Friday, January 24, 2020

Realms of Arkania: Ei im Gesicht

That about sums up this entire session.
        
Today's subtitle comes from a conversation I had this week with Irene. My wife occasionally takes an interest in my hobby and asks about what I'm playing. She usually begins by asking, "What year are you up to?," to which whatever my reply she responds with "still?" That's always a bit depressing. But a few weeks ago, her first question was about the country.

"Germany," I replied enthusiastically. "This one is based on a German tabletop game called Das Schwarze Auge."
       
"The . . . black . . . owooga?" she asked, attempting to translate.

"The Black Eye," I corrected, not also mentioning that most people translate schwarze as "dark" in this context. 

Two weeks later, she came into my office while I was playing. I tend to interlace hours of work with hours of play, and without fail, if she opens the door and sees what's on my monitor, it's during one of the hours of play. Sometimes I don't think she thinks I work at all.

"Are you still playing that German game?" she asked. "Egg on Your Face?"

After some confusion, I realized she had confused one metaphor for an embarrassing facial blemish for another. I suspect for the rest of my life, I'm going to mentally translate Das Schwarze Auge as Egg on Your Face. Das Schwarze Auge probably has an actual rule about egg on a character's face, with an associated temporary loss of 3 charisma points.
           
I definitely don't want these eggs on my face.
        
This session, I mostly continued my town-to-town explorations, trying to find the pieces of the map that will lead me to Hyggelik's tomb. These travels were interspersed with more side explorations that I sure hope aren't tied to the main quest, because I've been doing awful at them.

Take the spider's cave, where I started. There were two levels to the place, and it was swarming with spiders and some kind of spider cultists. The combats were of average difficulty, made easier because the occultists tended to drop vials of spider venom, which I could then apply to my own weapons and thus do about three times the damage--oddly, even against spiders.

But aside from the combats, I screwed up everything in the caves. First, I chose to burn some spider eggs, and I guess that caused the caverns to fill up with smoke, which caused my characters to choke to death if they kept exploring. I had to reload from before that decision. Then I ran into an alcove where I was asked a riddle: "What is as impenetrable as an iron wall and yet as transparent as glass?" Now, the answer to this is literally nothing, or perhaps "REALLY THICK GLASS," but I suspected the developers were going for WEB or SPIDER WEB or something. No matter what I entered, I couldn't get it right, or at least nothing happened.
          
Ran out of letters!
         
I did solve another puzzle, probably the one that commenter Alrik von Prem was talking about last time. The riddle was in the basement, behind a one way door, and getting it right was the only way out of the area. It was, "Who is the lord of all spiders?" I figured the answer had something to do with a statue I'd seen on the first level, where "the letters S, N, A, T, C, A and M form a heptagram." I probably could have figured it out anyway just from trying different combinations, but I've known for years--god knows why--that the scientific name for the black widow spider is Latrodectus mactans, and thus figured correctly that's what they were going for.
             
Or else the authors were fans of SCATMAN Crothers.
          
That was probably my only success. I fell into several traps and damaged my party horribly. I set off several chest traps, and there were at least two chests that I never got open because of the traps. I found a bunch of crystals and two Amulets of Someone that I never found any use for. I finally left the caves dispirited and annoyed. One condition I didn't experience, to my surprise, was poison.

I returned to the road and made it to the harbor city of Ottarje, where a visit to Hjore Ahrensson produced another piece of the map as well as a new name in Clanegh (where I've already been).
               
This was prescient of him, as I was never able to find any Thinmarsdotters living in Clanegh.
               
From Ottarje, I took a ship to Prem--a huge town without much interesting except an abandoned mine. I wasted a bunch of time exploring the mine, which had no enemies but lots of locked doors and traps. The mine kept caving in, which took half a day or more for my characters to clear, and they started starving and complaining of thirst. Some things that I thought would be promising treasures turned out to be nothing. I broke my only set of lockpicks in a locked door. I left a second dungeon dispirited.

I kept circling the game's western "horn" with the goal of hitting Hjalsingor and then reaching the island of Manrek, both of which were clue locations. From Prem, we sailed to Treban, Kord, Guddasunden, and finally Hjalsingor. Algrid Trondesdotter said she used to have a map, but she sold it to merchant named "Kollborn or something." She also gave me a new name in Breida.
            
This NPC wasn't very useful.
          
From Hjalsingor, we sailed to Royik and then across the strait to the city of Manrin in Manrek. I had been told that my quarry was on Manrek, but not which of the two cities. Manrin was a bust, so I set out overland for Brendhil. On the way, I stumbled upon a third cave and had my third failure, largely because I hadn't been able to find a new set of lockpicks at any shop since my original set broke. I frankly don't even remember where I bought the originals. I opened some doors with spells but soon ran out of points. I fought some pirates, failed to figure out how to work a lever puzzle, and to cap it all off, decided to sail out of the caves in a boat we found at the back. In a scripted event (I'm not sure if high skill in anything would have prevented it), the boat foundered and sank and I had to reload from back in Manrin. I didn't even bother to stop at the cave on my second trip to Brendhil.
          
Why did we sail out into the open ocean anyway?
          
In Brendhil, Thomas Swarfnildsson gave me my fifth map piece but nothing much else happened. We hopped a boat for Liskor back on the mainland and then walked to Clanegh for the second time. I was utterly unable to find Yasma Thinmarsdotter, who was supposed to have another map clue. I checked every building and got drunk in every tavern hoping for a clue.
          
This is where I am at this point.
         
My pub crawl in Clanegh paid off in another way, however, when my first NPC companion joined the party in a tavern. Nariell, a huntress, comes with a bow and 40 arrows. I haven't done much with missile weapons since my early unsuccessful attempts, so I thought I'd keep her and see how it goes. She is highly skilled in nature-related skills and at Level 6 is much higher than my own characters. The downside is that NPCs exist in their own box off to the side, which means you can't put them at the front of the party, which means you can't take advantage of a lot of their skills.
         
Whether accepting or rejecting the NPC's offer to join, the party leader is a jerk.
        
My next clue was way over in Phexcaer, a long journey overland back to Felsteyn, then down the river branch to Vilnhome, then east along the river through a long wilderness stretch. On we went through Orkanger, Felsteyn, Upper Orcam, and Vilnhome, fighting some random bandit battles on the way, stopping in each town for a proper meal and bed rest. In Vilnhome, we loaded up on rations and water for the long trip upriver.

After a couple of uneventful days, the game warned that we were entering orcish lands, an event punctuated with a skull stuck on a stick. In a scripted encounter, we got stuck in a marsh for a while, and Dormauera got some kind of disease that miraculously Halberman was able to treat.
         
My first battle with orcs.
         
The fourth day out, we fought our first party of orcs--a pack of four, which wasn't so bad. The next day, we were ambushed by eight, which was much harder. On Day 6, we met a traveler who warned us that Phexcaer is swarming with thieves--unwelcome news, as Halberman's pocket had been picked back in Brendhil for about 80 ducats.
        
It turned out that I didn't get anything for anything.
      
We finally reached Phexcaer after a week on the road. Halberman immediately leveled up to 4 from the fights in transit. Another large city, Phexcaer had a few features I hadn't found in other cities, including a "gentleman's club." It was interesting for several reasons. First, a detailed screen that showed several scantily-clad workers or patrons, plus an animated woman dancing, was almost immediately and continually covered up by text boxes. Second, upon entering, the party was approached by a young man who asked if we wanted to purchase sex. Two of the three resulting options are to express outrage at even being asked (in which case you get thrown out) and to get down to business and ask about Hyggelik (although, oddly, the game has us say that we're looking for Hyggelik rather than his tomb or descendants). But if you do want to take the brothel up on its services, the only option to do so is within the context of the party unanimously declaring themselves to be pansexual.
         
Three weird choices.
           
Meanwhile, if you ask about Hyggelik, the young man asks you to meet him in half an hour, "two houses to the north." The problem is that the building two squares to the north is an armory, not a house, and none of the nearby houses had any resulting encounters. Moreover, the game doesn't even track time in increments smaller than a whole hour. I tried nearby houses in all cardinal directions to no avail.

There's a "gambling hall," but you can't actually play any gambling games. I just lost 15 ducats in a scripted encounter. A town hall had a promising option to "use its archives," but after we paid a 10 ducat fee, we were told that a decision would be made at the next city council meeting in 3 weeks.

There were several options to talk with NPCs about Hyggelik, but they all acted like he was still alive. A guy in a bar told us he had "moved to Hermit's Lake," and a healer said that he had gone to Riva, which isn't even on my map.
           
I'm pretty sure he died centuries ago. Are we talking about the same person?
         
Unfortunately, I seem to have come all the way upriver for nothing. The person I was looking for, "Gerbald," turned out to be a smith running a shop in the southeast part of town. But no dialogue options would get anything out of him, and the most aggressive options turned into a brawl. I left the city frustrated and confused.

I figured while I was already so far west, I'd check out nearby Groenvelden--the furthest-east town on the map. But it was a tiny place with no special encounters. So now I have to make my way all the way back down the river to Thorwal and turn my explorations to the cities south of it. Maybe while I'm back in the big city, I'll see if I have any luck in the lower levels of the old fortress.

Miscellaneous notes:
         
  • I'm having major inventory annoyances. Between all the equipment that I feel like I should keep for when it's necessary, backup weapons, rations and water, potions and poisons, and herbs, I'm constantly running out of room.
  • Potions would be a great money sink if they stacked.
  • Sometimes, the game doesn't seem to apply its Scandinavian naming conventions accurately.
            
Or else that's one ugly daughter.
        
  • Treasure chests never seem to have anything I actually want, such as weapon and armor upgrades.
           
A bonanza for a party of mountaineers.
         
  • I continue to be amused by the absurd dialogue options when dealing with shopkeepers.
           
No comment.
            
  • I give 50 silver pieces to every temple I come across and yet my prayers are never answered. I don't even know what they're supposed to do in theory.
  • I've had some weapons break, but it's so annoying to wait the 6 hours it takes to repair them that I've been throwing them away and replacing them.
          
One thing that really struck me during this session was the overwhelming purposelessness of most of the cities and towns. Even the smallest is maybe 20 x 20 squares with a dozen buildings. In any given town, about half its buildings will have random citizens or will be empty, and the others will consist of interchangeable shops, inns, taverns, and temples. Maybe 1 in 3 cities has an NPC's house. Prem was like 20 x 60 but hardly had anything more interesting than the smallest town. And there are over 50 cities! The developers spent an awful lot of time building numerous large spaces in which not much of anything happens.

This was also true of Spirit of Adventure, but that game had only like 3 towns. This one has several dozen. It takes forever to fully explore each one, but you must lest you miss that one important house.

I've just crossed the game's 20th hour. By the same time in most Gold Box games, I was over halfway through the plot, had leveled up 5 times, and had six or seven magic items among the party members. For this game, I still feel like I've just started, I've leveled up twice, I still mostly have my starting inventory, and I keep spending hours exploring places that offer no sense of reward or resolution. I'm beginning to think that this isn't a very good game.

Time so far: 23 hours

88 comments:

  1. Somewhat unrelated... but... what's the magic spell a husband should cast on his wife so that he can be left alone in peace playing video games for hours?
    Asking for a friend. O:)

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    1. “Honey, this weekend getaway/new dishwasher/nice meal was made possible by my Patreon subscribers” has gone along way in my household.

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    2. Looks it's time for me to start a blog and a patreon account about my gaming habits ;) Anyone interested in a blog focusing on squad turn-based tactical games like XCOM/Gold Box/Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle/Pheonix Point?

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    3. "Hey, beloved, I'm in the mood to play this game without interruption for the next little while, is there anything you'd like me to do, or anything you need to discuss with me, before I do?"

      Plus a relationship founded on strong respect and communication.

      May not work if you also have kids / pets.

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    4. Yeah. Let's get 100 men to try that and see how it goes. I can already see the hand on her hip, the wag of her other finger, the exaggerated neck movement.

      "You in the mood for WHAT now? Lemme tell you what I'm in the mood for. I'm in the mood for you to pick up the mess you made last night. I'm in the mood for you to shovel the deck like you promised four days ago. But you go on and shut that door, baby, and we'll see if I'm here when you open it."

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    5. Maybe I'm just turning into a boring old person, but I can't imagine going on a gaming binge so long that it would seriously bother anybody anymore. Hell, I do chores when I get bored of TV and games more often than the reverse.

      I used to play Runescape from sunset to sunrise then sunset again, and just typing that makes my back ache with repressed memories.

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    6. Works for me, and that definitely doesn't take the form of me not doing my share of the household chores. My partner gets the same courtesy for uninterrupted reading / writing / crafting time.

      An essay on relationship communication is probably outside the scope of the blog though.

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    7. @BoardGameNut

      I would legit add that to my rss Feed

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    8. I would cast "Hold Monsters".
      Advantage: Can deal with up to 4 wifes (or less if children are involved) at once.
      Disadvantage: You need to be a quite experienced mage (able to cast level 5 spells).

      Replying from a friend O:)

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  2. "What is as impenetrable as an iron wall and yet as transparent as glass?" Maybe just "transparent Al" using the chemical symbol for Aluminum?

    Hahaha! Were there humpback whales swimming around in there too?

    Your zingers are zesty and priceless!

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  3. All those negative outcomes, broken items and sick and useless party members are probably seen as "true role playing" in opposite to all the other railroaded Monty Haul games. For me, DSA always felt elitist and hostile. And I will probably write that every time a new example arises. Didn't know by myself how deep that is sitting.

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    1. It's interesting how the tide has turned in terms of game design. AD&D could be a slog with even a generous DM. Now, everyone knows what the Skinner Box is, and tries to sprinkle some Zynga addiction dust on their game.

      And, I think, largely for the better? I like RPGs for the progression. The growth has to mean something, but if a game is too love-withholding, I'm going to resent it.

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    2. Zynga is the other extreme, I don't want an achievement just for choosing a name, either. But there is a lot of middleground. Steady and meaningful progress and some kind of reward is the reason to play those games. Otherwise, it wouldn't need all those numbers anyways.

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    3. Meaningful progression, interest curves and reward for effort spent were known before home consoles, and definitely before people started throwing the word "skinner box" around. It's why Pac-Man has short skits at even intervals, why Zelda 1 has so many huge fanfares, why the Final Fantasy end-of-combat dance is so fun. RPGs codify this sort of reward system as part of the gameplay by implementing multiple numeric systems like damage, skills, levels, experience, and so on.

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    4. I'm not saying that there was no thought put into rewards schedules, but the weighting is very different now.

      AD&D 1st/2nd ed. xp curves I would now consider "brutal." There are lots of ranges on the timeline for players to get fed up and walk away. At the time, that was a feature, not a bug.

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    5. In opposite to most games, there isn't an introduction to win new players, but a hurdle to weed those new players out. Most crpgs have either a tutorial or an easy mission like clearing the sewers.

      Older D&D versions had the same problem that level 1 characters were completely incompetent and could die every corner, probably to simulate their "normal people" background.

      While I understand the roleplaying aspect of it, balancingswise it's a disaster.

      I know there is the kind of person who is proud to have overcome all those obstacles, but I am not like this. I like a good challenge, but I want a fair game master, not an antagonist.

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  4. For the riddle about glass, you’re almost there. Just remember that German nouns tend not to have spaces between them when they’re one thing.

    Also there’s apparently a bug with the spiders eggs where even if you escape after burning them, you will suffocate on the next dungeon you enter. So just ignore that

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    1. I'm pretty sure I tried SPIDERWEB, too. What was supposed to happen if I got the riddle correctly?

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    2. Looked up the answer on the interweb. The password is an outdated spelling of SPIDERWEB.

      Not sure if the translator is to blame, or if the game is showing its age...

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    3. It's just meant to put you on the second floor in the centre room - so you get the contents of a treasure chest. I would say so not much reward (since you can access that room without solving the riddle), but that cave does actually contain some magical items so it's some reward which you could argue allows multiple ways to get it.

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  5. I think a big part of this is your expectations being quite different to what this RPG World offers. There’s very few magic items in the game and you’re only really expected to get to level 4 or so. Also, as you can see, characters don’t massively grow between levels. It’s all designed to be a more grounded RPG than D&D which does seem to be making it feel quite flat. Like even the magicians don’t feel expected to do much magic. At least by having four parts of the map, I guess that means you’re around half way there?

    I’m playing along with this and it feels like it has potential to be really interesting but it’s just missing the mark on a lot of areas. That said, I’m not having much problem with the combats - if I were then it might be an even worse story.

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    1. I'm close to the endgame and half my party is at level 6, but I did a lot of optional exploring. I guess you might be right with the expected level being 4 or 5 as my party feels kind of overpowering in combat by now. Although there is no "I suddenly got the ultimate nuke spell" effect with the level-ups, the increase in attributes and skills adds up significantly over time

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    2. It's not that I mind different approaches to role-playing, but I feel that whatever your approach, you have to make the player feel like he's getting SOME kind of reward for his effort, and that's what I don't feel with this one.

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    3. Hmm, I guess it's something rather subjective but to me the main rewards in the game are the level ups. You get a lot of options to customize your characters (although the luck part can be annoying) and some changes really make a difference:
      - getting +5% to hit by increasing weapons skill
      - additional points in strength attribute to be able to carry the more heavy armors
      - improving the "heal wounds" skills to a level where I can use it daily without worrying of killing somebody by accident
      - activating those nice support spells like "teleport" or "analyze magic"
      - not having to worry when crossing a river because all chars finally can swim properly

      With that in mind I consider most side quest dungeons as grinding opportunity with some story flavor. The money and magic items (there are several hidden in the dungeons) are a nice bonus

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    4. The Addict mentions that his party has only leveled up twice so far. And it's been a while since I played this series, but aren't all skill increases based on a dice roll? I remember having some frustratingly bad luck in one of the later games.

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    5. I get what you mean by wanting some reward for progressing. After all, this is a big part of what makes RPGs addictive - essentially Skinner Box stuff. But I get the sense that this game (which is trying so hard to replicate the PnP experience) is trying to be the much more longer burn where there's very few rewards beyond slowly levelling up. Which keeps things logical (if there are swords +3 in every other dungeon, then how come the rulers don't just send their armies to the dungeons to get some actually good equipment?) but it does lose that fun aspect. This approach would probably work better if the good weapons and armour wasn't easily purchased from the beginning. The limiting factor on good armour just seems to be class and strength/encumbrance. But the latter just means that holding other stuff is a chore until you gain several levels.

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  6. Yes, that riddle was what I was referring to. In the PnP game's lore, "Mactans" is the name of a demon that takes the form of a spider, so players familiar with the source material will have a much easier time figuring this out than those who aren't. Of course, the demon references the black widow's scientific name (one of quite a few real-world references in DSA), so knowing that can work, too.

    As for the other riddle, your suspicion is correct – a spider's web is the answer. The parser is extremely unforgiving, though, and will accept only one spelling. I don't remember which one.

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    1. well, I always was mystified how people who didn't know the name Mactans from the lore were supposed to know what name to enter, but the Addict just showed me in one of the screenshots: the screenshot giving the letters of the lord of spiders gives the name MACTANS backwards.

      I must have missed that on every single of my playthroughs.

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    2. I still think Scatman Crothers doesn’t get enough recognition for his pivotal role in “The Shining.”

      Believe it or not there is more than one famous SCATMAN out there:

      https://youtu.be/Hy8kmNEo1i8

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  7. I feel like the first Realms of Arkania is a masters class in the pitfalls of trying to adopt a tabletop RPG campaign run by a human DM into a fixed computer form.

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  8. "First, I chose to burn some spider eggs, and I guess that caused the caverns to fill up with smoke, which caused my characters to choke to death if they kept exploring. I had to reload from before that decision."

    You actually dodged a bullet here - The eggs are bugged and burning them can cause your party to axphixiate in other dungeons later, making the game unwinnable.

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    1. Or it's just a really powerful curse.

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    2. What was the benefit of burning the spider eggs suppose to be anyway?

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    3. . . . to prevent thousands of horrible spiders from hatching into the world? What do YOU do when you encounter thousands of spider eggs?

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    4. Okay, I'm being misunderstood. I get the benefits that would make sense in the story, I meant was there an in game benefit, like XP or a magic item, something the bug stops you from getting?

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    5. The bug doesn't affect all versions, but its best to be of the safe side here. Or make a new save and walk around a bit in another dungeon.

      I don't remember the specific reward but usually it comes in forms of XP, which can be easily missed as there is no notification that this happened.

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  9. "On the way, I stumbled upon a third cave and had my third failure, largely because I hadn't been able to find a new set of lockpicks at any shop since my original set broke. I frankly don't even remember where I bought the originals."

    Train one of the casters in Foramen to open locks - you don't really want to depend of it since it costs AP, and those take forever to regen, but is still a nice backup if you run out of lockpicks.

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  10. "I give 50 silver pieces to every temple I come across and yet my prayers are never answered. I don't even know what they're supposed to do in theory."

    The gods can resurrect part members if you donate enough before praying - (Not sure how much is enough tho)

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    1. I think it's randomized, or might be dependent on the amount of money you have. Only did it twice, so I don't know.

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  11. Another thing that, while certainly realistic, may very well cause frustration: Some of the hints you get from NPCs are more or less inaccurate, whether due to poor memory or recent developments. The lead to Gerbald is one such example, a particularly grating one for sure as Phexcaer takes so long to reach. (Regarding Phexcaer in general, gurer vf n cynpr va gur gbja jurer lbh pna trg fbzr npgvba – naq V'z abg gnyxvat nobhg gur oebgury –, ohg gurer ner ab znc cvrprf gb or sbhaq.) Also, Yasma Thinmarsdotter hfrq gb yvir va Pynartu, ohg unf erpragyl zbirq gb Gubff. V pna'g erzrzore jurer lbh pna trg gung vasbezngvba.

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  12. Too bad you don't have fun with it.

    In retrospective I had much better time with the because it was already familiar with the rules from the 2nd one.


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  13. I don't think you are supposed to fully explore the cities. There are some special places that you'll discover only if you do but it's more like a bonus for players who like to play that way. For all main quest related places you should get hints to limit the search area. Asking around in the taverns will usually lead to directions like "he lives next to the river".
    I would even guess that the towns were made this big by intention - this allows to hide the quest NPCs very well if you decide to win the game by "open world" exploration instead of following the route outlined by the hints

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    1. You can't "ask around" taverns though, can you? You have to order rounds of drinks during which MAYBE you catch the attention of the bartender and get the clue you're looking for out of a bank of several possibilities. This all costs money and you stumble out of the tavern drunk. I'm not sure I wouldn't rather just systematically explore, long as it takes.

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    2. True, you can't ask directly when entering a tavern but I rather tell the bartender that I have questions and drink beer till he has some time to spare than check every house in the bigger cities. And if some quest NPC that my party knows of lives in the city, there is an option to ask for that person when the bartender is free.
      The economy in the game is terribly broken, so the waste of money doesn't matter and when the party gets drunk just do what you do in RL - crawl to the next bed and wait for tomorrow to feel better

      But I think that it is a question of personal preference how to handle the search. And I like that the game allows both methods

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    3. Being drunk is no disadvantage in RoA since the stat improvements counter the disadvantages.

      Getting drunk to reduce fear is even an option in the game, it can happen when a character fails an acrophobia check and has a bottle of brandy with him.

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  14. For what it's worth, I'm finding these posts entertaining and interesting, even if you're not enjoying the game!

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  15. How odd, I would have answered the riddle as "diamond" instead of spider webs until the other commenters said it wasn't that. I know it's not spider-related but you can never tell with those silly "magic mouth" puzzles. I guess it's looking for "cobweb"/"spiderweb" give or take a plural. As frustrating as the "adjective and noun are one word in German" thing is for this translation, I must say it can be wonderful in other contexts, because you can make "unique" names for objects/concepts just using normal words combined.

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    1. "Diamond" does work better, but I still don't think it's as hard as an iron wall or as clear as glass. But it is much more so than a spider web.

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    2. Indeed, a diamond isn't as hard as an iron wall; it's harder :)

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  16. This game sounds like no fun at all. A lot of games do fun things with high chances of failure and relatively underpowered characters--lots of early horror games are built around the constant decision to either use your resources in a risky fight, or try to dodge around and deal with the enemy later. I imagine the tabletop game has more of this dynamic, given that human players can improvise instead of picking options from a list.

    This game just seems like you're doomed no matter what. Again, this can be fun in an emergency game like NetHack or Dwarf Fortress, or even some recent battle royales. Not so much in a linear, highly scripted single-player game.

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    1. That was supposed to be emergent, not emergency. Stupid phone keyboard.

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    2. I don't mind the difficulty all that much. What I mind is the lack of any reward FOR that difficulty. And I don't even necessarily mean material reward--just some occasional plot resolution would be nice.

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    3. This sounds like far too much effort to put the game into a category. =(

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  17. You will enjoy scorpia's review when you are done. She also did a "do this to make the game a bit more enjoyable" post in the same episode that honestly I think would have improved your experience without spoiling much. The good news is that the sequal fixed a ton of stuff and kept a lot of the good elements.

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    1. I personally found the sequel worse overall. It fixed some of the problems, but the plot flow was worse and you can easily miss half of the plot due to a bug.

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    2. Well you are in the absolute minority. RoA II: Star Trail is extremely superior to Blades of Destiny, including plot and most fans agree here.

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  18. Note. I do think her normal review dropped some spoilers.

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  19. "Egg On Your Face" is the quality content I come to this blog for.

    And seriously, touches like this are the difference between a dry documenting of games, and an enjoyable read that I look forward to every time. Thank you.

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  20. 50 silver? Not even close. You gotta open up those coffers big time if you want to see a miracle. I think it took 50 of the biggest coin in the game (forgot what it was as it's been so long) before I ever got one, though occasionally I got one with less.

    Also know that this game world has very few magical weapons and armor, as they are very rare. In my playthroughs I usually found 1 or 2 magical items at all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's not that I mind the lack of magic items SPECIFICALLY as much as the lack of reward in general. There's no point in exploring three levels of caverns if the treasure chest at the end has 4 torches and 3 ropes.

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    2. The journey is more important than the destination?

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    3. It´s quite some time since I played this game last but I seem to remember that there´s another boon you can get at a certain temple that helps a lot
      v guvax vg vf grzcyrf bs ebaqen be fbzrguvat yvxr gung gung znxrf lbhe jrncbaf orpbzr zntvpny juvpu zrnaf gung gurl arire oernx naq qbrf rkgen qnzntr gb pregnva rarzvrf whfg gur snpg gung gurl arire oernxf vf rabhtu gb gel gb trg gur rapunagzrag

      Delete
  21. I will confess: for all my love of Realms of Arkania as a series (and DSA in general), I could never really get into Blade of Destiny. It just always felt a bit too barebones. Star Trail is where the series shines the most, with all those complex simulations complemented by a detailed plot and much more immersive and well designed dungeons.
    I think though that the negative outlook is there by design and is a big part of the series' identity - I mean we're talking about a system where half the main stats do bad things to your character. Without spoiling too much, most of Star Trail's main plot is also your party failing at stuff in different ways. It just makes the final resolution all the sweeter.

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    Replies
    1. I disagree a little as it is possible to miss about half of the plot due to a bug in Star Trail. All you have to do is find the final dungeon by accident instead of going where the game tells you to, and you'll skip about 50% of the game.

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    2. The "plot" is the less interesting part of Star Trail as in 99% of crpgs before 2005 btw. Going where I want instead what "narrative" tells me is exactly what I want in my games. The plot is not 50% of Star Trail content, not even a 10%.

      Delete
  22. "I'm beginning to think that this isn't a very good game."

    I think your approach to this game a bit wrong. As saving system indicates, this game has some rogue-like elements. You're not supposed to bite the bullet and complete the game in a single go with one party. It is more about playing for several hours, exploring some direction, party configuration, writing down some notes, etc. And only after several such attempts, going for the win.

    The second game plays much more like a conventional CRPG.

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    Replies
    1. To be honest, I'd rather say the game assumes that you are familiar with the talents, spell system, party configuration, approach to magic items etc. pretty well, which would make you very much capable of completing the game with the first party. If you have to learn all that on top of exploring the game world and gathering all the clues to the map parts, I can imagine it is pretty frustrating. (I was a big fan of Das Schwarze Auge already and amazed at the love of detail and the fact that they had actually built every single village into the game, and I can imagine this holds true for the majority of the fans.)

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  23. 'Egg in the face' ...I like it.
    This game takes itself way too seriously at times.

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  24. As others have already commented about the spider cave, I am reminded of another potential game breaking bug that occurs later. I'll ROT13 the text because of mild spoilers, but this is one you may want to read anyway, Chet, because if it happens I've heard it can affect your characters across all saves, basically forcing you to start over from scratch. It didn't happen to me, so maybe it's untrue; I'm only reporting from other accounts, and I figure it's worth knowing about just in case.

    Jura lbh svanyyl ernpu Ulttryvx'f Gbzo hfvat gur znc cvrprf, qb ABG gbhpu nal bs gur napvrag tbyq pbvaf vafvqr. Gurl'er ohttrq naq pna pbeehcg punenpgre svyrf, eraqrevat gur tnzr rffragvnyyl hajvaanoyr evtug ng gur raq, rira vs lbh erybnq sebz n cerivbhf fnir.

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  25. I think you'll enjoy the second game a lot more, since it has more story based set piece encounters and a higher level range (obviously, since you can import your party).

    I like how the official English title of the game is The Dark Eye because black eye means a visibly beat-up eye. In German, that would be called a blaues Auge (a blue eye).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just out of curiosity, if someone has blue eyes (like, as the actual color), and you want to refer to one of them, what do you say in German? Do you just need to infer from context it's not meaning a beat-up eye?

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    2. Context. Although the cases where a confusion could arise are probably a bit constructed. You're more likely to say "Eines seiner Augen ist blau" than "Er hat ein blaues Auge" when referring to the colour.

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    3. More like Plural and Singular. "Sie hat blaue Augen" (she has blue eyes) means the colour of the iris, whereas "er hat ein blaues Auge" (he has one blue eye) means he was beaten up.

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  26. I know what black eye means but what does egg in the face means?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It means being embarassed, especially if the person with "egg on their face" was expecting to succeed and/or overly cocky. I have no idea where the phrase comes from though.

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  27. This is what the title made me think of, https://youtu.be/1IIO9NjEtic?t=7

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  28. That hypothetical about egg on your face causing a temporary loss of charisma points is very close to several actual random events that can happen in the third game. I don't remember this entry in the series well at all, but I'm assuming similar stuff happens and that's what you're alluding to.

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  29. Everytime I read the wort "Prem", I am reminded of this stupid nursary rhyme from the old DSA-books:
    Das Feuer aus Prem,
    Das ist mir genehm.
    Aus Krügen und Flaschen
    Will ich es naschen.
    Just a stupid rhyme about hard liquor, but it has been stuck in my head für 20-something years. I guess, that shows the staying power of Das schwarze Auge.

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    Replies
    1. For a while I was always calling graveyards Boronsanger (Boron's yard) in my head because it was just so ingrained. Might also be because Boron was made out to be such a nice god of death, much nicer than what you would expect in real life.

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  30. Been reading for a few years but had to finally comment because your "transparent aluminium" joke made me laugh out loud in my office when I should've been working. Thanks for brightening my day.

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  31. Chester, ne careful to check each armor, amulet or weapon you find. Special/magic weapons may just be titled "sword" but actually have boni on damage or chance to hit!!! Dont recall if the sales prices give a hint, too...

    ReplyDelete

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