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Enemy at the Gates



Author: Metatron

Recommended Levels: 5-10

Version number: 1.0.0



Composite Score: 3.6/5.0


Best: 0.00% (0/5)

Good: 60.00% (3/5)

Average: 40.00% (2/5)

Substandard: 0.00% (0/5)

Poor: 0.00% (0/5)





Keywords: Beginner, Designer-specific Universe, Linear, Short

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

You play mercenaries that are helping the kingdom of Megiddo in what quickly turns into a time of crisis.


The Good

First off, a very strong effort from a newbie designer. At several points throughout the scenario, I asked myself "This is a first scenario?" (not out loud, obviously, but still).


Alright, now onto what actually matters. With the plot, we've got something fairly strong and original, if not overly inspired. The plot is fairly simple: track down some unusual sightings on the Megiddo-barbarian border. And it quickly delves into political intrigue.


And fighting. Can't forget the fighting, after all. Each fight tends to take on an epic air, even versus wolves. Each one tends to be difficult and unique, with enemies that are pretty well-balanced. People who enjoy combat will find no shortage here.


Visually, the scenario is fairly decent. Of particular note was the effective use of heights. And while the rest was somewhat forgettable, it was pretty nonetheless. Towns were mostly well-designed and visually appealing.


Also of note is the scripting. Of particular note is how it segues to dialogue after two different fights, and the special abilities of some monsters during the fights. And it seems to be bug-free* to boot.


The two side-dungeons were good too, and were nice to romp around in to finish off the scenario.


(*This assumes that the dialogue-segue errors are removed. This is also why the review's version number is 1.? until further notice)


The Neutral

Pacing could use some work. One minute, we're on a scouting mission, the next, we're showing down with the main villain. It just seems to suddenly shift from getting some of the smaller pieces of the puzzle to having the big picture smashed over your head. It works, but it seems odd.


Also, it seemed to favor massive battles a bit much. Or, in the words of myself in the first fight, "OH DEAR LORD THOSE WOLVES ARE EVERYWHERE GET THEM OFF GET THEM OFF!!!" Nothing overly troubling, but it's a bit disconcerting to get a kill count of around 150 in this short a scenario.


The design of the main town is... interesting. On one hand, it was quite enjoyable to explore, and was truly unique. On the other, it also was extremely easy to get lost in it, and some of the decisions made in its design are... odd.


The Bad

You know what this scenario has more of than enemies? EXPOSITION. Any character that has ANY relevance to the plot at all WILL spout six paragraphs of text at-a-time. Which is a pity, because the dialogue is pretty good otherwise. Furthermore, irrelevant characters tend to have next-to-none. Which is especially jarring when you're talking to none other than the King of Megiddo.


But that's not the end of it. There's many times where dialog boxes consist of six-to-seven paragraph dissertations on a subject. When it comes to dialog, less is sometimes more. This scenario is living proof of it.


Also, loot balance. Mind, the quest rewards were fine, but the thing is, with all the enemies that get killed, a LOT of loot is dropped. As in, enough to make a party of that level obscenely rich.


The Verdict - [rating]GOOD[/rating]

You might want to pass if you're really not into combat, but otherwise, play it. You won't regret it.



It was mentioned in the readme that this scenario drew some inspiration from TM. Frankly, I didn't see that much of it... until I saw the line, "Where you thought there was a simple garden, there is actually TREACHERY." flash across my screen, at which point I thought "Oh, there it is." graemlins/tongueold.gif


TM aside, this was an incredible first-effort. I definitely liked the massive battles, but in the future, would prefer them to be limited and put to better use. Fighting against hordes of Hunan Barbarians or the Megiddo army would be an awesome use of this. Wolves, spiders, and bats? Not so much.


Also, town design. While Megiddo tower was certainly unique, it also was extremely restrictive and inefficient. Might be something to improve on in future scenarios. Dungeon design was good, though.

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Enemy at the gates is a strongly story-driven scenario, set in a small kingdom complete with a richly-imagined history, political intrigue, and even a plausible basis for the economy. Although not set in the Avernum Universe, it still casts your party as adventurers and outsiders, without imposing any other role or ideology.


The main plot is fast-paced and essentially linear; you are told exactly where to go and what to do each step of the way. You do have some freedom to roam, which allows you to do a perfunctory side quest and explore an optional area that offers a little more than basic hack and slash.


Custom graphics, custom creatures, lots of scripting, all of which seem to work the way they're meant to (in v1.0.1). This is an outstanding first effort.


The design of the main town is unlike anything we've seen before. It's a bit odd to see massive stone pillars inside a wooden structure, but who am I to criticize Megiddan architecture? And I would like to thank the designer for making all locks pickable, even though there's nothing much worth stealing. It irks me when all the locks are set to 200 for no apparent reason. A great deal of thought and care went into the appearance and function of the town; it's a pity there's so little for us to do in it.


It would have been nice if the priest had sold spell levels; likewise one of the many sage types could have offered mage spells. If the scenario were much larger, the inability to buy missiles or much of anything else might be problematic. As it is, these are minor quibbles.


I would like to see more branching dialogue with the main characters--that would help break up the large blocks of text, and make it feel more conversational. Also more fleshed-out dialogue with minor characters.


Loot is appropriately modest. It's true that there are lots of kills with drops, but I can't be bothered picking up and selling large quantities of low-value, unstackable items. A couple of collection "quests" will net you a little change, as well. There is one artifact, but it's more quirky than valuable. The optional area is a little more lucrative, as it should be.


Combat is on the epic side, which I actually enjoyed, especially as I never felt particularly endangered. I think I detected a slight TM influence in General Seth's unusual ability. I wasn't sure whether to be relieved or disappointed that my party never got to take him on. Maybe next time.


Speaking of next time, the mysteries and teasers in this scenario definitely left me wanting more. Hopefully the sequel will have more in it, but I'm not inclined to complain too much about a debut scenario of this quality. Play it.


Rating: [rating]Good[/rating]

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A nice, if a bit short scenario, with a lot of sequel potential, good combat and interesting scripting.


The town design is a bit atypical, which is not bad at all. Combining vahnatai and wooden walls is not seen often. The university was a bit cramped, though. A hidden message perhaps? There is a lot of unused space, the bane of headbutters.


The characters were a mixed bag. The ones that drive the plot were reasonably fleshed out, but everyone else seemed a bit flat. Deadeye was amusing and useful, even though he didn’t tag along nearly as much as I’d have liked.


Combat. I entered this scenario with a level 6 party, which is above the recommended. Thus combat was pretty easy, which I guess would make it balanced for a 1-5 lvl party. The sub-quest dungeons were nice and the harpies even challenging. The wolf battle was also good, especially due to good town design that restricted line of sight. As for general Seth, he didn’t seem like he needed an army at all. He is able to kill everything on his own XD


Compared to that, the ‘final’ battle was a bit underwhelming. Not difficulty-wise, that was great, but more like scope-wise. I felt it lacked the epic feel that is a norm for the rest of this scenario.


"Where you thought there was a simple garden, there is actually TREACHERY.” Loved this line.


Loot was so-so. Perhaps I missed staff, but the noteworthy for me were a bolt of fire level, a not-helmet alchemy booster, some magic crystals and a bunch of highly priced energy potions.


Play it. Enjoyable and will leave you wanting more.


Rating: [rating]Good[/rating].

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  • 1 month later...

Either a lot of work was put into the backstory and lore or it's just an illusion. Either way, that's a good thing.


Grammar and vocabulary could have been stronger, but the writing felt stylized. I'm not sure if this was intentional, but it's a good thing none-the-less. This probably should have been cleaned up a little before being released.


The story is a little contrived. I'm just not convinced that a race of warriors could be so easily persuaded to put their entire nation at risk over a rumor. Why should they trust an enemy? I have a hard time believing anyone is that stupid, but maybe I really am supposed to believe that the Hunan are a bunch of idiotic savages. And here I was feeling sorry for them.


I enjoyed watching General Seth fight so much that I simply let him kill the enemies for me. The scenario should be renamed General Seth's Smooth Moves.


Chasing after the Lady was a well-executed sequence, though the version I played had a few game breaking bugs. Her motives were clear, but I hated leaving the scenario on a question mark. Scenarios that feel large should be large, and I think there was some missing potential there for a stronger ending.


I've looked back at some of my original scenarios, and I've got to say that this is very good for a first scenario. You obviously knew what you were going for and it shows. Despite that, it still needed some more polish. [rating]AVERAGE[/rating]

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The short version: Play it, it's fun. [rating]Average[/rating]


The long version: New scenario by a new designer... always good! Even better, new scenario by a new designer who's paying attention to detail.


As others have said, the scenario is strongly story-based, which is good, particularly when it's a brand-new setting. The downside is that in the beginning, you are kind of crushed by weighty exposition. Like, crushed. There's a lot to pick up on very quickly, and a lot of names, some of which become largely irrelevant very quickly. But with that said, the story is quite good, maintaining a healthy balance of intrigue and hack'n'slash.


The towns are... well, I don't like them very much. The main tower is just laid out in a very counter-intuitive fashion, with lots of locked gates that can make getting around annoying. There's only one entrance, too, which is kind of odd. The cave you visit has a lot of rough edges, and the forest has a few poorly-placed tall trees that can make combat rather iffy. The outdoors are pretty enough, at least.


Combat is mostly of the "waves and waves of similar enemies" variety, until you get to the very late game. The fight in the cave was kind of dull, and easy due to the monsters fighting each other. However, I enjoyed the wolf fight because it actually got my level 6 party worrying about getting surrounded. The Hunan were largely easy, though General Seth didn't actually help that much (unless I missed something, he never actually hit anything, just jumped around in a vaguely annoying manner).


The final fight, I might add, has a very odd bug... and basically, the takeaway lesson from it is to just not start dialogue from a creature's DEAD_STATE, because it leads to odd behavior when missiles kill it (no idea why). Hear that, designers? Don't do that!


So yeah. My party showed up, did some stuff, gained a bunch of levels, and it was fun. It's a good first effort, and the loose ends intrigued me enough that I'd like to see a sequel. Still, as ES said above me, it could use some more polish. Average.


EDIT: Almost forgot... this is the best line in the entire scenario: "Where you thought there was a simple garden, there is actually TREACHERY."

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