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Treacherous Waters


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MEASLE

 

A word of caution to any budding scenario designers out there about file names for your scenarios. The Blades engine only accepts the first sixteen scenarios in alphabetical order so you have a higher chance of getting your game played if you begin your file’s name with the letter “a” than with “z”. Perhaps this is why Treacherous Waters, which has a file name beginning with a “w”, has been unplayed for so long. I don’t know about you, but my folder tends to get cluttered up with epics that I start and haven’t got around to finishing yet as well as a few of my own works in progress.

 

Treacherous Waters (by dec1910 AT aol DOT com) is a nifty little scenario from the early days of BoE scenario design. All the action takes place on a single piece of outdoor terrain and it has a plot involving two popular themes among early designers: pirates and crazed barnyard animals.

 

It’s everything a first scenario should be, not overly large, not overly ambitious, not overly buggy yet still highly playable. It won’t inspire you to drop your jaw gaping at the grace and artistry of the programmer, it will do something much more important for a young designer, it will inspire you to say, “You know, I could have done that.” And hopefully go out and do it.

 

The plot is fairly linear and it does suffer from a common trap of when you finish one quest you just happen to find the special item that will allow you to start the next. Use of special items is quite good though. One of them is a whetstone that you can use to improve your weapons in combat but if you want to progress, you have to give it up. It’s a judgment call by the player as to when they feel the party is strong enough to not have to use it any more.

 

There’s a few unformatted terrain bits and some bugs that while not earth-shatteringly fatal, can be a little annoying and a few secret passages that you wouldn’t guess at without a magic map spell that are crucial to finishing but the pacing is good and there’s always a surprise in store plotwise.

 

Worth a look. Average

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ROSYCAT

 

..but not, in my opinion, a great one either. It struck me as being a bit tedious. IIRC, there wasn't a very good explanation for the crazy farm animals.The main city had a spectacular layout, who ever said that was right. But the dungeons were.. well, pretty meh. It showed promise, I guess, but I don't think it was that far above average.

 

Substandard

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ORGGG

 

This was a nice, clean, small, well done scenario. The plot made sense, even if it wasn't hugely original. The combat balance was very nice -- I found variety and challenge. The two towns were interesting with hidden surprises, and the dungeons had decent design.

 

The main weakness was in figuring out what to do next. Typically you could only progress at one point, and it wasn't spelled out what said point was. One obscure event/flag you needed to trigger could only be located by putting together the two unrelated and unused mysteries. This scenario could get away with this because it was so small (7 towns/dungeons), and there was only so much you could do, but it was still a shortcoming.

 

Magically locked doors were set at somewhat too high a level. Treasure was usually balanced, with a very few off-kilter spikes like the endgame reward, or a mace so valuable (one-handed 18+6, with 25 Martyr's Shields) that it overflowed the cost field and had a negative price.

 

Short and solid.

 

Average

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JEWELS

 

I was too generous on this scenario when I rated it last. It was fun up to a point (that point being when I couldn't figure out where to go next). The player is not guided well enough. It does, though, make very good use of space. It's a fairly big scenario for only one outdoor section. The towns were well thought out and interesting to explore. If ever I go back and figure out how to finish it I may raise my score back up but for now it will stand at Average

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I don't know how much good this review will do with the current state of the board, but I'll write it anyway.

 

The scenario was on the high end of mediocre. It was fairly enjoyable, but nothing to write home about.

 

I'll list the bad points first. There's a lot of them, but most of them are small and/or overlookable. Combined, they're enough to take the scenario down a few points, but I don't want to give the impression that the scenario wasn't worth playing. The bad points: There were minor bugs (graphical glitches, messages that should be one-shot appearing repeatedly, a blank Special Item that I picked up somewhere, etc.) and one major bug (a special node that gives an essential Special Item only runs once, so if you refuse to take it you presumably can't win), but the scenario is finishable. Locked (including overly-strong magical) doors and hidden doors are used gratuitously. The plot is pretty cliché. The first town's layout is based on Warrior's Grove. The rewards aren't quite Monty Haul (artifacts aside), but they're sometimes still a bit much for a low-level scenario. The value of one of the artifacts was set to 2000 per charge, and with 25 charges, the value goes negative until you use most of the charges. The outdoor wandering monster rate was way too high; at one point I was in a boat near the shore and there were nine groups of wandering monsters waiting for me on the shore, plus more elsewhere on the island. I highly recommend turning on the Make Fewer Wandering Monsters option in Preferences.

 

Now for the good points: While the plot was mediocre, it was at least easy to follow. The dialogue and descriptions themselves are generally quite interesting and enjoyable to read, if sometimes a bit sparse. In spite of the lack of custom graphics, the scenario was visually beautiful, even the first town, which was quite obviously modified from Warrior's Grove. I didn't even notice it until TM pointed it out to me, however, because, although the buildings are in roughly the same places with the same NPC types performing the same services, the map was made a bit more unique and much nicer to look at, and the personalities themselves were totally redone in a very colorful way. I particularly enjoyed talking to the sage that was once Walner but is now Lytton. The main city was wonderful, as well as not being remade from a premade city as far as I can tell. The colorful writing is a big part of what carries this scenario. Also, if you remember to talk to everyone thoroughly (it's not hard, there's not too many talk nodes), unlock doors, look everywhere, and search for hidden doors, it's pretty difficult to get lost. If there's something that doesn't make sense or that you can't figure out at any point, its purpose will become quite clear as you do other things. Something about everything locking together felt refreshing, if a bit "lucky".

 

Another important good point is that it is one of the few BoE scenarios that you can expect to take your party from Beginner level (freshly made) to Medium level (average level 8). I actually went slightly over the line and doubled monster HP.

 

Overall, it was a fun scenario to play.

 

Some general hints I think are useful if you want to enjoy this scenario:

1) The only impassable doors are the ones the scenario specifically tells you can't be opened. This is easy not to notice since the difficulty of the magically locked doors is so high.

2) If you've talked to everyone and done everything and you're still stuck, wallbash.

 

I rate this scenario Average

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