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The Orb of Hayune

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A mixed bag.


The plot was good, as long as you didn't get too critical about incidents like, "Yes, I have the information that I know you need to prevent the time-sensitive plot to destroy the kingdom -- but first won't you run me a couple errands, hmmm?" Otherwise the plot kept moving at an agreeable and enjoyable pace, as long as that pace wasn't stalled by a higher level magically locked door. Homages to other fantasy sources were handled discretely, except perhaps for the Librarian.


The ending, however, was especially nice. Most of the towns changed so you could see the fallout caused by your quest. This was an excellent touch.


Town dialogues suffered from design fatigue, as the initial town had creative, deep, well written dialogues. As you went to towns further north, dialogue got sparser and rarer, until at the end you visited towns nearly empty of people, or towns where people didn't talk at all and were identified by their signs or message nodes. In a fit of possibly intentional irony, the most incomplete town was a town that was literally under construction.


The main dungeon had two serious flaws. One was that many of the open-the-next-gate/passage nodes would only trigger once, so if you went back a screen you could no longer progress forwards and had to dig up an earlier save. The other was a required riddle with a vaguely-written clue that could be answered byany one of dozens of possible permutations of answer syntax. The actual dungeon designs ranged from serviceable to decent. The same applies to the other puzzles.


There were far too many outdoors wandering monsters. Whacking day gets really tedious after the 30th time of fighting 20 mixed serpents and asps, even after buying Firestorm to speed up matters. Otherwise, combat balance was very nice assuming you started with a L1-L5 party.


Taken as a whole, the treasure balance was good (save the gratuitous 25 skill point/party member end game bonus), but it had a huge standard deviation. In the early stages of the game, the only way to raise cash was through robbing towns blind. Most of the money in the second half came from selling three 99 charge Bless Party stones, valued at 9500 each. Some magic items like necklaces and rings were over-plentiful and over-powered; while armor was stingy. Only one town out of the ten or so sold armor or weapons, so one of my characters didn't actually have a club/weapon till fourth level.


Decent plot. Decent setting. Cool ending.



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Although an overall good scenario, Orb of Hauyne does suffer from one or two non-bugs (I say non-bugs because they aren’t bugs in the strictest sense of the word... and I don’t mean insects).


Firstly, the excessive amount of outdoor encounters. Once, while crossing an otherwise reasonably boring outdoor section, I got attacked roughly once every four or five steps — by a myriad of bears, wolves, and snakes. Now, when I put in outdoor wandering monsters, I try to make them relevant to the problems the area is experiencing. I’m not saying my way is better, though I suspect it is. And when I do put them in, I do my best to provide a way of getting rid of them. In Orb of Hauyne there is no way to do this.


Secondly, a problem with some of the creatures — specifically, adventurers in Kvanti. Whilst wandering around there, I saw that they didn’t have magical resistance. ‘Cool!’ I thought to myself, and Captured a soul without hesitation. Thereafter, all I needed to do for the very last and supposedly most difficult fights was summon a few of those guys, and no more problem!


Hopefully, both these will be fixed in the next release.


On to other parts of the scenario, though. The plot is somewhat pedestrian, but there is nothing inherently wrong with it, except the fact that it’s a bit epic-ish. Not that there’s anything wrong with epics, just for some reason I don’t like that sort of storyline — well, I tell a lie, when a game is meant to have an epic sort of storyline and it’s been done before, THEN it sort of gets to me. But the plot was OK in Orb of Hauyne.


Creatures, on the whole, were well thought out (except for adventurer). Dialog was well-written, and the characters in the scenario seem reasonably talkative. Custom graphics were VERY good, and since I haven’t found them in any archives, I’ll have to assume Juliet made them herself.


Towns were very tightly packed. In some ways, this was good, in some ways, bad. For example, in one of the towns I got a sort of ‘alley’ feeling no matter where I was. This would be good if used in SOME parts of the towns; in this one, it was everywhere. This was not always the case. In the capital, it has a very good balance of wider and closer streets.


The number of friendly towns in Orb of Hauyne, to be frank, impressed me. The author obviously went to a lot of trouble to design a lot of towns. A good effort — although I didn’t visit all of them. Orb of Hauyne isn’t short of side quests — that is quite a strong point. Sometimes, while pursuing the main quest, you will find a necessary item for a side quest.


Overall, a good scenario — I recommend it, but there are better ones. Orb of Hauyne is rated G (I think!) and is for Medium level parties. I give it Good

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