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f0calizer

Impressions after first playthrough (romance track)

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I did a playthrough with Evandra (romance track) & wanted to say a hearty “thank you” to Rhaella for creating a well-written, balanced, & engaging NPC. I’m probably somewhat biased because I’ve a soft spot for the Dragonlance universe having read Weis & Hickman's Chronicles & Legends novels & played some of the SSI Gold Box Dragonlance games growing up. So I jumped at the chance of encountering more Krynnspace characters in the BG universe. I played with a CG elf cleric/ranger protagonist. I’ll try to avoid spoilers while highlighting some memorable details.

First, the romance developed at a good, steady pace. At one pivotal point the protagonist muses that Evandra is “not quite a lover but more than a friend,” which aptly sums up Evandra’s hesitant & evasive expressions of affection to that point. But then just one specific word, which Evandra uses to address the protagonist, reveals the depth of her feelings she’s kept closely guarded due to circumstances she reveals in earlier talks. A similarly intimate & vulnerable moment occurs in ToB: what appears at first to be an idle chat about the moon in the night sky sheds light on the magnitude of Evandra’s personal, religious, & magical loss at being displaced to Faerun. I was a bit puzzled by her rather calm interjections after the protagonist beats Amelyssan & must make That Fateful Decision. But upon reflection it’s in keeping with her character, which isn’t prone to extremes (whether moral or emotional). In one early dialogue Evandra explains that on Krynn the Red Robed wizards have no use for the “stupidity” of strictly choosing between good and evil. That, plus her being an illusionist who’s in the habit of dissembling her true feelings & state of mind, helps explain her detachment at the end.

The side quests related to Evandra were simple enough to accomplish without railroading the party to specific locations or imposing strict time limits; they felt organic to the main storyline’s development. I wonder if Reyna’s (leader of the Solamnic Knights) grudging respect but healthy suspicion towards Evandra because she wears red (“they are not always to be trusted”) is a nod to another famous Dragonlance Red Robe wizard who switches to a darker shade? The Underdark encounter & its aftermath with the Solamnic Knights was a great exercise in character development that set Evandra’s yearning to return home in tension with her growing fondness for the protagonist & her fascination with this new world.

For some reason Evandra didn’t have as many banters with my party NPCs as I thought she would over the normal course of play. For the most part I had Mazzy, Valygar, Haer’Dalis, Neera, & later Sarevok in ToB. I wonder if this was because my protagonist was romancing Evandra & the romance might have affected banter triggers? After completing the game I went back to my saves & forced banters using CTRL-i because I wanted to experience them. The Haer’Dalis-Evandra “mockingbird” chats were delightful -- kudos again to Rhaella for capturing the idiosyncrasies of HD’s ornate speech. I was also struck by Evandra’s coldness towards Neera because of her “volatile” wild magic & personality; Neera would definitely be ruthlessly persecuted as a rogue mage in Ansalon.

Speaking of Neera, here’s where I was wondering if a bit more content might be added. Given the hostility Neera has for Thayan Red Wizards, it seems odd that she doesn’t at least comment on Evandra’s Red Robes. I think their first banter does mention the Orders of High Sorcery; might that be a good place for Neera to challenge Evandra about her allegiances? & given the Qualinesti elves' dim view of half-elves (I’m thinking of Tanis from the Dragonlance novels), perhaps Evandra’s cool reactions to Neera might also take on a sharper, personal note? (A dark/outcast elf holding dearly to her identity as Wizard of High Sorcery being challenged by a volatile & wild half-elf of a rogue mage? My, what impudence!)

On the question of magic, I wondered if Evandra has any banters or interjections about how magic works in Faerun versus Krynn, i.e. Weave-based versus Moon-based magic? Maybe these chats happen with Imoen or Nalia or Aerie? (Neera is of course hardly the right person to ask!) It also seemed odd that Evandra has no interjections during Neera’s ToB quest in Thay, a place full of wizards (at least, I didn’t experience any during play) or in response to Elminster’s appearance in ToB. I definitely understand that NPCs who comment about every little thing can be a nuisance, but given how much magic means to Evandra it’s possible she would have something to say either about Thay or Elminster.

In closing, I’m not a gamer who’s keen on combat strategies so I can’t speak to Evandra’s effectiveness as a spellcaster compared to, say, Edwin or Imoen (I sometimes switch to Easy difficulty to get through tough fights). I’m more interested in what the NPC adds to the protagonist’s storyline & the game’s general atmosphere, & Evandra contributed lots to both. I did flag a few bugs over in that dedicated thread but they didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of this NPC mod. I’ll definitely do another playthrough at a later date on Evandra’s friendship track & to experience her banters with other NPCs. Thanks again to Rhaella for creating such an enjoyable NPC!

Edited by f0calizer

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Thank you for your comments!

To answer your questions about NPC interactions, none of them are disabled during the romance, so you should have theoretically been able to see them all, if the engine was cooperating. As for Neera commenting on the red robes... I think Neera is clever enough to know that they don't always mean Thay, but there's another NPC who isn't. ;) And yeah, you want Nalia for a discussion about the differences between magic in the two worlds. 

I will need to consider more EE specific comment for the Red Wizards. She's an isolationist, but does find Thay pretty interesting. Or at least she does when it's just Edwin around. With Neera's whole quest line, she may be more troubled by Thay.

Edited by Rhaella

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Thanks for the hints about other NPC banters! I'll try Evandra's friendship track with a different party next time. 

Forgot to ask in my  original post -- would Evandra have interjections after the Phaere incident on the romance track? I don't recall her saying anything whether my protagonist chose to sleep with Phaere or not. I guess Evandra's personality is such that sleeping with Phaere wouldn't break the romance & also at that point in time she hasn't fully committed yet. But I thought a brief comment or two might be interesting.

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Yeah, right now she doesn't, since like you said, there's no committed romance yet, and honestly, she can't fault anyone else for bad taste. It's a very appropriate place for a comment, though, so I'll need to consider it for the next update (whenever that ends up happening).

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I wish you gave us the option of disabling the Elf requirement for the romance.

I also wish there was a way to get a preview of Evandra's voice-acting, and the kind of dialogue we might experience in the romance track.

Additionally, it would be nice if the mod was compatible with the Level One NPCs mod.

Edited by Yosharian

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I think the racial requirement for Elves is one of the few romance restrictions that make sense in the context of the game. The whole lifespan issue is such a profound difference between Elves and Men that it almost requires a separate romance track by default, more so than gender or alignment actually. Aerie gets away with it by being very naive and Viconia, well, doesn't exactly have great life expectancy herself.

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@Isewein Of course I understand that, I'm not a moron.  I would like the option to disable it, so that I can experience the romance without having to be an Elf.  Since it's a singleplayer game, if I choose to remove an element of immersion like that, the only person it affects is me.

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Couple things.

1) If you want to disable the elf requirement in the scripting, find references like this 

Race(Player1,ELF)

And either remove them or replace with HUMAN or whatever you play as. No promises there won't be any content conflicts (ie. the NPC starts talking you about how you're an elf). 

If you want to hear the voice acting, open the mod's audio files and play one of them. VLC player will play OGGs but there are other ways to convert them.

2) I don't see anything in the above post suggesting or calling you "a moron" or any other kind of flaming. Take it easy or take it somewhere else.

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