Some thoughts on the alpha partway through Chapter 3

I’m not done Chapter 3 yet (I’m holding off on going to the Ivory Sanctum until I get all the companion side quests - more on that later), but I have now seen enough to have a few comments. I’m not going to harp on bugs for the most part (we have a bug report function for a reason), though there are a couple that are kind of a problem and that I will mention. I imagine many of my “insights” are not particularly new, so feel free to flame me if I’m beating a dead horse.

Writing: very pleased with this, particularly as I wasn’t a huge fan of the original AP. The NPCs are for the most part interesting and engaging, and their side quests so far have been good. Love the shift to dialog options only impacting one axis of alignment - maintaining my desired alignment is hugely easier than in Kingmaker and the dialog options seem better in most respects.

Gameplay (at the RPG level):

I feel like the companions have a heavy tilt towards dex. I’m not sure if it’s actually any heavier than in Kingmaker, but it feels heavier (possibly because stat bonus items don’t rain from the sky the way they did in Kingmaker). When even the full plate wearing hellknight has weapon finesse…would Regil maybe work better as a divine caster signifer? There are lots of divine buffs that can cover for his racial strength penalty. And maybe Sosiel could start with heavy armor proficiency rather than toughness - his deity wants him using a polearm, so his AC needs either a high dex or heavier armor. This was especially striking when you consider that both Arushalae and the mongrelmen are archers (in theory, Wenduag has enough feats to spare she can function as a melee combatant if you want, but it’s not the highest and best use of her stats).

Enjoyed both the assault on the Grey Garrison and the battle of Drezen. The chapel with the ghouls, gargoyles and Nabassu was also really good.

Please put in some kind of compass indicator. The ability to rotate the camera is good and all, but in natural environments I occasionally have difficulty orienting between my map and what’s on screen. Also, one of the few bugs I’m going to complain about: sometimes when returning to an area I’ve fully explored my map is completely blacked out with fog of war (but the loot markers of everything I left behind are still there).

I’ve now run into two separate quests where someone with the exact same name and model as "generic townsperson with whom dialog is impossible) is actually a non-trivial part of the quest. The entrance to the Azata path requires you to speak to what appears to be a generic guard, and then at the wedding one of the bridesmaids (indistinguishable from the rest) is running the contest on the bride’s side. Please put distinguishing names on people you’re actually supposed to talk to. I don’t remember this being an issue in Kingmaker - maybe this is just a side effect of being at alpha stage?)

Please recheck the text when you leave the area where you ambush the dragon with Greybor. I think it said that the dragon flew southwest. I wasted a lot of time blundering around to the Sw then gave up, went back to Drezen and found the lair to the SE of the ambush point. Either there was an additional location with a blood trail that my party didn’t have a good enough perception to find (but oddly found the lair without a fuss) or there may be an error in that text.

I might be remembering wrong, but I think it was originally stated that the mythic paths wouldn’t be alignment limited. The alignment limitations aren’t huge, but they exist and I’m left wondering what happens if your alignment changes after you get locked in (for example you were LN, chose Angel, then discovered your inner Hellknight and edged over into evil). Has anyone had this happen and had a mythic tier upgrade since?

Crusade Management: this is clearly still a work in progress, but a few things:

  1. particularly in chapter 3, it makes the pacing strange. Having to wait for the companion quests feels a lot less natural than it did in Kingmaker because at least there you had a perfectly good reason to just sit for 2 weeks to claim a region or increase a kingdom stat. Here you have the queen wanting 2 victories a week, overland travel not seeming to take very long (Drezen to Wintersun is only about 14 hours), and 2 weeks to wait for an event feels like a very long time. If I hadn’t been told on these forums about the necessity of waiting, I’d have been to the Ivory Sanctum already before any companion quests triggered. Maybe change the locations of the enemy garrisons that you have to defeat before your PC party can proceed - I was actually surprised I could go recruit Arushalae without defeating the nearby army (which was relatively tough) that was the subject of a crusade mission.

  2. I’m sure you’re working on it, but an auto-resolve button for the tactical crusade combat please. I don’t fight out every battle manually even in games I bought AS strategy games. Every so often it’s fun, but having to do it every time even where there is a large power gap is a bit of a grind.

  3. A couple of times enemies have been unable to decide what to do and the tactical combat just stops (it usually seems to be Schir that do this to me). The monster’s turn never ends and I have to forcibly restart the game.

  4. I expect that elements haven’t been implemented yet, but the significance of advisor stats is not yet apparent. On the same topic, whose idea was it to make Wenduag a candidate for a role that appears to be based on charisma (at least based on the huge penalty she has)? I admire her can-do attitude in taking on a role for which she is so evidently ill suited (no more excuses Linzi, you’re taking over as General!) and eagerly await the event result “Wenduag solves the food shortage by demonstrating that Vrock does in fact taste like chicken and is quite good when combined with 11 herbs and spices” but am left wondering if this is an in joke of some kind that I’m not getting.

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I know they already said that they want to add compass.

Good to hear. It isn’t a huge issue, but on a couple of maps I did have difficulty orienting.

Agreed with basically everything you’ve said. The fact that at least 9 out of 12 companions will be dex-based is noticeable. I tried out the “evil” party recently and the lack of strength on everyone except Wenduag overloaded me to the point I had to put belts of strength on them just to travel over the map. There’s not really a way around it now though and I do like the builds for all the companions except Greybor. Another concern for me is that fully half the companions in the game main Charisma or Persuasion. That’s really noticeable in how much redundancy you’re taking in your skills and finding equipment for everyone.

They wanted to get feedback for HoMM style combat. That is why they disabled auto-resolve.

I remember that it was said they are alignment locked at least from second stream, it is also in kickstarter that mythic paths are alignment based.

I found that only 6 people need DEX. 3 Archers, Regil, Woljif and Camelia. At least archers want high both STR and DEX.
Because here casters do not have feats to get rid of -4 penality from the lvl 3, I kind of switched them to casting DC spells and buffs. And use Ranged touch with greater invisibility.

And I agree there is too litle variety in skills, I think other than Neiro there is no companion with points in Lore and Knowledge, and other than Lann/Wen there is no good Atlethics and Mobility user.

The issue with carrying capacity struck me a bit too, particularly because you can’t hunt (is that intentional? I could see a reasonable case for making it so, the worldwound being what it is, and there were a -lot- of findable provisions in some adventure sites) and the “requisition provisions” special role didn’t seem to do anything.

Should Wenduag maybe have her stats shifted around a little and be less archery focused? (or maybe even a barbarian?) I know the actual portrait of her in the AP has a bow, but with a full bab and a 16 or so dex, using a bow for hunting is not crazy but there is a rational reason to equip her for melee and use her as such (and team evil doesn’t really have a good replacement for Seelah otherwise).

I didn’t really use ranged touch a lot with my casters either (if only because Daelan and Enio in particular have sufficiently good casting stats that their DCs can be made pretty hard), but squishy is squishy and dex matters to them, albeit not as vitally. Again, the different loot distribution from Kingmaker probably had a lot to do with my perception, as well as the precise NPCs I took a shine to.

I wonder if the overland travel issue could be partly addressed by a “pack mule” item that is like a bag of holding but only effects overland travel, or which stores up to X provisions, usable only in overland, without generating weight. As it was I would end up exploiting the fact that going to crusade management then leaving it caused you to appear in the tower in drezen to go sell stuff and/or buy food. I strongly suspect that won’t work by real launch (as you’re the head of an army, it’s possible you are in fact using teleportation but I doubt it).

Yeah I was including the casters in there given that you’re going to be giving them Dex belts over Str and they will be using ranged attacks. Granted they won’t be pumping Dex as high as it goes, but the point is really that there’s a real lack of Str in the party, especially if you don’t intent to use Seelah (and her mount if you keep her a Paladin) or Sosiel. Greybor is the only Str character who fits into an evil party, other than the PC.

My party really struggled with Athletics and Mobility too and they’re common checks in the alpha. I relied on Wendu a lot and had to invest her bonus feats into those skills a bit. There were a few characters with access to Lore and Knowledge that I can recall (I think Woljif and Ember take Arcane, Daeran takes World and Seelah takes Nature) but they aren’t that good at them or have spare feats to burn on them. Given that the companions are pretty locked at this point though I doubt this will be changed and is just something we’ll have to plan around.

Yeah the PC’s special resting ability seems pretty bugged right now. I only got it to work once and I think it only works in areas you control and outside of dungeons anyway. It could be that the game has you marked as being in a dungeon on the overland map and that’s why neither hunting or that ability works or it could just be the idea that there’s nothing to hunt in the worldwound. The amount of supplies does indicate it is likely intentional.

Getting to teleport to the tower lets you cheat the resting mechanic a lot but I agree there’s no way that’s making it into the full game. I also agree that buying a pack mule is a great idea that’s pretty thematic. Having it only affect overland movement is a good balance idea too even if it would probably make bags of holding irrelevant. Maybe you could make it possible for it to be killed in random encounters?

I switched Nenio over to being an arcane trickster because I think that prestige class is just so good for how little investment it takes to get it, so I was using ranged touch for her. There were a few good items in the alpha that gave good bonuses to it too, which was great. I do think Wendu’s class will be changed since just Fighter seems real plain, but they will likely keep her an archer. There is an archer Barbarian archetype iirc.

I give them CON for fatigue and STR for higher weight. Though buffing everybody with Cat Grace and other spells is easy with Enduring and Abundant spell feats.