Friday, 29 January 2016

Snow Hunt Walkthrough Guide - Part I


You may already know of Rogueknight 333's ongoing Swordflight Series, the first two chapters of which are reviewed by me, here and here. (I hold Swordflight in high esteem: it's one of the rare RPGs I've played that is internally consistent with all bases covered by logic and robust reasoning. Swordflight is so well thought out - from the combat encounters and "meatgrinder" dungeons, to the quests and reactivity - that I'm hard-pressed to find a fault).

However, you may not know of Snow Hunt, a bounty hunter adventure module put together by Rogueknight 333 for the "February 2013 Adventure Building Challenge". That means it was made in just one month, which is quite a feat considering its polish!

In Snow Hunt, the player assumes the role of a bounty hunter who is picking up the trail of Nam Eslaf, an elusive murderer and robber with 15,000 gold pieces on his head. The quarry has sought refuge in the inhospitable north, but that hasn't stopped the bounty hunter pursuing him there.

Snow Hunt is explorative, intriguing, atmospheric and brief. It's easier to get into and play than Swordflight. For those who haven't played either, it might be a good idea to try Snow Hunt, first, in order to get a gentler introduction to the author's traditional and highly refined dungeon mastering philosophy; then progress to Swordflight Chapter One, a far superior module that raises the expectations of the player, significantly.

Just like in the Swordflight Series, the atmosphere of Snow Hunt is enhanced by the author's inclusion of quality community content; namely, CCC 2011 Dec: Winter (placeables, items, custom enemies), Senemenelas Interior Tilesets (icy caves) and Wild Woods [v0.7] & Wild Lands Tilesets (thick woodland terrain, covered in snow). Striking stuff, and a welcome change from the over-used official art assets.

The following recounting will cover Snow Hunt as I have played it. The posts are written in the style of a walk-through/guide, but I make no claims to completeness or accuracy of info. Please note that obviously this document is spoiler-heavy; new players should not read on if they have any intention of later playing Snow Hunt: just read the concise readme for important info, and play!

Two other things:
I've written a "Baby's First" install guide for Snow Hunt (& the Swordflight Series) to help people get into these wonderful campaigns.
I'm using a cam mod and the "Project Q patch hak" (see bottom of this post). 

Ok, let's get on with this!

***First & Final Spoiler Warning***

Utility Zone: Start

I wish more modules would include an area like this: I started with a clean-slate, first level character and talked to the Level Up Utility, a hovering blue orb that stripped me of my scrubby starter gear, bumped me up to twelfth level, gave me gold and offered me items to purchase, all in accordance with what the DM feels to be reasonable for the adventure they made. In other words, no uhming and ahhing about "what level should I be, how much gold should I have, what gear is ok, am I OP or about to have my ass handed to me?" And no need for PGC3: just build your character, splurge on some stuff, and play!


The vendor offers a large and thoughtful assortment of gear for you to choose from; I suggest you spend some time browsing the wares and equipping yourself suitably: while it's not a "meatgrinder" like Swordflight Chapter One, it could be said that Snow Hunt has its moments, at least for new, inattentive or rusty players.

The readme suggests buying and equipping an item that bestows cold resistance; the selection is as follows: 

Winter Cloak (all saves +2, Cold Resist 10/-), Winter Boots (Con +2, AC Bonus +1, Cold Resist 5/-), Lesser Amulet of Cold Resistance (Cold Resist 15/-), Robe of Cold Resistance (Cold Resist 15/-). Splash out on one (or all) of these items. Their effects won't stack, but this gives you mix n match options.

Very important custom items (pictured below):

Rune of Resurrection: allows you to respawn when you die, for a small experience point penalty (-60 Exp).

Rune of Reinvigoration: "provides the benefits of resting". I.e, heals you and refreshes your spells - again, for a small experience point penalty (-15 to -22 Exp). That's a small price to pay for a spellcaster to have all their spells back! For game balance reasons I recommend just five. Besides, the module offers two safe places to rest: lodge and campfire.

Undead Ward (Negative Energy Protection [5] Single Use, Restoration [7] Single Use). This item was indispensable in Swordflight Chapter One, an undead-heavy module. It is vital you buy at least four for Snow Hunt; otherwise wights and spectres will own you.

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Other good stuff to snap up: 

A Shock-based weapon, or ranged equivalent. Fire ammo is the most useful, as many foes are vulnerable to that element.

Scabbard of Enhancement (Flame Weapon [10] 2 Charges/Use, Greater Magic Weapon [10] 3 Charges/Use, Keen Edge [10] 3 Charges/Use, Magic Weapon [2] 1 Charge/Use).

Splash out on couple, as Flame Weapon works wonders against fire-vulnerable foes. This is great for meleers and can buff your Henchman's melee weapon as well as summons and familiars. It doesn't work on ranged weapons or their projectiles, though (and the elemental ammo pales in comparison).

Stock up on fire-based ammo and an array of utility potions, especially Potions of Speed (Enhanced). Avoid buying the dozen Potions of Heal offered; they are OP. Try to limit yourself to those found in the adventure itself.

Potions of Invisibility will enable you to scout ahead and find a good vantage point from which to mount an attack. There is nothing worse than bumbling into a stampede of mounted orcs, unprepared!

Bag up Healer's Kits like there's no tomorrow: they are cheap, fast to repeatedly use, don't provoke AoOs, and keep you on your feet and fighting.

Chargen & Loadout

The module supports all characters and builds. You start off at twelfth level and will likely gain one level during the adventure.

Dialogue is reactive to gender, race, class, ability scores and skills. Therefore, you won't be able to access every aspect of the module in a single run.

Itemization is tailored to weapon focus feats in three specific instances. These also include exotic weapons. So yeah, don't be afraid to choose an unusual weapon.

Trap-crafting is supported (it's a bounty hunter module).

Rangers should probably take orc as their favored enemy.

Very helpful utility skills: Search, Open Lock, Disable Trap, Heal, UMD, Lore.
Specific skills that come in handy: Spellcraft, Persuade, Animal Empathy.

I've decided to roll with Fighter (4) / Rogue (8), a ranged sneak attacker wielding a longbow.  Behold, my bounty hunter!


Ok, let's get on with the adventure!

The Bounty Hunting Begins

Hunting Lodge by the lake

These are custom winter loadscreens
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The main quest will appear in your journal upon entering this frozen wilderness (Quest: Bounty Hunt). 

Note the "wild winter" custom tileset.
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Note the message that pops up: It is bitterly cold; well, the periodic cold damage is mitigated by the cold resistance granted by the item you bought, earlier. You did buy one, right?

You will see the Hunting Lodge just to the north. Outside the Lodge are some footprints in the snow. Don't worry if you lack "tracking skills"; there is a Henchman who can help you out with that, just inside.

Hunting Lodge


And here he is, all warm and cozy: Durthan Deftmace: Ranger (10) / Dwarven Defender (2)


Notice the message XP Scale Adjusted for Added Henchman? This means you don't have to be concerned with your companion leeching your experience points, as per NWN's party size penalty

You may like to keep Durthan dual-wielding, but I'm going to rearrange his equipment for tanking because that way I can hang back for ranged sneak attacks while he draws the aggro and keeps it at bay - at least, that's the plan!

Make sure Durthan is always buffed with Flame Weapon and Haste. If you're a Wizard, damage reduction and concealment are his best friends. Tuck yourself away and unleash the odd spell on the mob he's tanking.

Ok..

Question the hunter in the kitchen about your bounty. Search the garbage barrel for a minor potion (+34 Exp).

 
Upstairs, Loric Lyonson will give you a solid lead. While up here, you may also like to refine and expand your loadouts with the trader, Vikan Ashbur.


Take your leave of the Lodge and ask Durthan about the tracks outside.


You will receive +8 Exp if Durthan examines the tracks and +23 Exp if you examine them yourself.

Just to the north you will find the cave Durthan was talking about.


The Icy Cave


Inside, you will spy a second set of tracks leading out of the cave, not into it.


Wind your way through the icy tunnel, anyway, dispatching the six mephits and two elementals as you go. Beware the former's magic missile barrage.. I was able to land some juicy critical hit sneak attacks on them, but the latter are immune to both forms of burst damage and sport solid soak (11/+2, IIRC). Durthan dispersed them with his +3 mace.

(ice mephit +19 Exp ea, snow fury +134 Exp ea.)

Snow furies are custom enemies
At the end of the tunnel is the portal chamber guarded by a second set of mephits and elementals. Slay them.

Note the glistening custom tileset, with ceilings.
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It seems our quarry may have somehow arrived at this portal, but he's not here now.. so, head back out of the cave. If you need to, rest in the Lodge. When you're ready, head north.

The Snowy Forest - Central


Wolves howl in the distance. Rustling is heard from the undergrowth. Branches crack and break under the weight of the snow, which falls lightly around us.


More tracks are spied a few paces north; they are those of wild animals...


The Snowy Forest branches off to three other areas: the western and eastern forests, and the barren wilderness in the north. Slay stealthy crag cats and packs of winter wolves as you map the place out (+30 Exp ea). If you like, you can skin them and cash in their hides back at the Lodge, for a pretty penny.

Snow Hunt is non-linear, but I am following the optimal path that includes optional content. If you head west, first, and enter the Icy Cave from the west, your passage will be blocked to caves in the far east, and you will have to backtrack. That's why we're heading east, first.


Snowy Forest: East

You will find tracks here, those of wolf, orc and ogre...


No less than eight winter wolves will mob you in the west, conjuring a veritable blizzard. Lesser Amulet of Cold Resistance, ftw.


Seven mounted orc warriors patrol the north. You must slay both the orcs and their winter wolf mounts (+30, +19 Exp ea). I suggest you buff up before battle, at least with Haste and Flame Weapon.


In the south is a cave. 

Icy Cave - East

Here you will meet Oberagh the Ogre Mage along with his ice mephit familiar and two ice golem bodyguards. The ogre will give you a sidequest, one perfect for a bounty hunter such as yourself (Quest: Rival Ogre Mages).


Head west through the door and you will find yourself back in the Icy Cave, though this time on the northern side of the underground river, opposite the portal chamber. This place is a cave system, branching out beneath the Snowy Forest.

Make your way west, slaying orcs. Beware the marksman's called shots to your arms and legs, and the shaman's insta-death spell. Loot their corpses for a potion pack, pouches of gold and unspent ammo. Durthan can ID the ammo if you lack Lore.

(elite orc warrior +134 Exp, orc shaman +61 Exp, orc warrior & orc marksman +40 Exp ea).

Exit to the west.

Icy Cave - West

You will encounter four more marksmen and a trio of warriors patrolling the tunnel. Durthan was a huge help here, tanking the hail of fiery projectiles like a boss.

Ranged sneak attacks - so satisfying!
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Waiting for you just around the corner is Oberagh's hostile rival, Obzul the Ogre Mage. I suggest you ignore the golem and orcs until the giant mage has been slain, as his arcane repertoire isn't trivial. 

(Obzul: +125/+235 Exp, ice golem: +188 Exp).


Behead Obzul for his ugly-ass head and loot his corpse for two magical items: Ogre Mage's Bracers (Int +1, AC Bonus +2, Cone of Cold [15] 1 Use/Day, Cold Resist 10/-) and Staff of Ice (+1, Ice Storm [9] 3 Charges/Use).

Behind the monolith is a door with a treasure chest on either side, but all three are magically warded (i.e, they cannot be bashed or unlocked by conventional means). Spellcraft is required to decipher the wards and specific cantrips are required to break them (+50 Exp ea, +80 Exp ea).

Cast Flare on the right chest and loot it for 321 GP and Rod of Thunder & Lightning (Chain Lightning [15] 4 Charges/Use, Great Thunderclap [13] 5 Charges/Use, Horizikaul's Boom [2] 1 Charge/Use, Lightning Bolt [10] 3 Charges/Use, Sound Burst [3] 2 Charges/Use).
Cast Resistance on the left chest and loot it for 312 GP and Wand of Fear (Fear [5], 3 Charges/Use).
Cast Ray of Frost on the door in the center and loot the ogre's treasury for 1,700 GP, assorted gems/jewelry, and Wand of Fire (Fireball [5], 5 Charges/Use).

This is a nice nod to those who chose to be an arcane practitioner.


Not being one, I was only able to partially decipher the wards. Besides, I wouldn't have been able to use UMD to cast the spells from scrolls, as there aren't any in the module (AFAIK). So yeah, the above section I just added in for completionist sake.

Loot the bookshelf and alchemist apparatus for minor treasures, like scrolls and potions.

Just to the west is a makeshift barracks guarded by a shaman, marksman and three each of polar bear mount and warrior. Durthan tanked them as I filled them full of holes, from long range.

Loot the receptacles for various healing items and random knick-knacks. The trapped and locked chest is holding about 1,000 GP and assorted gems and jewelry (DT DC-27, OL DC-33, +14/16 Exp). The weapon rack is holding a random +1 weapon. If you need to, rest at the campfire. Then, shovel away the snow blocking the door in the west, and continue west through another door.

Note: As mentioned before, if you went West first and tried to reach this point, your entrance to this chamber would have been blocked by the snow, pictured below.

The snow heap is a custom placeable
.

Icy Cave - Northwest

Six marksman and a warrior guard the entrance to a passage that leads downward. Take 'em out.


Disable the proximity trap (DC-33, +16 Exp) en route to a patrol of four marksmen, one of which is an elite orc warrior (+134 Exp).

A Captive Orc is standing behind bars.. unlock or bash down the cell door to speak with him (DC-30, +15 Exp). I decided to let him go (Good +1).


Loot the receptacles for odds and ends. Again, the weapon racks hold random +1 weapons.

Take the passage upward and slay the four polar bear mounts, two marksmen and elite warrior. Loot the crate for a few potions and disable the paralysis trap en route to the cave's exit (DC-33, +16 Exp).

Snowy Forest - West

You will emerge in the southeast and be assailed by four warriors, this time mounted on their polar bears. They are tough muthas! (The winter wolf and polar bear mounts are custom content from CCC 2011 Dec: Winter.)


In the northeast, try not to take on all seven mounted warriors at once. I bit off more than I could chew and was forced to flee after healing Durthan in the nick of time, who was being pulverized.


The two tracks in this area (northwest and northeast) tell us what we already know.


Hike back eastward through the forest and deliver Obzul's Head to Oberagh (Quest Complete: Rival Ogre Mages, +500 Exp). The ogre mage will conjure a strange chest from which you may choose one item that bestows perma-Haste (see below). Persuade him to give you 1,000 GP, if you can (+50 Exp).

Ah, yes - Haste: my fave status effect!

Boots of the Shifting Sands (perma-Haste, Dex -1, Earthquake [20] 1/day).
Chainmail of Speed (medium armor, perma-Haste, Armor Bonus +3, Con -2).
Armor of Fleetness (light armor, perma-Haste, Armor Bonus +3, -Con -2).  
Bracers of Blinding Strike (perma-Haste, Con -2, Dex +2).
Helm of Haste (perma-Haste, Con -2, Reflex +1, Conc +1).
Half-breed's Rune of Speed ("confers perma-Haste on equipable item", one use only, Half-orc & Half-elf only).

 

Players who attack Oberagh will find that he's got a contingency plan in place to escape. Slaying the trio of minions who remain in the cave results in an alignment shift towards evil (2 points per minion).

(ice mephit +61 Exp, ice golem +188 Exp ea.)

Exit the cave and head north to the transition point.

Coming Up: The search for our quarry continues in the Snowy Wilderness, an even bleaker, tundra-esque region, consisting of barrows of undead, roaming orcs, and giants..!



EoP

9 comments:

  1. Thanks for another review of one of my modules. As indicated, this is just a short module made quickly, so I did not have ambitions to make it one of the greatest epics on the vault, but I hoped it would be a reasonably entertaining little adventure for someone with limited playing time.

    Equipment-wise, you would probably have done better to mostly use Fire rather than Lightning arrows. Note that though Flame Weapon cannot buff projectiles you can use it on Durthan to make one of his weapons more damaging. Also though it may not be a bad idea to use the Cold Resistance Amulet, it is best to use it in conjunction with Barkskin potions to make up for the lack of an AC-boosting amulet.

    Are you sure there is a duplicate Half-breed rune in the Utility Zone? If so, it is by mistake - you are only supposed to be able to get it by completing the quest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My mistake about the second Half-breed's rune; indeed, there seems to be only one. I could have sworn..

      I bought all three cold resistance items in case I need to jiggle my gear around, but thanks for the tip! And yeah, fire arrows would have been better.

      Yes, I did mention Flame Weapon can be used on companions; it's very helpful.

      I would like to see an "Enhanced Edition" of Snow Hunt in the future.. while a top effort as-is, you could flesh things out more and refine itemization, encounters, and the like, to be more inline with the Swordflight standard. I'm sure you had many other great ideas to implement, but the time constraint of the adventure challenge took priority, in this case.

      I'm really enjoying this, it's a great lil' romp.

      Delete
  2. So you did it! I liked a lot this module despite being so short.
    difficulty was balanced well and I had a hard time in some areas...

    Still, yes, a longer version would be good but probably it would need a more developed plot! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Marco, yes I finally got around to it - and I'm glad I did!

      I'm surprised that after a year of playing NWN, almost to the exclusion of all else, that I'm not burned out on it!

      Must be because of the quality of this user-made content.

      Delete
    2. I agree
      some modules (including this) are really great both for story and combat balancing, and some are quite long.
      unfortunately I found some excellent rpgs made with Rpgmaker and I paused my Nwn adventures for now.

      But I'll resume them later, unfortunately last ones I played are good but still not interesting as Swordflight, the Prophet and Aielund saga: for example Demon is good but.. despite it adds a lot of features (like a sort of card game) and continues a good saga, I did not like it as Dreamcatcher so far...

      Delete
    3. The replayability of some of these modules is also surprising.. Aielund, Swordflight etc.

      I've played Snow Hunt through three times, now... EZ to get into, can try different builds very quickly (lvlup utility), and just burn a few spare hours.

      There's something to be said for that.

      Delete
    4. True! It's a shame no having time for that! This is the only reason why I complete these mods just once.
      Well I played Snow Hunt two times so far but because it's short and has two endings...

      Unfortunately I love using rogues so that's my favourite class and playstyle! :D

      Delete
  3. Your walkthrough looks pretty complete and accurate at this point (as best I remember myself at any rate). One thing I might demur on is your recommendation of buying multiple Elixirs of Regeneration. While the ability to automatically heal in a fight without stopping to quaff a potion has its advantages, this is actually a very overpriced item (since by default the toolset assigns absurdly high values to most items with an ability to cast spells). There are much more cost-effective healing options available.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Removed the elixir of regen recommendation.

      Added a few lil' comments here and there pointing out the custom content, which rarely receive credit from players. I really appreciate the work they put in, and your inclusion of it, and am looking forward to seeing more custom content in your future Swordflight installments.

      Delete

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