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The Nature of Evil

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Most Blades fans know three scenarios of Measle — the truly great and hilarious Farmhands Save the Day!!, the competent The Magic Flute, and the abhorrent Johnny Favourite. Unbeknownst to many, however, Measle has designed a fourth scenario — The Nature of Evil.


A very short demo of The Nature of Evil was released for the Second Scenario Design Contest, but what most people don’t know is that Measle finished a working beta version shortly thereafter. I was fortunate enough to be one of the beta testers, and, being the only tester to provide any meaningful feedback, I was the only tester to get the last beta version.


As fate would have it, Measle decided he wanted to fix-up the ending, but ran out of time, being called away to the outback to teach people how to slide down snowy mountains at high rates of speed without killing themselves. Measle never fixed up the scenario, never released it to Spiderweb, and, when arealcity hosting services died, the scenario was lost to the public. It very well may be the case that the only people currently with a copy of this work are myself and the Measled one.


It’s been several years, and I don’t think Measle is going to add anything to the scenario anytime soon, and so I’m going to review the copy I have. “But Alcritas,” you might say, “Is it fair to review a scenario the designer didn’t release? Isn’t that like reviewing a work in progress? It’s bound to be not polished, not therefore not particularly good.”


“Bollocks!” I reply. Measle released Johnny Favourite, which, while I acknowledge some people enjoy, I personally consider a disgrace to his talents and abilities. Measle released The Magic Flute, which while competent, isn’t nearly as good as Nature. But discard that, relative comparisons don’t matter. What does matter is that The Nature of Evil is a very good, if not great, scenario. It might not be quite as good as Measle’s debut, but it’s certainly close.


The Nature of Evil is, without a doubt, the best scenario never released.


Nature tells an interesting tale — your party is from the perfect world, where there’s no evil, no crime, no problems. Great, right? “Not so fast, my friend!” As Lee Corso might say. Your perfect world got that way by “exporting” all its evil to a parallel world, turning that world into a living nightmare. Your party quickly becomes required to destroy the magic artifact transferring all the evil, and thus restore cosmic balance between the two worlds.


Nature’s theme is a kind of middle ground between the purely comedic Farmhands. and the purely sick Johhny Fave, and it works very very well. Brutal images are transposed on comedic elements — a snotty, slacker adolescent teenage, complete with skin mags hidden in his closest, murders his father. When informed of her son’s misdeeds, the mother comments that discipline is needed, and begins sharpening a large butcher knife.


Nowhere is this contrast more evident than when, midway through Nature, your party runs up against its mirror image from the “evil” dimension, teaming up with them to help restore cosmic balance to both worlds. Measle has a lot of self-referential fun here — my personal favorite being the constant fun poked at the gender ambiguous Jenneke. But there’s also a lot of darkness here — death is in the air for many from the other team, and not all of them may be what they scene. One particularly brutal sequence places a member of your party into forced combat with a friend, with tragic results.


Pretty dark stuff, but, unlike Fave, it serves a purpose of advancing the storyline, and underscoring exactly what’s at stake in your mission. The comedic element nicely gives a bit of levity to the player, but doesn’t remove it from the scenario. Your party’s in a dark place, but it doesn’t transcend to you — you’ll enjoy playing the scenario. To be sure, there are plenty of adult themes — this scenario should be rated “R” — but there was nothing I found objectionable.


Gameplay varies. Measle throws a dozen or so illogic puzzles at you, with a figleaf justification. Some are pretty cool, some are very tedious. Let’s face it — “Are there any barrels?” is a pretty pathetic special node, and it’s hard to make an interesting puzzle with it. Some puzzles require sound (just in case you don’t play with it) and others require multiple PCs (just in case you only play with one).


But just as there are poor sequences, there are exceptional sequences as well. The exploding eyes are nice, the cheeseburger quest (trust me) is hilarious, and the entire section covering the two giant beholder beasts is superbly done. Even better, near the end of the scenario, the quest branches into three separate paths, giving the party the appropriate level of choice, and connecting the player to the quest at hand.


The Nature of Evil is a great scenario. Here’s hoping Measle will release it so more people can play it.


My score - Good

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Best Scenario Never Released


Well, this may not be true, but it's damned good and you aught to play it if you ever get the chance. I don't see the point in rating a scenario that can't be played, but it's still a quality work that should be recognized among those who have had a chance to do so.



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