Monday, July 23, 2007

Crossroads of Fate

Crossroads of Fate was a submission for the 1st Obsidian Module contest, but unfortunately the author didn't get a chance to finish his work within the tight contest deadlines. Fortunately, he continued to push forward with it and recently released a finished version on the vault. I played it over the course of a couple of nights this past week. Here are my comments:
My Vote: 6 - Good, Qualified Recommendation
Character: lv. 16 Dwarven Defender (leveled up after Grimm Brigade)
Module Version Played: Dated 5 July 2007

This module does a lot of things really well. The companion NPC's are well-defined, and the author succeeds in the very difficult task of making companions that you've just met in-game seem as though they've been the life-long friends that the story requires. Combat, particularly in the second half of the mod, is challenging and over-the-top high-level action. The introductory movie is extremely well done, and the closing movies do a great job of emphasizing the consequences of the actions you take in the module. Area design is generally quite good, especially the beautiful exterior rendering of the docks district of Tsurlagol. The module successfully nestles itself within the Faerun, and named characters from source books make substantial appearances. And most importantly, the module challenges the player with a difficult decision, in which, no matter what path you choose, there is no ideal outcome.

All that said, there were some aspects of the module that limited how highly I can recommend it. The first is its brevity. It's perhaps unfair to critique a module for this, as it was an Obsidian Contest module, but what we get to play feels essentially like the last hour of what could be a 5-10 hour module. The author does a good job of catching the player up on what has happened in the story, but I can't help but feel like we missed out on all the great stuff that lead to that point. Furthermore, the scale of the area design is large enough that the module feels a bit underpopulated. There are NPC's with which one can interact that fall outside the main plotlines, but there weren't really true side-quests (that I could find, though there are hints of some) that would make the city feel alive and real. In fact, the fairly superficial interactions that are present and the sometimes rough English (it's usually very readable, but I still recommend soliciting the help of a native English speaker to make your dialog flow better), made the mod as a whole still feel a bit unfinished.

But that doesn't take away from the fact that what's there is good, thoughtful, and worth playing. I love the fact that there are three endings, and that the outcomes are far from predictable given one's decisions in the game--though they make perfect sense. I really look forward to playing more of your work. I had a hard time scoring this one, but I think my impressions best match this line from the FAQ, which indicates a 6 is the most appropriate score: "perhaps you found it enjoyable/useful, and something that you're generally positive about, but also found that it has enough drawbacks that it's not something you can recommend without a caveat."


  1. Berliad thanks a lot for your word. They are more than I could ask for. I was waiting for your opinion in the last days and it cross my mind that you didn't like it somehow and didn't want to write a negative opinion about it. But your words have an +5 morale on me. You are right about the unfinished feel you get, it became apparent to me after playing it some time after I finished it. It seemed I was highly attached sentimentally to this story and its protagonists (still am to tell you the truth), so a feeling of completeness was present. The side quest and NPC issue was more a matter of choice, so as to create a bond to the main story. My English indeed need improvement, in the next one I'll ask community help in this. I won't make any change to this story, but don't take it the wrong way, it's not that I'm lazy, I just cannot interfere with it anymore, from this point on it has its own life and any change will feel mechanical. I hope you understand what I try to say. As for future plans, there is a story taking place in Faerun that has gotten my attention for two year now. This will be a very large undertaking and will take years probably to complete, but I'll go for it. Meanwhile I'll start next week to give life to a small story, much like Crossroads of Fate, but more complete. It will again require a high-level character probably, since I don't want to make enemies that sit there waiting to die, but powerful ones with a motivation to go after them. Thanks again Berliad.

  2. Wow, thanks for your very kind response. I do hesitate sometimes before writing up comments when I can't give a complete endorsement, but I think usually they do more good than harm (hopefully). So I'm very pleased that you are ok with my comments.

    I absolutely understand your desire to focus your attention on a new project (or two), and I wish you luck with it. Again, I really, really liked what was in this module, and I'm really looking forward to playing your next work. Have fun, and thanks again!