Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Explore a highly customized, visual treat of a city
My vote: 9 - Outstanding, a Must Have
My character: lv. 1 wizard, progressed to lv. 3 by the module's end.

You are a fledgling member of the Auren Society of Weavers, having just completed your apprenticeship.  Ready for your first major task within the Society, your master gives you a task: go to Almraiven and investigate the recent string of strange murders that have occurred there.  The concern was that some form of sinister magic might be at play.

Almraiven is a really interesting module that was written and designed by Fester Pot, a longtime member of the nwn1 community.  It is one of the few wizard-specific modules available, along with Hugie's Tales of a Mage series.  While Hugie's series was focused on combat, this module is very much focused on the other aspects of mage-hood: summoning spirits of the dead, brewing potions, investigation, and research.  The author really dove into what it might be like to be a mage of one specialized school in the Forgotten Realms, and you get to experience a number of really creative innovations.  It's definitely a light-action module; one can play through this module with almost no combat, or you can (depending on your choices) experience at least one fairly large scale fight sequence.

What is here is a lot of fun.  There's a lot of dialog here, including an almost innumerable number of unique NPC's that roam and line the streets.  Everything is on a schedule, and most NPC's can only be found during an 8 to 12 hour stretch at certain times of day or night.  Many of these NPC's are merely "window dressing," which allow you to really immerse yourself in the world.  While the module itself is set almost entirely in Almraiven, you will meet NPC's from all over the Realms; this is a great opportunity to orient yourself to the map of Faerun!  Others will foreshadow major events that come later, which I found really well done.

Now what could these runes mean?
There are also two pivotal sequences that almost represent mini-games.  In one, you'll be roaming through a dungeon while trying to avoid a monster, and it is scripted such that it exists entirely as a first-person cutscene.  In another, you'll be infiltrating a large mansion, dodging guards as they walk around the keep.

It's all pretty well directed, but I will unabashedly admit to making use of the walkthrough in several circumstances.  I was glad to have it; most of the time, you have a pretty good idea of how to accomplish your goals.  But there are times that I needed a prod in the right direction, and the detailed walkthrough was very helpful.

Overall, it's a pretty impressive module.  I think my own bias is toward a bit more of a mix of combat and questing these days, and so there were times when I found myself itching for a fight.  Part of that's my fault; this was my first module that I've played since returning to NWN1, and I was looking for some combat and looty goodness.  But if you are looking for an excellent roleplaying module that lets you really, truly play the part of a wizard in the Realms, this is a great module for you.  The series continues in Shadewood.

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