Finally, back to a post about actually playing a game.
Saturday night was upon us again and we actually had four of us online. There was what has become the Saturday night core group at this point, Potshot, Mike, and myself, along with Ula… or Mrs. Potshot… or Chris.
Since I referred to people by their characters for so long, when they change character names I am sometimes at a loss at how to keep continuity. I probably need a cast of characters page or some such.
Anyway, we had four of us, basically minus Earl. Some day all five of us will log on and we will create another guild to add to my list.
The three of us had been poking our noses into the game… I think we did a Saturday night run the week before and I simply forgot to post about it… and had gotten ourselves up to level 16. This left Chris in a character choice situation. She had a level 11 trickster rogue and a level 23 guardian fighter to choose between, neither of which were really felt like they were in the right level range. She opted for the guardian fighter.
Meanwhile, the three of us were figuring out how to invoke and running down the initial companion quest. By the end of the night I think we all hand companions out, which explains the profusion of individuals in any screen shots. Some of the companions look like just another player at our state of equipment. I opted for the healing companion and gave it the name “Eddie Haskell” before I realized it was female. I tried to rename her to “Edie Haskell,” thinking to stay with the theme, but that actually costs more RMT currency than I had at the moment, so renaming has be deferred for now.
Potshot pick an likely suspect from the Foundry and shared it with all of us and, after a bit of running around because our sparkly path guides seemed to be in disagreement where to go, we ended up together for another dungeon crawl. Or sewer crawl.
Sewers seem to be an very popular location for adventure in Forgotten Realms these days. But then whoever designed the sewers of Neverwinter clearly had some sort of occupancy in mind. The ceilings are high, the corridors are wide, locations are well lit, and the whole thing is remarkably bereft of… well… sewage. It made me want to rework that early line from Holy Grail about how you could tell Arthur was a king. In our case it was more like “How can you tell this is a group of sewer adventurers? They haven’t got shit all over them.”
Still, the tile set from the Foundry was quite impressive. That represents some of Cryptic’s finest work. It just isn’t quite what I picture a sewer being like. Maybe they should call something like the catacombs, or an underground wain-based subway system, or a shelter for the masses in case of godly wrath, or some sort of “parent’s basement” location writ large for evil societies that are not quite ready to strike out on their own.
Anyway, we were there chasing down wererats in search of some cheese and a spoon… or whatever our excuse was to go crash into somebody’s living area, slaughter beings, and seize stuff without a warrant. If we could call in drone strikes it would be just like today.
One thing we did notice was that the mob levels in the instance were all keyed off of Chris’ character. Basically, everything was level 23, which worried us a bit at the start, with three of us being level 16. We made Chris go first and be the tank. In the end though, we seemed to do okay, and merrily slaughtered all who gave us a sideways look while we searched for the missing cheese. Eventually that lead us to an even bigger, taller, and more well lit area of the sewers.
There we faced a series of “build up to the boss” fights where the level gap began to tell. I was actually knocked out and then killed during one fight, which I think was a first for the group. We certainly did not seem ready for that to happen and fumbled about wondering if our cleric had anything that would bring me back and such. Eventually I just released, which put me back at the last campfire with some injuries. These, the system reported, would impact my fighting ability until I spent enough time (3 minutes per) standing by the campfire to be healed.
But who is going to let a bump on the noggin stop them? I ran back and we took on the boss, ending up with another one of us getting slain. Actual danger, of a sort!
We wrapped that up and checked out what we had gained.
On the bright side, the rewards at the end of the instance were geared towards higher levels, so three of us got items that we could grow into. On the downside, the experience gain did not seem to go as we expected. We thought that, in grouping with a higher level, we would be more likely to catch up if experience was handed out equally. Instead, Chris’s level 24 character seemed to be getting a lot more experience relative to her level than we were. She leveled up while we did not see much progress.
Still, that was where we stood and we had enough time for another run. So back to the Foundry and another roll of the dice.
This time we were out in the open again in one of those chain of events quests where you need A, but to get A you need B, and you find that to even get B, you must first run off and do C, with the subtasks D, E, and F thrown in along the way.
The whole thing started off modestly, go find an antidote for a poison, which required getting the help of a shaman who had some tasks. The first few were of the slaughter variety. But then he sent us off on a spirit quest which turned out to have some interesting turns and use of the Foundry tool set. And Efreeti. Well, one of them anyway.
Back in TorilMUD, also based on Forgotten Realms, the City of Brass, the capital city of the Efreeti in the elemental plane of fire, used to be one of our regular raids. And I always had a vision of the Efreeti that was… different than the one that the Monster Manual put forth.
But the vision of the Efreeti in Neverwinter, comes much closer to my own mental image of a planar being made up of basalt, bronze, and congealed flames. Plus, a set of armor inhabited by flames is pretty cool just by itself. Let’s see him again.
Yeah, that’s what I am talking about.
Anyway, this all took place in a series of floating islands and strange invisible platforms that was really well done.
And, because we are who we are, we did find out that there are no invisible safety rails on platforms, invisible or otherwise. First Potshot went over the edge, then my, and then Mike. Time was spend running around on the forest floor below… we all survived the fall… until we found a portal to bring us back up. The author of the instance clearly figured out that people would drop off the various high points in his creation.
After our spirit journey, the antidote was obtain, the poison victim saved, and our rewards granted.
As before, it seemed that Chris got the lions share of the experience. The three of us did make it up to level 17, but she ended up level 25.
So, another exploration of what the Foundry has to offer came to an end. I remain impressed with the quality of the tools that Cryptic has provided and some of the innovations that people are trying our with them. But as a whole, things are still not all that engaging. There is no sense yet of an ongoing tale, just a bunch of random encounters really. Things in the Foundry hint at longer term connections. Most of the Foundry encounters we have tried list themselves as the first or second in a series, but in almost every cases the series seems to incomplete at this point.
However, we will continue on in Neverwinter, as there are no other games calling out to us at this point.