Author Topic: REVIEW: The Voice of Vengeance (by ProphetSword)  (Read 372 times)

Offline Dorateen

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REVIEW: The Voice of Vengeance (by ProphetSword)
« on: February 18, 2017, 11:55:00 AM »
The module was the first to be released as part of a seven day challenge. Given the time constraints and limitation on the builder, I would rather just leave the impressions I had from playing this adventure.

The party starts out with enough experience for 3rd level, and funds to get some decent equipment. The characters I rolled with were:

Human Paladin
Dwarf Fighter
Human Cleric
Elf Fighter/Magic-User
Halfling Thief
Human Magic-User

I found the narrative style has some of that Savage Frontier flavor. By this, I mean that it is written from the party's perspective, using pronouns such as "We, I, and Our", when describing events. I thoroughly enjoyed exploration of the sewers, and all the little details... pleasant and not so pleasant! The not pleasant of course refers to the sewage we had to wade through, and nasty critters we encountered. The level itself is well designed and sizeable that we left and came back a few times to level up and identify items.

After finishing the Voice of Vengeance, I would describe it as a very good dungeon crawl, with multiple distinct locations. I had fun tracking down the source of the evil and uncovering its identity.

Our party's Halfling thief set off a couple of trap events! I think the best fight was in the orc area, due to the number and positioning of enemy forces.

Also worth mention are the author's excellent use of art work, including combat icons and wall sets. The high walls of the tower dugeon was something I had never seen before.

Thanks for making this module as part of the challenge.
 
"The curse is time, and the tragedy that we have not enough of it."
~Charlotte, the Village Elder
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Offline PetrusOctavianus

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Re: REVIEW: The Voice of Vengeance (by ProphetSword)
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2017, 10:55:02 AM »
This was a nice module in the classic Gold Box style, reminding me of parts of Curse of the Azure Bonds.

There was lots of new artwork that I hadn't seen before, and the cave and big tower wall sets were very effective.

The sewers were a joy to explore, with lots of interesting encounters, but the caves and towers seemed more rushed, and combats became rather too easy. In fact the module was much easier than the previous Ben Sanderfer modules I've played.

I like the new monster types, especially the Rat Men and the Othyug family.
The Giant Rats were said to be large as horses, but still only had 3 HP and were sweepable. But maybe there is an unreliable narrator? The third person plural was a nice touch.

The only bad thing about this module is that I was not allowed to save after the final battle.

EDIT: I edited the module so that I could train, rest and save my characters, and they ended up with about 12-13,000 XP each.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2017, 12:54:23 PM by PetrusOctavianus »

Offline ProphetSword

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Re: REVIEW: The Voice of Vengeance (by ProphetSword)
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2017, 09:04:01 PM »
I blame the ending on my terrible sickness that just happened to hit the day after I started the project. I had bigger ambitions, but reached a "let's get this over with" phase due to how awful I felt. I will take the feedback of these two reviews and apply them to my next short module.
LANDS OF ADVENTURE: An Old-School Style CRPG

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Offline hans

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Re: REVIEW: The Voice of Vengeance (by ProphetSword)
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2017, 03:59:54 PM »
Given the proscribed limitations of the One-Week Challenge by which this mod was produced (http://ua.reonis.com/index.php?topic=3429.0), it stands as a very impressive achievement.  It is fun, the story is interesting, the art is beautiful, and there is a lot to explore.  Moreover, it displays the bugless, well-crafted adroitness of a master designer.

The new Pics and BigPics found in this, The Voice of Vengeance, are of a uniformly very high standard.  Even among such quality, one, the BigPic entitled "Healer" is a glorious standout, that I would judge as one of the finest I have ever seen.  I don't know if author Ben converted all of these himself (I don't recall seeing any of them before), but even if they were only collected from existing art in our libraries, they demonstrate a canny eye for art that is both striking and effective in the desired dramatic context. 

The tall RockA replacement wall set was also quite stunning!   

The new music was cool, as well. 

I liked the way the story background was presented at the beginning of the mod.  For a moment I thought, oh, this mod is going to be about accomplishing this quest against these monsters, only to learn that such an adventure was already a past event.  It felt rather like the classic cups and ball trick, where the ball turned out not at all to be where I first guessed.  I was delighted to have my expectations thus tweaked. 

I was also impressed by a point of logic expressed by the mayor when giving our party the true mod quest.  A minor bit that demonstrates a great thoughtfulness working in the author.  The types of intelligent monsters encountered were also given sound points-of-view that elevated them from clichéd "evil" opponents to ones with more understandable, sometimes even sympathetic, motivations.   

The environs were plausibly laid-out and detailed, coupled with effectual descriptions. 

There was not left much to criticize, but these three things: 

1.  It was too easy (an admittedly subjective judgment, as I know there are those players who prefer an easier time of things).  Yet not only did I find the fights too easy, but in those places where my party set off traps and suffered damage, we could immediately rest and fix, relegating those traps to little or no inconvenience to us. 

2.  No chance to save after the finale.  While a minor thing to my mind, such endings have caused many reviewers in the past to object and subtract points.

3.  A supernatural NPC who we allowed to join our party seemed to have no supernatural SpecAbs.  Addtionally, her character was given no closure in the finale.   

Nevertheless, overall this is a very fine mod, made all the more extraordinary when considering the conditions of its production. 

Amazing work, Ben! 

 

Offline Olivier Leroux

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Re: REVIEW: The Voice of Vengeance (by ProphetSword)
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2017, 11:01:26 AM »
The Voice of Vengeance is a very high quality design, the type of which we've come to expect from Ben, but still very, very impressive given the time limit and the conditions under which it was created. It was a real joy to explore the dungeons, every event was unique and special, accompanied with new art and music, and while the path through the dungeons was branched, with several dead ends, the locations were distinct enough for me to never get lost for long. I didn't have to make use of map view in order to orient myself. The hub town was very well done as well, also with delightful pictures and flavor text for tavern, temple, shop etc. Even the encampment pictures of the various dungeons were fresh and very atmospheric. I also liked that there were several choices and two different endings. All in all, it came very close to perfection. And it isn't really all that short, despite what's written in the readme file (I'd estimate one and a half to two hours, if you explore everything).

A few observations:

- I agree that the combat was easy, but personally I didn't mind that. It's noteworthy though that I was able to defeat two bosses (*SPOILER* orc chief and kobold vessel, the latter a spell caster with 52 hp) with a single strike, by simply casting Sleep or Hold Person on them. Not sure if that was intended.

- The magical armor that the mayor provides at the beginning was worse than my default starting equipment. I was able to make a huge profit by selling it though.

- There's a stairs event in Dungeon 02, Col 2, Row 6, which I thought confusing. Apparantly the first time you step on it, it teleports you back to the sewer entrance, after that it presents a barred door. But I didn't see the logic behind that. Is that how it's meant to work? If so, maybe it would have been better with some kind of explanation why you're back at the entrance all of a sudden when you step through that door.

- I loved the beginning of the narration and that the design featured NPC companions, but I kind of expected that there would be more of a follow up to these events and encounters. Specifically (*SPOILER*): Was the thief really just after fame and renown? Did she get it in the end? Or maybe she might have been tempted to take the wand herself, if the player decides against it? Was the wayward spirit freed at the end? What was that "Vengeance" part about? Is the "Voice of Vengeance" just some name for an evil artifact or creature, or was there some intricate plan of revenge against the town behind those events? What did the beginning with the gnolls have to do with it? Did the kobold/master want revenge for the gnolls? I guess not, but it's a bit confusing because as a player I felt compelled to draw a connection between the two events. 

Offline ProphetSword

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Re: REVIEW: The Voice of Vengeance (by ProphetSword)
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2017, 11:05:23 AM »
- There's a stairs event in Dungeon 02, Col 2, Row 6, which I thought confusing. Apparantly the first time you step on it, it teleports you back to the sewer entrance, after that it presents a barred door. But I didn't see the logic behind that. Is that how it's meant to work? If so, maybe it would have been better with some kind of explanation why you're back at the entrance all of a sudden when you step through that door.

There was a bug introduced late in the development of the module (which was detailed in the preview thread for the module) caused by the tower wall set.  Somehow it linked the event right beyond the entrance of the sewer with the stair event further in the sewers. 

This broke the module, until I deleted the event when you enter the sewer area.  When I tested it, the stairs seemed to work okay, so I left them alone. Later, players informed me that it teleported them back to the entrance when it was first encountered.  I removed the stairs event and updated the module (are you playing an older version?), leaving it as a blank room instead.

This was definitely not intended, and shouldn't even exist in the module at this point unless you downloaded it when the module was new.  If it's still in there, I will address it.

As to your unanswered questions:  The gnolls have nothing to do with the ending, and exist solely as a means to show that the party are not beginners and have had some combat experience.  As to your other questions, feel free to write me a private message.  I will say that a lot of unresolved issues in the story came about due to the terrible sickness that hit me and forced me to rush the ending more than I would have liked.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2017, 11:07:05 AM by ProphetSword »
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Offline Olivier Leroux

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Re: REVIEW: The Voice of Vengeance (by ProphetSword)
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2017, 12:57:58 PM »
(are you playing an older version?)

I downloaded it a few days ago, but from the File Archive, not the forums. Maybe that version is not up-to-date yet? The timestamp says "25-Feb-2017 04:07" for the zip file.

As to your other questions, feel free to write me a private message.  I will say that a lot of unresolved issues in the story came about due to the terrible sickness that hit me and forced me to rush the ending more than I would have liked.

Yeah, I thought so, I'm very impressed by what you accomplished nevertheless. If you had any further plans regarding the topics of my questions, I'd be curious to hear them in a PM or so.  :)

Offline Ray

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Re: REVIEW: The Voice of Vengeance (by ProphetSword)
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2017, 07:24:07 PM »

One of two adventures released by Ben for the Seven-Day Challenge, The Voice of Vengeance cements my belief that if Ben were to make a FRUA design about dogs playing poker, I'd download it and play it, and feel rewarded for doing so.

Another great example of the Gold Box format, The Voice of Vengeance takes a clever narrative approach in using the second-person (singular and plural) past tense to tell its story.  It has the feel of survivors of the adventure sitting around some time later, regaling an audience with the story of their exploits.  I'm not aware of (or have forgotten) any other adventures that take this approach, and The Voice of Vengeance is served well by it.

The tight narrative, constructed and presented in the Gold Box format that Ben has perfected, is not the only selling point for this design, however.  It boasts some incredible artistic achievements.  First, the art used in the village at the beginning of the design comprises one of the most beautiful scenarios I've ever found in a FRUA design.  The art is not only stunning but idyllic and entirely cohesive, creating the sense of a unified village full of happy, beautiful people.  It's absolutely the place a group of successful adventurers would want to settle down.  This excellent art selection continues throughout the design, as new-to-FRUA images abound and expand the adventure.

There are also the high walls, which are mentioned elsewhere on the forums, and are staggering to explore.  Walking through the halls with those walls around me creating a sense of awe that I haven't felt in quite some time. 

Finally, the creatures in this design were comprised of some excellent choices, in my opinion.  There were several moments where my heart stopped because I saw some familiar icons.  Then I scanned over the monsters, and I thought, "Oh, thank God."  The battles were challenging, but they were fair.  One of my pet peeves in Gold Box games is the notion that monsters multiply as the party gains levels.  They don't just get more powerful, they become more plentiful.  Seriously, if there were that many minotaurs living under Zhentil Keep, it wouldn't be a human settlement.  Minotaurs gotta eat! But when multiple monsters appeared in The Voice of Vengeance, it always made sense.  Loved.  That.

If I were to describe this adventure in terms of existing Gold Box games, I'd say it combines a little bit of Curse of the Azure Bonds with the best part of Secret of the Silver Blades, the latter portion being done far better than SSI managed in SotSB.

Another triumph from one of our community's top creators!


Offline Kaz-Keith

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Re: REVIEW: The Voice of Vengeance (by ProphetSword)
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2017, 08:04:07 PM »
 After a breather and some tinned refreshments I have sat down to enjoy the repast of March's 1-Week Challenge:  first on the plate, Ben's The Voice of Vengeance.

 I am a sucker for being plopped down in the midst of things and boy howdy were we.  Our standard party, fresh off of one development, was immediately handed another.  Our explorations took us between rival gangs of creatures, never quite getting our hands (and weapons) upon the true enemy we sought, and eventually landed us deeeeep into boss monster territory.

 I replayed the game twice, once with my reservedly staid progressions and once trying everything I had forgone the play before :)

 I use a metaphor of a meal and it is apt for the challenge adventures: short, to-the-point FRUAppetisers that I just -knew- wouldn't fail to deliver.  The Voice of Vengeance is certainly gold-box-flavoured, creamy and sweet with just the right tang of raspberry and vanilla and coated with a no-nonsense plot of thick dark ganache.

 Some highlights of this little truffle:

 * the addition of two plausible yet very different NPC party potentiates
 * after being burned several times by some treasure 'events', the humour of the last one was spot-on
 * the stage of the village setting... reminded me of the physical drift of the first town in Wizards and Warriors, except using keys to navigate
 * the art was sooo good: that bigpic of the healer with her hands lit with positive energy... the combined pool of radiance style walls and combat
    icons were nostalgic... those big Ben Sanderfer titles were great to see along with that frameset (Ben said he'd gathers assets from his
    previous projects to use but it was great fun to see them again)
 * the extended scene after a certain plot choice made was both astonishing and I really felt bad for doing it.
 * also the minisaga of Gerrard and Marta :)

 I know Ben was ill during the editor phase of this project but it still serves as a remarkable example of the man's skill and imagination.  Bravo!
« Last Edit: April 07, 2017, 08:15:07 PM by Kaz-Keith »

 

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