Monday, 28 March 2016

Swordflight Series for Neverwinter Nights NWN - Review Part III

Swordflight Series for Neverwinter Nights NWN - Review Part III



    S w o r d f l i g h t  S e r i e s  C o v e r a g e  
 Installation Instructions | Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV   N E W 

A large portion of my two-part coverage of Swordflight consisted of general remarks and a focus on its peerless itemization and resource management, perhaps at the expense of its on-par dialogue and role-playing aspects. Hopefully, this post will go some way to addressing that inadequacy. What follows mainly refers to Swordflight Chapter One; the series currently being replayed by me (as a Paladin of Tyr) in anticipation for Swordflight Chapter Three, upcoming!

   A l i g n m e n t  i n  S w o r d f l i g h t   

Alignment is dynamic in NWN; that is, depending on your actions and dialogue choices, it shifts between the two dimensions of Good & Evil (morals) and Law & Chaos (ethics). Unlike the official campaigns and most community-made content, Swordflight is highly reactive in this respect. For example, my Paladin began the campaign at Lawful (85) Good (85) on the alignment scale, and by the time she was ready to leave the Shifting Sands Inn and embark on her adventure as a caravan guard, her alignment had already shifted +5 Lawful and +7 Good. Now, in order to achieve this I had to actually role-play my character and pay attention to the dialogue. I felt compelled to be principled, honest, compassionate and self-sacrificing; and not to engage in theft (that would shift me towards Evil), say silly things to people, or kill non-hostile creatures (both of which would shift me towards Chaotic). By the end of Chapter One, my Paladin had attained Lawful (95) and Good (100). So yeah, with the morals maxed and the ethics close to it, I will likely attain "purity" and the Crusader honorific before I step out of Galhadr Estate into the city of Calimport (in Planescape: Torment it was also easier to max Good than Lawful). But what happens when I'm maxed? Well, I still receive a minor experience point bonus for reinforcing perfect dimensions.

The rest of this post is given over to a breakdown of my alignment shifts (Lawful & Good), listed in the order in which they occurred (I make no claims that I have covered them all but I have been fairly thorough). Many's the time you will notice a parodying tone, one which has caused some players to wrongly conclude that parts of the dialogue are cliché. You will also note the tongue-in-cheek explanatory messages, like, for example: "You have compassion even for monsters", "For extraordinary concern for property rights" and "For your hatred of Evil". Taken in the context of the actual dialogue response (and animations), I found these quite amusing!

While alignment is more important to a Paladin than other classes (I would become "Fallen" if I failed to uphold the LG outlook on life), in my first run of the campaign I also felt encouraged to role-play my Rogue to the point of Malefactor, so I think Swordflight succeeds in making alignment meaningful enough for those who desire to role-play their character.

   T h e  B r e a k d ow n   

Glebur Swiftaxe is one of the seasoned adventurers boozing up at the Shifting Sands Inn. The extended dialogue segment with his adventuring party is (necessarily) "tutorial-ish" in tone; and here is my first level scrub stating her position...


The adventuring party pointed me to a few patrons in need of assistance, one of whom is Haldin Khadash, a wizard who needs a stolen tome recovered...


The tome is recovered and the monetary reward declined, in true Paladin style.


Salud Sherad, innkeeper of the Shifting Sands, gives you what appears to be your typical "KEEL DAH RATZ" quest but it turns out to be a potentially lethal encounter that includes a moral consideration, lore on lycanthropes and multiple solutions. Here, my Paladin returns from having spoken to a wererat, hoping to find a peaceful solution to its problem...


Back down in the basement with the elixir in hand, I return to Wagu the Wererat and attempt to persuade him to quaff it. This dialogue is quoted in full because it's such a tough persuasion check to pass - yet is quite satisfying if it succeeds...
 

I once again decline the monetary reward.


Gaduish Sherkal is a noble half-orc who, after a certain violent incident, is doubting whether he should continue his attempt to civilize goblinoid slaves...


Now on the streets outside the inn, my Paladin encounters a Belligerent Drunk who demands some chump change...


Bunglo Bofmer is a halfling rescued by me from the sewers beneath the inn...


Once the above quests have been completed, Zarala Galhadr may finally be recruited as a companion. The highlighted response results in Good +1.


Having been accidentally shot in the back and (seemingly) killed by Zarala during a bandit raid on Saman Waladi's caravan convoy, I awaken on the Plane of Air, where a Strange Elemental Being gifts me the Orb of Life and tasks me with protecting my Air Genasi companion...


Back in the Calim Desert, somewhere between Calimport and Memnon, a priest of Oghma gives me a lead on where the bandits took Saman and Zarala...


The bandits are tracked across the desert; and deep in the bandit caves, a shrine is found...


Having slain the bandit chief and looted his corpse for the key to the dungeon, I free Zarala from her captivity...


Zarala's alignment scale starts at Chaotic (0) Neutral (50) but she may also be influenced by the PC to shift towards Good (or Evil) on a few occasions. This seems to be an innovation of Swordlflight that I have not seen in other NWN modules; though I have seen (one-off and permanent) player-affected companion alignment changes in Baldur's Gate 2 (Viconia & Sarevok). However, the influence is gradual, malleable and makes more sense in Swordflight: it is made clear that Zarala is bright but also youthful and innocent; and therefore, impressionable.

I was able to influence Zarala three times in Swordflight Chapter One:

1.) Delving to the third level of the Buried Ruins, a second shrine of evil is located... Note the reciprocal effect at work, here: as my character influences Zarala's beliefs, her agreement then reinforces mine, in turn. 


Particularly intelligent or wise PCs may be able to reason with Zarala more thoroughly, resulting in extra experience points and influence. Thanks to Rogueknight 333 for reminding me of this!


2.) The duo escapes the Buried Ruins and find themselves back in the Calim Desert. However, in order to reach the caravan camp to consult with Kadath they must first penetrate Asabi Caves, in which they encounter a non-hostile orc...


3.) Also in the Asabi Caves an Asabi Mother expresses concern for her eggs...


In future installments I would like to see solid consequences in Zarala's outlook based on how the PC has influenced her; and, perhaps some kind of grand event that checks her alignment and is modified accordingly. It would make sense for a PC to be able to greatly influence a similarly-aligned companion in a key moment (as Charname is able to do with Balthazar in Ascension).

Anyway, continuing on:

En route back to the Buried Ruins (after consulting with Kadath), the duo is waylaid by a Strange Monk...


Delving to the fourth level and deepest point of the Buried Ruins, the duo encounter the formidable Ramurg, a Mummy Warlord whose passivity is not to be tested lightly.

Note the flavor check on the PC's deity ("Paladin of Tyr"). For this to appear you will need to type in a deity name during chargen; otherwise, it will come up blank! Thanks to Rogueknight 333 for instructions on how to add a deity, post-chargen. Btw, if the Persuade check succeeded I would have been able to "turn" Ramurg. Turn undead dialogue checks crop up more in Chapter Two, allowing you to also break necromantic wards and shatter phylacteries! How cool is that?


On the verge of conquering the infamous Buried Ruins, a foe that is completely out of our league threatens to end our adventure...


The first Chapter all but over, my Paladin returns to camp and gifts Roigo Zedan the Necromantic Manual, found in the Spider Caves (I could have delivered this much earlier, but whatevs).


Swordflight Chapter Two introduces another consequence to alignment, one that occurs when you pray at the altar to a deity. In the below pic, my Crusader and pious Paladin of Tyr prays to her God of Justice to receive a 1 point shift towards Good and Lawful plus an experience point bonus based on her "degree of goodness and lawfulness" (already attained). This worship may be attempted at each "level-up" but subsequent experience point boosts are not guaranteed. While its affect on power progression is minimal, in a tough campaign like Swordflight every lil' advantage counts; and aside from that it's simply a nice touch.


Next Up: Part IV   S k i l l  &  A b i l i t y  S c o r e  C h e c k s   
   A n d  O t h e r  F o r m s  o f  R e a c t i v i t y  
 .

    S w o r d f l i g h t  S e r i e s  C o v e r a g e  
 Installation Instructions | Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV   N E W 

EoP

13 comments:

  1. Seems you are posting on a variety of disparate topics these days? Not that I am complaining about you doing more to promote my own modules!

    A couple of slight additions/clarifications to the above: getting XP for reinforcing a "perfect" alignment score only begins in Chapter Two, I had not implemented that feature yet in Chapter One. In conversations where one can shift Zarala's alignment succeeding at an Intelligence or Wisdom check will often give characters additional dialogue options where they are able to make more compelling arguments for their ethical philosophy, while if one fails at such checks one tends to just get some basic "this is how I roll so if you're sticking with me that's how we'll do things." The INT/WIS options will tend to shift Zarala's alignment more significantly. It will take awhile for alterations to Zarala's alignment to have any consequences, since it takes awhile to alter it all the way to good or evil.

    I do have to admit there is some justice to the charge that my modules include some rather cliched stuff. I am trying to make something that includes plenty of homages to classic RPGs of the past, and not necessarily trying to make anything strikingly original. Certainly much of it is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but at this point I expect in even parodies of rats-in-the-basement quests are a cliche.

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    Replies
    1. On disparate topics: I'm mixing things up somewhat in an effort to not bore myself! (f.e, recountings and extensive write-ups on UIs bog me down, and I need a break.) My habit is just to write about what strikes my fancy at the time, with no thought given to popular appeal, and with a focus on presenting Aurora-based content and other subjects that I haven't seen thoroughly treated elsewhere (i.e, my Blatherings, UI Evolution). Promotion-wise, I would like to think that, by now, I know a good module when I play it, and so my wish is that others should play it, too. IOW, you're welcome.

      On additions/clarifications: Thanks for those! I'll keep an eye out for them as I continue in Chapter Two, though I'm not sure how many I will see as a Paladin of only passable Int and Wis (10/14).

      On lack of originality: If the polish and rigor is there then it does not matter to me. I'm the type of gamer who has replayed the classics over and over for the last decade, afterall.

      Is it possible to edit in a Deity for my character using the console or some other method? I just want to add "Tyr" for the flavor checks in dialogue, if possible (I forgot to do so during Chargen).

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  2. "I'm the type of gamer who has replayed the classics over and over for the last decade, afterall." Me too, and I do appreciate you defending my modules.

    As far as I can determine there is not standard Debug Command to alter Deity, but one could alter this by opening any module in the toolset, going to the script editor, and writing and saving the following script:

    void main ()
    {
    SetDeity(GetFirstPC(),"Tyr");
    }

    Then, with the toolset still open, go to your NWN/Modules folder and find the "Temp" file, within find the file "scriptname.nss" (substituting whatever name you actually gave the script for "scriptname"), copy it and place in the Override. With that in the Override, in game you can enter DebugMode and use the "dm_runscript" command to run the script. Think that will work.

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    Replies
    1. It seems I needed to copy both the nss and ncs files to the override. Thank you for that! (pic updated and note added - yes, I am pedantic). I also added in the Int/Wis response when desecrating the altar.

      I have a lil' problem, though: Kelem Ishadin does not seem to be in the Desert Dragon tavern, when he should be. According to your walk-through, he's supposed to be in the eastern section of the common room, right? If so, is there a way to spawn him with the console, without causing issues?

      Delete
    2. I just finished Chapter 2--it was a fantastic ride! Thank you so much, Rogueknight333 for making it so challenging and satisfying to play. I have to rank it on par with HoTU and probably within my top 5 for best community modules I've played. The only scripting flaw I noticed was that, as Ahti noted above, Kelem Ishadin did not appear in the Desert Dragon tavern. My last interaction with him had been when he took the papers relating to the Poverty Relief Office quest, and left with them. My journal entry said something about looking for him later in the Desert Dragon tavern. This was the only quest that didn't move to the "completed" tab. Otherwise, no disappointments, and I thoroughly enjoyed this module, ending as a 7Rogue/9Ranger/1Shadowdancer. I explored every nook and cranny, and especially enjoyed the Rogue, Ranger, and Fighter (thanks to having taken Construct as a favored enemy, it was allowed--I loved this!) class-based quests. Looking forward to the remaining chapters.

      Thank you, Ahti for bringing this gem to my attention with your praise of it in other parts of your blog--I originally came here for your BG2EE writeup. Keep up the fun and insightful analysis and commentary--I'm finding lots to both ponder and enjoy here!

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    3. Hi Dantastic! You know, it's comments like yours that make blogging worthwhile, so thank you! I'm sure you will enjoy Snow Hunt, too. Also, don't forget to register and vote for Swordflight on the Vault (if you haven't already). Cheers!

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    4. The issue of Kelem not appearing in the inn was recently brought to my attention. Having investigated it a bit I believe the problem is that he is there, but is in stealth mode and thus hard to find, as a result of being earlier instructed to stay always in stealth. Hopefully at some point in the near future I will be able release a revised version of the module that avoids this problem (if I can find the time, given that I am also trying hard right now to get Ch. 3 ready for release). For the time being this can be worked around by cancelling a command to remain in stealth before he leaves the party or by using True Seeing to spot him in the inn (same would go for Chelys, too, if you worked with her instead - she could potentially have the same issue).

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    5. Ah, that makes sense, then. I'll just pretend that Kelem saw me recruit the LE dwarf and decided to remain in the shadows;-)

      Thanks for taking the time to clear that up, Rogueknight333--and best wishes for finishing up Ch 3!

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    6. The bug has been fixed in v. 1.06, just uploaded:

      "Fixed a bug that sometimes resulted in Kelem/Chelys being in Stealth and thus very difficult to find when met for a second time in the Desert Dragon Tavern." - Readme for Swordflight Chapter Two.

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  3. After reading your blog, I decided to play. Just finished Swordflight Ch1 and I'm going through Ch2 right now. I'm loving it. It's on par with the Prophet and HoTU. I'm one of those people (and I imagine that there are others like me) who have played NWN since 2003. Some of the community stories, like Swordflight, are truly fantastic. I cannot even imagine how much time rogueknight must have put into this, but I really hope he keeps this thing going with Ch3. There are a lot of quiet people out there who will likely play NWN until there are no more stories to tell (I'm one of them). Anyway, I thought I'd throw in my two-cents. I really like your blog and I really appreciate the effort that goes into modules like Swordflight.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Elviwyn, and thank you for your kind comment. :)

      I believe Chapter Three is close to being completed, with perhaps another three chapters to follow.

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  4. AnonymousJuly 02, 2016

    Enjoying the blog, and you're recommendations on NWN modules. I've shared this blog with a few of my fellow NWN enthusiasts. We are glad to see the NWN fan base is still strong.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing. The NWN community may not seem to be thriving, but that's because its activity is spread over many venues. LOTS of ppl continue to play this game, as I'm sure you are aware.

      Delete

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