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Chessrook44

Let's Play Blades of Avernum!

519 posts in this topic

Golems golems everywhere... but this slog isn't quite frustrating yet.

 

 

 

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And of course, the nice easy time doesn't last long as more frustrating golems show up.

 

 

 

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Deeper into the mountain we go, dealing with golems... and more.

 

 

 

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Once again, the scenario is making me irritated... yeah. It's beginning again.

 

 

 

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Further exploration, as we clear a "puzzle" and find some prisoners.

 

 

 

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Why does this place have a farm? I didn't think dragons really ate mushrooms and the like...

 

 

 

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Oh goodie, the dragon has a cult of necromantic and undead followers. Let's kill them!

 

 

 

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Ithik? Where are you? I've searched almost the whole place for you, couldn't you have left a few bread crumbs or something?

 

 

 

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The frustration came back, people! It bloody came back!

 

 

 

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Okay, that punch thing is a bit silly and amusing but come on... you're breaking the rules with it!

 

 

 

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One of the last things to deal with in this mountain is ahead of us... and of course, it is ridiculously hard.

 

 

 

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I fell off for a while, but I started watching again. I'm not quite caught up, but I'm getting there. Man, there is so much whining in these episodes! It makes it less fun to watch.

 

There are a few fairly important things that have screwed you up from time to time in Mount Galthrax (although you do still seem to be improving, e.g., the Vishanth fight!). One of them is spacing. Phaedra is far and away your best tank, but you keep blocking the path for her to get to the enemies! You also start combat with her behind walls so that she can't see the enemies. One bug in BoA generally is that joined NPCs use their default scripts rather than any custom scripts they're given, so joined NPCs all have the same behavior. Generally, they join combat when they can see an enemy and have a path to get to it. If you block them or leave them behind a wall, they'll hang back and do nothing. I don't think many scenarios have joined NPCs, but a few others do, so it's worth learning how to use them well.

 

Also, on spacing, there's no reason to have your healer — who is an incredibly weak melee fighter — run up to be next to your other characters. If your healer keeps getting forcecaged, keep your healer back behind a wall. Your healer won't get forcecaged if she's out of range. (This will continue to be important in Exodus, but for somewhat different reasons.)

 

You also fairly frequently put yourself in positions where only one or two people can attack when you want three or four to be attacking. Pay attention to the shape of the room! Don't box people out, or else you'll be half as strong as you want to be.

 

Another fairly fundamental thing is that you keep getting distracted by weak summons and not fighting the main enemies. You're high-level at this point; cave giants can't do anything to you. But a level-edited spirit (these undead are generally at least level 50!) can still do some serious damage. Unless the summons are literally blocking your way to the main enemy, you really ought to just ignore them. Focusing on them and ignoring the main enemy can get you killed or, just as bad, cause you to use up a ton of spell energy healing/whatever as the main enemy keeps blasting you while you ignore the relevant enemy. Besides, you kill a few summons and the mage will just summon more, so it becomes this never-ending onslaught of killing meaningless monsters.

 

A third thing is that if you're going to be reloading so much — and in BoA, you're going to be reloading a lot — you need to save more frequently. I save after pretty much every fight, before opening any door, before talking to anyone, before pressing any buttons or pulling any levers, etc. You had to fight the same fight around the Mount Galthrax farms three times in episode 102 because you didn't save after you finished the first part of it!

 

A few other random thoughts:

 

I did like the sporadic use of Arcane Shield and Heroic Brews when you were up against something that was doing a ton of damage, but only for one turn (the exploding golems, for example). That's definitely something to keep in mind as you go forward in BoA.

 

Those few times when you did cast Haste on Phaedra, she became much, much more effective. I'm surprised that you didn't make use of that more frequently.

 

It's also sort of weird when you say things like, "Let's see if a Slow will work," and then you don't check whether it actually worked or not. (The printed text actually tells you this.) That fits with my advice earlier to check things' immunities; magic-resistant monsters (i.e., those who also resist Lightning Spray and Arcane Blow) will resist Slow, and non-magic-resistant monsters won't, and you'll have an easier time if you determine which is which. More generally, it's worth watching the text that gets printed to see what pops up — you were surprised when Phaedra was paralyzed, but the printed text explicitly said that she had been paralyzed.

 

In episode 101, in the northeast corner of Mount Galthrax L2, you didn't read one of the dialogs that was supposed to help you! It told you that you were supposed to talk to the frozen lich that you didn't try to talk to. Oh well.

 

At about 2:10 of episode 102, you ask how you're supposed to know that there are undead behind the barriers. That's what the dialog box that you just read was warning you about! It talked about "dangerous undead" nearby! Right after this, though, you made use of the room shape in a useful way — you stood in such a way that only one ghoul could attack you at a time. This is handy — keep doing this kind of thing. Hilariously, right after that, you say that the narrow tunnels don't help, even though they just helped you! Oh well again.

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There are a few fairly important things that have screwed you up from time to time in Mount Galthrax (although you do still seem to be improving, e.g., the Vishanth fight!). One of them is spacing. Phaedra is far and away your best tank, but you keep blocking the path for her to get to the enemies! You also start combat with her behind walls so that she can't see the enemies. One bug in BoA generally is that joined NPCs use their default scripts rather than any custom scripts they're given, so joined NPCs all have the same behavior. Generally, they join combat when they can see an enemy and have a path to get to it. If you block them or leave them behind a wall, they'll hang back and do nothing. I don't think many scenarios have joined NPCs, but a few others do, so it's worth learning how to use them well.

 

Agreed, I do need to try to work on it more, but I DO try to get her in when I can. Many times when you find me preparing for a fight, you see me position my team in a way that Fawkes and Shiek in the front, Bonnie and Draco behind them, and Phaedra behind that. Yes Phaedra should be in front of Bonnie, but I'm not sure how to adjust positioning well enough in that case. Something to work on.

 

Also, on spacing, there's no reason to have your healer — who is an incredibly weak melee fighter — run up to be next to your other characters. If your healer keeps getting forcecaged, keep your healer back behind a wall. Your healer won't get forcecaged if she's out of range. (This will continue to be important in Exodus, but for somewhat different reasons.)

 

I'll grant you this. Often, the only times I run her up is because of the awkward moment of not wanting her to not be doing anything for several turns if healing isn't required. Perhaps I need to work out of that.

 

Another fairly fundamental thing is that you keep getting distracted by weak summons and not fighting the main enemies. You're high-level at this point; cave giants can't do anything to you. But a level-edited spirit (these undead are generally at least level 50!) can still do some serious damage. Unless the summons are literally blocking your way to the main enemy, you really ought to just ignore them. Focusing on them and ignoring the main enemy can get you killed or, just as bad, cause you to use up a ton of spell energy healing/whatever as the main enemy keeps blasting you while you ignore the relevant enemy. Besides, you kill a few summons and the mage will just summon more, so it becomes this never-ending onslaught of killing meaningless monsters.

 

This is... yes I'm aware I do this. I think part of the reason I do it is a mix of the large amount of summons filling the amount of space I can move in and wanting to literally carve my way in, as well as the whole "Attack of Opportunity" thing enemies get when I move out of squares they threaten. Plus of course, there's the ever present threat of "death of a thousand cuts". But I will grant I should focus on them more.

 

For the most part I've started switching so that my heavy-hitters focus on the threats, while my weaker hitters focus on the weaker summons. That seems a relatively fair balance, especially for Draco. Draco can take being hit by summons and does a decent amount of outgoing damage. He's perfect for the task.

 

It's also sort of weird when you say things like, "Let's see if a Slow will work," and then you don't check whether it actually worked or not. (The printed text actually tells you this.) That fits with my advice earlier to check things' immunities; magic-resistant monsters (i.e., those who also resist Lightning Spray and Arcane Blow) will resist Slow, and non-magic-resistant monsters won't, and you'll have an easier time if you determine which is which. More generally, it's worth watching the text that gets printed to see what pops up — you were surprised when Phaedra was paralyzed, but the printed text explicitly said that she had been paralyzed.

 

Yeah I admit, I tend not to look in the text box down there, especially on the enemy turn as it scrolls back SO fast. I look more on the visual cues and the like to see the results of what happens.

 

In episode 101, in the northeast corner of Mount Galthrax L2, you didn't read one of the dialogs that was supposed to help you! It told you that you were supposed to talk to the frozen lich that you didn't try to talk to. Oh well.

 

I also forgot to use the phoenix egg, which I noticed when editing the episode where I found the Undead Factory... LONG after I finished.

 

At about 2:10 of episode 102, you ask how you're supposed to know that there are undead behind the barriers. That's what the dialog box that you just read was warning you about! It talked about "dangerous undead" nearby! Right after this, though, you made use of the room shape in a useful way — you stood in such a way that only one ghoul could attack you at a time. This is handy — keep doing this kind of thing. Hilariously, right after that, you say that the narrow tunnels don't help, even though they just helped you! Oh well again.

See, the way I said it was that yes, it's good when narrowing the enemy down to only one foe... not as good when you are ALSO narrowed down to only one person... and pointless when you're only dealing with one foe and you can only bring one to the fight. It's all conditional.

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Galthrax lies ahead, and it is time at last to deal with him.

 

 

 

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Yeah I admit, I tend not to look in the text box down there, especially on the enemy turn as it scrolls back SO fast. I look more on the visual cues and the like to see the results of what happens.

It's probably a flaw in BoA (less than optimal design) that you can't tell what's going on with statuses by looking at the main screen — you have to look down at the text. But that is how BoA works.

 

Watching the Galthrax fight, I was struck by how Cloud of Blades is what won the battle. You won on the last try because you cast it on Galthrax twice right before the end. This will continue to be significant going forward; Cloud of Blades not only is the only spell that does melee damage, but also it's the only spell that does damage as a percent of the creature's health rather than as a specific number of dice. So as creatures get higher and higher level, other spells become less and less useful, but Cloud of Blades continues to work well.

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Watching the Galthrax fight, I was struck by how Cloud of Blades is what won the battle. You won on the last try because you cast it on Galthrax twice right before the end. This will continue to be significant going forward; Cloud of Blades not only is the only spell that does melee damage, but also it's the only spell that does damage as a percent of the creature's health rather than as a specific number of dice. So as creatures get higher and higher level, other spells become less and less useful, but Cloud of Blades continues to work well.

Aside from the fact that casting Cloud of Blades often means my fighters, my hardest hitters, can't get close to my enemies to damage them without being hurt themselves. Which is part of the reason why I rarely every use it, unless I can cast it in JUST the right position to not be too damaging for my own guys. And in the next scenario, I get a NEW reason...

 

Finally we've made it through the mountain, and to the homeland... quite a journey, hasn't it been?

 

 

 

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With Bahssikava done, we move right on to continue the second half of the story, Exodus. Let's see how difficult this trial will be...

 

 

 

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And as happens in most games, right at the start things go quite wrong. And yet...

 

 

 

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"Holy crap, he's Moses!" LOL! That is exactly the response I was going for.

 

It's always entertaining to see when/how people respond to the realization that Exodus is, you know, the Exodus. I still always treasure one of the comments that one player made to the effect of, "I was put off by all the religious allegory. I wasn't expecting that." You know, in a scenario entitled 'Exodus.'

 

Also, more generally, it is striking how much cleaner and better the design is as soon as we hit Exodus. I actually knew how to script and what the plot was going to be as soon as I started Exodus, whereas Bahs was really me trying to figure all of that out.

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It's always entertaining to see when/how people respond to the realization that Exodus is, you know, the Exodus. I still always treasure one of the comments that one player made to the effect of, "I was put off by all the religious allegory. I wasn't expecting that." You know, in a scenario entitled 'Exodus.'

Well I mean, "Exodus" is a word a bit similar to "Exile" so some might consider it a callback. Plus of course it's entirely possible to name something without it necessarily referencing something. Unfortunately I don't really know much about the Exodus, so I won't be able to draw as many parallels.

 

The army has been dealt with, and with only the journey before us, the others seem to be having shaken faith...

 

 

 

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Unfortunately I don't really know much about the Exodus, so I won't be able to draw as many parallels.
What disappoints me the most about Exodus is that at no point does Legare's wife circumcise their son with a flint knife and drop the foreskin at Legare's feet in order to stave off the wrath of the Goddess. 0/10, worst scenario ever.
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What disappoints me the most about Exodus is that at no point does Legare's wife circumcise their son with a flint knife and drop the foreskin at Legare's feet in order to stave off the wrath of the Goddess. 0/10, worst scenario ever.

Well I mean, they're lizard-people. Possible that they don't have that.

 

The journey into the homeland begins, as we find the first examples of the natives.

 

 

 

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Well, seems I'm starting to get used to fighting this type of creature... that's a plus!

 

 

 

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Totally separately from the above, I had forgotten about the "combat slowdown" that I devised in Exodus — your fights with the frost lizards reminded me.

 

The impetus for the combat slowdown was that at the time that I was designing the combat for Exodus — more or less the year following Bahssikava — a lot of scenarios, especially TM scenarios, had combat that was extremely difficult for about two or three turns, and if you could survive those turns (and kill off whatever you needed to), then you could make it the rest of the way basically just mopping up. There were few combats that were interesting all the way through. But I liked Avernums 1 and 2 a lot more than Avernum 3/default BoA, and the combat progressed more slowly in the earlier Avernums: monsters did less damage, the PCs did less damage, etc. So I tried to slow the combat down, to keep it interesting over the course of more turns. Less reloading, more discovering stuff as the combat evolves — which puts you at some risk, but doesn't instantly kill you.

 

The way I tried to pull this off was to give monsters considerable resistances to pretty much everything (including melee — which is why Cloud of Blades isn't quite as good in this scenario) but also to make them less able to do damage. You will find lots of high-level monsters, but you probably won't need to reload nearly as often as in Bahssikava; you can try things and, if they don't work, you won't immediately die. (Most of the time.)

 

This does mean that Blessing and Hasting is still important for almost every fight, because at the end of the day, if you don't, you may go so slowly through the fight that you end up using so many Heals that you might as well have Blessed in the first place. It also means that resistances are an even more interesting phenomenon here, because something with 50% resistance to melee but 0% resistance to fire (which are the stats of a frost lizard) is something that you want to slam with fire as much and as hard as you can. Inferno is a good spell for this. Later, if you should happen to come across a lizard that has 30% resistance to melee but 0% resistance to cold (e.g., a lava lizard), a spell like Bonechill might be useful.

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Appreciate the link Kelandon, it helps a lot! I'll make the "what is Blademaster's requirements" in one more episode a bit down the line, but that's only because it was already filmed. As for the comment about combat... less reloading is good in my opinion. And so far, things have been a bit better. I haven't been as frustrated.

 

 

 

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This episode reminded me: I've always prepared for combat in combat mode. It makes the buffs last longer. Outside of combat mode, if you're casting four Blesses, four Hastes, and Radiant Shield, then from the time you cast the first spell to when you actually enter the combat, you've let nine turns elapse. If you do it in combat mode, you might let about about three or four turns elapse. That five or six turns can actually make a little difference in a longer fight, and with the combat slowdown in Exodus, many fights will be longer fights.

 

Also, what you've been doing the past couple of episodes is the reason that there's no food in the HLPM (or anywhere else in my scenarios, except as junk). I wasn't aware that anybody actually rested in the outdoors. Running back and forth seems more efficient to me.

 

Finally, just FYI (because I wasn't sure if you know this, based on the most recent episode), multiple Slows just make the Slow last longer. They don't actually make the effect any greater.

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Also, what you've been doing the past couple of episodes is the reason that there's no food in the HLPM (or anywhere else in my scenarios, except as junk). I wasn't aware that anybody actually rested in the outdoors. Running back and forth seems more efficient to me.

It is, except in areas where you can't really do that without heavy risk or a lot more time than needed. Such as, say, the Lava Ocean (Yes I've reached that in my recordings). Very small amounts of land, with one false step meaning lots of pain? I'd rather camp than blindly run around in circles, thanks.

 

We reach a fort, which appears to be full of barbarians. Oh goodie!

 

 

 

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Well we haven't cleared much of this fort, so it's time to clear out the rest. Maybe we'll find something useful.

 

 

 

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I do like the atmosphere of this region, well done. The mage however, is a bit annoying.

 

 

 

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It seems as though you've had issues with Forcecages. The BoA Manual says that Mass Curing "weakens" Forcecages; if I remember correctly, that means that it dispels them entirely.

 

Also, it's not clear to me whether you know this, so I'll just point out that the limitation is one spellbook of each type per PC. You probably should make spellbooks for Bonnie, too. (Maybe you haven't yet because you don't know many special spells for priests, but you will soon.)

 

It looks as though I should've tagged the third event in the Multiple Heal and Summon script to a higher level of health; it looks like it's pretty easy to kill the monster before the third summon happens. Oh well.

 

Enjoy the Lava Ocean. It's tied for my favorite part of Exodus (tied with the Peninsula Camp sequence, much later).

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Crap, that's a bug. That message isn't supposed to say that. What happened is that I originally had an Orb of Thralni-like item that would get you across the river, and the message changed depending on whether you had the item. I then switched it to the spell Flight, but I forgot to change the message to depend on whether you had the spell — so you always get the "you don't have the right item" dialog.

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Crap, that's a bug. That message isn't supposed to say that. What happened is that I originally had an Orb of Thralni-like item that would get you across the river, and the message changed depending on whether you had the item. I then switched it to the spell Flight, but I forgot to change the message to depend on whether you had the spell — so you always get the "you don't have the right item" dialog.

I can tell you now that it's not the only bug you missed. I'm far enough ahead that I found another bug or oversight that left me very, Very, VERY irritated. But that's a ways away.

 

A story is told, as we learn quite a bit about one of our three leaders, and then we move on to find the next stop in our journey.

 

 

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I can tell you now that it's not the only bug you missed. I'm far enough ahead that I found another bug or oversight that left me very, Very, VERY irritated. But that's a ways away.

I'm not surprised. Exodus was extremely ambitious and also extremely buggy as originally designed. My beta testers were very helpful, but as it turns out, Windows BoA is a lot more buggy than Mac BoA, so I spent a lot of time hunting down things that I couldn't reproduce on my own computer. At the end of the day, even after extensive testing, some things snuck through. (A lot of Unhandled Exceptions, in particular, which exist only on Windows BoA — although I think I've found the reasons for some of them now.)

 

An eagle-eyed player a couple years ago noticed that two of the highest-level versions of spells are impossible to get within the scenario, one because I deleted a dungeon (for reasons I can't remember) and one because I set a flag wrong.

 

I suppose I should release a bug fix at some point. I have enough accumulated on my personal version at this point that it would be worth doing.

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"Sisyphus?" Lol, yes. There's a lot of ancient Greek and Roman stuff in Exodus, too, along with all the Biblical references. Nearly every scene, nearly every dialog, has some kind of reference to something from either the Old Testament or antiquity.

 

And yes, as you probably have figured out by where you are now, the snippets of conversations that you overhear as you approach the leaders of the expedition (Kass just outside of Vasskolis, speaking to Legare: "... a Darkling! He can't be trusted!" and Kass on the beach just south of Nakhtha, speaking to Legare and Pithoss: "... faith is wavering. We must act.") are small hints of what is to come.

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A shorter episode here, as we spend some time speaking with our companions and find what our next goal is going to be.

 

 

 

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I do admit epic massive group battles like these are still pretty awesome to behold... but every time it seems our allies all end up dying.

 

 

 

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Random thoughts:

 

* If you want a timely response to a question — e.g., what are the prereqs for Blademaster — you'll get a faster response if you post your question here than if you mention it in the videos and wait about two weeks for people to see it.

 

* Just out of curiosity: a couple of episodes ago, you bought extra levels in Return Life, which you never use, as far as I can tell. Why?

 

* The person you couldn't remember in Thassaka was Ethass. She's with Legare in that room you couldn't get into. (Kass is also there.) Make of that what you will.

 

* I'm continually surprised at how your allies end up dying, but it seems to be because you fight these large battles — well, every battle, really — very differently from how I would. (One example: because of the combat slowdown, you don't need to be at 100% health all the time. So I'd have started this outdoor fight by getting buffs out on everyone immediately — Major Haste, then within two turns put Bless on all three of your melee fighters and also cast Radiant Shield. And obviously I would rely a lot less on Arcane Summon, even though it's not as nerfed in Exodus. And I would focus less on fighting enemy summons and more on the main enemies. And I would use Mass Healing to help the allies stay alive. And....)

 

* It looks as though you missed out on a special spell (Major Healing) by not keeping enough of your allies alive during that outdoor battle. If at least two survive, you get the special spell instead of the measly 50 coins.

 

* I am baffled at the fact that Inferno doesn't appear to use action points. There's a deduct_ap() call in the script in the right place. Now that I consult the docs, they say that it should only work in a creature script, but on Mac BoA, it works just fine where it is. If you're on Windows, maybe this is yet another difference between Mac BoA and Windows BoA. (An annoying one, if so.)

 

Looking forward to the Lava Ocean! Some of the plot points from early on begin to develop into something here.

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We move our explorations onwards, and head into an enormous sea. Of lava. Oh the heat...

 

And I'll say here... I like the Lava Ocean too, but probably not for the reasons you're thinking of.

 

 

 

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And I'll say here... I like the Lava Ocean too, but probably not for the reasons you're thinking of.

Because the combats are relatively easy? Yeah, just wait. Dalaghant and the Berekh Hive are coming.

 

Just be glad I dramatically toned down the Berekh Hive during beta; the first person who beta tested it said that it took him four hours to get through the original version. Not because of reloading — he apparently didn't reload once. Because it was just that damned long.

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That Berekh Hive in the beta was one of the most frustrating experiences I've ever had in BoA. It was more bearable once I turned off the sound though. That was the primary source of lag.

 

I just realized that was over 10 freaking years ago. I'm old.

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I actually just finished the Berekh Hive last recording session (I'm skipping today's so I can narrow the backlog I have a little) so I know what you're referring to with that. And it was frustrating after I recorded the episode. You'll see what I mean...

 

Through the Fire and the Flame we clear out a cavern full of burning lizards.

 

 

 

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Curious how a little bit of water is surviving in the middle of this place, but hey, at least I find something to talk about.

 

 

 

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Just FYI, Moses wandered for 40 years in the desert, not 40 days. The 40 days and 40 nights business was him hanging out on a mountain receiving the Ten Commandments (which was at the beginning of the exile).

 

The Lava Ocean sort of parallels the initial bit of wandering in the desert when everyone was starving. After that, God provided manna (what-is-it food, sort of) to the Jews so that they wouldn't starve, and the Jews built the tabernacle (a kind of mobile temple which housed the Ark of the Covenant). I assume that's more or less where you are now. I suppose I drift away from the source a bit after that; Leviticus isn't really represented at all, and Numbers is only sort of represented in the Peninsula Camp.

 

There is a lot of "sort of" in this description because I was going for similarity, not exactness; Exodus is meant to be reminiscent of the Old Testament but not precisely so. (In the same way that much of the setting is meant to be reminiscent of the periphery of the 5th century Roman Empire, but not precisely so.) The differences are in themselves intended to be interesting, for those who want to play that game.

 

Also, you've been wondering about Bonnie's Dexterity. As a nephil, she automatically gains Dexterity as she gains levels. And yes, those bonus points don't count toward the prereqs for special skills.

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Also, you've been wondering about Bonnie's Dexterity. As a nephil, she automatically gains Dexterity as she gains levels. And yes, those bonus points don't count toward the prereqs for special skills.

Thaaaaaaaaat explains it. Thanks!

 

Further exploration of the Lava Sea, as we deal with even more lava lizards. On we go!

 

 

 

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Well I suppose if anyone could live in an ocean of lava, it would be him.

 

 

 

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In relation to your most recent commentary: I'm glad you like Exodus better, although it's worth noting that that was not the impression of the community at the time; Bahssikava took first place in the first BoA scenario design contest, and Exodus took last place in the second BoA scenario design contest. (This probably had something to do with the fact that Jeff judged the first contest and the community judged the second, but even so.)

 

But I actually prefer the more challenging combat of Bahssikava. I'm mostly fast-forwarding through your fights with the lava lizards because they're just not terribly interesting. There are a lot of things that I would do differently if I rebalanced the scenarios now, but making the combat easy throughout (which is what you apparently would prefer) is not one of them. That is, Exodus is not the way that it is because I thought that the way that Bahssikava was designed was a mistake; it's the way that it is because it's intended to be a different scenario. Lord Putidus (which came between Bahssikava and Exodus) also featured very difficult combat. This was just the way some of my scenarios were intended to be.

 

Put another way, Exodus was not a reaction against Bahssikava; Exodus was a reaction against the TM scenarios of the time (Canopy, Mad Ambition, Emerald Mountain).

 

Also, you're missing out on a lot of extras at this point. You missed a level of Destruction (and a number of custom items) in Velthkhogroz's cave, for example. Looking for more secret passages and exploring a bit more thoroughly would be beneficial. None of these things are necessary to complete the game, but they will make upcoming fights easier.

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We head back to the expedition to send them further forward... but things are starting to get worrying...

 

 

 

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