Hearkenwold review thread (no spoilers)

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Hearkenwold review thread (no spoilers)

Postby Noumenon » Sun Apr 03, 2022 11:24 pm

I've played the Hearkenwold mod for about eight hours and I'm not even third level yet, but I'm having fun and wanted to say thanks to Dorateen.

The biggest difference from regular KotC is the open-endedness. Go anywhere, do anything out of order. This has a huge effect on the difficulty vs fun tradeoff. When a combat is too hard, you're not stuck desperately optimizing, you can just go do a different quest. But when it's just hard enough, you get that exact KotC experience of a challenge that makes you learn to use every tool you have to succeed. So if you were daunted by the difficulty of KotC, this is much more approachable.

The nonlinearity of having 100+ locations in a single city is really cool for me. Sure you have to take notes where things are, but that's fun because the notes pay off quickly in finding the quest you want to advance.

The branching dialogue tree is just starting to reveal its coolness to me, as choices I made in one city start showing up with effects in another city. I'm fairly sure every playthrough will show me different options, whether from party skills or doing different quests. I was very excited the first time I had a quest and realized visiting the linguist I'd found earlier would give me more dialogue options.

I highly recommend reading the docs tab of the Nexus mod. There are a few imperfections that Dorateen's "forewarned is forearmed" approach makes much easier to bear. Is it awkward UX that your characters keep standing on the door you wanted to go into or you have to talk to corpses? Sure, but I understand there's a reason for that.

I didn't follow Dorateen's directions about using low-resolution sprites because it was two steps and I like high resolution. But all my high-resolution characters are naked, even after I found armor. Is there a reason or workaround for that?

Based on the 5-5-5 offer I was expecting modules to have a way to pay for them. Is there any way to pay/donate to support this one?

Overall this shows that the KotC2 engine is capable of having exciting, challenging mods created in it. Thanks to BlueSalamander for making the engine and to Dorateen for being an early adopter!
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Hearkenwold review thread (no spoilers)

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Re: Hearkenwold review thread (no spoilers)

Postby Dorateen » Mon Apr 04, 2022 9:10 pm

Noumenon, thank you very much for playing and for writing about your experience! I appreciate your insights. You are right, the design is meant to be more abstract, and a lot of the "action" while adventuring plays out in the text box.

Regarding the appearance of armor, there is a choice for characters to use item-based armor in Augury of Chaos, and the equipment will change based on what they put on. However, Hearkenwold uses some equipment that I edited or is customized, and I guess that messes with the way it is supposed to work. You do have the option to change the sprites to different outfits, like robes or clothing or fancy armor and it will stay like that. At least, those party members will look like they are wearing something!
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Re: Hearkenwold review thread (no spoilers)

Postby Noumenon » Tue Apr 05, 2022 12:36 pm

Glad you read the forums, I was wondering if I should have posted in Nexus mods.

While you're here, can I ask you if there is a healer anywhere that can remove my negative levels? I don't recall seeing one in Hearkenwold, Khyn, Hamhock, Relmfur, or Skardale. The spell to remove them is level 7 so I will never have that. If I can't find a healer, every negative level is a must reload.
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Re: Hearkenwold review thread (no spoilers)

Postby Dorateen » Tue Apr 05, 2022 12:45 pm

If you have a cleric or bishop in the party, you can choose the option to Pray for a Miracle at the shrine in Castle Hearkenwold. This is supposed to remove all conditions, so I think that includes negative levels.

There is also one potion drop I know of, that would give a cure. But try the shrine first and see if that fixes the character.
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Re: Hearkenwold review thread (no spoilers)

Postby Noumenon » Tue Apr 05, 2022 5:35 pm

That worked, thanks for the quick response! I don't know if I ever would have guessed what that was for.

That's something else I didn't mention in my review -- how relaxing it is to just be able to rest after every battle or couple of battles, compared to Augury of Chaos. There was one time when I got ambushed on my way back home and had to retry and retry to make it through the battle, and it really reminded me of how punishing vanilla KotC can be and how much I don't miss that.
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Re: Hearkenwold review thread (no spoilers)

Postby Dorateen » Tue Apr 05, 2022 6:49 pm

Great! The altar is one of those objects on the map that can be interacted with if the player clicks on it. I think the tab button will highlight all such objects on a map. Sometimes I added a description if the player mouse hovers over a part of the map that can be activated, other times I left it as a secret.
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Re: Hearkenwold review thread (no spoilers)

Postby Noumenon » Wed Apr 06, 2022 4:46 am

I knew I could interact with the fountain, did it first thing, but nothing happened since I was full of health. So I figured it was for later in the game -- higher level where you deserved a miracle, or one specific quest that asked for a miracle. I just didn't expect anything like it, coming off of Augury of Chaos where you couldn't even rest repeatedly, and D&D where you don't get that kind of magic till level 7. Well, I love having it there -- even more than before I can play freely in combat without worrying about surviving in the long run.
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Re: Hearkenwold review thread (no spoilers)

Postby Noumenon » Sun Apr 24, 2022 4:10 am

Still enjoying Hearkenwold. I'm level seven now. For a brief period around level 5 combat got a little repetitive because I was resting every fight and using the same spell order, but I have more diverse spells and enemies now and things are quite fun. This mod continues KotC's tradition of magic items that all feel a little too good, instead of giving you +2 and that's it. Very fun.

I appreciate the time that was taken to make little jokes with [Halfling] and [Low Constitution] and deliver little insights into motives with [Intelligence] and [Wisdom]. Even though 90% of the dialog options do not lead to different outcomes, I still read them all anyway and enjoy feeling like I get to choose my reaction.

I'm enjoying the complete nonlinearity as the world has opened up. There are town mysteries, guild quests, main quests, and little bonus caves everywhere. I feel like I'm high enough level to take on anything and have fun. I also like how I go back to places and things have changed because of what I did -- people moved, events happened.

I found https://www.nexusmods.com/knightsofthechalice2/mods/5?tab=docs with the quest spoilers. I didn't read it all but I did go there to be sure that it wasn't a game breaking bug when Thespar Wordsmith left the castle but his disembodied voice still stopped me from going into his room. It's not, just a quest that assumes he's still there until you start it.

Now I'm concerned again about another possible game-breaking bug. Corwyn Khas told me he had no more quests for me and I should talk to Sly Silverfingers. I asked "Who is Sly Silverfingers?" and he told me "He's the dark-haired elf on the other side of the hall." But Sly hasn't been over there for me ever since I returned from Hamhock when I was level 3. Dorateen, can you assure me that I will find him somewhere and my game isn't broken?
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Re: Hearkenwold review thread (no spoilers)

Postby Dorateen » Sun Apr 24, 2022 2:38 pm

Noumenon wrote:
Now I'm concerned again about another possible game-breaking bug. Corwyn Khas told me he had no more quests for me and I should talk to Sly Silverfingers. I asked "Who is Sly Silverfingers?" and he told me "He's the dark-haired elf on the other side of the hall." But Sly hasn't been over there for me ever since I returned from Hamhock when I was level 3. Dorateen, can you assure me that I will find him somewhere and my game isn't broken?


No bug, I added that line as a way for Khas to direct players to talk to Sly, if they haven't done so already. You already did, so Sly has left the area, but in story Khas doesn't know anything about that. In other words, it's just meant to be a suggestion and a nudge to the player to speak to Sly in case they skipped that.
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Re: Hearkenwold review thread (no spoilers)

Postby Noumenon » Mon Apr 25, 2022 6:30 am

Thanks. I get worried when things are weird with the main quest, but it appears that isn't even the main quest. Cool.

I'm completely lost in that case, though. The Duke is gone from his castle after I brought him his plot token, but I had no dialogue option allowing me to join him. The last quest in my journal is "Dead or Alive", which seems like an old quest about talking to the Duke. I think I revisited everywhere looking for main plot hooks. I don't know, where would be a good place to ask about the main quest progress? Not my "no spoilers" thread, I'm sure.
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