Author Topic: REVIEW: Bridge over Troubled Water (by Dorateen)  (Read 464 times)

Offline hans

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REVIEW: Bridge over Troubled Water (by Dorateen)
« on: March 16, 2017, 09:32:48 PM »
Another entry into the One-Week Challenge (http://ua.reonis.com/index.php?topic=3429.0), Bridge over Troubled Water is a mini-mod in the classic sense in that it revolves around one, single dungeon area (tho combined from 5 smaller overlapping dungeon bit pieces, along with an introduction).  That area is the titular bridge, along with the two shorelines it joins. 

Although only a small area, background information paints a much larger world, which is the Hearkenwold campaign setting created by Dorateen in previous UA releases as well as for the IceBlink Engine.

Dorateen has greatly improved as a UA author, in my estimation.  This mod is bugless.  The multiple storylines are unusual, interesting and handled well.  The art is nice and clean, if eclectic in style. 

And the interactivity is particularly adroit. 

The sign of a well-done mini-mod is that it leaves one wanting more.  Bridge over Troubled Water certainly achieves that affect.  Its story is one I wished I could further pursue, and its setting and politics one I wished I could further explore. 

Well done, Dorateen   ;D     

Offline Dorateen

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Re: REVIEW: Bridge over Troubled Water (by Dorateen)
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2017, 05:00:41 PM »
Thank you for the review and encouragement, hans. I am relieved to hear you did not run into any bugs. That is the one thing I am anxious about when uploading a new design. No matter how many times an author runs through their work, there is no telling what might happen once it gets into the hands of other players!

"The curse is time, and the tragedy that we have not enough of it."
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Hearkenwold

Offline PetrusOctavianus

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Re: REVIEW: Bridge over Troubled Water (by Dorateen)
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2017, 09:11:07 PM »
Excellent module!

The combats were fairly challenging, and some could have turned ugly if I weren't lucky with the Hold and Silence spells always working. The mobile handbags were especially nasty.

I was a bit worried when getting a Girdle after the first fight, but after that the loot was more balanced, giving out specific loot instead of the gear used by the enemies.

I didn't notice any bugs or spelling errors, which is always a plys.

There obviously is a good deal of background story, but fortunately we are spared dumps of "Deep Lore", which seems to be all the rage amongst the professional CRPG designers these days, and instead we are told what we need to know. Which is a superior approach IMO, since it leaves the player wanting more, instead of feeling force fed.

As hans noted Dorateen has improved since his first version of Hearkenwold.

Offline Dorateen

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Re: REVIEW: Bridge over Troubled Water (by Dorateen)
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2017, 09:09:06 AM »
Thanks for the feedback regarding combat, something I was keenly interested in. I think it would have been more correct for me to include gauntlets instead of the girdle. But I wanted to consider that an imported party might already have gauntlets, and I like making new treasure available. In light of some of the creatures encountered, I figured giving an added boost to one character would not be so bad.
 
"The curse is time, and the tragedy that we have not enough of it."
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Hearkenwold

Offline Jadefang

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Re: REVIEW: Bridge over Troubled Water (by Dorateen)
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2017, 05:05:38 AM »
Noticed a few spelling errors near the start (a double spacebar typo when asking about the document, and the word "Confrim", when asking about the cult), but nothing particularly jarring.

The conversations with NPCs is interesting, even if the end result of each conversation path was the same. Still added some interactivity which let me roleplay my characters a bit.

I rolled a pretty half-assed party (no Modified stats, just ran with what rolls looked okay), and the combats ended up being quite challenging, requiring a few reloads to beat a certain one. I feel like a lot of the monsters had very high hit points (pretty much everything but the crocodiles; every human opponent had values that were akin to maxed out HP characters of their appropriate level, and the wolves also so), which made me wonder if the design was intended to be played with maxed out HP/stat characters. Ended up having to rely on Hold Person and Stinking Cloud cheese a lot to beat the battles, which felt a bit scummy. After clearing the entire map, only half of my party was still conscious. The free temple at the end of the map was a saving grace, though.

Offline Dinonykos

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Re: REVIEW: Bridge over Troubled Water (by Dorateen)
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2017, 12:04:02 AM »
I liked this module - I must admit though that I played it with a quite strong party I imported from Ben Jokisch's "The Sect". I had dropped all strong items though and was thus astonished when I received a girdle again that I had just dropped... :D

In opposite to Jadefang, I was a little annoyed by the similar outcomes of different dialogs, but maybe that is a compromise to be taken in a one-week-challenge. And in some cases the steps from forest onto road and back was a little abrupt - I assume that also in FRUA, this could be done more gradually - or a kind of door could have been used to divide the different backgrounds.

Apart from these minor things, I was impressed by the atmosphere and enjoyed playing the module very much.
Find four contributions to the Pre-Generated Character Mini-Module Design Contest on my homepage.
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Offline Nol Drek

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Re: REVIEW: Bridge over Troubled Water (by Dorateen)
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2017, 09:39:55 AM »
Bridge Over Troubled Water is a short adventure that I was able to complete in about an hour. Your party is tasked with delivering a message from Castle Hearkenwold to the Fortress of a Duke on the far side of a bridge. There is a lot of geography and politics which make you feel like you are seeing a small piece of a much larger world, but there is nothing that you are required to be familiar with ahead of time. Dorateen makes use of Question List events for all conversations with NPCs and hostile encounters. This is a clever idea that simulates the conversation trees from games such as Baldur's Gate, and it really helps to bring the setting to life.

I played with an average party that did not have all their stats maxed out. The combat was well-balanced, challenging, and not overwhelming. I cleared out the entire bridge area without resting, and accomplished the main task of delivering a letter to the Duke's Fortress. At this point, I was confused because not much seemed to happen, so I went back and re-explored the entire bridge area, finding a couple isolated encounters which I had missed the first time. Then, I went back to the fortress and discovered that you have to exit and re-enter the fortress once for each one of the quests that you complete. In retrospect, a better strategy would have been to make a bee-line to the fortress, where a Cleric can heal you, and then explore the bridge one encounter at a time, rather than clearing the entire area first. This module gives you the freedom to explore the bridge environs in any order you choose.

Well balanced encounters, a deep sense of history and geography, and engaging conversation chains made this an enjoyable way to spend an evening.
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Offline Dorateen

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Re: REVIEW: Bridge over Troubled Water (by Dorateen)
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2017, 08:03:46 AM »
I appreciate the additional feedback from everyone. Regarding the branching conversations, one of the encounters has a dialogue option that will allow the player to avoid combat. You can still come back and fight.

Something else I did was have different options lead to variations in the combat set-up. Some options will grant the party surprise. In another encounter, the different branches will lead to the enemy being placed north of the party, or south or even split on either side of the party. It's true that in this combat orientated module, most paths will lead to battle, I still like to give the player choices as a means of expressing their characters through role-playing.

"The curse is time, and the tragedy that we have not enough of it."
~Charlotte, the Village Elder
Hearkenwold

Offline Dinonykos

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Re: REVIEW: Bridge over Troubled Water (by Dorateen)
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2017, 09:27:44 AM »
I appreciate the additional feedback from everyone. Regarding the branching conversations, one of the encounters has a dialogue option that will allow the player to avoid combat. You can still come back and fight. Something else I did was have different options lead to variations in the combat set-up...
Oha! I beg your pardon then. As I already stated, I think the module is very nice, but this gives it an additional replay value!
Find four contributions to the Pre-Generated Character Mini-Module Design Contest on my homepage.
New: THE AMBASSADOR'S LETTER, my contribution to the 7-day-challenge.
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Offline Kaz-Keith

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Re: REVIEW: Bridge over Troubled Water (by Dorateen)
« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2017, 10:00:31 PM »
 It was great to revisit Dorateen's Hearkenwold, and I was able to import my party from the first project to use before I start on the second chapter :)

 Anyone can begin their futures in Hearkenwold in this 1-week challenge, though we had some particular gear in tow when we were tapped to perform a small service for the castle.  As at least one other player noted, this at first appears to be a point-a to point-b request.  A bit of fooling around can lead to some interesting encounters, however.  Some of these we were warned of, some we heard tell of while wandering, and others were a surprise.

 The star of the show is Dorateen's great use of events and chains, especially in the conversation trees.  The choices he allows for range from standard to non-standard, and though I suspect some would invariably lead to the same place it was a fun exercise.  The encounters were fair, and there was artwork i'd never seen before (something sort of unusual at this point in FRUA's aged existence).  I do suspect we would have had a bit more trouble as a party had we not had our gear from the main Hearkenwold campaign, but I am not complaining :D

 After playing, I went into the toolset to tinker about and I was rather pleased to see just how Dorateen assembled his areas.  Very clever use of porting and construction allowed for seamless play - there was one thing I wasn't sure on and that was many of the enemies fled combat before it was complete, which is a risk when any foe's morale is set to 0.  This may be designed, especially in the case of the low-intellect enemies.  Either way, this was an enjoyably short romp in a custom campaign world.

 Looking forward to more, Dorateen!

Offline Olivier Leroux

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Re: REVIEW: Bridge over Troubled Water (by Dorateen)
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2017, 07:40:45 AM »
I can't judge how this plays as a standalone design, but as a short side adventure for my party transferred from Hearkenwold II it was a welcome addition. Thanks for creating and sharing it!

Offline Dorateen

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Re: REVIEW: Bridge over Troubled Water (by Dorateen)
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2017, 01:10:15 PM »
Thanks for playing through all the installments, Olivier. "Bridge" is sort of a preview, or transitional adventure, for the next chapter of Hearkenwold I will be putting together. By achieving the main objective in this short design, the characters will be taken to the location where the next module starts.

Your notes have been very constructive for me moving forward.
"The curse is time, and the tragedy that we have not enough of it."
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