Weekly Foundry Reviews — February 5, 2015

Well, this week the Foundry wasn’t being kind to us. First I, and later Kasul, couldn’t open the final chest for two of the foundries, so we couldn’t both leave reviews. And one of those foundries refused to finish at all! And another foundry, previously featured — twice! — had clearly been broken by some foundry change and couldn’t be finished.

Still, we did what we could.

Part 1: Silver Thieves by @waldo79 (***)

There were so many versions of this quest. If you just search for “Silver Thieves”, you’ll get two featured versions. If you search for “Part 1: Silver Thieves”, one of the featured ones will drop off, and you’ll get the original, unfeatured version. That unfeatured one is the one that works. However, that’s not the one we played.

A wererat has stolen a serving girl’s prized silver mirror. She needs heroes to help recover it for her, though I just have to imagine hiring heroes to get her mirror back would cost her more than the mirror itself. How she might pay us — we never really got into that. Our only reward: a trip into the sewers.

Where is the Sewer Cleric around to show this serving girl how to do it?!

Journals with meticulous descriptions of their owners recent actions right up to the point they were killed were legion. Again, it’s nice of people to be so diligent. “With the monster’s breath filling my lungs, and its teeth on my neck, I write these final words to you, who find these few sentences next to my corpse and wonder how I came to this end. Funny that, this wasn’t the first time I found myself in this situation. Twenty years ago….” and the words end there, punctuated with splattered blood. Maybe if these NPCs spent less time writing, and more time escaping, they’d still be living.

After a few runs through long corridors filled with static encounters, we noticed things were starting to go a little weird. Traps floating in the air. Teleporters that didn’t really go anywhere. There was a boss of sorts, and then an inaccessible interactable. Couldn’t get to it. We were forced to abandon the quest.

Note to self: Never play previously featured quests. Always look for the original, the one the author can keep updated when the foundry breaks it.

We would have rated this quest three stars if we’d been able to finish it.

Pros: Difficulty slider adds more trash mobs if you like that sort of thing.
Cons: Lots of boring static encounters. Featured versions are broken.

The castle gates by @reiwulf (****)

The ominously named town of Duskshore (or Duskshire, depending who’s doing the telling) has been having a bit of trouble lately with mysterious disappearances. Could it have something to do with the local lord’s dabbles with dark arts? Or the dank Cathedral of Silence? Or the wolves which threaten to tear apart anyone who dares leave the thin safety of the village?

The guard who cheerily greeted us as we arrived didn’t think so! Was he the killer? Talking to the villagers gave us a better picture of what went on. Didn’t need a journal to tell us the backstory! When vampires attack and burn the town down, though, it’s clear that things have taken a turn for the occult. This is a job for heroes! And could there be twists in this plot? There could be! If you find the right items while exploring, you can change the rather dreary outcome.

The maps in this quest were entirely custom, with multiple houses you could enter, unique terrain. It reminded me very much of those old Castlevania foundries, which is high praise. Since we knew we were supposed to explore for extras, we were able to get to places (with a lot of trying) that we weren’t supposed to get to. Not sure if that screwed up anything — after the big battle, I couldn’t loot the chest, so I couldn’t leave my review.

Kasul and I both loved the custom village map, the evil lord’s castle, and the intricate boss fight at the end. If it hadn’t been for the inconsistent spelling and capitalization, this would have been a five star quest. Still well worth playing.

I felt the second map, headed to the castle, was a little too complicated for its own good. It’s supposed to be railroading you through set encounters, but it wasn’t hard at all to get up on one of the walls and go pretty much everywhere from the moment I entered the map. I thought that’s what I was supposed to do, actually.

Second quest in as many weeks that has lycanthropy as a contagious condition, when it isn’t in Forgotten Realms. Also: Vampires turning people into Werewolves? Years of Twilight and Underworld make me skeptical :)

Kasul gave this quest four stars, and I would have done the same, if I could have left a review.

Pros: Amazing village map. Great plot. Well-made NPCs.
Cons: Just minor issues.

Act 1: Wounded Tiger by @prettycelt (***)

One of our favorite authors, Kasul was interested in trying the very first quest by this award-winning map maker. (@prettycelt won a dev’s choice award in the Cult of the Dragon foundry contest for “Turtle Soup”).

We’ve all spent many hours sharing blood, sweat and tears with our good friend Shard. Well, no — neither Kasul nor I knew who she was. A Google search turned up nothing. When the quest giver asked us if we knew Shard, the choices were “Yes”, “Ha! That bitch?”, and “No”. Both of us chose “No”, and that was it. We eventually guessed we were supposed to pretend we knew her in order to continue along with the quest. Our pretend close relationship with Shard would continue throughout the quest, and it just continually puzzled us. Not apparently famous enough a part of Forgotten Realms lore to make it into any Wiki, and this is the first chapter in a campaign… who was Shard supposed to be?

It was a puzzle we couldn’t solve.

Once we admitted that Shard was a close and personal friend, the quest giver explained that Shard hadn’t picked up her favorite bread this morning. We promised to look into it and… again, we were left hanging. The story goal was “look for Shard”. We eventually went to a gate and looked around until we found an icon for “Serene Lake” up near the corner of the world map that belonged to the quest. Not sure why we decided we needed to look for Shard there. Maybe if we were friends, we would have known this was her vacation home.

I’m replaying the quest right now as I write this, and it does seem we were supposed to know that this is where Shard lives. It seems a longish trip every morning to buy some bread in the Neverwinter market…

Shard had somehow gotten herself mixed in with a feud between the Black Lion ninjas and the White Tiger monks. After we killed a lot of them, we rescued Shard and brought her home, where she put a negligee over her lush curves and went to bed to recover. And the story continues in the next chapter.

This is a tough quest to rate. Not knowing anything about Shard, except that we were supposed to be fantastically wonderful best friends who would go tearing across Faerûn because an old friend had not picked up their bread that morning, kinda put a damper on the quest. A quest centered more on introducing us to Shard would have been welcome. We killed a lot of ninjas. We did note that the Asian-themed NPCs in this quest were not the bright yellow of “Turtle Soup”, but had more normal complexions.

Kasul and I both rated this three stars.

Pros: Unique NPCs, set in a little-used campaign setting.
Cons: Shard is this quest’s Keyser Soze.

Gathering Shadows by @xetmk24 (***)

Gather around as the storyteller tells you a story of old Baldur’s Gate…. (screen goes all wavy).

Yes, this quest uses a framing device to put you in an adventuring party, the first of many (many) map transitions in this quest. But that’s pretty okay, because the maps are just incredible! Authors have really been showcasing their map skills lately.

You play a hero returning to your home in Baldur’s Gate, when a sudden invasion from the Underdark puts Baldur’s Gate on high alert and sends you and your best adventuring friends on a mission to learn more about the reasons behind this sudden, unheralded attack.

As in White Tigers, Black Lions, the adventure will continue as if you knew who these people were and were great friends with a lot of shared memories. Unlike the other quest, the author included a little down time to introduce you to your crew (and, naturally, you’re a character in someone else’s story, so it makes more sense).

Some color coded wizards are riling up the orcs, and there are werewolves.

We were given an adventuring party that followed us throughout, despite our best efforts to get them killed. We would honestly have been more invested in the quest if we hadn’t had to stop all the time to discuss things with the party. I felt like I was inside one of those D&D novels. Which, admittedly, could be a real draw for a lot of people.

English is not the author’s first language. Consequently, the language was pretty hard to read sometimes. But I’m certain they speak English better than I speak their native tongue, so who am I to talk about it? This is precisely where the ability for more than one person to work on a foundry would come in handy — to help with translations. That said, pre-flighting the language in a word processor set to English would have helped quite a lot.

I gave this quest three stars. The quest was very ambitious, with amazing maps and quite a lot of story. However, I didn’t feel connected to the annoying adventuring party I had to drag around, and the poor English made me unsure at times what was happening. Kasul wasn’t able to finish the quest — same bug I had with the first quest.

Pros: You are literally playing within a D&D novel!
Cons: Lots and lots of map transitions, annoying mandatory companions, and a poor English translation.

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