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jemapa

My impressions after a full playthrough

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I just finished a full SoA and ToB run with Evandra, so I thought I would give my thoughts on the mod, both good and bad. I should mention that I didn't romance her; I wasn't playing a male elf and, honestly, I was kind of more interested in a good friendship mod at the moment anyhow.

Overall, I really enjoyed the mod! But that doesn't mean that I don't have some criticisms and complaints.

The Good:

  • I loved the dialogues! I thought they were interesting and well written, and basically I was always excited whenever I heard her music start to play.
  • I thought the whole "Dragonlance character transported to Faerun" thing, which could have just been cheesy, was fun and well executed. It helps that she already had an "in" with the Solamnic knights, of course, but it felt well integrated with the game. I liked the various insights she had about the differences between the settings, like her reaction to the Cowled Wizards or how the Drow are the "dark elves" of this world.
  • I appreciated that she was balanced; I hate it when mod characters are super OP or introduce super OP equipment and such.
  • While the voice acting wasn't pro level by any means, it also wasn't distractingly bad, which is a bar that many mods fail to clear for me. I appreciated that it was there rather than a generic IWD soundset, or silence, or whatever else. I also liked her portrait, which seems like a small thing, but you do see it on the screen for basically the entire game.

The Bad:

  • My biggest issue with the mod is this: as much as I enjoyed the dialogue and Evandra's story, ultimately, I felt like it amounted to nothing and had no impact on anything. You never meet anyone from her backstory, and she doesn't seem to significantly change from the beginning of the game to the end, nor does she run into any serious moral dilemmas. Of course, it might feel contrived if Dragonlance characters started showing up everywhere, and it makes sense that elves would take a long time for their personalities to change, but I just feel like her story needed to have *some* impact, somewhere. Maybe it would have been different if I'd romanced her?
  • This is almost more like a backhanded compliment, but: I wanted more! Despite my previous complaint, I still really enjoyed her story and I felt like there was a lot more to her background that I never learned. I was honestly disappointed when her friendship track ended, like "oh, that's it?" Maybe it's a jerk move to look at free entertainment that someone made and complain that there wasn't enough of it, but that is how I felt.
  • One specific part where I felt like something was missing was the playhouse / planar prison quest. Given that the quest deals with a means of planar travel, I was really expecting her to have more than a single line of dialogue that basically amounts to "oh, interesting". At the time, it basically made me feel like, "why doesn't she have anything to say? Doesn't she care about going back?" Of course, later, you learn that she's very conflicted about going back, but it felt wrong to me in the moment. If the intention was to hint towards her attitude, then I feel like the player character should have had a chance to ask that question to her, because both in and out of character, that's what I was wanting to do.
  • This is super minor, but: I really felt like she should have had an interjection for the spelljamming Drow in Ust Natha who mentions "Krynnspace" ūüėõ

I was about to complain that she had nothing mechanically unique about her, but then I double checked and realized that normally elves can't be illusionists, so... scratch that one!

Anyhow, like I said, despite my complaints, I did still really enjoy the mod. It's just always easier for me to give detailed complaints than compliments. I'll definitely use her again in the future, and maybe try out the romance at some point as well.

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Thank you for your comments! You're right that the Planar Sphere is a perfect place for some sort of scenery dialogue--I'll need to add that in for the next version.

Your first point is a bit trickier. Though you know, what with that throwaway line about Krynnspace, I was originally planning on an actual quest revolving around the spelljamming drow and an escaped Silvanesti wizard so that Evandra could get access to that planar shift spell. I dropped it because, like you said, it did feel contrived for Dragonlance characters to start showing up everywhere, but that is definitely something I could add back in easily enough. (Of course, a less contrived alternative would just be to utilize the Solamnic Knights more, which is something I've been considering as well.)

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You're right that the Planar Sphere is a perfect place for some sort of scenery dialogue

Not sure if you misread my post or just mistyped your response, but I was talking about the planar *prison*, not the planar sphere. The planar sphere already has plenty of dialogue!

Regarding my first point - meeting someone from her background was just one example, it could also be something simpler, like her experiences on Faerun cause her to have some sort of personal revelation or something. As it is, I feel like she spends a lot of time going "oh, that's interesting" and "oh, I'll consider that", but rarely comes to any solid conclusions or experiences personal growth. Even her epilogue is kind of like that, a sort of vague "she hung around for a while, then went back for a while, then left again". That's what makes me feel her story has little impact on anything.

And of course, don't run out and change stuff based on one person's feedback! Maybe everyone else who plays this will tell you I'm being crazy ūüėõ

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8 hours ago, jemapa said:

That's what makes me feel her story has little impact on anything.

Just a thought...many times NPC modders have to walk a fine and sometimes blurry line between "The NPC takes over the game! This is about MY CHARACTER NOT YOURS!!" and "The NPC didn't make enough impact on the game!".

It's a bit of a thankless hobby sometimes if you're putting the character out there for other people. I personally get annoyed when mod characters spout sanctimonious lines at my PC, "win" every banter, and interject after literally every line in the game. 

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Sure, and that line is different for everyone, I get that. I'm just sharing my own opinion that, personally, I thought this character needed a little more, and trying to explain why I felt that way. It's Rhaella's mod; she can use or discard my feedback as she sees fit.

You're right on the "thankless hobby" part though, so let me explicitly say: thank you, Rhaella, for making this mod. Despite my criticisms, I did legitimately enjoy it.

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11 hours ago, jemapa said:

Not sure if you misread my post or just mistyped your response, but I was talking about the planar *prison*, not the planar sphere. The planar sphere already has plenty of dialogue!

No, that was a typo on my part!

 

11 hours ago, jemapa said:

Regarding my first point - meeting someone from her background was just one example, it could also be something simpler, like her experiences on Faerun cause her to have some sort of personal revelation or something. As it is, I feel like she spends a lot of time going "oh, that's interesting" and "oh, I'll consider that", but rarely comes to any solid conclusions or experiences personal growth. Even her epilogue is kind of like that, a sort of vague "she hung around for a while, then went back for a while, then left again". That's what makes me feel her story has little impact on anything.

Well, to a certain extent that was actually intentional. I was really playing with the otherworldliness that you can get from both elves and illusionists, so part of this is that I was trying to write a character who is, in her own way, every bit as alien and detached from reality as someone like Haer'dalis. I may need to make that more explicit in the non-romanced path, but it's not something that's likely to change.

 

11 hours ago, jemapa said:

And of course, don't run out and change stuff based on one person's feedback! Maybe everyone else who plays this will tell you I'm being crazy ūüėõ

Oh, it's not just because of you. I do have a quest in the Underdark written out and have been trying to decide whether to implement it or not for a while. I erred on the side of caution, but an encounter with another Dragonlance elf would make some of what's going on here much more concrete.

 

1 hour ago, jemapa said:

Sure, and that line is different for everyone, I get that. I'm just sharing my own opinion that, personally, I thought this character needed a little more, and trying to explain why I felt that way. It's Rhaella's mod; she can use or discard my feedback as she sees fit.

You're right on the "thankless hobby" part though, so let me explicitly say: thank you, Rhaella, for making this mod. Despite my criticisms, I did legitimately enjoy it.

No worries. I appreciate the criticism. I'm definitely open to suggestions right now, but I've learned that my mods tend to die stillborn if I don't go public with them as soon as they're in finished form. (That would have happened to Isra if not for K'aeloree, and did happen to a mod I wrote afterwards.)

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Please tell me more about this vanished mod... PM is fine... you do great stuff. No pressure. 

 

(pressure pressure pressure pressure ūüėé)

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35 minutes ago, cmorgan said:

Please tell me more about this vanished mod... PM is fine... you do great stuff. No pressure. 

 

(pressure pressure pressure pressure ūüėé)

Heh, it started back when I was researching the more unusual paladin orders and found a throwaway line about paladins of the Harmonious Order (Milil) traveling around with bards despite their alignment differences. I was infinitely amused by this, and I think was talking about it with Berelinde at one point, ended up tossing in the Khalid/Jaheira married couple dynamic from BG1, and decided to run with it.

It mostly worked out, except that one character was much easier to write and ended up overshadowing the other one a fair amount. I got it into beta, but was told that the second character would need a couple more dialogs. Which I was going to do, but then started scripting for Beamdog, so anything related to the Infinity Engine turned into a chore instead of a hobby. I tried to finish it up twice after that, but my first return to modding was short lived, and the second time around was more interested in this project instead, so the old one ended up perpetually on the back burner. I was considering releasing it anyway for a while, but kind of ended up repurposing bits and pieces of it for other projects instead. Those are still in early stages, though.

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That sounds really interesting! Although it is hard enough to make room for one new NPC in the SoA party, two of them should be a whole different challenge. I never tried Kivan and Deheriana for just that reason. I take it you have a special interest in unusual paladins, then? :)

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15 hours ago, Isewein said:

That sounds really interesting! Although it is hard enough to make room for one new NPC in the SoA party, two of them should be a whole different challenge. I never tried Kivan and Deheriana for just that reason. I take it you have a special interest in unusual paladins, then? :)

Haha, yes. I really like paladins in general... paladins and mages, apparently. (I've decided to recycle the portrait I'd had made for the paladin, actually, which means that the next project I'm toying with also fits into the "unusual paladin" category. I enjoy the crazy things that BG2 lets me attempt, haha.)

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I finished a little BG2-only playthrough with Evandra last month to try out the romance (I usually play female Charnames in my longer runs). Loved the slow progression and generally low-key character of it. It feels very fitting for Elven courtship. Couldn't get enough of her interjections; both her anecdotes from Krynn and astute observations of Faerun were really interesting to read. I agree that as limited as they currently are, they are maybe making her appear a bit on the superficial side. I wish there had been more opportunities to explore those more deeply in PID, but I realise all this exposition must be rather tedious to write. Especially Suldanesselar, rushed as that portion of the game may be, could have used some more interjections qualifying her initial dislike for Elhan. I had only the vaguest idea of Dragonlance before this mod raised my curiosity, but now I almost feel like I should read those novels. So I'd say you needn't worry about it being too niche a character concept.

Great idea to have her be mistaken for a Red Wizard by Minsc. Would have liked to see more of that as well - maybe from Edwin's colleague, Neera or Cowleds? It could add a nice element of humour to an otherwise rather serious mod to see her grow increasingly frustrated at it, while at the same time being too proud to relinquish her traditional habit. 

It would have been nice had she been able to detect the illusion in the Windspear Hills, or at least hint at it, considering how it's her specialty and all. Another minor nitpick is that I don't really like how she sometimes "translates" Elven expressions to an Elven Charname. I realise it's hard to write around it, but it breaks the Fourth Wall too easily. I would prefer if she either just used those words where their meaning is apparent in context, or if there was a lovetalk acknowledging and discussing the differences between Faerunian and Krynn Elven dialects. (Heavens, that makes me sound incredibly geeky.)

I didn't mind that the actual romance didn't start until ToB - to the contrary, actually. One particular scene I don't wish to spoil was really incredibly, well, romantic, and this is coming from a bit of a cynic here. It made me feel invested in Charname's future, and after having had a peek at the epilogues, I'm really glad for him that he made the choice he made. :)

I fail to understand the criticism levelled against the voice acting above - I thought it was absolutely phenomenal. Of course the technical quality won't be on a professional level, but the delivery absolutely is!¬† It's really great that you included more than the usual soundset as well. Some voiced interjections really made Evandra come to life. The one before the final fight against Irenicus was nothing short of epic. In general, Evandra¬†sounds sufficiently distinct from Isra that I wasn't quite sure initially whether you recorded it yourself again. Do you have acting experience or just play a lot of P&P? Honestly, I can only say it with Xzar's words - your voice is ambrosia. ūüėė

As with your other mods, Evandra demonstrates that you really have a talent for bringing characters to life who sport a unique and interesting background while still being as relatable and human (in this case, well, Elven...) as it gets.

If you feel inspired to work on this again in the future, I would absolutely love to see the Spelljammer Drow quest expanded a bit more. I think it's great when NPC mods tie into lose ends of the original game, and you show how well you are able to do that with the Jysstevs in the Isra mod and the Solamnic Knights here, but as it is the Spelljammer questt felt a bit bare-bones. Why was Philomena kidnapped in the first place? How did she manage to escape and hide at the gnomes', who fear the Drow so much? Shouldn't Evandra be more shocked to find a compatriot in such an unlikely place, and one she happens to have encountered before at that? How on earth does my Charname even know what a Spelljammer is - I don't think that's common knowledge even in Candlekeep. I loved how you made use of the Ust Natha map though - it's my favourite in the game, and mods which extend the stay there are far too few. I also thought the character development the encounter lead to for Evandra was really well done.

That aside, I cannot but reiterate that Evandra is in dire need of crossmod with Xan. They are so compatible in character that I could see them actually becoming friends. I'm sure you don't need any inspiration for that, but if you do, I did make some notes here and there (what can I say, it's Xan). ;) Interaction with Xulaye in the Underdark or Irenicus from Longer Road could be very interesting as well, although I realise those mods seem less popular these days.

EDIT: Suffice to say, not a single other bug was found; rather amazingly. Tiny typo in quest.tra @228: too -> to

Edited by Isewein

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I'm currently doing a playthrough with Evandra in my party of all women. Main PC F/M, Yasrena, Jaheira, Skie, Evandra and Imoen.  Did have a Q, does she have any banter with skie or yasrena? (if so I haven't seen any yet).

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Psionica: No, there's currently no crossmod, though I need to get around to working on that once I get home.

Isewein: I'm going to wait till I have a keyboard to respond to you in more depth (Thursday, though possibly Wednesday if I'm not horrifically¬†jetlagged), but yeah, I agree that Xan crossmod is obligatory. That's why I haven't released what little crossmod I have managed to write yet.¬†ūüėĀ¬†You're welcome to send me your notes, if you'd like.

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On 5/25/2019 at 11:36 AM, Isewein said:

I finished a little BG2-only playthrough with Evandra last month to try out the romance (I usually play female Charnames in my longer runs). Loved the slow progression and generally low-key character of it. It feels very fitting for Elven courtship. Couldn't get enough of her interjections; both her anecdotes from Krynn and astute observations of Faerun were really interesting to read. I agree that as limited as they currently are, they are maybe making her appear a bit on the superficial side. I wish there had been more opportunities to explore those more deeply in PID, but I realise all this exposition must be rather tedious to write. Especially Suldanesselar, rushed as that portion of the game may be, could have used some more interjections qualifying her initial dislike for Elhan. I had only the vaguest idea of Dragonlance before this mod raised my curiosity, but now I almost feel like I should read those novels. So I'd say you needn't worry about it being too niche a character concept.

I did promise you a longer response when I got back! I'm not sure when I'd get around to doing a substantial update here, since I've got multiple other projects I'm working on, and I would want to translate the whole thing first anyway, but I think anything more in the way of exposition would have to take the form of PID. I'm open to suggestions on that front, but don't hold your breath on it getting done anytime soon.

On 5/25/2019 at 11:36 AM, Isewein said:

It would have been nice had she been able to detect the illusion in the Windspear Hills, or at least hint at it, considering how it's her specialty and all. Another minor nitpick is that I don't really like how she sometimes "translates" Elven expressions to an Elven Charname. I realise it's hard to write around it, but it breaks the Fourth Wall too easily. I would prefer if she either just used those words where their meaning is apparent in context, or if there was a lovetalk acknowledging and discussing the differences between Faerunian and Krynn Elven dialects. (Heavens, that makes me sound incredibly geeky.)

Quick question here: did she not respond at all to the illusion in the Windspear Hills, or are you just saying you'd have preferred her to realize that something was up? Because unless the interjections are broken, she's irritated and intrigued about not being able to detect those illusions. (I think they're dragon illusions anyway, and Adalon is way out of her league too, so not picking up on it makes sense as well.)

Regarding the elven language issue, that word is specific to the Dragonlance elven languages, so a PC wouldn't know it. (I think it only happens once? I don't remember using the language in any other context.) I thought I had made that explicit, but looking back, I guess it's a bit unclear if you're not familiar with the setting, so I will fix that. Eventually.

On 5/25/2019 at 11:36 AM, Isewein said:

I fail to understand the criticism levelled against the voice acting above - I thought it was absolutely phenomenal. Of course the technical quality won't be on a professional level, but the delivery absolutely is!¬† It's really great that you included more than the usual soundset as well. Some voiced interjections really made Evandra come to life. The one before the final fight against Irenicus was nothing short of epic. In general, Evandra¬†sounds sufficiently distinct from Isra that I wasn't quite sure initially whether you recorded it yourself again. Do you have acting experience or just play a lot of P&P? Honestly, I can only say it with Xzar's words - your voice is ambrosia. ūüėė

Hahaha, thank you. No, I don't have much in the way of acting experience, but I'm a bit of a mimic so tried to use the pseudo-accent I'd picked up in London with Isra. Evandra is closer to my actual voice, which made it easier to voice her. (Unfortunately, I wouldn't be able to voice a third, since I don't have another accent sitting around, haha.)

On 5/25/2019 at 11:36 AM, Isewein said:

If you feel inspired to work on this again in the future, I would absolutely love to see the Spelljammer Drow quest expanded a bit more. I think it's great when NPC mods tie into lose ends of the original game, and you show how well you are able to do that with the Jysstevs in the Isra mod and the Solamnic Knights here, but as it is the Spelljammer questt felt a bit bare-bones. Why was Philomena kidnapped in the first place? How did she manage to escape and hide at the gnomes', who fear the Drow so much? Shouldn't Evandra be more shocked to find a compatriot in such an unlikely place, and one she happens to have encountered before at that? How on earth does my Charname even know what a Spelljammer is - I don't think that's common knowledge even in Candlekeep. I loved how you made use of the Ust Natha map though - it's my favourite in the game, and mods which extend the stay there are far too few. I also thought the character development the encounter lead to for Evandra was really well done.

Yeah, this I will probably do if and when I expand more fully. I'd originally implemented the quest, but it was on the farfetched side so I removed it. I put it back in after Jemapa's comments, since I thought the character development was worth a bit of suspension of disbelief, but yeah. I will need to see if it cannot be refined a bit more.

On 5/25/2019 at 11:36 AM, Isewein said:

That aside, I cannot but reiterate that Evandra is in dire need of crossmod with Xan. They are so compatible in character that I could see them actually becoming friends. I'm sure you don't need any inspiration for that, but if you do, I did make some notes here and there (what can I say, it's Xan). ;) Interaction with Xulaye in the Underdark or Irenicus from Longer Road could be very interesting as well, although I realise those mods seem less popular these days.

I know nothing about the Longer Road, but Xulaye is definitely a possibility. And would be very fun. And of course Xan. :)

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