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Chessrook44

Let's Play Blades of Avernum!

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So, regarding Polonius and his bless the children ritual.

 

Your theory was that the magi had killed the children and used their souls to animate the golems. When I heard you say it I thought to myself, yes, that would be a pretty good villain move. The problem is that I never envisioned Polonius to be a traditional "villain". I am putting the rest of my post behind spoiler tags, not because of spoilers, but because of the wall of text that ensues.

 

Spoiler

What I mean by "villain" is someone who does it purely for the sake of being evil. A traditional one dimensional antagonist. That was never my vision of Polonius. What he was supposed to was an arrogant, conceited narcissist who ultimately wanted to do good. Polonius thought himself better than the Empire, better than their constricted way of studying magic. His deal was that he knows best and damn everyone else. The fact that chance had granted him a better than average affinity with magic only reinforced his narcissism. His success and charisma in convincing Mayor Landon to allow him to stay in Cattalon only proved, in his mind, that he could do no wrong.

 

Then he figured that he could bless the children of Cattalon in the same way he had blessed the cattle. After all, if he was able to make mere cattle healthier and live longer why not children too? That is all he tried to do. To make the children healthier. This failed because he was not as good as he thought. Because cattle are not people.The reason I never put any of this in great detail into the scenario (the burnt bookshelf and torn diary pages in Polonius's room were originally supposed to spell this out) was that "cattle are not people" felt kind of weak and unsatisfying as plot points go when I was making the scenario. So I just left it vague. Since the magi were only supposed to be the jumping off point for the scenario anyway.

 

Personally, what's in the scenario conveys Polonius's motives and intention perfectly to me, but I think that is only because of all the backstory I left out of the scenario is still present in my mind. If I were to write the scenario today, I would probably include more of Polonius's motives in the scenario, but alas, this is what was released to the world all those years ago and like I wrote earlier, MoC is probably a personal favorite of mine out of all the scenarios ever released. After all, the player who I designed the scenario first and foremost for was me.

 

Incidentally, you are entering the point in the scenario where many players (based on the reviews) felt lost and eventually gave up on the scenario. This being the part where the actual scenario starts. While the transition between the two parts of the scenario was lauded, the fact that it is basically two scenarios in one,  was not that well received. Like Nikki wrote in a review "the guff about the mages could be dropped" to the benefit of the scenario, but I maintain that this would have made it much worse.

 

Also since I am looking at the reviews, Terror's Martyr said this about MoC "Smoo just needs to minimalize his random crap so that the truly wonderful aspects of the scenario can shine through." This comment, to me, is incredibly funny and indicative of the fundamental different approaches to scenario design I have with TM. The random crap is the entire point of the scenario. That's the stuff I like and why I made it. Since you liked Backwater Calls (and I got the impression that you like my stuff overall), I think you will enjoy the main portion of Magus of Cattalon, as well. We'll see what your final verdict is, I guess.

 

Edited by Smoo

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In my opinion, while I see what you were going for, it ultimately didn't come across that way.  Instead, it came across as "It's not my fault shut up" and then you hear nothing else.  There's no information on why he tried to bless the children, no information on why he just nodded as if everything went how it should have, nothing more than an implication that the two mages with him were more the power behind the throne manipulating him to do the ritual and having some sort of secret plan.  So it's all left kind of... unsatisfying, with no real answers, and you're left thinking "Okay, so maybe he was just evil because he was evil?  I mean what other reason are we given?"

 

Well you don't see something like this very often in scenarios, but it should be interesting to see the interpretation of this.

 

https://youtu.be/tF4amBLei3I

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This is another longer post so I am placing it in spoiler tags again.

 

Spoiler

Most of the ideas for the enemies and combat for Magus of Cattalon came to me when I was making Backwater Calls and figuring out what exactly was possible to do with scripts and BoA's engine. A creature that morphs into something more dangerous. A strong foe that could knock you back etc. The problem with these ideas was that I wanted to have my scenarios happen in the same universe as Jeff's games and in this universe, there was a single political power that controlled everything and had wiped out everything interesting off the face of the Earth.

 

From a writer's point of view, this severely limited the kind of stories I could write. What was I supposed to do? Write another scenario about rebels? Another monster plague by the Vahnatai, perhaps? No way. Terrible idea. It seems that in this universe all the interesting stuff happened in the past...

 

Time travel it is then. The thing is that I had to make some changes to the plot to accommodate for some of the aspects that always bothered me about time travel stories. The main thing being that, in my original draft, Polonius survived the transition. I changed it because, like you alluded to, this is the kind of time travel where everything, including the player traveling back in time, has already happened. If Polonius had survived that would have added an unwanted element of "preserving the timeline" to the story.

 

So the only element that could have connected the two parts of the scenario better was removed. 90 % of the scenario is the player trying to report back that they have succeeded in their main quest. Raquel's only purpose was to point the player in the right direction so that they knew where to go when they'd had enough.

 

By the way, the player deciding to leave Feral Lake to explore ancient Aizo is probably my favorite ending of all my scenarios at least. Sure, it counts as a loss, but there is something fitting about it in my mind at least and it is a definite ending to the player characters stories.

 

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Posted (edited)

Lol. Tampere. Moonstone. Myrthral the Myst. Oh, what fun.

 

I might add more when I'm not at work, but for now, I'll just comment that when you were looking for the Moonstone in the swamp the scenario checked your Nature Lore. Had your skill been high enough, you would have realized that the tracks are leading North.

 

Edit: Oh! And the Moonstone location, like the rattlesnake quest, is random. I hope you had to go to all four possible Moonstone locations, since you got lucky and found the snake in the first bush.

Edited by Smoo

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23 hours ago, Smoo said:

Edit: Oh! And the Moonstone location, like the rattlesnake quest, is random. I hope you had to go to all four possible Moonstone locations, since you got lucky and found the snake in the first bush.

Aaaah, so that's where all my luck went...

 

Man, they are not making finding the Moonstone easy... quite a hunt here.

 

https://youtu.be/32zzfBqnNf0

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Hooray! The Moonstone is in the fourth and final location... unless there's a bug and it's nowhere. There's no bug... I hope. Whenever I've played MoC it's never been in the final location. When I was alpha testing the scenario I had to save scum to force the random number generator to not put it in the first three.

 

Considering what's in the last location, I'll explain myself when the LP gets there. For now, I'll say this about Tampere. It's named after a town in Finland, pronounced something like Tam-puh-ruh. Stress on the first syllable. The way your saying it is fine in terms of in universe shenanigans since, obviously, nobody speaks Finnish in Feral Lake.

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Just FYI for everyone, I went back and labeled the first episode for most of the scenarios. I made through about 80% of the posts (to Threnody), but once we started getting into a lot of little short scenarios, I got tired of it and stopped for the time being. I may go back and label the rest at some point.

Ess-Eschas likes this

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Doomguards are probably the only standard enemies that are interesting to me in BoA, so when I was making MoC, I just knew I had to include them somehow. 

 

Also, about the whole shovel and rope thing. I think I was stuck in 90s adventure game frame of mind when designing those bits. What I mean by that is that I created a standard item puzzle (need item to proceed) and only made the item available in one specific location. No workarounds.

 

Since it appears that I never did change it, were I to release a patch now, I would definitely add at least two ropes and shovels somewhere in friendly towns and dungeons. This way there wouldn't be only one way to progress. 

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23 hours ago, Smoo said:

Since it appears that I never did change it, were I to release a patch now, I would definitely add at least two ropes and shovels somewhere in friendly towns and dungeons. This way there wouldn't be only one way to progress. 

I would recommend it.  Such as a rope around the slaves in the nephilim caves, or a shovel by the graveyard.

 

Finally we're coming close to the end of a hunt for something... and we hunt for something else I could NOT find.

 

https://youtu.be/qiQEkgy5Rl8

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While we're on the subject of conscious design choices that can infuriate some players, you’ve been running around a few episodes now trying to find a place to sell all your loot. Now I understand that some real time might have passed between episodes and I don’t assume that you remember everything you did in game a week or so ago. Still, it was the innkeeper in Ferrow! You talked to him at one point and said something to the effect of “this isn’t the guy I sell loot to.” But yes, that was him! That was the guy. Not only did you forget it, but you also forgot that Adrian told you who would buy stuff from you. That was one of Adrian’s functions, to inform the player where to sell stuff.

 

I understand if someone is annoyed by the lack of places to sell your loot. This is, however, a case where I sacrificed game play convenience for world building. I never explicitly stated this in game (seems to be a problem of mine), but Feral Lake is in a state of barter economy right now. You are carrying, at the moment, something like several thousand coins worth of loot? The recently freed slaves and opportunists around do not have that kind of cash lying around which is also why your breaking and entering usually yields only a few copper coins. So yes, when you enter Feral Lake there is only one man who buys items from you. Now, had you gone south instead of north when you left Ferrow and done Theseus’s quest right away, all of this could have been avoided.

 

Now on to the Moonstone quest which will be behind spoiler tags since this, more than anything I’ve written here, is nothing but a self-indulgent man explaining an inside joke that no-one else thinks is funny.

 

 

 


My older brother also played BoA. Back in the day, me and my brothers played a game called Moonstone: A Hard Day’s Knight. In Moonstone, you play a knight (default names Sir Godber, Sir Edward, Sir Richard and Sir Jeffrey) on a quest to find the titular Moonstone. You do this by going into lairs filled with various enemies and hope you get lucky enough to find four randomly placed keys to the valley of the Moonstone, before the dragon eats you.

The game was hugely influential for me when designing Magus of Cattalon. Not only are the namesakes of all four knights located in Tampere (the name of which was another inside joke, mainly for my amusement), but a lot of the enemies in the scenario and sights in Tampere were inspired by Moonstone the game. The nephilim stand in for “Troggs”, giant boars are “Trogg War Beasts”. The hill giant maulers are “trolls” and the drake lord is the dragon which I assumed not many players would see since it was more than likely they’d find the moonstone in the other three locations. The location of the moonstone is random, because the loot in the game was random and there are four possible moonstone locations, since in the game you needed four keys to get the moonstone. You can throw dice with (Sir) Edward because that is a thing you can do in Moonstone. “Sword of Sharpness” is the best weapon in game, so (Sir) Godber will sell it to you in the scenario.

Speaking of Godber, the bit about his “friends” calling him “Godbe” is a reference to something my brothers and I did when playing the game. You could rename the knights in the game if you wanted to. At one point, one of us started to delete Godber’s name, got as far as the first “r” before he realized it didn't matter and just left the name at “Sir Godbe”.  In consequent playthroughs Godber was always renamed Godbe, because lol. Some of the dialogue is also inspired by the stuff we said and did when playing the game. “Must be mating season” is a theory my little brother had about one of the enemies in game. “The appropriate lame music” is a dig at the music in the taverns which was, at least in our opinion, mind-meltingly awful.

Myrthral the Myst’s whole appearance is our commentary on the usefulness of “Mythral the Mystic” (again, name misspelled on purpose for hilarious effect). In game, the player could give Mythral money and he would, sometimes, shout out "Amaag!" and that would be that. As far as we could, tell the “amaag” never did anything, expect once lowered a knight's stat for one of us. So we concluded that Mythral was useless and the “amaag” was just his way of saying “begone”, or something.

As far as I can tell, no-one ever made the connection between Moonstone the game and the moonstone quest in MoC. Well, no-one besides, my brother who also played BoA. I remember sometime after I’d first released the scenario, I got an email from my brother which said something like “I just got to Tampere. I lolled. Myrthral the Myst? Freaking hilarious!” So yeah, mission accomplished and that’s why Tampere and the Moonstone quest are the way they are.

 

Edited by Smoo

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Yeah, I figured that the reason I was finding so little coin and sellers was because of the whole barter economy thing.  As well as a few other things.  However I believe I had checked the inkeeper and he didn't actually have a "I have stuff to sell you" option at the start, which lost me.  I must have been hidden or something.

 

Either way, this episode I find someone to sell stuff to this episode.

 

https://youtu.be/dJHU_rQtUJw

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7 hours ago, Chessrook44 said:

However I believe I had checked the inkeeper and he didn't actually have a "I have stuff to sell you" option at the start, which lost me.  I must have been hidden or something.

This is not what happened. In Episode 379, at about 27:50, you sold things to the innkeeper when you first talked to him. You just forgot about that later.

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16 hours ago, Kelandon said:

This is not what happened. In Episode 379, at about 27:50, you sold things to the innkeeper when you first talked to him. You just forgot about that later.

Yeah, originally.  But I was referring to when I thought I looked at him later on during my frantic searching.

 

We're approaching the end of our explorations of civilized areas, so let's explore the last of it.

 

https://youtu.be/Pl7T3oZMd-U

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5 hours ago, Chessrook44 said:

Yeah, originally.  But I was referring to when I thought I looked at him later on during my frantic searching.

The option to sell to him was never "hidden." It was always there. You just forgot about it.

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