Weekly Foundry Reviews — 1/28/2015
Well, I missed a week, so this week, there’s a double helping of foundry goodness. Blame it on the blizzard. And remember, if I seem harsh, every single one of these quests has gotten more plays than any of mine. So who am I to talk, right?
A Missing Man – CotW:1 by @redneckrobin
A man mysteriously disappears on the night of a full moon. Perhaps this had something to do with a mysterious wound he got long ago during his days as a caravan guard? You’ll never believe what happened!
Well, you MIGHT.
Even though in Neverwinter, lycanthropy is hereditary and not passed on via a bite from a lycanthrope, who doesn’t like a good werewolf story? A series of notes, journals and other items explains the entire backstory in exhaustive detail. Makes me feel kinda bad that I don’t keep an extensive personal diary on my person so that, if I come to harm, I can toss it away, opened to the exact page that explains what brought me to this end for others to find. Because that’s a thing that happens all the time in Neverwinter.
Journals are kinda like Neverwinter Instagram in that way. You never really enjoy your life because you’re always trying to document it. Journaling is the ultimate selfie.
Anyway, the missing man is Sarek, whom Kasul and I remembered from Star Trek. His mind meld and death grip were no match for the crushing weight of his backstory. Once the backstory is learned… the adventure comes to a quick end. This is just the first chapter of a three chapter campaign that continues with “A Hidden Valley”.
“A Missing Man” was a perfectly serviceable quest. Some of the characterizations were off, the encounters (aside from named encounters) were vanilla, and the maps were premades. Still, it did tell a story. Kasul and I both gave it three stars.
Pros: Star Trek and Game of Thrones references. Many, many words.
Cons: Would have been better to integrate the backstory better into the adventure. Falls easily into the trap of putting vanilla stock encounters in stock dungeons.
Part 3: Idol Hearts by @Kithlis
Part 4: Fallen Idols by @Kithlis
Kasul and I played the first to chapters of Kithlis’ “The Bone Idol” campaign in previous weeks. To sum up, in the first chapter, you investigate the theft of 2/3rds of a bone idol from a museum. In the second, you track the last third to a village that is suffering under a terrible curse.
Part 1 was great. Part 2 blew us away.
“Idol Hearts” spends a bit of time figuring out what sidequests you completed in the first two parts so that it can complete them in the third. If you tried to save the village in the second part, you can finish the job here. If you befriended a certain NPC, then you learn a small amount more about her fate here. But, the most important task is to return the third piece of the idol to the museum so that it can be put back together… and used for terrible purpose. Huh. So THAT’S who’s gonna betray me?
Kasul and I both thought the third chapter did not work well as a standalone quest. If you hadn’t done the second one, Part 3 wouldn’t make much sense.
Part 4 redeems this campaign by tying up ALL the lose ends, putting in more enjoyable sidequests, and ends in one of the more epic final battles that I’ve played. Very scripted, very pro. This campaign was falling toward four stars for us, but Part 4 redeemed it and ended with five stars from both of us.
Pros: Great characters, original plot and settings, good lore, extremely cinematic
Cons: Sidequests should be integrated into the plot — there’s no reason to hide so much story away like that.
The Flame Keeper – Act 1 by @Locksheon
I’m almost certain Kasul and I played this quest before. But, our previous reviews didn’t pop up when we finished, so who knows? “The Flame Keeper” is the first quest in the author’s “The Final Prophecy” campaign.
In this quest, the village of Darrow is celebrating the birthday of their lord, a drow who has forsaken the underground life and the worship of Lloth for the cultured refinement of the surface hinterlands. In the first part of this first quest, you spend a considerable amount of time helping the villagers prepare their celebration for some reason, eventually getting drunk and falling asleep in a pile of pigshit. Not really any choice there. You will get drunk and embarrass yourself in front of strangers.
Way to go, big damn hero.
Once you’ve managed to prove you can’t hold your ale, the second portion of the adventure begins. You may or may not have discovered a mysterious girl asleep in one of the houses; that house is now on fire, and the girl is gone. Following her trail starts an adventure of someone favored — or cursed — by the gods.
This first adventure doesn’t really explain how the girl’s story connects with the village’s. Or at least, I missed any explanation. After some dialog and some boring encounters, the story peters out and just ends, to leave a starting point for the next quest in the campaign, “From a Distance”.
Kasul and I both gave this one four stars. The story was pretty engrossing. The combat wasn’t particularly interesting, but this is by no means a combat-heavy map. Again, you’re set up to be a clumsy, drunken idiot in the first portion of the quest, whether or not you believe that accurately describes your character. Still, both this quest and its sequel were featured, so…
Pros: Nice connection to lore, lots of freestyle dialog and exploration in the village, the girl and her golem friend are classic characters.
Cons: You’re a drunken fool who sleeps in a sty. Sorry. That’s what you are. Not really explained to my satisfaction who gave a drow a lordship over surface dwellers.
Isle of the Nine Maidens by @wildgeas
The seven elven maidens — red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet — who form the rainbow have been somehow kidnapped by kobolds and stashed away in various places. The remaining sisters — the colors of white and black — desire the return of their sisters so that they can form a rainbow, and need you to recover them from the goblins.
And so that’s what you do. Kill kobolds and rescue sisters. At the end, maybe they’ll form a rainbow for you.
Kasul wondered why every one of the elves were female — and that’s when he spotted the “Male Breeder”. See, you only need one male! He doesn’t even get a name! Silly breeder. Names are for girls!
I gave this three stars. The conception was decent, but mostly it was just killing groups of boring static weak encounters. Kasul only gave it two stars. I think he wants more rights for male elves. He IS one, after all. I may have to start calling him “breeder”, now.
Pros: Form of… A RAINBOW!
Cons: Lots of weak static encounters in linear dungeons.
Nim’sha’s Storm by @DoctorBadger
We recently played DoctorBadger’s “Return to the Clock Makers’ Tomb”, which should be working again after recent foundry updates. This week, Kasul and I played the latest in the (Un)Academic Field Work campaign which includes that earlier quest, “Nim’sha’s Storm”… and we nearly drowned.
A storm has prevented ships from using Neverwinter’s recently re-opened Northern Docks. The storm doesn’t seem at all natural, and the Sword Coast Academicals have called upon us to discover the origin of the clearly unnatural storm, and to stop it, if possible. They have some furniture on the way and the current benches are giving them butt-splinters.
I’m a guardian fighter. If hitting the storm with a sword will do any good, I’m there.
You know that crafting in Neverwinter is pointless, by the way, when we can’t even make a comfortable chair for our fearless academicians.
A few dead halflings later, we learn that the storm’s onset coincided suspiciously with the disappearance of Waveservant Nim’sha, a cleric of the evil sea god Umberlee, into her undersea temple. She’s not been heard from since… and neither have the adventuring party who were planning to loot some random undersea temple. An adventuring party we, unfortunately, know all too well. Maybe this is the time to bury the hatchet with them… or IN them. You choose.
The undersea map was extremely innovative, using a slow zone effect and mist to make a very convincing underwater experience — albeit one that trapped Kasul inside a sunken ship. He’s a rogue, and was able to target me and pop out… the other two maps — the docks and the temple itself — were decent, but that underwater map just made me want to head right into the foundry and make my own undersea adventure. Kasul and I both gave it four stars.
Pros: nice lore, exposes halflings for the kneebiters they are, stunning undersea map
Cons: Undersea encounters, however, were vanilla.
The Dwarves of Crystal Pass by @sylvialynn
An old dwarven mining colony, Crystal Pass, has gone silent, and you run off to investigate. Turns out a group of black ice-maddened barbarians have invaded the city and… well, that’s what we need to find out. The quest has Crystal Pass as a colony on the decline since the discovery of black ice in Icewind Dale, so not sure why the crazed barbarians decided to head there. But nonetheless.
A lot of work went into the custom maps, but the adventure itself is just mowing down endless static encounters. There’s a difficulty slider that lets you decide how many trash mobs you want.
Kasul and I wanted to give this more stars because it was clear a lot of time had gone into the maps, but it was just a boring grind quest, and two stars is all we felt we could give it. Perhaps the next chapter, Reconvene to Crystal Pass, would pick up the plot a bit. Plus, it would be exciting to explore new uses for words like “reconvene”.
Pros: Handcrafted maps. No actual dwarves in the dwarf city
Cons: No real plot, lots of trash
The Tale of Adlershire by @bublex123
The village of Adlershire has gone silent, and you run off to investigate. Turns out it’s just you, Farmer Mike, and a bunch of incredibly strange villagers who stopped living and became mixed-up zombies. If I remember right, we kill Farmer Mike’s undead daughter for him so that he can loot all the houses in the village and burn them. And you’re a retard if you see anything wrong with this.
Yes, this is the sort of language you can expect.
There’s no reason to play this. Kasul and I both gave it one star.
Pros: Calibrates you on the Gamergater/SJW scale, I guess.
Cons: Incredibly offensive. Spelling is terrible. Colloquial slang destroys immersion because… what immersion?
I made decent progress on the first floor of "Newfallen" this weekend. Most of the ceiling has been added. I've sketched out the Gynok Moltar encounter, but I think I need to make it a little easier. The druid is now Pham Willowbark, who appears in most of my other EQ adventures.
The plan is for each room to be its own little mini-adventure. I've decided to use the Befallen quest "Plight of the Undead" as the model for my Befallen revamp. It's one of the newer Befallen quests — and by newer, I mean only a decade old. Unlike classic Befallen, this one has minibosses and a final boss. The original quest begins with a trip down into the well… I'm going to split that up a bit.
The player will be able to just ignore the whole plot, anyway.
Shown is SK1, the room you camp in order to get the key to the second floor. The first story miniboss, Hrek the Defiler, has set up shop in order to bind an ogre shadowknight to her will, aided by a dark elf necromancer and his pet. You can see her from the broken door on the east side of the room, or from the working doorway on the west side before you enter.
Once you enter, she respawns into an aggro form and attacks. She gives some plot-related text when she attacks and when she dies, and she's also given a warning that it is only her presence that is keeping the shadowknight from attacking.
Once she's killed, the SK, necro and pet respawn into aggro form and rush the player. Kill them and loot the key from the SK's corpse.
For some reason, having mobs drop items isn't working for me. Not sure if it's because of the custom construction or whatnot — I have no idea. But now I am making lootable corpses to give the stuff. That is actually more like EverQuest, so it's not a bad thing, but I wonder if I have any other custom maps — like the back part of Najena's Lair — which are no longer working.
One more minor encounter on the way to the second floor and the first floor will be to the "80%" mark. 80% of the work is done in 20% of the time. The remaining 20% takes 80% of the time. When all of Newfallen is at 80%, I can finally publish it and get feedback as I finish it.
Finished re-tiling the floor to the Well in Newfallen. The NPC gives the quest to get his buddy's gear from the bottom of the well. The buddy accidentally fell down, was instantly killed, and now his stuff's going to poof before he can run back from Freeport. Ooooh I should make it Qeynos.
I activated Skeleton Lrodd to see how hard it would be to fight in the room. It wasn't easy. I had this idea to lure Lrodd into the well to see what happens. He falls into it fine, but then there's aggro that's impossible to fully lose, making things annoying. I need to stop him from falling into the well unless the player is already headed for the express down elevator to oblivion.
Leaving the well room behind for now to start work on SK1, the next encounter on floor 1.