Game Play: 4+ hrs.
Number of players: 1
Character(s): Elven Rogue, True Neutral
Start Level: 5 (level 3-5 required)
End Level: 6
"I managed to secure passage on a good boat with a fine captain and crew. We have stopped for supplies in the small port town of Hajlimar, which looks to be quite the exotic city. I could use with some firm ground and a stiff pint..."
Hajimar turns out to be an interesting stop, full of danger, opportunity and intrigue. The player character (PC) is drawn into a brief journey that takes a few twists and turns and winds up being pretty darn entertaining. This module is an excellent diversion for a single character or a small group. However, there are many technical issues, which unfortunately will hinder the gameplay for all but the most forgiving of players.
As the PC leaves the boat and begins to explore the city, all seems quite normal until a brilliant bit of scripting begins the adventure. Soon, the Baroness De Callya herself emerges and the 'high adventures' begin. What follows are several hours of following a very focused storyline full of combat, traps, treasure and puzzles.
Style, scripting and story (the 3 S's) generally define a module's quality. Stylistically, the areas of the module are manageable and logical. Placeables fit the areas and are not overabundant. Ambient sounds (eg. floors creaking, etc.) and music are utilized and appropriately fit each area. Specific sounds placed by the author consist mainly of water and fire, the latter of which is not managed properly: some areas seem to be completely engulfed in fire. The scripting of the module is at times quite ingenious. The few instances of unique scripts really define the game and are nicely done. The puzzles, and there are many, add a great deal of flavor. They are very well done and deserve a special commendation. The conversations are above average in quality and update properly, save for a couple of instances. The journal is adequate with two noticeable updating errors. As for the story, it draws the player(s) in and takes them on a true adventure. While there are no functioning side quests (there is one but more on that later) or very many choices, it does deliver a compelling enough adventure to make the gameplay worthwhile.
The author has designed this module to be very DM friendly. The review of this module included, solo, party and DM games. The solo and multiplayer games were enjoyable and offered a nice manageable adventure. The DM'd game offered more depth and added a much needed dimension to the game.
This module does, however, have some faults. As mentioned, the placeable sounds really interfere in some areas with the gameplay. Gaining experience points is inconsistent. The plot moves quickly and seems rushed at times. The henchman take no damage, which detracts from the level of realism the module does afford. The one side quest that is offered is incomplete (the PC cannot finish it due to a design flaw). There are many other smaller problems or errors that really take from the overall quality of the game.
This module was a great deal of fun to play and was very well produced. It is recommended for all as a worthy addition to the community. The technical faults do bleed over into the gameplay and do deter somewhat; but that is a subjective opinion. The author has established the city of Hajlimar as an interesting pinpoint on the collective map.
Visuals : Score 7
The individual areas are well constructed with good use of area lighting.
Sound : Score 6
The music and ambient sounds add to the module and are well done. However, as mentioned, specific sounds are limited and dominate certain areas, a very large setback.
Gameplay : Score 7
The story is set up nicely and progresses at a reasonable rate (albeit accelerated at times). The PC is never left to wonder what comes next for very long. The puzzles are exceptional and the PC will find the need for paper and pen to figure some of the trickier ones out. The ending is very nice indeed.
Documentation : Score 5
The pre-game literature is limited to the single paragraph in the module description. There is no document for the PC (eg. 'readme' file), although there is a very detailed one for DM's. The lack of a preliminary document for the player is a large oversight. For example, does every player know what to do with a ".bic" file? The journal, which is in-game documentation, is informative, but as mentioned does not always update as it should. The player's own journal should be used to keep notes as well. The maps are mostly complete and allow for the player to add their own pinpoints.
Roleplaying quality : Score 7
The story premise grants the PC immediate immersion (you are you and you are here). There are a few game-induced instances that force the player out of character. However, it is quite easy to stay in character and enjoy the adventure.
Action quality : Score 7
There is an adequate number of encounters, which are scaled appropriately. There was no need to respawn during any of the gameplay sessions. Most encounters were relevant to their respective area.
Replayablility : Score 6
As a linear story that relies on puzzles to progress and with no side quests to speak of, there is little reason to play again solo or even multiplayer. However, the PC, once finishing the module, can choose to act as a DM for others. The module is of high enough quality to make this likely.
Fun Factor : Score 8
An enjoyable brief adventure that provides interesting and challenging gameplay. A nice jaunt for your level 5 character that will be remembered as an interesting stop on your continuing adventures.
Solo : Score 7
Once again, the 3 S's: style, story and scripting. This game was above average in all three area and what problems that do exist were not big enough to detract from the overall experience.
Multiplayer : Score 7
It would seem that this game functions best as a solo or a very small party game. A larger party may find the boredom factor to be high. However, add a DM and the possibilities are greater for improved party playability. The multiplayer session, featuring a Rogue and a Fighter, went well. There was no splitting up, due the linear nature of the module, but the action within the main story was compelling enough to draw both players in. It was an easy and enoyable multiplayer game.