Monday, October 29, 2012

Next up: Trinity

I've seen Tiberius mention that his favorite NWN2 modules, aside from his own, were Harp and Chrysanthemum and Trinity.  Well, tonight I downloaded Trinity.  I have a level 8 warlock who might be a good fit.  Here's the opening movie!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Module Comments: Maimed God's Saga

The scales up there?  That's Tyr.
Link to Module
My Vote: 10 - A Masterpiece, Genuinely Groundbreaking
Character: lv 6. Male Lawful Good Cleric of Tyr, reached lv 9

I've played a lot of clerics over the years.  My character in my original playthrough of BG1/BG2, as well as my character for NWN2's official campaign were both clerics.  I like to have a strong healer in my parties, I suppose.  The thing is, however, that I've never really felt like a cleric from a roleplaying perspective.  I have no idea which god any of my characters would have worshiped, beyond some generally good deity or another.  I had no connection to the deity save for the fact that I could cast spells.  In truth, I might as well have just been playing an arcane spellcaster who happens to cast healing spells.

The great triumph of this module is that it completely reversed this trend.  In the Maimed God's Saga, you get to roleplay a cleric to a degree that frankly has never been done in a video game before.  As a cleric of Tyr, you not only take on an aspect of your deity's dogma as your character's primary motivation, but you ultimately get the opportunity to interact with him directly.  Regaining spells typically requires one to pray at an altar, rather than simply resting, and these events are used frequently throughout the module to add amazing roleplaying opportunities.  Playing this module completely changed how I view gods in Forgotten Realms-style fantasy, and I'm looking forward to taking these ideas into my play by post games.

The Manor
The story itself begins as a local mystery: a request has come from a tiny, obscure town for help against a long-standing curse that has plagued their ruling family.  That curse, however, is gradually revealed to be part of something far greater that stands to threaten the entirety of the Sword Coast, and upset the balance of power among the gods themselves.  The pacing is very good, with surprising twists and turns throughout that had me deeply invested in both the story and my character's place in it.  This is a roleplaying-intensive module, where even seemingly small decisions can substantially impact the story...and sometimes in very surprising ways.  And the companion...I played with the female (my character was male), and I found her to be among the most interesting, well-realized, and evocative companion characters I've encountered in any game.

As Tiberius explains in the readme, there is frequent combat in the module, but you should expect to have the opportunity to rest and regain your spells in between most of the challenging encounters.  Once you've settled in, he recommends deciding on a course of action, resting, praying to regain spells, and setting off to accomplish that goal.  I generally followed this advice and found combat to be well balanced but challenging throughout the mod.  The key to success in combat, I found, was to use the ranger companion as a tank, freeing my cleric to use his spells.  I did take a nice stack of healing potions with me into the module and was glad to have them, but they were rarely necessary outside of a few big fights.

It's dark here!
If there's a criticism that I had of this module, it's probably that it does too good of a job of depicting its atmosphere.  The majority of the module takes place in a small, isolated town subject to a curse.  The town is virtually dead, and it's rendered in this module as a place that is dark, virtually deserted, and hopeless.  The interiors of occupied buildings are dark, even during the day (it's constantly raining and gloomy), requiring ample use of Light spells or torches (and, for my comfort as a player, gamma correction).  All of this is done, no doubt, to paint a foreboding and dark mood...but at times, I found that it bordered on depressing.  I found that I had to be in a certain mood to play this module in its early goings, and if I was tired (I often am), stressed (again, I often am), etc, it was often more fun to play something else than to load up the Maimed God's Saga.  That's not to say that there aren't exciting moments, or that playing this module was not incredibly truth, perhaps because of what you had to go through, this module left me as satisfied as any that I've ever played.  But there were times when I just didn't want to face that dark, depressing town.

But my goodness, I'm glad I continued to come back to it.  This module is a triumph of module making.  It's story and roleplaying depth are among the best I've ever seen in a module, and it is probably the best class-specific module I've ever played.  Thanks for the fantastic experience.