Wizard's Apprentice I & II

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Wizard's Apprentice I & II

Postby BlueSalamander » Thu Jun 21, 2012 10:01 am

The Wizard's Apprentice is a series of two campaigns for Neverwinter Nights 2 created by Matthew Rieder. The second campaign (Wizard's apprentice II) is number one in the ranking of user-created modules in the Neverwinter Nights 2 Vault. That's the main reason I played the two campaigns.

Wizard's apprentice I: http://nwvault.ign.com/View.php?view=nwn2modulesenglish.Detail&id=450
Wizard's apprentice II: http://nwvault.ign.com/View.php?view=NWN2ModulesEnglish.Detail&id=506

Wizard's Apprentice I

This campaign is much shorter than the second one. It is for a Wizard PC of level 1 and it ends at level 4. You start as the apprentice of the local wizard, living in his tower. The game world consists of the mage's tower, caves under the tower, the wilderness around the tower, a village, another set of caves and a swamp.

As you might expect your master will send you on a few errands. During one of these errands you blow up a hole in the tower's basement, creating a passage to a cave complex. Your master then asks you to explore the caves and collect any strange creature that you may encounter. You end up finding a creature with teleporting abilities. From his study of the creature, your master creates a teleport rod and some potions. These studies also attract the attention of some evil mastermind.

Later, your master must depart because he is summoned by his guild. Your new master is the village's alchemist. The alchemist asks you to collect some ingredients to complete your master's studies. Once you complete this mission, you get attacked by lots of orcs led by the evil mastermind. You defend yourself well, but end up getting captured anyway.

Character level: 1 at the start, 4 by the end

My character's stats
Female Sun Elf Wizard
Strength 08, Dexterity 16, Constitution 12, Intelligence 20, Wisdom 08, Charisma 08
Background 'appraiser'
Starting Feat: 'Spellcasting prodigy'. Later on I took the feats for the Arcane Scholar prestige class: Empower metamagic, Skill focus concentration, Skill focus spellcraft.
Starting Skills: Appraise, Concentration, Open lock, Spellcraft, Tumble

Things I liked

I liked that there's not much junk to loot in villages or dungeons (yes that's actually a good thing in my eyes)

Liked the scene where you have to decide through a dialogue which of two groups are thieves and which are victims

Liked the original enemies, like the worker beetles with acid breath

Liked the humour of pixies excreting on you to produce magical powder

Things I disliked

There's too much walking around up and down for no good reason. For example you get told 'apprentice, go and fetch me a bottle a wine at the village' and then, after you have done this, you get told 'now go and fetch me the key to my chest, in the village'. This is my main complain.

The vague, uninformative quests. For example the quest of 'fetch me a giant's liver' would in my opinion have been better written as 'go kill the swamp beast in the swamp west of the magic shop and bring back the corpse'. It's not fun to wander aimlessly, wondering where you're going to find a 'giant's liver'. This is my 2nd main complain.

There are roads leading to nowhere: better not to have a road then. Otherwise it's just confusing that some roads go to places and some don't.

The beginning just felt very slow going.

My rating: 2 stars out of 5. Not a bad module, but I would still suggest to skip it and play the second campaign directly.


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Wizard's apprentice II

Unlike the first campaign, you get a party in this campaign. From the beginning you meet a male barbarian. Then much later you add a female cleric. Finally near the end, you add a weird rogue construct that reminded me very much of the constructs of the Dark Savant that you face in Wizardry 8.

In this adventure you start in the jail of the so-called 'Dark Seeker'. As can be expected the whole adventure will revolve around the Dark Seeker. First you will have to escape from his dungeon. Then you will be able to explore the surrounding countryside. Finally you and your allies will be able to strike against the threat that the Dark Seeker represents.

The dungeon escape constitutes around 50% of the campaign. The other half includes the caves under the keep of the Dark Seeker, a snowy wilderness, a village of barbarians, a port city, a buried haunted city, and a short episode in a gladiatorial arena located in a plane other than the material plane.

I switched to the prestige class Arcane Scholar as soon as possible. The main benefit is getting improved empower at level 3 Arcane Scholar. With this, you can cast empowered fireballs as level-4 spells. You can also cast empowered scorching rays as level-3 spells and empowered lesser orbs of acid as level-2 spells.

Character level: 4 at the start, 12 by the end (6 wizard/6 arcane scholar in my case)

My character feats: Spell Focus Evocation, Spell Penetration, Extend spell, Empower Spell, Maximise Spell (from Arcane Scholar), Quicken Spell (from Arcane Scholar), Skill focus concentration, Skill focus spellcraft, Spellcasting prodigy


I've found only two obvious problems. The first one is not a big deal but the second one can be very annoying.
First problem: in the starter dungeon a Pit Fiend is supposed to be imprisoned within energy pillars. But if the PCs talk to the devil, he is instantly freed, without having to deactivate the pillars.
Second problem: at one point the forces of the Dark Seeker attack a barbarian tribe and you must defend the tribe. There are two scripted battles in a row. If you slaughter the opposition very quickly in the first battle, then the second battle never gets triggered and you're just stuck there.

Things I liked

Liked the use of dark areas to hide secret passages (you need to hold a torch).

Quite liked how you can charm enemy leaders during dialogues by casting Charm Person or Charm Monster, although it's frustrating when you use a scroll and it fails. Would be better if it automatically worked IMO (kind of like 'taking 20' for non-combat actions in D&D).

Really liked the very epic music (did someone do all this music for free?)

Liked the use of limited resting, based on potions and one-time resting places

Once you exit the starting dungeon, you have to hurry to find a passage out of the castle walls because if you don't find one, more guards appear every two minutes.

Quite liked the touches of originality like the (psychopathic) sentient greatsword which you have to catch using some spellcraft/concentration checks, or the morphing belt which changes the appearance of the wearer into a succubus, or the icicles that you can shoot at in order to bring them down on a huge troll. Grease on braziers I didn't get the chance to use because I prefer to memorise Magic Missile, considering Grease is normally a rubbish spell in NWN 2.

Also, this is the first RPG I've played where you get to shatter a group of 30 fighters and wizards by felling trees and collapsing rocks, using fireballs. That was a great battle and it still retained a bit of difficulty even with the help of the trees and rocks. Another good original idea is the magical stone that summons a merchant imp. So basically you carry your own store with you. No more need to seek out merchants.

I liked the following battles as they forced me to reload once (a good thing in my opinion, as there's a bit of challenge):
- Enormous skeleton in some caves under port village
- 30 soldiers and wizards where you can blast trees and rocks
- Dark cleric of Talos in starting dungeon
- Orc tribe leader with his shaman
Big battles are cool but they would be more interesting if the game recorded how many casualties the player's side has suffered, so that we can replay the battles and see if we could have saved more allies.

Liked the humour. For example the two dock workers whose only purpose in the game is to dance and tell the player that they're here to 'pump - him - up'.

Liked the visual appearance of some places, like the sacrifice chamber of a cleric of Talor, or the caves with mysterious moss and mushrooms.

Near the end, when you're about to recover the artifact called the eye of Kvall, there's a treasure chest full of magic equipment and you're not supposed to take anything. The equipment includes a +5 sword. If you take anything, a monster appears and it cannot be defeated. However, it's still possible to loot the treasure chest and escape. To do that, set your barbarian on 'puppet mode', let him walk near the treasure chest. Let the rest of your party walk to the chest with the recall stone. Push F1 to select your party leader and let her pick up the recall stone. Now very quickly push F2 to select your barbarian, click the treasure chest and click Loot All. If you click quickly enough, you can loot the treasure chest, and then trigger the script that teleports you away with all the loot.

Things I disliked

The starting dungeon has very high walls which make it even more difficult to use the camera. Poor camera management is a problem even after the starting dungeon. Also, I didn't like that the starting dungeon is so big that half of the campaign takes place in it.

There is no battle challenge at all (in hardcore difficulty, one step below hardest) once you get 3 golems + a barbarian to help your wizard. Often times my wizard just withdraws without casting any spell, while the rest do the job. What is the point of pitting the party against a single dwarf fighter? or a single female wizard? Even if they're slightly higher level than my PCs, alone they won't last long and they won't threaten any of my characters at all. Better have fewer encounters, but challenging ones.

In the starting dungeon I've only found two interesting encounters. The Dark Cleric of Talos - who managed to kill two of my golems and knock out my wizard, even though he was alone. It would have been more fun if he had a few acolytes with him.
The second interesting encounter was when you face 23 guards together. In that scene you're supposed to free a huge yeti to occupy the guards but I find it more fun to deal with the guards myself, which takes some fireballs and Mestil's acid breaths and quite a lot of healing potions but is totally doable in hardcore difficulty. And once you get Stoneskin, you can go through a battle like that easily.

The battles to defend the Elkdancer tribe were underwhelming. You get to set up a choke point and place archers and warriors but that is completely unnecessary because the enemy's force is not strong enough. Besides, even if you set up a choke point, your allies will not make any use of it, as they will blindly rush to the enemy.

Too many rooms in the starting dungeon are empty, meaning there are no enemies, no dialogue, no remarkable loot, and no puzzle. That kind of room serves no purpose and any game would be better without them, IMHO.

There's just too much junk that you have to sift through: many +1 or adamantine weapons that you're never sure whether to take them or not, many potions that usually end up being unused because there was no real need, keys that don't disappear after you've used them, notes and books that you're not sure whether you should dispose of them.
Initially I thought the bags of holding were items that increase your carrying capacity while in fact they're boxes where you can put a great number of things and their weight disappears. So once you know this, the 'junk' problem is somewhat reduced. You still have to sift through all the items though.
There's a bit too much good stuff. The ring of spell recall is overkill, since by the end I had 20+ spare potions of spell recall, and I never used the ring of spell recall.

Disliked the non-conventional use of spells such as using Protection from evil to cleanse an altar to the god Talos.

Disliked that you have to use the pixie powder to create legendary items from the body parts of monsters, why not just drop the legedendary items directly. The PCs should be rewarded for fighting valiantly not for thinking 'pixie powder'!

At one point I visited a temple filled with puzzles, and because I visited it before completing certain quests, the puzzles seemed absurd to me. If the solutions are located elsewhere then the game should say so, or prevent the player's entry... and not give the impression that solutions can be found within the temple itself.

In some of the puzzle rooms here, you have to use the items in the room to find the solution. But then, in another puzzle room you are told to 'give back to each person the item they gave to you'. That room contains a single magic scroll so if we followed the logic of the other puzzles it would be about finding who to give the scroll to. In fact, the scroll has nothing to do with this particular puzzle. Instead of the magic scroll, the game should have given the player a scrap of paper left by another adventurer saying something like '...must collect three items from the frost giants in the city...'.

Also, I don't think it's a good idea to regroup four or five puzzles in the same location because then the puzzles seem tedious. Better have a battle, a dialogue, a puzzle, a battle, a dialogue, a puzzle, etc.

At one point, there's a hole and you have to cast reduce person on yourself to go through; but if you cast Mass Reduce Person to reduce your entire party it won't work at all.

On a side note, why isn't there in NWN 2 a shortcut key for deselecting the current target.
I constantly have to deselect the current target with a right click, which half the time does not work and instead opens up an options menu.
We have shortcuts for a tonne of things like Resting but not for the most common player action, to clear the character's target.
On another side note, it seems I constantly have to reset 'defensive casting' because the game keeps turning it off (For my main character as well as the cleric girl, even though most of my AI settings are turned off).

My rating: 5/5 mostly for the epic scope and addictiveness. But because so many battles lack any challenge I wouldn't say this is the best campaign.


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Wizard's Apprentice I & II


Re: Wizard's Apprentice I & II

Postby __doug__ » Sun Jul 21, 2013 1:32 am

FYI: Part 3 is now available.

I haven't had a chance to play it through so I don't know how good it is.

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