|Area design and use of cutscenes, by themselves, |
make this module groundbreaking
Character: Mers Fener, a level 4 Barbarian, previously had adventured in Once Upon A Time..., leveled up in FRWCC. Advanced to level 6 by the end of the module.
This is a really spectacular module. It is stunning, evocative, and powerful. While not perfect, where it excels it is so amazing that it overshadows its few flaws and drawbacks.
Harp and Chrysanthemum features the most spectacularly designed areas I've seen in NWN2. Far more so than anything you see in the official campaigns, Maerduin makes brilliant use of vertical scale in many of his areas. The main town in the module, Drawn Swords, is a shining example of this, and is a major feature of the module. On top of his area design skills, the author creatures powerful--if not chill-inducing--moments with his expert use of cinematic cut scenes that showcase his areas, as well as custom music. I have never seen better use of the camera than the author achieved in this module; it should be required viewing for any aspiring modder who wants to learn how to do it right.
|Don't cross the line, Orc.|
This is not to say that the module is perfect. As many have said in the module's comments page, the combat is quite challenging. I initially tried to let my barbarian lead the charge, but quickly found that I needed to boost the paladin's armor class as much as possible and let her tank, only allowing the others to join after the enemies had her surrounded. Challenging combat isn't a bad thing off hand, but it was even necessary to micro-manage to this degree on "random encounter" monsters. Some of these monsters were on respawn triggers, at times re-spawning shockingly close to the party, which became really annoying. At one point, I just ran through an area with the paladin, just allowing the other party members to fall to the monsters, because I just wanted to get back to the inn in town and rest. On top of all this, even decent healing supplies, such as potions of moderate healing, are in limited supply--though you can buy an extremely expensive liquor at the bar that works just as well, if you have the coin. Often, you don't.
|It's not just the outdoor areas that are spectacular.|
But what this module does right it just does so well that I can't let myself get hung up on those problems. The author's attention to detail, from the area design, to the stories on each custom item, to some of the charming side quests (the dryad was a favorite), to the fact that (if I remember correctly) the author actually recorded several pieces of the custom music himself, is unsurpassed. Objectively, maybe this module is a 9. But I experienced such a genuine, emotional connection to the story and its characters that I can't justify anything other than a 10. It's not perfect, but I can't imagine a way in which this module can't be considered legitimately groundbreaking.
More screenies below the jump