Sunday, 23 July 2017

Uukrul: Pyramid of Torture

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

The next area past the Jar of Hearts is some sort of pyramid of torture, with few enemies but lots of traps, locks and teleporters. The most annoying one sending the team into a one square prison with absolutely no escape, had they not picked up that "escape medal" earlier. A required key is also in that room so I'm not sure what the designers were thinking...

Helga is vital in using the collected access cards which let the team float up or down the vertical chute, which is a really odd design decision when it comes to non-mages as there are no stairs! Midway they find a dying fighter who claims he was one of Mara's party, saying that she is now a prisoner "in the chaos" and gives Nabirye another stone heart before dying. I wonder where he hid that during his torture? Ewww.

People can be ingenious when it comes to cruelty.

At the very top the team encounter the evil monks again, who are super effective at stunning Balthazarr and Andraste. Fortunately Helga's new "Kunlazar" spell is very handy (large AoE), leading the team to victory and the next sanctuary! As per usual, they then go on a back-track training run with Andraste finally finding Sage Sagaris' black rod which had been missed WAY earlier. Stupid secret doors. They also defeat the white dragon since it gave them time to prepare.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Uukrul: Jar of Hearts

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

Beyond the testing chamber is a small puzzle maze with levers which takes a little trial and error, and manual mapping. The reward is a suspicious urn that holds a black heart. Neither can be taken though, as six heart-shaped latches hold it in place. The stone hearts fit exactly in but they still need three more so they delve deeper and find another sanctuary.

At this point Balthazarr leads the team back to the mirror maze where they discovered that particular monsters always respawn in the same spot. The Krefator is one of them, and between Nabirye and Helga is a one round combat that nets a good XP gain, so after spam killing the acid lizard for awhile they level up a fair bit.

They also find a hidden passage with a long keypad code... Really? A keypad? Fortunately the answer was in the crossword section, so they manage to unlock it and find another stone heart. They also find a white dragon nearby who is polite enough to let them flee via dialogue. They unload the new heart at the urn now only lacking two more.

Your puzzle was a keypad?

Friday, 21 July 2017

Uukrul: Speak Foe and Enter

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

Having completed their training run, the team returns to the mirror maze defeating a fire lizard and finding the plot device mirror which Andraste breaks to reveal a mysterious plaque. The noise attracts a bunch of monks who turn out to be very dangerous, forcing the team to flee to the other end of the mirror maze where a previously locked grate is now open.

Clearly, Uukrul's a dick.

As soon as they step through, Uukrul shows up and shuts it behind them, asking them to beg through the bars if they want it reopened. Balthazarr rejects the offer and instead leads the squad past floating eyes, a giant worm which Helga destroys, and away from the same group of monks - still in slow pursuit - from before!

They reach a room of testing with three paths, one full of locked gates, one with the promise of a fight, and one a dead end with a sign saying that only a single word will open it. Nabirye takes this literally and just says "word", which opens the path. How very modern.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Uukrul: HOYAMOQ!

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

After the close call against Thurazz last time, Balthazarr decides to take the team on an upper level patrol again for experience, and to keep an eye out for stone hearts that they supposedly will need to defeat Uukrul. That last bit of knowledge was courtesy of Helga now being able to access the higher tomes in the magician's circle.

As expected, there is not much that can challenge them now - but through careful navigation and searching they do find secret doors they previously missed (or in two cases, missed due to floor spinners). Secret doors are annoying. Most cannot be forced. A few have levers that open them. Some need a magic word.

For all other times, there's Hoyamoq. A prayer to the god of knowledge. Like most prayers, it doesn't always work and even when it does - you need to repeat it. Many times. So poor Andraste is there praying in front of a wall, reciting "Hoyamoq, hoyamoq, hoyamoq..." over and over until the door opens. Helga found this hilarious, but later on she'd find variations that need the wizard spell "Talis". And yes, it also requires repetition.

So at what point can I just cast fireball or something to explode it open?

Despite the silliness, it's actually quite a productive (albeit long) outing - netting a variety of treasures and three stone hearts!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Neverwinter Online: The Cloaked Ascendancy

Late review, I was stuck in the Far Realm with these guys...

Given that Tomb of Annihilation (the next module) is just around the corner, this is a very late review for the Cloaked Ascendancy which comes after the terribly grindy Storm King's Thunder. Yes, it was so bad I actually quit Neverwinter for awhile and am now playing catch up.

Fortunately the rag-tag band of mages who have returned from the Far Realm make for interesting adversaries not just mechanically but story wise too. It helps that you get to interact with each of them at least a little bit while going through the story chapters, instead of just having some "bad dude" that you never see waiting at the end of a dungeon that you need to take a deus ex machina from or just murder in general.

Nothing very cloaked about them though.

There is only one new area, the River District, which is not just pretty but very functional in terms of dailies. This cuts down travel time from the last modules grind by a metric ton, since there you were required to venture into 4 zones towards the end. Daily.

Of course the grind is still here too, but at least you have a bit of variety on how you want to fill your "daily bar" in this campaign. It's a mix and match of heroics, dungeons, or capturing and upgrading guard posts. Don't worry, all options still include a copious amount of murder. You can choose to just kill 1000 each day too, but that's a real slog.

If that was brought down to 100, like the stronghold daily, it would be much better (10 times!). The guard posts I mentioned before are a great addition too, unfortunately the logic on them is the reverse on what it should be where players actually benefit -more- if they fall to enemy forces.

Shroud of Souls, the short "finale" of the campaign, holds a few really good adventure segments which I wish there was much more of. Evernight in particular is a faaaaantastic place. A world full of undead where everything is messed up? Now I know where Dark Souls takes place. :P

I have a feeling the Cryptic guys took some inspiration from it.

Definitely one of the better modules for me. Hopefully this continues with the Tomb of Annihilation. We won't have long to find out!

Reviews and Tutorials

Welcome to my "new" reviews and tutorials page! I decided it needed a reboot after the photobucket burn, but all my previous ones are still available here.

PC Game Reviews:
Neverwinter Online: The Cloaked Ascendancy 

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Uukrul: Earned Respect

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

He knows he's a hot lizard.

Finally finding the passage out, the squad fights through a few hell hounds, fire lizards and the mandatory group of orcs led by a mid level captain whom Nabirye drains of life (strange that's a paladin ability). There's also a magic immune gremlin demon who gets too cocky and discovers that Helga is quite capable with a knife, thanks to her previous experience with the Porkul Pickers.

This area is quite odd, in that it is a mirror of itself right down to the repeating encounters in the rooms. It is no wonder that Mara's vision here tells of a mirror that would be important with the quest. While looking for it, the team discovers a lower area with odd clues... it's a crossword puzzle!

Correctly identifying the word opens a secret door that holds yet more obscure clues to further puzzles. LOL. While this is a nice change of pace, it is quite rudely interrupted as Orc Lord Thurazz attacks with a pair of witches and orc fodder! It is a very difficult battle, which almost sees the end of Helga and Andraste, with Nabirye and Balthazar not far behind, but the combat is a draw - as Thurazz's forces were also in the same shape.

With a begrudging respect for Balthazarr, Thurazz finally signaled the retreat. Balthazarr did the same.