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Tyranicus

Death at Chapman's

16 posts in this topic

Death at Chapman's

Mac/Windows

 

Author: Erik Westra

Rating:

Difficulty:

Version: 1.0.0

 

[composite=eyJ0aXRsZSI6IkRlYXRoIGF0IENoYXBtYW4ncyIsInRpZCI6IjE1NjU3IiwidGFncyI6W10sImJnYXNwIjp7IjUiOjAsIjQiOjAsIjMiOjksIjIiOjYsIjEiOjB9fQ==]

Composite Score: 2.6/5.0

 

Best: 0.00% (0/15)

Good: 0.00% (0/15)

Average: 60.00% (9/15)

Substandard: 40.00% (6/15)

Poor: 0.00% (0/15)

[encouragenecro]

 

[/composite]

 

Keywords:

Edited by SylaeBot
Automated Sybot edit; worker IPB::csrThread/vanadium

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From TM on the CSR:

 

This is what you would expect a first effort to be- overall decent, if not rough around the edges. Unfortunately, finishing without the walkthrough/hints file is outright impossible- headbanging is mandatory in a few places. Terrain errors are here and there- corners higher/lower than the walls around 'em, odd things done with stairways, roads are now pathways (and pathways going up are cave floor ramps?), etc. A whopping three custom graphics are used, including a splash screen two times too small and a death graphic. A few bugs, and the two "difficult" fights are against what are basically two big, blown-up bruisers. Plot is nonexistent, it's basically the hollow, bare-bones justification of Cave of No Return except more self-important and with a bit more foreshadowing before we stumble upon the big, bad and deadly enemy (who is, for reference, Death itself). I'm not sure what the "moral" was, the player was never given reason to care, and the scenario itself didn't seem to care either, save for the fact that you get a better reward for following one path in lieu of another- witchcraft is bad because you get good artifacts for not encouraging it?

 

Worth the play, but only barely. Promising, if not a bit rough and short.

 

[rating]AVERAGE[/rating]

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From an unknown reviewer on the CSR:

 

I agree with TM. The main problem of this scenario is that it leaves you asking what to do. If it hadn't been for the hints I would have never finished this scenario.

 

There are many parts where you are supposed to find secret passages to proceed and you are not given a hint on where they may be.

 

Town design is also dull sometimes, and in the school the undeads regenarate too fast. Also, I don't know if there was another way to get it, but you need a character with strenght 7 to get the death charm.

 

Had all this being corrected, this scenario would have been better. Sadly it wasn't.

 

[rating]SUBSTANDARD[/rating]

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From Linthar on the CSR:

 

When I first downloaded this scenario, I looked at the readme, and I saw not a single betatester listed. When I played the scenario it showed. It wasn't buggy, but to advance through the scenario you had to preform many actions that no one would have though of without the included walkthrough. The plot its self trys to be epic and freighting yet it does neither. Another thing I had to wonder was why one of the mages was hiding in his room instead of just walking out of the school filled with weak enemies I could buy that he didn't have much magical power, until I searched the next room and he saw the enemy in there and procced to cast first arcane summon, and second arcane blow. The plot reveals a fact that could be taken as an explanation but the whole plot point is ridiculous to me.

 

The first town's design is completly horrible. It is has 4 tiny buildings leaving huge amounts of empty space in the town. The barkeep ends a conversation by saying he has to get back to his costumers but he's the only one in the room besides the party. You can buy a key to the doss house but you can't sleep there. At the back of the doss house is a tiny hut which takes all of 3 squares. Why couldn't it be bigger and unattached with all the free space.

 

Another peeve, there were a large number of 200 difficulty locked doors, to keep people from going to some places to early. The problem is there are no messages on any of them indicating that there are nonopenable until you try to pick them and you pick breaks from the difficulty.

 

Also at one point to procced with the scenario you need to come by at night, which is intresting until you figure this out in the daytime and there is no way to just wait until nightfall, and you have to just run around for a long time, without anything to do.

 

Oh yes and this scenario was montihall. I got over 1000 gold from selling all the items I've gotten, not including the half a dozen or more potions I kept, plus a ring that increases your ap by 1 (although it doesn't seem to work.) and a bracers that give +2 priest skill and +1 magery. This is a scenario thats meant for first level partys those items are ridiculos.

 

Overall the scenario shows a fair bit of potential. However the lack of an apparent beta test has left it with a lot of problems that should have been easily caught (For example the near impossibility to complete it without using the walkthrough.) But I can not score a scenario on its potential, the score I give is based on what's actually there. Most of the points I've listed are fairly minor, but the the near impossibility to complete it without using the walkthrough is a major detraction and leaves my giving it a poor score

 

[rating]SUBSTANDARD[/rating]

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From an unknown reviewer on the CSR:

 

I must disagree with TM and other detractors here and say that the scenario is quite good for a first try. There are a few bugs that need to be ironed out, but it's still quite fun. The starting town is very bare-bones, but the implementation of wandering monsters in the outdoors is a good idea (however, there seems to be some problems with this: they don't always disappear when they're supposed to).

 

The school itself is well made, although not spectacular. The biggest problem inside was massive slow-down; the undead all move regardless of whether you can see them or not. There is really only one point in the scenario that requires head-banging, to be honest, and that one point sort of makes sense with 20/20 hindsight. It's structured like that because it's an amusing discovery. However, more clues would have been nice.

 

As for what the "moral" of the scenario is, I would first argue that not all scenarios need to be morality tales. But regardless, this one has a clear moral: Greed for power unleashes terrible consequences.

 

All in all, a pleasant way to pass an hour or two.

 

And by the way, please people (read: Linthar): Keep spoilers out of reviews!!

 

[rating]AVERAGE[/rating]

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From an unknown reviewer on the CSR:

 

It's an okay scenario, going through a short dungeon where things have gone horribly wrong. The text is also cleanly written, and the story/background hangs together with a reasonable amount of suspension of disbelief.

 

There's puzzles, so it's possible to get stuck for some time.

It's not always obvious what to do next -- I had to do a full secret doors check at one point, and look at the hint file another time. There is a hint file, however, which includes both hints and a complete walkthrough.

 

The main dungeon has serious lag issues. Wandering monsters appear at an annoying frequency, causing the keystroke buffer to fill up, overshooting your characters past where they want to do while skeletons attack.

 

There's a serious excess in the quantity of loot. Every bookcase or chest or dead body has a goody or two like a potion or a scroll. There's a few more major items.

 

One especially good note is the outstanding documentation. The readme and the hints file are just the start. The "notes" file should set a standard for future designers. Between it and the detailed comments in the code, it's easy to decipher how the author did a given thing.

 

Too much treasure.

 

[rating]AVERAGE[/rating]

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From S M Adventurer on the CSR:

 

Another scenario that suffers from Too Much Undead Syndrome. As for the plot, it played out well, although it did get confusing at points. It was a good thing it came with hints and a walkthrough.

 

Overall, not too bad of an adventure though.

 

[rating]AVERAGE[/rating]

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From Buttered Toast on the CSR:

 

"Death at Chapman's" is Erik Westra's first scenario for Blades of Avernum. It is also the first puzzle type scenario for Blades of Avernum. The scenario starts out in a very small town. It immediately begins with several puzzles to solve. How do you find the priestess, where is the letter for Malone, what is happening to the school. The scenario is designed for first level parties.

 

The documentation for the scenario is excellent. I would not have been able to finish the scenario without it. I think using the IE editor to write the Faq as well as the Readme is superior to Wordpad. There are some points like what to do with the "Death Charm" which aren't obvious which I had to use the documentation to figure out. This is also true with using the "Death Charm" to damage Melville.

 

The fights are fairly easy. Mostly it is low level undead creatures. I did like the fight with the "cloaked wraithe" and Death. Both were fairly straightforward. Having to use the "Death Charm" to make death vulnerable was interesting. These were two new creatures in the scenario. It would have been nice if there were more spellcasting creatures.

 

There were two new items in the scenario, the wand of opening and the "Death Charm". The "Death Charm" was very interesting because it was a multi-use item. Most of the items in Avernum have only one use. The "Death Charm" had three separate uses to 1) damage undead 2) force Melville to turn into an undead and 3) make Death vulnerable.

 

The structure, a Wizard's Tower is fairly standard on the first level. This changes on the second level. I thought the Death Area was very well done. Also having to use a boat to get to the tower is a nice touch.

 

There were a number of interesting effects throughout the scenario. Having a day night cycle where the monsters come out at night is a nice feature. This is the first scenario to do this. Also having Melville change into the "cloaked wraithe" was the first true monster transformation sequence. This opens up a whole bunch of new possibilities including lycanthropes and dopplegangers. Also using a book to do the cut scene was a new idea. Sort of like a hologram.

 

The plot was well done. The theme that evil magic corrupts a person and makes them into a monster is well done. I think that the idea that "witchcraft"-- or evil magic cannot be used by characters opens up a new set of possibilities for other scenarios.

 

The quality of the writing in the scenario is very good. There are nice touches throughout. One of my favorite quotes from a novel "Your life as an adventurer is much more interesting than anything in this novel."

 

[rating]AVERAGE[/rating]

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From an unknown reviewer on the CSR:

 

I liked it. Amusing for a few hours and good use of items (the Death Charm was cool).

 

I never saw what everyone else is complaining about re: headbanging--I figured that spot out in a few seconds of looking at the map.

 

All in all, a good first attempt.

 

[rating]AVERAGE[/rating]

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From Imban on the CSR:

 

Y'arr. This scenario annoyed me because of its almost requiring either headbanging or a hint file, and on top of that it has the laggiest dungeon in any scenario, as well as one of the worst towns.

 

That said, I'm sad to see that Erik Westra did not follow up on his experience by designing another, better scenario using the things he learned from Death at Chapman's.

 

[rating]SUBSTANDARD[/rating]

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From Smoo on the CSR:

 

General: Short and nondescript. The design of the starter town was very poor and it has a slith in it, just for the sake of having a slith in it. When you reach the school there is too much headbanging involved in searching for secret doors so that the plot can move on. To top it all the scenario's a little buggy.

 

Combat: In DaC we fight undead... and that's it.

 

Plot/Characters: Find out what went wrong in a magic school. I can't really say that's original. None of the characters stood out and it was very convenient to have a person who knew how to activate the Death Charm in the vicinity of the school. Personally I would have played around with the villain a bit more instead of just having it kill everyone.

 

Even though I can't really come up with anything positive to say, I will say that DaC wasn't that painful to play through. Nothing just stood out.

 

[rating]AVERAGE[/rating]

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From Lazarus on the CSR:

 

A decent scenario, with some nice coding tricks like monsters appearing at night, the cutscene journal and the death charm harming undead. Unfortunately this wasn't accompanied by a very engaging plot. Dialog in the scenario is sparse, and the NPC's seem to exist solely for the purpose of doing their job in the scenario (Ex. Sell and Identify, or direct you along.) There's no one who you can talk with to get involved in the plot, or just shoot the breeze with.

 

I can't help but feel that Eric Westra could have really improved if he had followed this up with another scenario. This one suffers to much from the lack of dialog, and the routine headbanging that is mentioned above.

 

[rating]AVERAGE[/rating]

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From Nioca on the CSR:

 

First, I'll start with the positive. It's combat is challenging, and it's implementation of day and night was interesting. I have to give the designer kudos for designing the school without a single blank spot. It felt larger than it actually was, and I felt like I was really exploring a decrepit school of magery. I also don't think that it suffers from Monty Haul as severely as some claim. Rather, it was more like he was watching out for those torment singleton players. The ending would vary depending on what you did, which was nice.

 

However, all of this is far overshadowed by the negative. The main thing, though (hence, the title of this post), is that I actually had to stop playing and go into the scripts to fix not one, not two, but three major errors just so I could keep playing.

 

Also, there's more inconsistencies then Nephilim Mystery, which is saying something. First, why would a top-of-the-line school of magery be located so far out in the middle of nowhere? Skylark Vale was one thing, but this is borderline ridiculous. Secondly, what the heck is a slith doing there? And why is it's lisp only on 'c's? Third, the scenario views priestly magic as evil. Why? Priests are located throughout the Empire, why would this location be any different? Besides, most necromancers are mages, not priests, and it was a mage that caused this whole mess to begin with! Fourth, why would the publican care if someone was appointed overseer? And why would he take such drastic action? Fifth, for such a tiny town (only four buildings), why are there so many guards? Better question, how can there be so many guards, since there's only two houses nearby? Sixth, if this school of magery was one of the best, how did some basic undead over run it? This is furthered by the fact that, while Melville claims to not be powerful enough to defeat the undead, if he sees an enemy, he obliterates it with Arcane Blow. A lot of this could have been explained, yet wasn't

 

 

 

Also, there were certain things you were required to do that you would normally never think of doing. Why would I think of looking in the back of the publican's house for a letter for a person who never mentioned anything about it, and won't even talk to you? Why would I think of using the Death Charm in Melville's room? Why would I think that there's something down in the basement after my encounter with Death? It's just not something you would normally think of, and there's no hints to make you think of taking the above actions.

 

 

 

Speaking of the Death Charm, it only works part of the time. At other times, you just waste action points, and end up clawed to death by a wight, zombie, so on and so forth. The spawning rate for undead was way too high, making it possible to get trapped by hordes of undead. Also, the end boss is way too overpowered. Bosses should be powerful, but almost no L1 scenario should have a boss monster capable of dealing up to 100 damage per hit. This means that L1 singletons are effectively doomed on all but the easiest difficulty setting, even with those overpowered wands and elixirs. This probably wouldn't even be that bad, except there are no healers of any sort. So if a character dies, he's done for the rest of the scenario (Unless you're playing a high level party that can cast Return Life).

 

Finally, I was constantly encountering a massive pathfinding problem, which caused the game to slow down considerably. Apparently, undead in closed rooms are alerted to your presence, despite never seeing you, and attempt to chase you down, despite being in a closed room with nowhere to go. This quickly gets irritating.

 

Overall, it was somewhat enjoyable, but there were way too many times of irritation and outright frustration.

 

[rating]SUBSTANDARD[/rating]

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From Nikki on the CSR:

 

The main level of the school takes way too long to play -probably because too many scripts are running, town design was a bit... odd in places. And the plot was downright "meh".

 

But the night-time coding was good, and there were some other nice tricks (two psuedo-endings, to name but one).

 

Overall, a good first effort. It's just a shame that Erik Westra has since disappeared off the face of the Earth...

 

[rating]SUBSTANDARD[/rating]

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From Salmon on the CSR:

 

It's a shame that Erik is gone.

 

This little scenario showed excellent promise. I was a little disappointed by it, but I am sure it is comparatively better than some other scenarios out there, even ones released later.

 

[rating]AVERAGE[/rating]

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FRom Lord Grimm on SV:

 

The Party is hired to investigate a lack of communication from Chapman's Magic School. There are undead in the area. You do the math.

 

Well, it's not... bad... but it's not good, either. The combat is fine for the range, the singular cutscene is unimpressive, there aren't any puzzles to speak of (unless you consider the puzzle of using the Death Charm on Melville), and the ending is reminiscent of Scooby Doo in plot exposition.

If it wasn't so long since its release that we've seen some amazing uses of the engine, I'd rate it higher. As it is, it needs to be considered in context.

 

Plot: .7/2

Gameplay: 1.2/2

Presentability: 1.1/2

Scripting: .5/2

Personal Enjoyment: .5/2

 

Rating: 4/10 [rating]SUBSTANDARD[/rating]

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