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Brenda Holloway
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Weekly Foundry Reviews for March 1, 2015

I apologize for being late with these reviews; Kasul works late and I couldn’t stay up late enough to finish what we’d chosen. What with one thing and another, we didn’t finish them until Saturday. Which was too bad, because on Saturday, we played one of the funniest foundry quests we’d ever played…

But first…

The Eye in the Sky by @jeremieuserx2

The Queen Lizard Overlord, Beyoncé, is in low Neverwinter orbit, and in league with Wal-Mart and the US Government, is sending her forces against the sadistic evil of Ron Paul and Hillary Clinton… or something. Also, Monsanto and the Queen of England. Was a little confused. 

There were bunches of encounters, but they were easily avoided. Kasul and I rode past them, through the portal, and then skipped the final fight as well.

No fighting, elapsed time about two minutes, most of which was trying to figure out what the heck was up with this “quest”.

I rated it one star. Kasul declined to help it escape the “For Review” tab by rating it. If you liked this quest, you must be the author.

Pros: This is what mental illness looks like.
Cons: This is what mental illness looks like.

A Cold, Dark Place by @lionhaert777

You overhear a couple guards talking about a potential adventure opportunity. “Sergeant Knox has no more men to spare for Coldsnap Pass,” one guard guffawed, as guards well. “Though, Guard Frinko has been set to the task of recruiting such as will fight for coin.”

Well, Neverwinter is sick with adventuring and mercenary companies. There’s groups of killers available for hire behind every door of the city, and more than one behind some. Nonetheless, perhaps there’s something about this “Coldsnap Pass” that makes the risk beyond what any sane organization would touch.

Nobody ever called us sane…

We soon met up with a ghoulish sort of man that made his coin looting the previous adventurers who had shown up looking for treasure and had found only their deaths. We scoffed at that, and met up with a Doomguard at a camp that was being attacked by undead. We let them kill off the undead that attacked (I think Kasul accidentally helped on one wave). The Doomguard sent us off into a dungeon to find the true source of the evil, a man whose grief drove him to necromancy. Naturally, the Doomguard couldn’t help us inside because reasons.

Fairly strong characters and a decent, if unexciting, story made up for the rather dull maps and a lot, a LOT, of running back and forth. Probably best to just turn off that lying sparkly path. Kasul and I both gave it three stars.

If you liked this quest, you might enjoy “Crossroads to Adventure” by @Longshire.

Pros: Good characters, a surprisingly dark plot.
Cons: Boring maps.

Act I: Centurion by @gormenghast

I mentioned how many mercenary and adventuring companies made their homes in Neverwinter? In this quest, one of them -- Legion Invicta -- is recruiting. You and your fellow recruits must compete to win a place in the company, and then prove your worth on the battlefield.

If you’ve ever taken part in a job interview, the first bit of this quest will seem eerily familiar to you. Once you’ve successfully given your blood sample, answered the trick questions, and learned the oath, you’re paired with a fellow trainee and sent out with an experienced officer -- but all too suddenly, it falls to you and your partner to save the day.

The word choices in this quest were… creative. “Isn’t there any training period anterior to active service?” “It’s vital to circumscribe the losses!” Also, the word “recruitment” was spelled in at least four different ways, which was odd, considering this is the very essence of the quest.

For all that, the characters were good. We’ve been recruited into organizations before, but this one was the one that most felt like sitting at a table, filling out forms. So, the most realistic.

I gave it three stars. I don’t know how Kasul ranked it. If you enjoyed this quest, you may also enjoy “Harrowing Hildbrant” by @HellsHot.

Pros: Decent characters, and a decent plot, if you could wade through the language
Cons: Terrible spelling, unconventional word choices. Someone had fun with a thesaurus.

Jarpig Abridged by @ryzelmine

If you’ve ever thought longingly back for those old Super Nintendo Japanese RPGs, and thought, “why can’t we ever go back to those days of simple characters, simple plots, simple destinies, and knowing silences?”, well, this is the quest for which you’ve been waiting.

“Jarpig Abridged” takes every hoary old JRPG cliché and smashes it with a stick until it yells. I could go on and on, but I really don’t want to spoil anything. It’s a quest which really must be experienced.

The maps were decent enough, as were the encounters, though neither are really the point of this quest. The story is… well, again, just play it. It’s in the “For Review” tab, where it’s apparently sat since last May, but don’t let that stop you from seeking it out. Four stars from both Kasul and I.

Pros: Hilarious
Cons: May actually die laughing.

A1-The Apprentice by @HellsHot

Adventuring is fascinating work, but sometimes you need a break. Your apartment in Neverwinter has everything you need to refresh yourself before you leave on your next job. There’s food, a warm bath, a soft bed, a corpse bleeding out on your rug, a…

Wow. That rug really tied the place together. Ruined, now. Apparently this was a courier with a message for you, or so the Magistrate tells you when you’ve hunted him up. Magical armor has been stolen, the dwarves who made it killed or missing (the apprentice of the title is the last of those), and Neverwinter under threat of attack by Thayans, against whom this armor was to be used.

Solving a murder, returning lost items, saving missing dwarves -- all in a day’s work for an adventurer.

This was a good quest. Detailed maps. Took place entirely within Neverwinter, which is unusual. Great story. Good characters. Interesting plot. Spelling and grammar were great. There was no reason not to give this quest five stars, and so we did.

The only reluctance we had was to the story. As the first chapter of a campaign, it’s expected that the plot will only be set up in the first chapter, but there’s nothing that had Kasul and I desperate to see what could possibly come next. “The Apprentice” is a pro-level quest, but not in any way memorable. Even campaign quests should stand on their own.

Pros: Good characters, maps, and plot
Cons: Not really exciting.

Today’s writing music: Evanescence, “Origin”

Permanent link to the ever-growing spreadsheet of reviewed quests: http://goo.gl/XbV9hj

#Neverwinter   #Foundry  
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Today we're doing Agile backlog grooming. What a wonderful time to read this :)
 
Software estimation is mostly fiction, more myth and magic than science and experience. So what about "fixed-bids"…
A few years ago, I took on a freelance project to implement an Internet Explorer component in C++. I was billing a healthy hourly rate on other projects at the time, but this particular client insisted on a fixed price....
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A very interesting read, especially as it pertains to what I'm dealing with right now at work.  Thanks for the share.
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Based on a suggestion last week in the forums, I went through the 159 quests that we have reviewed (we played many more before I first thought to write about them) and compiled them in a spreadsheet based on the one I kept for the Cult of the Dragon foundry contest.

With that information, I’m able to suggest quests similar to the quests we review :)

The link to the spreadsheet: http://goo.gl/XbV9hj

And… onto this week’s reviews.

Hallow’s Thicket by @scmiller

You might remember, when you were a child, the stories your parents told you to keep you scared beyond any ability to scream, about “the demon who steals, Diagoraith, and the raggedy puppet Gorrot”. I’m not sure telling your kids about a monster who will kill them if they don’t go to sleep will have the desired effect… but then, I wasn’t a Neverwinter kid. Even so, I think I’d prefer the other bedtime story Neverwinter tells its children, about the wish-giving temple of riches far beneath the city streets.

But, that’s not the quest we’re playing. We’re playing the one where we confront our childhood fears… and kill them for xp and loot. Well, this is a foundry, so just xp. Well, this is a foundry, so just…. 

With the map to Diagoraith’s home, Hallow’s Thicket, in our possession, we set out to find the reality behind the scary stories… and it was a little different than we were told.

This was a fairly decent quest, nothing too special. We enjoyed the whole confronting childhood fears aspect, and the NPCs were nicely askew. We didn’t particularly enjoy the constant zoning. For such a short quest, it really got annoying. The English was okay, with a few misspellings and some weird funnies -- wolves run in packs, not herds, leading us to wonder if maybe they were were-cows or something… We ended up giving it three stars.

If you enjoyed this quest, you might like to try “Horror in Halavar” by @juravian.

Pros: Nice backstory and an interesting concept.
Cons: Too much zoning, misspellings and grammar issues mar an otherwise excellent story.

Save the Theatre by @mochakimono

It’s the same story, again and again. Someone wants to open a community theatre, but the actors are divas, the orchestra are bleeding to death, the crew have been replaced by monsters, and the public just isn’t showing a lot of interest in your avant-garde interpretation of Lathander and Lace.

All you can honestly hope for is that some dim adventurers will stumble in the door and fix all your problems for peanuts. Except, maybe they have a nut allergy, so better not get ahead of ourselves here with promising them peanuts.

“Save the Theatre” is a cute, short adventure with a refreshingly weird premise and the most bizarre NPCs I’ve had the pleasure of being attacked by in a long time. And, Guard Frinko FINALLY shows his true colors!

Unfortunately, the maps are kind of basic and need a little polishing and better set dressing. I loved the terrified orchestra. Kasul loved having to go out and coerce people into coming to the show opening. And we both loved beating the crap out of Guard Frinko.

We felt it came in just short of four stars. It’s also short in another way -- at an average playtime of 14 minutes, it just misses being eligible for the Daily Foundry credit.

If you liked this quest, you might enjoy “The Frosty Proctologist” by @labmouse43-- an equally bizarre little adventure.

Pros: Actually funny. Bizarrely weird.
Cons: Better maps could really improve things.

ILT1: Newly Bought Home by @Alaynia

An interesting concept -- a home built for roleplaying has a double purpose as the starting point for an interesting excursion into the past of the Underdark. After spending an enjoyable few minutes looking around the exquisitely decorated home, we took the suggestion to head into the attack, discover the home’s deed, and come face to face with its owner, an illiterate drow.

Once upon a time, she eventually reveals, she was a nobleman’s daughter, when her House was wiped out by a rival’s attacks. Only she and her faithful slave made it out alive. Her faithful slave… was you.

Fifteen years ago, she begins… and then you’re in the story.

The problem with flashback quests is that they really take the agency away from the player. Can’t say I enjoyed playing the slave, and it felt creepy when the little girl drow told me to take my pleasure with another slave of my choice as a reward for doing her a service. And there was no refusing.

For all that, it was a decent story. The maps were incredible, the story well-told, and the English was perfect. The author, a non-native speaker, got a native speaker to clean up the language, and it turned out great.

Kasul and I both gave it four stars. If you enjoyed this quest, you might enjoy “The Bone Idol” campaign by @Kithlis.

Pros: Great maps, stories, and NPCs.
Cons: Story flashback takes control of your character.

Watcher’s Grounds by @topwicz

This is the direct sequel to “Sharandar’s Defense”, winner of a “Judge’s Choice” award in last year’s Cult of the Dragon foundry contest. In the previous quest, you climbed an incredibly tall tree, among the branches of which was an elvish city under attack, to defeat a powerful, undead dragon. In Watcher’s Grounds, we learn that that dragon was survived by five even more powerful progeny.

We were summoned to continue our fight against ancient dragons by the usual method of handing important messages to random street children. It’s a mystery to me that nobody ever trusts the actual mail.

Soon we were whisked away to a small village outside Icewind Dale, that had become the unfortunate home of the dragon Anashaa, who had adopted a human form in order to more completely bring the area under her power before anyone could really suspect she was there.

The quest has stunning NPCs and @topwicz’s trademark super-detailed maps. The final fight against Anashaa was truly epic. However, the English was terrible. Kasul and I felt that it needed more work to rise to the standard set by Sharandar’s Defense, so I rated it 4 and he went for 3, to average out at 3.5. We would love to play it again once it’s done. It currently sits in the For Review tab and needs just one more review to make it onto the New tab.

If you enjoy this quest, and have already played the previous one in @topwicz’s“Return of the Dragons” campaign, you may enjoy “The Road South” by @echelon31

Pros: Great maps and characters
Cons: Terrible English, plot is fairly standard.

#Neverwinter   #Foundry  
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Well, holy crap. This changes everything. A Befallen module for the EverQuest P&P RPG. They have one for Freeport, too...
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Wouldn't mind running this somehow :) I'm getting all three of the main books, and this.
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The sarcasm is strong with this one....
 
Really enjoyed writing this one.
Apple is using their position as a leader in mobile to promote a new kind of game that has the potential to take the scene by storm. Apple has employed their much coveted “Featured” section in the iOS app store to showcase games in a category they call “Pay Once [...]
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Probably patented already ;)
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Weekly Foundry Quests -- February 11, 2015

After running into Ian Darksword entirely by accident (Guard Frinko will back me up on this!), he agreed to help us run through a few foundries this week. Bringing some much-needed insight into Forgotten Realms lore to our lore-less duo :)

The Redcap Snatchers by @hustin1

Who doesn’t still wake up in cold sweats with “WITHER YOUR LIMBS!” ringing in their ears after finishing that Sharandar campaign? I know I sure do. It’s why I hired a powrie companion to follow me around, hoping that familiarity and the sudden draining of all my action points at random times will dull the pain.

It was with a little trepidation that we accepted the quest to go see why those little Redcaps were still dying in such numbers, long after adventurers had moved on to killing purple-adorned kobolds in more lucrative zones.

Because -- just what sort of life are we giving back to these malicious little fiends? It’s like saving a cockroach nest from a nest of hungry birds. Whoever’s taking these redcaps is probably doing those Sharandar elves a solid. But, for some reason, they’re growing concerned.

Kasul, Ian and I set out to find the problem and fix it, so we could just turn around and kill them in vast numbers once again.

Nobleman Butthead sent us to a small Fae village well off the beaten path where we found the Redcaps in a panic -- ‘twas goblins! We want to kill goblins, even more than redcaps, right? 

We sure did!

The redcaps were hilarious, the maps custom, the story -- well, it’s a story about saving one group of pests from another group of pests, so that’s it. There was a lot of running back and forth that none of us really enjoyed that much. And with all these custom maps, there didn’t seem much reason to have it. That was probably the only flaw in this quest. Kasul and I both gave it four stars. Not sure about Ian’s rating.

Pros: Surprisingly good writing, characters, and maps. Adjustable difficulty in spots.
Cons: Lots of running. Third map is particularly bad with this.

Skullport (Trial By Fire) by @redrickking

Skullport, Ian Darksword told us, is a city in the Underdark, deep beneath Waterdeep, which, I guess, makes the river that flows past Skullport, Waterdeeper…..

Seriously? Nobody? Fine.

A particularly inept pickpocket accidentally placed a note INTO our pockets while we were handing a quest in to Sergeant Knox. Following the directions in the note, we made our way to Next Map, a small trading establishment with a direct connection to Skullport in its basement. Despite free access to this portal, the proprietor, “Arr Bromwin Greenglade”, has never once been to Skullport. However, via mysterious means, the mayor of Skullport has indicated to her that he wants to meet with us, so we head into the basement and soon find ourselves in the underground metropolis of Skullport.

The author considers the sparkly trail a crutch that, besides, doesn’t work in a completely hand-crafted map such as Skullport. Most of the challenge in this quest lies in figuring out where to go.

The actual plot deals with collecting components in order to help some dwarves re-open the Moonstone Mine, which forms the economic backbone of Skullport. Mayor Nillsing feels we could help. Because… Skullport is a major center of smuggling and filled with dark magic and generally evil stuff.

Well, we saved all those evil redcaps. I guess the Mayor must think that we have no moral objections to ANYTHING anymore.

The maps were the real high point of this adventure. Unfortunately, the “wall of text” dialogs, full of run-on-sentences and scarce on punctuation, were difficult to read. NPCs who start their sentences with a conversational “Arr” just got a chuckle from us. Kasul and I gave it three stars. Ian agreed that the maps were amazing. As our resident Forgotten Realms loremaster, he would know.

This quest is followed by two others that expand on the story of the Sword Coast’s most mysterious city.

Pros: Great maps, a real explorer’s quest.
Cons: Dialog is hard to read.

Never all in One Basket by @qualinaar

Alrica, the Pie & Bread Lady in the Seven Suns market, is in a panic because her precious black dragon eggs were stolen from her caravan in the deadly Brachenfell Fen. Could dragon cultists have taken them? It’s up to us to get them back because….. the world needs more black dragons? Or something?

Why are we continually helping the bad guys lately?

Alrica mentions that the caravan had a sole survivor.

Guard Frinko.

FRINKO!!! CURSE YOU!!! The ONE TIME he gets off his duff and leaves the city, he bungles the whole thing up.

Frinko brings us to the Fen, then scurries like a scared little redcap back to his do-nothing post in Neverwinter.

What follows is a fairly straightforward romp that ends abruptly. Kasul enjoyed playing it, I was hoping for a little more than I got. Between us, we gave the quest 2.5 stars. There wasn’t really anything wrong with it. It was just a short adventure with a little story, a little combat, and Guard Frinko.

Pros: Perfectly serviceable quest.
Cons: Fairly short.

Pt 1: Answer the Raven’s Call by @trishani

The first quest in the “Threads of Fate” campaign, though there is no follow-up quest. This quest was featured a year and a half ago; we opted to play the original, mindful of the issues we had with an undead featured quest that had been killed by foundry changes yet couldn’t die because it had been featured.

A young girl has been attacked by a pack of werewolves, and will soon succumb to their dark curse. The third quest in as many weeks that doesn’t know that lycanthropy is hereditary in Forgotten Realms. This is the ONE PIECE of Forgotten Realms lore I know, and gosh darnit, I’m going to bring it up every time I can.

A luckily nearby orc shaman is willing to help; all we really need to do is to kill the werewolf pack leader and poof! She’s better! So, like vampires now? Maybe? Unfortunately, we’re not allowed to kill the werewolf leader, because we’re not strong enough.

It’s at this point that I felt we should be given a chance to fight the werewolf leader and be defeated, and THEN go on a quest to become stronger to meet and beat him (or her, who can tell) and save the girl. But, the orc sized us up, pronounced us weak, and sent us on a quest to make a potion and get the blessing of a spirit raven in the spirit planes.

And… it’s at THIS point that I want it explained why, if ghosts are ghosts in the material plane, would they still be ghosts in their home plane, the spirit plane? Not sure what lore says about that. Seems to me they’d be substantial in the spirit plane. Anyway, maybe it was someone who died in the spirit plane, because we discover at least one ghost there whose grave is right there, in the spirit plane -- and it had been robbed! By adventurers! Who were selling the gear in a cozy little market there in the spirit plane! Capitalism WILL follow you into the afterlife, it’s clear.

Anyway. The maps were decent, with a few moving parts. The plot was fairly linear. We went with the hard mode when we had a choice, but didn’t really feel challenged by any of the combat. Combat, though, wasn’t really the point. Kasul and I both gave it four stars.

Pros: Nice maps, custom encounters, and characters
Cons: The story was a little weak. Was weird when the orc shaman cursed by Veeshan’s breath. Isn’t Veeshan… EverQuest? Maybe this was actually a “Pro” ;-)

Thanks again to Ian Darksword for accompanying us Monday night!

#Neverwinter   #Foundry  
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I ran through the original EverQuest version of my newly rewritten Neverwinter foundry  quest, "The Crypt of Befallen"... so if you wanna see what a classic #EverQuest  dungeon looks like today, here 'tis, running the special "Plight of the Undead" solo quest. Also, you get to see me remember how to play my mage. Just be thankful I cut out all the Plane of Tranquility stuff; I parked her there years ago. I also had to cut the quest finishing up in Ak'anon for time reasons.

What's happening: Get the quest in Plane of Knowledge, quest given eventually ports me to the Befallen solo instance, I set up the controls for my mage, jump down the well (forgetting to talk to the quest giver who stands next to it), kill SK3 for door keys, get lost, then kill Hrek, Ghil the Warlord, and Rethkan, then port back to PoK.
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Ahh, the memories... fun stuff.
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Jupiter Ascending -- pretty much just an endless chase scene.
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Shocked me, too!
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Re: Free Range Parenting, this is the 0.6 mile path I walked to school from kindergarten through 4th grade. Managed to survive.
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That is the point where I always feel old and think in different ways than the young parents nowadays #nowGetmeMywalkingstick
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Team Spode took our third trip into Guild Wars 2, Sunday. The first week we explored Queensdale, last week we played around in Metrica and killed a fire elemental. This week, we had our sights on a Son of Sam Snow Shaman in the Norn newbie grounds of the Wayfarer's Foothills, and the guild jumping puzzle in the nearby Snowden Drifts.

That was the first thing we did that required a guild, but, we weren't enough people to both dislodge icicles from the cavern ceiling and plug steam vents with them once they'd been dislodged, so we failed that.

Mostly we just wandered around the maps, doing skill challenges we found, grabbing vistas and so on. Pretty unstructured, and not what we're used to.

I've been reading up on the challenges that face us. My class, Engineer, has a lot of very specific things to do to support the group in these raids and fractals. Yeah, looks like I picked a support class, again.

Solo, though, my character is a little bundle of explosions. Set up a few turrets and defend them with BOMBS? What's not to love?

#GuildWars2   #TeamSpode  
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Yep, that's it. Lots of details on the GW2 blog if you're interested. It's going to be pretty awesome, I think.
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Wuwu :) Now I really have to finish #Newfallen  .... ;-)

Thanks, +Justin Olivetti 
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Well, I wasn't feeling pressure... until NOW, that is.

I keep adding to the list of things I want to do with it. But I'm gonna have to stop. I wanted this to be a simple, 15 minute single-map dungeon.

Well, it's still single-map. (Single room, actually).
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We just blunder into things. That's our secret power.
 
Adventure Co channels their inner "A-Team" as they make their way through the bandit cave #DnD5E  
After having dusted off the spores that were launched from the dead violet fungi, Adventure Co. struck deeper into the cavern complex in the bandit camp. The next cavern was larger than the previou...
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Brenda Holloway's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
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