Burnin’ the Barn. Again.

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Thought it was time for Kasul to get star billing. As he and Shandra say their tearful goodbyes…. for now, folks. For now. Those two crazy kids will meet again, I promise.

But what’s happening? You thought Kasul and I were playing FFXIV? Well, *I* am, sometimes. Kasul and I decided that we needed a break from MMOs, and decided to go back in time and replay Neverwinter Nights 2. I’d played this a LITTLE bit with Team Spode years and years ago, but we didn’t play long before we decided to switch over to Dungeons & Dragons Online. The character movement was tough to deal with, everyone was splitting up and going everywhere and, personally, I had a lot of trouble keeping track of what was going on.

When Kasul and I group together, we go at a comfortable place. Kasul keeps me honest, reminding me to talk to every NPC, read every scroll, open every door… so I really, finally, know what’s going on. (And a lot of the time, it’s hey, I remember this from Neverwinter Online!).

The first chapter had us journeying from our home in the Mere of Dead Men to Neverwinter to discover the secret of a silver shard we had. The second chapter had us allying with the criminal element of Neverwinter in order to gain access to the quarantined Blacklake district (a den of the Nasher in Neverwinter Online; in the era of NWN2, Lord Nasher is still alive).

We’ve finally gained that access. We had to kill several hundred Neverwinter city guards (no hard feelings, though). We may have started a war with the corrupt city of Luskan to the north. We have completely humiliated the lesser crime lieutenants, and I’m sure that won’t come back to haunt us at any point.

And the reason for all this work, getting into the Blacklake district? So we could use the library. No, really.

The librarian immediately pegged us as non-readers, and directed us to the porn section. Tempting, but we’d been told that a document in the library’s vault would give some explanation for why the extra-planar githyanki and their bladeling servants were pursuing us across Faerun. After killing a few hundred githyanki, we managed to corner their leader in the vault. He got away, somehow. We killed everything else with a pulse in retaliation. They left behind a charred book that said that Ammon Jerro — the person we’d heard would have some sort of explanation — had left behind two living descendants. One was unknown, the name was torn from the book. But the other… the other was Shandra.

Shandra.

One of the last tasks we had to do before we could get to Neverwinter was to drive away some Sahuagin (D&D Murlocs) that were trying to drive out human colonists because the colonists were trying to take their land. Among the people at the front lines of this tug of war was Shandra the Farmer. Her neighbors had been burned out. But she was fine.

This, she explained to us, as we watched two Sahuagin run from the forest and torch her barn. Does nobody have a Wand of Halon in Faerun? She was pretty mad at us, insisting we brought the Sahuagin, and the drove us off. We eventually made peace with the Sahuagin, and they promised not to torch any more barns (or ships to Neverwinter) if the colonists would just stay to the lands they’d already settled. So that made us right with Shandra, right?

Yeah, maybe not.

She was NOT happy to see us. We arrived at her farm to find her being chased around by Githyanki. We killed them, but not before they torched her HOME. She blamed us for everything, ordered us gone, but we persisted in killing Githyanki until she finally agreed that maybe coming with us was preferable to being taken by those shriveled ex-humans.

So to our party of a dwarf fighter who wants to be a monk, tiefling thief who wants to be a bard, a gnomish bard who wants to be suffocated, a druid who REALLY loves bears, and a sorceress who is followed around by Mean Girls… to these, we add a farmer, which are, in these sorts of games, the stereotypical level 0 character, or the fabled hero that will save the world (if you’re playing Dungeon Siege, anyway).

Our road leads to her grandfather’s home, Ammon’s Haven, which sounds like a sweet, safe place. Unfortunately, we’ll have to go through Luskan to get to it….

…. next week :)

Neverwinter Nights 2

Tipar the Half-Orc Barbarian in NWN2

Out of nowhere, I was invited to take part in a weekly online gaming group as they explore the world of Neverwinter Nights 2 (which, it turns out, is an entirely separate game from Neverwinter Nights Platinum). I’d originally bought NWN2 to play with its level editor, but I never really learned it well enough to bring it all together. The levels seemed a lot smaller, for example, than I’d have liked. Smaller than in Neverwinter Nights, even.

I’d never actually played the game because, well, I’d gotten stuck in the tutorial. If I remember right, I couldn’t survive the general brawl event.

When I re=installed it last week, I figured this would be my litmus test: If I could figure out the tutorial and complete all the objectives, I’d be on my way.

This time, I got stuck in the magic tutorial, because, it turns out, I didn’t read the tutorial text in the popup. I’m just so USED to hitting “OK” “DONE” “COMPLETE” “GO AWAY YOU DAMN BOX” on every popup window that the idea that such windows may contain useful information is entirely foreign to me.

So try #3, last night, I actually read all the boxes and figure out the tutorial. The fact that I chose a HUGE half-orc barbarian for a character instead of a willowy elf or a tiny hobbit turned out to help a little in the general brawl, but I was of somewhat less use because it wasn’t entirely clear who the good guys vs the bad guys were, and I was having trouble moving around and having to click to select the baddies was getting tiresome.

As I’m writing this, I understand, finally, that MMOs, with all their time-saving conveniences, have trained me to approach RPG combat in exactly the same way, every time. Little use of the mouse, a camera which acts intelligently, tab-target-attack till it’s done. I was also unready for auto-attack — in EQ2, if you aren’t pressing a button, you’re not doing your job.

I have no idea what it’ll be like to play NWN2 with other people….

Time to reinstall Vent!

NWN2: I’m in my world, now.

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Over the weekend, I bought Neverwinter Nights 2. Not because I really want to *play* the game (though I will), but because I want to teach myself how to use the scenario creator to write my own adventures.

I’m not sure NWN2’s editor is what I’m looking for; it doesn’t have that sense of freedom while editing that I’d like. I would prefer to edit things in a sort of “god” mode — quickly sketch the layout of the rooms in an overhead view (as this editor does allow), but then walk around inside the room, placing things so they look good from the player’s perspective.

And a word on that perspective — as an MMO player, what I really want is a camera that just follows what I do, turns with me, and basically disappears — I never want to have to fight the camera to make it see something my character would be able to see. Fights are so frustrating.

I did with the editor what everyone probably does with it first — make a room, then place nice stuff in it. My first room was also filled with monsters, that attacked each other and the Dungeon Master character I’d placed in it. That didn’t really work. My second room (above) just had one monster that I could experiment with — Badger Jones is his name.

It’s going to take a fair amount of practice before I can even START with the real things I want to explore in an MMO setting. I’m still not even sure I shouldn’t be using the Unreal 2 scenario creator, as it looks to be more in sync with the tools used by actual MMO developers.