Saturday, April 4, 2015

Review: Vengeance of the Iron Dwarf

The Silver Marches at war.  All three dwarven citadels are surrounded by the massive many-arrows army of orcs and goblins, bolstered by drow from the underdark.  Sundabar and Nesme have fallen.  Silverymoon and Everlund are under siege.  Drizzt and his companions made it through the siege to Mithral Hall, but not before being separated from two of their friends: Regis and Wulfgar as they made their way through the Underark.  Food is growing scarce, the alliance of elves and dwarves seems shattered, and the drow plans for the surface seem unstoppable.

The backdrop against which Vengeance of the Iron Dwarf opens is bleak indeed, and it sets the stage for a book with a vast, epic story in which massive armies come to bear on one another.  This novel, in many ways, resolves the war that has been brewing the past several books between the Many Arrows tribe and the good peoples of the Silver Marches.  As one might expect for a Salvatore book, Drizzt and his friends are right in the thick of it, though are not necessarily the biggest players in the gambit this time around.  The action is far-ranging and unquestionably epic, and some parts of this book are Salvatore at his finest.  He writes of huge, vivid battles that turn on key moments that, usually, feel real and exciting.  The descriptions of hardship under siege were also painfully real, and brought a tremendous sense of urgency to the events of the story.

There are some new characters and plot lines that develop in this book, but this is a book about tying up loose ends.  In that way, it's pretty satisfying.  The events were unquestionably memorable, and I look forward to seeing their ramifications written and described in a future Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide.

I did feel, however, that the book was lacking some multidimensionality.  Tiago, the primary villain in this book, seems like little more than a one-dimensional thug.  None of the villains, in fact, had a lot of depth to them, with the exception of one character who is developing into a potentially interesting character.  Some of the protagonists, similarly, just seem bland at this point, and too "good" at everything in comparison with standard mortals.  The focus of this novel is more about resolving the conflict than character development, but my hope is that we see something deeper with the characters in the future books of this series.

In the end, this book is a worthy finale to storyline of the past three novels.  It's a fast-paced, fun read, with some fantastic, memorable moments that I look forward to reliving with the Sundered book club over the coming weeks.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Short Pillars of Eternity Combat Story

I still haven't figured out how to take screenshots, so unfortunately this is text only.  And minor, non-story spoilers follow...

My party was walking through the Black Meadows, a barren patch of land that appeared to have been desolated by a battle involving a small army of dragons.  As as creep out of the wasted meadow, we entered a small forested region and encountered some Forest Lurkers.  These remind me of the dnd "shambling mound" creature, and are highly resistant to piercing damage, have a lot of HP, pretty good defenses, and pack a mean punch.  I started fairly conservatively with my spell usage, having my cipher paralyze one of the two lurkers, while the wizard used his encounter powers, the rogue tried to sneak attack her way through their high piercing resistance, and my fighter tried to tank.

After a fairly long battle of attrition, I finally dispatched one, but my cipher was out of focus, and my priest was using all of his spells to heal the fighter who was taking a lot of damage from the creatures.  Suddenly, the last of my cipher's spells wore off, and the last lurker knocked Eder, my fighter, prone and started to really pummel him.  I realized that he was not just in danger of being knocked out, but because of all the endurance healing I'd used, he was actually getting very close to being permanently killed!

Fortunately, at exactly that moment, my cipher hit with his crossbow, regenerating just enough focus to cast a desperate spell.  I cast amplified thrust, and, with Eder being only one more hit away from death, the spell slammed the monster back away from my fighter, allowing my priest and rogue to run interference.  The party still might not have survived it--I had completely exhausted all of my spellcasters' spells by that point, and my ranged rogue was rendered useless by the piercing resistance--but I realized that I had a scroll on my wizard.  He rushed forward to cast it and managed to deal 60 points of damage with that final attack to kill the monster.


Also: this game is really fun.