Wow, week 3 already. It’s been a rollercoaster so far, but this week is special. We have missions by two of the foundry’s pro builders — and the unluckiest contest entry of them all. But we’ll get to that one later. First, one of the three quests the overworked cleric who stands near Sergeant Knox gives out this week.
The Dragon’s Prize by sc00teR
This is the only foundry this week where the quest page is entirely taken up by a disclaimer. I think I was supposed to sign and date it somewhere. Yes, I indemnify the author against any blame for an end reward that I can’t or won’t use. Yes, I will control the mobs I pull and not blame you if I pull too many. Yes, if the sparkly trail leads me over a cliff, I won’t haul you in front of Lord Neverember.
Kasul and I had Sergeant Knox witness this Lone Adventure Licensing Agreement, Limited Application (AKA, “lalala I can’t hear you!”) and went off to see what was up with the good cleric.
Seems in ancient times, long ago, the evil white dragon Malusnix hid a great treasure in the peaks above Icewind Dale, and then had the misfortune to die. The cult has lost its taste for raising dragons, but they dearly want to see what that legendary treasure was all about.
Once at Caer-Konig, you meet with some very old friends who may occasionally help, and with members of the Cult of the Dragon who are somewhat less willing to help. And then you get to the lair of the long dead dragon and discover the treasure… and the crazed cultist who wanted more. And he’s bringing all the colors of Skittles come in to take you down.
The dragon’s lair shows an attention to detail that is a master class in level design. The quest has strong characters, a consistent plot, a sense of humor, and a satisfying final confrontation. The only flaw was the quest’s length. It was FAR TOO SHORT.
This quest got five stars from both Kasul and me. It is the first time we’ve given a quest five stars since the contest began. THIS is the bar. The average score is 4.32 stars.
Stop the Cult of the Dragon by raindance7
Since we were already at the cleric, and had accidentally started his quest, we elected to start right in on Stop the Cult of the Dragon.
The Cult has been seen in Neverdeath, disturbing graves and causing a ruckus. No lie; the Cult operations in Neverdeath are a major plot point in the Tyranny of Dragons expansion, which shows some impressive foresight by the author :-)
We walked through a version of Neverdeath that Kasul claimed was the Shadowfell map. Okay. Killing as we go, we get to a crypt, where the ghost of a just-killed Cleric Human sends us on our way deeper into the crypt, where a Dragon Commander awaits us. After some sarcophagus investigations and a lot more static mob killing, we arrive and kill the Dragon Commander, a demon, and that’s it.
There were no issues with this quest. The maps were competently put together, there was a minimal plot and some characterization. It was just a really dull quest. There was no excitement, the boss battle was perfunctory, the stakes seemed low. Maybe it was just unlucky to be the quest we played just after The Dragon’s Prize, but Kasul and I both gave it two stars. Average score is 3.99 stars.
A Game of Dragons by BjornKoer
The cleric’s third quest instructs us to head immediately to the village of Breetucket, where the young folk of the village are being stolen away! After carefully asking if, perhaps, they were being made to fight to the death to distract the thirteen districts from their dystopian lives, the cleric says it is nothing THAT horrible.
They’re just being made into dragon chow by vicious kobolds.
The Mayor reluctantly sends us after a spell-scarred half elf who might have more information, but once we find her, she sends us into a pit from whence the kobolds came. Maybe we can stop this before anyone else dies.
We soon find that very little of what we thought we knew was the truth… and that the dragons we were to kill would not be quite what we were expecting, either.
I was going to give this quest three stars, but Kasul started listing off all the things wrong with it. But I just didn’t think it was two star territory. We compromised; I gave this quest three stars, and Kasul gave it two. Adjusted score 3.99 stars.
Rise of Ingeloakastimizilian by eldarth
Easy winner of the “least pronounceable name” reward… If there is one, this quest gets it.
We’re told a Sage Ramiel needs to see us on some important business. The Cult have been seen up around Icewind Dale… Lord Neverember himself urges us to meet with the wizard with all due speed. And so we do!
We’re teleported to a ship, whose captain gives us supplies we’ll need in order to convincingly play secret cultists. Some time in a market (complete with a literal attack of conscience!). Having extracted the information we needed, we were sent on our final destination to confront the Cult in their hidden lair.
This quest was a story — with chapters, and side quests, boundless attention to detail, and some very funny bits. It did have a little too much fascination with pop culture, but not terribly so. The lore fits in well with the Forgotten Realms, and… this quest was more like reading Dragons of Winter Night than playing a foundry.
Kasul and I agreed — this one easily deserved five stars as well. If you play no other quests this week, play this one and The Dragon’s Prize. Average score: 4.21 stars.
The Dragon Scroll by Denniss99
This quest didn’t have enough reviews before it was featured to make it off the For Review tab. Since featuring a quest just copies it, reviews and all, it started off week 3 still in For Review. And remains there still.
In Week 1, The Artifact started off in the same position and quickly reached the third position — prize territory — in the standings. But, three days along, Dragon Scroll is still For Review. Kasul and I thought the > 1 hour average playing time kept people away, but that wasn’t the reason.
“The Cult of the Dragon has discovered the location of an ancient scroll which is said to have the power to raise fallen dragons from the death.”
This scroll is said to be in the Chasm (who has told us this, we don’t know), guarded over by powerful cultists and… other beings. Regardless of how we came to know all this, we understood that we must obtain this scroll before the cultists get it.
It turns out that, like a quest from a week or two ago, this is really a quest about mindflayers, who have been attacking cultists and turning them into their own foul brood. This was told to us by the sole cultist to avoid this fate. He charged us to kill any cultist we found, to save them from mindflayer-dom. There were ten of them, so there were ten groups of cultists and mindflayers wandering around — as well as wandering groups of mindflayers and their friends who didn’t count for the quest and also respawned.
After we got the ten and retrieved the body parts the cultist needed, we were sent into the dungeon. Everything had respawned along the way, so we ran to the entrance and just killed everything as it came to us.
The dungeon was just an interminable slog of random mindflayer encounters, so we ran through those. Kasul had a scroll to summon two dragons, but they were more trouble than they were worth, attacking things through walls and stuff. We eventually reached a chamber with a mindflayer boss, which we killed, along with everything else in the room. A key was supposed to drop to open the way to the finish — we did get the ancient scroll to drop — but no key. The quest text said, the key will drop from an encounter in this room. We spent a good fifteen minutes looking for an encounter we missed, or this key. Unable to proceed, we quit the quest. We might have reset the map and tried again, but neither of us felt like clearing that boring dungeon of all the static encounters again.
The reason this quest is still in the For Review tab, is because people can’t complete it. Of its four reviews (so close), one is by the author himself (assuming reviewer denniss3, who praised it highly and gave it five stars, is related to author denniss99). The author also praised the quest for its good storytelling in the quest description… Well, nice to know he believes in his quest that much. But, I’d have preferred if he’d have fixed this key issue which I can only assume is tripping up a lot of people.
Aside from the bug, we were puzzled at how this quest turned into a mindflayer quest. Technically, it did involve the cult… I really hesitate to bring that up, because if you go down certain paths in my own quest, you can get the cultists killed off pretty early and not see them again (or, you can join up with them and see them a lot! Your choice! Play my quest when it is featured!). Nonetheless, I felt the cultists would want to respond to this attack on their own by the mindflayers in some other way than handing the mindflayers cultists to use for their own ends.
We weren’t able to review this quest, but we would have given it one star if we had. Kasul was getting pretty angry at it. Never a good sign. Average score is 4.00 with four reviews.
The Cult’s Hideout by BennH0llysword
“What’s going on here? Zed Wisdomancer the Unmatched has come to Neverwinter with his minions. There is something in the air….”
Well, if it were anyone else, we wouldn’t go. But Zed — Zed Wisdomancer — when he calls, we come running.
Meeting Senior Officer Wil Fletcher at a home, he revealed his suspicions that there were Cultists in this very house. Given that there were two cultists standing immediately in front of him, we believed there might have been something to his suspicions. He charged us with finding Zed Wisdomancer and slaying him, and we could also rescue Unaril Cooper if we found her in the dungeon. Nice to have that option.
A drow delayed our journey to the dungeon by challenging us to find things for her in the largely empty house, filled with restless residents with names like Halfling Male and Half Orc Female. Kasul introduced the latter to Half Orc Male. They hit it off immediately.
Once finally sent to the dungeon, we wandered around killing random encounters with dangerous sounding names for awhile. Went to a second dungeon and killed fifteen scarily named critters, one encounter to a room, all easy encounters. On the last map, we just pulled every encounter to the boss room and killed everything at once.
This is what I do. I’ll play along and kill a couple static encounters, but if it looks like it’s just going on and on, I’m going to drag them to a room and kill them all at once. My Guardian Fighter uses an AE build. It doesn’t matter how many I kill at once.
So, that happened. Boss was as easy as everything else, even given we were fighting the last dozen or so encounters at the same time.
The dialog seemed like it was written by a non-English speaker and translated. It reminded me very much of badly dubbed Japanese monster movies. But, unlike the botched translation in Week 1’s Ending with the Beginning, the dialog here was typically short enough that the poor translation didn’t get too annoying.
I don’t like quests with long hallways full of static encounters, but these were easy enough that I could kill several at once, which sped things up a bit. The nameds in the room were somewhat amusingly named. I thought one of them should be named Dan the Can Actually Put Up A Fight, because that would have been a nice change.
Kasul and I both gave this quest two stars. Average score is 3.81 stars.
Week 3 is a pretty strong week. Unlike Week 2, this week’s entries got a news post. As of this writing, The Dragon’s Prize and A Game of Dragons were rising pretty quickly in the standings, but neither looks poised to come close to the Week 1 foundries. Given that I changed my spreadsheet scoring midweek to counting up the actual stars, Week 1 has a couple extra days of rating accrued to it, but I really don’t think the positions are much affected. Who plays featured quests from the previous week? Some people do, but most will be on the featured ones for the current week.
We have two quests this week that should, in my opinion, be at the top of the charts. We’ll see where they fall when Week 4 begins. There’s a big event this weekend which will probably spell disaster for this week’s excellent entries.
And, someone do denniss99/denniss3 a favor and finish and review his quest? Even though I didn’t like the quest, it deserves an honest chance.