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Destiny


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ALCRITAS

 

Destiny, by Robert Ashton (Tiddlyflop AT aol DOT com), winner of Best Small Scenario in the Third Scenario Design Contest, begins with your group — a novice band of adventurers, being assigned the task of delivering the annual tax collection to the local lord. The scenario takes several rapid turns after that, plunging the party into a seemingly unrelated series of increasingly cryptic events.

 

The scenario eventually breaks down into four parts — some early meandering around your home town and a neighboring village, a voyage across the seas to get to the local lord, an exploration of the lord’s land, and a fairly strange segue to what the scenario refers to as your ‘Destiny’. (Hence the name, one would suppose).

 

It is unfortunate that, with the exception of some early foreshadowing in the scenario, very little is revealed as to what exactly is happening, or why, until the traditional bad guy’s lament of, “Here’s why I did it... And I would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for you pesky kids!” This lack of plot construction is especially troubling given the theme of the scenario — notably that your party has embarked on a monumental and fated quest, with immense ramifications.

 

Beyond the lack of mid-scenario plot development, however, Destiny plays out fairly well. A short scenario, each of the successive stages varies nicely on previous ones, giving the scenario a fair amount of flexibility and diversity for its size. The ship sequence is quiet nicely done, and the exploration of the ruined city is also quite interesting. Figuring out what to do next is perhaps a bit vague, but it never rises to the level of a headache, as simply exploring everywhere within your power will eventually reveal all necessary secrets.

 

Technically, the scenario is a bit rough around the edges. Thankfully, there were no fatal glitches. However, glitches did impair scenario aesthetics on several levels — the most notable being the many dialogue nodes with no picture specified (leaving the basic cave terrain as the only visual accompaniment).

 

The scenario does include a fairly interesting “Ring of Recall”, which enables the party to summon a friendly merchant to wherever they are. However, this innovation isn’t put to particularly great use, as the item is granted late in the scenario, and there is very little additional shopping/selling that will need to be done by the time the item is acquired.

 

Finally, the ending of the scenario itself felt far too abrupt. Given the scenario’s length, I was more expecting a “To be continued...” rather than the abbreviated conclusion I did get. Furthermore, given the ending’s two pronged choice, I was a bit disappointed by the reprimand my party received when I explored one of the possible conclusions. I’m not quite sure where it came from (the author does not inject his opinion elsewhere), and why it is necessarily true. Contained within the overall dynamic of the scenario, I frankly felt it inappropriate.

 

All said, however, Destiny is quite a fun little scenario. It is designed for low level parties, and is rated PG.

 

My score: Good

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BOOTS

 

Average

 

An incoherent plot combined with ruthlessly linear game-play: all to dispense a coarse bit of irony along the lines genre fiction writers enjoy. It might then have worked, or at least had a recognizable effect, as a short story (maybe Alcritas made this point in his review? I can't remember). But as a scenario, it tends to play like spending a day at How To Be A Good Little Capitalist Camp -- something worth noting since TM takes a fair helping of abuse for trafficking in the other brand of re-education scenario. It's also worth noting, I guess, because a major special item in the scenario is purported to summon upon command an omnipresent representative of the globalized marketplace. What does it mean that I never managed to find him?

 

As for the ending: well, in something like the immortal words of John Waters' turn on The Simpsons, "That's great, Homer. Now if every gay man in America could just save the life of one straight man, all our problems would be solved."

 

In any event, the sermon-for-a-plot aside, Destiny is a well-designed, fast-paced small scenario. Sharp dialog, diverting details, a few elegantly nasty fights -- particularly for a beginner party -- and an interesting place or two. A fine way to pass an hour or so. Just don't expect to make any meaningful decisions (odd, since its whole lesson appears to insist that the opposite is the case . . . oh well, as TM would tell us, such is the inevitably self-canceling logic of bourgeois antinomies).

 

TM: Alexandria has it.

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TERROR'S MARTYR

 

This scenario is morally repulsive. It's not politically biased like Bandits or Two Strands, it's outright morally repulsive. A hint in advance- this scenario outright calls you a coward for not killing a mother and her child in cold blood, and rewards you with 100 EXP if you do. This is, of course, because the child will turn into a demon and kill people- taught to you by a "magic pool of capitalism". From the very beginning, the capitalist propaganda is just piled onto you. An example- the party lives in Utopiasia, a land with little taxes. (EDIT: The author spelled "Yenom" as "Venom" at the entrance to one of the diety's temples. Needless to say, this sent my interpretation off-track quite a bit.) The final boss is an invulnerable Vampire who is guarding the two pools of knowledge and the way to achieve what you want. When you slay Sociali-- err, I mean the Vampire, he dies in peace because what he was doing was wrong. It seems to practice pre-determinism, which is well and good, but it does it in all of the wrong ways- namely, presenting the party's "Destiny" by having the party do things that anyone with a conscience would steer away from. If Two Strands lays down heavy propaganda, at least it has some degree of realism and dare I say moderation in it (for reference, try killing only the Lucrists in the final fight!). This scenario does nothing but lay down right-wing propaganda from beginning to end. "You feel good about doing a task and getting a reward for it, don't you boy? Sit, heel, beat the reds with a pointy implement. GOOD boy!" I'm surprised that by NOT killing the child, I wasn't smitten by God. If I ever play this scenario again, it will be with a God Party brought in with the explicit purpose of killing everything that moves in this justice-forsaken land. The read me indicates that there is something to learn from this scenario.

 

To call this scenario "Reaganomics on crack" would be an insult to Reaganomics. And crack.

 

Aside from the plot which I personally would see burned alive, this scenario doesn't really offer anything new. Certain things were done oddly, and it was way too easy to lose aside from dying in combat (I counted three times total in one playthrough)- perhaps this is to help instill notions of conservative jump-or-die politics? Town design was nothing BUT spotty the whole ride through while including such classic errors as placing cave walkways on grass and vice-versa, and there really was no dialogue that didn't serve to further the propaganda. Secret passages were relied on a little too much, and combat was vicious but uninspired. The final dungeon had a neat moment or too- being able to climb/jump off of walkways was nice- but they were too far and few between, and the incessant combat combined with the lack of direction, possibilities for getting trapped outright, spotty town design, etc... You get the idea. I really WANTED to quit towards the end, but I thought, "ya know what? There might be something redeeming to this scenario." I guess that's just because I'm a crazy, dreaming Communist whacko.

 

Final Comment- May Modeerf (Spell it backwards) be with you? Good god.

 

SUBSTANDARD

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MILU K

 

Average

 

I would have liked this scenario very much without certain things regarding the plot..

 

I like secret door finding and the various nice little details that this scenario had everywhere. Moreover, it had an interesting atmosphere and nice unique ideas, like the ship and the merchant that could be summoned. There were some minor rough points, like cave floor dialogue graphics where they shouldn't have been, here and there. And a few of the fights were too difficult for my fresh party.

 

I had to use the walkthrough sometimes but it helped enough, so that's nothing negative (in my opinion).

 

The symbolism, and especially the sermon - as I saw it - was irritating to me. (I've played 3 of TM's scenarios and I didn't get their endings, so I can't compare them to this. Not that it's absolutely essential...)

 

I strongly disagreed with the final ending, and the text response that I got results in a minus in my score.

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Wow, first review in over a year...

 

The town and outdoor design seemed as if it was hurriedly done. Mountains weren't connected, towns were just plain sloppy. Plot seemed confusing. I liked how bats could fly through the windows on the upper level, and the many different stairways in the castle. Scrambled names didn't really work for me.

 

The ride seemed rather enjoyable, but I got frustrated at the end. I killed a Vampire, and got my Wooden Box of Ra stripped, only to find out I needed it later! I was forced to resort to editing the scenario to play forward!

 

Overall, worth playing, but probably not more than once.

 

Average

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