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Shades of Gray



Author: Ephesos

Levels: 20-25

Version: 1.1.2 (3-2-10)



Composite Score: 4.2/5.0


Best: 25.00% (3/12)

Good: 66.67% (8/12)

Average: 8.33% (1/12)

Substandard: 0.00% (0/12)

Poor: 0.00% (0/12)





Keywords: Avernum Universe, Multiple Endings, Cutscene Heavy, Short

Edited by SylaeBot
Automated Sybot edit; worker IPB::csrThread/vanadium
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  • 2 weeks later...

This was a good scenario. It had an interesting plot. Ghosts have been lurking around the Cathedral. I liked it.


The graphics were very pretty to look at. The blue floors and walls were really nice. I loved the design of the Cathedral. The Empire ghosts had some nice graphics too.


I liked the Catacombs under the Cathedral, it gave me a sense of what was going to happen if I didn't make it out in time.


The Combat was not hard at all, probably because of the party level I was at when I started playing.


There was some nifty scripting. I liked how the ghost archers could fire icy arrows, and then there was a ghost that had some interesting properties added to his halberd. The best part was how the ghosts came to life. You could actually see the spirits rise from the bodies. That was really cool.


Now the ending, I really didn't get. Why would I be arrested for clearing out a temple's ghost problem?

This part could have used some more explanations.


Overall, this scenario is very cool. Awesome graphics, good combat, nice town/dungeon design, and a pretty interesting plot. Just the ending may have needed further explaining. It was still very fun though.


Rating: [rating]Best[/rating]

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  • 2 weeks later...

Shades of Gray is pretty, but that is to be expected since the designer's name is Ephesos. Moving on.


SoG takes place mostly inside a cathedral which means that it is not that long. The starter town was pretty pointless story-wise, but enjoyable. All in all the atmosphere wasn't as spooky as it could have been, but then again I'm not a big fan of ghost stories to begin with. Since the scenario is a ghost story, the enemies are all undead. The enemies are all custom made for SoG which is always nice. I'll give bonus points for the nifty rising ghosts cut scene and for the dialog with it's little unnecessary tricks. Like when you talked to an NPC then you could ask another NPC about the same things (and it was never plot critical).


The premise is to go to a cathedral and deal with a pest problem. What pest problem? A bunch of dead Empire soldiers from the Avernum-Empire war. Gee willickers, how did they die? In a very kewl (<- Yes, I am an idiot.) way. Must they all die (again)? No, but it is an option. The only option that I've tried actually (I really ought to replay this). Nonetheless, I like it when there are alternative endings. So bonus points here.


I entered Shades of Gray with a party that the HLPM had deemed to be level 17. I had no troubles fighting the undead of the cathedral but the archers were dangerous enough so I didn't get too cocky. Basically the combat was pretty fun, most of the fun coming from finding and killing the ghosts in the cathedral.


I'm spoiling the ending here, so beware.


Click to reveal..



The ending went a bit over my head. Mainly because I didn't see any reason for my arresting and when the end dialog rolls in and I'm supposedly cleared from all charges, no-one bothers to tell me what the charges were in the first place. Maybe the other ending is more clear or maybe that's just the Empire justice system for you.




Final verdict: [rating]Good[/rating]

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  • 2 weeks later...

Get a bunch of undead with an actual back story (what a novel idea!), stick them in a jaw-droppingly gorgeous cathedral, and give them some cool creature scripts (I loved the soldier throwing his sword at you). Add multiple endings, good dialogue (heck good writing throughout) and what do you get? Yes, Ephesos’ third scenario, and a hour well spent.


Yes, this thing is typical Ephesos – competent writing, amazing aesthetics, and a tight plot, all bundled together to make a great scenario - all of which means you should play this scenario.


There are a couple of issues – the “arrest” ending immediately springs to mind, and I feel that the first “filler” town could easily have been dropped without any real effect on the scenario, but it’s all very minor stuff which doesn't really detract from the good stuff.


Rating: [rating]Good[/rating].

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  • 4 months later...

I just replayed this and finally tried the "alternate" ending--on reflection, I think it's actually the preferred ending. I preferred it, anyway. It's a bit ironic that you have to kill most of the ghosts in order to save them, but satisfactory in that you still get cool ghostly loot. Most especially the halberd--probably the best polearm this side of Bahssikava.


This scenario is beautiful to look at from beginning to end. Others have raved about it at length, so I'll just say my favourite things were the stained glass window and the view from the second floor galleries.


The starting town has adequate shops, providing for all the basic needs of the adventurer.


The plot is tight and detailed, with no loose ends. Your actions have logical consequences. Example (without getting too spoilerish): fulfilling one particular quest causes an NPC to take an action which has a real effect on what you can do thereafter. Then you can follow up and see how it worked out for him. eek.gif


The arrest ending is a little jarring, but the other one makes up for it, I think.


Dialogue is well-written and believable, with lots of individualism and character even for minor NPCs. Then there's the combat, which is challenging without being impossible, with all kinds of cool tricks that you probably have to be a designer to fully appreciate. But I enjoyed them too.


In short, this is one of the best short scenarios out there.


Rating: [rating]BEST[/rating]

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  • 4 months later...

Shades of Gray is an interesting scenario, which takes place in a temple, where there are two paths you can play, although one does take a bit more effort to find. As per usual, it is very pretty to look at. The plot was pretty basic (clear a temple of ghosts). The fights were pretty fun. It was fun, with some interesting twists, but it still seemed like a short dungeon haul, albeit a very clever one. The end of the main path also need explanation. Yes, it's given in the other path, but if I'm not playing that path, it should still be explained.


Note that it's been a while since I've played this scenario so I may be foggy on some details.


I rate this scenario [rating]Average[/rating].

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  • 1 year later...

From Thralni on the CSR:



I opened up the scenario, and read the introduction. When I read the name Barton, my stomach sort of contracted, and I'm very curious if Ephesos go that name from my second scenario, yet at the moment incomplete scenario, TNS, where the starter town is called "Upper Barton."


Anyway, not going to start judging the scenario for town names.


It was pretty, but I thought other scenarios by Ephesos might have been prettier. To be honest, I liked the view over the roofs at the upper floors of the cathedral, but I wasn't really stunned. Maybe I'm getting spoiled...


Combat was, well, hardish. I had a problem with defeating all the ghosts when trying to climb up the south spire to place the crystal, but after two or three reloads I beat them fairly easily (god bless invulnerability potions). The items these ghosts give are very nice, and I wonder if they are not slightly overpowered: a level 23-ish party with boots, shields and god knows what that almost all of them reduce melee damage? I'm not complaining, just wondering.


The plot was actually, to summarize, we have a plague, do something about it. It was better than the Avernum 3 plagues, but it's the same principal.


There were some very nice ideas, like the way Ephesos made the stairs in the cathedral. I was a bit disappointed about the garden, though. From the outdoors it looked a lot nicer than in the town itself. And I didn't understand the end. I got arrested, but I don't know for what... Eph could have just let me walk out of the scenario, and I wouldn't have had this weird felling of "did I miss something?" Also, the mage ghost at the fight I mentioned earlier, mutters some syllables before he finally fades away, but I have no clue about what they were for. All in all, nice touches, but some loose ends too.



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From Micawber on the CSR:


The balance of plot and combat is just right for a short scenario (although you do need to go in with a high level party or the ice fields will kill you) and the whole thing takes about an hour to run through. Most of which I spent gawping at the pretty cathedral and its grounds. In fact it's not just pretty, the cathedral is really beautiful.


Regarding the plot, personally I liked the Avernum 2 tie-in, although it might not be to everyone's taste. Just 2 minor observations. (i) I decided not to free the ghosts. After I repaired the machine, it wasn't 100% clear that the scenario was over. Maybe you could add a dialogue option for Father Richardson, like "do you need me to do anything else?" "go home, your work here is done". (ii) The Dervish doesn't give any reason for arresting you, I only found out why by reading the scripts. Perhaps you could add a tiny bit more explanation to this ending? I would have been more satisfied if there had been a little text like "The indictment is a trumped up charge, clearly a cover for your real, unspoken offence. The Dervish must have objected to your actions for reasons which he's not prepared to reveal..." Just my opinion.



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From TM on the CSR:


It's impeccably beautiful. And so if the plot is nothing special and gameplay isn't outrageously good, it's all forgivable: It's impeccably beautiful.


Don't get me wrong-- the ghosts put up a decent fight, and there's some decently scripted stuff. But Jesus F. Christ; it's Ephesos doing graphics at his finest in a condensed scenario whose raison d'etre is strutting his stuff.


Anyway, just play it.



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From Lazarus on the CSR:


Another good looking scenario by Ephesos-- it seems each scenario is better than the last.


But we already knew it was going to look great. Indeed, just about everything you'd expect from an Eph scenario is here; string manipulation, packed with details, looks great, and...... undead? Anyway, undead aside this felt like any other of Eph's scenarios (EoR especially) which isn't a bad thing. One distinguishing feature is that this time Eph broke out the custom creature scripts to put a bit more emphasis on combat, and I really liked the result.


Kept me interested all the way through. Good puzzle-combat that avoided the monotonous hack-n-slash, a unique plot, and even alternate endings. It's Eph's best scenario thusfar, but in the end I have a hard time saying it's significantly superior to EoR. It's better, but they're both so short and in such a similar style that it's hard to say SoG was a lot better. Soooooo......



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From Nioca on the CSR:



It seemed like an excellent scenario, but... well, I liked the combat, and it looked good as usual. However, undead done right? I'm not so sure. It's just a bunch of ghosts in a cathedral, not an actual undead infestation like most people would think of it. Also, the snipers were a little overpowered, in my opinion. Without the Zenbu No Yorri from Mad Ambition, I wouldn't have stood a chance against their ice arrows. However, I definitely carried and either used or sold most of their ghostly equipment, which was nice. I mean, who doesn't like heavy-duty armor and weaponry that weighs nothing and adds nothing to encumbrance?


Oddly enough, though I entered with a singleton who was two levels below the minimum recommendation, he only gained one level from the scenario.


Good work, as per usual.



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From Excalibur on SV:


Shades of Gray


Note: I had a dire problem with the graphics, and neither me and Ephesos know why. So the following is with that taken out of consideration.


Combat - Best - It was very cool. The creatures were balanced and their ammunition was awesome.


Visual design - Best - Again, I had a bug with the graphics, but I've seen snapshots. It looked very pretty.


Technical design - Best - Come on, who doesn't like the ghosts and their story?


Writing - Best - Excellent


Story/Plot - Good - I actually think it could have been a bit better


Enjoyability - Best - A very good chance of replay.


Overall - [rating]BEST[/rating] - This scenario is up there with WtRM and ASR.

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