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Rondstat

Rondstat

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Self-delusion is the primary them of Birthright, and, in its memory puzzles(?), deals with it in a very literal way. All our villains (and Valdaban) live in a deluded state, wilfully blocking their memories to avoid the bleakness of life. Grimmsson makes a nihilistic last stand - with nothing to live for, he resigns himself to death at the hands of Veldaban, or in a hopeless charge against an entire army. He does not ask for redemption, because there is none to be had. Even the ogre, an entire race that's usually played for laughs, in a tragically childlike cadence begs for death, rather than confront the truth of his atrocities. The dichotomy is jarring and unsettling.

The approach to bizarro Keldagrim is particularly affecting, and the best moment in the series. 'Chaos Theory' swells as we look out across a barren plain, its only adornment the ********* simulacrum of Keldagrim Castle and the grim visage of Hreidmar. It is like we have directly stepped into the manifestation of one individual's madness, and while we may have expected armies, machinery, fortifications, we would never anticipate that, what lay at this villain's dark heart, was a glorified dollhouse.

In both playthroughs I let Veldaban live (once as king and once as commoner), though I think he's likely meant to die on that rampart. The final message of the quest is very different depending on player choice, but I think it's telling that three of four endings result in Veldaban's complete self-destruction, literal or metaphorical.

It's certainly not perfect. None of the dwarf quests have the feeling of adventure that comes with an Underground Pass or Darkness of Hallowvale, and there are moments when the narrative is abruptly truncated in Birthright (damn translation budget). But, for character-driven story, it's surely unmatched. I think I'm going to have to knock off Branches and elevate Birthright to number two on my list.

Also, sorry for word vomit.

04-Sep-2015 04:20:14

Lord Drakan
Sep Member 2010

Lord Drakan

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I'm busy as heck, but I'll catch up with you eventually, Rondstat!

For the record, I can say I enjoyed The Light Within overall. Strong points were the thinking required to find the Seren shards and the story of Tarddiad and the shapeshifters and, of course, the splendiferous light puzzle. That was amazing, although parts 3 and 4 were easier than 1 and 2. Weak points were, indeed, the 'minor' use of someone as major as Baxtorian and the unbelievable amount of errors in spelling and punctuation.
Bizarre Boron Fusswell, scryer extraordinaire. Minigames & ninja fixes & achievement ideas!

Perhaps you're half right; perhaps we can't win. But we can fight.
— Zanik

05-Sep-2015 10:34:35

Green Mage

Green Mage

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My favourite quest is clockwork syringe. That quest was soo funny it was almost ludicrous! It fitted well with the rest of the pirate quest line, and was groundbreaking being one of the first (if not the first) quest to utalise the dungeoneering skill and the players very own player opened house.

Truly I will never forget the ludicrous humour in this quest, nor the kittens. I am really looking forward to the next in the series!
-Green Mage :P Join Knights of Aether!

"I have been a pacifist refusing to turn my power to destruction… But if I met him… I will remind him how
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-Seren

05-Sep-2015 16:05:04

Rondstat

Rondstat

Posts: 2,770Adamant Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
Lord Drakan said:
I'm busy as heck, but I'll catch up with you eventually, Rondstat!

For the record, I can say I enjoyed The Light Within overall. Strong points were the thinking required to find the Seren shards and the story of Tarddiad and the shapeshifters and, of course, the splendiferous light puzzle. That was amazing, although parts 3 and 4 were easier than 1 and 2. Weak points were, indeed, the 'minor' use of someone as major as Baxtorian and the unbelievable amount of errors in spelling and punctuation.


Sorry! You don't need to feel obligated to respond to my every comment (I can be pretty obnoxiously long-winded). I've kind of taken to using this thread as a word dump for various thoughts on quests. But yes, I'm with you on all points for TLW.

I managed to replay One Piercing Note before everything was shut down (but unfortunately not WGS). I was a bit worried it might not seem as good without the novelty factor (which was a bit of an issue with Branches). A large part of the impact of that quest was the shock of the deaths and the final reveal.

My worries were unfounded. It is still, by a HUGE margin, the best quest in Runescape (to me, at least). I mean, really amazing. Not one weak point. I wonder if we'll ever get another one like that...

07-Sep-2015 16:28:41

Lord Drakan
Sep Member 2010

Lord Drakan

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Oh, I quite enjoy your comments. :) They voice your thoughts quite eloquently, and it's a pleasant read. If nothing, I get free bumps, so no objections there, haha.

You might also like to know I tweeted your latest 'vomit' to John A and he was quite pleased with it. :)

I'll update the tally when I find time.
Bizarre Boron Fusswell, scryer extraordinaire. Minigames & ninja fixes & achievement ideas!

Perhaps you're half right; perhaps we can't win. But we can fight.
— Zanik

08-Sep-2015 19:29:31

Autumn Elite

Autumn Elite

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Lord Drakan said:
You might also like to know I tweeted your latest 'vomit' to John A and he was quite pleased with it. :)


That reminds me, I must find time to write up my praise of Plagues End when I get the chance.
Wake me up when Osborne resigns | Will not be renewing membership until Jagex deals with its toxic developer culture & has a new, better lead designer | *Soon TM” is not a fun joke, it is an admission the company is an embarrassment

29-Sep-2015 20:59:07

Rondstat

Rondstat

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So (as has become my wont) Ima post some thoughts on Myreque VI. Finished it - um - in the past 24 hours, so thoughts are still fresh-ish.

Excellent quest. That's the two word review. I was very apprehensive about anyone other than Mod Ana developing this quest (and I made my thoughts known earlier in the year), and was particularly concerned with tone. Taking a closer look at Rowl*y's past work and learning of his cooperation with Tytn eventually set me more at ease, but built up expectations for a lighter, adventurer-driven story, something focused on the solo explorer, with a scope very wide (if a little shallow). I thought perhaps it would be something a little more along the lines of Legacy or Darkness.

Instead, we got the darkest quest in Runescape to date.

I always enjoy having my expectations subverted, and this quest certainly did that, even while hitting most of the beats that many of us were expecting (which is doubly impressive). The classic Rowl*y quest is structured like a pulp novel - while there's an overarching impetus, the story plays as a series of encounters and incidents, memorable (if contrived) hazards facing our heroes at every turn. The Lord of Vampyrium, however, is a tale consumed by dread, a desperate band, having bit off far more than it can chew, being hunted room to room by an unstoppable force. The structure and feel are much closer to that of an Ana quest - Firemaker's Curse or TWW - and I think Rowl*y did a phenomenal job capturing an ethos, populating a narrative voice, that's very different than anything else we've seen from him. It's an impressive feat of storytelling.

Prima facie, the premise/structure of tLoV looks horrible. We're immediately recruited to fight Drakan, and defeat him in a quest that takes place over the course of a few hours. Where's the build up? Where's the sprawling epic? Where are the myriad sections and locations? In practice, however, it all works .

02-Oct-2015 04:13:59

Rondstat

Rondstat

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While there are a few things I'd have changed - have Safalaan on some distant island and not just around the corner, move the setting a little further past the end of Branches (like Chosen Commander to Land of the Goblins) - I think the setup is effective at impressing the urgency of the matter. More importantly, it sets the pace for the rest of the quest - things are moving quickly, there's little time, we need to act RIGHT NOW. Throughout the story, this makes our actions feel more meaningful, and our failures feel more acute.

The party is an interesting diversion, and a nice little fake-out before Lowerniel's arrival. The sudden silence, the charged questions, and his imposing stature build up a palpable tension as Drakan interacts with the adventurer and his sister. When he calls us out, chasing off his fellow vyres and draining our meagre status, you are overcome with dread. This doesn't just seem like another big bad. This is a primal force, out of time unimaginable, unstoppable, uncontestable. Before anyone has even raised a sickle, you feel trapped, foolish for thinking you could take on this ancient power, and your best hope is escape.

Seeing your body dragged away, reappearing in an elaborate, grotesque cell, surrounded by horrifying instruments of torture - it feels like failure, and, in a visual (and visceral) way, promises far worse to come.

There's a raw shock in seeing your vyre allies cased up, bloodlet, half of them dead to their torture. While there have been plenty of torture implements sprucing up random dungeons here and there around Gielinor, nowhere have they seemed so immediate. You're not just seeing some archaic means of intimidation. You're wandering through halls of death, and you are the quarry.

02-Oct-2015 04:37:42

Rondstat

Rondstat

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Which, as I said, ties into the darkness of this story. The team is constantly demoralized, bloodlet, forced to weaken themselves to this fortress, which seems just as much a monster as Drakan. When we finally encounter sustenance, it's not some prepackaged fillet from a wooden chest, its offal scooped out of a carcass in a blood-splattered abattoir. When our companions fall, they're not stabbed before cleanly keeling over; we get to watch in horror as their faces are mauled by ravenous beasts.

I skimmed through the 'director's commentary' after finishing the quests. One of the things I thought was particularly interesting was their worry about pushing the violence for Runescape. They mentioned a few of the scrapped early draft deaths, including Kael having his face eaten off and Radigad being decapitated by his own sickles. While I don't think the game needs gratuitous violence, I sort of wish they had been left in. Not because the game needs gratuitous violence. But because the shock of these deaths is so integral to their impact, and really underscores the brutality of our foe.

More than any of its predecessors, tLoV tries to build each of its characters. With nine major allies, its scope is understandably limited, and often a bit too on-the-nose, but it still lets us build empathy with these figures, many of whom (I'm thinking Kael in particular) we never would have considered before. It might have felt a little cheap to some, but I think it was effective, and necessary in slowly building up our despair, allowing us to understand, or even mirror, Veliaf's breakdown by the story's end. We lose our allies, and our friends, in an ultimately meaningless struggle.

02-Oct-2015 04:59:26

Rondstat

Rondstat

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But I jump a bit ahead of myself.

One of this quest's greatest successes was in putting on the pressure. The barricade sequence puts us in a desperate race against time, and I honestly jumped when the first Venator(?) burst through. We're no longer a fighting force. We're prey, merely trying to survive.

Runescape has always suffered from a lack of complex villains. Even our most iconic bigbads have mostly fallen into the tired archetype of evil megalomaniacs, hellbent on godhood/kingship/revenge/etc. Drakan is not necessarily something totally novel, but he's presented in a very different way - less ****** than Pol Pot. I can't help but think that SRowl*y must have some sort of interest in revolutionary theory (or at least read plenty of news op-eds). It is never the proletariat who call for revolution, never the dispossessed who call for radical traditionalist movements. It is always the aristocrats, the intelligentsia, the landed elite who, in their bored dissatisfaction, call for forceful/violent return to a fictionalized past.

L.V. Drakan is the ultimate aristocrat. Ruler of one world, major monarch on another, he's well-read, well-trained, a diplomat and a bureaucrat with a sophisticated palette. All throughout his castle (and in existing lore we've read) we see hints of the patrician vyre he's been for his whole Gielinorian life. When we finally meet, he is not embracing evil, sadism, needless bloodshed. He's ultimately an idealist, claiming it's right, even virtuous, to be a creature of instinct, a predator of the wilds, an animal. And this is what makes him a terrifying villain. He commits so fully to this, that he no longer needs reason. He needs no justification, and he seeks no goal. Killing our group, hunting us down, is his sole object, and its own reward. He has become the beast, a force of nature - and how can we stand against that?

02-Oct-2015 05:23:53

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