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[AC: NWN1] ILL Met in Lankhmar by Udasu (8/14)

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Berliad
[AC: NWN1] ILL Met in Lankhmar by Udasu (8/14)

Planned Discussion Start Date: 11 August, 2014

Our first Adventurer's Club module for Neverwinter Nights 1 is ILL Met in Lankhmar by Udasu!  This module was nominated by Werelynx:

Game: NWN1

1. ILL Met in Lankhmar by Udasu

2. http://neverwintervault.org/project/nwn1/module/ill-met-lankhmar

3. Pregenerated Fafhrd character fighter1/rogue1

4. About 1 hour

5. Module by Udasu, storydriven, loosely based around Fritz Leiber's epic heroes, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouse. Short for starters to try out how to orient our adventruing gears in this club.

The plan will be to play the module and start the discussion next week.  If you don't get done in time, don't sweat it; chime in whenever you catch up!  Some questions to spur discussion are below.  Feel free to answer all, any, or none of them, and feel free to add your own!

Some Discussion Questions (more specific ones to be added as we play):

  • What did you think were the highlights of the module?
  • What aspects of the module surprised you?  Made you think?
  • How did you find the story overall?
  • What did you think of the atmosphere and ambiance (including visuals, audio, etc)?
  • What did you think of the combat?
  • Did you encounter any bugs?  Or other aspects of the module that could be improved?
  • How well did you think the novel translated into a Neverwinter Nights module?
  • Have you read the original story by Fritz Leiber?  If not, did playing the module make you want to read it?  Why or why not?

Blog | @berliad | Adventurers' Club | Hero's Path Module Lists [NWN1] [NWN2] | FRW Character Creator

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Werelynx

Looks like it's 11th! (In some part of the world :D )

 

    What did you think were the highlights of the module?

  • Story, mood.



    What aspects of the module surprised you?  Made you think?

  • 1.The death of heroes' fiancees. If "we" stayed at home and defended them :/
  • 2.When the thief showed up that we killed in the begining.



    How did you find the story overall?

  • Very good though short :D I would love to see the fiancees resurrected :/ (I could afford at least one scroll!)



    What did you think of the atmosphere and ambiance (including visuals, audio, etc)?

  • Very good. I could smell the Smaug hanging in the city.



    What did you think of the combat?

  • Obviously not the main aspect of the game. Managed to die but that was my fault only (hoarding potions too much). Oh and respawn was free so I haven't reloaded a save.



    Did you encounter any bugs?  Or other aspects of the module that could be improved?

  • I had unfrotunately. (though I know Udasu will fix 'em)

- Typos["what"-who(area no.)]: "sixty-sixty" (might be intentional) &"Loot you Slivikin."&"awak- ened" - Gray Mouser (1); "My dear.?"-Vlana(2); "Prop- erly"&"treble"&"nick - named"&"her- self"&"free- lance"&"Twill"&"pish!  they"-Ivrian(4); "appear- ances"-Gray Mouser(5); "Con- cept"&"prop- erty"&"aristo- crat"-Ivrian(6?); "read"(should be "ready")-Hristomilo desc. (assault)
- in the first are gray mouser disappears all of suden during conv. after defeating 3 brutes and when I turned around 4 thieves (killed previously) were spawned (2 lying on the ground and 2 standing). Strange. Will have to replay to see if it happens again.
- Vlana conv. starts before I finished exploring the area (looted and talked to beggar). It happens all the time in different areas :/
- lots of doors with no transition
- when I dressed as beggar I though that I could roll myself in filth (some pork house were right next to me) but alas I was not able to
- one can talk to guards at the entrance of thieves guild many times and get multiple xp
- bonus areas doesn't make much sense, who are those two NPCs I fight along with?
- no Kravos to kill (nor the beggarmaster) :/
- No continuation :p


    How well did you think the novel translated into a Neverwinter Nights module?

  • No idea. Haven't read the novel. I wonder though was everything translated or just a part of it?



    Have you read the original story by Fritz Leiber (link is external)?  If not, did playing the module make you want to read it?  Why or why not?

  • Haven't read but certainly will! Quick search turned out it was not only translated (though availibility is low) but inspired one of my best book authors: Terry Pratchett. It's a must read then! (Ordering the books now)



Some more questions for you, my fellows:

- What's your rating out of 10 stars?
- Would you like to see more of the same style?
- Would you play other modules by Udasu after palying this one?
- Would you recommend "Ill met in Lankhmar" to others?

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Berliad

Here we go!

Highlights: agreed, the story and mood were big highlights.  I really enjoyed the writing style too.  It actually took me a few minutes to find its voice.  But it had a tone that was really whimsical and fun, despite the dark subject matter.  The dialog between Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser was terrific.

Surprises: I also wasn't expecting the women's deaths at that time, particularly not in such a horrific manner.  I expected, if anything, there to be trouble when we returned from the guild's hideout; maybe we'd get trailed or something.

Story: There was a lot that happened in a short period of time, so I thought it was a good story despite its brevity (about 1.5-2 hours for me).  The attacks on the women was enough to get my blood boiling, and I relished the assault on the guild house afterwards.  It was a good story, and has me keen to check out the novels.

Atmosphere & Mood: as Werelynx mentioned, the smog was palpable, and the whimsy of the dialog really emphasized the foolishness of what they were doing when Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser were infiltrating the thieves' guild.  They were drunk and being stupid, but it was fun!   thought the music during the raid on the guild also helped heighten the experience.  I also really appreciated that the thieves were so varied in appearance.

Combat: Pretty easy, mostly, as the characters' gear was off the charts.  I did run into trouble with the mage, who killed me twice with acid arrows.  I think I had 15 HP, and that's exactly how much those did.  I hate respawning, so I played it more conservatively a time or two more and made it through.  Aside from that--and it *was* the climactic battle of the module--I don't think I was really threatened.

Bugs: As werelynx mentioned, there were some writing issues.  The biggest I ran into, as with werelynx, was the hyphenation.  I'm guessing the dialog was copied from an ebook or something, and the hyphenated words didn't translate well into nwn.  This was particularly an issue because there were often spaces around the hyphens, and that made me think it was using hyphens to separate clauses in sentences.  It just made the reading hard.

Novel translation: The author made it clear that it was a linear, reading-intensive experience.  Therefore, I entered the module knowing what to expect.  I thought it worked pretty well, though I think it might have been even more fun if I'd read the novel in the past.  Maybe!  I'm sure some things needed to be cut, so maybe it would be hard to play this after reading, just as it can be hard to watch a movie after reading.  I have added the novel to my to-read list on goodreads!  I do wish it was available for my kindle.

Stars and recommendations: I've been feeling sort of reluctant to cast a numerical vote here at the new vault, as it seems like I'd be punishing modules more than helping them.  So I haven't decided if I'll vote or not.  But if I was going to follow the voting standards, I'd probably go with a 7: Very good, deserves a look.  I'd recommend it and had a good time, but I also think it has to come with some qualifiers--those looking for action and roleplay choices might not enjoy it.  I would definitely look at more modules by the author, and more in the novella-turned-module format too.  It was fun!

 

Another question: I've seen complaints about the original story on goodreads that revolve around sexism.  Granted, it was written in another time.  But is this a problem for the story?

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verilazic

Sexism: I detected some sexism in the module, but I think it's important to distinguish between sexism in the story and sexism in how it's written. From what I read while playing, I had the impression that Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser were sexist to some degree, but that their attitudes were probably reflective of the world they were in. As for the book it's based on, I couldn't say, but I wouldn't be surprised if there's some amount of it; it was written in the early 70s after all.

I don't think it detracts from this story. In fact, I like how Ivrian and Vlana take an active role in urging their men to action, even if they're still only there as motivation. It's a bit more interesting than "save the princess!" formulae, you know? I also always like to consider the Bechdel Test, which the module almost passes, but I don't think the conversation between the two women really moves away from talking about their men. Good effort though.

Quality: I agree that I was surprised at their deaths. I was expecting the two men to be targeted first, so kudos there. And I thought the atmosphere and overall feel of the dialogue were distinctive and excellent, even with the distraction of the typos and hyphens. There were a few times where I felt like the descriptions were a little long-winded, but they were so good that I forgave it anyway.

Linearity: Even knowing and expecting a linear story, it still grinds on me when I have zero choices in dialogue. If not for the excellent atmosphere and writing, I wouldn't have had the patience for it. Personal preference there I know. I'd still recommend it because of the good writing and the excellent pacing. You're not wasting time when playing this, even if you see the fact that you're on rails.

-Verilazic/Jadyn

"Do you have to go around being calm, reasonable and sensible all the time? It's really offensive. Please stop."

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Sachie

How did you find the story overall?

It might be fine as a novel, but it didn't translate well into a module.  I have played games before that are classified as "Visual Novels," where it is all just reading text and making choices in either dialogue, where you were going to go and what actions you were going to do.

The last game of that sort I've played cost me about $40 US and was a harem with one girl and a bunch of guys, where I could have her hook up with one of them depending on my dialogue choices... plus multiple endings with the different guys too.  There were parts where it was essentially on rails as certain scenes absolutely had to happen no matter what but even in those scenes, I still had dialogue choices that I could make that made it feel like I was still in control of what was going on.

Because I had zero choice in dialogue or anything really with this module, I found it a bit boring.... maybe if I had never played an actual visual novel game, I might feel differently.

 

What did you think of the atmosphere and ambiance (including visuals, audio, etc)?

I was honestly really distracted the portraits being inconsistent.  I'm referring to the art style differences between the portraits used for Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser while everyone else used NWN stock portraits.  It does not matter if my character portrait is inconsistent which all other portraits if a module lets me bring my own portraits in but if I'm provided a character (and henchmen too in this case), I'm going to hope that their portrait art isn't going to be drastically different than everyone else's.

 

Did you encounter any bugs?  Or other aspects of the module that could be improved?

In addition to all the bugs mentioned above by other people, Vlana was missing body parts... very distracting.  Plus if you go through the door to leave the city after you get the End of Module notification, you're transported off to this big battle... huh?  That just made no sense.

 

How well did you think the novel translated into a Neverwinter Nights module?
 

Although I have not read this novel, I do feel that it could have been handled better.

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Berliad

It seems like the lack of dialog options was an issue for many of us.  I guess that's a medium thing.  One doesn't expect choices in a movie or a novel, but we do in a module!  I tried to just give myself over to the style and enjoy reading the story, but I also will say that I wouldn't want to do this very often.  

I enjoyed the experience, and would do it again...but probably only in short bursts.  Anything much longer than this module might get old.

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Sachie

It's not that.  I have played visual novel games before.  The last one being "Hakuoki:  Demon of the Fleeting Blossom" on PSP.  It takes place in feudal Japan and involves a girl whose father is missing, so she comes up with the stupid idea of going looking for him and disguises herself as a boy because it's not safe for girls to be traveling around by themselves.  She quickly gets caught up with this group of dangerous young men (some of which become romance options later on) after she sees something that they would prefer that she did not.  Not long after this, one of my choice options are to either 1) attempt to escape after they leave her alone in a room or 2) to attempt to explain her situation to them.  If you go with the option to have her explain her situation, they quickly get scary with her resulting in three dialogue choices where she can 1) try to explain she's not from the area, doesn't know anyone and is looking for her missing father, 2) tell them that she's actually a girl in hopes that they will be merciful and not kill her, or 3) have her resign herself to the fact that she's going to be killed.  Some of the options increase romance level with one of the guys and some don't, and sometimes it takes a while to get point where there is a choice but they are there and do impact the outcome.

 

My problem with this module is that it probably follows the book it is based on too faithfully and by that I mean that all the descriptions plus dialogue come directly from the book itself.  At times this makes this a bit disjointed like when you're reading description text telling you what's going on from another character's point of view, which reminded me a bit too much of a character in the AL series "Siege of Shadodale - Crimson Tides of Tethyr - Tyrants of the Moonsea."  One of them (last one I think), had this NPC that talks about himself in the third person, complete with long rambling descriptions of what he is thinking.

Since Fafhrd is the only character you control, descriptions could have been rewritten so that you only get his point of view.  Alternately, have character prefabs for both Fafhrd and Grey Mouser.  If you play with Fafhrd, you get the game from his point of view.  If you play with Grey Mouser, you get his point of view.

There needs to be choices in terms of dialogue and where to go.  Things do not have to be 100% open, but there should be some level of freedom where the player feels like they are in control of things.  Even if it is something like when the women want them to go take on the thieves guild, your choices are to just go along with it or to attempt to feel sober enough to realize that this isn't a good idea... however the latter will always result in an automatic failure if you pick it (like if you try to take the elven vase in the dwarf part of Darkness Over Daggerfall.)

 

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Berliad

Nice.  I hadn't run across the Bechdel Test before, but it's both funny and (sadly) kind of true.  Such a low bar to reach, and yet I'm sure that all kinds of movies/shows/books/modules fall short of it.

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Werelynx

Well it's not a visual novel, because the story is linear. I think Udasu could change it to have more options but I can't see any other ending.

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Werelynx

Having read some novels that happen after and before the module I have to reflect that Kravos was not to be killed as he is playing important role in them ;)

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