There is a lot to like about Kuststad
by John J. Beach. A lot! So much so, that I cheated several times so that I could play it all the way to very end (where I met the author, metagamishly, and fought several final fights --the last one a doozy!).
The city of Kuststad is where most, but not all, of the action takes place. It is very large and entertainingly detailed. It rivals, if not surpasses, the city of Phlan from the old GoldBox game, Pool of Radiance
, in activities and intrigues.
Upon leaving Kuststad, there are two other major dungeons to explore. One is in a fairly classical mold, with orcs and ogres and villagers to save. The other is a most unusual mountain keep, with a highly unusual NPC that can be added to the party, and a highly unusual Dragon, among other monsters, to contend with.
Then it's a return to Kuststad, to meet the author and, if you wish, fight four waves of final combat which get progressively more difficult. I lost track of time, but I probably spent around 9 hours completing the mod.
The author displays a great deal of imagination, intelligence, and wit. Alas, he also displays many common failings of first time mod authors --which is why I found it necessary to cheat several times.
One of the biggest problems was a disorderliness in quests. Many could easily be stumbled into, and completed, before the quests were officially given. Part of the problem is that the City Commander of Kuststad was either inaccessible, or hard to find because he moved around. It was rather dizzying at times.
Other places and quests I wanted to move on to but lacked an item or authorization which I couldn't get (or was left clueless how to get). There are, I believe, three important passwords in the game, but only one that I could find without cheating. One of those I lacked I needed to exit a dungeon that I had stumbled into (probably too early). The other I needed to access the Thieves' Guild to train up my thief. Training Halls for classes are separated (moreso than the few steps they were in Pool of Radiance
). That's a bit of a nuisance, but only the Thieves' Guild is really problematic.
TIP: Either don't have a thief in your party, or start a human thief and have him immediately Change Class at the first Training Hall you can find.
TIP: Revisiting city locations and exploring every section of every room is advisable.
More first time author failings have to do with such things as not checking the "do event only once" box and not using the "facing correct direction" event option. To reach the ultimate endgame, I had to approach a fisherman from a Southern direction, or else the following Guided Tour event would take me to the wrong destination. This could've been solved by the "use starting location" option.
Despite such problems and occasional moments of aggravation, I very much enjoyed this mod. To me it was, in fact, well worth cheating to be able to continue it. Kuststad
was quite clearly a major labor of love by its author, and I very much hope we will be hearing more from him.