit minions; and suddenly we face off against four Telthor Bears and two flanking Telthor Wolverines in addition. Safiya casts Extend Spell Slow on the pack as the construct and undead grunts hold the Bear-God at bay and I inflict what damage I can.

The Bear-God & Telthor spirits

After taking a beating Okku's spirit disperses (for now, +1,000 Exp), leaving behind a Pristine Power Essence. We mop up the remaining Telthors. An ancient wooden chest is looted for the Axe of the Bear-King +4 iron greataxe (electrical +1d6, Keen).

Ok, so. I've managed to gain a decent amount of Influence with Safiya (Inf +24, Neutral), procure some interesting, powerful and valuable gear, and kick the asses of the spirits in the Bear God's Barrow. My goal now is to find out about the dark hunger festering inside me, and to hook up with the clerics of Kelemvor in order to locate The Lamentations of the Dead scrolls.

Barrow of the Bear-God, Okku

Now free to leave the Bear-God's barrow, we waste no time in doing so. This concludes the Escape the Barrow quest (+2,000 Exp), and the first part of this recounting.

Next Up - Recounting Mask of the Betrayer Part II

The City of Mulsantir, Rasheman

The gates of Mulsantir

19 comments:

  1. "For this adventure I'll be attempting to "role-play" a newly-created female Neutral Good Air Genasi"

    >.>

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    1. Well, this campaign IS more of a role-playing one, so I'll do my best. :P

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  2. Good choice! (for the adventure, it was quite good, and the Character, never played a Red Dragon Disciple).
    I remember having a good time even if I wasn't able to finish a sidequest (blocked... hope you won't experience that...anyway it's a minor quest).

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    1. I've experienced a dialogue bug where an NPC wouldn't speak to me if I had Gann in the party, so I just temporarily dropped Gann to continue.

      Otherwise, I think MotB has fewer bugs than the OC. I remember when it first came out they fixed LOTS of bugs and tried to optimize the awful engine a bit (1.10?)

      Looking forward to seeing how my dual-wielder pans out (lots of attacks, both weapons enchanted), and I've never played a good character in MotB. I won't be devouring Okku's soul (or will I? the +10 str belt is attractive, but perhaps I'll get it from One of Many), but I also won't have room for him in the party, since I intend to take Safiya, Kaelyn and Gann. I guess I can swap Okku in and out, for specific quests (like the Shaman's Boon). Not 100% sure yet, but being such a quest-dense campaign, that choice won't be made for two or three more posts. ;)

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    2. Well I have the Deluxe Edition so probably they fixed those bugs since I had no problems (maybe few glitches, no broken queests, but I can't remember) in the Nwn2 OC, one of the best game I played.
      I agree the engine was awful! (I recently restarted Storm of Zehir..anyway I stopped since I've found Pillars of Eternity...)

      In my case it was a door/gate than cannot be opened again to reach the quest giver so...I had to leave that quest unfinished.
      Also I hated a lot the "soul-eating" thing... but the rest of MotB was great.

      Well I (almost) always play good characters and even if I seldom used Okku (no need for him) I spared him, I had Safiya, Kaelyn and Gann for most of the game.
      Despite my character wasn't an optimized build (a Barbarian/Neverwinter Nine/Frenzied Berserker Halfling two hander) I found MotB quite easy, but I used him in the OC (final parts was really hard) and it seemed stronger compared to the companions.

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    3. I agree most of the show-stopping bugs seem to be fixed, it's pretty much just the unoptimized and glitchy engine that remains, tainting the NWN2 experience in general. Once you get used to the quirks and learn how to minimize issues, mostly it's a painless experience.

      I've played SoZ a few times, loved the final boss battle, the ability to adventure with a party of six, and the overland, trading and crafting mechanics. The OC was amusing at times, but I haven't completed Mysteries of Westgate. My fave mods for NWN2 are Subtlety of Thay and Harp & Chrysanthemum.
      http://neverwintervault.org/project/nwn2/module/harp-chrysanthemum
      http://neverwintervault.org/project/nwn2/module/subtlety-thay

      Many people complain about the spirit meter in MotB, but I'm not one of them (also, it acts as a sort of "rest restricter"). I haven't tried it, but apparently this mod stops the meter draining points in dialogue mode or when you're not in battle and just standing still:
      http://neverwintervault.org/project/nwn2/script/motb-spirit-eater-autopause

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    4. I've played SoZ a few times too, but never to the end (only 3/4). Pity. I like a lot the things that adds, especially the new travelling system and the expanded party. The problem is that unfortunately it feels a bit "generic" compared to OC and MotB, regarding plot and companions (well I also hated Kaelyn :D )

      Oddly my version doesn't include Mysteries of Westgate, so I never tried that but I had fun with a couple of mods, the best was Conan Chronicles part 1, quite short but good, with custom races, different choices and not linear. I've to try the part 2 someday, I also hear good reviews of Harp & Chrysanthemum, and I've seen some awesome screenshots...so I'll try that probably next time.

      Well the spirit meter in MotB was the only real "difficulty" my character had to face, even if I survived the experience and never had to restart/use mods to avoid that effect... it's part of the game so I accepted that..the rest was quite easy, apart for a couple of fights but nothing much.

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    5. I agree SoZ can feel generic and lacking in character, but I managed to push on because, to me, the pros outweighed the cons. I thought the final dungeon/temple thingy and boss battle were great in SoZ.

      Harp & Chrysanthemum is very pleasing to the eye, yes. A lovingly hand-crafted module. Can't say that for Conan Chronicles, that one put me to sleep - but, it could have been that I was just burned out on NWN2 by that time; I'd already played SoZ, then Harp, then Thay, abandoned Dark Waters and so yeah, Conan didn't stand a chance, I guess. I'd had enough. :P

      Incidentally, Conan is the subject of the month's Custom Content Challenge on the BioWare forums:
      http://forum.bioware.com/topic/547600-custom-content-challenge-april-2015-the-hyborian-age/

      It's always interesting to see what people can come up with. :)

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    6. Another thing I liked more the OC is that areas are quite big and this is pretty good for cooperative game, while MotB and Soz have smaller locations.. well at least that's what I felt playing at the time. Still SoZ is good even if I think that MotB story is way better.

      I played Conan Chronicles after Alazander's Nwn trilogy, so it was a nice variation (I also like Conan setting, and there are no single player games based on it) even if now I prefer Nwn1 graphics (don't know, characters animations seems more natural and less stiff), so yes, making a pause and return to a game later sometimes makes you appreciate it more (I think I spent 8-10 years playing Morrowind and its mods alternating it with other games).

      Dark Waters doesn't ispire me...from the videos it seems a big mishmash of mods/minigames but I admit I never tried it. ^^'

      "Conan is the subject of the month's Custom Content Challenge on the BioWare forums"

      Interesting, what I've seen on that topic is very interesting... pity that K.E.Wagner's Kane has no games/mods/movies dedicated since I loved the setting and the villain protagonist. That would be even better than Conan! :D

      Ok now I'll wait for the part II of this recounting, to see if I remember everything about MotB and also to see if you'll encounter the bug I mentioned earlier! :)

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    7. I've never played NWN2 coop, it's hard to get a stable and fast connection in remote regions on the second most isolated continent on Earth, after Antarctica. ;)

      But yes, I remember the OC areas being quite large, whereas the SoZ ones were tiny and the dungeons comparatively small, too.

      I also prefer NWN1 in almost every way, including models, textures and animations - even if they're "technically" not as advanced. NWN2 didn't have dance of death or animations for cleave (apparently the former could cause players to inadvertently "dance" onto traps, so they removed it; the latter had timing problems, so also got dumped). Cloaks look awful and Deekin looks like he got run over by a truck. Overall, it just doesn't look as elegant or feel responsive like the original, imo. Plus, no provision for secret doors; modders have to do all sorts of tricks with placeables just to simulate a secret door..

      Never heard of Wagner's Kane. I'm not a big reader of books these days, though. I prefer games.

      I used to enjoy Morrowind for its lore and exploration, but I just can't stand Elder Scrolls anymore. You need to mod Oblivion and Skyrim with Oscuro's overhaul and Requiem for them to be worth trying, imo. And even then, yawn. Morrowind also had many problems, examples being the uninspiring combat and broken systems (alchemy). I fell in love with Morrowind when I first played it, but I can't imagine playing it again any time soon.

      Anyway, the second part has been posted (actualy was posted before you last reply). ;)

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    8. "'ve never played NWN2 coop, it's hard to get a stable and fast connection in remote regions"

      Well I played a Nwn2 coop lan game with a friend of mine at the same place... it was a good experience since I prefer playing single players rpg but we play the same games so it was a nice change.

      Well just compare two-handed characters in Nwn1 and Nwn2, even when idle the first game as nice animations... now to mention that I find the camera of the first game more useful if we speak about combat tactics. But I admit that when I played Nwn2 I immediatly loved both story and graphics...

      I'm not a big reader of books too in some sense, since I avoid long series, but Wagner's best works are the short stories. That's why I loved it: there are eleven short tales and three novels, but the short stories are pure gold, one has even an encounter with Moorcock's Elric.

      I absolutely agree. I liked Oblivion less than Morrowind and Skyrim even less. Too easy, too simplifyied... I'm aware that Morrowind has terrible graphics, horrible combat even for the time it was released, but for exploration, story and immersion is awesome (setting was so alien and new... nothing compared to its sequels). I recently played with no mods at all and I had fun.

      Next time I'll probably replay Arcanum instead... I miss that game.

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    9. I can easily see how having a friend to play with for both NWN1 and NWN2 OCs could enhance the experience; it's just fun to play with actual friends and it wouldn't matter so much how boring the game is because you just laugh and joke around.

      The strategy mode and marquee select of NWN2 is my fave way to control multiple combat units, it's quite powerful but does have limits (rotation can be awkward) - like all the modes have their limits. I do prefer the simplicity and responsiveness of NWN1 cam and control, but coming from Baldur's Gate and the other Infinity Engine RPGs, I found controlling only one character very limiting - tactically.

      My last run of Arcanum was with the Unofficial patch, High Quality town maps and High Resolution mod, which lets you have larger font size for dialogue. Much more comfortable to play.

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    10. Well we enjoyed a lot Nwn2 storyline for some situations like the trial part, it was better than the usual hack 's slash. Playing Nwn1 would be great too, I don't mind the lack of party control since I feel it more immersive for this reason... if only the Ai was better...

      Yes, rotation in Nwn2 is awkward, still better than D:OS since there you will find "partial camera rotation" (180° only, not 360° ...but why??), something I did not like about the game.

      Arcanum infact has Ai controlled party members too.. I've to check for that patch and mod!

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    11. "I don't mind the lack of party control since I feel it more immersive for this reason... if only the Ai was better..."

      That's the sticking point, isn't it. The AI just... isn't there. Especially for spellcasters. I'm pretty sure it would be possible to implement a tactical framework system similar to that found in Dragon Age: Origins (which I like to use with the Advanced Tactics extension for even more control).

      "Yes, rotation in Nwn2 is awkward, still better than D:OS since there you will find "partial camera rotation" (180° only, not 360° ...but why??), something I did not like about the game."

      That does sound strange, though I've never played D:OS. I meant that in Strategy mode the rotation is done manually by the player holding down a mouse button and then moving the cam. This causes the screen to jitter even if you have a steady hand and good mouse. Obsidian made that worse by forcing the player to hold down the MIDDLE mouse button to rotate their cam, instead of the RMB which gives players more control of their mouse Fixed by a mod:
      http://neverwintervault.org/project/nwn2/other/kornstalxs-hotkeys-nwn2

      Anyway, I tend to just use Strategy cam with marquee select and free movement (so the cam doesn't snap to the selected character) - in this way, the cam is very versatile, imo.

      Arcanum isn't known for good combat in most circles; they tried to make it turn-based AND real-time, and failed at both. The encounter design is also a complete failure, imo. Fallout and Fallout 2 (with its command screen) were much better, but still very poor and limited (your allies shooting you in the back etc.) The difference is, Fallout combat was still lots of fun - for many reasons. At least, I thought so.

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    12. "The AI just... isn't there"

      I can't remember the Ai in Arcanum (probably it was like Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader...but that game was so bad!) but yes, in Fallout and Fallout 2 died so many times thanks to companions armed with automatic weapons. That was even worse!
      Prince of Qin was a game of 2002 like Nwn (real time rpg) that at least gave you the possibility to control all party member. That was surely a better choice.
      Anway I love Arcanum for the rich and detailed setting and atmosphere, more than Fallout (probably I played enough Wasteland/Fallout games).

      The middle mouse button was a bad idea, sure, the whole camera implementation is worse in Nwn2, but I noticed only after playing other games since I became used to that system, being probably the first rpg with rotating camera I played after the isometric ones.

      D:OS was created with a fixed view angle... while it seems that now (thanks to the updates) you can fully rotate the camera, some texture (especially indoors) are all wrong, and not meant to be seen.

      Now instead I'm not used to isometric games: Pillars of Eternity gives me some problems since I cannot rotate the camera to see the characters (enemies included, you can see their shapes but...this makes me do some mistakes) behind the trees..sometimes a bad camera is still better than no camera at all. :)

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    13. I think the first third of Lionheart: LotC is worth playing, but then it devolves into repetitive hack n slash and I stop playing. The whole Renaissance setting with famous real world figures was pretty cool. And the SPECIAL system, which, unlike Fallout, wasn't very well explored in the actual game. I liked the classic Black Isle backdrops, thought the voicesets were good. I don't remember much else other than "bad".

      Arcanum's lore, world, setting and role-playing options are probably not matched by many RPGs. Also loved the idea of schematics and finding all those bits and pieces. I didn't like how combat was easier and had steeper power progression for melee builds (you get Exp every time your weapon hits an enemy, if memory serves me). Meta-gameability/replayability is extremely high in Arcanum despite all the shortcomings, I enjoy tinkering with builds and the gameworld. I love stealth and thievery the most, though some magic is incredibly useful (teleport!)

      Never played Prince of Qin, I heard it was Diablo-like but with a party - mostly hack n slash. Might have to check it out sometime for myself, though.

      Isometric is a bit limiting, like for example you can't see an item because it's "behind" a wall. In a 3d RPG, I prefer they fix an "isometric" perspective but give the player a rotation and zoom function. But, it seems for the most part, that's just too much to ask :P

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    14. Well in Lionheart the part set in Barcelona is quite good... then the game falls apart! It's a pity since it was promsing, probably released too early, I don't know...

      Now that you mentioned it, I've never played a mage or a stealth character in Arcanum. Yes, fighters are overpowered compared to other builds, but it's not impossible to finish the game even with a diplomatic technician.

      Prince of Qin is very hack and slash but has also some quests that do not require combat. It's like Sacred. Setting and locations are very well done, I also liked the story. I probably did not like the logbook since it doesn't explain every mission detail and it's not so useful. Also, the npcs are almost identical so it's good having one of each class (six slots - six classes).

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    15. That's the worst thing about Lionheart, it promised so much and delivered so pitifully little. The chargen with SPECIAL was enough to make my eyes light up, then the well-presented world and overall feel of polish in Barcelona. I'm glad I just sort of stumbled onto it after the fact, and wasn't looking forward to it for ages like some people; what a letdown it must have been!

      I should really try out Prince of Qin one of these days, not many RPGs set in China (translated for the West).



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    16. Prince of Qin is a nice game: loved the story, quests and setting (most enemies are humans, there are few monsters), loved the music... it's a bit old style, and can't be compared to Bg2 for depth and variety, but if you like hack 'n slash is far better than many other games I tried (such as Throne of Darkness, that is an oriental Diablo-clone with a party too).

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