Sunday, April 1, 2012

Apathy toward Mask of the Betrayer

So a few months ago I finally grabbed Mask of the Betrayer and gave it a whirl.  I made it into the second chapter of the game, and at this point have sort of stalled out on it.

On one hand, I've found the overall plot to be very compelling.  It's mysterious, has a good, epic feel, and has a cool mix of horror and excitement.  I've enjoyed a number of the non-player characters, both companions and otherwise.  Kaelyn the Dove, in particular, is just wonderful--and has terrific voice acting to boot!

Ultimately, though, I've found the execution of the game to be rather flat.  Some parts are very good.  But others, and in particular the combat, is horrible.  There have been a few fun fights.  But other things have felt so completely out of place that it really destroys any sense of immersion the plot otherwise should have justified.  For example, when you first arrive in town, your level 20-something, epic-tier, nearly god-like character gets involved in a bar fight.  A bar fight!  Seriously?  Some drunk at a bar is taking on my character, and doesn't die in a nanosecond once combat begins?  Other times, when walking along a ridge, I encountered a long series of identical spawns of wyverns.  It was the sort of encounter you might expect as a level-2 party, encountering wolves and such in the forest.  But wyverns as a filler monster?  Why not just throw out some red dragons too?

It just didn't work for me.  Epic-tier adventures are hard to write.  They require constant recognition of the power of the PC.  This is why most good epic adventures spend most of their time in other planes--it's hard to have more than a handful of characters capable of taking on a level 20 character in a place like Faerun.  From what I've seen thus far--and this might be all I ever see of it--the story here is good.  But the execution just isn't good enough.  I'd much rather play...something else.

So, I'm going to archive my Mask of the Betrayer saved game for now.  It's time to give Storm of Zehir a whirl.  I'm hoping that, as a low-level adventure, it will be more to my liking.  I tend to be more into the low- to mid-level stuff these days anyway.


  1. I felt very much the same about MotB. The story, writing and characters are great, but the combat design is very much lacking. All too frequently the encounters feel like they're more suited to a level 5-10 party. I gather you haven't encountered the level 20 gnolls yet....

  2. I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one, as my take wasn't reflected in the vault review. I just can't take any more of it, at least not for now.

    Yeah, I did run into the level 20 gnolls. I was willing to overlook that if it was the only problem--maybe the Red Wizards have some fancy juicy juice that enhances Gnolls or something. Similarly, I can live with crazy powerful things in the shadow plane. But it was just too frequent of a problem throughout the game. I guess my bias in epic games is for a small number of crazy-interesting fights rather than a typical slogfest that works fine at lower levels.

    I've started playing Storm of Zehir, though. Haven't gotten too far as I've been taking a ton of time to create my party...which ultimately ended up being kind of boring: fighter, wizard, cleric, rogue/ranger. But I'm having fun so far. The opening battle was a lot of fun, and thus far there's great atmosphere.

  3. You are better off playing icewind dale 2 if you want interesting encounters. I was trying to copy that style towards the end of my modding. I didn't finish any of that stuff though.

    although I remember a few good fights in motb. Its been a while since I played it. Towards the end probably. I didn't understand crafting my first time through so it probably made it harder and more interesting.