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Rondstat

Rondstat

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Ultimately, I feel I can't rate this quest. Its predecessor was a true tour-de-force of storytelling, atmosphere, graphics, sound, characterization, and likely the strongest entry in the series. It was heavy, it was dark, so of course something relatively light is going to appear weaker as a followup - no matter how strong the quest itself is.

I enjoyed it, certainly. I'd have preferred more puzzles, and if it had to have a boss fight (not entirely convinced it did), might have preferred something that wasn't the same special attack skinned four different ways. But the exploration was a great throwback to older quests (if not as self-guided and reliant on personal ingenuity as the Tytn quests), and I quite loved all the new assets.

There was a lot of potential here. That potential was not realized. The emotional beats didn't hit, the story reveals didn't pay off, and our player actions didn't deliver. It took no risks, a sharp contrast to tLoV, Branches, or Darkness, all of which were possibly the riskiest quests in game at time of release. I think this all would have been rectified had it been released in full. Heck, it may have even become the crowning achievement of the Myreque series.

I would say it was a quest with a lot of very strong elements, sequenced and tied together in a very weak way.

I really hope we eventually get to see a script or summat for the originally drafted story.

07-May-2016 22:53:45 - Last edited on 07-May-2016 22:55:11 by Rondstat

Rondstat

Rondstat

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Giving it a little more thought. Not that this would necessarily interest anyone, but here's what I would change to restore the Third Act and give the finale more relevance and thematic continuity with the rest of the series.

First off, Raispher is back to being a cunning, closed schemer. He eagerly volunteers to lead the scouting forces at Paterdomus, against Roald's protests that he's a mere spiritual advisor. When we outfit the Varrock Guard, it includes bringing them a 'crate' of raw blisterwood, which is filled during a fade to black, rather than with a set amount, allowing us some plausible variation in the amount available to the army.

When Vanescula arrives, Raispher discretely encourages us to assassinate her, emphasizing the bloodshed it would prevent on both sides. Midway through our conversation, Raispher orders the guards to attack, and Vanescula accuses us of setting up an ambush before calling down a powerful Vyrewatch guard.

After they're dispatched, we hear a strange cry, and Vanescula orders us to leave, before the Wyrd lands and destroys our allies, with Vanescula all the while ordering, then begging it to stand down. Efaritay incapacitates the Wyrd, prompting Vanescula to scream 'No, don't kill him!' before teleporting the Wyrd away. She leaves us: 'I came here prepared to talk peace. But if you demand war, I will give you a feast of blood like Misthalin has never seen. Prepare your forces, human. When next we meet, it will be upon the battlefield.'

The following sequences follow as they do in the quest. At the top of Castle Drakan, rather than a boss fight, our hallucinations render us unable to attack the Wyrd, and we complete a puzzle, using the environment to trap the Wyrd while avoiding his attacks. We obtain his blood, but he escapes before we can treat them.

When we return to Paterdomus, we are finally treated to the cutscene of assembled armies.

08-May-2016 03:47:35

Rondstat

Rondstat

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The Wyrd returns to attack us, but we manage to administer the serum. Vanescula is overjoyed to see Safalaan returned, but he is changed, no longer a Myreque idealist. He understands her fears and desires, and that she has relied on ruthlessness to get what she wants up to this point. But they have already lost so many and so much, she can't let these sacrifices go in vain. Now is the time for cooperation. In a tender moment, they finally embrace.

Vanescula agrees to negotiate, while making it clear that she is not surrendering. At this point Raispher reveals his hand. He has worked far too hard to allow this tension to end in peace. The separatists have been behind every major development - channeling supplies to the Myreque, contraband blood to Darkmeyer, establishing the mercenary protocol, bringing werewolves across the Salve. Did the Myreque never question why they moved in such relative safety when the whole of Morytania was so effectively oppressed, or why the vyres never regrouped against them when they knew their identities and locations?

Their greatest pawn had been Vanstrom, a turned vyre who could remember his days as a human ruler, and resented both the Icyene who abandoned him and the vyrelords who pulled his leash. He was supposed to assassinate Lowerniel, sieze the throne, and bring Morytania into full out war. We dashed those plans.

Now, the faithful of Saradomin and Zamorak will spearhead this war, and bring their gods to Gielinor. And he has a special weapon - bane of vyre and human alike, Ivandis Seergaze (he bursts from the chained coffin). Several vyres, humans, and most werewolves turn and begin fighting their allies.

Ivan leaves to prepare the Super Guthix Balance against vyre enemies, while Vanescula prepares a batch of refined daeyalt blood solution to strengthen vyres and turn weak humans.

08-May-2016 04:00:21 - Last edited on 08-May-2016 04:01:16 by Rondstat

Rondstat

Rondstat

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I imagine the battle works somewhat like TWW. While overwhelming conflict/combat forms the backdrop, we have three main offensives to send against the separatist lieutenants.

Efaritay leads the Temple Trekking/Burgh de Rott Ramble npcs (and maybe Dr. Harlow as well) as a small strike force especially well-versed in combating the terrors of Morytania. They are most effective against the separatist vyre force, led by Solomon Lamescus or 'Overwatch' Plaguemans*.

Rovin leads the Varrock guard, numerous and able to contend with clash of sword or claw, but unable to deal with specialized attacks and arcane magics. They are most effective against the werewolf contingent, led by Malak.

Safalaan leads the vyres, who are used to outsmarting and outmaneuvering lesser mortals. They are most effective against the human separatists, led by Raispher.

We finally face Seergaze as the final boss, with Ivan and Vanescula aiding us. If we lure him towards Ivan's cauldron, his standard attacks become weaker and slower, but he gains more control over his herblore, able to incapacitate us with poison and disorienting/stat draining brews. Luring him towards Vanescula's cauldron strengthens his standard attacks and lessens his special attacks. We can also possibly use them on critically injured allies, saving dying vyres by reverting them to humans, saving critical humans by turning them to vyres.

We end the battle with both sides changed, vyres made human, humans made vampyric, and all united against the instigators of warfare. Vanescula acknowledges that our peoples are connected, their bond is intrinsic, and both her brother's pureblood hunters and the humans' golden Hallowland are antiquated dreams with no place in this world. Though it will be difficult, she agrees to work together with Safalaan and Efaritay. Any vyre who desires can reclaim their humanity, but any human who desires may also become vyre. Besides, enough blood has been spent this day to furnish a feast.

08-May-2016 04:16:30

Lord Drakan
Sep Member 2010

Lord Drakan

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Will read your review now, Rondstat.

Mine is here if you're interested. It's basically "good but not nearly enough".

PS: Those last few posts with your ideas for the Third Act are absolutely brilliant, kudos.
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Perhaps you're half right; perhaps we can't win. But we can fight.
— Zanik

08-May-2016 14:36:22 - Last edited on 08-May-2016 14:56:53 by Lord Drakan

Rondstat

Rondstat

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I read your review, and I'm glad to see that we have not both fallen prey to the same hive mind that writes eerily similar quest critiques.

I think you are probably a bit more optimistic than I am. I look at RoB, the passage at the end of the Covenant of Perpetual Conflict that explicitly states that the Splinter group will be dissolved on the gods' return, and to me it seems to deliberately close the book on this particular story arc. A werewolf spinoff that dealt with the Splinter Group would have to be a new questline, set in the 5th Age, with its premise based on the events of a grandmaster quest. Not happening. Really, the finality of that passage is one of the biggest reasons I was so confident the separatists would turn out to be the bigbad.

I am, as always, impressed by your attention to detail, though I would be a bit more forgiving with some of the reframed lore. Almost all of our historical information on Morytania comes from 3rd or 4th hand accounts. Really, the only problematic revelation concerns Guthix Balance potion.

It's very true that this quest was not where it should have been in terms of difficulty. Combat and puzzles were both tuned far easier than in tLoV, and it only exceeded its predecessor in terms of personal initiative required - while still paling when compared to Darkness or Legacy. I think this robs the quest of 'satisfaction' value on completion. It doesn't feel like much of an accomplishment. Perhaps it WOULD be better if all players could just pay 5m to skip a difficult puzzle or combat encounter, so those of us who love them could get really stuck in.

Thanks for the comment! Admittedly, that last post is more 'hey, wouldn't it be cool if THIS happened,' than anything, but I do think it would have been cool to see Vanstrom-Ascertes-bloody journal more explicitly linked, or have Malak finally reveal his colours as a master manipulator and the only Guardian left to become Zammy's greatest servant.

12-May-2016 18:59:01

Ayokana

Ayokana

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I don't know how anyone could pick just 1 favorite quest! I will vote for 2, because old-style quests and new-style quests are both very very different. My favorite older quest would have to be Desert Treasure. My favorite newer quest would probably have to be The Light Within. If I absolutely had to choose one, I would say Desert Treasure. Owner of Double Rainbow! |
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12-May-2016 19:16:38

Rondstat

Rondstat

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Ima keep harking on River of Blood, because I'm an insufferable *******.

Noticed something that should have been obvious, and I'm hoping is a connection we were meant to infer.

Haemalchemy II is found deep in the mutated bloodveld area, marking that as a core area for Mauritys' research into haemalchemy. The mutated bloodveld appear to have human arms and legs. Vanescula mentions the removal of vyre dependence on human blood, shaking up society.

Mauritys was trying to create a substitute source for human blood - non-sapient livestock that could be harvested without moral repercussion. It could have been a great bit of postquest content - Mauritys emerges from hiding with his docile, bloodrich domestic bloodveld, opens a ranch in Burgh de Rott. Teodor becomes a cow(bloodveld?)boy, rastlin up little dogies to feed the vyres in the big house.

So anyways, I tracked down the RoB Q&A. It was surprising, and a bit disappointing. Neither the developers nor any of the petitioners mentioned a third act with the Splinter group, and Rowl*y spoke of the boring talky ending as divisive because it prioritized adhering to the thematic elements of the quest series.

I was worried that I'd misinterpreted things, so I looked at the ingame books, read over a transcript, and it only strengthened my resolve. There WAS a third act. Stu and Rowl*y have created some of the best story content of the past three years. I wouldn't insult them by trying to school them on narrative structure and foreshadowing, or bore them with a sophomoric lecture on Chekov's gun. They knew what they were doing. Perhaps they did honestly change direction early in development, attempt to structure their plot around a peaceful resolution. But I am confident that this could only have happened AFTER the original story was scripted, and the changes were made as a patchwork of fixes, rather than a full rewrite.

12-May-2016 19:17:32

Rondstat

Rondstat

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So, our first act has three main duties - outfit guards, clear the temple, reinforce the Salve. Two of these have major lore revelations - that the Splinter Group has had a part in nearly every major development and every major player in Morytania, and that Seergaze was vamp**ized and ended up in Paterdomus. Our final narrative development is the initial standoff at the Salve, which reinforces the breakdown of communication and the escalation of conflict. So, we have a manipulative group intent on war, an uberpowerful vyre, and the promise of imminent battle all converging on Paterdomus. To which Raispher, STRONGLY implied to be a separatist leader and prime instigator of cross-faction conflict, now has unfettered access.

Are we really to believe that none of these were supposed to pay off?

The deflationary standoff ending is supposed to be consistent with the 'theme' of the series, and of this quest in particular. Okay, let's break this down. Thematically, this fits with communication, cooperation, humanizing our villains.

We compare this against Branches of Darkmeyer, which introduces moral peril to the adventurer and asks how far we're willing to go, how deep will we sink into darkness in order to accomplish our goals, to achieve a greater good. We look at the Lord of Vampyrium, which similarly asks how much constitutes a worthy sacrifice, whether it is worth giving all to reach a single aim, and whether a revolutionary group can survive in a world where it has done all it sought to (the answer to these questions is 'no').

RoB, then, in reframing our villains and their actions, would also have to deal with reframing morality, and the very 'evil' of acts perpetrated by both allies and opponents. It emphasizes a moral grey area, and suggests that anything can be wicked or virtuous in context. Heroes may win the day with abominable measures, villains may push their schemes through charity.

12-May-2016 19:57:09

Rondstat

Rondstat

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It does accomplish this, to an extent. Revealing the Splinter Group behind the merc protocol or Myreque aid. The role of a blood ritual in protecting Misthalin. But it fails to bring this to bear at the apex of the quest. An apex where we essentially bully Vanescula into submission.

To illustrate the theme they sought, we needed to see more examples that brought the opposing sides closer together. Perhaps a sympathetic portrayal of a human who, like Gadderanks, seeks vamp**ization. Maybe to save an ailing family member. Or a vyre who's lost loved ones to feral starvation.

Above all, we needed the opportunity to be ACTIVE in resolving the final conflict. Rather than seeking solutions that cured the 'disease' of vamp**ization or building a new barrier, we should have been discovering solutions that resolved issues of vyre-human cohabitation, that tore down walls rather than building them. Vanescula's final story of Vampyrium is brilliant, but it is a threat - not a way to end a quest about peaceful resolution.

No, we are pushing towards conflict for the whole of the quest, and that is what we would have got - what I firmly believe was originally envisioned. I do think the Safalaan fight was an afterthought, something to replace a bossfight that was cut, without consideration that a bossfight would inherently clash with the new theme of the quest.

Let's look at other grandmaster bosses. Nomad-crux of story. Pest Queen-crux of story. Even the Balance Elemental is our barrier to the SoJ-whose discovery is the key point. Meanwhile, look at Fate of the Gods - challenging combat, but no boss because the story has nothing to do with defeating a bigbad. A big boss fight refocuses all attention in a quest, and it is poorly used in RoB when defeating Safalaan is a separate event from resolving the central conflict.

12-May-2016 20:15:52

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